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Chapter 4: In the Iron Triangle

Written by Dan Carlson

War is coming. UE gov't tries to play things down a bit, they know they're not ready. In fact, some of the defense ministers are nearly panicing. Because the UESN is spread dangerously thin — with only approximately 40 capital warships to work with, and nearly 1,000 cubic light years of space to defend, the whole situation is tenuous at best. Perhaps 15 or 20 ships available to counter the attacks of a fleet nearly 100 ships strong.

UESN Fleet Organization, March 2156
Unit Location Strength
Task Force 1 Sol System
Task Force 3 Alpha Centauri System
Task Force 4 Sol System
Task Force 6 Tau Ceti System
Task Force 7 Deneva System
Task Force 10 Qualor System
Task Force 11 Sector 5
Task Force 12 Qualor System
Task Force 13 Sector 14
Task Force 14 Sector 9
Task Force 17 Tarod System
Image 4.1
Image 4.1: UES Victory (top, background) and UES Rattler on patrol.
© Thomas Pemberton

The big question is, WHY is the UE so unprepared? We've gone over the head-in-the-sand bit, but it's more than that. The fact of the matter is, that in more than 100 years there had never been an interstellar conflict. The occasional incident, a few problems with "Orion" raiders along the Earth-Andor route, but nothing serious. A few cruisers to patrol the interstellar routes, a bunch of small ships for in-system operations, and that's it. Before 2152, the UESN never totalled more than 25 interstellar cruisers and a few score of planetary patrol ships. Even with the Amarillo and Pioneer-class heavy cruisers – the largest ships serving with any fleet in known space at the time – they don't need more than that.

The invasion starts: Sahara Colony lost with over 400 people. They don't realize that the colony was destroyed at first, since Sahara did not have a subspace transmitter. However, when the regular courier failed to return to Qualor II in late February, a small force was sent to investigate. By the time they found the ruins of the colony, the war had already started.

Station Salem One

UESN is trying to organize a defensive front to defend the outposts that they've got. There are a few warships patrolling the nominal "border" but it's really a futile effort. They establish Station Salem One as the main hub of their defenses.

The Romulans view this as a prelude to attack – hey, it's what they'd do. They think that the UE's already committed to war, and the Romulans themselves have. They decide to take out this station.

The Ambush

Map 4.1
Map 4.1: The raid on Salem One.
Image 7.1
Image 4.2: The wreckage of the UESCrusader, recovered after the attack.
© Thomas Pemberton

Background on the station – basic info. Stats about the system, etc. When it goes online, etc.

Although the Tarod system is a perfect position on the map, ideal for positioning ships, it's a bad place for a permanent station due to conditions in-system. Tarod is a virtual "swamp" in space – it's filled with asteroids and tiny planets that jumble the system, and the star itself periodically goes into fits that spew plasma and other general stuff, making things difficult. Subspace sensors probably could get around that problem, but they aren't fully installed yet. <<There should be some important advantages for the UE that weren't or couldn't be exploited.>>

Romulans sneak into the system, and before the ships can do anything about it, let loose with their plasma cannons and make a real mess of the station. Other patrol ships in-system ambushed too. UES Kamina manages to elude Romulan pursuers long enough to send out a message torpedo.

Ships destroyed. Total casualties topped 3,500.

Ships destroyed at Station Salem One:

The Aftermath

Naturally, the UE gets pissed. Declaration of open war.

Read the Declaration of War

Early Battles

Image 4.3
Image 4.3: A Romulan cruiser fires its plasma cannon.
© Thomas Pemberton

Raids, really. Romulans have a powerful force, seems tough to beat. UESN ships only about on par with enemies strength-wise. But outnumbered. Romulan raiders destroy shipping, mining outposts, patrol ships. Given the nature of interstellar travel, it's kind of slow going. But it takes its toll.

Describe the basic system here– how patrol ships basically blunder around looking for things, and depend on one-way communications for direction when hunting an enemy ship.

The San Francisco class proves its worth – go into detail about a few heroic battles to save certain colonies.

The UE should attempt a counteroffensive – a few interstellar raids and a thrust into the Tomed System, but it doesn't work out. Romulans have too many ships available for defense at this point.

The Outer Colonies

People are going nuts here. Governor Niazi ;-) declares martial law on Qualor II. Defense is questionable at best. Some abandon the outposts, others just run for the hills, and a few nutballs stand their ground. UE drives off their share of attacks, but not always. Depends a lot on intelligence and early detection – both of which are in critically short supply.

The Earth-Andor Alliance

Common cause, despite a few spats earlier.

Heating Up

Of course, the Romulans get pissed off when a UE tourist group drops by near the Cheron System. But with a nice little lighthouse (subspace array) to warn that guests are coming, the Romulans prepare a welcoming committee. The Battle of Vargot Expanse. All it does is get the Romulans pissed off even more.

Raids increasing in frequency by late 2156/early 2157. The UESN tries to conduct some of their own, which are reasonably successful. But it's a stalemate.

Andorian evacuation of Pvarto. Romulans move in.

Move into 2157 here now.

[A Defensive War]

THE YEAR IS 2157.
THE PLACE IS... sorry, wrong show.

The Tellarites join the party.

Battle of Qualor II.

Battle of Andor.

Situation becoming grimmer – the allies are hanging on just fine, but it's not a walk in the park either. Romulan attacks becoming more serious.

The Romulan Offensive: "The Gates of Hell”

Map 4.2
Map 4.2: The Romulan Offensive

Doomed from the start, but it was still almost pure luck that the UESN scouts found those deuterium tankers. The UE prepares a little welcoming committee of their own. Plus, it's the combat debut of the M/AM warships Krechet and Tannhäuser. Say it with me: BOOM!

The Deneva invasion was part of a coordinated assault on the UE – using their numerical superiority, the Romulans launch attacks on the Iron Triangle.

The Assault

Map 4.3
Map 4.3: The Battle of Hell's Gate, 21-23 October.

This is going to be a tactical account of the battle. Start with Krechet and Bowen tracking down the tankers, then the massive build-up and the extremely fortuitous presence of three Tannhäuser-class heavy cruisers which turned the tide of the battle in the three-prong attack. It ends when the Romulans are surrounded by enemy ships and unable to escape the faster UE cruisers – there's a last stand but battered down (at high cost) by the UE, and the survivors self-destruct.

This is going to be a tactical account of the battle. Start with Krechet and Bowen tracking down the tankers, then the massive build-up and the extremely fortuitous presence of three Tannhäuser-class heavy cruisers which turned the tide of the battle in the three-prong attack. It ends when the Romulans are surrounded by enemy ships and unable to escape the faster UE cruisers – there's a last stand but battered down (at high cost) by the UE, and the survivors self-destruct.

After Action Report: The Battle of Hell's Gate

Image 4.4
Image 4.4: UES Victory (CH-32) destroys a Romulan cruiser.
© Thomas Pemberton

Destroyed ships: Johannesburg, Colenso, Excelsior, London, Milan, Sovereign TOTAL CASUALTIES: 4,000.

The Battle of Qualor II. The Romulans had intended this as a feint to draw off ships from Deneva, which was supposed to be hit a month later. Instead, thanks to the M/AM ships, there's a full defense fleet waiting when they arrive. Again... BOOM!

The Aftermath of Hell's Gate

Romulans take serious overall losses. Human colonists clamoring for revenge, but if the UESN tried an offensive, they'd get clobbered just like the Romulans did.

This page was last modified on Wednesday, July 04, 2012.