The Siege of Ceres

The Siege of Ceres was a major feature of the Pan-Eurasian War and the one engagement to occur in the Sol System. It was a bloody affair which the neutral powers appeared content to let happen. The siege lasted until the end of the war; the Toronto Treaty officially recognised the Asian Coalition’s claim to the territory.

Human involvement on Ceres began before the advent of FTL travel; habitation and industrial units were developed under the rocky surface at the behest of the Chinese part of the Coalition. It had a population of over 1 million at the outbreak of the War; it’s industrial capacity made it a target for the European Union almost immediately.

It proved a difficult target. The Union Navy established a blockade around the world to begin with, assuming the population would quickly run out of food and water. Water was readily found as ice across the asteroid’s surface and the settlers had long since developed mature colonies of krill for food. These methods provided the populace with the very bare minimum of food but little else; life became increasingly difficult from the start of the blockade.

The Union experimented with orbital bombardment but the humans had buried themselves too deep. Even the docking ports were buried within canyons and other natural phenomena – Union dropships were easily repelled.

Still, the siege was relentless. The Union engaged in psychological warfare; they flooded local networks with terrifying images, they dropped earth-shaking bombs around the clock. The only relief came from brave Asian Coalition relief craft – tiny cargo ships bringing extra supplies to hidden docks and airlocks. The majority of these brave flights (nicknamed the Tokoyo Express after their WWII forefathers) were successful; the ships would occasionally be caught by the Union blockade. The best case scenario was being destroyed by their big guns. Surviving blockade runner crews were typically humiliated and tortured by the frustrated Union siege forces.

The Union denied accusations of torture and resisted United Nations calls for a ceasefire and humanitarian response. The post-War UN vote as to whether the siege amounted to a war crime was derailed – unsurprisingly – by European votes.

The colony developed into a hub of industry following the war; it builds heavy machinery and colony equipment for use throughout the new human sphere of influence. The hub of activity grinds to a halt once a lunar year, however, in a quiet memorial to the War, the siege and the thousands of people lost to starvation, preventable ill health and other causes.

The LCS-08

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The LCS-08 (aka The Washington-class) is a newer American capital ship brought into service following the tactical and technological advances of the Forth Age. LCS stands for Littoral Combat Ship – a term originally applied to small vessels able to operate closer to shore than most naval assets – denotes the ship’s ability to manoeuvre effectively in vacuum as well as atmosphere.

The Washington is neither as agile as the Ankur or as sturdy as the Bremen; it occupies the ground between these two extremes. It fulfils a variety of roles within the USEF; anything from independent patrols to participating in larger fleet actions alongside Strike Carriers and the like. It is also used to transport VIPs and other assets through the lawless Rim territories – the firepower at its disposal is usually enough to discourage most pirates and raiders and it is quick enough to flee more powerful threats.

The ships firepower consists of two ‘Starsnipe’ flak turrets, a medium-range photonic cannon and a rear mounted warhead launcher. The latter is unusual for the ship’s size – it gives the vessel the ability to engage targets at longer ranges and hidden from line of sight. The downside of the launcher is the limited ammunition; when it is out of missiles it becomes quite useless. This renders it unsuitable for prolonged engagements.

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It is these missiles which tend to give the Washington the edge against their most common foe – the Wun’Tux Clanship. The thick armour of the latter can be difficult to penertrate with photonic cannons; LCS-08s deployed on anti-Wun’Tux operations are equipped with ‘Havok’ armour piercing missiles to balance the scales.

LCS-02s (prototype precursors to the 08) took part in the USEF Fleet Action at Dronta VIII, spearheading the attack on Wun’Tux ships guarding the slave market. They were subsequently able to achieve suborbital altitudes and launch accurate against Wun’Tux armour and fortifications.
In more recent times, the Washington-class has been deployed alongside Taft-class Strike Carriers in extended operations in Wun’Tux territory. Typically the ships are outfitted with longer-ranged, ‘stand off’ missiles and able to discourage or soften up Wun’Tux targets before engaging. In worse case scenarios (e.g. a larger enemy presence than predicted) this stand-off capability can give USEF forces breathing room in which to retreat.

Engineers at Highpoint have successfully modified the base design into distinct combat variants. The LCS-ASW (aka the ‘Rhode Island’ class) is perhaps the most popular. This version swaps the warhead launcher for a launchpad capable of carrying, arming and repairing a shuttle-scale ship. This is most commonly a Vaquero-class gunship; a well armed craft bristling with sensors. This ASW (anti-stealth warfare) variant is designed to detect and defend against stealthy foes; the main ones being the Hirudin. The gunship is able to act as spotter for the LCS but is also more than capable of engaging common interlopers (like Blackfins) independently.

Ankur Corvette

The Ankur-class Corvette is a small capital ship fielded by the Asian Coalition. It was designed as a rapid reaction asset and escort ship and often acting as picket vessel for Mobile Defence Groups.

The Coalition spent most of the war against the Union harassing and staging hit-and-run offensives and counter-offensives with old and fragile vessels unable to go toe-to-toe with Union capital ships. The Ankur is a design suited to harassment but built to a modern, sturdy and reliable standard. It is the fastest mass produced human capital ship on record and has relative agility to match its straight-line speed. The majority of the armament is comprised of autocannons; basic and effective weaponry with a high rate of fire. Although not particularly effective against armour, the turreted autocannons are good all-round performers.

The Ankur was found to be particularly effective in the defence of the colony at Ermina III. The Wun’Tux aggressors were using Bastions to bring heavy fighter support in their raids; a tactic the established Coalition forces couldn’t easily counter. The first ‘lance’ of four Ankurs was rushed to this front and into combat against the Wun’Tux. Autocannons couldn’t penetrate durillium armour plating but were very effective against the external fighter racks of the Wun’Tux carriers. These four ships led hit-and-run raids against the Wun’Tux, targeting their fighter racks before retreating. This effectively neutralised half of the threat from the invading BroodClan and brought the offensive to a halt.

The ships are relatively expensive and lack the sturdy armour and substructures of comparable craft (i.e. the Bremen-class). They are especially vulnerable in drawn-out battles in which their speed and agility is negated.

The European Union Navy

The European Union Navy (EUN) is the united space-faring military of the old Earth European states. Along with the Asian Coalition, the Union were the poorer cousins to the more advanced British Commonwealth and United States, a trend which followed with their military forces.

In the belated rush for prime interstellar real estate, the EUN came into limited and then all out conflict with the Asian Coalition, cumulating in the Pan-Eurasian War. This conflict pitted the slower, heavily armoured EUN ships against the more numerous and agile Coalition forces. Both were outmatched by the modern mercenary forces employed near the end of the war and since the subsequent armistice the Union has been eager to develop up-to-date vessels of its own.

The EUN saw extensive action in the short Union-Oroso Conflict; it suffered several high profile losses until reinforcement from the Core in the form of up-to-date ships. This influx of vessels allowed the EUN to stem the tide of Oroso counterstrikes and led to the speedy armistice thereafter.

The Navy itself consists of a wide variety of people of different nationalities and cultures. Most individual vessel crews come from the same country; inter-ship rivalry is a common headache for Union Admirals.

EUN Ship Classes

The following ship designs are still in service but prioritised for replacement by modern designs:
The Cassard-class Heavy Destroyer
The Union Bulk Cruiser

The subsequent ship designs were commissioned post-War:
The Baionetta-class Signal Ship
The Bremen-class Corvette
The Caracal-class Strike Fighter

Pennyroyal-class Frigate

Pennyroyal-class Frigate

The Pennyroyal-class Frigate is the mainstay of the British Royal Navy, filling a variety of roles throughout the Commonwealth. It was designed as a anti-capital ship craft and is thus able to go toe-to-toe with foes other frigates might shirk from. This ability to punch above their weight is a point of great pride to the Pennyroyal crews throughout known space.

Pennyroyal-class Frigate

The ship features a forward-placed autocannon turret and a pair of double-barrelled mass driver cannons flanking the bridge – this weapon configuration is able to dish out respectable damage to a range of capital-scale threats at medium and short range. The ship is, however, more vulnerable to fightercraft than others of its size and has only two keel-mounted flak cannons to provide protection. When faced with large numbers of fighter-scale threats, a Pennyroyal without fighter escort of it’s own often has no choice but to retreat.

It has a high top speed, although lacks the breakneck acceleration of the pirates and scoundrels it often is tasked with tracking down. It is solid and sturdily built with sufficient armour and hull structure to survive prolonged engagements.

Pennyroyal-class Aft

Pennyroyals serve in Task Force Second Sword, predominantly against marauding Wun’tux BroodClans. In open combat, with the ability to manoeuvre in space and utilise it’s turret-based arsenal, the Pennyroyal is more than a match for a Clanship. If caught in the tight confines of an orbital situation or asteroid field, however, the Clanship’s forward-firing cannon can prove the deciding factor.

Manufacturer: Leyland Shipwrights, Mars.
Role: Ship-to-ship combat
Length: 68m
Crew: 41
Weaponry:
1 x Autocannon (double-barrelled, turreted)
2 x Mass Drivers (double-barrelled, turreted)
2 x Flak Cannons
Shields/Armour: Medium/Heavy
FTL: Capable

Bremen-class Corvette

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The Bremen-class Corvette was the first European Union combat capital ship produced following the Pan-Eurasian War. The outdated Union navy had been bested and embarrassed by modern mercenary forces. Following the armistice at the end of the conflict, Union admirals demanded comparable vessels and the versatile Bremen was the first to make it from blueprint to production.

She is designed to shield and protect larger ships from warheads, fighters and other nimble threats. Computer-assisted flak turrets cover multiple vectors and Bremen crews pride themselves on their accuracy and kill counts.

She also packs something of a wallop – a triple barrelled cannon is placed on the foredeck. Shipsmiths added the almost oversized weapon to give the Bremen bite when engaging ships of similar size up to destroyer tonnage.

Suffice to say, the ship exceeded original expectations. Not only was it a more than adequate escort ship, it was also suited to operate on the borders of known space and respond quickly to myriad threats, from pirate attacks to Wun’Tux raiders.

Manufacturer: Rheinmetall Industires
Role: Escort, picket duty, border patrol
Length: 60m
Crew: 41
Weaponry:
1 x STS-Cannon (triple-barrelled, deck mounted)
4 x Flak Turrets (computer-assisted)
Shields/Armour: Medium/Medium
FTL: Capable

The Illayko Defence Force

idfThe Illayko Defence Force (IDF) are the military arm of the Illayko people. Historically formed to protect against the nearby Gnobo League, the IDF was a capable sword and shield against local aggression.

The Wun’Tux invasion changed all of this. Illayko space had lay in the path of one of the frequent Wun’Tux civil wars and accidentally became a prize to be fought over. Outnumbered and out-gunned, the ships and soldiers of the IDF protected their people with blood, sweat and tears. Their final battle occurred over and on Ehoi, the lush jungle homeworld of the Illayko people. Although a tactical rout and disaster, the IDF achieved it’s aim of protecting the giant civilian flotilla escaping to a new territory in the galactic ‘South’.

The new Illayko lands were far from anywhere and anyone; the military which had faced decimation in the war was effectively disbanded into a small defence and policing force. This reduced IDF keeps the peace within their borders but is a military threat to few. The majority of the survivors and veterans turned their hand to mercenary work; the bitterness of the loss of their homeworld and history makes them angry, unpredictable enemies.

The P-22 Warspite was the most common IDF and Illayko mercenary vessel.

The Caracal

“She may be slow, but that plasma cannon kicks like a damn mule!” –

Flight Officer Franks of Knighthawk Squadron, following the Drona IV US/Union Wargames.

The Caracal was the European Union‘s late entry into the Strike Fighter arms race. This class of ship was only made possible with the miniturisation and sophistication of FTL technology that sprung out of the Fourth Age: enabling jump capability in ships previously too small to support a drive. The Americans and British navies were quick to sieze onto the idea of fightercraft able to operate independent of a mothership and deployed their own designs over a year before the Union military could.

Strike Fighter

The Caracal Project rose – as did most modern Union military initiatives – from the ashes of the Pan-Eurasian War. It was during this conflict that the outdated vulnerabilities of the Union’s varied military were exposed with often fatal consequences. The more ‘hawkish’ members of the Union Council voted in a tripling of budgets for all things military, none more so than Research and Development. The R&D departments were extraordinarily busy through the closing stages of the War and beyond, designing and innovating so the Union military would never be so outmatched again.

Strike Fighter

Even with the extra funding, the Union remained some way behind their American and British rivals. For example, the Caracal is larger in comparison to either US or UK models. It is slower and less nimble at sublight speeds. It also requires a on-board navigator to operate the jump drive. To make up for it’s size and sometime sluggishness the ship has thick armour plating across critical surfaces. Furthermore, it is highly armed with a potent plasma cannon mounted on the chin and 8 warhead mounts, giving it the versatility to be outfitted for myriad mission types. The first few prototypes saw action in the limited Union/Oroso conflict where they managed to destroy three capital ships with minimal losses.

German Caracan

Above: A German Caracal from their elite squadron: The Grendels.

Manufacturer: Rafalle/EUSYS
Role: Long-range strike, hunter/killer.
Length: 14m
Weaponry:
* 1 x Plasma Cannon (underslung)
* 5 x Warhead hardpoints (variable loadouts)
Shields/Armour: Medium/Heavy
FTL: Capable (short jumps)

R-88 at work

Above: a Caracal undergoing remote drone repair

The USEF

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The United States Expeditionary Force (USEF) was formed at the advent of the First Age of FTL travel and exploration. It’s initial mission was the safe exploration of extrasolar star systems and the protection of any US assets beyond Sol.

The US already operated a fleet of warships capable of travel and combat within the confines of the Solar System. Like the other human factions, during the First Age the American military simply affixed FTL drives to these ships to allow them to roam further afield. They were more than capable of defending new colonies from bandit raids both human and otherwise, whilst the American military rivalled that of the other human factions bar the British. The arrival of the Wun’Tux changed everything.

Following the events at Freya VII, the American military diverted ships from the safe, civilised Core worlds to double it’s colony protection force. These reinforcements formed the main body of the USEF. In skirmishes following the Freya VII incident, however, the US ships fared badly against the reckless Wun’Tux. The human warships were old and slow to react compared to their alien opponents. The US military realised a seachange was needed; the secret construction of Highpoint at Ursa Minor began.

Highpoint produced modern starships with modern commanders, favouring quality over quantity. Abstract thinking was fostered and risky strategy encouraged. Though small in number, the USEF became more adaptable in the face of new enemies and a changing galaxy. In contrast, the regular Navy (USN) remained as the larger force – charged with law, order and protection of the civilised the Core systems.

The main target of USEF operations became the ever-hostile Wun’Tux. The first outing of the modern Force was the Dronta VIII operation, a smooth and seamless mission that would come to exemplify the USEF ideal.

Noteworthy combat elements include: