The Mirror Crack'd

"Evil men may declare war, but it is the good who must fight and die."

-- the Sabbati Doneval, AS 2351


With the mostly recovered, but still weak, Jayla to provide simultaneous timing in three systems, the Combined Linked Worlds Tinaran Liberation fleet invades the Tinaran system through all three jump gates at the same time. Tactically, Viktor starts as the commander-in-chief, with his flag aboard the Stannis Law fleet, as they seem to be the most mobile behind enemy lines.

First blood in the battle is won by an Imperial blocking fleet under the command of the Shadow Sorceror Akito, who manages to negate Ace's dodging abilities long enough to score heavily on the forces he's flying with.

The Imperials manage to keep the Liberation forces bottled up near the jumpgates for some time after the initial encounter. They seem fairly confident, leaving a good third of their forces back at the planet in reserve. The commander of the Imperial fleets is Hector, as Dark Jim, while more skilled than Hector, seems somewhat preoccupied with something near Hazard.

During a desperate attempts to get the fleets away from the jumpgates so the Liberation forces can more effectively engage, Sophia is heard to yell, "It's not my fault!" as a quarter of her Vircan fleet unit is blown up by internal explosions. Similar explosions are seen in the enemy fleets. Sharra is called in to assist with repairs. However, their maneuver is successful as the Vircans, under the command of the SkyGuard Sophia, score the first hit against the enemy, beginning the Liberation fleet's inexorable push towards the planet.

Even given Sophia's first strike, as far as leaders are concerned, the enemy eventually decides that Sharra and Ace are the most dangerous enemies, as Shadow Akito constantly bounces back and forth between them, supressing their effectiveness whenever possible. Meanwhile, Dark Max slowly works his way towards the front from the backfield...

Seeing the situation deteriorating a bit, Hector decides to bring the StarLord squadron under his personal command into the fight. Suddenly, lights flash and alarms wail. It seems Hector is under a concerted hacker assault being staged from the planet, and loses a good deal of valuable time during which he is unable to engage the enemy himself.

The Stannis Law fleet is taken over by Ciernan, while Viktor transfers back to his flagship. Under Ciernan's command, the Stannis Law fleet manages to pierce enemy lines and drive deep into the Tinaran backfield. Their courage provides a distraction which keeps three to four times their number occupied and unable to join the main fighting at the front.

Suddenly, moments before an Imperial unit is destroyed utterly, Dark Max reveals that the Liberation forces have been firing on the Blue fleet instead! Morale crashes throughout the fleet as the severly wounded Blue forces crawl desperately away from the front in search of Sharra's assistance.

The Marquis V'Dalari gives the order to his Vertaki: Evil Max must die!

At this point, Viktor gives overall strategic command of the joint fleet to Jim, who agrees with Ruehan. A five unit coordinated assault is mounted upon the Imperials defending Dark Max, but in the end, he falls to the Vertaki.

While hope is restored, it is quickly dashed, as Hector has finally managed to get his StarLord Squadron into the fight. Dark Sharra provides them with double damage and their undodgable assaults start tearing through the Liberation forces.

The Simurgh (Blue's flagship) is almost destroyed, when Hippocrates, Max, and Kye put together a desperate plan: it's time to deploy the prototype nova bomb.

Evil Jayla arrives to supervise and further boost the morale of the already dominating Imperial units, but her arrival is just in time to witness Kye's handiwork. Luring the Hector and several other Imperial fleet units into a direct assault on the Hippocrates' fleet, Kye ejects the nova bomb on an instant fuse while Max attempts to speed the friendly forces away.

The detonation is incredible, far greater than anything that had been seen in the past. A full quarter of the combined Imperial forces are vaporized in an instant, including the StarLord squadron. Hector manages to limp back to the planet for repairs. Unfortuantely, the blast hits the Liberation forces as well. At least nine of the thirteen Liberation units take some part of the blast, and Hippocrates and Sophia's valiant Vircan Blade squadron is destroyed. The Hippocrates itself manages to escape the main portion of the blast and joins with the Blue fleet units to regroup.

The detonation of the Plasma bomb has evened up the fight, and Hector's counterstrike is delayed by another hacker attack, so the Liberation fleet presses forward once more. Ciernan and his Stannis Law forces manage to claim the space over Tinara itself briefly and are quickly resupplied from the various rebel factions on the planet before being driven off again to harass the backfield.

Jessica attempts to regain the intiative in the battle by managing to swap herself for Mirris, causing confusion and mis-direction aboard the Hippocrates, significantly blunting the thrust of Jim's assault, and bringing the fight almost even once more.

This equality is again short-lived as another sudden reversal against the Liberation forces is dealt when Evil Jim finishes what turns out to have been Search and Rescue operations near Hazard. Evil Katya is alive! Not only is she alive, she's more powerful than ever. Jim takes command of the Imperial forces and dedicates his full tactical prowess to the destruction of the Liberation fleet, with Katya at his side boosting the morale, and increasing the ferocity of every Imperial fleet they come near.

His first stroke is a deadly coordinated assault in which Evil Sophia manages to teleport several Imperial units including those commanded by Hector, Jim, Sharra, Bishop, Kith, and Sophia directly on top of the Stannis Law fleet in the backfield. Ciernan has a brief moment to escape the carnage and then test out his "floating in space in a cardboard box" theories as he watches while Stannis' forces are utterly destroyed.

Seeing the boost in ferocity Evil Katya has given the enermy forces, and the crushing blow to the allied morale, Marquis V'Dalari gives the order to his Vertaki: Evil Katya must die!

Katya is hit hard by the Vertaki as she and Jim rejoin the front line, but having learned their lesson from the fall of Max, Evil Katya manages to retreat away from the Vertaki and stay up. This retreat starts a panic however, and the Liberation forces make one final push towards the planet.

Concentrating all of their firepower, the Blue and Red forces independently manage to destroy some border Imperial units, and create breakthroughs to be exploited. The Blue fleet presses on to retake the planet and moons, while the Red fleets continue hammering at the enemy. The Vertaki fleet chases Evil Katya to finish her off, and the rest of the combined forces concentrate on securing the pathway between the jumpgates and the planet. The Nurlian fleet, under the command of Hippocrates, plunges deep into the heart of the enemy formation and begins an implaccble drive to destroy as many units as they can before being overcome.

Seeing the battle lost, the Imperial leaders activate their failsafe devices and disappear from our universe. Without their influence, morale crashes once more throughout the Imperial forces, and the situation is quickly mopped up. In the last seconds, the future guy shows up to give some imperial units acausal blaster tech with unlimited range, but Akito deals with him before he acomplishes much.

As the smoke clears, it's seen that the greatest losses were sustained by the Stannis Law, Nurlian, and Red forces, but several other fleets in the alliance also took significant damage.

The day is saved, and, for the moment, all portions seem united under the great banner of victory.

It's Sparky Cola time...

Puttering: (Tinara and Gateway)