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Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

Looking at the fuzzy heat maps of the system come alive and die, as the UGM military strikes and vanishes, it reminds her a little of fireflies, and when one can obscure the rest of the data, it can be pleasant to look at. Idling in the shock pod, she does this – frequently.

At the end of the first hour, she’d made a game of it with Red. Try and help Red simulate and predict combat scenarios involving Trieste, and the ways stratagems and algorithms might have evolved in the past month. Try and observe data and then see how closely they could predict the next wave or feint of Web reinforcements, and the predictably swift and massive UGM response. It’s likely a futile task – if either’s movements could be accurately predicted by an uninitiated attack ship sentience, then they’d have been outplayed already, right? Still, it is a challenge, and if they could get any good at it, they could help prevent Okeanos from stumbling into a minefield – maybe literally. Or maybe even flag down a dispersing UGM force. Or maybe observing the ripcord on the UGM strikers could lead to a way to figure out whereabouts they were operating out of, though that’s really more Carl’s expertise.

For her part, retreating to Mu seemed sensible – was the intelligence possibly critical to the offensive in Trieste? Did the commander have some suspicion as to what the data actually contained? It seems that the combined might of all the forces in the Perseid theater would – eventually – win the day here. Broadcasting their location seems an awful gamble, even if the UGM seemed to have the better response time. Reintegrating with the war effort would be favorable at this point – she hated the sensation of flying blind. Watching all the movements, it was like everyone else was dancing to a tune Okeanos couldn’t hear and, well, that’s how you start stepping on toes.

In the pleasant ‘voice’ of her neural link, some five hours later, she’s still ‘playing’ with Red and tweaking predictive (‘guessing’ might be more accurate) algorithms. “Alright…” She runs through her own code, sounding cheerfully engaged in her own project, “Wager ten points, next Web incursion will have been on the solar side of that gas giant. In the next… five minutes. Takers?” She’s lost the past thirteen predictions but inviting others to join in the guessing game seemed preferable to stewing silently in the goo. “With the arrival vector on that second to last engagement, if their origin was somewhere in one of the adjacent systems, they should already know that one didn’t stick and be sending another force, so that means… the timing intervals might look something like this, right, Carl?” A chart showing extrapolated guesses from observed conflicts so far that match the same origin vector for Web attacks comes up through the neural link. Moon had been outsourcing most of her military insight to Red the other crew throughout the development process.

Tweak here. Update there. Reassessing and tightening the math as data comes in. She does finally ask, “It’s been six hours – what do you think she’s looking for?” ‘She’ being the commander in this case.

Can I use like my Computer Programming (15), Teaching (15), along with my Mathematics (11), and maybe Carl’s Strategy or Astrogation skills to try and ‘teach’ Red or create an independent software that might help us get a better grasp on the conflicts in the system? This could be a totally inconsequential fluff roll or something useful, idk. Also, if none of this makes any sense, lmk, I'm deep into the depths of Winging It.

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DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

Waiting. To Marek that seemed like the only way to go at the moment. The battlefield was an unorganized mess. If the carrier tried anything at the moment, then it would probably be targeted. Possibly by the enemy and possibly by friendlies. Some of the ordinance being used probably would just target whatever moved. The battle looked like it was pure chaos, but any what if there was some plan amidst the chaos? Maybe one side or the other had predicted that this would happen. One of the AIs must have calculated that something like this would happen. If it wasn't an UGM AI, maybe it was one of the enemy's AIs? He sat in his pod and thought about this. He passively observed the battle going on and tried to find some pattern to the chaos. Perhaps, he thought the chaos was a screen of some sort. Confuse the situation to hide the real battle plan. While one side tried to make sense of the chaos, it wouldn't notice something else happening at the same time. The longer the fight went, the more his mind dwelled on this being a diversionary tactic.

"Red, is there a chance that this confusion is a cover for something? What objective could be achieved using this chaos as a distraction?" He hoped Red could shed some light on the possibility that this was a planned strategy.

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus delved into the chaotic sea of data flooding the E Warfare suite. He knew it was going to be bad, but not this bad. The data surged over him like a crashing wave of ice cold water. Ship traces, weapons discharges, the echos of thousands of human and AI lives snuffed out in an instant. He gasped in a deep breath as he was momentarily overwhelmed, his fingers clutching his charm to keep him grounded in the moment. He took a quick breath and gathered himself, then began his effort to make sense of it all. Like a composer with a thousand scattered sheets of music or a child with a pile of scattered puzzle pieces he began putting the data together to find something, some clue or key that would help him find a single grain of sand on a seemingly endless beach.

Electronic ops: sensors 12. Intelligence analysis 13. Not sure what to do but figured I'd try to make sense of the chaos and give us a starting point to find comm buoys or clues as to the location of one of the ships we need.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

Being on standby like this was weird. Being an astrogator of an attack vehicle meant that he had to prioritize the actual fight, but with the mess going on outside that's near-incomprehensible, being on alert was almost mind-numbing to the point of doing something foolish. It was stressful and drudgery of the lowest order, but being above the rabble meant that he had to take it in stride, as he has done with so many other things in the past. Time enough to think about the situation at hand, and what it could mean. Moon's attempts at making conversation were met with some general observations. He had to roll it over in his head while the story got pieced together.

"There must be some type of prearranged event that the Commander is waiting to occur, is my guess," he replies, one of the towels used for getting space gunk out of the harder to reach spots after disengaging from the shock pods running over his head. "It's not clear what strategy was put into place concerning the last sortie and the projected aftermath. Doing the damage at Remonde Prime seems to be ancillary to the data payload that we ferried back to the Commander. I'd just as soon as ask her directly, if either the Commander or her assistants are available."

In case a roll is actually needed for additional insight, Strategy (Space) is at 12, otherwise I'm just making good with conversation.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She speculates idly, letting her glorious imagination run away while the rest of her brain is rooting around in the code of her algorithm, “I think that she doesn’t know what’s going to happen. I think she was as surprised about receiving that data store as we were, and now she wants to know if the intelligence service and command set her up for the attack on Remonde just to receive the intel.” She continues on, her tone in the neural link becoming a whimsical chirp as she spins her tale, “She doesn’t know what the data is, but she has her suspicions. Maybe it’s related to Earth, like they mentioned in the briefing.” She concludes, “That’s why she won’t let go of it, because if she just falls back in line and passes it up the chain, then she’ll never get any answers.” It all sounds very dramatic when Moon tells it like this, but very compelling.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Really? I find it hard to believe that, during the briefing, she just happened to let slip that there was potentially some data surrounding the weaponry that hit Earth? That was just idle chatter from a superior to subordinates during a mission briefing?" He leaves the questions hanging. "Even if she is just trying to cling onto this data, who's to say she can't just do something like force Alarus attempt to decrypt the payload once she's done waiting for whatever conditions she's anticipating. Biding is just as valid a strategy, even if we didn't have the payload - we barely have anybody to talk to on the fleet level at this point."

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Red and Moon get to work attempting to decipher the engagement plan being used by the UGM forces in the system. The broad outline becomes clear after an hour of analysis: Web forces in the system are attempting to strengthen local defenses around several thousand small to medium-sized mineral extraction and manufacturing complexes, while the UGM forces are destroying them. However, according to the pre-combat order of battle, the UGM should have had more than enough forces to destroy these facilities weeks ago. The strategy therefore appears to be to force the Web into a battle of attrition. Without ever fully deploying their forces, the UGM conceals exactly how many ships are deployed at Trieste, and makes token strikes and feints to destroy the industrial base of the system. The Web forces are pouring into the system in greater numbers every hour, but without being able to mass enough ships to pin down and destroy many UGM attack ships during their hit and run strikes.

If the Web forces were to muster elsewhere and then jump in en masse, they would probably be able to crush the UGM in a matter of a few hours- or at least, make further operations in Trieste impossible. However, the resourcing operations here are critical, the Web lacks centralized leadership, and the battle appears (superficially) to be one that they can win.

That same decentralized leadership has made the system increasingly chaotic and difficult to operate in for the UGM. While most of the Web forces are attempting to concentrate around the industrial facilities in the inner system, there are heat signature and active radar pulses that indicate several hundred thousand jump-capable ships are searching the mid and outer system in a loosely coherent grid pattern. The problem is this: the attack carriers hiding in the system are vulnerable when their attack ships are in combat, and a jump-capable ship doesn't necessarily need to remain in place to receive the radar echo of a sensor pulse. The scouting forces can cover a massive volume of space by emitting high-energy pulses and then jumping away before the pulse reflects off of nearby ships and objects and returns, instead reading the echo from their new position elsewhere in the system. The carriers do not have the same luxury, and so they are probably being forced to jump at random and in response to enemy sensor sweeps at very tight intervals.

The resulting confusion has thrown the UGM order of battle, communications protocols, and encryption into chaos. The local military protocols have been totally optimized to reduce the probability of detection.

Alarus spends his time on the signals intelligence suite and comes to a realization: there probably aren't any comm buoys remaining in the system at all. It's highly likely that any UGM asset that isn't jump capable has been destroyed. There's simply too much enemy activity and too many high energy sensor sweeps for low-observability alone to be any protection.

"I'm not sure I understand your question, Officer Capek," Red says, "The battle in this system was initiated in order to attrit enemy forces in the local arm. It appears to be working."

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

Having a better understanding of the situation at hand from the analysis, he leans back. "At this point, we're going to just need to stand by on alert until we get the orders from the Commander. If everybody's deployed in or around here, there's nowhere else to fall back to for our ship in order to deliver this data payload. Anything in your backlog of shows to watch, Moon? Some kind of background noise while we're on standby may be the best fit for me."

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus

Alarus sits in the E-Warfare suite, scanning through the data dump. "Nothing. Absolutely god drat nothing." He mutters a string of curses as he tries another sensor scan, trying to find a trace of a high command proxy ship.

Doing a sensor scan to see if Alarus can find a hint of a proxy ship. Sensors 12, Intelligence Analysis 13

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"Never mind that Red. I didn't realize that this was all about attrition." Nothing else going on, Marek thought to himself. The UGM is just drawing in Web forces to destroy them. Doesn't seem like the best way to fight the enemy. Marek considered saying this out loud, but decided not to bring it up. The higher ups thought this was best, so there's no reason to question it.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She yawns, watching her predictive analysis continue to run and digest data, refining itself and improving automatically as she idles. “What a mess, though. Our forces have totally randomized their movements so that they can’t really be touched, while coordination allows them to still continue on the offensive. It’s remarkable to watch really, such a large-scale offensive near-completely waged in such organized chaos.”

Moon laments, explaining to the others, “But it’s also the reason we have no chance to find anyone except by dumb luck. They’re moving randomly except when they get a call to hit targets – they strike, then resume moving randomly.” Su continues to explain her pseudo-plan, “I thought maybe if we could predict the arrival of a detachment of Web forces, we could arrive at the same time they did and hail the inevitable UGM attack ships launched by our forces in response – if the commander was even interested in that.” She notes the theory, types it up and flings the suggestion off to Okeanos as a memo to be used, or not used.

At Carl’s urging, she swipes at the tiny window playing in the corner of her display and brings it up on to the larger display for everyone, revealing the entertainment she’d been sort-of-watching, “Suit yourself.”

It seems to be a melodrama about beautiful, brilliant medical students at a lovely Muvian academy with lots of shady oaks and romance and angst, all set in the 36th century, with lots of Garden World ‘porn’ - lovely tracking shots through parks and trees, open outdoor natural beauty that is a dead giveaway the show takes place on Mu, and is especially popular with viewers living on colonies or environments that are a little more enclosed and austere. Moon keeps watching, while also reading and talking, “It’ll be nice when we get some time back in civilized reaches of the galaxy, and access back to civilian networks – I’m really eating into the backlog of my media cache.”

She looks up to the others, “How about you guys?” Su prods them, “Assuming we actually got some vacation time, what would you all even do without me to brighten your days?”

Sorry, had a very busy weekend!

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



"All about attrition may be oversimplying the strategic objectives, Officer Capek," Red says helpfully, "Our strike on Remonde Prime was enabled by the redeployment of Web forces in response to this attack. Also, there is much unfounded speculation that our attack there was itself only a secondary objective to collecting intelligence from the ground."

"However, strategic theory requires that major strategy objectives be synergistic rather than conflicting. I'm certain that destroying the majority of jump-capable Web forces in the Perseus arm, as well as destroying a major industrial and population center at Remonde Prime, are mutually reinforcing toward our larger strategic goals. Actually, it's difficult to envision a strategic goal that would not be enabled by these two objectives. If our forces can hold and continue to destroy the forces here until their strategic reserve is depleted, they may be unable to rebuild it," Red continues earnestly.

"Also, I like this show. The plot of each episode is nearly identical, but still less predictable than the behavior of humans while under military authority. People are much more interesting when they're not following any specific instructions. "

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Good joke, Red - I didn't peg you as developing a taste for Muvian dramas. Didn't you say you were in one of these before, Moon, or am I remembering it differently? Ah, here's where the side character gives accidental insight to the main characters." He goes for one of his premixed fruit drinks marked rather unceremoniously CITRUS. "The thing about it, Red, is that these actors do have specific directions, but a good director will give them a bit of latitude for their parts. Then again, there was that show about the food thing. I don't think I can relate to anything on that one."

He sipped through the attached straw. "It goes without saying, but if we're only on standby alert and not in the pods, the Commander is likely not anticipating combat any time soon. There's a good chance that we will be on standby for some time - and, based on what you just said," he continues, shaking his drink a bit at red, "then UGM is likely at an advantage with or without us being in shock gel right now." He pulls up performance history on the 425, looking over the propulsion system for minute changes that can be made to his calculations. "You like these shows, Marek?" It wasn't a loaded question, but Carl briefly considered. Didn't Marek say he was from a colony, rather than a Garden World? In any case, it was idle chatter.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

Red and Carl’s exchange tickles her, an impish grin cracking her face. “The dramas can be scripted, but still reflect truths about life, or people. Through fiction, people can learn about… depths of emotion, empathy, overcoming adversity. It connects us to others.” She stops herself before she waxes on any further in that direction – but needless to say, she is in full support of Red consuming fiction.

She clears her throat and looks down a little, “But, yeah, I was in two episodes of that Cadets program. They were filming at the academy.” The show was more or less the same as the one they are watching but set at a military academy. This is stuff she tends not to talk about in the UGM because some people got really judgey if you mentioned having a life outside of the military. “I was already doing those PR spots for the UGM – you know, the ones where it’s like,” She puts on her super-serene narrator voice, “‘The Unitary Government Military is where the bright minds of tomorrow get their start working with the technology of the future’, and then, you know, it shows someone like me in uniform smiling while sitting at a workstation.” She shrugs.

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"Ah, I see. I'm not much of a strategy person Red, so I don't always get the big picture of what's happening during a fight. I see what you're saying about how this plan is unfolding." Marek closed his eyes and leaned back. Not much to do now. Maybe its just a matter of waiting for the battle to come to an end, Marek thought. Easier then trying to find anyone in this chaos.

"Hmm? Muvian dramas? Not really a fan of the drama. Mostly just liked seeing the shots of the outdoors. My sister on the other hand, loves those shows. Never misses them. She was in the academy when that Cadets show was being shot there. She wanted to get on that show, but her studies kept her too busy to try to be famous."

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



"Search complete," Red says. All four crew members' interfaces start to play a rather sanctimonious advertisement for a small military academy on Mu. As the narrator explains how Mu sorts its conscripts and why one military academy is clearly better than the dozens of others, the camera slow pans across a group of suspiciously diverse Muvian students until it comes to rest on a young Moon Su-kyung.

She smiles at the camera and says, without a hint of irony, "Tyl Sung Military Academy is training us to maintain order throughout the galaxy, and for prosperous lives after our military service. You have a choice about how you serve. Choose Tyl Sung Military Academy."

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

A chill runs down the back of her neck as she hears her own voice. She shrinks a bit in her seat as the cheesy advert plays, mumbling, “Not fair, Red.”

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



"There was more than one query result," Red says. The media viewer queues over twenty additional clips.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

“The rest of the crew really doesn’t need to watch all this.” All the spots look rather ridiculous, especially now that they’re all actually serving. She attempts to switch topics rather obviously, “I didn’t know your sister was in the service, Marek – where’s she at?”

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus sifts through the mountains of data, scanning and running data points against various algorithms and patterns with the help of the e warfare suite. He stopped momentarily when the video of Moon came up. It elicited quite a chuckle as he saw her shilling for a military academy. Some people would do anything for attention... "Hey Moon, getting ready for a post military career in acting?"

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

He swivels in the service stool he was doing his maintenance reporting on, his face away from Moon's. "You could always vote skip," he says. "What! How can this have that many views? Out of control," he mutters to himself. The virtual screens track with his body movements - he hides laughing, but as the playlist advances to Moon doing the oldest spiel in the UGM recruiting book, it goes full-screen.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She take a drink from her glass and looks over the rim at Alarus. An innocent enough comment from someone else, but she’s spent enough time with Officer Za’al to sniff out the condescension behind it. Setting the glass down, she smirks, “I could. We can’t all resign ourselves to humorless, spartan lives of ascetic service - who would you have left to judge if we did?" Su rolls her eyes a little and sets her drink down, "But to your question - by then, I’d be a veteran with seven published papers, two acting credits and an impeccable sense of style, so I imagine I’d have to weigh my options.” ‘Haughty’ isn’t her strongest suit, but she manages. “Why, what were you planning on doing?”

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"My sister is a Biomedical Equipment Specialist back at fleet command. She's a bit of a pacifist, but she knew it was better to sign up early rather then get drafted and get put on the front lines. She figured that if she was going to have to work for the war effort, then she do something that healed people instead of hurting them. She seems to be enjoying it too. Might just go on to be a doctor." He then stopped speaking as he heard Alarus make assumptions about Moon. Instead of jumping into that argument, he just stayed silent.,

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Nothing wrong with paving your way to your future," Carl says with some emphasis, back still turned with the full-screen UGM spot highlights of Moon. "I wouldn't doubt anybody on this carrier has something they plan on doing with their future."

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



A conversation between conscripts almost always runs to two places: where each came from before the war, and where they're planning to go after. If there ever is an after. It will take a hundred years and a thousand battles on the scale of Trieste to bring the Web to heel. And then the conscripts will go back to the garden worlds, back to their vassal colonies, and resume their lives in the manner that they lived them before, if they can remember how that was.

Alarus only barely follows his conversation with Moon, focusing the majority of his attention on the electronic warfare and sensor suites. In truth, he is not a very good sensor analyst, having only a few weeks of AI-assisted training in such matters. His specialization is in electronic warfare. But, he has an advantage that Carl and Su and Marek and even Red, Okeanos, and the Commander lack. He knows some things about proxy ships, about how they operate and what their capabilities truly are, that few others do. Not the official specifications of such capabilities, of course. But he has heard a few things in his time that cause him to examine the sensor data for signs that no one else has.

Okeanos has a formidable capability in its ability to detect changes in mass by their gravity. Mass changes propagate at light speed, and unlike virtually every other kind of emission, they cannot be hidden before and after a jump displacement. They provide the carrier's primary method of finding jump-capable enemies. They are, however, almost useless for detecting targets that are behaving themselves by the usual laws of physics.

Alarus turns the passive mass sensors on Trieste itself. The star is a G-type, and its convection layer has a very low density, thousands of times less than Earth-standard air pressure. It may be over five thousand kelvins, but he has heard rumors that proxy ships can survive in such environments. One would have a far greater chance of survival there, where no one is looking, than almost anywhere else in the system. And although it would be almost completely blinded, its own mass detectors would enable it to tally and track the comings and goings of jump ships in the system. To some degree. And if there is a proxy ship there, having one of the computer's analyst programs compare a few hours of gravity wave data should reveal it, if it knows exactly what to look for. The ultra high temperature, low-density plasma is a perfect backdrop for finding mass shadows.

It takes only few minutes of distracting conversation for the search program to page him with its first potential result. There is a mass shadow lurking beneath Trieste's photosphere.

The nature of the UGM's military reflects two realities of the war. First, the resources available. The garden worlds have trillions of inhabitants and authorized mass conscription and so manpower has rarely been a concern. Their economies are massive, and so complex devices such as jump drives can be manufactured at a massive scale. And they have many vassal colonies and systems under their dominion, so they can produce antimatter weapons for primary use by their forces. Second, the nature of the enemy. The Web is so diffuse that concentrations of force are useless. Any military force fielded by the UGM will be called upon to fight far greater numbers than their own over colossal volumes of space. The result is ships like Okeanos and Hunter 425.

The various militaries and militias of the Web were constructed under different constraints and with different goals. The first is manpower. Life in space is always a matter of carrying capacity and resources and the lack of both. Asteroid colonies have tiny populations and struggle to support them. And, while they can mass manufacture minimally capable warships, complex systems such as jump drives are in short supply. Antimatter weapons are almost unheard of; few Web groups have the free energy to manufacture them. The second constraint is the nature of the enemy. The garden worlds have many vassal colonies, but are not, themselves, diffuse or hidden or particularly hard targets. When the Web builds the ships that it is capable of building, that most often means swarms of cheap and simplistic drones with poor jump capability and only a faint hope of defeating a UGM attack carrier.

A human nation, but one utterly alienated from the culture of the garden worlds and steadfastly opposed to their rule, the ousters were the closest thing in the Web to a rival to the Unitary Government. Their generation ships traveled between the stars long before the UGM first terrorized the Web into submission, crawling at relativistic speeds, the product of a holographic culture that believed the future of humanity lay in abandoning not just planets but stars as well. They knew as well as the UG did that two cultures of such antithetical purposes could never co-exist. When the Web can build the ships that they want to build, the weapons that they desire to wield, they build machines that can kill planets. The ousters were the first, perhaps the only Web nation that could build what they envisioned.

To destroy a planet in a practical sense, neutral particle beams proved to be the most reliable and the most easily constructed with the materials they had at hand. To destroy a garden world, they scaled the beam guides and accelerator coils to massive size, to produce a stream of neutron radiation that would strip the atmosphere from an entire planet in seconds. In minutes, all organic life on the planet facing the beam would be reduced to ash. In hours, the surface would be vitrified. To protect them, they wrapped them in meter upon meter of collapsed matter and exotic laminates. To power them, they built artificial black holes and poured into them matter siphoned from neutron stars. They mined rogue planets and invisible brown dwarf stars for the raw materials needed, and built in secret for decades before they were ready to accept battle.

A proxy ship is no more than five hundred meters long and masses a few million tons. Alarus's mass shadow is three hundred kilometers long and masses as much as a small moon.

The UGM fields a fleet of some five million carriers and patrol ships. At their height, at the moment that they believed themselves equal to the task of destroying the nine garden worlds and announced the finality of their intentions with the surprise attack on Earth that burnt it to a cinder, the ousters had eleven dreadnoughts.

One is hiding in Trieste.

The Oldest Man fucked around with this message at Feb 13, 2015 around 08:05

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus chuckles at Moon's defensive response. "Woah woah just giving you a hard time." He pauses as he sorts and filters some data, running it through one of the Okeaos analysis subsystems. "But if you must know, I'm not sure yet. I could probably get a job in the Iberian Government, but a life of following in my father's footsteps is not terribly appealing." He pauses again for a few moments as he pulls the results and checks them against a few background radiation templates. "Maybe open my own consulting shop, AI Dev, Security, who knows?" He says with a shrug. He took the comparison results and mapped it out on his own Viz program. The shadow stood out among the radiation. Something.....big....very big. "Oh....oh gently caress." A sentence comprised entirely of vulgarity followed. Alarus sent the visualization layered over the data to the rest of the Crewmembers and Red. "Guys, we have a big loving problem."

Alarus immediately began breaking down the data. "Red, can you package this and send it to the Commander and open a conference channel? Guys, can you jump in and help me find the location and possible trajectory of this?" Alarus tried to hone in on the shadow and extrapolate a better location and a possible trajectory.

Flagging down the boss and trying to get a more exact fix on where the ship might be and where it's going - Intelligence Analysis 13

Pinche Rudo fucked around with this message at Feb 13, 2015 around 15:27

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

It’s clear she stopped listening before he even got into explaining his dreams of a consulting firm. The question had been rhetorical and she wasn’t really concerned with his sincere answer. With the data coming back in though, she switches courses and moves to one of the unoccupied terminals.

“Do you think the rest of the offensive knows it’s here? Do you think command even suspects it’s here?” She brings up the estimated profile, murmuring, “Hard to believe something so big is even practical.” Su idles at her station for a moment, trying to determine what exactly her role could be just now, “If they don’t know, we’ll probably need to flag down someone from the fleet or point it out somehow.” Fortunately, she’d just sent a proposal to Okeanos about ten minutes ago for an action plan on how they might contact the main fleet.

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"What is that? Is that real?" He's on his feet as the data streams over to his terminals. "The scale of that thing...That has to be carrying ordnance on a far greater scale than we can match. I've never seen something like this before. Is that thing active? Is it moving?" He starts running sensor checks, a sinking feeling settling into the pit of his stomach. They're going to get deployed to do something about that. At that scale, unless the point defenses on that ship are state of the art, there are likely points where a Hunter-class attack vehicle could exploit. He thinks back to what Red mentioned in yesterday's discussion - primary responsibility of the command officer corps is to spend lives and materiel - and grimaces. Can the 425 actually withstand going into that environment from a structural standpoint? He attempted to think it through as the rest of the team began to scramble. "Moon, Red, or anybody - do we have any accessible information as to what the capabilities of this thing are?"

Strategy (Space) - 14. The primary question: what is the objective of this planet-buster ship in Trieste? What are the key weaknesses of dreadnoughts?

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Alarus starts comparing historical data to build a course plot for the dreadnought. It's not going anywhere in a hurry. It looks like it's in a subsurface polar orbit, slowly tracking North to South across the star's equator. As far as he can tell, it's not maneuvering under power at all, just following its own considerable momentum. The physics of the star's convection layer make the stability of such an orbit somewhat suspect, but there's no way to tell whether it's currently powered up or not. It's hanging steady about one hundred kilometers beneath the convective layer's boundary with the photosphere, just where the hot plasma starts to become stable and predictable.

Meanwhile, Carl starts digging out the known specs for dreadnoughts. The UGM faced them in battle twenty times, but the most famous engagement was the Battle of Titan, immediately following the attack on Earth. Some ten thousand local defense ships engaged the ouster dreadnought Mechanism of Grief near Saturn, to destroy it before it could flee the system. The dreadnought's jump drive was disabled in the opening moments of the battle, but it took a further ten days and twelve hundred attack ships lost before it went silent.

The problem is that dreadnoughts have no real weaknesses. Every one of their systems, except the jump drive and the power plant, is redundant to a degree that seems absurd to UGM military architects. The main battery is still effective even after eighty percent of its accelerator coils and beam guides are destroyed, point defenses use local power plants, and the control system is totally distributed. Mechanism of Grief was over fifty percent destroyed, detached from the vehicle or vaporized, and remained in the fight until its power plant went critical and destroyed it. Even damaging a dreadnought is a challenge. The armor plate requires the use of ultra high velocity attacks and solid hyper-dense rounds to punch through, but those munitions are relatively ineffective at dealing the kind of massive internal damage required to stop a ship like a dreadnought. In twenty engagements, the UGM never found a better way to knock one out than to slowly cut it to ribbons with hours or days of sustained attacks. And the losses they suffered, both from the dreadnoughts' own formidable defensive capabilities as well as their inevitable flotilla of consort ships, were staggering each and every time.

By contrast, engaging the target while it's sitting within a sun is actually the easy part. The hypercore rounds required have more than enough mass and inertia to make it through the low density plasma and retain their accuracy, and the temperatures are nothing that the slugs can't handle for the moments it will take them to reach the target from above. If the dreadnought remains in its current position, and if there is no opposition from the other Web forces in the system, destroying it is simply a matter of ammunition. Okeanos carries enough.

Commander Ilyusha cuts into the group's discussion, "Briefing room, ten minutes. Keep your flight gear on."

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"And there it is," he says. He gets up, crumpling the drink packet. "My guess is we're going in thanks to this new information. Red, load flight schedule Z as a template and prepare for whatever the Commander is going to throw at us." He never used it before, but he wrote up a flight plan as purely a fanciful projection. The capital ship attack flight plan (with both coordinated strike wing and solo patterns). "Take a look at this related data - Marek especially, concerning the dreadnought defense specs."

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She’s going over the data that Carl had pulled up, mostly about the capabilities and construction of the dreadnought, and how the incident at Titan played out. In incidents where Red requires little additional assistance, she takes it on herself to sort out the data the others have produced and synthesize it into theories, plans. She’s imaginative. That’s her thing. So going into briefing, she wants to have a couple of options ready to throw the Commander’s way.

Quickly, she downs her drink, pulls up the cam built into the workstation to use as a mirror and give herself a once over. Appearance checked over, she looks back to the rest of the crew, still prepping her presentation. Just ideas. They don’t even know what the commander will propose yet. Still, Moon has a notion, and the authoritative shift in her tone shows it, “Marek, would the star alter our firing solutions much? Could we even use the gravity to fire reliably from farther out?”

And over to the astrogator, “Carl, if we had to do it as fast as we could, how fast can we jump, unload munitions, and jump again? Assuming we had each jump plotted out ahead of time.”

And to Alarus, “I’m guessing a target that big and valuable is pretty well insulated from EWF, with a mountain of defensive capabilities – but to be totally secure and stay hidden, it’d have to cut itself off from other Web communications, so it’s likely idling blind, right? Do you think you could begin to guess what the effective range for it’s sensors are, how far out can it recognize incoming projectiles – like the kind we use? And could sitting in the plasma limit the range of those sensors?”

They had ten minutes until briefing and she had a ridiculously ambitious plan to disabuse herself of.

TOM, you might want to help folks out with the answers to these questions too! I dunno, I might be barking up the wrong tree. Also, give us some CP so Moon can get some strategy or tactics or something for all her dumb ideas.

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

"Jeezus." He stared at the data. During training he had heard of the dreadnoughts and knew how Mechanism of Grief got taken down, but he didn't think he'd have to deal with a dreadnought himself. He remembered how UGM forces had to bombard the dreadnought with massive amounts of ordnance just to get through its armor. The Okeanos could get the job done, but only if the dreadnought stayed right there and didn't retaliate.

"O.K. got the data Carl. This thing looks like that beast of a craft from the Battle of Titan. The data pretty much confirms that. I can confirm that we have the ability to take it out. Assuming everything is in our favor... Wait, is the dreadnought aware of us? Why is it just sitting in orbit there?"

Marek tried to pull up sensor information about the dreadnought. He then stopped trying when he realized that the only information they picked up on it is its mass shadow. He found that there was no way of answering his most immediate questions.

DocBubonic fucked around with this message at Feb 15, 2015 around 22:14

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus scans the data, running it through a variety of filters as he rubbed his charm between his thumb and forefinger. He shakes his head "Son of a loving bitch, it's just sitting there. It's a sitting duck. It's convenient....too convenient..." Maybe it was the old Intel instincts acting up, but something was off about this. "This doesn't seem right, guys. Could it be a trap? Maybe the Web forces are coordinating around the dreadnought, setting it up as a target to draw UGM forces in for an ambush. Let's see if we can find anyone hiding around the system. Carl, can you come up with a list of probable tactical ambush points around the star and use them to backtrack to possible Web hiding spots? I'll try to scan for any comms in the area around it. Maybe we even risk sending a probe or drone spoofed to look like a UGM Cruiser and see what happens?" Alarus redirects the scan to the system around the star trying to intercept short or medium range burst comms or scans that Web forces may be using to monitor the system around the dreadnought.

Electronic Ops Sensors- 12, Electronic Ops- E-Warfare 14, Intel Analysis 13

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Considering it has no viable targets in this system, a ship of that size is likely there for maintenance or retrofitting, is my guess. We are technically in the middle of some of the most prolific parts of Web manfuctory," he says. "The Okeanos is able to make 30 AU in a single jump, and it's one of the larger ship frames in the UGM fleet. There's no telling what the jump-strike capabilities are of that monstrosity. You don't just keep a tactical weapon hanging out in the mantle of a star as part of a gambit." He resleeves his arm in his flight suit, wriggling the forearm portion back into place. "Technically, anywhere and everywhere can be a Web nest waiting to happen. There's no time to come up with a list based on probability right now - meetings, and whatnot - but I can probably get a search thread started. More accurately, Red, please use available fleet tactical data for Alarus' question and prepare a top five for after the briefing."

The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Alarus switches targets and begins studying the state of the battle close-in to the primary star. It's difficult to tell if any of the activity there is specifically related to the dreadnought. Local space there is thick with half-completed solar collection arrays, debris, and warships trying to destroy the former without becoming the latter. He tallies about ten thousand (give or take) discrete mobile signatures on the near side of the star. Many of those are probably utility ships trying to maintain the solar arrays, but many are drone warships. The UGM has been making a series of raids to destroy the solar collection system, which doesn't appear to have drawn a response from the dreadnought. As far as ambushes go, it seems unlikely that the Web forces in the system have enough coherent leadership to put together a large enough force to threaten a concerted attack by the main battle fleet.

If the dreadnought engages, it still doesn't seem enough to affect the outcome. Even if it's at full strength, it's facing an entire UGM battle Front. Dreadnoughts were formidable opponents, but they inevitable lost their battles against the UGM. And those battles were against thousands of ships, not tens or hundreds of thousands. The UGM will take significant losses, but history has already decided the superiority of one force here over the other.

Moon, Marek, and Carl start working out a preliminary attack plan. If the dreadnought doesn't maneuver to escape, they can use a time-on-target attack to empty carrier's entire magazine over ten sorties, carefully timed so that the rounds from each sortie will arrive and strike the dreadnought simultaneously. That might destroy the massive ship outright. The disadvantage of such a plan is that a last minute engine burn by the dreadnought will take it out of the path of the incoming rounds entirely. There's little room for middle ground. Attempting to spread the fire to establish a kill box that the dreadnought will not be able to escape reduces the fire concentration to a point that is little more than annoyance.

The crew heads up to the briefing room with their tactical plan and find the Commander, two of her tactical officers, and Okeanos working on a modified version of Moon's contact plan. The briefing room has been reconfigured into a tactical planning grid. Tens of thousands of enemy contacts, and the fleeting shadows of UGM attack groups as they cut through the system and then vanish again, are displayed in winking symbology on the ceiling. Ilyusha waves 425's crew in and motions for them to take seats around the perimeter.

"We have two problems," the Commander begins, "One: destroying that dreadnought. Red has been relaying your tactical planning data up to us, and Moon's idea of a time-on-target attack is promising. Even if the attack fails, the UGM main battle fleet will be alerted and they can easily finish the job. I'm more concerned with the second problem: how did this thing get here and what is its mission? UG intelligence reported that all eleven dreadnoughts were destroyed, the last one over eighteen months ago. Ideas?"

aldantefax
Oct 10, 2007

ALWAYS BE MECHFISHIN'

Carl

"Is there a possibility that this thing was built here? We may not be looking at a dreadnought that has never been documented before," he says, shifting about in his seat. "Otherwise, it has to have come from somewhere and been stationed there for much longer than the UGM has been engaging. Maybe the data payload from Remonde has more information regarding this, but we - or, I don't, anyway - have any way of verifying that other than a hunch. Since we only have its mass-shadow to go off of, there's no telling what's actually going on unless we get some direct observation." Another blind situation like Remonde, only this time on a much sillier scale, the astrogator thought to himself.

Ambivalent
Oct 14, 2006



Moon

She’s practically buried herself in data, attention strained, to the point where she almost runs into the door before arriving in the briefing room. When she does finally look up, it is only to see the tactical planning grid that she’d already been staring at before. There are problems with their plans and she’s working to try and come up with solutions.

When the commander turns the discussion back around to them, she finally looks up from her work, “At risk of tautology, space is big, and we hardly have a full accounting of Web manufacturers – still troubling that something could be made in absolute secrecy. Worst case scenario: the UGM has committed an incredible amount of resources to this system and this vessel is part of an elaborate trap or has some unknown capabilities.” She adds, “Best case: we’ve caught them flatfooted and this is a chance to damage a significant resource.”

“Either scenario, it behooves us to call attention to it, right?”

Pinche Rudo
Feb 8, 2005



Alarus Za'al

Alarus continually ran the calculations and data coming in from scans on the system around the star and the Dreadnought on the way to the briefing. After the presentation on the plan and the question posed to those assembled about the story behind the dreadnought, Alarus chimed in. "Carl has a point, I am betting that intel we picked up on Remonde may have a clue on it. There's so many possibilities you just don't know where to start with the web. It could be some different kind of weapon or a giant drone fac. It could even be run by a self-replicating AI." Alarus shrugged "There's no way to be sure unless we get close enough to make contact and see what it is, or we go ahead and crack the packet and see what the intel says."

Pinche Rudo fucked around with this message at Feb 17, 2015 around 04:40

DocBubonic
Mar 11, 2003

Tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis

Marek

He walked into the briefing room and sat down. Most of his calculations were made already. The only problem was that he had to make those calculations based on the information available, which seemed less than ideal. Hearing Alarus's suggestion, he followed up with his own.

"I think it would be in our best interest to investigate what's down there more. Unless its a threat to us that is. If we need to destroy we have the capabilities to do it, but I think we should hold off on that until we have more information available."

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The Oldest Man
Jul 28, 2003



Ilyusha listens carefully to the suggestions from Hunter 425's crew, and a few more technical points about the possibility of an attack from her strategic planning adjutant. The crux of it is this: to make Moon's time-on-target attack possible, the Okeanos must jump closer in. In its current position, some hundred AU out from the primary star, it's possible to monitor the situation without any serious risk of being detected. However, combat operations against the dreadnought require that the carrier move to within about 15 AU of Trieste... assuming the blow needs to both hit the target and arrive in hours, rather than days or weeks. At that distance, there is a substantial risk of combat with jump-capable Web forces operating throughout the local volume.

"So, here is our decision: we have a large, strategically valuable Web target in our sights, maybe an unclassified dreadnought. We're out of contact with local UGM forces in this area. Whether that mass shadow is a target of opportunity or a threat, the local forces have to be alerted so that they can take it down. However, making an attack on our own exposes us to a certain level of risk. We may come under fire and be destroyed before we can get enough rounds on course to pose a serious threat to the bogey."

"And we're still carrying our intelligence payload," the Commander finishes, "Which could be directly relevant to this situation."

"Under the circumstances, I'm willing to deal with the consequences from the intelligence division. Officer Za'al, I want you to decrypt the payload in total isolation from the rest of the ship's systems. If there are counter-intrusion measures, they can't be allowed to impair our combat capabilities."

"Anyone who would like to make a formal objection against this course of action, do so now and I will note it in the log."

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