Guardians of the Order
"The Return of the Crusaders"
17 years after first contact with the Vasari.
Location: Valiant Sector, Thallaos System, Thallaos
Region: Eastern Expanse, Eastern Frontlines
Regional Command: VALCOM/AFCOM/CENTCOM
Fleet: 375th Aegis Defense Fleet
Time: 23:47 VSST (Valiant Sector Standard Time)
Hundreds of flashes plumed across Thallaos gravity wells edge. And in an instant, hundreds of TEC warships had arrived in the system. The 375th had just returned from a standard patrol of the near by Natia System and the crews were exhausted. The recent increase in Advent raiding parties had sent VALCOM and AFCOM into distress. In response the one Fleet within the Sector without a base of operations found themselves roaming the Sector responding to any appearance of the Advent. Normally by the time the 375th arrived the raiding party had been dealt with by a local system Fleet. And was only activated for the sake of having a standing response just incase the Advent threw more then just a small task force sized element at the sector. But none the less it took its toll on the 375th as the raiding parties kept the other Fleets locked at their current system. The 375th was forced to continue roaming the Sector without another fleet as their relief.
The Valiant Sector was deep behind Advent frontlines, and the only reason it had held off from being siezed was because of the large distances between the Advent held Fathom Sector and the Cluster of systems in the Valiant Sector. Instead of days in phase space it took weeks, and atleast one system in the Valiant Sector was so far out from Fathom, it took almost a month to reach via phase space. As well the Corsthe Sector to the right and Nvath Sector to the left of Valiant were heavily contested. Entire Systems exchanging hands every week. The Advent were too tied up for their strategy of utilizing brute force to be effective in this region of space. So they were forced to adopt a Vasari tactic of harrassment with Raiding parties of 50 or so ships jumping into random systems. For atleast a year and a half the Advent had only jumped raiding parties in maybe once a month or so. But lately the Advent presence had increased. Across the Sector, reports came in reporting increased Advent activity in the region. They were now jumping in two sometimes three times a month.
"Lt. Emerson, Send out a comunique to Norse Base requesting jump coordinates." Ordered the young Commodore sitting in the command chair.
"Aye Aye Sir!" Chirped the young Lieutenant that sat behind and to the right of him, at the communications console. "Sir, Norse Base is ordering the Fleet to jump in farther out then usual, appears their minefield has just become operational. As well the 417th is currently held up at Norse Base."
"Understood,Relay jump coordinates to CIC Lieutenant".Commodore Koerner said.
"Yes Sir." Lt. Emerson responded.
"Helmsman, enter in coordinates for the next phase jump and procceed at .8 impulse." Commanded Commodore Koerner.
"Entering coordinates and increasing speed to .8 impulse, Sir." the helmsman said repeating the Commodores orders.
The TDN Firestorm, a Kol Battleship and the Flagship of the 375th banked to starboard and began to push for the far edge of the Thallaos gravity well. It would take another 7 hours before they were in position to jump to Norse Base. But in the mean time, The Commodore figured he leave the bridge in the hands of his Excutive Officer Commander Wright and pay a vist to the flight deck.
"Cmdr Wright you have the Bridge." Barked Commodore Koerner as he left the restraints of his command chair and walked towards the door.
"Aye Aye, I have the bridge Sir." Retorted Commander Wright.
COM Koerner walked the long tight corridors of the Firestorm passing dozens of commissioned officers and enlisted personell that stood to one side while saluting. COM Koerner ignored most of them, as it be quite a chore to salute every person that came his way. Only acknowledging any verbal gestures.
The entrance to the 1st Flight Deck was on level 14 and was crowded with equipment and personell coming and going as the mechanics and aviation engineers worked feverishly to repair the damage to two of the Fighters of the 864th "DevilDogs" Squadron. They had been launched at Natia to investigate a Psinar annomaly. During their flight, two of the fighters had clipped each others wings as one of the pilots banked avoiding some debris left from a previous battle. COM Koerner wanted to know if Lt. Commander Perish would need anything specific once they arrived at Norse, as well he had become bored of sitting on the bridge for the past 8 hours and the incident at Natia had given him the excuse to get off the bridge.
As COM Koerner walked through the blastdoors that seperated the Flight deck from the rest of the ship, Someone yelled. "Captain ONDECK!"
Immediately everyone aside from Mechdroids stopped what they were doing, turned and stood at attention. As the individual who yelled as COM Koerner entered saluted. COM Koerner returned the salute and immediately barked. "As you were!"
Lt.Cmdr Perish standing a few dozen feet from the blast doors, came striding over to the Commodore and saluted.
"Sir, What can I do for?" Asked Lt.Cmdr Perish.
COM Koerner returned the salute. "Just wanted to see how the repairs were coming, Commander...Is there anything your going to need from Norse? Any specific equipment your FlightDeck is missing or in dire need of?" Commodore Koerner asked.
"Well Sir, I already sent up a LOGPAC request for some new ordinance lifts, the ones we currently have are in bad shape, but I cant count on Norse Logistics to give us what we need, they havent for the last 3 months." answered Lt. Cmdr Perish.
"Hmm, Ok Ill see what strings I can pull on Norse, I know the Base Logistics Commander pretty well. Just make sure those two fighters are operational when by the time we get to Norse. We have no idea how long were going to be there." Commodore Koerner said.
"They'll be ready by then Sir." retorted Lt.Cmdr Perish.
Commodore Koerner only nodded and procceeded for the door.
Location: Valiant Sector, Thallaos System, Norse Base
Region: Eastern Expanse, Eastern Frontlines
Regional Command: VALCOM/AFCOM/CENTCOM
Fleet: 375th Aegis Defense Fleet
Time: 11:32 VSST (Valiant Sector Standard Time)
The 375th came out of phase space a few hundred meters from the new minefield that now lined the gravity well closest to the phase lane leading back to Thallaos. Within seconds of arriving NFC, Norse Flight Control, was issuing orders to individual ships and squadrons. Informing them of their docking assignements. The majority of Captital ships were to dock at the StarBase Pheta Ki that orbitted Norse. While the dozens of squadrons of cruisers and frigates were to dock at the Repair Bays that surrounded the Asteroid. Some frigates, were ordered to dock at the Norse Base Logistics Access Flight Deck. A large shuttle bay that had been converted from a pirate ship factory to a landing bay for numerous sized shuttles. It had enough room to allow one frigate sized vessel to dock at a time, while being resupplied and repaired.
On the opposite side of the minefield the 417th was lining up to jump out of Norse and on to Thallaos to begin their routine patrol of the system. Within minutes of arriving the 417th disappeared from the gravity well in hundreds of flashes of lights. Once the 417th was gone, the NFC gave the 375th permission to approach Norse and the static defenses that dotted the gravity well. It didnt take long for the ships to find their rightful docking stations.
"Sir, Communique from Norse Command, downloading intel and orders now." Lt. Emerson stated.
"Very well Lieutenant. Copy it to a Datapad." Ordered COM Koerner.
"Yes sir." Answered Lt. Emerson.
A few short minutes later, Lt. Emerson walked over to the Commodore and handed him a roster with thousands of names.
"Appears to be a shoreleave roster sir." Lt. Emerson said.
COM Koerner only looked up at her and nodded indicating she could go back to her station. The first few thousand names were highlighted in a neon blue. Then followed by thousands of names listed in yellow and followed by names in green. Each list contained names from every ship, listing them to go on shoreleave at different times so that someone could be on the ship at all times.
Beneath the very long list of names was a brief summary of current events within Valiant. And one of them stuck out like a sore thumb. The Mako system had lost the two task forces assigned to its defense. And Mako was now under siege by a full Advent fleet and two Advent Crusade Groups. The system had been designated by the Central Network of Intelligence as unimportant because of how far out it was from the Valiant Cluster Systems and its lack of resources. The Mako System was atleast a three days jump from even the closest system and atleast 29 days from Fathom. And with the constant assaults by Advent Raiding parties the CNI felt the dedicated Fleets were needed elsewhere. That Mako would be overlooked by any Advent looking to establish a foothold because of the strain it would put on supplylines. The CNI was wrong, like usual, they underestimated the Advents tenacity and commitment to tackling challenging obstacles. The Advent now had a chokehold on the Mako System and the only Fleet capable of responding was the 375th. But even the 375th couldnt handle an entire Advent Fleet and two Crusade Groups. They would need reinforcements if they had any chance to retake Mako.
At the end of the intel summary was an order for COM Koerner to transfer from the Firestorm to Norse Command to recieve a briefing on the current situation and recieve orders on actions to be taken against the Advent Incursion.
"Lt. Emerson, inform your relief to report for duty, you and I are going planetside for the next few days." COM Koerner said.
"Yes sir." Said Lt. Emerson, and with that she turned back to her console to chime Lt. Banners.
Hours later on level 14's Flight Deck where COM Koerner and Lt. Emerson waited, a shuttle only large enough to carry a dozen personell landed. It was slick and obviously designed for landing in areas with little to no room for commercialized shuttles. Once onboard the Commodore and Lieutenant stowed their bags and strapped in. As they launched from the Firestorm the sheer size of Norse became evident. From the shuttles windows, the passengers could see hundreds of tradeships and shuttles swarming around the asteroid. Norse might have been a TEC Outpost, but it was also a symbol of the TEC's power over the Trade Orders economy. And the Structures jutting out of the sides of the asteroid and rising like skyscrappers reminded all that Norse wasnt always a TEC stronghold. That years ago, the Trade Order was under siege by another enemy.
Norse was an abandoned Pirate base, left behind after the Trade Order had enacted the Anti-Piracy Shelter Act 221 years prior. The APSA had brought heavy sanctions and taxes to sectors and systems known to have heavy pirate activity. The local Defense Fleets were spurred to action from local politicans looking to make nice with the Trade Order Council. Pirates by the millions were displaced under the pressure of Planetary Defense Fleets.
For hundreds of years the Trade Order fought with itself over how to handle the menacing issue of piracy. And finally after experiencing a major increase in piracy across the Empire due to lax protection for wayward merchant ships and individual planets. The Trade Order came under heavy fire for its lack of resolve in dealing with the systems known to shelter pirates that in turn agreed not to attack the host system. This all ended with the ASPA. Now every system was charged with hunting and expelling pirates or face losing important tax cuts and key resources shipped to the regions.
In recent history the Norse asteroid came under control of the TEC as they made a move to organize Asteroids and Asteroid belts into Staging Points for TEC military operations. The Vasari and Advents ability to overrun entire Trade Order planets forced the TEC to create fallback positions where they could regroup and attempt to retake planets that fell to the enemies of the Trade Order.
As soon as the shuttle landed both COM Koerner and Lt. Emerson were greeted by Fleet Admiral Heins assistant,Commander Birch, and lead to their quarters that they'd stay at for the next few days while being updated on the current crisis in the sector. Once they put away their bags, the two were then led to a Messhall to get something to eat. After eating a late dinner, they were again lead by Cmdr Birch to the Norse Command Administrative Offices where Flt Adm Heins was located. Walking into Flt Adm Heins office COM Koerner stood to attention and saluted.
"Commodore Koerner reporting Sir." COM Koerner stated.
Looking up from the pile of datapads on his desk Flt Adm Heins smiled.
"Lewis, I was wondering when youd get here, How you been?" asked Flt Adm Heins.
"Im doing pretty good, how are you and the Family Sir?" asked COM Koerner.
"Well, Ive seen better days..." pointing at the pile of briefs and requests on his desk."But Meriam and the girls are doing just fine."
"Good to hear sir." COM Koerner plugged.
"What about you Lewis...? When you going to finally start a family of your own?" asked Flt. Adm Heins.
COM Koerner smiled slightly. "As soon as you give me enough time off to meet a nice girl, Sir."
"Thats not going to happen anytime soon, not with the current state of affairs, that might not be for a few years." retorked Flt Adm Heins."Please sit down, we have alot to go over and not much
time at all."
COM Koerner took a seat as Flt Adm Heins handed him a Datapad with the most up to date info on the Mako situation.
"Hours before you left Natia, A large Advent Fleet phase jumped to the Mako Star, The two task groups, the 42nd and the 89th, both stationed in different gravity wells were activated. But because of the distances between the planets and the star. Both Task groups engaged the Advent Fleet, and both were lost. Not long after, Psinar in the system picked up two seperate Crusade groups arriving at the star. Approximately 11 hours later. Parnos, Velra, and Thatos IV dropped off the communications net. CNI believes the whole system will fall silent within the next 5 days. And theres no point in sending you back out to intercept the Advent...We wont get Mako back, We'll just lose another Fleet and will lose our ability manuveur while safeguarding the Cluster. So we've decided, to allow the system to fall into Advent hands for now. But, they wont hold it for long. About 9 months long AFCOM approved the Xonia and Georo Sectors to create two Fleets for the purpose of unlocking the stalemate here in the Valiant Sector. About 3 weeks ago they were launched and ordered to report to VALCOM for duty. Theyll be here in another two weeks. Their orders have come down, and their supposed to be taking up for 577th and 467th, who will then join the 375th at the Thallaos Star. What happens once you jump in is up to you Lewis, Youll have Command of the operation once on station. The 577th and 467th will be at your disposal. Just do us a favor and kick those religious freaks asses for us." Flt Adm Heins stopped talking and looked up at COM Koerner. " Give those fuckers hell."
"Well send them back to their Coalesence Mommies Sir." Responded COM Koerner.
"Alright then Lewis, Get too it." Flt Adm Heins said.
"Yes sir, Good to see you again Admiral." answered COM Koerner.
COM Koerner got up and left. Walking out of the Admirals office Lt. Emerson stood and followed him.
"We have alot to do before we can take our three day shoreleave Emerson. Meet me at Briefing room A tomorrow at 08:00." Ordered COM Koerner. "Good evening Lieutenant."
"Yes sir...Goodnight." Lt. Emerson said.
The two parted ways as they approached their quarters. Taking one last look at each other as they entered their rooms to get some much needed rest.