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 Post subject: Red Star - Blue Skies
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 10:13 am 
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This is something I knocked up after binge-watching documentaries about a certain period on YouTube....

Proceed, yay or nay?


Chapter 1


11th October

U.S.S. Dallas


Two weeks ago, if someone had told him that he was about to enter the Soviet Union, Commander Mancuso would have called that person crazy. And yet, here he was, about to cross the territorial line. Then again, the Warsaw Pact in general and the USSR in particular were as shut off from the outside world as ever, and if the rumours were correct, sending in the new United States Consul on a Frigate made sense. Not only were ships of that class among the fastest anywhere in NATO or Pact space, but it was also suitably representative enough for that sort of diplomat, with the actual Ambassadors residing in Washington and Moscow respectively, back on Earth.

For Captain Allan Mancuso, scion of one of the Navy's oldest dynasties going all the way back to when the Navy had stuffed it's men into metal tubes powered by primitive nuclear reactors, this sort of thing was nothing new, according to family legend at least. Besides, Langtree was a good sort, a bit naïve when it came to the realities of Navy life, but in every other way the sort of man to represent the land of the free to the Soviet's off-world colonies.

What really bugged him about this situation was that the supposed escort that was to guide them from here to Chernyenko Base had yet to show up, and he knew better than to cross from the two light-year neutral zone into Soviet space without them. He had already sent a message to Nimitz Bay Naval Station on Columbia, but with transmission bandwith over interstellar distances and the brass being what they were, he didn't actually expect an answer back for another hour or two. Had Admiral Davenport not been promoted to CINCSPAF, or Commander in Chief, Space Frigates, he would have sent an answer within minutes.

The ship's intercom beeped.

“Conn, Sonar.”

Mancuso tapped his earpiece.

“Captain here. What is it, Carter?”

“Sir, could you come down here, please? There's something fishy going on.”

Normally Mancuso would have requested more than that before moving, but Petty Officer Second Class Edward Carter was not only like his Captain one of the few actually born on Earth but also what the entire crew considered to be the best sensor tech in the service. Carter was a witch with his systems, and if he thought something 'fishy' was going on, everyone better listen.

Mancuso crossed over to the corner where the sensor techs were seated.

“What is it, Carter?”

The tech and the three others currently on duty didn't even look up from their screens. Instead Carter instead manipulated the holographic display suspended in their stations.

“I didn't want to clog up the main display with this, but about five minutes ago, we first discovered this.”

The displays three-dimensional 'waterfall' displayed a faint dot. Judging by its position and the way the indicator looked, the contact was at the very ragged edge of detection range with the passive systems. As per regulations, Carter needed his Captains approval before using the active scanners.

“So what is it?”

Carter smirked. “The computer says it's a gaseous anomaly.”

“But of course the billion-dollar scanners and computers are wrong and Carter is right.” Mancuso said and grinned back. Hardly a new state of affairs on this ship.

“So what do you think it is?”

“I've been running a molecular refraction scan, Sir, and this ain't no gaseous cloud.”

“How can you say that?”

“Well, does a gas cloud do this?”

He used his manipulator gloves to rewind the playback. When it started running forward again, Mancuso saw nothing that might warrant disapproval with the computers.

“Looks like what it's supposed to be, don't it Sir?”

Mancuse nodded, still staring at the display.

“Now look at it at fifteen times the speed.”

The dot began to pulsate in a far too regular pattern.

“Now either that's the smallest pulsar known to man or someone is hiding out there.”

Mancuso said nothing in reply. This could be any number of things. No self-respecting pirate would attack a United States Navy Frigate, and this close to their border the Soviets would smash them flat like pancakes. It could be that it was someone sent to take a look at them. The CIA might be nuts enough to try this, but this was far too standard and common a mission for them to risk a massive incident. Besides, they did have a chief of station at their destination anyway.

He considered going to active scanners. Under normal circumstances doing that this close to the border was tantamount to flash a sign saying 'hello here I am', but they were supposed to be here. That contact was likely not.

If anything it might tell their escort, if it was close enough, that something was going on without Mancuso having to randomly shout on the GUARD channel to hear them. He glanced at the time display and sighed. “Keep a look on it, Carter and tell me when they flick.”

“Aye, Sir.”

Mancuso turned around the to CIC, or at least he intended to. Before he had even made a single step, the ship's battle stations alert wailed. Instead of turning back to his sensor techs, he crossed over to the main display, eschewing the command chair at the back of the already cramped compartment. Instead he hovered close to the holotank that doubled at the main display. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see Langtree hovering near the hatch, able to observe everything but still keeping out of the crews way. Mancuso barely considered his own approval and turned back to the display.

“Talk to me, people.”

Now that the background din of bored conversation was gone, Mancuso could hear Carter even without the intercom.

“Two contacts coming in from 040.038. Ten-thousand klicks and closing. Designate Sierra One and Sierra Two. Approach pattern suggests attack profile, detecting a target lock.”

That at least decided where to turn. “Turn us to 180.00, maximum sublight. Get me a target lock and warm up the missile tubes.”

In spite of centuries of trying, humanity had yet to develop a functioning energy weapon that could be employed at anything more than extremely short range, so like every other warship in existence, Dallas was armed with missile tubes as its primary long-range armament and railguns for close-in combat. Other than her armour, thin as it was, she had further missiles and rapid-fire lasers as CIWS systems.

“Sensors, any ID on those Sierras?”

“Nothing definite, Captain, but their signature indicates Kilo Alpha Two-class Frigates. Confirmed Soviet.”

Mancuso suppressed a curse, since that ended the last chance of this not being a future diplomatic crisis. At that thought, he turned to Langtree, but the man grimaced and nodded when he saw.

“Target lock confirmed!”

There were not really any actual regulations for a situation like this, but Mancuso knew that the right thing to do was not to open fire first.

“Vampire! Vampire! Vampire! Incoming warheads from Sierra One and Sierra Two!”

“Hard skew starboard!” Mancuso yelled, exposing both his portside missile tubes as well as the majority of his CIWS turrets, as like most Frigates, Dallas had fairly weak bow and stern point defence.

The incoming missiles were big, but from the number of birds it really were two Frigates that attacked them. Anything larger and it would have been more and bigger missiles.

Space combat in the late 23rd century was essentially the same as it had been when faster than light travel had been discovered in that theoretically, combat missiles had nigh-on unlimited range. In practice however getting a target solution was next to impossible at anything more than around twenty-thousand kilometres, and hitting anything at more than ten-thousand as much. This was both due to omnipresent ECM and ECCM systems on any warship especially in the former case and highly efficient point defence and the target being free to move in any which way in the latter. This went contrary to pretty much every pre-space knowledge on the matter and had not always been the case.

Which made those attacking U.S.S. Dallas either inexperienced or hot-headed, because most of the missiles coming in had been fired at considerably more than the usual ten-thousand klicks. Missiles were generally propelled by a high-speed, low endurance variant of the same impulse technology that powered every single starship, which gave their maximum possible speed a certain limit dictated by both technology and physics, part of the reason why combat ranges were relatively limited.

The ones fired at him were coming in fast, but from such a range that his point defence and manoeuvring would make them well nigh pointless.

Unsurprisingly only two of them came close enough to do damage, and both of those were swatted out of space before they could do so. The others detonated when they had reached their pre-set maximum range with their charged plasma warheads producing a far higher yield than any nuclear device ever developed.

“That's damn well it.” the Chief of the Boat muttered, barely loud enough for Mancuso to hear.

“Lieutenant O'Neill, you may return fire at your discretion.”

The tall, african-American gunnery officer nodded. He checked the firing solutions that had been fed into his computers, checked the sensor feed showing the IFF of the targets and then, with a deep breath drove the firing key flat. O'Neill had elected to fire a full broadside. Even though Dallas had only eight per side and relatively limited magazine capacity he didn't really have much of a choice, given that the American Frigate was heavily outnumbered.

However American and NATO missiles were generally about fifteen percent faster than their Soviet counterparts as well as more manoeuvrable. Soviet naval designers tended to compensate for this by fitting more missile tubes as well as more point defence. They reached the outer defensive perimeter of the two Soviet ships and none of them came closer than five-hundred kilometres.

By that time O'Neill had fired four more salvoes and of the third, two missiles breached the inner defences. Neither of them actually impacted on the Frigates armour, but that rarely happened to begin with. Instead they were triggered by a proximity fuse and each generated a charged plasma bolt that did impact in the armour of one of the Frigates. The first had only a partial burn-through, destroying a missile tube and killing half a dozen crewmen in the process. The second one however was a near perfect hit. It had a full burn-through, reaching deep into the ship... and taking out it's inertial compensator, with obvious and instant result.

The second Soviet Frigate turned away, the location of the hit and the instant loss of contact telling them what had happened, but before they could move more than a few ship's lengths, four more missiles came in, from the opposite direction, all getting direct hits and opening its side like a can of sardines.

O'Neill ceased firing at once, but there were four more salvoes in space, all of these doing little more than turning the wreckage into ever smaller pieces.

The additional missiles had been fired by none other than the actual escort Dallas had been sent to meet, two Sverdlovsk-Class Cruisers.

Commander Mancuso contemplated opening fire on them, but even though his ship was a lot faster than them, they could and would destroy them before his NavComp had calculated an FTL jump.

Besides, they matched the profiles he had been given for his escort and they had fired at his attackers, just before powering down all active scanners and frantically hailing Dallas on the internationally recognized GUARD channel. So instead of starting the Great Interstellar War, he merely compiled a preliminary report for Columbia.




tbc

It's 'Chief of the Boat' since the Frigates see themselves as the spiritual successors of the Silent Service and actually have similar roles.

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Last edited by trekchu on Sun May 08, 2016 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 6:52 pm 
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Ooh, a 'False Flag' ploy !!

What fun !

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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2016 10:25 pm 
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Maybe, maybe not.

That said, Mancuso does have family pedigry in dealing with things like this. :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 11:14 am 
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On the question of Proceeding, I vote "Yay"

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2016 10:46 pm 
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Definitely "Yay" on proceeding with this.

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 1:57 am 
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Silly question....YAY.

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 2:14 am 
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Yay from me, although shouldn't Mancuso's erm... detection operator be called....... Jones?

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 5:22 am 
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I considered calling him Jones, but this isn't a Clancy fanfiction as such. :) Mind you, Mancuso isn't the last familiar name in this, so who knows.

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 5:28 am 
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Does the commander of the "stealthed" ship hail from Kaunas, a Lithuanian-ethnic planet, by any chance?

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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2016 8:44 am 
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I cannot confirm or deny. ;)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:14 pm 
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So, the second chapter is coming along, but is delayed by:

1) Me revamping the first one and retconning a few things, such as the name of a certain sensor tech,
2) Me playing the Uncharted Series on PS4
3) Being busy at work.

Sorry, chaps.

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