EDIT: Okay starting the rewrite, everything done will be between quad dividers. (----)
Yup we call that the Rule of Cool. Anyway I have a little time to start chipping away at Chapter 2. The story begins long before the current battle takes place. But the action starts at about the time Icarus is ejecting from his fighter.
Don't expect it to end well. These are not the Sins you remember.
I borrowed the theme from a podcast audiobook. Does anyone recognize which one?
Chapter 2: In the Hand of Giants (Part 1)
Sirens wailed in the corridors as Captain Vogel pushed his way towards his command center. Crowds were gathered around blast doors but they parted to let him pass with a salute. Keying his comm to fleet command he hailed the nearby starbase. "Vogel here, whats going on?" The response warbled and crackled under heavy static. "-ogel this is the Synova here, FLEET COM reports comm failure. They are jamming us quite hard. The admiral ordered a general advance. We are to push them out of the system". "Roger" Vogel said and cut his comm. Rounding a corner he took flight as he passed through a section of the ship with disabled gravity. Thought a viewport he glimpsed a group of men moving a metal cylinder as large as a city bus. A load for the main cannon, the casing festooned with warning stripes.
At the far end gravity suddenly returned and he swung off an overhead ladder and onto his feet. There was a sudden clank and a small metallic object bounced across the floor. He picked it up without stopping, a small data crystal. "Must have floated out of my pocket." He muttered. Walking faster now he gripped it with a tight fist. It was still warm.
"THIS is the solution to all my problems". Commander Hadryson proclaimed as he displayed a data crystal between thumb and forefinger. Dropping it on a small table the crystal clanked against another just like it and bounced away. As it came to a stop ripples of light spread outwards from the impact. Then both crystals moved as if by an unseen hand to the side of the table, coming to rest on coloured pads. Across from him Captain Vogel looked on with a skeptical expression. "Your last bottle of homebrew didn't fare any better. What makes you believe this one will?".
"Its full of surprises!" said Hadryson, defensively. Vogel snorted. "Well see about that." Placing both hands flat on the table Vogel began to navigate the holographic menu that appeared. Using a series of deceptively simple gestures he made his way to the personal file vault. "Load pre-set 1, Set 2, Castle Terrain". On the table a field of grass appeared and hills began to bulge upwards. On one side a castle rose out of the soil. Squat and square. A tall outer wall with corner turrets surrounded an even taller keep.
On the other side of the table Hadryson began to set up his army. First came blocky formations of infantry. Before them lines of skirmishers, slingers in this case. To the rear sat catapults, ladders, and towers. A castle siegers toolkit. As he tweaked the unit positions he spoke, not looking up.
On a patch of sunny grassland two armies faced off amid the flicker of holographic light. An army of infantry advanced on a squat castle. Atop the battlements archers waited with notched arrows. In the sky above them all loomed two giants. Titans? Gods? The first giant waved his hand and a hill bulged up from the ground. A few finer gestures produced trees and bushes. After a moment of tweaking the finished shape, his hand dropped to the table. "Lock terrain" He said. "Are you done positioning your figures?".
"Almost, a few moments more" Said the second giant. As he flicked his fingers over the surface of the table little ghostly figured ran to and fro. "Sorry I missed the last game, had to whip the boys into shape." His finger drew a lazy curve and the front line of his forces bent into a crescent. "Of all things we had a suprise inspection. Half of the platoon had suits on ice". Catapults rumbled forward. "Can't say I blame them, things have been quiet for so long."
The first giant crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. "Something is happening, you must feel it. No one will admit it but things are starting to change.". "Of course", said the second giant. "Nothing lasts forever". The first giant started to answer, but lost his train of thought as his gaze landed on his opponent's units. "Say are those new figures?". The second giant nodded. "Yes, downloaded them this morning. I know you have some too." The first giant tapped the table and a small screen flickered into life. "I would have used them but I didn't have the points."
"Why don't we throw everything on the table?" the second giant said. "If things heat up this will be our last game for a long time". The first giant nodded. "Sure why not?". New units flickered to life in the castle courtyard. A trio of bolt throwers. A stone golem. The second giant sat back in his chair. "All done here, thats all you got?". "Of course not, the rest are in reserve." The first giant smiled. Where would we be without a few suprises?" He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a coin. "Call it".
The coin arced over the table, bounced, clattered, then spun. Before it reached the edge the second giant slammed his hand down on top of it and the noise ceased. "Heads" He said, and lifted his hand. It was a comemmorative coin, a line of navy spacemen stretched off into the distance inside a circle of stars. Hands raised in salute. "Your start" Said the first giant.
The two giants locked gazes over the glowing expanse of battlefield. Heroes, thought they didn't know it yet. The second giant placed a finger on the table.
"The heavy foot will advance on the wall"
(I am probably using the word "said" far too much. This is due to the way our forums are set up. Stardock forums force double spacing between paragraphs and don't allow you to indent. "Normal" Sentence structure doesn't quite work with those restrictions. I'll try to do it differently, we'll see how it works out.)
"They are moving!" The tactical officer spun in his chair. "Contact in five." Captain Vogel nodded at the man as he walked past. "Whats our status?" He asked as he sat on his command throne. "All reinforcements accounted for, hammerhead formation locked in and the strike core has engaged... now." Vogel examined his tactical map. The TEC fleet had formed into a broad line formation with the destroyers and frigates forming a solid line. Behind them in a column followed the rest of the fleet, support craft, wounded ships and the massive bulk of a TEC Carrier. The comm pinged. "Synova here, all squadrons out, all wings out, we are withdrawing." "Acknowledged".
"Enemy status?" Said Vogel has he moved his map to focus on the Advent fleet. "Similar composition as ours with a noticeable lack of corvettes. They outnumber us by a fifth." "And what about capital ship support?" "Thier carrier is gone, all that is left is this." The tac officer reoriented the big screen and highlighted one ship. "We have never seen this class before, intel is calling it a battleship." Vogel nodded. "Then we will take them head on."
"Command channel open. This is Vogel, advance to engage, let nothing pass".
The first giant sat and watched the enemy army advance. Examined the pattern and formation of the troops arrayed before him. The front line was composed of heavy infantry. Sunlight glinted off ornate plate armour. The suits were incomplete, retaining freedom of movement at the cost of exposed joints. "More form then function wouldn't you say?" He said, examining the unit stats on his small screen. The second giant shrugged. "I spent it all on the shields." On the back of each unit a shield hovered, its shape a mixture of wedge and oval. "I never considered those worth the points". "Of course, they represent everything your style of play does not." The second giant continued to move his troops forward. The infantry were joined by a group of slingers. "I think you will be suprised at how effective they are."
"Time to put them to the test then" Said the first giant as he watched the little figures approach a faint green line. The outer range marker. On the castle battlements archers nocked arrows and drew back. Behind them the trio of bolt throwers had been relocated to the roof of the inner keep. As he watched strings were being wound and bolt magazines dropped into place. The other units in the castle hurried to designated positions. Lines of crossbowmen slowly filed up tall ladders and appeared atop the wall turrets. The stone golem stomped over to a pile of boulders placed in the middle of the courtyard. Hefting one in both hands it turned to face the gate.
The second giant finished moving his troops and leaned back. "Showtime" He smiled.
"All divisions fire at will!"
As the Advent fleet advanced past the maximum range marker, the TEC fleet opened fire in steps. First came the corvettes and frigates. Expanding arc of missiles rippled outwards like waves in a pond. Close on thier heels came the cruisers. Cruisers formed the bulk of the TEC armada. Like frigates they came in a variety of designs, some more suited to combat than others. It was these that formed the vanguard, loosing missiles to join the ever expanding cloud. Those with spinal mounts cut loose seconds later.
Behind them came the destroyers. A TEC destroyer is essentially a ship built around a gun. What the TEC designers had in mind was a ship that could excel at long range combat. While at the same time retaining enough agility to bring the main cannon to bear during close engagements. Later on destroyers would evolve into a whole new class of ships. But at this point in time they were considered a specialized sub-class of cruiser. One common enough to merit a separate name.
As the glowing spikes of magnetically propelled doom sped towards thier targets, they passed the Advent response coming the other way.
One seeming weakness of the old Advent fleet was that they lacked practical long ranged weaponry. The best known examples being the psionic lances they used as siege weapons. As well as the devastating but extremely rare psintegrat manifestation known as a psionic surge. Advent combat doctrine relied heavily on drones at all ranges. Particularly long range where energy weapons have trouble reaching. Because the pilot operates the drone from a safe distance he can easily pull a replacement when his drone is destroyed. However during "Zero Hour" as this period in time will later be known drones experienced previously unheard of casualties.
While espionage made them well aware of the advances in TEC strike technology. No one in the Advent fleet anticipated the nearly 30-1 casualty ratio that resulted. This suprise culminated in the destruction of the carrier Anathema which fell partially as a result of depleted fighter cover. In death the carrier took with it thousands of idle drones as well as hundreds of Advent pilots. In response the Advent high command held drones back as point defense during the second wave. While adept at fending off missiles they could do nothing to stop the wave of gauss cannon spikes from ripping through the fleet.
It was up to the new arsenal to pick up the slack.
End of Part 1. I think doing things in smaller chunks will work out better.