Breaking Point

ck9791

Rear Admiral
This is the opening of a story i started writing awhile ago, I've been thinking about picking it up and trying to get back into it and I was wondering what other people thought. The story is set at about the time period of WC3, following the battle of earth when things are looking pretty bad for the Confederation.

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The Cairo System was filled with weapons fire and explosions from an intense battle between Confederation and Kilrathi forces. The Confederation was attempting to hold the line and prevent further progress into the Vega Sector. In the Cairo System this effort saw a quickly thrown together task force centered around the Concordia class carrier TCS Oriskany, trying to hold back a Kilrathi fleet carrier and light carrier.

The 213th Fighter Squadron, Blacklions, had been quickly re-activated following the Battle of Terra and assigned to the Oriskany in the Vega Sector. The Oriskany’s task force skirmished with Kilrathi forces in the Kurasawa System before being ordered to Cairo in an attempt to blunt a projected attack.

37 yr old Lt Col. Chris “Headbanger” Vinecki commanded the Blacklions, under the overall command of Colonel Kyle Kottka who was the Wing Commander on the Oriskany. At that moment, Chris heard Kyle’s voice through the speakers in his helmet. Kyle sounded strained as he called for the spread out Confederation fighters to pull in closer to the Oriskany in order to better defend the carrier. Chris acknowledged the transmission and instructed the Blacklions to pull back to a set of coordinates that would put the squadron in a better position to block the Kilrathi fighters attempting to close on the carrier.

The battle, like the earlier encounter in the Kurasawa System seemed to be tilted against the Confederation. Chris had lost one pilot from his squadron in protecting the station in Kurasawa from Kilrathi attacks. This battle had begun with both fleets closing on each other and launching all their fighters. The Kilrathi fighters seemed to outnumber Confed’s and the battle quickly turned in favor of the cats. Finishing off the severely damaged Dralthi IV in front of his Thunderbolt, Chris turned towards the position he had instructed his squadron to rendezvous at. As he did, he glanced over his shoulder to make sure that his wingman, 2nd Lt John Ord was still in position. After seeing that his wingman was still with him, Chris continued his turn.

“Headbanger!” Chris heard Capt. Derrick “Lazyboy” Gorsche, his third in command, on the communications channel. “I just lost Bonehead,” Derrick used 2nd Lt Nick “Bonehead” Stiponovich’s callsign, “a flight of Vaktoth’s jumped us as we were attempting to disengage and pull back towards the Oriskany. I need assistance!”

Chris glanced down as his sensor display in the cockpit of his Thunderbolt VII and saw Derrek’s position relative to his. He also saw three Vaktoth heavy fighter’s chasing Derrek. Chris quickly thrumbed the transmit button for the communications channel and instructed Ord to follow his lead. He also told his XO to make sure the rest of the squadron pulled back to the new defensive perimeter around the Oriskany. Chris then shoved his throttles to full afterburner and accelerated towards Derrek Gorsche’s Thunderbolt.

As he approached, Chris could see Derrek, rolling, corkscrewing, and juking, trying to evade weapons fire from the three Vaktoths. While doing this though, he couldn’t pull away from the Kilrathi fighters, and as Chris approached he could see Derrek’s shields flaring as they were struck.

“I’ve lost my shields, I’m hit!!” Derrek yelled over the communications channel.

Chris glanced at the corner of his heads up display, checking his range to the Vaktoth he was locked onto. He was still out of range for a few more seconds, if only his Thunderbolt was a little faster. As he waited to close to weapons range, time seemed to slow down. Chris could see Tachyon and Ion beams raking over Derrek’s Thunderbolt. The armor on the Thunderbolt was thick, and could withstand some of the pounding it was taking. Some…under continued fire from the three Vaktoth’s, Capt. Derrek Gorsche’s thunderbolt exploded into a fireball of debris.

“You cosmic bastards!!” Chris yelled, not thinking whether he was transmitting or not.

Chris Vinecki pressed the button on the top of his flight stick twice, sending two Philum IFF missiles towards the Kilrathi fighters. Seconds later, his wingman fired off a spread of three missiles. One of Chris’s missile’s missed, fooled by a decoy, the other struck a Vaktoth’s shields and exploded, collapsing them and damaging the heavy fighter. Its Kilrathi pilot turned away and attempted to head back towards the Kilrathi fleet. Seeing this, Chris accelerated at the damaged fighter now that it was vulnerable and switched to his guns. John Ord’s Spread of three missiles found their target and destroyed one of the two other Kilrathi. The remaining Vaktoth turned toward its attackers and fired.

Head on, the Vaktoth sped past Chris’s Thunderbolt, its Tachyon guns causing the shields to sizzle. Chris was concentrating on the other Kilrathi fighter though, he didn’t even look over his shoulder to see his wingman open up on the attacking Kilrathi and go down under the other Thunderbolt’s Meson guns.

Continuing to close the heavily damaged Vaktoth, Chris squeezed his trigger and opened up with all his guns. The regenerating rear shields on the Kilrathi fighter were quickly overwhelmed and buckled. Chris continued to hold the trigger and watch, satisfied as the fighter blossomed into a large fireball. He then turned to meet up with the rest of his squadron and wait for the inevitable kilrathi attack.

Reaching the rest of the Blacklion’s Chris and John moved their Thunderbolts into formation with the squadron. As he listened to Colonel Kottka’s instructions to concentrate on the Vaktoth’s and Paktahns, Chris could see the red dots on his sensor display indicating the approaching Kilrathi ships. There were a lot of them, Chris thought to himself.

As the approaching Kilrathi fighter’s entered his missile envelope, Chris keyed his transmit button and spoke into the mic in his helmet. “Blacklions, break formation and open fire.”

Chris then turned towards the approaching Kilrathi, locking onto a Paktahn torpedo bomber, he fired two of his IFF missiles. Around him the rest of his squadron also started launching their missiles. The Paktahn didn’t even try to evade and flew right into the two missiles, destroying itself in the process. Not having time to celebrate his kill, Chris locked onto another Paktahn and fired his last two missiles. He then turned his attention to his sensor display, searching for a new target. On the display, Chris saw a number of red dots wink out as Kilrathi fighters were destroyed. The remaining red dots kept coming though, it looked as though they were trying to run over and overwhelm the Confed fighters.

Seeing two Kilrathi bombers trying to slip past his squadron towards the carrier, Chris rolled his Thunderbolt down behind the trailing fighter. His wingman, John Ord followed his lead opened fire on the Paktahn. Chris squeezed his trigger and did the same. The Kilrathi torpedo bomber’s shields were overwhelmed and the ship broke apart.

“Headbanger, we have a flight of Darkets on our six!” Chris heard his wingman say over the communications channel.

Chris glanced over his shoulder and saw the three light fighters, maneuvering to follow the two Thunderbolts.

“Roger, break and we’ll try to peel back around them on either side.” Chris instructed.

“Understood Headbanger.”

Chris then rolled his Thunderbolt onto its side and pulled back hard on the stick, trying to loop around behind the Darkets. His wingman, 2nd Lt John Ord did the same, going around the Kilrathi flight on the opposite side. The two Thunderbolt’s steadied themselves behind the trio of Kilrathi light fighters before opening up with their guns. Meson bolts and Plasma bolts from the two Confederation fighters fireballed two of the Darkets and crippled the third.

As Chris and John maneuvered to engage another group of Kilrathi, they heard 2nd Lt Luke “Speeder” DeVries panicked voice over the communications channel.

“I’ve lost Brain… they came from behind.” Luke said, referring to 1st Lt Deann “Brain” Brainard, whose wing he was flying on.

Chris then heard his XO, Maj Danielle “Moose” Stokes respond. “Roger, come to 280 mark 3 and form up, we’ll cover for you.”

“Skipper, I have three Paktahn’s at 102 mark 278.” Chris heard his wingman, 2nd Lt. John Ord say. “They appear to be heading for the Indianapolis.”

“Roger that. Break formation and attack, I’ll cover your six.”

Chris pulled his Thunderbolt VII into a hard turn to his port and followed his wingman who was in a better position to engage the Kilrathi torpedo bombers faster. As he pulled behind John Ord’s fighter he could see that the Paktahn’s were flying straight and level, waiting for their torpedoes to lock. Chris moved his into a wider spaced echelon formation, so that he could also engage one of the Kilrathi ships. Off to his port side, flashes lept from John’s Thunderbolt as the other pilot opened up with his Meson guns and Plasma cannons, followed by his Photon guns. Glancing back at his own HUD, Chris saw that he was in range and opened up on the second Kilrathi torpedo bomber.

The two torpedo bombers exploded after a few seconds of concentrated weapons fire from the Thunderbolts. The third Kilrathi pilot, seeing his wingmen destroyed aborted his attack run and tried to evade. The Paktahn was slower than the pursuing Thunderbolt’s and 2nd Lt John Ord quckly closed the gap between the two spacecraft and destroyed the remaining Paktahn.

“They’ve broken through our defensive perimeter. All fighters pull back… pull back and defend the capital ships.” Came Chris’s Wing Commander, Colonel Kottka’s panicked voice over the communications channel.

Chris looked at his sensor display, the fighters of the Oriskany were currently spread out engaging different formations of Kilrathi fighters. He could see that a group of the Kilrathi had been able to move between the Confederation fighters and the capital ships they were trying to protect. However, Chris also saw a problem, if the confed fighters turned to pursue the fighters that had slipped past, they would be presenting their backs as easy targets to the other Kilrathi.

Suddenly, the missile warning light inside Chris’s Thunderbolt lit up. He instantly called to John for evasive maneuvers before banking hard and releasing countermeasures. As he did, a Kilrathi missile streaked closely by, its exhaust momentarily blinding Chris. Regaining his sight after a second, Chris looked around for his wingman. Not seeing John Ord’s Thunderbolt, he called for Ord over the comms channel. There was no response. Chris saw his shields flare and saw a piece of debris richochet away from his Thunderbolt. Looking closer, he saw a number of pieces of debris from a fighter, some of which had Confederation markings on them. He keyed his mic again and called for a status report from 2nd Lt. Ord. Chris realized that his wingman hadn’t evaded a Kilrathi missile. Looking at the space all around him and his sensor display, Chris searched frantically for a sign of an escape pod.

His attention was snapped back to the battle around him by a large explosion in front of him. The explosion was where the Talahassee class cruiser TCS Indianapolis used to be. Shit, Chris thought to himself, there were over 350 people on the ship.

Keying his mic to transmit, Chris spoke. “Moose, this is Headbanger, what is your status?” He asked, trying to communicate with his squadron’s XO, Maj. Danielle “Moose” Stokes.

Hearing no response, Chris tried again after a few moments. “Moose, this is Headbanger, respond?”

Nothing. “Moose?” Chris tried.

“Headbanger.” Chris heard a reply, but it wasn’t the voice of his XO, instead it was her wingman, 1st Lt. Andrea “Playtoy” Stefl. “I lost sight of her when we were engaging a flight of Vaktoths. The cats opened up and drained my shields on the first pass ,when I came around for a second, Moose was gone.”

“Understood, what is your position?” Chris asked.

Within seconds Chris saw Andrea’s ship highlighted on his sensor display and her coordinates displayed on his VDU after she sent him her position.

“And sir.” Came Andrea’s voice over the channel again. “We lost Speeder.”

Chris stomach tightened when he heard that 2nd Lt. Luke “Speeder” De Vries was gone. He’s lost about a third of his squadron. Ahead and to the starboard, he saw another large explosion followed by an expanding cloud of gasses and debris. Over the comms channel he could hear frantic voices announcing that the light cruiser Atlanta was gone….


TCS Independence: Wing Commander’s Quarters 2669.220
Port Hedland: Vega Sector

Colonel Chris Vinecki woke up in a cold sweat. He threw the covers off his body and sat up in bed. He was having another nightmare about the defense of Cairo. The Confederation forces had been able to force the Kilrathi to withdraw but at heavy losses to Confed forces. Five of Chris’s pilots were killed or missing from the battle: Maj. Danielle Stokes, Capt. Derrick Gorsche, 1st Lt. Deann Brainard, 2nd Lt. John Ord, and 2nd Lt. Nick Stiponovich. He remembered writing letters to families and loved ones, informing them of the loss. Chris hated writing the letters. As their squadron commander he felt responsible for their loss. He also believed that their loss may not have been necessary if Confed HQ didn’t throw the squadron out their as part of a hastily assembled force against a battle ready Kilrathi force.

Chris held his hands over his face and dragged them down, feeling the cold sweat on his fingers. Swinging his legs out of bed, He stood on the floor in his shorts and grey t-shirt that said “TCS Independence” across the chest. Maybe a shower would help, Chris thought to himself. Leaving his room he walked to the showers.

Standing under the cold water from the shower head, Chris felt broken. First the Kilrathi had attacked his home system of Warsaw on their march to Earth, and they’d only been pushed back from Earth after inflicting heavy damage and casualties. The one thing that relieved Chris was that his family had been able to reach an emergency shelter when the Kilrathi attacked his home system. And now he’d lost a lot of good pilots. What made the situation worse was that Chris had lost two pilots in a previous battle, . both were KIA after an earlier engagement with the Kilrathi in the Kurasawa System, this left Chris with two thirds of his squadron being new.

Chris also had a number of meetings with navy psychiatrists following the battle. He told them about his recurring dreams and feeling powerless. And while they had been supportive and tried to help, the psychiatrists told Chris that he was still able to perform his duties and that the nightmares should pass with time. They had suggested that Chris try to relax. Ha, that was easy to say but Chris didn’t know how he was supposed to relax when it seemed that the Confederation was facing problems on all fronts.

Sighing, he turned out of the water and toweled off. Chris headed back to his quarters to put on something before heading to the Independence’s lounge. Most of the pilots, as well as ships crew who were not on duty were down on Port Hedland, enjoying some leave before the Independence departed. Chris wanted someplace more quiet. The crew lounge is located near the front of the Ranger class carrier, and it had large transparent viewports to see out into space.

Chris strode across the lounge to the bar. As he did, he noticed there were only a handful of others in the room.

As he sat down on one of the stools by the bar, the bartender put a napkin in front of Chris and asked, “What can I get you?”

“Give me a Rostov Hairball.”

“Coming right up.” The bartender then pulled out a transparent blue glass that had the Confederation logo on it before mixing a few different types of alcohol in the glass.

“And now for a TNC Infoburst” Both Chris and the bartender turned to look at the large vidscreen behind the bar. Sitting behind a desk in the TNC studios was the blonde haired Barbara Miles, TNC’s lead anchor. “And now, news from the Epsilon and Enigma Sectors. Confederation forces have beaten the Kilrathi in the Cardel and Morpheus Systems. Kilrathi ships and personnel have pulled out of both systems and Confederation troops are now clearing the last remaints of resistance. In Orsini, hero Christopher Blair has arrived on the TCS Victory to begin his new assignment. Colonel Blair has been assigned as the Victory’s Wing Commander. And, continuing our coverage of the Revolution in the Granita System…..the TCS Cowpens has arrived in the system to try to convince rebel forces that the Kilrathi will not honor a negotiated truce. And to prevent the Kilrathi from taking advantage of the political situation. When we return, Senator Tara Clapp will talk with us about the situation in Granita and Confed’s military reaction …..”

Chris took a long hard drink of the Rostov Hairball, taking it all in one swallow. He handed the empty glass to the bartender. “Give me another, I need it.”

“No problem Colonel.” The bartender filled the glass with another drink. He watched Chris down the drink quickly. The bartender pointed to the empty glass and Chris nodded, indicating he wanted another drink. He watched as Chris quickly emptied his third Rostov Hairball in one drink and noticed that Chris looked extremely worn down and had bloodshot eyes. “Are you feeling alright Colonel? Is there anything you want to talk about?” The bartender asked.

“Another drink, and a water.” Chris said to the bartender. “Confed is losing the war and I lost half my squadron, what more is there to say?”

The bartender refilled Chris’s shot glass and then filled another larger glass with cold water. He watched as Chris took a drink of the water. “Sir, I heard what happened to the Oriskany’s fighter wing at Kurasawa and Cairo through the scuttlebutt, and its not your fault. You can’t place all the blame on yourself.”

Chris picked up the shotglass containing the Rostov Hairball and downed it. Setting it down, he pushed the glass towards the bartender indicating he wanted another. “I was in command of the squadron, those pilots were my responsibility.” Chris said as he looked at the bartender, his voice shaking.

“But you were under the overall command of someone who shouldn’t have been in that position. He gave bad orders and then panicked and froze when the situation got real bad. Who stepped in and rallied the fighter wing, saving pilot’s lives? You did Colonel.”

Chris thought back to that moment in the battle against the Kilrathi, it was shortly after the light cruiser Atlanta had been destroyed. At that point in the battle the Kilrathi had effectively broken the Confederation forces. The Wing Commander of the Oriskany, Colonel Kyle Kottka froze leaving pilots on their own, without any instruction to die. Shellshock or fatigue from combat operations could happen to anyone, Chris had also seen it before, when he was Wing Commander on the Saipan, the Captain in command of his attack squadron panicked in the middle of an attack run on Kilrathi forces in the Rigel System. His hesitation costing the lives of other pilots. Chris had to order another squadron commander to relieve him and take the attack in. When Colonel Kottka froze at Cairo, Chris tried to reform the Confederation fighter formations and save what was left of the fleet. He managed to force the Kilrathi forces to disengage, leaving the Confed fleet with a hollow victory.

Chris saw the bartender staring at him and realized he had been spacing off. “I think I am going to sit by the window.” Chris said quietly as he took both glasses.

“No problem. If you need a refill or want to talk, come back.”

Chris nodded to the bartender and walked over to a small table along the plexisteel window. He sat down in one of the three chairs and looked out into space. From the Independence’s current position, Chris could see Port Hedland, the Confederation naval base in orbit, as well as a number of other warships. Docked around the base Chris counted; three cruisers, five destroyers, two corvettes, and another carrier. It was the carrier, the TCS Bradshaw that caught Chris’s eye. The Bradshaw was a new Lexington class heavy carrier. The Lexington’s were larger, better armed and armored than the Concordia class fleet carriers. They could also carry 10 more fighters. The Lexington class represented the newest in Confederation carrier technology. Looking at the carrier, he wondered if it and its sister ships could help to turn the tide back in favor of the Confederation or if it was already too late.
 

Bombadier

Spaceman
Good Read

Good read so far and I really enjoyed how the story starts with a flashback sequence. Allows the reader to just jump right in and become immersed in the story without having to go through a lot of chronological back story first. Also liked how it seems to focus a bit more on the mental aspects of fighting a long term war and being on the losing side after decades of virtual stalemate. Not something that I think has been used much in WC fiction, either professionally or by fans. The pyschological aspects you have used add a good touch to the story, keep it up.

Looking forward to reading some more anytime you post it.
 

Dahan

Rear Admiral
I like it. I it is pretty good. You got some interesting areas covered which has some similiarities to what I am working on at the moment.
Keep it up I like to hear what you got next for the following chapter or so
 

Plywood Fiend

Rear Admiral
Nice, vey nice. Opening with a nightmare is very effective. You've captured the theme of apparent hopelesness, loss and the general war-is-hell image very well. Looking forward to reading more.
 

d3r3k

Spaceman
Sounds interesting. I noticed that you changed the spelling of Derrick's name right after you introduced him. I figure that the spelling of a character's name is something you want to be consistent with. In my humble opinion, Derek (my name) should be the only way that name is spelled. The other methods just look stupid. What are you doing, naming your kid after an oil rig? Sorry, thats just my two cents.
 

psych

Destroyer of assclowns
d3r3k said:
Sounds interesting. I noticed that you changed the spelling of Derrick's name right after you introduced him. I figure that the spelling of a character's name is something you want to be consistent with. In my humble opinion, Derek (my name) should be the only way that name is spelled. The other methods just look stupid. What are you doing, naming your kid after an oil rig? Sorry, thats just my two cents.

My class proctor from Indoc, his first name was 'Darrik'.

Also, some general comments you might want to apply. News agencies probaly won't go *that* indepth when it comes to showing fleet movements on the news. The information compromise is about as bad as letting a spy in the main CIC; cause it lets the enemy keep track of your movements. A good example was in the Fleet Action novel, when Kilrathi intelligence listened to the news (of all sources) about carrier movements. Combat is all about deceiving the enemy without deceiving yourself.

Also, when it comes to explaining the technical information of a ship, there's a fine line between using the information just to show the audience the exact numbers and such, and using it to enhance the plot. This is something that others (like NeoDevilbane, a turd) liked to exploit. "I landed on a 720m carrier that was 28,000 tons and could go 120kps and hold four squadrons of Arrow Vs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". Yeah, big fucking whoop.

A story is a story because of the plot, not because of the numbers or schematics or the exact technical details about a ship.
 

Raider78

Spaceman
To be honest, I don't like your style of writing.

It reminds me more of "describing a movie scene" than of "real" writing.

The storytelling works differently in books and movies and for me, you are way to far on the movie side.
I think you should focus more on the emotions and less on technical and strategic details.

Just my opinion...
 

ck9791

Rear Admiral
Thanks for everyones comments so far, I'm going to go back through this part and make some changes based on everyone's comments as well as working on continuing it and hopefully improve it and keep the whole story flowing.
 
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