APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 3 April, 2002


Puppet Wars

Harman Meyerhoff

Author's Apology: Due to time pressures, this piece was cropped and shoehorned from a grim psychodrama story in deep space and into a chaotic tactical scenario meant to illustrate what a 'real' WotA spacebattle was like. I apologize for the complexity, and salute anyone brave enough to attempt it.


Feeling returned abruptly, the noseplug administering a sharp electric shock to Mikaels' nose.

Like a second birth, the sneeze reflex pushed his body back over the threshold between hibernation-death and life, as he involuntarily gasped for air, spitting out the circulator mouthpiece as he did so.

The residual cryosleep sludge clung to his face even as his long-unused body shivered and ached while resuming its interrupted vital functions. Blearing through the bluish-tinted tears that stung his eyes, he shivered once more, stretching and taking tally of his forgotten limbs as he undogged his now-drained sleep helmet and scanned the control console of his ship.

Ship. That was a funny thought. And not just because of the euphorics mixed into his lazarus IV, shock-purifying his body of cryogenic drugs and replacing them with short-duration perception and reaction enhancers. It really was funny.

A two-man Shrike fighter drifting outside Poseidon orbit, there sure wasn't anything nearby to argue the old fighter-versus-ship argument about "three's a crew". And now, with the cryosystems taking up most of the center crewers' space, whittling it down to him and Kari, he called his beloved fighter a ship. And no-one to hear it. Their wingman was better than a thousand kay away, and the drone bus was five times that behind them both.

Cracking his knuckles as lines of warmth burned across his skinsuit, he sucked in another deep breath of air and checked his astronavigation board.

Confirming the coordinates he had memorized before his slumber, subjectively only a day before, but at least four months ago in reality, he released the breath in relief. Less than a quarter-second of deviation on launch, and computer-corrected only twice during transit.

Not that there were any veterans to say that such things were harbingers of sucessful missions, he chided himself silently.

Startled by his own silence, he called out to his bond twin, relexively.


Silence answered him. Mentally, he kicked himself. To conserve oxygen, the hibernation system was set to awaken him first, leaving Kari in coldsleep for another day.

But for a moment he pictured the worst-case scenario. Kari, frozen and asphyxiated, immobile and drowned in blue hibernation gel, perfectly preserved but as cold and dead as the nothingness outside their fragile ship.

"Mahmoud..." He mumbled, rubbing his gloved palms together and trying to shake the thought.


"Okay, the synth-aperture cans are sending clean telem, we've got two Urchin class frigates in tailguard on the destroyer, looks like forty-degree axial differentiation from us, velocity close at about a half kay/sec less than us. We'll get to 'em in about a day at current velocity."

"Good job, Mateloc. We'll show those Earthworms what happens to those who dare attack the motherland!" Capitan Verlon growled, pushing off from where he had been hovering in the center of the cramped bridge area and pulling himself back down into his command couch.

"Communications! Contact the Smolensk and relay vectors, and order Drone Operations to prepare six heavy combatants, two Kamikaze, and three decoys, and launch them as soon as we complete our matching burn. I want to see those earther ships derelict and dead by this time tomorrow!"


"Cap'n, flash laser from the Ogodei, they've found the destroyer... bearing oh-five-nine by zero-zero-two, on a negative twenty degree axial rotation. Nineteen hours at present velocity plus a ten minute two-gee corrective within the next three hours."

"Great. Send trigger to drone carriers Sierra-Papa-Mike-Niner and Sierra-November-Kilo-Seven, and release four decoy drones and a com screamer. Program the screamer with the coords and set it to call for fighter support."

"Aye sir."

"One more thing, Jenkins..."


"Ready a salvage buoy. They're gonna need one once we're done with 'em."


"Nnnrmm.... Mik.. 'ou get it...." Kari mumbled, trying to slip back into hibernation like it were common sleep. But the insistent bleep of the com device refused to be silent, dragging her reluctant consciousness back into the realm of the living.

"Sorry sweetheart, but we're straight outta the freezer and into the fire. Two friendlies just picked up a CEF destroyer, and invited us to the party."

So much for blissful oblivion, she thought disgustedly, and opened her eyes.

Scenario Overview

The the SRS Ogodei and NCS Smolensk have been ordered to destroy the damaged CEF Io-class destroyer Bailkala and her two escorts, the Urchin class frigates Otbor and Strela.

To bolster their attack, the Terranovan ships have called upon two SP-3-D Shrike fighters and two drone buses laden with ten drones apiece.


The Teranovan objective is to either destroy the Bailkal (10 victory points) or heavily damage her and eliminate her escorts (4 victory points each).

-5 points if Smolensk or Ogodei is destroyed.

Max score: 22

The CEF objective is to destroy both pursuing Terranovan capital ships, (4 victory points each), evade any surviving pursuers (6 points), and destroy the fighters if possible. (3 points each)

Destroyer lost, -8 points

Frigate lost, -4 points

Max score: 20

Terranovan Forces

Total TV: 75,504

*Shrike fighters attack in Lightning Strike on the beginning of the fifth turn.

CEF Forces

Total TV: 217,922

Due to the potential for an obscenely large amount of drones becoming involved in the battle, considering any hit on a drone as a complete kill is advised.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 4, Number 3 April, 2002