Admiral Nestor studied the strategic map with satisfaction, noting the position of the electronic icons on its surface. Although the flat octagonal table in front of him was only a metre and a half across it still took up a sizable fraction of the cramped situation room, with only a little over a metre separation between the edge of the map and three of the walls. The fourth wall stood an additional two metres away, putting the map slightly towards one end of the rectangular room. The additional space in front of the fourth wall was taken up by a compact row of almost flat consoles covered in an array of screens, status indicators and controls. At no point did the consoles touch a wall, the gaps at either end allowed the operators access to the row of chairs between the consoles and the far wall, an arrangement that allowed them to work facing the strategic map and the rest of the room. Facing the strategic map were the room’s three plain grey doors, the one on the other side from the consoles leading to the ship’s small flight deck while the doors in the walls either side led to other parts of the ship. Despite the space taken up by the doors there was still space on the walls for a significant number of screens on which the console operators could bring up any data the commanding officer standing by the strategic map called for.
Small as it was Nestor was proud of the situation room, and of the ship it was on. In typical Korx fashion the vessel simply went by its Ident Number of Heavy Frigate Mark I 1588 (HFMkI1588 or just 1588 in abbreviated form) but it was a revolution in naval warfare. Mounting as much firepower as the best non-Korx heavy fighter the 1588 also possessed a durable enough hull to take a good deal of punishment from whatever enemy firepower may manage to pierce the vessels significant shielding. These features meant the 1588 could annihilate entire squadrons of enemy vessels and, thanks to its advanced impulse drive, likely outmanoeuvre them as well. At almost 300 metres long the 1588 was also the largest warship in the sector, and in fact the first to rate above the strike craft level. This gave the Korx enough room to include the situation room, a feature specifically designed to allow Admiral Nestor to direct the movements of the entire Korx fleet from the front line (where he liked to be) and making the 1588 the first true flagship.
Of course the possession of what was easily the most formidable warship in the sector was not the only reason for Nestor’s good spirits. His forces had won great victories with the spectacular success of Operations Reclamation and then Downfall. Not only had the Korxian armed forces reclaimed both worlds lost to the so called ‘jagged knife’ rebellion but they had taken three more planets other races had lost to the rebels. With the war sparked by the Martzia I rebellion another opportunity beckoned as the Krynn worlds were now vulnerable from the Korxian border. His fleet had taken swift advantage of the situation and had soon conquered four of the six Krynn worlds, including the capital. With the subsequent annihilation of their navy the Krynn had no choice but to accept the humiliatingly painful peace treaty offered.
There was only one difficulty Nestor could see with the situation. The Altarians had not stopped their war with the Krynn and now had no less than four troop ships poised outside the only remaining Krynn system, ready to take the final two Krynn worlds. It was a bold though risky stroke as the troop ships lacked an escort (presumably because of the losses the Altarian navy had suffered) but since virtually all Krynn military units had been destroyed the Altarian invasion forces stood a good chance of success.
Of course Nestor had no desire to see the Altarians gain valuable territory so easily but he could see a simple way to prevent them, just turn the guns of his fleet on the Altarian navy. The 1588 was both powerful and fast enough to control the entire war zone even without taking into account the support of the pair of heavy corvettes that would be launched from the capital within a week. It would be a simple matter of covering Altarian territory until the Korxian shipyards had produced the necessary troop ships, and then taking the Altarian and Krynn planets by force.
Nestor nodded to himself as he studied the map in front of him but he failed to see any flaw in the plan. The information on it mostly came from EOTU, a technological marvel that was actually located planet side, on their sector capital in fact. EOTU was able to use a hyperspace resonance effect to give the scanners of all starbases and hyperdrive equipped ships a massive boost to their range, meaning the strategic map in front of Nestor was giving him real time data for virtually the entire sector and he was confident there would be no nasty surprises. As a lesser effect EOTU had also made many of the readiness drills and procedures obsolete, (though they were still practiced as a matter of principle and to maintain discipline) as any Korx military vessel would now know of impending action at least days in advance.
The officer of the watch broke into Nestor’s thoughts. “Sir, there’s a communication from the capital for you”. He paused and glanced down in surprise at the console he was seated behind. “It’s flagged recipient only”.
Nestor was surprised himself but he didn’t allow that to show, instead gesturing at the officer. The officer of the watch stood, saluted and then left the room, leaving Nestor alone. He waited until the doors had closed behind him and then looked down at the strategic map. The map itself only occupied the centre of the octagonal surface, with its corners touching the diagonal edges. The remaining space was used by four banks of status indicators and controls. Nestor pressed a button and was not surprised to see the map replaced by an image of Kralax.
“Admiral, I have a very important job for you”.
“We are ready for battle” Nestor replied, his pulse quickening.
A distinct sigh came from Kralax, “I’ll make this clear this once only, your forces are not going to engage in any fighting unless I give explicit permission”.
“But we’re ready” Nestor protested, “We could take the Altarians and Krynn in two months”.
“And then what?” Kralax said. “You have to think the consequences through Admiral. There are other sectors besides this one and we don’t know what connections the outposts here have. If we destroy two territories with a frontal assault we may be safe, or we may scare someone else into action. What would you do Admiral, if an advanced battleship showed up in the sector?”
“I’m sorry, I hadn’t thought of that” Nestor admitted.
“And that’s even before we take the reactions of our own people into account, if this expedition becomes a successful war of conquest we’ll have every one of our rivals out to take our places at its head”. Kralax paused for a moment and continued in a more level tone. “In any case I have some orders for you. I need you to use your ship to set up a temporary grade one security communications between my office and Drengin High Command. I’ll leave the details to you and your technical people but it needs to be ready in forty eight hours and you must remember security. I don’t want anyone else even to know messages are being sent and it has to be Drengin High Command, don’t settle for anything less. Is that clear Admiral?”
“Crystal clear sir” Nestor replied, “Consider it done”.
Kralax nodded and vanished from the screen, leaving Nestor staring at the ships and planets spread out in front of him. The ships and planets he was still unable to touch.
Rebellion and War...er...again!
Distracted as I was by the Altarian/Drengin situation and then the Jagged Knife I must admit I didn’t pay enough attention to the Krynn. They’d claimed an influence resource and, possibly helped by the Krynn influence boosting planetary improvements, were pushing their borders back hard. In particular the Altarian colony Martzia I was a class 6 planet in the same system as a class 12 Krynn planet and was therefore awash with Krynn influence.
Suddenly, as I was building some more troop ships I got the message Martzia I had flipped to the Krynn. In another turn or so the Altarians declared war on the Krynn and their two navies were busy blowing each other up in Altarian territory.
Now while my distraction strategy did mean I had wanted to avoid being too aggressive this game I could do with some more planets and the Krynn had left theirs wide open. At this point I still had two squadrons of fighters (with seven or so in each squadron), a mix of mark ones (with two points of firepower) and mark twos (with four firepower), plus two heavy transports (with 2000 troops apiece). I’d even researched enough engine techs to mean my fighters were marginally faster than the Krynn vessels, despite just having standard hyperdrive.
Once again the war went better than I had hoped. My home squadron easily destroyed the single fighter in orbit around the Krynn capital, not only that but their capital planet had only 49% approval so one transport was able to take it using information warfare, leaving my second transport free to take Krynn II. When I checked the spaceport on Krynn II there was enough progress already made to build another transport immediately. This was launched next turn and, covered by my home squadron, took another planet. Meanwhile my other squadron of fighters moved out and destroyed the defenders of the closest Krynn world, a quick purchase of another transport allowed me to take that planet too leaving the Krynn with just the two planet Martzia system.
I then tracked down and destroyed the Krynn flagship and a transport with an interceptor I’d just built (tiny hull, minimal firepower, life support and as much speed as possible) and used my fighter squadrons to destroy the starbase over the influence resource and then most of the Krynn warships in the area. This cost me all my fighters except for a lone mark one who got honourable retirement but this hardly mattered as I had a new addition to my arsenal (and the interceptor could pick off any troop ships that snuck through) - my techs had cracked medium hull building and I was able to build a heavy frigate (the ‘heavy’ is part of my own classification it, indicates only one added engine and a rated speed of less than 7pc/turn). This ship was able to mop up the remaining Krynn warships and next turn they were suing for peace. I accepted partly because they were willing to give me all their treasury and techs (including the Krynn-only superior espionage that I’m fond of) but mostly because I figured the more civilisations there were snarling at each other the more effective my distraction strategy would be.
Of course that did leave the problem of a bunch of Altarian transports bearing down on the practically defenceless Krynn worlds but I had a plan for that.
Progress so far
Now at this point of the game I could have won quite easily, neither the Altarians nor the Krynn could have researched and then built anything that could challenge my medium hulled warships before I took their planets. The Terrans had researched medium hulls but still had no weapons technology and would be trivial to wipe out, then crushing or allying with the Drengin would give me the game, or (since the Drengin held just the one system) I could just wait until my influence victory was official.
There were three reasons why I didn’t want to do that. Firstly because the Krynn tech tree had a bunch of starbase techs I wanted to investigate, secondly because I wanted to try my hand at designing large and massive hulled templates for the Korx and thirdly because I wanted to give the distraction strategy one final go.
Okay, that picture wasn't strictly necessary but since other non-Drengin fighters at this stage had at most 6 firepower I guess it does illustrate how important just having 6 shielding and 23 hit points can be
Enter the Drengin
So to prevent the Altarian transports wiping out the Krynn I started up the war that I had been worried about at the beginning of the game. The Drengin needed little encouragement to attack the Altarians and showed an unexpected degree of competence, quickly destroying the majority of the Altarian transports and carrying on to the few Altarian warships in orbit around their worlds. A few Altarian troop ships did get through and took Martzia I from the Krynn but the Drengin captured the planet almost immediately, finally giving them a colony outside their home system (and leaving the Krynn with just one planet).
The Long War
The rebellion on Martzia I had led to the Altarian/Krynn conflict and when I added the Drengin to the mix this set up a series of wars that lasted, on and off, the entire game. In fact my strategy started working spectacularly well almost overnight, by occasionally giving the weakest side in the war a boost I was able to prevent any side being eliminated. Thanks (I assume) to my trade, my military strength and my seemingly peaceful attitude all of the other civilisations wanted to be my friend while they diverted a significant portion of their resources into blowing each other up. This let me develop my planets, fortify my starbases and explore the tech tree in peace. I also researched enough advanced weaponry to build an overwhelmingly powerful military and also arm my mining ships and merchant vessels.
For a while the Drengin had the upper hand in the conflict but when the Altarians cracked medium scale building their frigates turned the tide of the conflict. Meanwhile the Krynn were (presumably) trying for an ingenious win from their one planet and formed alliances with both the Drengin and the Terrans. This meant when the Altarians declared war on the Krynn yet again the Terrans were now flung into the conflict against the Altarians. This would have meant a Krynn/Terran/Drengin power block against the Altarians except because of their history and attitude the Terrans and Drengin really didn’t get on. The Terrans had finally researched some weapons tech and were up to large hulls which meant the sheer number of hit points on their better ships allowed them to maul the Altarian and Drengin navies.
Good to see everyone's getting on so well.