Fall of the Flag


Rear Admiral
Hello all
I was reading some of the threads in the general Wing Commander chat and there was a discussion of a particular favourite topic among fans.
"How was the TCS Concordia lost?"

A couple of years ago, Plywood Fiend and I wrote a short story about how the Concordia fell and it focus on one or two particular characters

This is originally part of a 3 part series which I might re-start again.
But anyway enjoy the enjoy of a different perspective of the Concordia's fall

Fall of the Flag

By Dahan and Plywood Fiend


November 2nd 2668, On the bridge of the TCS Concordia, during the Battle of Earth.

“Admiral, the Lexington reports that they have taken another torpedo hit. Their reactor is destabilising.”
Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn shook his head numbly as what he had known in his heart would happen, happened. Lexington was little more then some free target practice for the Kilrathi, underpowered and with only half its fighter compliment, its death was all but assured, and now there was one less ship between the Kilrathi and Earth.
He shook himself from the thought and forced himself to focus.
“Lieutenant Thurman, order the Lexington’s remaining fighters to pull back and cover us.”
“What? Sir there are still people alive on…”
“The Lexington is lost Lieutenant. The Concordia isn’t. Now pull those fighters back!”
“Yes sir.” Thurman spat in reply.
With no fighters to cover them, any life pods the Lexington would be able to launch would be incinerated by the Kilrathi. He could feel a part of him die when he gave the order.
“Shit! Admiral Tolwyn sir, we’ve got incoming! Looks like the Cats are done with the Lexington, they’re heading our way. I read at least fifteen Grikath sir, and a lot of Jalkehi.”
“Order our fighters to get in their way.” Tolwyn snapped in instant response, “Don’t let those Grikath get a torpedo lock.”
“Yes sir.”
Gunshots from Rapiers and Ferrets were lashing at the Kilrathi fighters that were charging towards the Concordia and her escorts. They were focusing on the bombers, but they couldn’t hope to stop them all. There were too many and they were too well hidden beneath the protective shield of the Jalkehi, who also found easy targets in the ferrets and rapiers trying to defend their carrier.
Admiral Tolwyn watched the display terminal in front of him as blue and red dots symbolising friendly and hostile fighters blinked out in groups of twos and threes.
“Order the Roger Young and the Gauntlet forward and have them provide cover fire for the fighters. We can’t afford to let one Kilrathi bombers get through.”
“Admiral,” Lieutenant commander Lance McCabe’s voice was an unpleasant sounding mesh of panic and despair, “I’m picking up a second wave of Grikath heading our way. Looks like there’s another wave behind them, they’re all coming out of one of those Kilrathi dreadnoughts.”
“Status on the troopships?”
“It looks like the marines have breached two of the new dreadnoughts sir, and…”
“Very well. Order all remaining cruisers forward, have them provide cover fire from all incoming bombers.”
There was a moment’s pause before McCabe acknowledged this order. Those cruisers would make easy prey if Kilrathi bombers decided to turn their torpedoes on them. But if this battle was to be won, sacrifices had to be made.
Tolwyn’s orders had already lead to the sacrifice of over 20 million people in Sirius. Now there were God only knows how many people who had died following his orders. And he knew, he knew that he had done what he had to do, to save Earth, and the rest of humanity. But it still made him sick to the stomach to think about it.
So he pushed the thought as far back as it seemed willing to go.
“Admiral, six Grikath have broken through the fighter engagement.”
“Order the forward turrets to fire as soon as the bombers are in range. Order the Gauntlet and the Ebbson to do the same.”
“Aye sir.”
Two Rapiers that had pulled back to intercept the bombers destroyed a single bomber that had broken off from its wing to attack the TCS Roger Young. Flak fire from the Ebbson destroyed a second bomber. The remaining four continued to advance on the Concordia.
“Admiral,” McCabe shouted, “We have four incoming torpedoes.”
“Hard to port! Order all turrets and any fighters in range to shoot them down.”
“Aye sir.”
As the ship slowly swung around in an attempt to delay the torpedo impact by a handful of seconds; turret crews worked frantically to try and destroy the incoming warheads, but they were not designed to destroy such small targets.
Only one of the incoming torpedoes was destroyed, the remaining three closed on the Concordia and detonated across her vulnerable flank.

Two days later, at Trojan 4 construction facility

He didn’t know how long he’d been standing there; the thought of doing pretty much anything else filled him with a weariness that he hadn’t felt since the death of his wife.
Concordia lay before him, mauled and helpless in the clutches of the dry-dock. The three torpedoes had, through some miracle or another, avoided all critical systems, but they had ripped out huge chunks of the ship and caused internal explosions throughout the surrounding sections. Claiming the lives of fifty seven men and women.
That wasn’t the sum total of the Confederation’s losses, not nearly.
Tolwyn’s eyes clenched tightly and he tried, with virtually no success, not to think of the dead. There was nothing to do now but move forward.
“Attention.” Uttered the ship’s intercom in the same slow, deathlike voice he’d heard at least fifty times already, “There is an incoming message for Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn. The message has been marked urgent. Please report to the station’s communication office immediately.”
That was the fourth such urgent message that had come for him; or was it the fifth? He supposed he shouldn’t put them off any longer. But it was still hard to look away from the Concordia. But by the same token it was hard to look at her.
As he turned on his heel to leave the room, he heard the sudden hiss of a door opening behind him.
“So this is where you’re hiding is it?”
Tolwyn turned around and saw the face of Admiral Vance Richards who was trying very hard for lightness in his voice, and failing pitifully. General Taggert was with him, he looked ready to murder someone.
The two stepped up beside Tolwyn and cast a look out of the window at the battered Confederation class dreadnought before them. Richards muttered something under his breath, then turned back to Tolwyn.
“The cleanups all but done.” He said, “We’ll have this system cleansed of all the shit the Kilrathi dumped in it before the end of the day.”
“That was quick.” Tolwyn replied.
“Never put off till tomorrow. Besides which, all those fighters they left should be quite useful once we gut them and get the hulls melted down. I reckon there’s enough material there for at least a dozen Broadsword squadrons.”
“Speaking of which,” Taggart added, “I would ney put off listening to those messages the blasted intercom keeps telling us about Admiral.”
Somehow, Tolwyn managed a faint smile and nodded. Soon the three of them were walking towards the nearest lift. For a few moments, no one said anything. Then as the lift descended, Taggart broke the silence.
“Is it true what I’ve heard about the academy students Vance?”
“I’m afraid so,” Admiral Richards replied, then paused and pushed out a long breath, “The sad fact is James, we simply don’t have enough pilots left outside of the academy, so we’re going to have to pull out everyone we…”
Everyone we haven’t already thrown in the Cats way. Tolwyn finished for him silently.
“How the hell did we get into this state?” Taggart boomed, barely able to keep himself from punching the wall of the lift. “We were winning for God’s sake. And a blind weasel could see that this Kilrathi peace offering was horse shit.”
Silence was his answer. There seemed to be nothing to say. The Confederation had been duped and they had paid one hell of a price for it. And none of it would have happened if the government had been able to see past their idealistic daydream of peace, love and daffodils.
“I don’t think the Cats are going to be in any better shape then us.” Vance said finally, “Intelligence suggests that they threw practically every resource they had into that attack. And we got them as bad as…”
He cut himself off. In terms of ships he had a point. Only one of the titanic monstrosities the empire had built to end the war had survived, and that was by the thinnest of margins. And at least 40 other hostile capitol ships had been destroyed.
But you couldn’t say that ‘we’d got them as good as they got us’. Not with so many of Earth’s cities reduced to barren craters, not with colony worlds poisoned from orbit, their inhabitants doomed to die slow, horrible deaths from radiation poisoning.
The lift doors opened and the three stepped into the corridor, attracting the occasional stare from gloomy eyed officers as they passed.
“What’s the word with Kevin?” Vance eventually asked. Tolwyn felt a sudden and all too familiar stab of pain as he remembered seeing Kevin on the flight deck, barely alive. For a moment he could see himself back before Bainbridge as he told him in a husky voice that his wife and children were…
“He’ll be fine.” Tolwyn responded eventually in as calm a voice as he could manage. “He’ll be down for a while, but he’ll be fine.”
“Glad to hear it.” Richards replied.
“Aye.” Added Taggart, “We’ll need as many pilots like him as we can get at the front.”
A cold surge of panic gripped Tolwyn for a moment. Kevin he knew had been lucky throughout his career. Extremely lucky. First on the Tarawa on its run to Kilrah, and again just two days ago when the Confederation stood on the brink of destruction. How long would his luck hold. How long would it be before he received another notification that another Tolwyn had been lost to the Kilrathi?
He couldn’t go through that again.
Eventually the three reached the communication’s office where Admiral Tolwyn had been summoned.
“We’d better head off.” Admiral Richards said.
“Aye, see you later Geoff.”
Tolwyn nodded in reply and headed into the office.
“Please identify yourself and enter authentication code.” Asked the computer terminal in a polite voice before the Admiral could even sit down.
“Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn, 3, 4 alpha, 9, charlie, 7, 9.”
“Code accepted. Greetings Admiral. You have 23 unread messages, four of which are marked urgent.”
On the terminal lay the 23 messages in a long row. At the top of the list were four which were highlighted in orange.
The first four messages were pretty much what he’d expected. One was asking him to authorise mass production of a new generation of Confederation fighters. Tolwyn replied instantly to this and cursed himself for the time he’d wasted staring out into space. He couldn’t afford to ignore his duty, no matter how much to hell things had gone.
The second message concerned the surviving fleet carriers as well as the potential for Lexington to be salvaged. It also recommended the re-commissioning certain older capital ships like Ranger class light carriers. Had things gotten so bad that they had to cast their ancient warships, their antiques? Into the war?
The third was also about Lexington, it was a long winded explanation as to how the carrier could be made self sustainable and be used for more effective raids behind enemy lines then the current Wake Island light carriers which were typically used for the task. Tolwyn wasn’t sure if this was ‘urgent’ news, but he felt it didn’t much matter.
The final message concerned the remaining navy personnel, and as Taggart had mentioned, the cadets that they had been forced to pull from the academy to make up the numbers. He noticed that a lot of these kids were being stationed on ships away from the front lines. Ships that would probably, that is, ship that would hopefully never see combat. He noticed Concordia’s name in this list of ships assigned to rear echelon systems.
It wasn’t surprising really. Concordia had been mauled so badly that she would take months to heal. And the word was that the brass wasn’t even sure it was a wise move. The truth was, the Concordia was getting old, and the amount of battle damage that she’d taken over the years was beginning to take its toll. Maybe it was time for her to be put out to pasture.
A thought came to Tolwyn, a thought that not so long ago, not before this war had lost all degree of sense, would have disgusted him.
Once she’d had a cursory patch up job, Concordia was being assigned to Vespus, a system though of some importance to the Confederation, wasn’t likely to make too tempting a target for the Kilrathi.
It also seemed like the perfect place to send Kevin after he was deemed fit to fly. At least, Tolywn told himself, not really believing the words he was telling himself, until he was one hundred percent again.
Overall not too bad. I do have a couple of nitpicks though.

1 - The date for the BoT is incorrect. The BoT takes place on New Year's Day, 2669. Hostilities resumed right before Christmas.

2 - The Ranger class thing is fan made. Star*Solider designated ships like the Victory as the Yorktown class (though I know this was written before we knew that.)