"We gonna make it, Horacio?"
Horacio Lovejoy scratched his beard as he peered into the holotank in the Versailles' tactical center. The tank showed Terra Nova and its local space. A couple of small triangles on the surface marked his ship and his escort, the Virtuous. More triangles marked the positions of the two transports, the Katharine Thomas and the Katherine Putnam, plus their escorts, the Intrepid and the Dauntless, as they sped away from the Versailles. In space, more triangles marked the Southern destroyers Napoleon and Washington as they vectored towards the final and, as far as Horacio was concerned, most important triangle: the CEF cruiser moving slowly eastward towards a square that hung motionless above the planet.
When the Earthers reached that square, they would be positioned to begin bombarding Marabou, one of the larger city-states of the South.
A square on the ground marked the target towards which Lovejoy's ship raced: when he reached that spot, he'd be within range to do more than a little about the Earther cruiser.
"Horacio?" Angel Rollins, his 2IC, repeated.
"Yes." Lovejoy scratched his beard again. "Yes. We'll make it." He stood to his full height and marched out of the tactical center and onto the Versailles' bridge proper. He strode to the wide observation windows and gazed out across the desert sands that were racing past. To port, the Virtuous sped alongside the Versailles. Maintenance crews were busy doing something with a couple of P-119 Eagles and a pair of older P-117 Hawks. A Southern fighter-bomber -- a Quetzal, if Lovejoy remembered correctly -- was being raised up to the flight deck, its own techs standing patiently beside it. "We'll make it," he repeated. "Barely, though. Carlson? Get me Skeeter."
His communications officer nodded. A few seconds later, he replied, "She's on."
"Skeeter?" Lovejoy asked.
A rather harried-sounding woman replied, "Yeah, Captain? I'm a bit busy now. Just a--" Lovejoy thought he heard something heavy crash to the floor of the cargo bay below. "NO! There! Not here! Anyone know how to say 'starboard' in French? Thanks. Sorry, Captain. I'm a bit busy, like I said."
Lovejoy grinned, happy there were no Southies up on the bridge. "Good. How long?"
"Oh, twenty minutes. Fifteen if someone can come down here and swear at these guys in French for me. Yes! There. Good. Sweet Prophet, it's like taking care of a bunch of toddlers. Anyway, we'll be ready, Captain."
Lovejoy nodded. "Good. Lovejoy out." He turned to Rollins and smiled as best he could. "We'll make it."
Before Rollins could reply, Carlson, the communications officer, gave a shout. "Captain! Intel reports an inbound flight of enemy fighters, ETA 15 minutes. Virtuous preparing to intercept."
Beside him, Rollins sighed softly. "Well, the decoy didn't work this time."
"Can't expect them to fall for it five times, can we?" The Intrepid and the Dauntless had escorted the transports away from the Versailles once their transfer of cargo had been completed. The intent was to create larger clouds of dust than the Versailles and the Virtuous, tricking the Earthers into going after the wrong targets.
Outside, the Eagles roared down the Virtuous' runways, followed shortly by the Hawks.
Lovejoy sighed wistfully. "Damn. I wish we could launch while on the move."
Rollins snorted. "If our birds lifted while we were moving, our nose would plow into the sand."
Carlson called out again. "Captain! More bad news: forward scouts report contact with a group of hovertanks headed this way. They've engaged... Communications lost, sir... Virtuous' captain reports she's ordered a tank-hunter party out onto the field."
Grimacing, the captain of the Versailles nodded at his comm officer. "Roger, Carlson. Rollins, get our boys and girls out there, too. We've got a date with a CEF cruiser. More than two million lives are at stake, and we're not about to let a bunch of hovertanks get in our way."
In the earlier days of the War of the Alliance, before Terra Nova's space forces had managed to chase the CEF fleet away from the planet and into the farthest reaches of the Helios system, battles were fought on all fronts simultaneously: in space, in the air, and on the ground. Although the CEF was able to knock out much of Terra Nova's stationary launch facilities, it was unable to prevent completely the defenders from mounting offensives against the 8th Fleet. This was thanks largely to the North's three Aurora-class mobile launch landships. Able to launch swarms of killer drones into space while simultaneously staying clear of retaliatory Ortillery fire, the Auroras did much to keep Terra Nova afloat while its space forces regrouped and retooled at Zeus.
On 35 Summer 1914, a CEF Deil-class cruiser named the Wolf moved into position to bombard the Southern city-state of Marabou. Having just been resupplied by a pair of transport landships, the NCS-43 Versailles was able to initiate a pre-emptive strike against the Deil. The Versailles kept it and its escorts occupied long enough for the Southern destroyers Napoleon and Washington to intercept the CEF ships and take them out before a single shot was fired against Marabou.
|Weather:||Clear until turn 5, then Sandstorm|
|Time of Day:||Day (afternoon)|
|Base Terrain:||Desert sand|
|Raiding Force:||CEF Western Desert Patrol Group|
|Defending Force:||Joint Northern-Southern Heavy Gear Patrol|
|Raider Objectives:||Defeat Terranovan forces|
|Defender Objectives:||Destroy or drive off CEF forces|
This battle takes place during the day in the Western Desert in the Terranovan Badlands. While the Terranovans are engaging the CEF hovertanks, the Versailles and its escort, the Virtuous (a Vortex-class landcarrier), are continuing on towards the launch site that will allow the Versailles to take down the CEF cruiser in orbit. Neither will be directly involved in the battle, nor will either be able to provide any kind of support. It is the Heavy Gears' job to keep the hovertanks from reaching the landships and halting their progress.
Although the battle begins beneath a clear sky, the two landships are kicking up quite a lot of dust as they speed on their way. This is quite deliberate, as it helps to hide the exact location, size, and composition of any given landship fleet. On the fifth turn, however, a shift in the winds will carry the landships' dust clouds onto the battlefield, creating weather conditions equivalent to a sandstorm (see page 51 of the Heavy Gear Tactical Miniatures Rules).
The CEF hovertanks' ultimate objective is the pair of landships. In order to defeat them, the hovertanks will require most of their anti-tank missiles, and CEF Ground Command has not authorized their indiscriminate use against the Heavy Gear defenders. The crews will have to choose their targets carefully in order to avoid wasting their ammunition.
|Defeat of the Terranovans||5|
|Each Heavy Gear destroyed||1|
|Each anti-tank missile fired beyond the first four||-1|
|Destruction or rout of the CEF forces||5|
|Each hovertank destroyed||4|
Western Desert Patrol Group
8th Fleet 13th Battle Group "Tigerclaw"
Gamma Company, Third Troop, Patrol 2
Total Threat Value: 30,762
The 13th Battle Group prowled much of the southern portion of the Western Desert during the War. An entirely GREL battle group, the 13th was one of the more fearsome elements of the 8th Fleet's ground forces. After the War of the Alliance, several GRELs from the 13th found their way to the gladiator pits of Khayr ad-Din; ironically, a few of them wound up as part of the Khayr ad-Din Army that helped defend Terra Nova during Operation Icarus and later CEF campaigns. (See the Colonial Expeditionary Forces Sourcebook for more information about the CEF.)
Versailles Fleet Joint North-South Tank-Killer Patrol
Northern Guard 95th Heavy Gear Regiment "O'Brien's March"
Alpha Company, Section 1, Squadron 1
Alpha Company, Section 1, Squadron 2
Southern MILICIA 57th Heavy Gear Regiment "The Sandravens"
Alpha Compagnie, 1st Section, Escouade 2
Alpha Compagnie, 1st Section, Escouade 3
Total Threat Value: 24,165
(Note that since this battle takes place during the War of the Alliance, all of the Heavy Gears involved are older models. Stats for all can be found in the Northern Vehicle Compendium 1 and the Southern Vehicle Compendium 1.)
O'Brien's March was the Heavy Gear complement of the Vortex-class landcarrier Virtuous. The early days of the War of the Alliance devastated the regiment, leaving the ship unable to fulfill its duties properly. This problem was alleviated when the MILICIA's Sandravens joined O'Brien's March a few seasons later. The Sandravens themselves had lost many of their numbers in other battles, so the joint assignment was as much for their benefit as it was for O'Brien's March.
Both units were completely destroyed in TN 1916 when CEF infantry executed a successful ambush that crippled both the Virtuous and the Versailles. The loss of their motive sections left both landships open to Ortillery fire that cracked their hulls and vaporized all aboard.
Although none of these units play direct roles in this scenario, Players wishing to extend their game beyond this engagement may be interested in some of the details of the landships and the spaceships involved.
NCS-43 Versailles: The Versailles is an Aurora-class mobile launch landship designed to launch rockets into Terranovan orbit from nearly anywhere on the planet. Unable to fire on the move, the Auroras are at their most vulnerable during their launch sequences. Fortunately, ballistic Ortillery fire takes longer to reach the ground than it takes an Aurora to come to a halt, launch its rockets, and resume its course, and hitting a moving target with ballistic Ortillery is nearly impossible. They would be vulnerable to energy-based Ortillery, but by traveling in the deserts, the Auroras kick up enough dust to diffuse most energy strikes. See the Spaceship Compendium One for more information about the Westphalia, the Versailles' sister-ship.
NCS-07 Virtuous: The Virtuous was the first Vortex-class landcarrier. Embarking on its maiden voyage in TN 1872, it served Terra Nova well during the War of the Alliance until destroyed alongside the Versailles. See The New Breed: Battle Before the Storm for more information about the Vortex class, particularly the NCS-19 Vigilance, the third ship in the series. (The ships underwent many refits in their lifetimes, and thus the stats for the Virtuous are quite different from those presented for the Vigilance in The New Breed. Nevertheless, the general idea is the same for the two.)
NCS-1104 Katharine Thomas and NCS-1105 Katherine Putnam: These two Squall-class cargo transports served primarily in the Western Desert during the War of the Alliance, and they nearly always operated in concert. Lightly armed and armored, they nevertheless survived the War of the Alliance and continue to serve to this day. The Thomas was actually commandeered by the Khayr ad-Din Army during the Interpolar War, but the Putnam managed to avoid capture. (There are no stats for these guys. And yes, the ships have slightly different first names.)
RLS-67 Intrepid and RLS-70 Dauntless: Another pair of sister-ships, the Intrepid and the Dauntless are both members of the Chancellor-class of destroyers fielded by the South. Somewhat small and surprisingly fast, the Chancellor class mounts approximately the same weaponry as the Khan-class assault carrier, though it lacks the latter's complement of vehicles. The Dauntless was destroyed during the War of the Alliance, but the Intrepid survived, taking part in several campaigns during the Interpolar War. The Dauntless II was completed at the Republican Dockyards in Marabou just in time to deal a blow to the CEF ground raiders during Operation Icarus.
The Wolf: A CEF Deil-class cruiser, the Wolf made quite a name for itself during the War of the Alliance, primarily by deploying its TAAF-54 fighters for ground support roles in the early stages of the campaign. Its service to the Commonwealth was cut short, however, when the landship Versailles crippled the cruiser when it was ordered to bombard Marabou. The Napoleon and the Washington moved in to finish the job, destroying the Wolf, most of its fighters, and its escort ships. (See the Spaceship Compendium Two for more about the Deil and the CEF fleet ships in general.)
The Napoleon and the Washington: Two of the South's Richelieu-class destroyers, the Napoleon and the Washington fought fiercely throughout the War. The Napoleon was destroyed in the attack on the Wolf and its escorts, but the Washington survived relatively unscathed. Shortly thereafter, the CEF's 8th Fleet was driven from Terranovan orbit and into the depths of Helios space. When it returned in TN 1916 to support the CEF ground forces, the Washington took part again in driving it from orbit. While chasing the 8th Fleet away from Terranova, however, the ship suffered critical damage and was forced to leave the chase. It barely managed to make it to Zeus-based space docks, where its combat systems became the core of the Walrus pocket dreadnought as part of Operation Partizan. The Walrus, originally a tug that serviced the WFPGS Antam, was lost during the CEF's Operation Icarus in TN 1944. (Operation Patizan was a project during the War of the Alliance that converted civilian ships into military ships. In addition to the Walrus, Operation Partizan created the Chimera, which went on to serve as the foundation for a class of pocket dreadnoughts. See the Spaceship Compendium One for more about the Chimera.)
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