06.01.3013: A Tactical Mess
Summary: Three Knights meet to discuss what they do, and don't know about the Hostiles, and how to fight them.
Date: 01 June 2013
Related: None
Agnes Alexis Anabethe 

Agnes' Suite on the Ring
A small conference style room.
01 June 3013

The Shadow of Intent is docked at the Ring for the time being, and some of it's officers have taken rooms nearby. In one of the Knight's suites, some have gathered for a roundtable of tactical and strategic discussion. Sir Agnes Peake is among them, and seated at a table, in a simple surcoat bearing the arms of House Peake, and breeches. She looks like she does not know what a comb is, if her wildly behaving, short shock of blonde hair is any indication. There is a dainty cup of tea in her oversized hand, which looks almost comical. A datapad is set before her, and starcharts are laid out in the table's center.

Alexis's arrival is not especially quick given that she limps in, heavily faouring her right leg and deploying a cane to help with that. Pausing a moment to take in the room she inclines her head to Agnes then makes her slightly awkward progress across to the table. "Sir Agnes, I see that you prepared well as always, I have been going over some theories about possible Hostile developments since the last System War. Worst case scenarios."

"Look, you can quote numbers at me about exactly why this thing stays in the sky all day, it's still weird," Anabethe informs the officer assigned to show her to the meeting, giving the door frame a thump with her fist as she walks through, as though it's going to collapse or something. "Weird," she confirms, then flashes a grin at the young man before going in search of a seat. "Lady knights," she greets Agnes and Alexis, tapping two fingers to her brow in an approximation of the shipboard salutes. "I hear I missed the first rounds of fun."

Agnes looks up as Alexis addresses her and dips her head to her old friend and often tormentor regarding all things romantic. "Sir Alexis. I have some of the schematics of the ships the Hostiles used in the last system war, but of course, the probability of them being the same this time around is small." She rises and dips her head to Anabethe as she enters. "Milady. Thank you for joining us." Then she resumes her seat with a creak of leather.

"Young Lady Khournas." Alexis pivots on her good leg in order to bow her head to the younger woman, then a nod as she turns back and shifts her weight back to the cane. "Indeed, it was only toward the end of the war they they began to field purpose built warships instead of transport vessels. One possibility we should prepare for is Hostiles specifically designed for space combat. Potentially they would be optimised for null gravity and atmosphere conditions with prehensile feet and an armament focused on lances or grav generator weapons plus the training to use them for maneuvering. Your thoughts?"

"Thanks for the invite," Anabethe nods to Agnes as she drops into a seat, stretching long legs out in front of herself and folding her fingers over her stomach. It's a lounge, but there's something distinctly feline about it, as though she could be up again at any moment. The insouciance fades as Alexis theorizes, eyes narrowing and lips pursing in thought. "They're already hitting us in the air. Or space. Whatever you call this place," she points out. "They've had five hundred years to innovate, and that's what they do. While we wait."

Agnes' mouth drops open at Alexis' words as she tries to form a picture in her head of what that would be like. "I think we'd need to tackle that worst case scenario one aspect at a time, Lex," she says, using a nickname for the Knight. Clearly these two go way back. She nods in agreement with Anabethe. "I recommend we start with the grav generator concept, how do you think they might utilize something of that nature?"

Alexis's eyebrows quirk at that last part though she does crack a hint of a grin, only for a moment. "You have never done it yourself? If you are fighting in zero gravity and have a weapon with a grav generator then you can use it to shift your momentum in unpredictable ways or maneuver mid air. I reccommend practising it." Then she straightens a touch before nodding to Anabethe. "They boarded and took the Gauntlet but we do not really know what they boarded it with. Best case scenario for us they have not advanced and are using the same combat units they fought with last war but we have to prepare for alternatives."

"I'm a fan of solid ground, personally. Though I'm not pick about ours or theirs." Anabethe reaches up to push a hand through her hair, catching the inside of her cheek between her teeth. "Do we even know that this generation of Hostiles needs to breathe?" she asks, arching a brow at the others. "I mean, think about all the adjustments they make, every time. We're not changing. We can change our tactics, but we're the same /people/ we were the first time around. The Hostiles? They're evolving. So if they want to take the fight to the skies, it'd make sense if they didn't have to worry so much about, you know, breathing. Then all they have to do is breach the hull on one of these things and their job gets a whole lot easier."

"So how do we combat a grav generator equipped Hostile soldier? Do we have a means of countering it with a zero grav field? Or redirect their momentum with, perhaps, magnets?" Agnes asks, tapping notes out on her datapad as they discuss. She grunts a little at Anabethe's theory. "Well, we have suits to let us breathe in vacuum. If they don't require breathing, then they've likely gone far more machine than organic. In which case perhaps they'll be dependent on fuel or energy sources."

"They probably have internal oxygen tanks of some sort to sustain them during at least brief loss of atmosphere." Alexis supplies before then shaking her head. "Using a grav generator weapon to maneuver is nothing that we cannot do ourselves, my big concern would be Hostiles trained, or programmed? To fight in zero gravity extensively who combine that with say feet which also function as hands. The best way to counter them would be just to ensure they are fought in normal gravity of course given that specialization would likely make them worse in other areas. Which suggests they would prioritise disabling our artificial gravity or possibly turn it off if we are boarding their ship."

"Sorry, I may be behind on news," Anabethe says, leaning forward to set her elbows on the table. "But I thought I heard something about the captured unit being…disabled. Which sounds like they've gone pretty machine to me, but I haven't seen what they found when they took it apart," she admits. She pauses, looking toward the door out to the rest of the Ring. "Fuel's a good point, though. And old-fashioned disabling, either way. Whatever their bits and pieces are made of, you sever a joint or a tendon or the equivalent, and mobility will be compromised." It isn't until the words are out of her mouth that she realizes what she's said, clearing her throat with an apologetic look to Alexis.

"I think our biggest advantages will be fighting them in confined spaces. Humans are malleable. Machines are considerably less. If we can restrict their movement, we may have an advantage. If we board a ship, we either need to find narrow corridors where we can limit how many of them can come at us, or we need to bring some form of mobile walls we can set up to create narrow passages. Shieldwalls of sorts." Agnes taps her chin with her stylus. "We need to talk to some of our scientists and see what they can come up with in that respect." The Knight's expression turns grim then. "There is another aspect we have not addressed openly. In the last war, the Hostiles used the bodies of the dead to augment themselves. We should consider not leaving bodies behind, even if it means burning them in place, or carrying some form of 'last resort' explosive that can be detonated."

"That is a rumour really Sir Agnes, I would be more worried about them using pieces of our armour." Alexis does tighten her grip on her cane but inclines her head to Anabethe slightly. "No offense taken my lady." Then she continues. "They are a mixture of mechanical parts with human organic material but we do not know if they start as human before being… Augmented, or if they are literally built out of mechanical and cloned organic components. They require power but can normally run for days off an internal charge and are 'fed' by relatively small internal nutrient reserves. Generally speaking a Hostile combat unit can continue to function without resupply for at least as long as one of our knights or men at arms can keep going using the power and supplies in a suit of combat armour and their own armoured exoskeleton provides equivelent protection. The typical Hostile does not have an exterior organic parts, they look like a robot or drone of some sort, but they normally retained an at least vaguely humanoid form as of the last war." Then more to Agnes. "We cannot guarantee being 'more malleable', the scout units encountered by the Aboreans were far more nimble than most humans. We cannot assume their main combat units will be the same as expendible long ranged scouts though."

"Incendiaries sounds good, though," Anabethe nods to Agnes, propping her chin up on one fist. "Something built into the suits, maybe. On a timer. Linked to life signs. Means we'll have to be aware of where our own dead are, so we don't get caught in the crossfire, but the idea of Hostiles trying to scavenge from the dead going up in flames while they're at it just warms my cold little heart. Don't much care for the idea of pieces of me going back to fight my brothers anyhow." She taps her fingers on the table, restless. "You brought up an interesting point about programming versus training, though. We train to function as a single unit, but we can make snap judgements if we need to. Suit communications make giving the orders easy. But there's always a point in the fight where you stand or break. Knowing what happens to them when they reach that point will be useful."

Agnes is beginning to look less and less sure of their survivability. "So what we really need to do, beyond anything else, is try to capture several units and find out how to disable them quickly with our own tech and training. We're basically flying blind into this war." She rubs a thumb across her brow, as if trying to rub away the stain of their unpreparedness. "We need, perhaps, a small scale scouting party of our own, to figure out what's happening on their planet. I am not sure of the viability of that though, and I don't fancy the chances of survival for anyone we sent." As if she'd send anyone without volunteering herself.

Alexis grins to Agnes there, not a mirthful grin at all, her expression intent. "We disable them by cutting the fuckers apart with monoswords or grav halberds Sir Agnes. I have no doubt they are dangerous, and relentless, but they will also stop at nothing to kill everything we hold dear and I very much doubt you plan to hesitate in the slightest when it comes to acting to stop them." A nod to Anabethe then. "Capturing some would be good, but the easiest way would be to cut their arms and legs off. They should survive that and while I doubt it would be at all easy the information would be valuable. I do not think we can count on them surrendering to breaking though and no attempt to reach their world has ever returned."

Anabethe grins swiftly at Agnes. "A woman after my own heart," she agrees. "It's a death run, or it ought to be, but if they're sending scouts to us, I see no reason why we shouldn't return the favor. It's a whole planet. I sincerely doubt it's so heavily populated and manned by Hostiles that there's nowhere to land and observe without being captured ourselves. Just like us, they have to be doing something while they're past us." She tilts her head, brows rising at a thought. "I wonder how they reproduce."

"All of this is moot, of course, until we run it by those in charge." Agnes scrubs her hand down her face. It doesn't not improve her expression whatsoever. "A boarding of one of their ships would be more likely to yield retrievable results from a capture attempt, admittedly."

"I am a member of the royal family." That Alexis reminds to Agnes not unkindly before she then taps her cane on the floor in an obvious attention grabbing action. "But regardless, we are hopefully going to be on the Shadow of Intent when she boards a Hostile vessel. The maneuvering of the ship and any exchange of blaster fire would be organised by Lord Captain Cedric Orelle so we should limit our discussion to an actual boarding action. Please keep in mind that if we end up assaulting a landing craft we would be outnumbered and so would need to focus upon hulking the ship before departing instead of being in a position to captured and occupy the entire vessel."

"I'm going to leave the boarding actions to you all," Anabethe admits with a bit of a shudder. "But if you want to talk a scouting party or ground actions, I'll be around." Her smile slips crooked as she shrugs. "Granted, Father's the one to talk to about overarching tactics, but if you need a unit of men and a shield wall, then that's more my speed."

"We are Marines on a naval vessel, Sir Alexis. Outside of commanding troops in actual boarding actions, we are not in charge, to my knowledge," Agnes points out, because she's Agnes and the rules are paramount to her. "If we can figure out how they function, how they communicate, how they supply themselves, we can figure out how to reduce their functionality, jam their communications, and cut off their supplies. Until we have better and more concrete information, however, this is all just guessing." She frowns as she looks at the scattered notes she's taken.

Alexis studies Agnes for a few seconds before answering with. "If my cousins desire to speak to a family member about military matters or strategy Sir Agnes I am the natural choice, or if they wish advise to be given to another house, I am the natural choice." Then she inclines her head to Anabethe. "A pity my lady given that we could no doubt use your help." Back to Agnes. "Another worry, one rather more universally applicable. What I refer to as 'Heavy Units', I suspect the Hostiles will deploy units substantially larger than human scale but still small enough to be protected by energy shields in order to break shield walls. I think the only answer in the face of that is going to be outnumbering, flanking and surrounding them or engaging them with skirmish tactics." Perhaps rather obscurely. "Much as I like living in a palace I do sometimes wish the Reversion had been modeled on the Mongols instead."

"What, not a fan of sparkly knights in shimmering armor?" Anabethe smirks at Alexis, conveying her own opinion of the Valen knights in one sarcastic question. "As far as the shield walls go, that'll depend on how large they are. We're trained and prepared to function against cavalry charges, so if the Hostile heavy units are no bigger than cavalry, we're prepared." A beat. "If they start busting out tanks, we're pretty fucked."

"We're going to need polearms, a lot of polearms, for any sort of boarding action. If their spaces are narrow, no one is going to be able to swing a sword around without doing more damage to his fellows than the enemy," Agnes adds. "Crossbows in preference to longbows, as room for a proper draw is not likely to be available. Tower shields to block vision of our troops, but not so tall that we might not be able to lower them enough for volleys." She sips her almost cold tea and makes a face.

"Tanks would be vulnerable to blasters and while mini tanks have been tried a few times they proved impractical for various reasons." Assures Alexis to that, a slight chuckle to Anatbethe then. "Well I am one of them I think? Not that I am very good at it any more but my armour certainly counts as shiny." Then apparently back to the subject at hand. "Swords can thrust and work fine but pole axes can run into problems with lack of room to swing or potentially in getting around corners. The key factor is to throw everything into the initial rush in order to prevent getting barricaded at the original breaching point in the enemy hull."

"Polearms-" Anabethe stops as Alexis completes her thoughts, nodding to the other woman. "As long as you're in a straight on shield wall moving forward, they can help you clear the path, hedgehog your way through. But a short sword's going to be more useful in close quarters. We also don't know what kind of ships we're going to come across," she points out, leaning back in her chair once more and rubbing a hand at the back of her neck. "The scout pods are small, so they probably didn't travel far. What if they've actually got something huge going out there, launching smaller vessels at us?"

Agnes just nods to the counters to her arguments and continues making notes. The Knight goes quiet and sorts through the datapad.

"You are of course absolutely correct about the crossbows and shields though Sir Agnes." Adds Alexis, shifting her weight fully onto her good leg now and wincing silently as she does so. Then a shake of her head to Anabethe. "My guess is that the scouts were, well, designed for the job. Very little of them is organic and they perhaps were sent into hibernation of a sort and kept sustained by reserves in the pods. They were disguised as meteors, I would honestly not be suprised if they were launched on a ballistic trajectory over a year ago."

"I dislike that level of planning," Anabethe grimaces to Alexis without disagreeing. "Also that they got here early, but that's beside the point." She crosses her legs, foot bouncing restlessly as she looks to Agnes. "Speaking of boarding actions. Is Orelle planning on assaulting a ship if they come across it, or are we just scouting in return right now?"

Agnes lifts her eyes from the datapad. "I see death in my notes, Sirs. There will be many, many dead and many more wounded. Especially if the Hostiles have made the adaptations we suggested today. I propose that, although I am loathe to include squires in live combat, that they are brought for the purpose of triage and removal of bodies from the field, to prevent the Hostiles from whatever desecrations or military intelligence they may glean from them." She shakes her head to Alexis. "I have only recently been deployed to the Intent, Milady. I have not yet met with Captain Orelle for debriefing, so I have no answer for you."

"The Royal Navy will be actively engaging any hostile transport vessels they manage to find, to obtain intelligence but also to try to prevent as many as possible of them from landing." Asserts Alexis before adding. "Older squires should fight if they are able. We are in for a long war, keep in mind that we have hardly stood still since the last one either. Our ramships are likely as nasty a shock to the Hostiles as anything we are going to encounter from them."

Anabethe nods to Agnes. "I'll talk to the engineers in Volkan about self-destruct devices as well. They're impractical for boarding operations, since they'd take out the ship as well, but once we're fighting on land, it's worth a go." She takes a breath, letting it out slowly. "Well. Either way, they're starting to arrive now. And we're all going to die, Sir Agnes," she adds, smile slipping crooked. "So best we live as well as we can while we're here."

"That is all I have for today, Sirs. Is there anything else before I need to go drill with the Marines?" Agnes asks.

"Well I was going to inquire about why I had a panting of you delivered Sir Agnes but that can wait for another day. May the six watch over you." Alexis inclines her head to Agnes then before turning on her good leg and starting to limp out.

You have already given Alexis a cookie this week.

Anabethe quirks a brow at the mention of paintings, but the other knights are fleeing. Gossip will have to wait for later! "Take care, Sirs," she adds, tapping another of those salutes before pushing out of her chair.

Agnes stares after Alexis. "That was for my brother!!!" she hollers after the Knight. She looks mortified, then shakes it off and heads into her room to change for practice drills.

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