Hugging close to the planet sits a partially constructed station and hiding in its shadow, the combined forces of several powers, headed by a lion. Seventeen capital vessels with a few hundred support vessels interlaced in the space between them lie in wait for the oncoming vessels on the edge of the gravity well. After a few hundred flashes of light, the small vessels begin their approach with a single Kol heading the group. As more and more frigates come into the system, they quickly join the rear of the vanguard and make the steady approach.
Alexander stands on board the David, staring at the red dots on the holoprojector approach their position. Alexander's head angles towards the communcations station, "Lieutenant, have the Jericho lead the other two Marzas to our right wing and engage when in optimal range."
"Yes, sir," he hears as orders are going out on the silent bridge.
The three Marzas detach and come about to poke their noses towards the front edge of the group. As they line up, the station fires off a volley of missiles, the warheads scrambling into the crowd of small vessels.
"Sir, Captain Levin is anticipating twenty seconds until ninety percent of the enemy forces are within range," the comm officer says.
Alexander gives a single nod, "Alright, have the Dunovs take tapered positions behind the Kols. Ensign, bring us around the edge of the station. Be slow about it."
As the Kols and Dunovs move, the enemy LRMs come within range of the station and stop, each firing a volley. As the missiles close the distance, the other support vessels speed ahead to engage. The missiles are halfway through their flight path when the station fires its multitude of weapons at the nearing frigates. Soon after beams are exchanged between the two, the numerous missiles impact the stations' shielding, soon breaching the deflectors and pockmarking the structure with damage. The Kols come around, beams and autocannons ripping into the crowd as they emerge. Kodiaks zip past the Kols and take pot shots at nearby targets while breaking formation to mix up the ranks. Frigates on both sides engage in a dogfight, gradually harming the numbers of the others. The Kol heading the Iron group fires into the station, delivering heavy damage to its superstructure, drawing attention from the Kols. The Dunovs hang close by, waiting for the Kols to take enough shield damage to use their abilities to the fullest. As Iron's men mix it up with the defensive forces, the other capitals in the rear take to targets of opportunity while maintaining a tight formation. Amidst the combat, the bombers and their fighter escorts join the fray and lace targets with their payloads. The numbers are immediately hampered by shots of flak, but they soon fly free to preserve themselves.
On the David, Alexander makes minor corrections in his posture as the shielding absorbs the vast majority of the energy. He looks to the ensign, "All Kols should focus on that cap. And watch that horizon with a free eye."
"Yes, sir. Lieutenant, did you get that?"
The comm officer announces into his headset, "All Kols, focus fire on target Kol. Repeat, focus fire on target Kol."
As the Kols turn their beam weaponry and autocannons towards the Kol, the Marzas to the far right release blooms of light. The missile barrages dance from their bays with bright twinkles of red light as their numbers continue to expand and grow. The small vessels begin to scatter as the projectiles from three Marzas hunt them. The lightest of the vessels, LRMs and Cobalts, make a quick disappearance from the now glittering space. The other support vessels, short of the carriers hanging back near the phase lane, begin to whittle away in numbers as missiles continuously flow through the void. The Kodiaks manage to preserve many of their numbers, but the cannon fire from five capital vessels and a multitude of frigates oppresses their actions and drives them to evasive maneuvers.
The single Kol turns towards the Marzas and begins firing, focusing on the Jericho. The remaining Kodiaks follow suit, coming about and engaging the broad vessel. The moderate shielding of the Marza quickly weakens, allowing occassional fire to pierce through to the hull.
"Sir, they're going for the Jericho," the ensign says.
"Pull back the Marzas and bring that damned Kol down," Alexander commands.
The three Marzas turn to retreat to the rear when Iron's bombers take advantage of the opening and strike at the rear of the slow vessel, destroying its engines. The Jericho goes adrift, attempting to stave off its enemies with what few tracking missiles it has while the other two make their way to safety.
The missile barrages are exhausted in number when the thirty-two capital vessels of Iron's fleet arrive to the view of their lead Kol being cut into sections by the forward weaponry of its numerous counterparts. The frigates are nearly extinct, but they have achieved the goal of sending the station to its doom, the large structure breaking into thick sections that get caught up in the planet's gravity and gently drift to a fiery demise in the atmosphere. Iron looks at the projection with a smile, realizing that despite the losses, his remaining enemies would be swept up by the overwhelming force of his capital vessels.
The fleet initially approaches with caution, but the collective forces hold their positions near the destroyed station. Not a single ambush or rogue unit presents itself well into the gravity field. When the coast appears clear, Iron gives the order for the forces to engage. Iron's men maintain formation until the Marzas are within range, where they come to a stop all together. The ten Marzas release a mixture of missile barrages and convention fire, sending a wall of explosive fire into the enemy ranks. The Centauri fleets and other support vessels scramble as they attempt to withdraw from the force which tears their numbers apart. The larger missiles spread themselves amongst the Kols and Jericho, forcing the Dunovs into action.
Aboard the David, the bridge now shakes and shudders as wiring pops under the pressure of the attack. Alexander retreats to his chair, bracing against it to stay on his feet. "Tactical, what have we got?"
"We're almost through the barrage, sir. Our shields are barely holding, but the frigates can't take much more of this."
Alexander looks to the comm officer, "Lieutenant, have Captain Hollans get those frigates out of here."
The comm officer shakes his head, "Sir, I'm not getting a hold of him. There's too much chatter."
"Sir," the ensign screams, "the Jericho's going down."
Alexander looks at the blinking mess of the holoprojector, "Tell him to get out of there."
The ensign turns back, "Sir, they're already gone."
The Jericho's broad back takes a series of bombardments, flames and atmosphere blowing out from several impacted sections. Escape pods take off from the underbelly, some taking to the planet and others hurtling into space. As the last few attempt to escape, the Jericho's anti-matter reserves breach and a bright blue light signals the end of its service. When the light subsides, two halves of a burnt out vessel remain, drifting in opposite directions.
A missile impact rocks the David and a beam of energy from a nearby Dunov follows. Alexander makes his way across the uneasy floor to the ensign's post, "Any idea if Levin made it off?"
"No, sir. I'm not getting any reports from anyone."
"Well, are they in range yet, at least?"
The ensign shakes his head, "No, sir, we built them too close."
Alexander wrestles to get back to his seat where he plants himself, "We needed to be sure they would be gathered close. I couldn't build them anywhere else."
The last of the missiles make their arrival and the vessels settle on both sides. The Kols are battered and bruised, but kept afloat by the Dunovs while the rear capitals were shielded by a mixture of the Kols and the station debris. The frigates continue to retreat to the rear where they begin collecting together and reorganizing. Iron's men only slow long enough to glance the enemy position before the fleet moves forward in unison, the Sovas now launching their strikecraft for the big push.
"Sir," the tactical officer says while attending to a cut across his face, "they'll be in weapons range in ten seconds."
Alexander's voice flattens, "What's the actual range, ensign?"
"Five seconds, sir," the ensign replies.
"Get a hold of whoever you can and tell them to rush targets on the signal," Alexander says.
Iron's fleet holds together as they move forward, a wall of discipline and strength. They maintain a perfect cohesion for the five seconds it takes to travel the distance necessary to mark Alexander's command, "Ensign, engage manual detonation."
Across the faces of every aware member of Iron's fleet, jaws drop and eyes widen as fifty mines unphase within their shared pocket of space. Iron stares at the holoprojector glow with a myriad of small dots for the quarter of a second it takes for the mines to detonate.
Before the fleet of defenders, waves of blue light burst as one, lighting up Iron's position with a brilliance as great as the demise of a dozen Jerichos.
(Actual tactics based on how I defended a planet from a Hard AI that outnumbered me 3 to 1. I recommend Ryat follow this post)