- This is the lore page, for discussion of the ingame mission and strategies see Port Hedland series.
|Planets||McLaren (possibly), Hurricane|
Port Hedland is a star system of the Vega Sector inside Confed space.
I had pulled one of those thrilling "flying bus" assignments while we were in the Port Hedland System. Instead of cruising in a Scimitar, I was moving fuel in a Drayman to Planck's Star, where a Kilrathi destroyer had decimated the storage facilities. With pilots at a premium, it was absolutely necessary, but extremely boring. Spirit and Knight formed Eta Wing and flew the most dangerous assignments in the system. When I returned to the carrier, I made a point to meet with them and talk about their missions. Flying those "buses," it was easy to lose your fighter-pilot edge. By keeping up with the action on the Claw, I could at least try to hold onto some of it. "I was more concerned about the success of this mission than any other I had flown," recalled Spirit. "On most defensive sorties, I protect ships manned only by military personnel. The Drayman I would escort back to the carrier, though, held a TCSO troupe of entertainers. These were civilians, and I felt a special sense of responsibility. Their safety was paramount, and failure would have crushed morale on the Tiger's Claw." Knight remembered the first dogfight on the mission. "Two wings of Jalthi came out of an ion cloud right away. It was only four fighters, but their firepower was more than you'd find in twelve Gratha...and the Jalthi are the only Kilrathi fighters who sport neutrons. I was petrified," he added. "The two wings came at us from the left and right," Spirit said. "My strategy was to try and take on out as soon as possible. I wanted to even up the odds, so I told Knight to attack my target. We headed right, toward the nearest wing, with our afterburners running hot. I was hoping to circle behind them and hit the trailing Jalthi from the rear." "The Jalthi saw us before we could really get behind them, but we were really moving and with a few twists, turns, and rolls, we stayed away from their guns on the first pass," Knight recollected. "I was on full guns and I think Spirit had armed the neutrons. I followed her in as she rolled right, turned hard left, and blasted away at the engine ports of the Jalthi. I almost collided with a chunk of debris, and launched a Javelin that almost sent the pilot into conniptions. The Javelin missed, but we hammered the rear of the plane and it erupted. The rest of the dogfight was just standard tactics against the Jalthi. Break and attack. Slide away with the afterburners, and make every shot count." "We hit Nav 1 and the Drayman immediately jumped into the system," Spirit said. "We had the jump point all to ourselves and glided into position behind the transport and set speed to 150 KPS. The Drayman wouldn't waste any time in getting to the carrier. It would cruise at max velocity." "Three Gratha made a beeline for the Drayman when we were still 55,000 kilometers from the carrier. We were too far away to count on any assistance. I taunted all three, called break and attack, and tried to lead them away from the transport." "Knight and I were at full speed and I almost collided with one of the two Gratha who had answered our insults. That's when I slowed to 300 KPS. I wanted to be able to slip behind the enemy targets when they turned off after an attack. I didn't want to fly right by them. I went after the ship that was still attacking the Drayman." Mariko paused to gather her thoughts. "I'm not sure whether I hit the first with guns and then a Javelin or it was the other way around, but he went down. The Drayman was now safe, since the last two Gratha had taken a personal interest in our fighters. Knight scored with a tremendous shot with a Dart and I had to use the mass drivers to take out the third. I'd used my heat-seekers, and I'm not a very good shot with the dumb-fires I had left." From all accounts, the TCSO show was a rousing success. The zero-gee dancers apparently turned weightlessness into a tool and wowed the crowd with their precision moves. One pilot described it as like watching a group of playful dolphins glide through the water. I remember how miffed I was about missing the show. Saranya Carr, star of Luna Jones, Jumpscout and one of my favorite actresses, had really made an impression on everyone aboard the carrier. Oh, the sacrifices we make.
"Our second mission in the system was a routine four-point patrol, but it included a chance to be the first pilot to investigate a new Kilrathi capital ship," Spirit said. "Observers on McLaren had reported the find and called it a Fralthi. Halcyon reminded us that we didn't need to engage the ship, just look it over and report back with our recorder data." "The Dralthi that attacked near Nav 1 never knew what hit them. I don't think they were expecting company. In fact, they were dismal fighters and it might have been a Kilrathi training flight. Standard maneuvers and mass drivers did the job." "We flew through a minefield and a few bursts sent my shield protection plummeting. When we exited the field, I cruised around until regeneration was complete." "We saw the Fralthi and three Gratha just before we arrived at the third Nav point. The Fralthi was enormous, 500 meters from stern to bow, but it didn't take us long to realize how ponderous this giant really was." "The targets were below me, but I took our fighters down and below them in an attempt to keep the large ship between us and the fighter escort. It would provide a close observation of the Fralthi, and give us cover as we attacked the fighter wing. I waited until the last second, then signaled a break and attack." "We obviously surprised them. I hit the first Gratha from the side, and saw debris fall before he knew what hit him. I looped around to bring the blaster to full, and finished the job with the mass driver cannon. Knight took out the other two Gratha." "I knew the Colonel just wanted information, but I couldn't resist the unguarded capital ship. After a few probing strikes, we discovered the shields and armor were weakest in the rear. We used all our missiles, and some gunfire as well, to destroy the ship. I was stunned that its fighter escort was so small."
"I was hoarse after the Code Red mission," Knight reminisced. "The Kilrathi were on a roll, attacking Confederation ships throughout the system. The Claw was our first priority, then move to help out an Exeter under attack, then on to destroy a Fralthi." "I won't bother you with the details of each dogfight, but I was constantly screaming out insults to every Kilrathi pilot I could contact. It's only effective about 50 percent of the time, but that cuts the odds in half for the ships we're protecting. That's quite an edge, and I just hope the Kilrathi pilots never figure out how helpful their attitude is to our mission objectives." "We hit four Jalthi who were attacking the carrier, then four Gratha when we reached the Exeter. When we went after the Fralthi, we had four Krant to deal with. It was like staring at a Joan's Fighting Spacecraft publication but the ships moved, fired, and launched." "It was impossible to make it through all three parts of the mission without sustaining some damage. When you're protecting ships, you often have to break away from weakened targets and go after stronger ones that are attacking. It changes your strategy." "The Jalthi took their toll on my weapon and ion drive. I couldn't fight in one long slide, so they managed a few hits with their neutrons. By the time we made it to the Exeter, my computer system was lightly damaged and Spirit's was out. We couldn't communicate." "We burned the Gratha around the Exeter, but when we hit the Fralthi's protectors the battle was really tough. With all our damage, we really had to fight defensively, and that really added to the time span of the dogfights. We managed to destroy the fighter wing, but not before the Fralthi jumped out of the system and escaped. The mission was only a marginal success."
- They escorted a Drayman-class transportng TSCO artists to the Claw. They protected it against attacking Jalthis, and later an ambush of Grathas.
- The new Fralthi-class was observed by people on McLaren. During a routine patrol of Spirit and Knight, they encountered a wing of Dralthis and a Fralthi, with its escort of Grathas.
- Soon a massive Kilrathi force attacked Confed ships in the system. The Blue Angel squadron defended the Claw from Jalthi attackers, and then Spirit and Knight moved on to defend an Exeter-class being attacked by Grathas. Then they moved against a second Fralthi, but they managed only to clear its Krant escort before it managed to jump away.
After these operations, the Claw jumped to Kurasawa.
Around the same time, Confed forces managed to capture a Ralari-class, which was to be used in the sieges against Kurasawa. Christopher Blair's specific actions during this period have never been published.