War for the Skies

“War for the Skies”
Belligerents: Varangian Guard & 507th Provisional Unit
Result: Solar Alliance Pact signed, hostilities end.
– Zero Sum gain, (status quo ante bellum).
– 507th losses, moderate.
– Varangian losses, moderate.
– Other factions have nearly 2 years of uninterrupted growth.

After the violent introduction the Varangian Guard brought to the planet in the Seven Hour War, the Guard made a serious enemy in the Terran Expeditionary Marines stationed to the Northwest, the 507th Provisional Unit (AKA: Merrill’s Marauders). The Marines and their allies, Amber Coast Electrionics and the Arcadian Loyalists UMFL, immediately began devising a campaign against Valhallan and their corporate thugs, but its success would hinge on one crucial factor – control over the skies.

And so, Amber Coast began working on Project: Firebird.

Colonel George Caldwell, supreme commander of the 507th, wanted Amber Coast to create an air-superiority frame. Something that could replace the apparently-sub par Rumble Monkey and Chub design, and also win control of the skies. Amber Coast quickly went to the drawing board and thought up the “Firebird”, a transformable combat frame, able to preform the role that Caldwell wanted. With the Colonel’s blessing, the project was funded and underway.

Unfortunately, Amber Coast and the 507’s dreams of an easy conquer were quickly compromised; the initial blueprints were leaked in route to the Transit Gate: Elysium. Valhallan had paid off a considerable amount of the Terran Trade Marines there when they arrived in the Orisia system, and one of them halted its transit, and send the data over to Valhallan Industries back down on Arcadia. In the spaceport of Arcadia, what the Guard & V.I. were now calling “Hlidskjalf”, Valhallan’s engineers quickly studied and copied the designs, particularly for Amber Coast’s ground-breaking “Ionic Lift System”. Valhallan then sabotaged the designs and sent them back to Elysium, only being delayed 24-hours.

In the interim that Amber Coast’s Arcadian-branch scientists and engineers were waiting to hear back from their Mars Headquarters, Valhallan Industries were busy creating their own version of the Firebird. However, in addition to “Project Throne”, Valhallan created a stop-gap for the inevitable Firebird’s release: the Seraph Paladin.

The Seraph Paladin was a custom loadout for the Paladin Mk. III (and later, the Paladin Mk. IV, what would become the Guard’s main unit), giving it a sophisticated set of wings and thruster arrays, allowing it [albeit not perfect] flight. Needless to say, Amber Coast and the 507 were stunned by their enemy’s new weapon, and many early encounters against the “Seraph Paladin” did not go well – particularly against the Mk. IV variants. Thankfully, the 507 did need not worry for long.

Within only a few weeks of the Seraph Paladin unveiling, Amber Coast’s headquarters sent back to Arcadia a set of supplies and an upgraded set of blueprints, along with a very detailed report about evident sabotage. With all that behind them and no time to lose, ACE’s staff went quick to work in producing the Firebird. Even in limited qualities, the Firebird was able to best the Seraph Paladin, even the Mk. IV variants. With a powerful linear rifle as its main weapon, nothing short of a steel wall could hold this frame back. Once the Firebird was shown to be a success, it began mass production.

As irony would have it, as quickly as the 507 obtained dominance in the skies, Valhallan Industries finished and deployed their own transformable air-frame, the Throne. The Throne was far and above considered better than the ACE Firebird, it sported 4 Ionic Lift systems, as opposed to the Firebird’s 2, increasing its raw speed, acceleration and top speed, and maneuverability. Immediately, the Seraph Paladin was decommissioned, and the Throne was the mainstay aerial unit for the Guard. Valhallan’s only oversight was that the Throne’s only equipment were two anti-frame plasma edges.

Despite being a better frame, this oversight made dogfights against Amber Coast’s Firebird extremely difficult, forcing the Varangian pilots to close the gap, transform, and attack with their melee weapons. The benefit was negligible as best, the end result being almost always reliant on piloting skill and tactics. Despite the Throne’s superiority, the inability to enter long-range combat was colossal.

Both corporations saw the results of various dogfights and went about different ways to tip the scales in their favor. Valhallan Industries went and added vulcan gatling-guns onto the Throne for mobile armor mode, giving it [finally] another option in combat, now having both close-range and moderate-ranged options. Amber Coast Electronics, added various hardpoints to the Firebird’s wings, allowing it to carry missiles among other choices, increasing its battle-capable range, but doing nothing about the Throne’s prominence in melee combat.

With these two brother-frames constantly being thrown at each other in exquisite dogfights, entire squadrons were created based off of these frames, the Varangian’s Valkyries and the 507’s & Loyalist’s Birds of Prey.

For months, these dogfights over Arcadia continued, the two squadrons deadlocked. With data coming back to both hangars, V.I. and A.C.E. began to see the myriad of flaws in their designs.
The “Big Three” being:
Fragility. Both frames were extremely fragile. It was a constant joke amongst Throne pilots that flying into a flock of birds could result in the frame’s spontaneous combustion. It was not even uncommon for a Throne to attempt transformation while moving too quickly and ending up snapping itself in two. The Firebird was not much better in this regard. It, if in range, could easily be taken down by frame-small arms fire. As well having the same transformation risk, although its simpler transformation made it slightly safer to the pilot and frame’s stability.
Upkeep & Expense. These two frames were very expensive to produce, the Throne 40% more than the Firebird; the Ionic Lift Systems being the main culprit of that. On top of the initial cost, repairing these frames was not cheap either. It quickly being apparent that repairing these frames was nearly as expensive and troublesome as creating a new ones entirely. With the exuberant money that Valhallan had, their attitude towards the end of the Throne’s career was to simply create new Thrones, when it became too troublesome to repair the existing ones.
Difficulty to pilot. All but the bravest or foolish of pilots had a severe learning curve with these frames. Not only was the concept of a frame flying foreign to most soldiers, but adding that extra axis to combat resulted in many normal-frame-pilots being killed in mistakes than normal [plane/jet] pilots could avoid. Even the few soldiers who were used to space combat were thrown off by aerial battles. The 507’s UMFL, the Arcadian Loyalists, even went so far as to pull TEM soldiers from the Firebirds, and persuading (“recruiting” or “conscripting”) local civilian pilots to take over those roles. Although this plan actually ended up working in their favor.

As the unofficial stalemate continued on the ground, for over a year the battle for the skies raged on. However, after a year of bloody dogfights, both companies went back to the drawing board.

Amber Coast, who by this time have just released their replacement to the Rumble Monkey & Chub, the A1 Talon, began to focus their attention towards supporting the Talon and its Streiter System. Amber Coast quickly derived a Ionic-Lift flight pack for the A1, the Kingfisher Pack. Effectively half of a Firebird slapped to a Talon, the Kingfisher pack houses 1 Ionic Lift system (1 less than the Firebird, 3 less than the Throne) but 2 jet turbines, making it slower than the Firebird and Throne, but compared to the decommissioned Seraph Paladin, far and above what the Seraph could offer. The 507 and its allies now had a multi-role frame, one that could fill literally any role needed. The A1 Talon was dependable, easy to pilot, easy to repair, and ultimately far more versatile. After going over all of the combat data, and cost reports, the brass ultimately chose to stop further production of the Firebirds, and focus on the A1 Talon.

But before the Kingfisher Talon could be sent as a replacement to the Firebird, Valhallan Industries released their Hussar I and II models. These frames (I, a drone. II, manned) were a compacting of the Throne frame. Valhallan cut the size of the frame by 40%, making it a smaller target, as well as creating an entirely new and revolutionary transformable, allowing transformation to be a neigh-instant and safe process. The base Hussar II was armed with vulcan guns for both mobile armor and mobile frame mode, but various equipment include a new type of plasma edge, plasma-flamethrowers, and even an assortment of experimental beam weapons. The Hussar II also only houses one Ionic Lift System, but Valhallan has altered it, with a reduction in overall top speed, making this new frame far more maneuverable, survivable, and deadly than its older counterpart.

In dogfights between the Hussar II and Firebird, the Hussar II won each and everytime. There was no instances of the Hussar II and Kingfisher Talon entering into a dogfight together though, as the Solar Alliance Pact was signed by that point.

With the S.A.P. binding both organizations into a make-shift alliance, enforced by the Solar Union (through Empyrean, the company operating the transit gate) these two bitter enemies now work “together” against the Union’s greater enemies to this colony, the Free Colonist movements, and the Ijad Enclave. The End to a near two-year long arms war.

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