The Alexanderov Federation
#2 - Growing Pains
By Robert Huntingdon
Table of Contents
Chapter One - The Senate
Chapter Two - Tailspin
Chapter Three - Meltdown!
Chapter Four - Storms on the horizon
Chapter Five - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part I
Chapter Six - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part II
Chapter Seven - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part III
Chapter Eight - 007 he is not
Chapter Nine - A time for peace...
Chapter Ten - Revelations
Chapter Eleven - Tachidi Raid
Chapter Six - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part II
As the Victory approached Rotan Prime, Goodman allowed his subordinates to coordinate the movement plans while he thought ahead to the ground war. A few reports filtered in which he acknowledged, but for the most part he was undisturbed. He pulled up on a viewscreen Turley's summary of the sensor reports. Much of the data was unfortunately guesswork, as the Raas had set up sensor scramblers on the planet at key areas, but some of their sensor beams were still getting through, enough to give him a decent idea of what was waiting below.
If the information he had was correct, it appeared the Raas had defended their Homeworld with 12 companies of Marines and 18 companies of Infantry. Oddly enough, however, the photographic scanners were not showing very many Raas lining up at what appeared to be militia depots. Turley estimated that enough civilians had volunteered to fully staff 2 companies of militia. They'd expected a lot more militia from a planet this highly populated. So far there was no information on support units, but that wasn't surprising as they almost always hid until after the battle began. He was landing 18 companies of Rhea Mobile Infantry, plus four commando units, a pair of mobile command centers, and 5 complete squads of heavy artillery, plus he'd have air support from his Suslov-class fighters, which were rated for atmospheric flight as well as space. The word 'artillery' was probably a poor name for it, but it was the modern equivalent of the old heavy guns used back on old Earth all those millennia ago, and somehow the name had stuck. The guns in this case fired phaser beams a full 500 millimeters thick and with almost as much power as the fighter-based weaponry. Unfortunately it was still a line-of-sight weapon, since nobody had yet figured out how to make the beam adhere to the curve of the planet. To combat this, the heavy guns were mounted so they were 30 feet up in the air, which gave them an effective range of over 50 miles if the battlefield was reasonably flat, more so if they could get on top of a hill or building.
Goodman considered the idea of landing a third troop ship. He only had 10 and he didn't want to run out before the war was over. On the other hand, overwhelming victory at the capital could demoralize the enemy, reducing casualties on both sides as some chose to flee or surrender. Of course, the Rhea were extremely formidable fighters, each individual soldier was easily the match for three Raas, and he did have mobile infantry instead of leg-troops, plus better hand weapons and trooper armor.
No, with more troops he might give his General more options, but he'd also give the enemy the same. Knowing they had numerical but not qualitative superiority, the Raas would most likely try a Ruse, Trap, or Feint of some sort. If they felt they had nothing going for them, then their tactics could not be predicted. Desperate people try desperate tactics, and that would make things worse.
He considered the effects of their likely tactics. With a Ruse, you tried to make the enemy think you were somewhere other than where you were. You did this either by maneuvering decoys into a position to the right or the left of your actual position, or by attempting to create sensor ghosts in that area if your EWOs were on top of their game. Then you positioned all your troops such that you could drive up the middle and attack their flank when they wheeled to deal with your decoys. A Trap, on the other hand, attempted to draw the enemy up the middle into preplanned lanes of fire, which would come from all sides once the trap was sprung. Finally, a Feint would fake movement to the left or right in a typical sweep formation, but again using decoy vehicles, while the real forces this time tried to go the opposite direction to attack the rear of the enemy. What strategies would counter all three?
A Ruse on his part would work only against a feint, and likewise a feint would only work against a ruse. A sweep would work OK if he managed to get outside of their forces before turning in, but would leave him far away from the enemy if he went the other direction and would end up with them on his flanks if he didn't get far enough out. A massed assault would be murdered by a trap. He could order them to use maneuver tactics, but he didn't like that, especially with Rhea, since that depended on hit and run tactics and would leave too little time for actual fighting. That left a pincer maneuver or a limited envelopment, but he had no idea which was better. Well, time to speak to his General and see if he'd predicted his tactics correctly. "Goodman to Gretskov. I'm expecting them to try a ruse or a feint, or maybe a trap. Do you concur?"
General Anatoliy Pavlovich Gretskov replied almost immediately, "Aye, sir, I do. I'm betting most likely on a ruse. I'm going to use a pincer maneuver, since that will give me good results against all three, plus, with our new artillery it can still be effective against any tactic he uses where his forces go up the center or where he is expecting you to."
"Very well, the transports will begin landing shortly. When do you want to begin air assaults?"
"Immediately, sir, and keep them going constantly in shifts. Keep them off balance while we set up."
"Very well, I will give the order momentarily. Goodman out."
As the ground force transports began their decent, hundreds of Suslov-class fighters began raining fire down on the Raas positions. For two solid hours while the ground troops unloaded and got organized they operated in swing shifts, four groups each of 300 fighters were either in transit to or from the planet, refueling and rearming, or actually firing. The lack of a break in fire prevented the Raas from launching any sort of preemptive assault on Gretskov's forces, thinned the enemy forces out by over 5 companies worth of manpower, destroyed several command bunkers, and eliminated the sensor jammers in the area. The latter was by far the most valuable, as now sensor scans from orbit told Goodman exactly what the enemy was doing. He had to admit that they were quite brave, continuing to advance their forces into position despite withering fire from the air, but hopefully soon their efforts would prove to have been wasted.
"Goodman to Gretskov. Sensors indicate the enemy is lining up for a classic ruse maneuver."
"Acknowledged. I'll let them charge in unmolested until they pass the leading elements of my two pincer wings, then give them withering artillery fire up the middle as I collapse on them from both flanks at once."
"Sounds like a good plan. Good luck."
"Thank you, sir. Gretskov out."
An hour later, the fighter assaults ceased. The Raas, though suspicious, of course, wasted no time beginning their ruse maneuver, so Gretskov ordered his forces to begin their assault as well. In 10 minutes or less, his forces would be within range of their decoy vehicles, and he would order their decoy forces destroyed so the Raas would think he fell for their ruse.
Meanwhile, the fighters that would have been attacking now were it not for the moratorium on bombing missions sat in their quick-launch bays awaiting the word to depart. The rest of the fighters were being recalled for refueling and rearming, so that when they all re-launched, they could hit the Raas with the maximum possible firepower in the minimum amount of time. In another 15 minutes they'd all be ready to go and they'd follow the artillery wave with a blistering assault on the enemy columns that would totally disorganize the enemy, and then when the attacks on the flanks came in, well, that would be all the Raas wrote.
On the planet surface, 10 minutes later, the Raas decoy formation came into sight of the leading Rhea infantry carriers. They immediately opened fire on the hapless trucks and other civilian-quality vehicles the enemy troops rode in with their vehicle-mounted machine guns. The big 80-millimeter phaser bursts ripped into the enemy vehicles and turned every single one they hit into a funeral pyre for any Raas not thrown clear in the initial explosion. Over three quarters of the decoy force was wiped out immediately, and shortly afterwards the Rhea inside the carriers opened up with their hand-held pulse phaser rifles, which fired beams exactly 47.62 millimeters thick, and finished off the wounded but still fighting Raas. You had to hand it to the Raas, they knew they were pretty much doomed, but they bravely held onto their pulse lasers and fired their 28-millimeter thick beams at the Rhea troop carriers anyway... for a few seconds, at least. Most of the time all they did was put a few dents in the side armor, but a few got lucky and managed to aim their shot through a handgun portal and hit the Rhea behind. In the 35 seconds the engagement lasted 400 Raas died and only two Rhea were seriously injured, though 25 others took wounds that prevented them from continuing to fight even though they were in no danger of dying.
"Goodman to Gretskov. They've taken the bait, their forces are beginning to drive up the middle."
"Excellent. This battle should be over in no more than half an hour, as long as the fighters are all ready on time."
"I have not been told of any reason why they would not be..." Goodman trailed off as the sensor display on the screen to his right showed something unexpected. And unwelcome. 300 cruiser-class Raas ships had just emerged from the jump lane, and they were heading full speed towards the planet. "We have a situation here, General. Can you prevail without the fighters?" asked Goodman.
"Almost certainly, Admiral, but I may loose a few troops," replied Gretskov. "What's the problem?"
"About 300 cruiser-class Raas ships. Shouldn't be a huge problem, but I need to hold onto the fighters for the moment, just in case."
"I understand. Defend the space lanes, Admiral, I can handle the ground war."
"Very well. Good luck, we'll see you after it's over. Goodman, out."
Gretskov turned to look at his Operations chief, Colonel Maria Ivanova Lekstov, to see her reaction to the news. Or, in this case, her lack of reaction.
"We planned ahead for this, sir. And you know the Rhea, sir, they'd just as soon not have air support anyway. They won't mind having more enemies to kill," said Colonel Lekstov.
"You're right, of course." He turned to the viewscreen at his right and punched the button for his Colonel in charge of the left flank. The Rhea's face immediately popped up on the screen. "You are cleared to proceed, Colonel. We don't have air support anymore, so you can keep your units closely bunched if you want."
"I'll probably do that a little bit, but I want to hit a fairly large segment of their flank at once too. It will put them more off balance," came the reply a few seconds later. The delay was, of course, in translation. The Rhea simply weren't capable of speaking the humans' language, nor humans theirs. Pity that they didn't have the same translators as the New Orions provided to senate ambassadors, those were rumored to be almost instantaneous.
"I understand. Have fun, Gresstla," closed Gretskov, mangling the Rhea's name, as usual, but again as usual the Colonel didn't seem to mind. Or perhaps the computer is smart enough to translate it into the Colonel's actual name. thought Gretskov briefly.
"Die well, General," GR's'tl closed, in the traditional greeting of his people.
"Turley, what information do we have on the approaching Raas?"
"One moment, sir, I'm still trying to compile things." He paused for a few seconds, then continued, "It appears they are all heavy beam cruisers, sir."
"I wonder why they are late? If they had been here before working with the system defense ships, we would have had a much harder time winning," mused Goodman.
"I'm not sure, but this is what's confusing me sir. The ships are of recent construction, and appear to carry a more advanced version of their standard hard beams, plus better armor and shields, but they do not seem to have assumed an attack formation. It seems that they are heading towards the planet, but they are not approaching in a formation that suggests they are eager for a fight. Either they don't know we're here, or they are trying to act like they don't in the hopes we'll let them sneak in close enough to attack."
"That's very unusual. Any other information?"
"No s... actually, yes sir. We just got hit with more advanced sensors than we thought they possessed. They know we're here sir."
"Have they begun shifting positions at all?"
"They have to know our ECM is 20 years ahead of theirs."
"Excuse me, sir," came Lewis' voice, intruding on the channel, "But there is a transmission from the Raas fleet. It seems their commander wants to talk to you sir."
"Did they ask for me by name?"
"No, sir, they just asked for the commander of the Federation fleet. They didn't even use any insults, nor did their voice have a harsh sound to it, sir."
Goodman mulled that one over for a second. This is too fishy. They have got to be up to something.
"Sir?" came Turley's voice again. "Admiral, the Raas are slowing down and stopping just outside twice their optimal firing range. That also happens to be right on the very edge of our range."
"OK, well then they either aren't here to fight, or they want to talk first. Either way, might as well talk to them. Put 'em on, Lewis."
Goodman turned to the screen at his right as his opposite number on the Raas fleet appeared on the screen. Like himself, the Raas was an Admiral, assuming Goodman was reading the uniform insignia right, of course. But that was where the similarities ended. The Raas Admiral was on the bridge of his ship, and was standing rather than sitting like Goodman was. That's odd, he thought, They stand to show respect. Either this guy is trying to confuse me, or he actually likes me!. All this flashed through his head in half a second, and he decided a tactful but business-like approach might work better today. "I am Admiral Goodman. You desire to talk, I gather. What is it you wish to discuss?"
"Joining you, Admiral."
"Yes, Admiral. I, Admiral Thazzdss, am the leader of a resistance movement against the maniacs in our government who have lead us down the path to certain ruin and destruction. Our people, by and large, have no quarrel with yours, most of us consider you friends and were distressed to learn our governments were no longer considered allies. When we further learned that it was our government who had broken off relations, that they had been attempting to spy on you for almost the entire time we were allied, and then of the dishonorable attack on your colony on Wasilkoff IV, we decided we could no longer tolerate the complete lack of herpatra our leaders displayed. Our people value combat and enjoy a good war, yes, but we cannot stand a dishonorable one. When the orders came to hurry here to reinforce our defenses against your expected counterattack, I took the opportunity to replace every crewman in my fleet whom I felt was still loyal to the government with ones I trusted to have true herpatra, then hurried here with the intention of joining you as soon as you got here. Unfortunately, it appears now I have arrived too late."
Though as consummate a poker player as any, Goodman felt like he should be feeling around on the floor for his jaw right about now. Outwardly, he concealed his shock quite well, but internally his thoughts were racing like mad. Can he be serious? Or is he trying to trick me into letting him close enough to open up at point blank range? If so, how do I prevent this? Then, on the other hand, this could explain the lack of militia units on the planet below, if the general public does not support this war, they wouldn't be signing up to defend the government they don't like. How do I find out for sure? Finally he spoke, "You must forgive me, Admiral, but your claims are a bit hard for me to believe."
"I understand that. That was why I was hoping to beat you here, so that I could station my fleet away from the main part of the defenders. I had planned to tell them I was going to try to attack you from off axis, but instead I planned to fly directly at the other Raas ships and open up on them, as a show of good faith."
"Had that happened, I would have found this much easier to accept. Will you excuse me for a moment, Admiral? I must consult with my officers."
"As you wish. Our ships will remain at station keeping and take no further action unless fired on first."
"Very well. I will get back to you as soon as I can. Goodman, out." The screen blinked off. "Lewis, get the Commodores on line for a virtual conference. Riley and Turley, please report to my office immediately."
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