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The Tlalocan Pocket - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 11)

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Birdie_Sparrow

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The Tlalocan Pocket - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 11)

PostMon Mar 12, 2018 7:23 pm

Captain Hevn came in for a landing on the trap line of the PHR Priam class battle cruiser Rubicon. She had been called to an onboard meeting with Commodore Zahm, the commander of the 60th PHR Expeditionary Fleet of which her ship was one of many subordinates.

Her status would have allowed her to take a personal shuttle piloted by junior enlisted personnel. However, as a former fighter pilot she exercised captain’s prerogative to personally fly a Arion to the commodore’s flagship. The chance to get back into a flight suit was a rare treat for Reyna.

After the traditional permission to come aboard and salute to the deck chief she handed off her helmet and gloves to her (temporarily) assigned tech. A brief exchange followed that put Reyna’s mind at ease. While not a tech under her command, his responses indicated a level of competence she deemed acceptable.

Linking into the Rubicon’s AI Clip she mentally requested directions to the assigned meeting room. Instantly a faint, pulsing yellow line appeared within her mind centered on the deck in front of her. Turning her back on the tech, who was slipping her bird into an empty bay, she briskly set off for the meeting.

Entering the briefing room, she sized up the other squadron commanders seated at the table. Pleasantries were exchanged followed by the typical small talk of military life. More than a few of the comments revolved around why they were assembled.

Oddly, she realized everyone present were commanders of frigate-based units – nothing heavier was represented. Unless the unknown officer at one end was a heavy fleet asset, but his officer pips denoted him as not being senior enough to be in charge of a light cruiser never mind a flag force.

The door opened and all rose as Commodore Zahm entered the room. A tall, stern looking individual his personal drone familiar that was part servant and part bodyguard accompanied him. Zahm had a permanent silver sheen to his skin indicating he was one of the rare individuals who could tolerate having forty percent of their body given over to nanites.

Striding to the head of the table he put a command pad down. With a thought to his drone, it quietly purred to a corner then shut down. Looking at his subordinates, he began the briefing through the Clip with an order of “at ease”. All settled back attentively into their seats.

“Captains,” Zahm began, “Our ground forces have been stalemated on moon three of the Tlalocan system. The Scourge forces have been able to replenish lost troops and materiel at a rapid rate. PHR fleet had been unable to find where these assets were coming from – yes we could interdict some as they approached the planet but Scourge bulk carriers appeared from different vectors each time. This of course implied some sort of staging area within the system.”

A tactical map appeared in everyone’s mind. Even a cursory inspection caused a collective gasp around the room. Reyna now understood why only light ship commanders were seated at the table.

“This is a major Scourge staging area for their ground assets that has been discovered deep in the lateral belt of the system. Bulk transports fold in, off load at the station, then as required enemy units and equipment transfer to troop ships on the belt edge. From there they simply make the run to the planet coming in at different vectors every time.”

“You all see the problem. The station is deep in the belt within a pocket surrounded by an asteroid field to dense for heavy assets to get through. In order to avoid serious damage they would have to navigate the fields at a virtual crawl making them easy targets for the swifter Scourge ships, bombers and base defenses.”

“There are two fairly fast avenues of approach here at coreward gamma and the other at rimward beta. These two gaps are covered by a dense field of active Scourge seeker mines – of which some here have experience with.”, Zahm stated flatly while looking at Reyna. “This renders these gaps useless for any attacker bigger than a fighter or bomber.”

“There is only one clear way in and out here at spinward alpha with even that requiring some sharp turns at a reduced speed to negotiate. Cruiser classes and heavier still cannot negotiate this entry. Even then the final turn is covered by what appears to be defense bases armed with a standard Oculus beam array.”

“The base must be neutralized. Doing so will severely affect enemy resistance and supplies. Hopefully enough to allow the ground forces under Grand Vizier Felix to accomplish her objectives before the Scourge can recover from the loss. PHR Fleet Command has come up with the following plan.”

Appearing as an overlay on the map bright lines and symbols displayed vectors, launch points and initial formations. In addition, enemy symbols showed the location of the station as well as known defense bases, anchorage locations, and patrol routes of guard ships.

Zahm continued while a point on the map began to blink, “The attack force will Fold in at this location and immediately drop to silent running. You will infiltrate the rimward asteroid field, negotiate it still in silent running, emerging at these points…” The map symbols glowed as appropriate while the commodore talked.

“Phase One is for the Echo’s, Pandora’s and Andromeda Interdictors to hit and destroy these defense platforms. The follow on units will then sweep past to engage the Scourge frigates and transports aided by the first strike force once their primary mission is complete. These units will be under the tactical command of Lt Commander Jessen.”

At the mention of his name the unknown officer simply nodded.

“Phase Two will be Jessen who has under his command four of our new destroyer class ships and the Medea’s. This will be the first real combat test of the destroyers and should come as a surprise to the Scourge. They pack immense firepower for their size and will directly engage the station. The Medea’s will then launch her troops for a boarding action.”

“For Phase Three the entire fleet will need to provide time for the troops to do their job, which will be damage the station internally as much as possible and seek intelligence data. This tasking will fall to Immortals, Valkyries, and a Janus unit. PHR ground is also tasking a single Medusa for this – so you understand how critical it is to neutralize this station. All ground units are on a strict time table.”

“Everyone must begin to withdraw no later than the end time shown. You will exit out the same rimward field and immediately Fold once clear. Destroy in place any ships too damaged to retreat. Recover what crew you can but you must withdraw on or before that time. Failure to do so risks being trapped by heavier Scourge units that will be sent to intercept you when you leave the field. Without heavier force support this task force will be destroyed.”

“Now we know this is an extremely tough mission. Besides the destroyers, Fleet has also allocated one of the Calypso’s to this attack. Her ECM capability should give you all a slight edge, and The Sphere knows you will need every one you can get. Individual orders have been Clipped to you as well as the detailed order of battle. Any questions?”

The squadron leader for the Medea’s was the first, “Will we have updated intelligence before going in? Are we hard locked to this plan?”

“The answer to your first is yes – there are currently two slip scouts on site monitoring the pocket. Every twelve hours they send a data dump to an intel node located on an outside fringe asteroid. When you fold in that intel will be automatically dumped to you and targets updated.”

“As for the second, the objectives are hard locked. However, you may feel free to modify your paths through the asteroid field and any tactical plans as you see fit. Final approval of changes rests with me.”

Reyna indicated she had a question. Zahm nodded at her.

“Sir, you said Andromeda Interdictors as a plural?”

“That is correct. Your proof of concept over the last few months was deemed successful. As such the next two Andromeda’s off the line were refitted with production Interdictor systems.” The commander smiled here. “These systems have magnetic baffles in place so they may launch and recover normally. After this mission your ship and crew will go on stand-down while she is refitted with a standard system. Due to your experience you will be in command of the Andromeda- I’s.”

“That reminds me – Captain Reese will be breveted to Lt Commander for this operation and put in overall command. No disrespect is meant towards you Lt Commander Jessen but all of the other squadrons involved have worked together for months now. PHR Command wishes to lessen any unnecessary chances that could compromise the mission.”

“I understand, sir.” Jessen replied in a neutral voice, but the brief flash of silver under his skin implied he was not happy with that decision.

“Why not use forces already at Talocan? Over forty percent of the fleet is already there.”

“Several reasons. PHR command does not want the Scourge to detect a task force assembling then headed towards the belt from the combat zones. It would take too much time and coordination to do this in an engaged battle zone. Finally, all ships and ground forces there are effectively locked in combat with the enemy – we cannot risk giving the Scourge a hole to exploit”, Zahm stated calmly yet edged with a hard tightness.

With that a few more brief procedural questions were asked. Satisfied that the attending commanders understood the strategic level plan Zahm prepared to leave. The rest began to talk quietly or use the Clip to begin modifying the plan to better suit their known strengths and weaknesses.

As Zahm began to exit, his drone familiar two steps behind, Reyna called out, “Sir… does the station have a name?”

The commodore turned, his eyes sweeping the room while the nanites under his skin rippled in subdued silver waves, “Fleet Command has given it the designation “Ormoc Station”.” Zahm then left the briefing room.

Reyna’s eyes were briefly unfocussed as she contemplated the mission ahead. Eventually she turned to her peers; “I believe my force should come in via a more elliptical path here…” as a new vector line appeared on the tactical map.
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Thunderboy

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Re: The Tlalocan Pocket - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 11)

PostTue Apr 24, 2018 2:24 pm

Looking good. Interesting idea to lead up to action
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