Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Hegh maH vaj chaq, qatlh yIn wo'.

Hegh maH vaj chaq, qatlh yIn wo'.
      (We Die so the Empire May Live)
“I know that your last space battle was a close one. You’ve survived four months on a very active front line.  Kzinti die stubbornly.  Let’s toast our victories on the front! Grab your glass of blood wine.” He knew the Captain enjoyed blood wine.  “You, Bogotha,” he continued, “…are responsible for so much that we’ve accomplished out here deep in Kzinti space. Your heroic actions held the front line. You expand the Empire, my friend.  A toast then to you and your fine crew aboard the command ship Desecration. Drink heartily!”  

Captain Targ took one long pull, sat motionless, and eyed his Admiral with iciness.  There was no way around making this any easier.  Captain Targ and his crew hadn’t been rotated home in over a year. His wife bore their first child not long after he arrived on the front. Captain Targ was longing to see the little brute himself.   And now he was about to ask his longest surviving captain in his command -order him- to do one more thing for the Empire, before being rotated home. He needed Captain Bogotha Targ for a desperate, dangerous gamble. 

Lord Grafihl sat on the flag bridge of a Kzinti command battlecruiser hidden along the seemingly never-ending edge of the Poldar Asteroid Field. At his age, and size, he eschewed the usual space suits normally authorized on warships.  Social position had its privileges. 

 The Communications Officer turned to the ship’s Captain, and they spoke, then the Captain decided to visit his Lord in person to talk about the matter. He exited the turbo-lift and walked the short hallway past the guards to the Lord’s flag bridge. It’s more like a penthouse chamber, he mused.  The door slid open and he entered.  In the hisses, clicks, and growls of the feline tongue he addressed his lord, “We’ve intercepted a coded source communication from the opposite side of the field.” 

Lord Grafihl glared at him and asked, “Not ours, is it?” 

“No. Definitely not.” The Fat Cat’s Captain answered slowly. The ship was named after its master, he conceded.

“Investigate.  Take us cautiously to its source of origin. Bring our entire squadron. Keep emissions in check and do not use the warp drive.” 

“Yes, my Lord.” And the Captain returned to his bridge.

The five ships of the protecting response squadron extricated themselves carefully from an outer shell of asteroids, following the BCC Fat Cat along the girth of the irregular border of the immense field of free floating rock. Time passed and they found nothing on the other side.  Empty space extended beyond the rolling rocks of the field.

“Hide us in a patch of asteroids near the source,” Lord Grafihl commanded. The five ships snuggled cautiously into a blanket of asteroids, hidden from view for all practical purposes, invisible even to the sensors and scanners of modern starships. Lord Grafihl and his squadron was eventually awestruck when a Klingon fleet of eleven warships broke high warp dangerously close alongside the perimeter of the asteroids, cautiously entering the Poldar Field where the beacon originated. 

Captain Targ watched carefully as his four cruisers and seven frigates of the Imperial Klingon Navy threaded their way through seemingly confusing breaks along the patches and groupings of the notorious Poldar Asteroid Field.  He cringed at the thought of rookie crews holding a tight formation. An hour or so ago, an Orion light raider, a pirate from a clan living in the field, laid a trail of small beacons to lead the Klingons to its core. Like popcorn in a forest, a hungry animal was led to prey located deep inside the thicket.  The concerned Captain reminded his crew to keep a sharp lookout for Kzinti ships, especially from behind, as there was a reason Klingons rarely ventured into the Poldar. The clutter of floating rock uncharacteristically blinded the normally functioning sensor arrays. Something about this material he thought.  If not severely blinded at times, the Klingons were typically limited in what they could see behind the clusters of asteroids among them. 

Suddenly, one of the beacons uploaded a schematic tactical map with an approximate location of a group of Kzinti ships. Centered in this grouping was Captain Targ’s target.  A fleet tug pulled something very, very large.  Captain Targ studied the tactical display for a moment. It was an estimate and the information was time sensitive.  While the Kzinti ships would be moving fairly slowly, because of the tug, there was the possibility of missing them completely, inadvertently passing them while groping through this labyrinth of floating stone.  Captain Targ did not want his prey to slip away and ordered his fleet to split into three groups to better comb the area. Find and consolidate was his plan.

Lord Grafihl laughed when he noticed the Klingon formation break into three groups, but his nerves were tested as he clearly saw them take up positions around the tug and station. “Don’t they see the Klingons?” thought Lord Grafihl aloud.  He continued speaking to no one in particular, “The whole area is seeded with sensor mines!”  Sure, it wasn’t a perfect network, and there were big holes, but considering the concentration of Klingon ships here... okay, now scattered.  “Perhaps the Klingons were jamming the sensor mines somehow?” Lord Grafihl muttered.

His five ships followed one of the three Klingon formations and prepared to approach them on the flank without being noticed.  He looked forward to the ambush and knew the ensuing fight will certainly warn the others of impending danger.

“What do you mean there are ships approaching?” the Kzinti station commander asked sternly.  “If they’re THAT close, we should have seen them coming! Identify them, quickly. Check the telemetry on the local sensor mines.  If we’re not receiving those signals properly, something’s blocking them.  And if a scout is jamming them, we should have known better!”

“Sir!” a tactical officer shouts. “Klingons! Three groups. One group is very close, just on the other side of this asteroid cluster.”

“Mounds of kitty litter!” the station commander shouted.  “We are in a bad spot.” Perhaps moving this station to a new location within the Poldar was a terrible idea, he thought to himself.  “Tell the tug we are cutting our tractor tether whether they like it or not.  Get the gravity back on!  As soon as we detach from the Tantamount, lock us in place with the positional stabilizers. Get those new heavy phaser-4s online if possible. Sound general quarters! Shields up!  Get everything online that can be brought online on this refurbished hunk of junk mining station. Everything!  Turn it all on! Hurry! Open a channel to the escort commander. Tell him to jump those Klingons if they come around the corner.  I doubt it, but maybe they don’t see us.  Yes, throw EVERYTHING at them, including the fighters! Tell the repair freighter to hang back and stay with us for protection.  I’m afraid nobody will be able to warp out of the Poldar to escape unless they clear the asteroids. Goodness, we are in trouble. So much for a clandestine operation,” he steamed. “They must have spotted the fleet tug entering the Poldar. Where’s Lord Grafihl’s squadron? We need them!”  And the base commander continued to ramble, issuing order and cursing the six moons. 

In the blink of an eye, the situation changed for Captain Targ.  One moment, it was wall of rock after wall of rock, then, Kzinti warships surrounding him.  It had happened so fast.  He had found the mining station -his target- under transit with the tug, but unfortunately, had blundered into the teeth of what appeared to be its escort.  It was heavily guarded!  Worse yet, his force was split.  He knew, at that moment, he was never going to make it home to his wife and child.

At the moment Lord Grafihl sprang his trap, firing on the passing Klingon group, phasers shockingly rained down on his squadron as well. Unbeknownst to them, pirate warships had secretly flanked the Kzinti ships.  They had simply followed Lord Grafihl’s squadron as he followed the Klingons. 

The Orions knew the station was in the process of being upgraded and eventually going to be moved. Their concerns centered on the increasingly significant military presence taking hold in the Poldar Field. This branch of the Daven Cartel, living in the Poldar for generations, now wanted the station destroyed and conveniently hatched a plan to tip off the Klingons.  This clan hoped to take the repair freighter as bounty, as agreed upon by the Klingon Admiral, if he could be trusted.  However, the situation now looked grim. Drastic intervention was needed as much as it displeased them.  The family father was heard saying, “Looks like we need to get our hands dirty today,” as he targeted his ship’s phaser banks on the Kzinti warships himself. 

With the Klingon command group engaging the escorted station and the second group waylaid by a Kzinti squadron, the third Klingon grouping raced to meet up with their comrades attacking the station.  They decided not to cut through the large asteroid cluster between them and the station simply because it intimidated them.  It wasn’t terribly dense, really, but one unlucky mistake could significantly damage or destroy a ship. The ships and crews were new and their inexperience showed. 

            Captain Targ openned hailing frequencies to all his ships.  The bucking and sparks of disrupter bolts, phasers, and drones buffetting his doomed warship played havoc on the transmission, but it mattered little.  His message struck home, hardening the hearts of his men.  Standing proud, Targ declared, “Hegh maH vaj chaq, qatlh yIn wo'/We die so the Empire may live.” In an instant, they all knew what needed to be done. Everyone saw the D7C Desecration explode, damaging numerous ships around it.

       It was Lt. Commander Jok Hal’s first command as captain.  His brand new F6 frigate Violator, and its new crew, arrived on the front only weeks earlier.  Fleet Captain Targ held an esteemed reputation within the fleet. Upon meeting him, Hal instantly admired him.  In a flash of light, he saw Targ die.  He died leading the fleet into the Poldar, firing round after round at the Kzinti enemy surrounding him.  He now knew what he had to do, and didn’t like it.  He ordered his brand new ship, with its brand new crew, into the asteroid cluster in front of him on a direct course for the Kzinti mining station.

            “Back up, back up, back up!” Lord Grafihl ordered.  “Pin those Orion bastards against the asteroid cluster they are in! Boost shields and split fire between the Orions and Klingons. Tell that fool frigate captain to get back here!” He demanded.

            On the view screen the Fat Cat’s captain objected, “But the Klingons are moving away, heading for the station!  Surely they are our targets?”

            “We can’t chase the Klingons with Orion Pirates blasting us from behind! With any luck, we might just survive the day. Look, even some Orions are breaking off toward the station, chasing that damned frigate.”  Stated the ornery Lord.

            Every Klingon warship made haste for the mining station disregarding incoming fire.  Their one priority was hitting it with all the firepower they could muster.  It was a mad dash for the station.  Klingon ships even dove head long into dangerous asteroid clusters to get closer to the station, giving them some defensive cover as they shot out from amongst the asteroids.  The unfortunate F5W Inhibitor, impacted less than gracefully on a large asteroid, spinning into others, killing all hands.  The D6D Trebuchet collapsed after bombarding the base repeatedly with drones. 

           Slowed by enemy fire, the IKV Revenge valiantly turned to stall Lord Grafihl’s squadron as it chased his comrades speeding for the station.  The battered D5 fell apart under the relentless onslaught of Kzinti fire.  Lord Grafihl declared, “Pave the streets with the Klingon dead!” as his squadron continued to pick away at running ships. 

            The captain on the repair freighter Amnesty looked at the view screen.  He was attempting to leave the battle.  Behind him the flashes and explosions of weapons fire cast an eerie light on his bridge crew.  He wondered if he would make it out alive.

The station was a shambles.  Fire, smoke, and electricity filled the darkened passageways of the facility.  The heavy phasers never fired a shot. The anti-drone system never activated.  Shields were long since gone and the bulk of the station now absorbed mixed weapons fire from all directions. A decision was made for the tug to re-establish the tractor link and the antigravity buoys were reactivated. The Tantamount attempted to drag the burning station into the safety of the asteroids barring any collisions with a large space rock. 

            “A second wave of Klingons approach, Commander,” a technician reported.  “Tactical is now working properly.  It cleared up as soon as that Klingon battlecruiser went down. We guess it was a D6D and somehow it scrambled local sensor mines with its special sensors. Lord Grafihl’s squadron follows a group of ships inbound on us. We don’t believe Lord Grafihl will stop them in time.”  

            “Very well,” said the station commander.  “Prepare for another onslaught. Close the blast doors throughout the station. Consider making our last offerings to the nine cats.”

           Warship after Klingon warship sacrificed itself to weapons fire, closing the range to unleash every available weapon on the base.  With grim satisfaction, the few remaining Klingons saw the base blast apart in an extraordinary flash of light.

            The last few Klingon warships were cut down in a hail of weapons fire.  The two Orion Pirates that moved toward the base, eyeing the repair freighter for capture, broke away when they realized it was not possible to take it.  As they broke away they entered greater danger, turning into the teeth of the vengeful Kzintis. The freighter actually reversed direction when a third Orion ship, a light raider, dashed to the far side of the battle.  It withdrew as a Kzinti warship approached.  The forth Orion ship had sustained far too much damage to proceed into the melee, resorting to sniping from long range under the cover of asteroids. It watched as its friends raced for safety before ultimately slipping away itself.

            The two Orion ships attempting to leave the dwindling vortex of the battle faced the tremendous anger of the Kzinti war machine.  The small light raider, with a damaged reactor, swung around to face the maddening attack head on.  Its bid to buy time for the much more important Salvage Cruiser might have paid off, had it too not sustained an unfortunate critical reactor hit, slowing it down for the final kill.  The base’s numerous escorts tore it to pieces in a final act of vengeance.
         Lord Grafihl looked smug with the final act of violence.  He watched on the view screen as his ships helped shoot down the two Orion ships.  He enjoyed the whole matter thoroughly and his whole body trembled with the excitement of the hunt.  He survived, after all, too.   Suddenly, his heart sank when he considered the loss of the station.  He was no longer amused. 

            The Klingon Admiral stared out the view port of his flagship at the stars. He had just heard the report on Fleet Captain Targ’s attack on the Poldar Mining Station.  Strategically, it robbed the Kzinti of an important repair and supply hub. However, there was a great price to pay. The Admiral calculated the dismal loss of necessary ships he’d cast into oblivion. He thought about Captain Targ. Silently, he whispered against the cold window, “Hegh maH vaj chaq, qatlh yIn wo'.”

Story and Pictures by Eric Drumm.


Kzinti base, tug, escorts (4xCL and 3xFF), fighters (12xTAAS), and repair freighter: David

Kzinti response squadron (BCC, NCA, 2xDW, and FF): George

Klingon fleet (D7C, D6D, 2xD5, 3xF5W, 2xF6, 2xE5): Dan

Orion Pirates (SAL, CR, 2xCL): Eric


  1. I rarely comment on my own blog, but since I didn't run this game I thought I would say I've never had more fun losing an entire fleet. Thanks Eric for the game and thanks George and Dave for playing.

  2. ah! a four players game, it's surely a bit confusing on big rush, but excellent to! thank you for sharing the battle.

  3. It sounds like it was so much fun! A really great scenario.