Sunday, 21 September 2014

Battle In Space

Ensign Flandry, Chapter Seventeen.

An Imperial squadron:

Star-class (pocket battleship): Sabik, old, obsolete, due to be scrapped, not expected to see action again;

light cruiser: Umbriel, also old etc;

destroyers: Antarctica, New Brazil, Murdoch's Land;

scoutships: Encke, Ikeya-Seki, one energy gun each, quick and maneuverable but too small to count as fighting units - their mission, while protected by the other ships, to verify a rogue planet a few light-days away on a collision course with the star, Saxo.

Merseian forces:

in Saxo orbit: six warships;

guarding the rogue: one ship equal to Sabik, but newer and better armed, and one heavy destroyer.

Balance of Forces:

Thus, five Imperials against eight Merseians.

The course of events:

The Imperial squadron leaves the Saxonian system on gravitics to avoid detection by hyper wakes. After twenty four hours, the New Brazil proceeds at superlight but, in accordance with orders, returns to the squadron when it detects, and is followed by, the two craft at the rogue. The six Merseian ships at Saxo move to join the two pursuing New Brazil. Ships in hyperspace communicate not by electromagnetic radio but by modulating their instantaneous hyper wakes, an effect detectable up to a distance of a light year.

A Merseian Fodaich tells Captain Einarsen that he is entering an interdicted region but Einarsen, not recognizing interdictions in unclaimed space, proceeds under Merseian protest. However, because other Merseian craft are approaching, Einarsen requires the Merseians to withdraw at full speed. When they do not, combat is inevitable.

When the ships approaching from the rogue sheer off:

Sabik and Umbriel accelerate towards the larger ship;
New Brazil, supported by the approaching Murdoch's Land, turns on the smaller ship;
Antarctica continues to escort the scoutships.

Missiles and anti-missiles are launched. Sabik and Umbriel are damaged but destroy their antagonist. The squadron reunites but what had happened with New Brazil and Murdoch's Land? I am getting confused by the battle and am also about to be interrupted here so will continue "Battle In Space" in another post.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

I well remember the space battle in Chapter 17 of ENSIGN FLANDRY! My view is that it's one of the best descriptions I've read of what a real war in space will probably look like. The way Anderson narrated it made the course of events seem quite clear to me every time I read that chapter, but I can see some getting confused--because it is different from battle either on land or sea.

Glory to the Emperor! Sean

Paul Shackley said...

Anderson's authentic-seeming account is very condensed. I had to write these summaries to get it clear in my head.
Glory to the Emperor!

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, Paul!

Hmmm, I think I understand what you mean, a detailed battle report written by the officers involved would have been much longer and far more technically detailed. Enough so that persons not experienced in such matters might have found the report hard going.

One thing I overlooked, apparently the Merseian Navy had a category of warship called a "heavy destroyer," which seems strange, almost unnatural to me. Because destroyers are supposed to be fast, fairly small ships, albeit still true fighting ships. The Terrans probably called similar ships in their Navy "light cruisers."

Glory to the Emperor! Sean