: “ Casualties of War ”


The Dakota System
Jump Point Exit

The loss of New Warsaw was the first clear and present sign of an ominous threat. About three thousand of the original fifty thousand watched their home burn from Orbital Bombardment. Massive Organic ships hovered over the blue green sphere, firing huge bolts of energy onto the colony settlements below. Swarms of fighters circled around the massive juggernauts like an angry hive, protecting it with lethal efficiency.

The survivors watched in horror as the last of the surviving satellites broadcasted New Warsaw's destruction. The emergency of the chaotic exodus left them nothing as they grabbed anything they could and were loaded onto any available Massive Cargo Transport. Now only three thousand survived, huddled in masses and held in the cold gray containers used to transport commodities to the once flourishing planet.

The three Massive Cargo Transports pushed it's engines as fast as it could. With a maximum speed of 180 KPS, it wasn't long till the Nephilim caught up with the Terran Transports. The Transport skipper's tired voice shouted into the masses in his ship, "BRACE FOR IMPACT!"

An explosion rocked the lead ship, tossing the refugees inside. The unarmed, weakly-shielded civilian transports were sitting ducks for the Manta fighters. A wing of four engaged the lumbering transports as they closed in on the jump point. Behind the fighters, Captain Jack Bell could see the Alien corvette approaching at full speed, edging its way closer to the defenseless Transports.

Here... in Dakota. The Fourth Fleet HQ was only nav points away in the D-5 Asteroid Belt, at New Pegasus Naval Base...

The Manta fighters raked the transports with weapon fire. Each pass the aerodynamic organic ships unleashed a hail of energy fire, eating away at the weakened Warsaw transports. The lead Manta broke formation for another pass. The sharply angled fighter tore through more of the Transport's with several barrages from its maser blasters.

The long Transports ships flared with mini-explosions as the fighters continued to strafe all three ships. The minutes that would follow would decide the fate of three thousand surviving settlers from New Warsaw. The captain of the lead Transport was an old Destroyer Skipper for the Border Worlds, sitting in his chair, he cursed to himself.

"God I wish I was back on the Livingston," the battle-hardened vet whispered as the continuous strafing took its toll on the transports. Leaning forward on his seat, Captain Bell was helpless since the fled the doomed colony. Even though his old destroyer wouldn't have a chance against the fleet that attacked New Warsaw, he would still have the ability to take down these fighters.

"Jack! We're breaching in several areas, isn't there something we can do?" his Second in command reported on the damage. Jack Bell thought to himself and prayed silently. The jump Buoy was in visual range, ETA 30 seconds.

"How are the jump engines?" He uttered, the man physically lost all hope as the strong old captain began to weaken in the greatest time of need. Edward Grohl answered him.

"They are nominal, what the hell? Something is coming through the jump point." He stood there, staring into the opening storm of energy. From the swirling energy, the bridge crew watched as one, two, three, four Confederation Torpedo Boats emerged from the jump point, guns blazing.

Captain Bell sat in is seat, staring into the view screen as the unfamiliar ships of the 1st Torpedo Squadron of the Terran Confederation Space Navy materialized from the jump point.


TCS Los Angeles; Bridge

"FIRE!" Lt. Commander Crisologo gave the command with intent.

The heavy mass driver cannons erupted in a volley of fire, directly at the Nephilim fighters. The massive bolts of energy blazed across, giving no time for the Manta Fighter to take evasive. The large energy burst of from the Mass Driver tore through the fighter's shields instantly, rocking the ship for half a second, only to receive the another bolt of energy. Ripping through the fighter's hardened armored shell and internal systems, the Manta ignited into a fireball.

The three Mantas instantly broke its attack on the Transports as several IFF missiles were launched in their direction. Dropping a trail of decoys, the fighters pulled sharp maneuvers to evade the missiles.

"Santa Fe and Vegas, take care of that corvette," the Lt. Commander ordered.

"Aye, aye, skipper," the TCS Santa Fe replied as the two PT Boats cruised forward, gliding above the three desperate transports and engaged the Corvette. Alex turned his attention to the three fighters. BOOM, make that two. The view screen was divided into four VDUs keeping track of the fighters and the corvette.

"Manta 3, splashed," Helmsman Stephanie Carter announced, watching the burning and spinning fighter drift for another two seconds before the powerplant blew, tearing the fighter apart.

The TCS Los Angeles pulled a surprisingly fast bank turn before giving chase to the two fighters at a speed of 270 KPS. Firing several bolts from the Mass Drivers, the fighters immediately broke in separate directions as the barrage of energy grazed their fighters.

The bridge crew of the TCS Los Angeles watched as her sister ships engaged the corvette. Instantly shields from the PT Boats flared as the corvette trained it's for main cannons on both ships. The Santa Fe changed its course as a volley of Mass Driver bolts rippled across the Alien ship's shields. The Alien corvette pulled away, gaining distance while continuing to exchange a steady fire between the Santa Fe and the Las Vegas. Streams of green energy impacted across the blue shields of the Terran Confederation Torpedo boats.

At once, the TCS Las Vegas launched a pair of torpedoes at the Corvette. The crew of the Vegas watched as the corvette frantically trained its cannons on the silver projectiles blazing towards their direction. The bolts of energy began to crisscross each other hoping to score a hit on the torpedoes. This gave an opening for the TCS Santa Fe to pour on the Heavy Mass Drivers.

"Hang on, I got them," the turret gunner of the La Jolla shouted over the main channel. Particle streams from the La Jolla trailed across space, clipping a Manta as it attempted to strafe the Las Vegas. The darkness of space was filled with the bright glow of energy. Pulsing at an incredible rate, the quad particle cannon fired several bursts at the circling fighters. The shields of the Manta fluctuated as the particle bursts scrape its tail. The Alien fighter compensated as it pulled as sharp right. Bad move, the turret from the TCS Los Angeles mercilessly sprayed the fighter with its particle cannon. The continuous hail energy was ripping through its shields and armor, hitting the energy stores. The fighter instantly vaporized into a ball of fire.

The Santa Fe pulled a hard 30-degree turn, training it massive heavy Mass Driver cannons onto the Nephilim corvette. The Santa Fe bombarded the corvette with a stream of cannon fire, eating away at the shields. Everyone watched as the streams of energy exploded across the thinning shields before the next round of fire penetrated the shields and detonated over the organic armor.

A spread of three IFF Missiles were launched from the Los Angeles, locking onto the final Manta as it turned tail and afterburned. A missile detonated as the fighter pulled a hard left and dropped three decoys. The remaining missiles continued to trail it as the fighter's evasive maneuvers, each time getting more complicated. Hitting full burn, the Manta, spun a 180 on autoslide and hit the burner. Expertly pulling off a J-Turn, the Manta flew between both missiles, evading them as they altered course a distance away. Speeding away at Full burn, the Manta was hit in full force by the Heavy Mass Driver cannons of the La Jolla. Two bursts from the massive cannons instantly disintegrated the fighter.

Each desperate pulse from the maser cannons finally connected, exploding the Torpedoes harmlessly away from the corvette. Snake like pulse trails from the rear Quad particle Turret chinked away at the corvette's hull, triggering rippling bursts from the heavily charged particles of explosive energy. The Las Vegas speed beside the corvette, matching its speed of 270 KPS. Lt. Commander Crisologo watched the dueling capships exchange fire. The corvette hit weakened area on the Vegas, aiming the Maser cannons. The heavy bombardment of energy instantly ripped through the shields, exploding across the durasteel armor of the Torpedo Boat.

The Vegas began to pull away as the Santa Fe drew her fire. The Santa Fe launched her own pair of torpedoes, this time at a range of 200 klicks. The Corvette had no time to react as the blinding flash filled the void of space. The Santa Fe maneuvered from the initial impact blast, leaving the Corvette to tear apart with internal explosions. The highly advance organic ship began to break just before another blinding flash ignited, vaporizing the engine section, leaving the burning hulk drifting in space.

"Dakota Transports, this is Lt. Commander Alex Crisologo of the Terran Confederation's 1st Torpedo Boat Squadron. We received your distress call."

Lt. Commander Alex Crisologo scanned the damage on the transports. Sitting back, he waited for their reply. An image appeared on his view screen, a fuzzy transmission from the lead Transport. Captain Bell's grateful mug flickered on his screen.

"Thank you…" Captain Bell and his crew realized that the joy could not cover the loss of their home. The grateful look on Captain Bell turned serious. "We have three thousand people in all, three thousand from the fifty thousand settlers on New Warsaw."

Alex took a moment to contemplate the tragic loss, as the bridge grew silent. He could see his helmsman, Spaceman Stephanie Carter with a grieving look on her face. "Transports, we have the other side of the jump secure, four more Torpedo Boats will be waiting for you on the other side." The battered transports continued to lumber as each of them entered the storm of energy into jump space. Alex stood up from his seat. Patted out the wrinkles in his "other" uniform, yeah the "other" uniform a new tradition formed by the more experienced Torpedo Boat crews. Alex wore a casual uniform Confed blue BDU rip-stop pocketed cargo pants tucked into a pair of black all-terrain boots. Straightening out his short sleeve BDU shirt, he walked over to Steph and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"What's wrong?" His voice changed into an almost fatherly tone.

"I don't know... all those people on New Warsaw..." she answered quietly.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not sure what to say. I don't want to sound cold hearted but they're... they're casualties of war." He sat back down in his seat and proceeded to punch in the course back through the jump point.


Nephele System
Nephele 5 Colony
Endson's Pit
A few days later...

Strange place to regroup, even by Military standards. Lt. Commander Crisologo chose Edson's Pit, a local bar thirty-five kilometers from the main staging area of the Confederation/Border Worlds Fleet. The area was a home to a few miners and a ship junkyard. The dusty atmosphere reminded him of the dry deserts of Northern Texas back on Terra. A few large structures and a massive ship graveyard dotted this desolate stretch of land. The junkyard's many massive hull structures provided good enough shelters. Nine of the twelve buildings were built from hollowed out hulls of corvettes to destroyers. The Endson's was no exception. The a large section of a vintage 2630s cruiser was converted into the bar in which the inhabitants of this little outpost flock to.

Entering the welled on sliding doors, the eleven-member crew of the TCS El Paso walked in. Their captain, a Lieutenant Commander Elizabeth Keaton, glanced at the rough and gruff crowd before spotting the obvious amount of blue uniforms sitting in several tables at a corner of the room. The Navy and Marine personnel past by several framed images of Earth, Mars, and other well known heavily populated planets. Arriving at an empty round table at the edge of the group, several members from the other Torpedo Boats greeted the El Paso crew. The loud bunch from the 1st Torpedo Squadron gathered about 66 people, half the squadron. They knew that the several other crews were on their way, making it all 12 PT Boats.

Lieutenant Commander Crisologo stood up from his seat, to address all six tables. "So were all back together again. As you can see, I've taken command and you know that I have some explaining to do." The sound of agreement came unanimously. "Well, all have you been briefed on what we are up against."

"Are you kidding me? That report doesn't say shit," the captain of the Santa Fe answered back.

"True. But all right, boys and girls... we're going to war. Joining up with the 3rd Fleet, 1st Torpedo will be part of the spearhead in the engagements with these aliens who've been named the "Nephilim" by the Confederation Intelligence Service spooks. Four of us here have already experienced combat with the "Nephilim" with the TCS Las Vegas almost getting her ass blown to hell. Get that damage fixed, Mark?" A few snickers came from the crowds. Alex became serious. "I know we had it easy for the last year, but this is something new and dangerous, so I would like to express extreme caution. I don't want any of you to go down in flames, so stick with me and we'll live through this while kicking ass and taking names. Joining with the 3rd Fleet are several carrier groups, which means we will be hanging around some really heavy power." Alex paused for a second as he glanced at his NERV patch. The red leaf insignia and Confederation Star, he tore the patch of his right arm. NERV a small detachment of Torpedo boats assigned to chart the rim territories. "We became explorers after the war, now we are going back to the job we started with, as warriors. Godspeed and rest easy." He adjourned this meeting by slamming the patch onto the table. "Tomorrow we group with the fleet above."