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Strategos (A Great Captain Roberts Tale!!)

Chapter 26 - Around the Maypole (Part Four)

"We're waiting on…

…the Illusive for a very good reason, and it's not the organic firepower." Larry sat down at the officer's mess table. Shift Two was up in CIC and Lori was taking her turn on the Conn.

"The fighter wings?" Bedwyr asked.

Larry nodded. "The retrofit on the Illusive gave them a larger fighter complement. We've just stripped the squadron off the Lynnwood without a fight, probably because their captain over there believes in the myth of gun power, and hasn't got any experience learning why it's a myth."

Amanda sat down with her tray at the head of the table. "Mister Seron?"

"We got a look at their fit, and compared it with relevant identification files from the Clan." Mister Seron said. "It's a Royal Essex-the same base pattern that our ancestors updated the remaining Essex Hulls to, save the Royal version did not expand the fighter bays, so LF battery and as you saw, an HPG installation, but twelve fighters maximum and some smallcraft that are used as utility shuttles."

"The royal versions didn't expand their point defenses, they used advanced targeting systems and bracket fire." Amanda's voice shifted to what Larry had begun silently thinking was the implant, Desmond. "Thus, why we need more than our fighter complement to bring it down."

Bedwyr looked uncomfortable. "More helps." he admitted.

"We need to expand that gap, we've removed his combat air patrols. So we need to figure out a way to suppress his ADA." Amanda continued.

"You're assuming they know how to use it."

"I try not to assume my enemy is stupid. We can't win a gunfight, even with Illusive's new fit, we'll lose a gunnery duel, and lose it badly…" her expression changed and she scooped a fork full of dinner. "Mmm! This is good!"

"ARADs," Samuel spoke up.


"ARAD. Anti-RADiation missiles, in the Fedcom, I believe they called them 'listen-kill' missiles, we have LRM mounts, we have rocket pods, we might be able to make free-flight rockets fitted with primitive guidance modules to home in on their specialist targeting gear…do we have the method on file?"

"Might be we do," Larry looked meaningfully at Captain Roberts.

"It'll take time," she said. "Time we don't necessarily have…but once Illusive's joined the dance, we can maybe buy the time. How do we deliver it?"

"Jammers in OUR small craft," Bedwyr stated. "Those Aquarius shuttles got ECM updates back at Quatre Belle, and they come stock with LRM racks. The intended use was as ESM support for the fighter wings to begin with, it might be possible to work up a couple alterations for Wild Weasel missions. If we can take out his sensor arrays, he'll be blind, and it's not safe to fly blind, not even in a warship."

"Blind, and we can land Marines on his hull, " Seron contributed. "He will not know when to evade if he cannot see."

"Getting greedy, Mister Seron?" Amanda asked.

"You captured a Newgrange YardShip. This is merely an Essex II, but in a sense. Someone must stand up for the pride of the Clan, and taking a mostly-intact warship by storming and boarding would certainly do that."

"So that's our plan, we blind him with airstrikes and suppress his defenses while launching a boarding action, that sounds like six impossible things before breakfast," she observed. "Are they impossible?"

"Difficult. Impossible would require an attempt to prove the impossibility."

"I guess nobody's getting that sweet sweet rack-time then," Amanda sighed, and shifted from genteel dining to her more habitual frantic eating.

Among the stereotypes…

…of the Clans, is the idea that teamwork is a dirty word. David Foster had read Spheroid analyses of Clan doctrine and Clan culture, and those diatribes were, in his opinion, mostly on-point regarding the Wolves, Jade Falcons, Ghost Bears, and most of the 'stay-behind' Clans that participated in the Wars of Reaving.

Also mostly accurate for select subgroups in the Clans as a whole. However, Clan Snow Raven's Naval focus and Aerofighter preferences made teamwork an absolute necessity, and the brutal losses during the escape from the Clan Homeworlds solidified that.

Hence, he was not offended when the next transmission, only fifteen minutes from jump time, came in with Captain Roberts's new plan.

A plan that just happened to hinge on leveraging a few capabilities the Illusive was given, including the expanded fighter and small craft complement, which included NL-46 combat shuttles.

A series of 'Wild Weasel' type strikes to knock out the enemy's gunnery sensors and navigation arrays, then a boarding action to try and take the enemy ship whole while they were blinded.

The idea was bold, the plan had too many points of failure.

"Ready for jump."

"On my mark," David leaned back. "Johnson, You know you COULD develop feelings for someone…you know, sane?"

"Aye sir, but I Like Amanda." Johnny answered.

"Well, I will never have to worry about your courage," Foster noted, "Your sanity maybe, but not your courage…MARK!!"

/\/\/ dIScoNTiNUItY \/\/\

/\/\/\/\/ Emergence Waves \/\/\/\/\/\

…sometimes involve annihilating matter-if it's diffuse enough. Space is actually pretty 'dirty' near a gas giant, lots of atoms floating free, particles and dust. The L1 point between Johnson Colony itself, and the gas giant that earth-like moon orbits does present some unique characteristics.

If SLS Lynnwood wasn't struggling out of close orbit on the far side of the gas giant from Johnson Colony, they'd hear the RF shockwave, they'd see the EMP and the thermal wave as well.

They weren't, they didn't.

OWS Evanescent, however, did see it., being as they were riding a gravity slingshot around the fourth moon, and headed the right direction at the right time.

<<"Roberts, We need to talk.">> Captain Foster's image didn't flicker on the comm board.

"Can you match velocity and vector? The Lynnwood is almost free of the gravity well." Amanda noted.

<<"Meet me halfway on velocities, I just came out of jump.">>

"You heard him folks," Amanda ordered. Captain Foster was senior in grade, and came because she called, so courtesy demanded at least that much.

<<"Match velocities in one hour, thirty, how much room does that leave you?">> he asked.

"They'll take another three hours to get into weapons engagement range at three gravities," she said. "It's all about not-hesitating on the first spin around the maypole-he hit the brakes and slowed considerably while we were powering through the Oberth maneuver to line up for a second sling around the fourth moon."

<<"Is that your total estimate, or your best?">>

"Best estimate, assuming he uses the gas-giant's gravity for an assist instead of trying to fight his way out on engine power alone-using just engines, maybe a day?"

<<"I think you overestimate your opponent. I only recognized your idea because I am a bit of an oddball, most trained commanders would not take that much risk, and with a ship built like the Essex, he can not gather enough velocity on a closer approach in that atmosphere-he has to do a thrust-only climb out, any closer and he doesn't have the retained energy or engine power because, as you noticed, he hit the brakes.">>

<<"So why did his fighters get caught?>> he asked

<<"Probably bad angle-they likely tried to go for a ventral sweep on you and failed to realize they were too steep to pull out until it was too late. Do not expect them to make that mistake if they have spares being readied.">>

"Understood…could the pilots also be tired?" she asked, "I made him play 'catch up' at one fifty percent full power…"

<<"Very likely fatigue was a factor.">> he agreed. <<"You understand, if you are drawn into a decisive fight with that Essex class, even with a fatigue problem on her crew, you'll lose, quiaff?">>

"Yes." she nodded.

<<"Then at least you have some sense. ETA on Kappa's garrison forces is one more day-they had mechanical trouble at Tresspass.">>

"That sucks."

<<"It happens. That buys us an additional day to deal with the SLS Lynnwood and any backup he might be planning to call in…your plan for carrier tactics needs some work, it will not achieve what you want without some adjustment.">>

"Scrap the plan?"

<<"Concept is good. It is on the right track, it just needs REFINEMENT. Which is why we will be matching course and velocity in an hour so I can speak to you without half the galaxy hearing it." >>

"Aye sir," she nodded.

<<"Get some rest, Roberts, you look like hell on the comm. We will talk in an hour. Foster Out.">>

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