Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Star Fleet: Battle of Acheron VI

Dropping out of warp as they entered the mysterious Acheron system, the two Romulan vessels accelerated toward the sixth planet, then gradually faded away, no longer visible to sensors or even the naked eye. Throughout the three Federation vessels on patrol in the system, alarms harangued crews to battle stations. Aboard USS Enterprise, recently returned to duty following a stay in spacedock, Captain Kirk surged onto the bridge. Commander Spock's measured tones conveyed a cool summary of events: two refitted Klingon vessels, a dreadnought and a  with working cloaking devices had entered the system, accelerated toward the planet, then disappeared from sensors. Some slight traces enabled Spock to have a general idea of their location, but nothing precise. Commodore Ross aboard USS Lexington had ordered all ships to hold station, and to deploy all shuttles, fitted with anti-matter warheads.

If the Romulans wanted to know what the Federation were doing in this out-of-the-way system, they would have to decloak and scan the planet's surface from orbit. If they did that, a host of shuttles acting like ancient fireships would hit their shields, weakening them before the Federation warships attacked. The minutes ticked by as shuttle after shuttle launched from the Enterprise, the Lexington and the Drake. Suddenly sensors registered an explosion near the Drake. Was it the Romulans? Had they decloaked and opened fire? No, one of Drake's shuttles, remotely piloted, had crashed into an asteroid. Moments later the Drake did open fire, as the Romulan battleship decloaked to scan the planet.

The message came through from the Commodore, "Now!" Enterprise slingshot herself around the planet, heading right into the teeth of a Romulan KR Cruiser and her barrage of Plasma Torpedoes, but her Photon Torpedoes and Phaser batteries silenced the hostile cruiser, smashing her shields. At the same time, on the other side of the planet, the Lexington likewise catapulted herself around the planet, and strained her engines to effect a High Energy Turn, ending her move just outside the enemy battleship's forward arc. The refitted Klingon's shields were strongest in the forward arc, and Commodore Ross unleashed every weapon he had into the weaker area aft. Explosions tore through the warship as Photon Torpedoes and Phasers did more damage than anyone could have predicted.

Aboard the battleship, damage crews were helpless to effect repairs as fires surged out of control. Yet discipline was retained, and a heavy barrage of fire struck Lexington and Enterprise. The scanning of the planet was proceeding well, with more than 86% of the work complete. Boosting shields despite the damage, the KC9R Dreadnought lunged to starboard, holding the Lexington squarely in her sights. But her targeting systems had been damaged by Lexington's devastating attack, and her weapons officers proved incapable of hitting the target with more than some glancing blows. Her engineers did better work, boosting her shields to provide some respite from the Federation vessels. The KR cruiser was hit by fatal blasts, and her crew began to abandon ship, knowing she could not survive long.

On the two Federation cruisers feverish crews worked to reload Photon Torpedoes, and Mr Scott managed to squeeze a little more power to the Enterprise's shields, while on Ross' flagship the helmsman demonstrated once again his deftness, executing another seemingly impossible turn to follow the enemy battleship. Sensors indicated that the enemy's engines were powering up for warp, and as the hostile cruiser exploded, the blast damaging Enterprise's scant shields, all three Federation ships poured their firepower into the battleship, which finally exploded with a catastrophic fireball which crippled and almost destroyed Lexington. The Federation had been successful in stopping the Romulans obtaining information on the sinister alien ruins of Acheron VI, but at what cost?


It was a bit of an odd one, this. We rolled randomly for sides, as usual, and I took the Federation. Since I had a planet I could orbit to zip out from behind, I hid two of my ships behind it. My smallest sat in an asteroid field, whence I didn't dare move it, so thick was the field. Mm, great planning! The Romulans were thus denied the effective use of their cloaks, since they had to uncloak right beside the planet to scan it and complete the mission. If there were no time-limit, they could have swept around behind me and really smashed me up, especially the KR Cruiser, since it's a modified D6, with all the agility that implies. I was surprised to see that the Romulans go straight from being cloaked to having shields up; I even had to re-read the rules to reassure myself of it. The lesson there is for me not to try to understand rules based on a TV show and some films, I think!

When the Romulans did decloak by the planet, I therefore had almost perfect placing. My heart was in my mouth in case Lexington didn't make that turn, but she did, and then I rolled an unfeasible number of 6s for her and Enterprise. By the end of the battle the KC9R Dreadnought had taken maximum damage to her Shields, Dilithium Chamber and Impulse Drive, Level 5 Critical Damage to her Crew, and Level 3 to her Weapons. It would have been worse, but I forgot the Damage Control part of Turn 7. Owing to the loose wording of the rules, since I only added the last two levels of Critical Damage to her Dilithium Chamber, she could still go to Warp in the final turn. It seemed more cinematic and sporting to allow at least the possibility, too. Also more cinematic was the final torrent of fire from the three Federation ships that blew her to smithereens and which saw Lexington crippled and nearly destroyed! Commodore Ross might need a bit of retraining.

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