by Max Barry

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Region: The Hole To Hide In

Imperial Nalvetland wrote:TF.164 in the Gulf of Koncoss:
|Squadron Leader Owain Williams sense an air of boredom and discontent aboard "Heron 3-2". Staring aimlessly out of the Aircraft Commander's bulged window at the expanse of blue, he could feel it beginning to infect him. Here they were on the west coast, pottering around a carrier group half a continent away from the action; the Nimrod crews of No.6 Wing had been shafted again. They were just coming on station to the far South and East of the carrier, and were beginning to receive the data feeds from the nearby sonobuoy fields, which they would likely need to replenish over the coming hours. The newest Telex report that had screeched out of the printer did bring some interesting news - that Icewindia had now entered the war - though chances were, it wouldn't affect them.

"Boss, I have POSSUB, bearing 267 from the SE Field." A northern accent muttered over the intercom from one of the sonar consoles.

Owain acknowledged - POSsible SUBmarine contacts were fairly common, most of the time they turned out to be whales, acoustic anomalies, shoals of fish, etc, so even this was less than exciting. However, this changed when a further 3 were identified, and when the classification of "Probable Sub" was announced, pulses began to increase all round.

"Can you identify, boyo?" He pressed, leaning over the shoulder of the senior systems operator, staring at the sonar display.

"Nothing in the library that matches, but they're subs, big, really loud, conventional powerplant, lots of flow noise, what do you reckon?" The Flight Lieutenant asked, not lifting his eyes from the waterfall display.

Owain's mind was racing now, and those attributes quickly combined to create a terrifying conclusion: Four Guided Missile Submarines within striking range of the carrier group. Pushing the mental images of a burning HMS Colossus to the back of his mind, he scrambled back to his position without uttering a word. Plotting the position of the four subs on his chart, he began manically scribbling bearings and coordinates down on notepaper before keying the push-to-talk key on his headset.

"Colossus, Colossus, this is Heron 3-2, we have 4 probable S-S-G South-East, co-ords to follow."

Appreciating the danger this poses, Task Force 164 swing into action. The Type 82 Cruiser, HMS Bellerophon accelerates away from the group dragging 3 Leander Class ASW Frigates and 2 Type 22 Broadsword Class Frigates south towards the four submarines, followed by an additional 6 Sea King HAS.5 helicopters. Heron 3-2 presses towards the submarines at low level, dropping strings of passive sonobouys to aid in tracking the force, and swings round, arming its Mk.11 Depth Charges and Stingray Torpedoes and awaits permission to engage. They couldn't be absolutely certain they were hostile, but at this stage, with now two hostile powers (including the foremost naval power), the risk of letting them loose off their missiles at the carrier was the far greater one.|

TF.217 off Tatoon:
|Cameras rolling the Harrier GR.5s streak over the island, colleting high-resolution regular and IR imagery of Tatoon island at medium level, while just a mile offshore, the two teams of 8 SBS Operators exit the the Dry Deck Shelters perched on the spine of the submerged, silent Upholder Class submarines, and steadily swim through the blue ocean haze, making for their infiltration points designated ashore, as the Upholders quietly sulk back further out to sea. Once on the beach (or more accurately; the crops of beachrock, which provide better concealment), the SBS teams carefully set out across the countryside, carefully picking their way along hedgerows, placing stealth and caution far above speed as the progress towards the main towns on the island. Their mission was to provide recce and overwatch for the first stage of the landings. The assault force of that first stage was No.54 and No.57 Commandos (battalions) of the Royal Marines. Embarked on the Light Carrier Indefatigable, they make a final full check of the battalion equipment, from body armour to the 81mm mortars, run through final briefings and begin boarding the Sea King HC.4 transport helicopters lined on the deck of the carrier, and await the green light.

The Nimrod MRA.4 patrol aircraft circling the force (as previously described) detect the two carriers and 3 destroyers of the surface-raiding force via electronic surveillance and radar search. While not the decisive battle the force was seeking, it was reasoned that attriting the enemy navy and denying two valuable assets, would be well worth it. The effect was a flurry of activity aboard the carriers HMS Centaur, Implacable and Inflexible; Sea Harriers are marshalled from hangars onto flight decks, fuelled, and readied. Thundering down the deck and flung into the air off the carriers' ski-jumps, the first of 28 Sea Harrier FA.2s climb to 2,000ft and sweep north above the waves in a series of wedge formations, each "Shar" lugging a pair of Sea Eagle anti-ship missiles under their wings.|

2nd Army Presses Forward:
|Initially there was some confusion among the formation reconnaissance regiments; when everything told them they should be bumping into the enemy - there was absolutely nothing, which was quite a disconcerting thing when you were wandering around a foreign land with little support in a tin can like a Scimitar light tank. However, the new signals intelligence from the RC-135s painted a very clear picture. The massive increase in radio traffic necessary to make such a large withdrawal allowed the Anglorussian Intelligence Assets to give 2nd Army Headquarters a fairly clear picture of what was happening. While letting them retreat would allow the Anglorussian army to take a lot of ground, it made little sense to not at least try and disrupt the effort - no sense in playing into whatever the enemy were planning.

The Corps Artillery Groups' M270s loose off a total of 96 ATACMS Tactical Ballistic Missiles ahead of the retreating Wolfinite Army, targeting bridges with conventional HE warheads to slow and halt the enemy retreat. Simultaneously, another 96 ATACMS (each carrying with 950 grenade-sized Anti-Personnel/Anti-Material Submunitions), are fired suspected chokepoints. These are calculated from the Signals Intelligence, plotting where the most amount of transmissions are, compared with likely chokepoints on openly available roadmaps and known intelligence, etc. To add an air aspect, 72 Tornado GR.1s are launched from the South East of England, with a further 24 Tornado F.3s for top cover and a pair of Sentinel R.1s to remain over friendly airspace to track the movement of enemy ground forces in more detail.

The action taken by the rest of Second Army was far more straightforward: Advance. While the Formation Recce Regiments keep galivanting forward, the hundreds of Challenger tanks, Warrior IFVs and support vehicles of I and III Corps emerge from their prepared positions and onto the main roads, pushing East. Snaking down the main roads and highways, 2nd Army expects to make at least 50km a day - the idea being plain, simple, shock and awe. Meanwhile the two Air-Mobile Brigades are readied for deployment in assembly areas near the front, waiting to be helicoptered in to suppress any resistance either in the newly taken territories or clear chokepoints ahead of the advance like (towns, large defendable forests, etc) assessed to be likely to cause trouble.|

RP: Moving back

With Nalvetland's increasingly rapid movements and the launching of 190 missiles, the Anti-Missile Defense System (part of the Wolfinite Missile Program) is activated as anti-missile missile systems go into actions, though due to the jamming still trying to be fixed, the
accuracy and timing is late and off but still fires off, success rate is between 15% to 30% if optimistic. Missiles that are not intercepted and hit Wolfinite Targets report damage on severe magnitudes but not cataclysmic. The decision is made for a new strategy, the 130,000 and several tanks, artillery, and other military assets are ordered to retreat Eastward toward the Eastern Ridge on the coastline of the Far West Peninsula, they destroy bridges, block roads, Aslanian Militias begin doing controlled burns in the Savanah Grasslands as they retreated to slow down the advances and to stretch the enemy's supply lines as much as possible. Any troops caught behind enemy lines are to stay close together and continue fighting at all costs in Guerilla Warfare. Fortifications and defensive structures are built on the Eastern Ridge Mountains and Foothills to house and protect the troops to defend the area, this would also shorten supply lines for the Republic. Meanwhile, in the Northern Archipelago, the Royal Navy, the entirety of the navy begins preparing to move South. Aircraft production is ramped up to make up the lost craft at the beginning of the war, though it'll take at least 2-3 years to fully recover. The Navy is given instructions to link up with the Icewindians to move Southward. The remaining Royal Army will begin setting up defensive measures and rigging bridges throughout the Archipelago to detonate on command of the Queen. AA-Guns are set up in all major cities, towns, airports, industrial centers, and military installations. The Aslanian Army in the South will help the
Icewindian army in the area to the South to the frontlines where they're trying their best to hold on. For now, its a wait and see if something happens...the Republic has made a move, but will it save them? Time will tell.

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