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UC Snippet #14

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UC Snippet #14
Post by runsforcelery   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 5:32 pm

First Space Lord

Posts: 2215
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:39 am
Location: South Carolina

HMS Arngrim
Hypatia System"

“I’m afraid he means it,” Adam Vangelis said from Megan Petersen’s com screen. The system president was haggard and his exhausted expression was like iron. “When Hajdu was killed, I hoped whoever replaced him might be saner, but this Gogunov won’t even talk to me.” He shook his head, his voice heavy. “After the price your people paid, I can’t . . . I can’t really fit my mind around all of this.” He shook his head again, the movement weary and defeated. “Our people will never forget what Admiral Kotouč and your spacers did, Commander Petersen. Never. But it looks like all of them died for absolutely nothing.”

Megan’s heart was a stone. She looked at the com image, transmitted over a distance of 3.3 LM by the Hermes buoy Admiral Kotouč had left in place. They hadn’t used it before, since its directional grav pulses could hardly have been concealed from the Sollies. There was no longer any reason to hide the presence of Manticoran warships in Hypatian space, however. Besides, the remaining Ghost Rider platform keeping it company had been transmitting FTL from the moment Kotouč launched his attack. That platform had showed her every brutal detail of what the squadron had done to TF 1030, and as she’d watched the carnage explode across her plot, realized Hajdu’s flagship was among the dead, she’d hoped — like Vangelis — that whoever inherited command would show the sanity to back away from an Eridani violation. Yet now, as she looked reality bleakly in the face, she knew hope was all they’d ever had, and the taste of its failure was bitter on her tongue.

Admiral Kotouč had never expected to destroy the Solly task force. For that matter, he’d never envisioned inflicting anywhere near the losses the Sollies had suffered. None of them had. And he’d known — they’d all known — that if the Sollies were crazy enough to authorize something like this in the first place, their survivors might carry through with their act of mass murder.

But we had to try , she thought drearily. We had to. Every single one of us would rather die trying to stop it than live knowing we’d stood by and let something like this happen.

The stone in her chest spasmed as she thought about Jayson, wondered if there was any chance he might be aboard one of the handful of life pods whose transponder beacons they’d picked up. But there were little more than a hundred of those pods, and her brain had already worked the math with merciless precision.

And now this.

“He won’t give you any more time, even after you offered to help rescue his own people?”

“Not a single second,” Vangelis said heavily, seven and a half seconds later as the Hermes buoy relayed his light-speed transmission to Arngrim. The system president laughed bitterly. “He wouldn’t even tell me that to my face. He’s ‘too busy.’ And there’s not one damn thing we can do about it.”

“I wouldn’t bet on that, Sir,” Commander Megan Petersen said, and she didn’t recognize the iron in her own voice.

She looked up from the display and met her executive officer’s eyes. Lieutenant Commander Thirunavu looked back at her without speaking, then nodded ever so slightly. She pointed at Lieutenant Berden and Lieutenant Patrick Crouch, Arngrim’s electronic warfare officer, and Thirunavu nodded again, more sharply. He stepped across to Berden’s tactical section just as Vangelis responded to Megan.

“What do you mean, Commander?” the Hypatian president demanded, then stiffened. “Your ship’s the only one left! You can’t possibly expect to stop ninety Solarians all by yourself! For God’s sake, hasn’t Manticore spent enough lives trying to stop what you can’t stop in the end anyway?”

“It doesn’t matter whether or not we can stop it, Sir,” Megan told him flatly, her brown eyes were flint. “What matters is whether or not we try to.”

“But . . . but you can’t sacrifice all your people’s lives for nothing,” Vangelis said softly, seven seconds later, and she shook her head.

“We’re not talking about ‘nothing,’ Sir.’ We’re talking about the reason we’re here. We’re talking about responsibility and decency.” She squared her shoulders, meeting his gaze levelly. “Another Manticoran captain had to make this decision at a place called Grayson, Mister President. She made the same one Admiral Kotouč made, and for the same reason. You trusted us. Your people trusted us. And even if that weren’t the case, Mister President, I can’t go home and tell my Empress I stood by, watching an act of mass murder, and did nothing.” She shook her head. “The Star Empire’s honor — her honor — won’t let me do that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few things to do. Peterson, clear.”

SLNS Lepanto
Hypatia System

Missiles?” Martin Gogunov demanded.

“Yes, Sir,” Commodore Ham confirmed. “At that range, we haven’t get a solid count yet, but it looks like about thirty.”

“From sixty million kilometers?” Gogunov glared at the plot as if he thought it was lying to him.

“Yes, Sir.” Ham shook his head. “I don’t have any idea what’s out there, I’m afraid. We don’t have anything in position to cover the launch locus. It’s over seventy-five million kilometers from the point at which they originally launched against us.”

“They must have detached an observer, Sir,” Haskell said, praying that the distraction of a fresh enemy might divert Gogunov from his madness. He looked at her, and she shrugged. “We’ve just had proof their EW’s good enough to hide from us in-system, Sir, but nobody could hide a hyper footprint at this kind of range. Besides, they’re inside the limit and their missiles’ initial velocity shows they launched almost from rest, relative to Hypatia.” She gestured at the maneuvering plot, where the launch’s approximate coordinates had just been added. Without a solid emission signature for the launching ship, they were a lot more approximate than usual, and the amber sphere indicating their possible position was almost two light-seconds across. “That means it can’t be some new arrival.”

“So they’re more of the same bastards who bushwhacked us,” Gogunov grated. That wasn’t the verb Sandra Haskell would have chosen for anyone gutsy enough to engage at eighteen-to-one odds, but she nodded vigorously.

Gogunov glowered at the tactical display’s sidebars. It was ridiculous! Even assuming someone — anyone! — could accurately target anything at almost three and a half light-minutes, sixty million kilometers was twice any range at which even the Manties had ever attempted an engagement without one hell of a lot of closing velocity. Assuming those incoming missiles were somehow able to maintain acceleration all the way in, it would still take them almost nine minutes to reach his ships. But they couldn’t. No missile impeller node ever built could sustain that kind of accel that long, and unlike the multistage Cataphract, no Manty missile had ever demonstrated the ability to incorporate a pure ballistic phase into its attack profile. So was this some sort of insane bluff? Were the murderous bastards trying to divert him from his core mission to teach the Hypatians and the rest of the galaxy the price of treason?

Maybe it was a bluff, but he’d take no chances after what had already happened.

“Stand by missile-defense,” he said. “And let’s vector some recon platforms towards their launch locus.”

“Yes, Sir,” Ham replied. “Missile-defense is at Readiness One. And the closest platforms will be on their way in another . . . eighty seconds, as soon as the maneuver instructions reach them. I’m afraid it’ll take another five or six minutes to get them close enough to burn through Manty stealth.”

“Just find the bastards, Greg,” Gogunov said. “Just find them.”

Commodore Ham nodded, and Sandra Haskell sat back in her command chair, watching the missile icons accelerate towards her. Like her admiral, if she’d only known, she found it almost — almost — impossible to believe even Manticoran missiles could have that sort of range. Then again, even the early-generation Cataphracts in Lepanto’s magazines did, although it would require a ballistic phase 41,000,000 kilometers — and over eight minutes — long. Of course, the chance of their actually hitting anything at 3.3 LM was . . . poor, to say the least. But if —

“Wedge shutdown!” Ham announced suddenly. “Acceleration period was three minutes, Sir. Closing velocity at shutdown seven-point-three thousand KPS; range five-two-point-six million kilometers.” He shook his head. “We’ve lost lock, I’m afraid.”

Gogunov grunted. Of course they’d lost lock. No one could hold targets that small at that range on active sensors, and without impeller signatures, passives couldn’t track them, either.

He considered the numbers. Three minutes equated to a maximum duration acceleration phase for a standard missile. The latest generation single-stage Solarian missiles had a slightly higher acceleration rate, but that three-minute acceleration endurance for missile impellers had been a tactical fact of life for every navy in space for the better part of a T-century. So the question became whether or not the Manties had the same multistage capability as the Cataphract after all.

Either they do, or they don’t, Martin, he thought. And either way, you’ll have a little more information on the bastards’ capabilities.

“Assume they have a second stage with the same endurance,” he said. “What’s their profile then?”

“Under that assumption, Sir, total time of flight from shutdown should be right on nine-point-three minutes. They’ll be ballistic for three hundred and seventy-nine seconds and light up again at about twenty-one-point-nine million kilometers, assuming they want maximum velocity for their final penetration profiles.” Ham shrugged. “They could delay that just to be difficult, of course.”

Gogunov nodded and checked the time display. Three hundred and seventy-nine seconds from shutdown meant they’d know one way or the other about any second-stage capability in another five and a half minutes.

“Do you have that targeting queue for Buccaneer?” he asked.

“Uh, no, Sir,” the ops officer said. “I’m afraid —”

“I understand why you were distracted, Greg.” Gogunov smiled thinly. “But we’ve got some time before those missiles get here — assuming they do — so we might as well put it to use, don’t you think?”

“Yes, Sir.” Ham seemed less than delighted at the prospect, Haskell noted. “I’ll get right on it. It’ll take —”

He broke off, pressing his earbug deeper into his ear, then looked up sharply

HMS Arngrim
Hypatia System

“Coming up on second stage initiation in five minutes,” Lieutenant Berden announced, and Megan nodded.

Her decision to launch had been less spontaneous than President Vangelis might have assumed. She’d given a lot of thought to her orders as she waited for Admiral Kotouč and the rest of the squadron to make their sacrificial attack, and there was no question in her mind that she’d just violated them. She was supposed to be the Admiral’s observer, his witness. She was supposed to record whatever the Sollies might do for posterity, as evidence in any postwar war crimes trials. She was supposed to look after any of the squadron’s survivors, if the Sollies didn’t pick them up. And she was supposed to be Captain Acworth’s forward scout, the one who warned him and updated him if Vukodlak and her consorts miraculously arrived before the Sollies left.

And she was supposed to get Arngrim’s people home alive.

She knew all of that, just as she knew any board of inquiry would conclude that her orders left her no discretion to do anything else. But that was another way to say her orders would cover her ass. That with Admiral Kotouč’s uncompromising instructions in Arngrim’s communications database, no one could fault her for not having done anything else.

Only there were some orders she couldn’t obey. Not when Hajdu’s successor was just as determined to drown the Hypatia System in civilian blood. She couldn’t “observe” that and live with herself.

She’d wondered, when she made her actual decision, how much of it was because she’d lost Jayson. The bleeding wound of his death ripped at the heart of her, made even worse by the fact that it was unlikely — now — that she’d ever know for certain whether or not he’d actually died with Cinqueda. She’d run the numbers, she knew how infinitesimal that chance truly was, but given the odds against her single ship, it was only too likely she’d never know if he’d beaten those numbers. And if, by some miracle, he’d survived and she didn’t, what would he think of her decision now?

He’d understand, she told herself. He’d have made the same one. I know he would have.

And she thought he would have approved of her tactics.

Arngrim’s greatest weakness was her magazine capacity. With only twelve launchers and only twenty rounds per tube, she had a total of just two hundred and forty missiles, and a quarter of them were EW birds, primarily Dazzlers and Dragon’s Teeth. That gave her exactly two laserheads for each of the surviving Solarian warships.

Not even Manticoran tech advantages could offset that sort of odds.

But the Sollies might not know that, and so she’d stacked a triple salvo, using a full fifteen percent of her total ammunition supply in a single launch. Thirty-six Mark 16s — eight of them Dazzlers and Dragon’s Teeth — were going to get through what was left of the Sollies’ defenses, she thought grimly, and she’d chosen her targeting with malice aforethought. As long as they didn’t guess that she could do it only five more times before her tubes ran dry . . . .

Oh, and it would be sort of a good idea to avoid running into any of their missiles, too, Megan, a voice that sounded remarkably like Jayson’s said in the back of her mind, and she surprised herself with a small but genuine smile.

“Those recon drones are getting closer, Ma’am,” Lieutenant Crouch said from his electronic warfare station. She glanced at him, and he looked up to meet her eyes. “They’re likely to burn through our stealth in the next forty-five seconds or so.”

“Then I suppose it’s time for your little surprise, Pat.”

“Yes, Ma’am!”

Despite the tension of the moment, Crouch actually grinned with youthful enthusiasm. Probably because at his age he truly did feel immortal, Megan thought. Not that he didn’t have a right to a certain proprietary pride. He and Berden had given the possibility of Solarian recon drones quite a bit of thought after Arngrim had received Admiral Kotouč’s orders.

Solly RDs were a lot less stealthy than the SLN thought they were. It wasn’t that they ran around shouting “Here I am!” at the top of their lungs. In fact, compared to the remote platforms with which the Royal Manticoran Navy had begun its long war against the People’s Republic, they weren’t bad at all. Quite a bit better than the RMN had possessed at the turn of the century, as a matter of fact. Unfortunately for the SLN, that had been twenty T-years ago, and things had changed in the Haven Sector. The combination of Arngrim’s shipboard sensors and the far more capable recon platforms she and her slain consorts had deployed before Admiral Kotouč’s final battle had very little trouble keeping track of the incoming drones, and Berden and Crouch had spotted flights of Mark 31 counter-missiles along their most probable vectors. The CMs had launched ballistic, with their drives shut down, relying solely on the initial velocity imparted by the powerful mag drivers of Arngrim’s launch tubes. That was barely fifteen hundred meters per second, a very low velocity by the standards of missiles and counter-missiles, but they’d also been launched beginning the better part of an hour ago, in intervals along Arngrim’s track as she continued to put space between herself and the rest of the squadron’s launch point. Even at their arthritic pace, the closest of them was 5,300 kilometers from the ship, and four of them were almost perfectly positioned to intercept the nearest recon drone. In fact one of them —

“Take them from the side,” she said. “Number Twelve, I think.”

“Aye, aye, Ma’am!” Berden replied. “Engaging with Number Twelve . . . now,” and he pressed the button.

Two of the potential interceptors were almost directly between Arngrim and the drone. Another pair was well to one side of the shortest vector between her and the RD, however, and Megan had chosen the one farthest from Arngrim. Its trajectory wasn’t as good, but if the second prong of Berden and Crouch’s brainstorm worked . . . .

She left them to it while she returned her own attention to the Mark 16s whose impeller wedges had just lit off once more.

The range was so extreme that even with the Ghost Rider platform parked almost on top of the Sollies, there’d be very little time for any sort of course correction over Arngrim’s light-speed telemetry links. She’d accepted that going in. But what that platform had done was allow her to fingerprint her targets’ emission signatures with excruciating accuracy. Not only that, Crouch and Berden had come through for her on a second front. They’d identified the new Solly flagship after her birds had been launched but while there was still plenty of time to tell them who to look for.

I’m afraid it’s about to rain all over your day, Admiral, she thought. And if my brilliant tac department does manage to kill your drones before you find us, I may actually get to rain on your successor before she can find me to launch her own damned missiles, too.

She’d like that.

She’d like that a lot. 

SLNS Yashima
Hypatia System

“Sir, I have that firing solution,” Captain Rochetti said quietly.

Rear Admiral Thomas Yountz turned to face his ops officer, and Rochetti cleared his throat.

“We don’t have hard locks on the . . . targets. Not yet. The best we could do at this point is a saturation launch. It’d . . . take a lot of missiles, Sir.”

His voice sounded almost hopeful, Yountz realized. That was his first thought. Then he had another one, and he opened his mouth.

He closed it again.

They didn’t have "hard locks"?

“Sir, I’ve glanced over Maurizio’s data,” Commodore Dantas, CruRon 4018’s chief of staff, said. “He’s right. Without hard locks, we’d need a lot of missiles to cover a volume of space that big. It’ll be at least another —” he glanced at the tactical display, where a digital time readout slid steadily downward toward the predicted arrival time of the incoming Manticoran missiles “— nine or ten minutes before their vector brings them close enough for us to get hard sensor returns.”

No doubt it would, Yountz thought. Life pods were very small targets, after all.

Which was the reason they carried transponder beacons . . . just like the ones blinking on that same tactical display. Transponder beacons designed to help shuttles — or anything else — home in on them and their fragile cargos of survivors.

“Under the circumstances, Sir,” Dantas continued, “I’d recommend we hold the launch until we have better numbers. The Task Force’s already lost a lot of its missiles. Be a good idea not to expend any more than we have to.”

His eyes held Yountz’s for a long, still moment. Then the admiral nodded.

“An excellent point, Justin,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of time to carry out Admiral Gogunov’s orders when the range’s shorter. In the meantime, let’s concentrate on picking our people up. I think —”

“Counter-missile launch, Sir!” Rochetti said suddenly. “The Manties just launched against the reconnaissance platforms!”

SLNS Lepanto
SLNS Yashima
Hypatia System

“Counter-missile launch!” Commodore Ham snapped, and Gogunov’s eyes darted to the icon which had just appeared in the plot. It came streaking out of nowhere, well to one side within the amber sphere — considerably greater in diameter than usual, at that insane range — indicating the Manty missiles’ possible launch site. Given counter-missiles’ extreme acceleration rates and the velocity the recon platform had built, flight time was very short. But it was long enough for the computers to nail down the point from which that counter-missile had launched.

And then, thirty seconds after the CM’s impeller signature had been detected, the RD’s final light-speed transmission reached Lepanto.

“Got them, Sir!” Ham said exultantly. “The signature’s still weak, but — Correction, Sir: signatures, plural. CIC makes it a pair of those big-assed destroyers of theirs.”

“Plot it and get the birds away!”

“Yes, Sir! Programming now.”

“Very good. And once you’ve gotten them launched, set up the Buccaneer queue.” Gogunov smiled viciously. “We’ve still got six minutes before their birds get here, even if our worst-case assumption is accurate. We might as well make use of them.

Ham flinched and his hands actually stopped moving for an instant before he completed the firing sequence. Lepanto quivered as a full salvo of Cataphract-As belched from her broadside tubes and the operations officer watched their outgoing tracks for a heartbeat or two, then looked at Gogunov. He didn’t say a word, but the admiral saw the silent question — perhaps even the silent protest — in his eyes, and his hungry smile turned into a glare.

“I gave Vangelis Admiral Hajdu’s complete time limit, despite the fact that the Manties attacked us well before we’d reached the end of it. Hell, for all they knew, the Admiral might have still relented and extended it again! But they took that possibility off the table when they bushwhacked us. So if they’ve seen fit to attack us before the expiration of our time limit — again — any consequences will be on their heads. Now set up the launch, Commodore!”

“Sir, I —”

“Set it up, or you can join Captain Turner’s court-martial!” Gogunov barked.

“Don’t do it, Greg.”

Sandra Haskell didn’t realize she’d spoken until every eye on flag bridge snapped toward her.

What did you just say?!” Gogunov demanded, whirling towards her with incandescent eyes.

“I told Greg not to do it, Sir,” Haskell said to the flag officer she’d served and respected for so long. “Please, Sir! You don’t have to do this! Captain Turner’s right, and somewhere inside, you have to know she is! This is what the Navy was created to prevent, Sir! Don’t turn yourself into —”

“Shut your mouth and get the hell off this flag bridge!” Gogunov snarled. “You’re relieved, Commodore, and I’ll see you rot in prison! Get the hell out of my sight!”

“Sir —”

Now, Commodore! And as for you, Commodore Ham, you can launch or face charges. And if you do, I’ll personally demand the death sentence!”

Ham paled. His eyes darted to Haskell, but then they closed.

“Yes, Sir,” he said tonelessly.

Please, Sir,” Haskell said. “I’m begging you. Don’t —”

Gogunov punched a button on his command chair’s armrest.

“Master at Arms, lay to Flag Bridge . . . and bring your sidearm,” he grated in a voice of iron, his eyes never wavering from Haskell’s face.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Oh, Jesus,” Captain Rochetti breathed as the command codes scrolled across his display.

What?” Yountz snapped.

TF 1030 had just launched on the Manties’ coordinates. Unlike Hajdu Gyôzô’s mammoth pod-based salvo, there were under three hundred birds in this one, and even with the RD’s latest information, accuracy at that range would be . . . less than stellar. He didn’t need any fresh distractions at this point.

“The Flag is launching on the orbital platforms in four minutes, Sir,” Rochetti said flatly.

Yountz stared at him. Surely he didn’t mean it! Gogunov was launching now? He’d promised the Hypatians fifty more minutes!

“Sir, the Manty missiles’ wedges just came back up!” Rochetti’s assistant announced.

Yountz’s eyes jerked back to the plot as the Manticoran shipkillers reappeared upon it. Obviously, they did have a multistage capability of their own.

“Impact in three minutes,” Rochetti said harshly. “Counter-missile launch in one hundred seconds!”

“Squadron orders,” Yountz heard himself snap. “Do not launch on the platforms!” He whirled to the chief of staff. “D’you understand me, Justin? Get that out now. Do not launch!

“But, Sir —!” Rochetti began, and Yountz’s glare snapped back around to him.

“Goddamn it, do it, Captain! Nobody in this squadron is going to touch that frigging launch button!”

HMS Arngrim
Hypatia System

“They fell for it, Ma’am!” Lieutenant Berden crowed exultantly. “Look at that beautiful plot!”

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by jeremyr   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:32 pm

Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 141
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:33 pm
Location: Corinth, TX

Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by ksandgren   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 6:55 pm

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 334
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California

Thanks for the snippet. I guess now we are up to the early snippet for Rose.
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by Bren   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:44 pm


Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2016 4:27 pm

At least we now know where the snippet "wayout of order snippet for Rose" dated Sep 05 2017 fits into the story. thanks for the update.
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by Cartref   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:18 pm

Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:15 pm

Marvellous :D
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by ldwechsler   » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:38 pm

Rear Admiral

Posts: 1063
Joined: Sun May 28, 2017 12:15 pm

Cartref wrote:Marvellous :D

Loved it! Great battle.
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by Bill Woods   » Wed Aug 15, 2018 12:24 am

Bill Woods
Captain of the List

Posts: 568
Joined: Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:39 pm

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:"
Sometimes, anyway.

Boy, the next few minutes are going to suck for the people on Gogunov's flagship who were telling him to pack it in.
Imagined conversation:
Admiral [noting yet another Manty tech surprise]:
XO, what's the budget for the ONI?
Vice Admiral: I don't recall exactly, sir. Several billion quatloos.
Admiral: ... What do you suppose they did with all that money?
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by isaac_newton   » Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:01 am

Captain of the List

Posts: 692
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:37 am
Location: Brighton, UK


stopped right at the crucial point...

Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by roseandheather   » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:41 am


Posts: 2031
Joined: Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:39 pm
Location: United Kingdom


I serve at the pleasure of President Pritchart.

Javier & Eloise
"You'll remember me when the west wind moves upon the fields of barley..."
Re: UC Snippet #14
Post by SYED   » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:19 am

Rear Admiral

Posts: 1340
Joined: Sun Apr 03, 2011 11:03 pm

The question is will only the command ship be destroyed before that snippet occurs or will it be muliple ships.

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