ACTION NEWS: The Federation Strikes Back

This is Planets Magazine Action News, coming to you live with an update from the Capricorn War, deep inside the Echo Cluster. Good evening; I’m Jim Chancellite.

Last night, a combined fleet under the joint command of the Cyborg Hive and Ciocco Locutus of the Federation, long thought dead, attacked and destroyed a heavily defended Colonial starbase on the outer rim, suffering minimal losses and light damage. We’ve received confirmation from the Colonial Defense Ministry that the base inflicted heavy fighter losses on the enemy and destroyed a small scout warship before itself falling to a single enemy vessel. We go now to embedded reporter Hephaestus Tyrol, presently with the Colonial fleet. Are you there, Fess?

HT: Yes, I’m here, Jim.
JC: What can you tell us, Fess? What happened?
HT: We’re told that the tactic employed to reduce the starbase is not a new one, and that the practice of using sacrifice vessels to damage planetary defenses in advance of the main strike is in fact fairly common. The difference with this particular battle is apparently in the size of the ship that was sacrificed. Not much larger than a fighter, the scout craft — we’re told it was a Cyborg B41 Explorer — inflicted an inordinate amount of damage on the starbase defenses.
JC: And why would that make a difference?
HT: It all comes down to replacement cost, Jim. Traditionally, a medium warship would be employed in this role, a craft of Frigate class or better. It’s a question of being able to keep this up against base after base; all else aside, it’s tough to find a skilled crew that is eager to fight to their own death in an attack.
JC: I can see how that would be the case.
HT: It is rumored that, if the Cyborg forces continue to employ this novel approach, even the massive fixed defenses of the Colonial bases may be unable to inflict more than light damage on the main enemy assault force. It’s a new kind of war out there, Jim.
JC: Thank you, Fess.
HT: It’s what I’m here for.

Remarkably, very few of the provisional governments inside the Cluster have released any statements about this battle. We have a press release from the Office of the President of the Colonies which announces the loss of the outpost along with half a million Colonists, but it does not go into detail.

In other news, a rash of equipment malfunctions has led to the destruction of not one but two line-of-battle ships in separate instances over the past two weeks. Ace Reporter Pat Patterson has the details.

PP: Thanks, Jim. I’m reporting today from the site of the most recent event, where a massive battleship crashed headlong into the Lizard planet of Gamma Ti Sid, destroying a planetary defense center in the process.

(video with voiceover)
(area shot of fiery devastation by night) Yesterday, this was the Pit Viper Fighter Station, the major employer in Hisssssssid! City. Today, it is a crater, and thousands of pilots and support personnel are missing and presumed dead.

It began suddenly, with no warning. A bright light appeared in the evening sky, visible from almost a thousand miles away. The ground began to shake, and then the shockwave came. Moments later, chunks of superheated metal began raining from the sky.

“We were asleep, except for the geckoes on watch — they’re nocturnal, you know — and when we came to, the whole city was leaning to the left. And nobody saw a thing!” Hissssssssid! City mayor Ssssid Hiciousssss.

“The base is completely wiped out, and we’ve got at least ten thousand out of work. It’s the worst disaster we’ve seen here since colonization.”

PP: The big question they’re asking themselves over in Lizard HQ tonight is, Why didn’t anyone see this coming? There’s a massive orbital battlestation just overhead, but the entire crew was apparently caught off guard.
JC: Do they suspect sabotage?
PP: From what I’ve heard, they’re writing this off as enemy cloaking. All I know is, I’m glad I’m not the guy that was commanding that battlestation.
JC: Thanks, Pat.
PP: My pleasure, Jim.

It’s time now for a word from our sponsors. When we return: an in-depth look at the workings of the Privateer bands from a reformed member. And then we answer the age-old question: Whence Zymol?

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