dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser
Elysium Star System
Distant orbit around Attica, Elysian Sovereignty Capital World
“Well, that certainly woke them up.”
Junior PackMaster Phelan watched as the tactical holographic table glowed, a bloom of small craft flying out from the planet in the centre of the display. More contacts lit up from behind Elysium’s smaller moon, flowing into an escort pattern near the planet. He looked over at Hunter Mache, head tilting in a silent question about what he was seeing.
“Sensors are detecting twenty three gunboat squadrons dusting off from the planet. Five battlecruisers and one dreadnought coming up from the moon. The warships were probably in low orbit behind the moon; that’s why we didn’t spot them earlier. CIC’s having some difficulty nailing down the warship classes. They say the battlecruisers are Mars-class and the dreadnought’s a Jupiter, but their ECM profiles aren’t matching up.”
Phelan nodded. “Different subclasses then?”
“That’s what CIC thinks. EM signatures are broadly the same, but we’re seeing some variations in their shield emissions and targeting systems. Incremental updates most likely, but we won’t know for sure until we engage.”
“What’s that one red dot in orbit?”
Hunter Mache highlighted the contact and pinged back to CIC for a flash identification. The icon pulsed, changing from a generic ‘contact’ icon into one for defense bases. Small defense bases.
“They appear to have a class two fort as well. Probably was drive field down and hiding in a ballistic orbit.”
Both Mache and Phelan stared at the contact for long moments before Phelan hung his head down, choking back something. The strangled sound gave way to a chuckle, and then to a loud, booming laugh as he stood up straight, hand on his face as he tried to hide his reaction. Hunter Mache stared, as did three other officers who were managing orders to the rest of the fleet. Eventually Phelan stopped, head looking straight at Mache while he tried to clear the tears from his eyes.
“Oh breaker… a Class Two Fort. Well, we’ll just have to call this whole thing off, won’t we?”
Mache chuckled back “Oh, definitely. We can’t handle firepower of that magnitude.” His mood became more serious “do you think it’ll help them?”
“Like tin plating against the breaker’s torch.”
One of those three officers interrupted Phelan before he could continue. “Comm request coming in from Nicolai Savkin, Sir.” Phelan nodded “Put it up on the table.”
A display popped up on the side, displacing part of the digital battlefield of an older Sintillan with a lean grin on his face. “They’ve played every trick they can, Phelan. Let’s show them how we play.”
“All right, Panfilov. Consider yourself cut loose. Like we agreed, yes? Leave their warships for the battle line.”
“Of course Phelan, of course. Fighters to intercept their gunboats, and our gunboats to knock out any PDCS still alive.” The Sintillans grin curled a bit sharper “but if we have a chance, we’ll make a pass or two on those warships of theirs. Elysian ships have pathetic point defense systems, and if we can blood them a bit before they get into your gun range, we can make sure that the fight will be as unfair as possible.”
“Within reason, Panfilov. Within reason. Remember that everything that we have is right here. I refuse to leave until we’ve implemented Directive 595 across the system.” Phelan was already turning away as the com circuit was cut. “Mache, signal the rest of the fleet to Combat Stations. The fleet will advance to deal with the enemy warships, then move in on the planet to suppress any PDCs that remain. Open a channel to Junior PackMaster Korman.”
dWS Heiterkeit Valley
deWulf Bombardment Fleet
“Junior PackMaster Korman here, Phelan. What can I do for you?”
“The Elysians are finally moving in on us. We’re going to advance to deal with their mobile force, and then hammer the planet into submission.”
“With all due respect sir, that is our job.”
“And I’m clearing the way for you. I want you right behind us. As best you can manage, of course.”
Korman’s face tightened up at the order. True, his Siegs were slow. But that meant every light second deeper into the planet’s engagement envelope was another light second away from safety. And they didn’t have the speed to get them out of trouble once they got in.
“Relax Korman, only so far as you have to in order to get targeting solutions. I imagine we’ll still be dealing with active defenses. I want you in place and hammering them as soon as you’re able. Once we know the immediate area is clear, you can move up into optimal range and get to work.”
“That’s one way to put it” thought Korman. “Most people didn’t describe strategic orbital bombardment as work. I believe the preferred term is ‘Genocide’. But blood calls for blood.” Korman knew he was one of the few onboard who thought that. Most of the crews for the Siegs were volunteers. The ships were originally a volunteer posting simply due to their projected casualties, but it turned out they drew Fenren who had lost someone in the war. If there were any ships in the deWulf Corporate Navy who accepted what this class was built to do without reservation, it was their crews. Indeed, the most terrifying thing about this class, and there were a LOT of things about this class that terrified Korman, was that there was a waiting list to serve as part of a crew.
“Korman, are you alright? I can’t have one of my fleet commanders losing focus here.”
Korman shook his head “I’m here, Sir. Sorry. Was just thinking.”
“Well we’re out of time to be doing that. If you can’t keep your head on, then turn command over to your flag hunter so he can get your ships moving.” Korman looked back at Phelan, head shaking “I’m good Sir. We’ll follow in right behind you. And I’ll make sure we have a few canister rounds in the firing queue; just in case any gunboats get close.”
“Ah, good. You were paying attention. Alright. Warm up your drives. We’re going in.” Out of view of the comm pickup Phelan was waving to someone, and from Korman’s own repeater he could see the whole of the fleet advancing in a single lockstep formation. By the time he looked back at Phelan, the connection had already been cut.