(35) To Be Named

The Crusader Campaign (140-1123)

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140-1123 : Tussinian / Trin's Veil / Spinward Marches

    So at 06:00 the battle will start, Nightshade will attack from the front.  Sir Misha has chosen the front fleet on point as their target, the New Rome fleet.
    Commodore von Krantzhoff has informed them of the defending fleet's orders.  His inspiring speech celebrated defeat.  The upcoming defeat, today or tomorrow, will be one of the greatest defenses in the history of the Imperium.  All ships have been given permission to jump out at any time.  Of course there's a catch -- jumping from within 10 diameters is exceedingly dangerous, and none of the defenders have the slightest chance of even getting above 1 diameter.  Any ships that do make it out are to rendezvous at Katarulu.  Also there is still quite a number of non-starships, including many battle riders.  Those would have to make it to the innermost world, where the tenders are orbiting.  Von Krantzhoff stated that Santanocheev is unlikely to be taking any prisoners -- it would be faster for him to shoot everything down than to accept surrenders.
    Kalida pulls out her knowledge of military history and brings up an old Terran scenario, the Alamo.  In that case too, the outnumbered defenders were fighting a delaying action.  This fight will go down in history too -- "Remember Tussinian!"
    In six hours from the start of the fight, Santanocheev will have been delayed for two days.  There is a reasonable chance that the defenders can stretch this upcoming fight out by that long.  Making another three days beyond that is essentially impossible.

    It's now about an hour until the fighting will start.  Nightshade is leading the defending ships on point, intending to spread chaos and distract the enemy.
    On board, the crew have taken up their normal battle stations.  Kalida as gunner, Helia as pilot, Sir Misha on the command dais, Callisto console 6, Shark at 10, Robert at 9, Mich in Engineering, Vonish in the Galley, Bridgehead in Sick Bay, Teri in full battledress in the Galley, Jack in her stateroom.  Bridgehead has ready any drugs they might need to get through the battle.
    Shark suggests that after the battle they should board one of the enemy wrecks and take one of their communications officers prisoner for Jack and the Doctor to interrogate.  It would be really useful to be able to use the Blue Screen of Death Ray against Santanocheev's forces.
    The football sensors are set up to alert Shark of any readings outside background noise.  He is of course expecting readings from Helia, Kalida, and Sir Misha's flying lizard.
    Nightshade's crew will have a clear tactical initiative advantage over the other two forces.
    Kalida says that three days delay would probably be enough, but they'll also have to factor in how much damage is done to Santanocheev's forces, how long that will take to repair.

    The defending fleets are set up as a flat rectangle in low orbit.  On the starboard bow is Tr-X-1, port bow Tr-X-2, port aft Trin, starboard aft Murchison.

    The attackers are coming in as a pyramid that will set on the top of the defenders, in sets of four increasingly closer together from the base to the top.  At the very top is the Llanamith Tigress Battle Group, with the attacker's one remaining Happy Fun Ball as the flotilla's flagship.  That would cause local numerical advantages everywhere, with the flexibility to move fleets around to exploit advantages or reinforce weak points.
    The bottom layer base diamond consists of New Rome at the bow on point, Emape to port, Raweh to starboard, and Jone bringing up aft.
    The second layer is vertically just outside the defender rectangle.  On the starboard bow is Iderati, port bow Elixabet, port aft Motmos, starboard aft Mille Falcs.
    The third layer diamond is vertically inside the defenders.  Gl-X-1 is at bow, Glisten to port, the Darotukshi Battle Group (minus Darotukshi herself, of course) to starboard, with Gl-X-2 to aft.
    The Llanamith Battle Group is positioned centrally above the third layer.
    What remains of Eqypt and Mirriam is out of action near the innermost moon.

    Nightshade is matching the defender fleets in a higher circulation, in stealth mode.  They will want to go to shields before the defender laser fire can detect them.  They will lead the defender fleets, engaging first, just a little before the Imperial forces can start firing.  They want to get into expander range of significant ships as fast as possible, but it will be at the cost of more difficult evasion and harder shots.  They will be coming in very fast, decelerate very hard, and accelerate back to match motion with the orbiting fleets.
    Helia's idea is that they come in fast and bounce through the upper atmosphere to help slow themselves down and sweep into position.  The larian is very excited at this prospect.  It will make Kalida's targetting even more difficult, but she thinks she can manage.  Helia says they can use the atmosphere to squeeze like a melon seed and squirt up into the center of the fleet before they can react.
    They will force the attackers to react, and with some luck disrupt their formation as well.  They will engage when the Imperial forces are reaching laser range, but before serious weapons open fire.

    Helia shoots towards the New Rome fleet.  Just outside laser range she flips from stealth to shields, hurtling in at a very high closing speed.  She dives down into the atmosphere, leaving a plasma trail behind as she flexes her wings and powers them up into a vertical climb up through the middle of New Rome.

    At 05:50, the shooting starts, ten minutes before the two flotillas engage.  Kalida has a clear shot at one of the cruisers on the outer shell.  She nails it with the expander.

    At 06:00, as the flotillas start exchanging missile fire, Nightshade sweeps up into the center of the New Rome fleet core.  They have caught the Imperials completely flat-footed and there is no return fire at all.  Kalida targets the flagship and takes it down with the expander.  The reaction to the blast knocks it back, and it starts to fall out of orbit through the fleet, breaking up the central core formation as other ships maneuver to get out of the way.
    Shark makes a point of monitoring the overall battle formations, not
    This fleet was moving to engage the defenders, but instead holds to fight Nightshade instead.  That leaves Trin's elite Tr-X-2 fleet with just Elixabet to deal with.

    It's 06:10, and Helia is starting heavy evasion.  Kalida fires and takes down another capship, which spins down through the mid-layers of the fleet, disrupting the formation even more.
    Nightshade gets three incoming meson shots this time, one of which is a wild miss.  The other two land on the shields, but are too separate to matter.

    At 06:20 it's now essentially a knife-fight range with the central core of New Rome.  Kalida takes down yet another capship.  They take five shots on the shields this time, but they come in two bursts; there is a little afterglow but no weakness.
    Elsewhere, Tr-X-2 are dominating Elixabet, which has not been reinforced.

    By 06:30, the attackers are starting to shift their fleets in response to the developing battle.  Gl-X-1 is moving into the second layer and towards port to support Elixabet, which is still taking heavy losses.  The Trin fleet, on the port aft corner of the defenders, is suffering badly too.
    Kalida takes out another capship with the expander, causing a kill but not breaking the formation.  There are signs that the crew of this ship are managing to abandon it successfully.  The shields take three hits.

    Gl-X-1 moves into the second layer at 06:40, filling in for Elixabet which is attempting to withdraw.
    Trin is holding against Emape and Motmos in its weakened state, but definitely getting the worst of the fight.  Motmos has more room to maneuver, but Emape is expending less fuel.  Neither are suffering any more losses than the other.
    The other two defender fleets are holding their own as well as could be expected, without significant losses on either side.
    After a brief discussion with Shark and Kalida, Sir Misha decides they must help Trin.  Kalida's says that the more they zip around and cause disruption, the better.
    Helia reverses and dives back into the atmosphere, killing their orbital velocity and dropping them back to aft of the defender formation, aiming for the nearer Emape in the base diamond.  On the way out, Kalida kills another capship, leaving New Rome trying to gather their formation behind them.  They take insignificant fire from the outer layers on the way out.

    By 06:50 it is clear that Gl-X-1 is performing better than Elixabet.  The latter is wrecked and moving up, shedding ships on the way, in complete rout.  The Glisten fleet is also starting to move down  from the third layer towards Gl-X-1.  New Rome is starting to regroup.
    Tr-X-2 is getting a bit of a breather with the attacker relieving maneuver above them.
    The Trin fleet is suffering badly still, now down to about half strength, although inflicting losses on Emape and Motmos.  Emape is taking the brunt of the fire, but Motmos is doing quite well.
    On the other side of the fight, Murchison is starting to knuckle under to the superior numbers facing it.
    Nightshade swoops up from the atmosphere, spearing into the Emape fleet.  Emape is in a convex dish, with the cruiser shell protecting the capship sphere.  Helia hurtles up between the two components.
    Kalida makes a perfect shot, knocking Emape's flagship back through the cruiser shell.

    At 07:00, over an hour into the battle, New Rome is still regrouping and not yet moving to engage.
    Where the defenders are pushing their local advantage, Tr-X-2 is doing well, but their opposing Gl-X-1 is also in good shape.  The Glisten fleet that was moving into that fight have over-maneuvered, dropping too fast and too low, and their restricted maneuverability while recovering exposed them to heavy fire.
    Murchison is doing a little better.
    The Trin fleet, while still very weak at under half strength, is rallying and pushing into Emape through the opening gap in the cruiser shell, leaving Motmos lagging behind them.  Emape is trying to fill the front dish back in, but it's leaving the capship core exposed to Trin.
    That's left Nightshade right in the middle of the crossfire between Trin and Emape.  Helia climbs them up to Emape's higher cruiser dish, which is in the process of switching to concave to hit Trin's exposed flank.
    Kalida now has some suitable missile targets, and Sir Misha authorizes her to use 100 missiles.  He is a little concerned that Santanocheev might have something up his sleeve, but feels that 620 is enough to deal with it.
    First she takes out one cruiser with the expander.  She follows that up with six fast bursts of eight missiles each.  That results in one clear kill, three falling with no drive (one of leaving a trail of fuel), one with surface damage, but one of her targets takes down all the incoming missiles.
    In response, Emape's core is concentrating on Nightshade rather than the incoming Trin.  Three shots cluster on the power stern, causing the shields to ripple but not weaken.

    By 07:10, the Emape fleet has recognized their bad position, essentially having had their formation split in half, and is dispersing and withdrawing.  With Nightshade having been Emape's priority target, Trin has suffered no more losses.  Nevertheless, exploiting the hole in Emape has left Trin in a bad formation to engage the Motmos fleet, coming in from behind them.  Gl-X-2 is now in position to come in and reinforce Motmos.  Motmos is looking strong, attacking in standard Imperial formation.
    Murchison is definitely starting to yield under the heavier numbers.
    Tr-X-1 is still in good shape on the starboard corner, all the fleets in that battle being conservative and working on position rather than charging in.
    Tr-X-2 is now coming under heavy fire from Gl-X-1.  Glisten is recovering from their mistake but suffering damage while they do it.  New Rome has finished regrouping and has now started to move back in towards Tr-X-2, but is not in range to engage yet.  In half an hour or so, Tr-X-2 might well be facing three fleets.
    The two Tigress Battle Groups have not moved from their initial formation positions.
    Sir Misha directs them to meet Motmos head-on, giving Trin much-needed time to rearrange themselves.  Helia dives down in a swoop into the center of the approaching Motmos formation.  She does it so well that Kalida can get an expander shot at the core while still bursting missiles at the shell.
    Kalida doesn't have a choice of target with Helia's path, just selecting targets as the opportunity arises.  She fires six bursts of eight missiles on the way in, now having expended a total of 96.
    Two of her targets explode, with a third definite kill.  One is stripped of offensive capability, pulling out of the battle but otherwise functional.  The missiles wipe everything off the outside of another and take out the bridge, and it too pulls out.  The final one is crippled, pulling up slowly and ponderously.
    On the way in, however, Nightshade takes significant fire.  Two shots hit the shields and cause no problems, but those are followed up by four more in a good spread, weakening them a little for 30 seconds.  After that, four perfectly coordinated and spread shots from the capships land, causing big ripples -- the shields go near-blue and take a full four minutes to recover.
    Kalida responds with an expander shot, killing a dreadnought in the Motmos fleet core.  The combination of that kill and the cruisers on the way in has opened a hole in the formation.  It's also drawn the fire of the fleet, and they've achieved the goal of giving Trin some time.

    It's going to be hard to hold this until noon for the two days.  The attackers are now committing almost all their fleets, with only the two battle groups not yet engaged.  Two of the attacker fleets have pulled out.  At the very least, if Santanocheev's schedule isn't impeded enough, his force will be weakened.