Just before COVID-19 hit and shutdown face to face gaming, we completed the first round of our global Dropfleet Commander campaign, The Amundsen Gambit. The campaign will continue once most of the world has returned to some sense of normality.

In the meantime though, we have some fiction based on the results and comments left by the players in the campaign. Written by Cabal club member James Roberts.

The Lieutenant Commander straightened her uniform, her fingers brushed the pins at her collar marking her as “Secret Intelligence”. She took a deep breath and motioned to her staff, and they strode forward as a group into the High Command briefing room. The room was richly furnished in the blues of the UCM, and the walls were lined with pictures of reconquered worlds. However, her eyes were immediately drawn to the biggest image- a 3D hologram of the Homeworld, Earth, slowly rotating as lights on its surface marked the progress of the war to retake it. She paused for a moment to reflect on this sight, and then her attention turned to the assembled admirals and their staffs. Most were here only virtually, with a clock at the corner of each hologram marking the transmission lag. One who was here was Fleet Admiral McNally, and the old warhawk was looking expectantly at her.

The Lieutenant Commander gathered herself together and waved at her staff. Instantly a projection jumped into view in the 3D view station. Space around the South Pole of Earth flattened into a complex display of orbital layers and fleet deployments. “The campaign to retake the city of Amundsen has concluded Phase 1. This is a classified briefing to fill the High Command in on the progress of the campaign, and what I reveal here should not be disseminated beyond your staff and this room. Basically, we are only just on track to retake the city”.

She waved her hand, and the display zoomed in to display the city of Amundsen, buried in the remnants of Antarctic ice. The city consisted of a sprawling network of biodomes, some on the surface, and some buried in the ice. Some, on the deepest level, were buried into the bedrock of the continental landmass. “As you know, Amundsen is not so much a city as the world’s largest military installation. Amundsen is the orbital control nexus for the entire Southern Hemisphere, and is entirely geared towards military and naval control of the Inner Solar System.” Another wave and the Lieutenant Commander pointed at the enormous number of orbital batteries dotted throughout the city. “Amundsen is probably the most fortified area on Earth with respect to fleet actions. There is,” and she paused for emphasis, “zero chance of retaking Amundsen with our standard fleet approach. Instead, the plan for the reconquest involves the infiltration of special forces from a joint task force from the Falklands into the city, to try to take the command center from the inside.”

“Stage 1 of the campaign involved attacking distal military nodes and taking control of space stations in orbit over Amundsen, to remove Scourge reconnaissance capability and allow us to land the troops in Port Stanley in the Falklands. Stage 2 involves covering the infiltration effort by distracting the Scourge while taking over the two beanstalks in preparation for Stage 3 and landing extra troops. Stage 3 commences when the infiltrators take the control center in Amundsen. We anticipate a window of days or even only hours before the control of the orbital batteries will be redistributed or assigned to manual control, and in that period the Fleet will strike.”

“And how did Stage 1 go?” asked McNally tetchily. “I think we are familiar with the overall plan”. A little flushed at the hurry-up, the Lieutenant Commander gestured again, and the viewscreen filled with numbers and vectors representing the small fleet actions that had already occurred. 

“Stage 1 was a mess. We took higher losses than expected. If it wasn’t for the hard work put in by Admiral Remlein and some of his colleagues, we might not have succeeded at all.” 

“Orion Stardust?” One of the remote admirals looked amused, as he used the fleet’s nickname for Remlein. “I thought we had sidelined him after the last disciplinary?”

“He’s back on fleet duty, sir, and doing well, as usual. Won 7 of 8 engagements, and took all his objectives. Admiral von Kozel and Admiral Barlow have also been decently successful in the longer engagements assigned to them. At the same time, the Scourge has taken a beating- we can confirm they have lost ¾ of their engagements, and are in disarray. Except for the fleet given the codename Furaha, they have taken major losses. The fleet codenamed Palas has, however, been doing extreme damage to our forces, as if taking and holding objectives is less important for them than simply hurting us. Most fleets, like codename Cagn, have simply failed to stop our advance.”

“So, if the Scourge is on the run, why the long face, Commander?” Another commander asked.

“Well, because there is a Shaltari warlord playing games with our deployment, as well as an unanticipated player in the form of an unknown Resistance faction. And the PHR is, as always, playing their own game.”

A gesture and a grainy image of a Shaltari warship filled the screen. “This is the Shaltari flagship for the creature our troops are calling ‘the Eldar’. He has engaged in 15 battles we have tracked, against all comers. Though he hasn’t won most of these engagements, he has caused massive problems for our strategy. He acts like a pirate of old, arriving at inopportune moments to raid and pillage. He needs to be dealt with.”

The image shifted to show a set of old ships, modified civilian trawlers bearing many different marks. “These are the ships of a Resistance faction run by a figure referred to as Bars Paladis. They and associated ships have run some extremely effective raids on us and the Scourge and even took on the PHR. We reckon they are an independent faction looking to resupply and rebuild their fleet. They are exceptionally deadly and effective. We really need to make contact with them and bring them to our side.”

“We think that Bars Paladis may also be behind the hacking of our comms, which has led to several engagements between UCM fleets.” The admirals huffed a little at this. The hacking was a major source of concern.

“And here,” a wave brought up an image of sleek PHR battleships, “are our allies against the Scourge, who we keep meeting on the battlefield despite the pact. Fleets Modeleus and Paulo1414 have been especially active, fighting off several UCM attempts. Fortunately, they have also engaged the Scourge and the Shaltari, but their interventions are a pain.”

McNally thought for a moment. “Commander, are we good to go for Stage 2, despite these problems?”

The Lieutenant Commander nodded her head and said “Yes sir. The orbital stations are offline, whether in our hands, the Republic’s, or the Shaltari. Distal orbital batteries and centers are similarly out of the way. We can order the infiltration to begin.”

McNally nodded his head. “Then the order is given. We take the orbital elevators, we increase our activity against ground-based facilities, and we start landing troops where we can.” 

He paused, and then gave a small smile, “And I’ll give a special medal to whoever rids us of the Eldar! Even if it is Remlein, Orion Stardust himself!”