Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dystopian Wars X-Cam Control Point Mission #1 vs Russ 5/24/11

Full of confidence from my Strategic win against Jeremy I challenged Russ to a Control Point mission . . . unfortunately, Russ also wanted to fight for a Control Point. We decided that it made perfect sense for us to play a Control Duel, something new in the X-Cam. We would both pay the 15 SP, and then the winner would get the Control Point. Sounded good to us, and works fine with Control Point 1. We’ll have to come up with something else for 2 and 3 if this lines up again, but so far, so good.

The mission for Control Point 1 is a straight up fight with 1200 points (1150 because Russ didn’t have more). Deployment zones are basically kitty-corner sections opposite each other.

Again we deployed the terrain using what has become our standard d10 technique (actually had to use a d8 this time, but works equally well), which resulted in a large island and a medium island squaring off in opposite quadrants, a shoal of reefs between them, and then the massive industrial complex with my modified MonPoc Statue of Liberty model . . . which in this report I now name and codify as a piece of my fleet’s lore J

Russ’ fleet: 1 Sky Fortress, 1 Battleship, 3 Squadrons of 3 Frigates, 1 Squadron of 3 Cruisers, 1 Squadron of 3 Bombers, 1 Squadron of 2 Bombers, 1 Squadron of 2 Scout Gyros, and then a mix of Tiny Fighters and Torpedo Bombers.

My fleet: 3 (that’s right, THREE) Battleships, one with kinetic generator and 2 with shields. 1 Squadron of 3 cruisers (shields), 2 Squadrons of 4 Frigates, 1 Squadron of four Scout Ships, and 10 Tiny Fighters.

And now . . . the rest of the story . . .

Commodore Snow scanned the bright blue horizon from within the farsight device. He could barely hear the bridge crew’s grousing over the soft whir of the machine’s gears and pulleys, but he could have guessed what they were complaining about. None of the men or officers of the 8th Fleet were happy with their redeployment. Truth to tell, the Commodore shared both their discomfort and their annoyance.

The trek across the Panamanian Conveyance had been harrowing, not least because of the uneasy truce the Senator had managed to broker for the duration of their crossing. To see his ships lifted dripping out of the calm Caribbean waters and hoisted onto those enormous cargo haulers had been daunting to say the least. And, days later when it came time for the ships to be launched into the Pacific, he had been ready to scream with the tension  of inaction and the feeling of helplessness from having his entire command trussed up for transport.

With a shake of his head he looked back into the machine. A roiling bank of thunder clouds scudded low out of the northeast, although overhead the sky was crystal clear. The Sturginium Scanner Array technician had reported three small contacts behind a large, lush island off the port bow, but the approaching storm seemed to be playing merry hob with the scanner’s ability to see anything within. Still, three small returns could hardly threaten the command he now led. Stepping out of the machine he moved to the forward observation area and surveyed his expanded fleet.

Riding a short distance off to port was the FSS Massachusetts, of course. His flagship’s sister was never far behind when the Senator drew up the order of battle. The Third Escort Squadron, reinforced back up to full strength, sailed about the flagship and filled the sea between the two massive battleships while the First Cruiser Squadron escorted the Massachusetts. Overhead buzzed a defensive screen of naval fighters, and behind the main task-force floated Scout Squadron Seven, brought up to full strength at last and with captains eager to prove the effectiveness of the new vessels.

Far off to starboard, closest to the approaching storm front, lay the newest edition to the 8th Fleet’s detached Pacific Task-Force. FSS Hermes was a battleship commanded by a man Commodore Snow had never met, a Captain Weymouth the Senator had vouched for. The Hermes was fitted with a new generator in place of the shields Snow generally preferred; it was supposed to grant the battlewagon far greater speed and maneuverability, but Snow had yet to be convinced of its tactical value. Around the Hermes sailed the full-strength Sixth Escort Squadron, deployed there to keep an eye on their newest comrade.

Sitting sedately between the two elements of his command was the object that had brought them all together. It had been waiting for them on the Pacific side of the crossing, Hermes alone standing guard until their arrival. It was a legend throughout the FSA military: Victory Station. A massive floating complex of docks, derricks, warehouses, and repair and refit facilities all dominated by the enormous Statue of Victory. Victory Station was a mobile home port that could, given time, be deployed anywhere in the world and was sufficient to support an entire Fleet Command involved in direct action for months without additional re-supply.

Why the Senator needed Victory Station deployed in the middle of this God-forsaken little archipelago in the middle of the Pacific, in the very center of the Empire of the Blazing Sun’s sphere of influence, Commodore Snow could not have said. Nor could he venture a guess as to why the fleet assigned to escort and defend the Station had been his own 8th Fleet, redeployed from the cold waters of the North Atlantic where his men were most comfortable.

But his was not to reason why, as the saying went, and it appeared the Imperial forces in the area were unaware of their presence. Soon Victory Station would be anchored and deployed, and he would be able to establish his fleet more comfortably in their new command area.

Shaking off his reverie the Commodore glanced again at the approaching storm. Victory Station was huge, he knew. But he still would not be envying the men stationed there when this monster hit.

“Commodore,” the radioman’s voice was steady. “Hermes reports contacts ahead. Captain Weymouth is redeploying to cover the Station.”

“What –“ Snow had not finish his statement as he moved to the starboard wind screens before a soft green glow began to emanate from the distant battleship’s forward generator housing. The light became more and more intense even as the ship began a slow, majestic turn to port, calculated to bring her in front of the station. With a brilliant green flash it seemed as if the ship lifted out of the water, a concussion wave rippling out in a widening circle, and the ship surged forward faster than anything her size had any right moving. Even at this distance Snow could see the massive turrets tracking back to starboard, into the approaching storm. It looked to Snow as if they were elevating to their highest position . . .

Before further reports could come in, the echoing staccato boom of the great guns echoed off the surrounding islands. Strobing spears of bright flame lanced out towards the cloud cover.

“What is that man thinking? Saunders, do you have any returns on that machine of yours?” Snow was scanning the storm front with his eyes as the watch officer did the same from within the farsight.

“Sir,” the sailor at the Sturginium detection readout looked nervous. “Those three small contacts are still sitting off behind the island. Other than that, we’re getting intermittent returns from inside the storm that are not conclusive.”

Even as he finished, however, a fireball erupted in the clouds ahead silhouetting a dark, massive shape that had been hovering in the storm.

“Sky Fortress!” The farsight lookout shouted. Streamers of flaming debris fell from the huge machine as it staggered in flight from the pounding Hermes’ main guns had delivered. The channel below the air carrier was crowded with ships now outlined in the cascade of burning fuel. Imperial cruisers and frigates were pushing through the straight towards Victory Station. A looming shadow, larger than the rest and deeper into the storm, could only be a battleship sailing almost directly beneath the Sky Fortress.

“We’ve got two contacts bearing 45 degrees to starboard!” The detector tech announced. “Flyers, coming out of the cloud cover!”

Snow glared into the roiling clouds swirling around the distant island off to starboard and could just make out two sleek shapes; their stubby wing mounts housing giant turbine engines that struggled to keep the machines aloft. The two vessels slewed to bring their broadsides to bear and two showers of rockets added their exhaust to the billowing clouds. The rockets rained down around the Hermes who responded with a defiant pulse of anti-aircraft fire.

The frigates of the Sixth Escort Squadron came about to follow Hermes into a defensive position in front of Victory Station as the clouds around the Sky Fortress disgorged three large, winged aeroplanes. These newcomers unleashed more streams of rockets at Hermes, battering the battleship’s defenses. Several rockets landed amidships, sending plumes of smoke and flame into the sky.

“Signal Concord to bring the First Cruiser Squadron into the straight. I want those bombers discouraged before we have to deal with their surface ships.” Snow snapped the orders in a calm voice.

The cruisers sailed forward, hugging the large island to the fleet’s port flank, and opened up with their main guns against the attacking bombers. The left-most enemy shook as it took the brunt of the fire, smoke trailing from its primary engine.

There was no time for celebration, however. Another squadron of enemy bombers descended from the clouds, again targeting Hermes with a fusillade of rockets. The beleaguered anti-aircraft section did its best but again several missiles found their mark, this time amidst the drive wheel housings. Smoke began to pour from the great ship’s engineering spaces.

Three sleek cruisers jumped out of the storm front next, targeting Hermes with everything they could bring to bear. Snow sent his New Hampshire and the Massachusetts skirting the entrance to the straight, presenting their broadsides to the killing ground before the floating city of Victory Station. The roar of FSA naval guns was accompanied by a forest of rising white-water plumes around the cruisers and their attendant frigate escorts. One of the Imperial frigates shivered under multiple impacts and seemed to float apart, silent and graceful in the distance.

“Signal captain Jessop on Armistead. Inquire as to whether his scout ships intend to do any scouting for the battle, if you please.” The Commodore’s voice was tight. The signalman turned to his gear with a raised eyebrow and bent towards the mouthpiece with some reluctance.

“Sir, Scout Squadron is moving forward.” The watch officer reported calmly moments later. The Commodore only nodded and continued watching out the starboard windscreens.

In the distance the Inari gyros unleashed another devastating barrage on the staggering Hermes. The battleship seemed much slower than it had been and had not performed any further green-tinged sprints. Smoke continued to pour up from around the superstructure, and licks of flame could be seen lighting the smoke from within.

“Sir, enemy frigates making their move!” The watch officer pointed towards the island off the port bow. Down the coastline the bridge crew could just make out the bullet-shaped ships steaming around a distant headland towards the Third Escort Squadron who had accompanied the cruisers into the straight. Another force of enemy frigates approached from their starboard, catching the hapless FSA frigate screen between them.

“Bring up the Sixth to support them!” Snow’s orders snapped out and the four Augusta-class frigates of the Sixth Escort Squadron rushed forward to support their sister ships. The smaller vessels began to batter each other with shattering broadsides rendered dim and soft by distance. The unmistakable plumes of multiple marine launches rose up over the Imperial ships, raining down upon several of the Commodore’s frigates. Anti-Aircraft fire rose up to meet them, but many of the assault troops survived to land on the ships and brutal close-quarters fighting erupted on two of them.

“Signal Massachusetts. Fire all weapons on their best targets.” The Commodore stood at the windscreen now, hands braced against the wooden railing below them. “Tell engineering to bring us to a full stop and plug this gap. I want Massachusetts, after her next barrage, to continue steaming behind this island. As soon as Jessup deigns to take up position to see over the damned island, I want them to start reporting directly to Massachusetts for indirect barrage. We have to secure this area or there will be no deploying Victory Station.

The Commodore’s orders went out over the fleet and the ships began to move like majestic cogs in an enormous machine. One of the enemy cruisers, chasing a fleeing Hermes, shattered as it took fire from two battleships and three cruisers. The other two enemy cruisers staggered to a halt under the withering fire. Overhead the scout airships moved further forward, finally unmasking their own rocket batteries and the observation sections of their crews. The first FSA rocket response hammered down upon the now smoking remnants of the enemy cruiser squadron.

“Tell Captain Weymouth he must attempt to disengage.” Even in the distance Snow could see the gun decks were a twisted mess of wreckage leaking smoke into the sky. The fires seem to have been brought under control, but thick columns of smoke were still billowing, dark and foreboding, from the boilers and engines.

“Sir, there’s no response from Hermes.” The signalman’s words were cut short by another shower of rockets falling on the distant battleship from the Imperial bombers. “Their communications section must be out.”

“Damn the man.” Commodore Snow’s voice was pained. “What does he think he can accomplish?”
The question was answered almost immediately as the massive generator glowed green once again. Desultory streamers of anti-aircraft fire floated into the air to dissuade enemy torpedo bombers flying in low over the distant reef. With a brilliant green flash the battleship again seemed to rise out of the water for a moment and surge forward, this time in a wide arch that brought the battered ship into the midst of the frigate battle hard by the large island. What guns remained to her began to lash out at the smaller ships on all sides while scores of assault troops launched from her littered decks. First one and then another Imperial frigate succumbed to the fire, sinking rapidly as water filled their fragile hulls. Battle raged across three others, two of which almost immediately struck their colors while the third slowed momentarily but then continued to rush forward.

This valiant thrust into the heart of the enemy’s escorts proved to be Hermes’ last heroic act, however, as fire from the two remaining enemy cruisers shredded her armor amidships and the mighty vessel sank almost immediately below the waves, vast plumes of steam and smoke rising to mark her final resting place.

“Sir, Sixth Escort Squadron reports no life rafts from Hermes.” The signalman’s voice was subdued.

“No, they continued operations right to the end. I want those Imp cruisers to pay for keeping station. I want them to pay now.”

“Aye aye, sir.” The signalman’s voice grew hard as he began to relay the Commodore’s orders.

Fire from the flagship reached out to shatter one of the approaching cruisers while arching cannonades over the island from Massachusetts, and then a rocket barrage from the airships overhead, stopped the final cruiser in her wake. She began to list to starboard and go down by the bow.

A single enemy frigate, all that had survived Hermes’ attack, swept around the still churning waters that marked the battleship’s grave only to take the broadsides of the FSA flagship full in the bridge. For a moment it seemed as if the smaller ship had been sand-blasted of all color, then her armor withered away and she sank unceremoniously beneath the waves. Her two sister ships, under the control of Hermes’ marines, began to sail back into the FSA fleet, seeking protection from the battleships’ guns.

“Sir, Escort Three reports they are pursuing enemy bombers that appear to be flying off west by northwest. Two more have been reported by Victory Station, rising out of weapons range into the cloud cover and heading east by southeast.”

“Damn . . . they’re scattering. If they maintain their command and control in this area there will be no way we can deploy the station.” He looked up, scanning the sky for the enemy command ship. Its shadow seemed to hover within the churning clouds of the storm, illuminated occasionally by irregular flashes of lightning. The Commodore knew that it would take prodigious luck to land hits through that mess, even on a target so massive. Still, there did not seem to be much hope beyond that, with the remnants of the enemy fleet scattering into the clouds. Where was the damned Imp battleship?

“Have all vessels concentrate their fire on the Sky Fortress. Perhaps, if we can scare her away, the rest will lost their stomach for the fight and leave the area. And someone find the damned enemy battleship, too!”

“Sir, the return identified as the battleship seems to have stopped before the island off to starboard. She’s so close, she might have run aground.” Seaman Saunders reported from the Sturgininum detection array.

“Again? That seems unlikely, but we’ll take whatever luck we can get. I want that Sky Fortress down or scared away. Now.”

Immediately the two remaining battleships thundered their anger into the sky. Balls of flame and cascades of debris erupted from their target, but she remained aloft and moving towards the FSA cruisers. The cruisers, their naval guns facing hard to starboard as they steamed through the straight, rocked over as they fired at maximum elevation, but with no discernible effect.

Seemingly in response to this attack, however, the Burlington, lead cruiser in the formation, seemed to glow from within as the water around her flattened with the force of an overwhelming broadside from the shrouded battleship in the distance. Everything seemed quiet and still around the cruiser before reality caught up with the poor ship and crashed down upon it. Fire spewed up into the stormy sky carrying green sparks and burning debris to fall back down into the surrounding sea in a near-perfect circle around the sinking ship.

As if this were the signal for the massive leviathan overhead to attack, the Sky Fortress came burning out of the clouds, her every weapon targeting the next cruiser in line. A cloud of tiny aeroplanes swept off the carrier’s flight deck, their underslung torpedoes a threat to any vessel afloat. Time seemed to stop for the entire FSA fleet as they watched the moment unfold.

Whether because of their sudden dive, or the damage they had sustained earlier in the battle, or merely divine providence, the Sky Fortress missed completely with all of her weapons. Even as the dive bombers swooped in to compensate, the lucky Concord and her sister ship threw up an umbrella of anti-aircraft fire that withered the small planes before they could even begin their attack run, dropping their tiny carcasses into the pitching waves.

Before this miraculous feat could register the Armistead and her sisters rounded the island, brought their rocket batteries to bear, and sent an overwhelming salvo of fiery death sleating into the Sky Fortress’ exposed flank. The rockets slammed home with overwhelming force, the massive ship’s anti-aircraft fire not equal to the task of stopping the wave of destruction.

However, as the flames and smoke cleared away, the enemy Sky Fortress was still aloft, still moving towards the cruisers. Burning wreckage left a trail in the sea below, and smoke swirled up from a dozen rents in her armor, but she continued to threaten the cruisers as she rose once more into the cover of the storm.

Snow scanned the straights, littered with the burning wreckage of friend and foe alike. Despite the losses he had inflicted upon the enemy, the rest had scattered into the clouds, still very much threatening the enormous, sitting target of the station. With the battleship in the distance an additional unaddressed threat, there was no way he could deploy Victory Station here.

Defeat tasted bitter in his mouth as he gave the orders for his ships to consolidate, take up defensive positions around the station, and begin to withdraw. He possessed a larger and more dangerous force than his enemy, but the need to defend the station would tie him down, and there would be no way he could win a battle of maneuver against the remaining foes. They would have to hope to find a more secure location for the station.

The Senator would not be pleased . . .

1 comment:

  1. Nice battle report and I like your fleet. Good job!