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Echo Cluster
The Official VGA Planets Newsletter
Volume 3. / Issue Number 3.
July – Sept 2005


VGA Planets Quarterly Newsletter

Volume No. 3

Issue No. 3

July - September 2005

Editor
Contributors
Ed Robinson

Merlyn
Donovan
][avok
Tim Wisseman


Welcome to the VGA Planets Newsletter! This is the third installment of the 2005 quarterly newsletter. In this edition you will find information on the Circus-Maximus 2005 Scenario Design Contest. You will also find an interview with Red Troll, courtesy of Circus-Maximus! There is also some news about PHOST on the Bulletin Board, and some continuing updates on the VGAP Delphi Tournament! Rounded out with another edition of VGAP Fiction. Hope you enjoy.

Ed Robinson, Editor



Circus-Maximus 2005 Scenario Design Contest

Written by ][avok




Finally! The results are in for the 2005 Scenario Design Contest. I want to thank all of the participants for your submissions. Let’s get right to it.

1st Place goes to Matt Clouser. Matt’s scenario is called “The Klingon Civil War: The Race for Qo'Nos”. One word, Stunning! When I opened this scenario I thought I was looking at a professionally produced package. The attention to detail is incredible. Matt has included literally everything. Custom map, shiplist, starting RST files, and modified Winplan BMP files, and an outstanding story right out of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I think there’s a kitchen sink as well. This is absolutely the best scenario I’ve ever seen for VGAP and definitely raises the bar for scenario production.

2nd Place goes to Grant Woodring. Grant’s innovative scenario is called “VGA Planets Chess”. Grant’s scenario is designed for 2 players and there are 55 possible combinations for a game. Each player starts w/ 16 planets, and there are 64 planets total on the map, just like there’s s 64 squares on a chess board. The winner is the 1st to capture or destroy his opponents flagship.

3rd Place goes to Thomas Klebes. Thomas’s offering is a PHOST scenario called “Balance 2005”. This is an interesting 3x1 and 4x2 single/team game combination on a custom ring/cluster map. Each player has a mission to fulfill. The goals are two fold. The 3 races on the inner cluster must fight one another and capture the others home worlds. The goal of the outer ring races is to hold the balance of power between the 3 single players on the inner ring while the teams on the outer ring accomplish their missions they receive at the beginning of the game.

There are two other scenarios that get honorable mention. “Spiraling Death” by Richard Boggs and “3D World” by Eugene Goroh. Both are excellent offerings that are very simple in design yet bring a lot to the table when played.

Congratulations to the winners, and thanks again to everyone who participated! We’ll see you again next year!

People Behind VGA Planets

Interview with Red Troll!
by ][avok


I had the pleasure this week of meeting up with one half of the former Sharenet Trolls, Red Troll. During the course of our conversation he agreed to a Developer Profile for the site. Red Troll is the author of the famous Auto Troll software that so many of us VGAP webmasters use. In addition to that, the Trolls brought us ‘The Q’ computer player & Troll Mapper a random map generator for VGAP 3.0. This interview was conducted on September 23 rd, 2005.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you have been up to since taking Sharenet.com offline.

Now I live in a small town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. For hobbies, I do woodworking (building chairs, tables, etc..,), and still do programming on the side for fun too. For a job, I work as an Enterprise Architect with J2EE and Java for large businesses.

Jason and I went to Oktoberfest in Germany with some of the proceeds from selling Sharenet.com

What are your favorite computer / board games and how have they affected the development of your projects?


Favorite board game is probably Risk. I used to love that game when it was on BBS's. I never was much into computer games, but computer software I look at anything I can get my hands on. I think it’s natural to take bits and pieces of things from pieces of software and incorporate them somewhere down the road. The cool thing about software and technology is its always changing and people are always coming up with new ideas and ways to do the same old things.

Which race do you prefer to play in VGAP & why?

Generally I like the cloaking races because they can surprise you. By the time you know I’m there, it’s too late and I have too many ships. But it depends on the HConfigs. With the default configs, I like the Lizards. With ES Bonus ON, there are more options…..maybe feds because I think they’ve got the best ships with Engine Shield bonus on at 50%.

Do you have a favorite add-on when playing a game? Something that’s caught your attention and made you think, “I wish I had thought of that!”

That’s an easy one – sphere. Conrad wrote it and it changed the game for the better more then any other add-on in my opinion. No more do you fight just in two directions. The circle master was too predictable to find the HWs. With Sphere, all sides were fair game and you could move out in every direction.

What's your favorite Planets game memory?

Game memory? I don’t know about any particular game that sticks out….. they all kind of blend together.

I guess I remember taking great joy in some of ShareNet’s 5 man team games. We played some real great players and never lost a game. I used to love kicking Conrad Lesnewski, Dave Killingsworth, Richard from Warp Speed BBS and their clan’s ass. After awhile they wouldn’t play us anymore. Two big names in VGAP that played on our team was Mike Arrowood (BANE) and Alex Ivlev. We even played a game with Tim once. I think it’s the playing of the game, and the friends that developed that I remember more then any one particular game, battle or strategy.

What specifically inspired you? What were the biggest influences?

Drinking beer. I was in college and I liked hosting games, but it took a lot of time. I was motivated to write AutoTroll to handle all the time consuming tasks of hosting so I could go drink beer and play pool.

Most of the software I’ve ever written has been to solve specific problems. For example, hosting games I saw players dropping out as a problem and the cplayer wasn’t any good – that inspired The Q.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome due to VGAP's mechanics & limitations while working on your projects?

Understanding Alex and his Russian accent. :-> No, I guess the bandwidth of FidoNet and BBS’s to get enough of a player pool to get 11 GOOD players in a game. The good players would pay the long distance bill and connect. But when we moved to hosting on the internet and BBS in ’96 we got plenty of players. Then I guess it was building a reputation of a site where good players played. You need good players to keep good players.

Were there things that you wished you had added to any of your products? AutoTroll, The Q, or Troll Mapper …etc…?

At the time no, but looking back I suppose things like SMTP authentication in AutoTroll would be nice, but back then there wasn’t such a thing. I’m done doing Delphi and VB programming and am doing just Java nowadays. As an exercise, I might port some of them to Java and add features……

What do you think are your most important accomplishments to VGAP and why?

Probably writing AutoTroll. Hosting is a key piece to playing. A good reliable host makes players enjoy the game more and keeps people involved. The more reliable a host, the more players that play there. The more players, the more competition and challenge, which feeds into the players playing. I think you need to run several games and you can’t do that manually. I also spent a fair amount of time way back in the newsgroups helping people learn VGAP and explaining some strategies – keeping the game fresh with new blood. But AT has lived on long after I left VGAP and hopefully helped keep the game alive for some hosts and indirectly for a lot of players.

In this time of graphically intense PC games, what do you think it is about VGAP that has people still playing a PBEM game that came out in 1991?

Like I said, I was never much into computer games. VGAP relies on strategy, enabling the person with the best strategy to win. Many games I see now aren’t strategy really; they’re learning which room to destroy a monster in, when to duck and fire and things like that. It doesn’t take strategy; it just takes playing the game enough to figure out the formula. But with VGAP you can play for years and still not be any good (like Dave Killingsworth ) – because there is no ‘formula’.

In your opinion, what are the key ingredients that a game of this type should have?

Absolutely - game balance. A good player can win with any of the 11 races. It’s the game balance that allows strategy to dominate the game. It’s because of game balance I was never a big fan of some add-ons or alternate host programs because they all skewed the game balance too much. Tim created a great game, but the genius (or luck?) was in the balance.

How has the internet affected the expansion of your programs internationally?

We had people calling long distance on their modems from 6 or 7 countries to play against good players or exchange messages in the BBS days. All that and I think we ran maybe 10 games at once. When we moved to the internet we ran over 100 games and people could connect for free from around the world.

Can you tell us, in layman's terms, what you did to improve the AI for The Q as compared to the original Computer player?

The primary goal of a cplayer, IMO, is to replace a human player with a challenging AI player. If you replace a human player with a simpleton AI player, then you still have the problem of when players drop out they become easy kill for their neighbors and a drop out can ruin the game balance. A cplayer HAS to be challenging or it defeats the purpose and can ruin a game when even one player drops out.

We had to make a choice. We thought of generating TRNs, but we had problems with Fuel and gathering information about enemies. Eventually we decided having a competitive cplayer that runs on the host side was the only way to make it competitive. So we limited the cheats to the fuel and its ability to “see” planets and ships. This omniscience is what led to the name “The Q” from Star Trek.

The Q uses freighters to build SBs on the best planets, has an algorithm to decide to build ships vs freighters depending on resources and proximity and “threat level” of neighbors, protecting shipping lanes, not using waypoints – all the things a good player does. It even builds ships based on who its neighbors are (e.g., Loki if a cloaking neighbor). The original cplayer would create minerals out of thin air and didn’t protect key resources and didn’t build good ships. It wasn’t a challenge except for the most basic of players. The Q was meant to be a very smart player, protecting its economy and attacking anything around it that was weaker (in aggressive mode), or building a strong defense (in defensive mode) to prevent foreign attacks.

I’ve seen TRN based cplayers and they’re not challenging and are easy kill when players drop out. The Q is a hard player to beat, and you’re better off in most cases fighting in the other direction against a human. But even then, as Q’s economy expands it will increase its “territory” and that’ll eventually be in your space, and Q will see what was your planet its planet and what was your ships protecting your planets, enemy ships attacking its planets. Depending on its other neighbors, it will send everything it has at you to get you out of its space. Again, just like a real player.

What would your ideal computer game be like if you could have anything you wanted given the limitations of today's technology?

I like the PBEM style so you can play things at your own pace. Something multi-player, something with strategy over graphics and with skill over tricks and complexity. In a lot of ways, a game like VGAP.

What’s the status of your product development and do you intend to continue to develop them or new utilities for Planets v4.0 in the future?

I’ve been out of VGAP for years now and I’m not sure what needs there are. Like I said, I’m not a real creative guy, I write software to solve problems I see. Being out of VGAP it’s hard for me to have a sense of what would be useful on a scale that matches the effort. I’m not interested in hosting anymore and I’m not interested in writing stuff people have no use for. If I hear of something useful, I’d be happy to do more in VGAP.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Probably like I started – drinking beer and playing pool. And if required, writing some software to free up more time to allow me to drink beer and play pool.

Any last words to the Planets fan base?

Don’t always play the same race – live a little - play the crystals, privateers and birdmen every once in awhile. Also introduce VGAP to some friends.




Quarterly Help

brought to you by Donovan!
Climate and Population

Population limits

Natives
Although a native population will not grow larger than it's growth limit, Native populations can have a size greater than this growth limit would suggest. The growth limit is not more than that: the number above which there will be no more growth. Native "overpopulations" won't die or eat supplies because of climate restrictions.

The growth limit for most native populations: Growth limit = SIN(3.14 * ( (100-temperature) / 100)) * 150000
Silliconoid natives have a more linear limit: Growth limit = temperature * 1000

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Colonists
When it comes to colonist populations, there are two options. On hot and cold planets -with temperatures above 84 or below 15 degrees- the maximum number of colonists is determined by several mechanisms and rules. On all other planets, there is just a plain formula to calculate the maximum population.

"Normal" planets
For planets where the temperature does not prevent growth, the maximum population for all colonists except the Crystals works rather simply:

Maximum population = SIN(3.14 * ( (100 - temperature) / 100) ) * 100000.

Crystalline colonists follow a different formula when the "Crystal desert advantage" is set to YES. Quite simply, with that setting Crystals can support 1000 clans (100,000 colonists) per degree:
Maximum population = 1000 * temperature.

Any colonists exceeding the maximum population will die, without any message or distress call to tell you.

Hot and cold planets: the Climate Death Rate
For planets hotter than 84 or colder than 15, special rules apply to the maximum population and which part of the overpopulations will die. The Climate Death Rate (CDR) is used to calculate which portion of the present clans will be labeled 'overpopulation'.

The absolute maximum amount of clans a desert or arctic planet can support (if 'overpopulation eats supplies' is not enabled), can be calculated using these formulas:

Arctic: Abs.maxpop = TRUNC [ (299,9 + 200 * temp) / CDR]
Desert: Abs.maxpop = TRUNC [ (20099,9-200 * temp) / CDR]
Exceptions to these formulas:

Rebels can have up to 90,000 clans (9 million colonists) on any planet with a temperature of 19 degrees or less.
Fascists, Robots, Rebels and The Colonies of Man can support a small outpost of 60 clans (6,000 colonists) on planets with temperatures higher than 80 degrees. The online documents and the Winplan helpfile are incomplete at this point, as only the Fascists and Robots are documented to have this advantage.
Crystalline colonists follow a completely different formula when "Crystal desert advantage" is set to YES.
Quite simply, with that setting Crystals can support 1000 clans (100,000 colonists) per degree:
Abs.maxpop = 1000 * temperature.
This indeed means the Crystals can not have any clans on planets where the temperature is 0 (zero).
A hot or cold planet can have more colonists on it than would be allowed by these formulas, but as long as the population is greater than this maximum, each turn a part of the population will die. This continues until the population has decreased to the absolute maximum that is allowed based on the planet's temperature.

Each turn as long as the population is greater than the maximum population, the 'overpopulation' in that turn either dies or eats supplies to survive.

<<< Distress Call >>>
FROM: Fornacis 17
Planet ID# : 17
The climate is killing us!
The temp is 85 C
6 clans have died!
359 clans have survived.

(The mechanism to calculate how many clans die -or rather survive- each turn is on the details page.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Overpopulation eats supplies
If a planet's colonist population exceeds the maximum population and the Hconfig option "overpopulations eat supplies" is set to Yes, a number of colonists greater than this maximum can stay alive by eating supplies available on the planet.

Cutting a rather long and complicated story short: effectively, every forty supply units present on the planet can sustain 100/CDR clans. At the default CDR of 10%, forty supply-units can thus sustain 10 clans above the 'absolute maximum population'. To sustain a population of 800 clans above the absolute maximum population you'd need 40*800/(100/10) = 40*80 = 3200 supply-units present on the planet to survive. Oddly, these 800 clans would only really "eat" three supply-units to survive.

(The mechanics and formulas used to calculate how many can survive per turn are explained on the details page.)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Overpopulation dies
Each turn, host calculates the "current maximum population", either through the regular formula or via the overpopulation eats supplies formulas, depending on the hostconfiguration. The planet's population is then checked against this number. If at this point the planet is found to be overpopulated (number of colonist clans is greater than this current value for the maximum population) the entire overpopulation dies.

Though this might seem to contradict popular belief that only a percentage (related to the Climate Death Rate) dies, it does not. Rather than regarding the CDR in the amount of dying overpopulation, the CDR is used to re-establish the current maximum population (based on the current number of clans) each turn until a stable situation is reached.

The preceeding section is but a small portion of Donovan's Help Section. To visit Donovan's Site, go to http://www.xs4all.nl/~donovan

BULLETIN BOARD



PHost 4.0j is now a big step closer to the planned PHost 4 feature set: it has Ion Storms. Actually, there's not much left to add yet, so we head for the 4.1 feature freeze :)

There will definitely be a 4.0k which will add all the small oddities that accumulated in my inbox.

There were many error corrections, so we recommend everyone to update.

>>> ION STORMS

{4.x only} The original PHost position regarding ion storms was to implement them as an add-on. However, their interaction with mine scanning and combat does not actually make that easy.

Ion storms are a natural phenomenon that affects ships. This makes them a nice counterpart to meteorites, the natural phenomenon affecting planets. This justifies their inclusion in the PHost core.

PHost's ion storms are largely modelled after HOST's. However, I allowed myself to fix a handful of goofs. And, of course, because of PHost's completely different experience system, ion storms cannot be 100% identical. Practically, however, you can re-use your existing ion storm prediction tools.

In a nutshell:

- ion storms move through space at random paths.

- ion storms grow, which makes them stronger (more volts) but smaller. Later, they weaken and finally disappear.

- ion storms de-cloak ships. Strong ion storms drag and damage ships.

- ion storms prevent you from scanning minefields whose center they cover.

Ion storms are large enough that every player sees all active storms all the time. They are reported as messages, utilX.dat entries, and through the Winplan RST format.

This feature wants to be understood as a prototype. If you use it, I'd like to hear your comments! The rules are not set in stone, and if you give me a good reason, I will gladly change them.

>>> HULL FUNCTIONS

Three latecomers in 4.x:

- "Commander" ships can provide aid in combat. They give a temporary +1 experience bonus to all other ships at the same place. This also makes it possible to implement a "Heroes" add-on :) Quirin Herman had the idea.

- Ships with "IonShield" are immune to nasty ion storm effects (drag, damage).

- A new cloaking device, "HardenedCloak", does not fail when the ship is damaged.

>>> TOWING

{4.x and 3.x} The towing rules were changed slightly. First, in case a ship tries to tow an identical one, experience now plays a role: the more experienced ship will win the tow conflict. If your L1 MBR tries to tow an enemy's L4 MBR, the tow breaks. In case experience level is identical, the towee also wins, and the tow breaks. That is, to successfully tow a hostile ship, you must be strictly stronger. Previously, in case of a tie, the tower would have won and the tow succeeded.

In addition, the definition of the "Level2Tow" special function changed. In Alternative Towing, it is no longer an absolute win. Ships with Level2Tow get additional two engines for computation of tow strength or resistance. We feel that this definition fits better into the new system of experience-dependant ship functions.

>>> RULE REFINEMENTS

- CPEnableGive now affects the 'gsX' friendly code as well. I see no reason to carry this anachronism around for the future. {4.x}

- Ships can now only break free from a tow when they have at least one ly of movement left. In particular, this means that ships with Warp 1 never can break free. This avoids a number of goofs. {4.x and 3.x}

- Ships now need to de-cloak immediately when they reach the DamageLevelForCloakFail in combat. Previously, they would re-cloak and thus escape from combat. {4.x}

- Ships now must de-cloak immediately when they change ownership. This is the natural consequence of their mission being reset. They were already decloaking if any add-on was used. {4.x and 3.x}

- CloakFailureRate was arrayized. {4.x and 3.x}

>>> FIXES & CHANGES

- The new commands "unload", "transfer" and "refit" did not work if add-ons were used between turn processing and execution of the command (e.g., auxhost1 addons). Found by Georg Strünkmann. {4.x}

- PHost was refusing to read torpspec files written by Plangineer. Actually, Plangineer is in error here by making the files too large, but making PHost less picky took me just a nanosecond. {4.x and 3.x}

- When the highest-Id ship was recycled, PHost would leave one ship slot empty for this turn even if the build queue was full. {4.x and 3.x}

- Ships damaged above DamageLevelForHyperjumpFail could not use supply repair / starbase repair to be able to jump anyway. Found by Sascha Rambeaud. {4.x and 3.x}

- A ship having both Glory Devices would have done high damage. It now does low damage, to reflect the fact that the low damage version is the 'Advanced' device here. {4.x and 3.x}

- Auxhost1 add-ons could crash PHost by giving ship build orders without building the necessary parts. Ed Robinson observed this with the Q. {4.x and 3.x}

- There is a new command, "password", which you can use to change your RST password. The main reason for this command is to allow hosts to reset a player password (via the auxcmds.txt interface) to avoid the need for crack.exe. {4.x and 3.x}

- The restriction that friendly codes consist of only printable characters is now enforced. Printable means 32 to 126. {4.x and 3.x}

You can download the new versions from the usual places:
http://phost.de/phost40j/
http://phost.de/phost34l/

Stefan


-----------------------------------------------------------




Delphi Tournament News!

The Delphi Tournament is a continuing series of games designed to find the best VGA Planets player! The Tournament is entering the third phase with the ending of the first series of Beta Level Games! That means the field of players is becoming more narrow, and hopefully we will find out who the best player is by the end of 2006! If anyone is interested in playing in the tournament, go over to the home of the tournament, Battlestar Command Bridge and sign up for an Alpha Level game!

Planet's Fiction


The Echo Saga: Chapter 5: A Dish Best Served Cold

Vice-Admiral Rhonda Pressmen read the report that lay on her desk. The Solar Federation ship USS Spencer SFID# 122 had been robbed last month. Intel reports said 62 Solar Federation personnel had defected to the Pirates after being boarded. Eight had been killed during the boarding and a survey team had been massacred on the planet.

Among the dead aboard the ship was Rhonda's nephew; Allan Harris Dreves, Astrophysics Mate 2nd class. She seethed with anger both at her self for placing her nephew aboard that ship and at the damned pirates who took his life. Her brother had died shortly before his son's birth. Allan's mother died during that birth. She had cared for the boy since the day he had been born and now he had been taken from her. Her own husband had been killed on the planet below. An accident during the construction of a housing dome. Now Rhonda was the last of her family line. She would make those responsible for her nephews death pay.

A chime on her desk brought her out of her grief. Placing the caller on audio only and composing her self she said. "Admiral Pressmen."

"Admiral, this is Commander Chu, Ma'am we have Admiral Tarhall on line two from sector command." Her adjunct said.

"Put him threw." Her superior only called when it couldn't be helped. She checked her self one more time in the hand mirror. "Admiral Tarhall what a pleasure. How can I help you today?"

"Cut the crap Pressmen." The dour aged man said. He was short, graying where he wasn't bald and his skin looked paper thin. Rhonda knew that he was well into his 120's and showed no signs of stopping much to his subordinates chagrin. "I am called because you have Task Force 11 parked out side your Star Base. I want you to take command and move it into the unclaimed zone. The President is howling for blood after those little doodle heads saw fit to take our property. You know how the old man gets, especially since he is up for re election."

The President of the Federation served for 10 years and then had to be run for office again. There were no term limits but no president had served more than three terms. The current president was up for his fourth. "You name popped to the top of the list, I know that my condolences wouldn't mean much but, well I thought you would like this mission."

"It has nothing to do with me having the most combat experience in the system next to your self Sir?" Rhonda Pressmen was not known to let any one take an inch.

"Don't push your luck." Tarhall said as he leaned forward slightly. Rhonda knew this was Tarhall's way to let her know he felt for her loss.

"Thank you Sir. I shall make the Fleet proud."

"Good. I am transmitting your orders now. I want you to take command of the USS Queen Helene. Commodore Cortez will transfer off of her and take command of the Starbase. He needs some shore time anyway. Man can't tell his ass from the main exhaust port on a Medium deep space freighter." Looking up at Pressmen Tarhall realized he had been thinking out loud. "That will be all Vice Admiral."

The screen went blank before Rhonda could respond. Leaning back in her office chair she let a wicked grin spread across her face. She would take Taskforce 11 and she would make those SOB's in the Pirate bands pay. They would pay and pay with interest.

She spent the rest of the day reviewing the strength of Task Force 11. 7 warships and 3 support vessels made up the task force; 1 Kittyhawk-Class Carrier, 1 Missouri-Class Battleships,1 Loki-Class Destroyer, 1 Banshee-Class Destroyer, 2 Nebula-Class Cruisers, and 1 Arkham-Class Frigate. The support vessels were all large deep space freighters. Two were solely dedicated to carrying replacement supplies and fuel. The third carried the 101st regiment of the Solar Federation Marine Corps, all 1,200 of them. Reviewing the list of refits that the fleet had recently undergone Rhonda found that the USS Wayne, the Arkham-Class Frigate, was currently in dry dock undergoing a refit. The rest of the fleet had all been refitted recently with the best the starbase had to offer. Most carried Transwarp drives with the exception of the SS Ranner Row and the SS Lady of Grace, both supply and refuel support ships. Thankfully the USS Sea of Sabana IV, the Marine transport had been refitted recently. She would keep up with the main task force and Rhonda came to a decision on the rest. The Wayne would stay behind and escort the Lady of Grace and Ranner Row while the main task force departed. Hopefully their fuel and supplies wouldn't be needed until they caught up with the fleet. Task Force 11 would be bane to the Pirate, Rhonda would see to that.

She then brought up the crew files on command eligible officers on station and the current commanders and Execs of Task Force 11. She scanned threw personnel files to see who had the experience she needed and who would be do. The plan of battle she was forming would rely on the commanders of her ships. The two Nebula-Class ships were commanded by officers who Rhonda thoroughly despised having found them to be more competent as ass kissers than leaders. Thankfully she had two Lt. Commanders who needed some chair time. The battleship was staffed by an officer who while competent would have to be replaced so her current adjunct could see the elephant. Chu had gone from one posting to another always serving as an Executive officer or Adjunct. Now it was his time to take the chair.

"Commander Chu?" She queried into her desk.

"Yes Admiral?"

"I presume you have read the orders that the Admiral has seen fit to give us?"

"Of course not Ma'am." Akina Chu responded flatly.

"Let us assume than that you have." A smile crossing both their faces. "I want you to take command of the USS Province of Orndell."

"Ma'am I am grateful but I have never held such a high command, do you think it wise?"

"You have never held a command Commander." Rhonda's anger was rising. Couldn't the fool see she was giving his career the fuel it would need to carry him into the admiralty? No obviously not. "Commander Chu I want a man I can trust to be aboard that ship, you need some time in the chair. I am killing two birds with one stone. "I want Commander Karls from Communications to be assigned as my Executive Officer on the Queen Helene. You of course may pick your XO, I would suggest Lieutenant Robinson, he started in the fighter wings."

"A Flyboy Ma'am?"

"No, a Mustang. He has proven him self time and again to me. He may seem a bit grizzled and rough around the edges but he will fill you in as best as any other officer I can think of. Rely on your chiefs and you will do fine Commander."

"Aye Ma'am." Chu had the biggest grin the Admiral had ever seen him wear. "Will there be anything else Ma'am?"

"Also Lt. Commander Kingston and Lt. Commander Chilton need to be assigned to Nebulas of Task Force 11."

"By your order Ma'am it shall be done." Chu said.

"Dismissed." The screen went blank and Rhonda sat back in her chair. The coming battle would be a hard fought one but Rhonda was sure she would win it.

The next two weeks were a flurry of activity. The transfer of commands from the carrier Queen Helene to Starbase Planet Gordan and vice versa. Rhonda had the Task force underway before the month was out. Fully stocked on torpedoes, fuel and crew the ships made way into the Unclaimed territories.
 
 
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