"A Grey Day"
"The choice is yours, Soldier,
when the day draws nigh –
bright day to live,
grey day to die."
- Alien Legion Graphic Novel
Stargrunt II Ó company-sized operation
Author/GMs: Thomas Barclay (Tomin8tor) and Carlos Lourenco (Los)
A Grey Day is a company-sized operation for the FMA series infantry combat game Stargrunt II Ó from Ground Zero Games Ò . Nothing contained herein including but not limited to scenario background or content, additional rules or modifications to existing rules or any other content within this document should be taken as official, sanctioned, or as in any way representing a challenge to the copyrights or trademarks held by Ground Zero GamesÒ as they relate to Stargrunt IIÓ or the upcoming FMA Skirmish rules. The content herein is simply intended to create an enjoyable multi-person convention event which is loosely based off of the FMA system’s games and which hopefully presents something enjoyable to the participants. Any usage of Stargrunt II, SG2, FMA, FMA Skirmish, or any other copyrighted works or trademarked names should be taken to include the appropriate acknowledgement whereas including the appropriate marks at every usage would be very cumbersome.
Based on the SG2 rules, this module is designed with the intention of providing an interesting convention going gaming experience for afficionados of Stargrunt II and infantry combat in general. It is further designed to operate on a larger scale than is common, utilizing a much larger board and units as well as special rules to simulate the actual experiences of larger scale (company-sized) infantry actions.
The Scenario represents a last ditch defence by a group of desperate humans against a new and unknown alien presence. The aliens are out on a ‘sampling raid’ and the humans just happen to be in a very very bad place. The scenario pits a human multi-national company (a European Rapid Reaction force) against an alien force. The battle occurs on a far world with little or no strategic importance otherwise.
Special thanks to Jon Davis for helping us get the table setup we need to make this monster of a scenario work (it will be stretched across 6-7 tables across a maximum width of 8’ and a length of 19.5’). And special thanks to Ndege Diamond (the Wireframe Master!) for his wonderful rendered images you’ll see in this document. Fabulous! Thanks guys!
KRS Prochnow in orbit over LTT 3902
The small force hung in orbit around LTT 3902 like silent watchers in the night. Not much of a fleet. An aging destroyer, two frigates, a transcon ship, and a provisioner. Herr Kapitän Johan Strieb surveyed the small cluster from the bridge of his Walburg class destroyer Prochnow. He smiled a bittersweet smile as his eyes roved across his little brood – the Prochnow, the KRS Ehrenhold class frigate Esterhazy, the VFE Ibiza class frigate Oporto, the KRS Köln class transport and control ship Aspern-Esserling, and the VFE Patard class light provisioner Pinot. They weren’t much of a fighting force, but more than adequate for this escort duty. In reality, it wouldn’t be so bad if it was not entirely uninteresting to be orbiting a planet out in the middle of nowhere which was of no importance to anyone, all the while waiting for Combined Rapid Reaction Force Zussamenarbeit to finish playing games downwell. Readiness excercises! Co-operation drills! Groundsloggers playing in the mud trying to impress the Brass was more like it! And I really, really detest Capitane D’Auberville and that doesn’t make it easier with her being second in command of this operation. Some women are great leaders, some great soldiers. And then there is Chantal D’Auberville. She is neither but thinks she is both. She sets everyone she meets on edge with her rapier sharp tongue and caustic wit including her own crew. They perform, but they’ll never give her inspired performance – the 110% that a good officer can get from a crew inspired to give her all they have and more. But she must be suffered – orders are orders. They always have been, and always will be.
The next day, Herr Kapitän Strieb ordered the Oporto to conduct sweep operations further out from LTT 3902 ostensibly for security reasons. Most of the senior officer’s of the fleet knew the real reason – to separate Herr Kapitän from Capitaine D’Auberville insofar as that was possible. The message was not lost on the fuming D’Auberville. She complied with her orders, but her black mood permeated the Oporto’s bridge and everyone in her crew knew that any mistakes on this sweep would draw a rather painful response.
At 0345G, alarm klaxons went off aboard the frigate Oporto. On her short-range patrol of the system, the Oporto was the closest ship to the Jump Frontier of the system. Thus her combat systems, excellent quality for a ship of her class, were the first to pick up the unknown contacts. Her tactical officer indicated they had detected multiple contacts on multiple vectors – it appeared to be four contacts all set to intersect courses at LTT 3902 in a three-dimensional englobement – or part of one. The frigate’s sensors could not see the other parts of the trap.
Of the contacts, one was massive – 100+ on the Standard Mass Rating scale. That marked it as a heavy Battle Cruiser or a Battleship class. The other three were respectively probably a Heavy Cruiser and two Destroyer class vessels. Jane’s Fighting Ships couldn’t correlate the signatures (mind you, they it was the 2180 edition...) with any established hulls but the expert TacInt system aboard the frigate estimated an 80% probability the contacts were extra-terrestrial in nature. And apparently they were hostile – they had arrived in a three-dimensional englobement closing at 10 kps with apparent signature masking. The Frigate’s sensor suite had obviously had trouble even picking them up because they had not been detected until they reached about 40,000 km from the Frigate, well within the usual detection perimeter.
Capitane D’auberville may have been an acerbic shrew with poor people handling skills, but she was a fully trained ship commander and knew her responsibilities. She ordered the helm to lay in a course to the planet to match vector with the rest of the small human fleet. She ordered communications to transmit to the newly arrived bogeys a standard human greeting on all standard channels. Since the ship had gone to GQ automatically upon detecting the potential hostile force within her security perimeter, there was no need to order combat systems or electronics online. EW was already hot and ready to go active instantly and guns were warmed up and developing a passive firing solution even as the ship turned away from the enemy. Capitane D’auberville ordered a coded transmission to the fleet:
VFE Oporto on System Sweep
VFE Oporto to Task Force. Multiple hostile contacts detected executing three dimensional englobement centered on planet. Contacts unidentified, 80 percent probability of XT. SMR ratings of 105, 65, and 2 by 30. Based on formation of detected enemy, expect additional 15 to 20 ships in englobement manoevre. Contacts have stealth systems – reduced detection radius of 40,000 km. Oporto has put about and is moving to join Task Force. Enemy detected at range of 100,000 km from planet, closing at 10 kps. Zero-range intercept with planet given no change at 2 hrs. 46 min. est. If contacts declerate with performance envelope s imilar to equivalent size class, expect Zero-velocity intercept with planet at approximately 3 hrs. 21 min. est. Estimate VFE Oporto arrival at Task Force approx. 2 hours if not destroyed. Current calculation (assuming enemy contacts maintain course and speed) indicates closest point of approach of enemy force to this vessel in approximately 1 hour with a range of 16,000 km. As this is well inside weapons envelope of comparable SMR vessels of known configuration, TacInt AI estimates high probability of hostile engagement in period from current plus 40 (range approx 18,000 km) to current plus 60 (point of closest approach). Vive la EFE!
The reply from Task Group CO Kapitän Strieb surprised Capitaine D’auberville. It came within three minutes (aided by the sub light-second lag between the two ships). It read:
Task Force Command to VFE Oporto. Based on your telemetry and our estimate of hostile forces, it is apparent we can not engage them successfully. Furthermore, NSL and EFE R.O.E. prohibit hostile action in first-contact situations. Although it is possible that enemy englobement is hostile, it is also possible that it is merely precautionary in nature. Standing orders demand we do not presume hostility, nor do we initiate such hostility. Officially, we must maintain peaceful appearances and we must attempt to communicate and negotiate with the unknown beings that have entered this system. However, as Task Force Commander, I must also not put my charges in extremis without due cause. I take that to mean that there is no purpose for endangering vessels other than my own, and furthermore it seems evident that we should inform higher HQ at the soonest opportunity.
Therefore, pursuant to my various responsibilities, I have issued the following orders:
VFE Oporto under Captain D’auberville is NOT to attempt Zero-velocity-relative intercept with this Task Force. Continue on present course, but modify plot to produce high-speed slingshot pass around LTT 3902 rather than intercepting the Task Group. VFE Oporto will then collect any additional sensor data from Task Force Zummassenarbeit and make for the Jump Frontier of the system with all speed. Do NOT under any circumstances engage the enemy – evade, escape, and jump outsystem. Destination: EFE Naval Base Jean-Baptiste and EFE Sector Command. Provide them with any sensor data and any additional information required.
KRS Esterhazy under Kommander Schwartzenegger to begin building velocity for similar escape maneuver on alternate path. Destination: NSL Fleet Base 117 and NSL Sector Command. Orders to provide NSL Sector Command with similar information to that being sent to EFE Sector Command.
KRS Prochnow to remain to protect transcon and provider shipping which cannot otherwise escape the system before the unknown vessels reach expected weapons range, and to initiate first contact protocols in the hopes of establishing communications and peaceful basis for interaction.
NO VESSEL in Task Force Zummassenarbeit to go active with any electronic warfare, fire control scanner, decoy, beam, missile, torpedo, or any other combat system which may appear hostile to the new and unknown contacts. This applies even if on-board threat warning sensors activate due to active enemy scans. Their scanners may use different technologies and may in fact not represent any hostile intent towards the Task Force and no miscues can be permitted to occur. ONLY if actually fired upon first may any Task Force vessel go active, and even then the primary objective should be defensive.
Downwell Rapid Reaction Force Zummassenarbeit officers have been informed of the situation by Senior Command Staff aboard the Aspern-Esserling. Force HQ is being moved to the most secure location that can be found and occupied within the next two hours. Company manoeuvres are cancelled pending the outcome of the first contact. Orders issued to downwell HQ from Aspern-Esserling are to take up position and otherwise do nothing. In the event of trouble, hold until relieved by forces from EFE Sector Command or NSL Sector Command.
Minutes ticked away. The enemy formation closed with the VFE Oporto and then watched it accelerate away. When the French frigate arrived at the planet, it altered course to loop the planet at approximately 8 kps. The Austrian-crewed NSL frigate Esterhazy had accelerated into a similar loop at a similar speed. Telemetry was being jointly shared across the task force data net. Apparently the contacts did intend a Zero-velocity intercept with the planet... and there were a lot of them. Tactical systems of the main Task Group had picked them up at 0559G at 40,000 km. The englobement was well coordinated, and it included two contacts of Battle Cruiser mass, four of Heavy Cruiser mass, 8 of Destroyer mass, and 8 of Frigate mass (if SMR estimates meant anything) and another three vessels of unknown class (SMR 60). Their combined standard mass was nearly 1000.... in contrast with 220 for the human Task Force (80% of which was non-combatant mass). The intruders were strangely shaped, and their design suggested powerful beams, or missile launchers and a reasonable thrust.
Kapitän Strieb thought many dark thoughts. This is not where I would have chosen to be. I am not a xenologist, and something inside me is making the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and my pulse quicken. I have a bad feeling the lines of these ships are predatory in form. They just don’t scream out "we’re peace loving". He smiled to himself. Of course, that could just be an old sailor’s paranoia. In any case, I must do as orders demand.
Kapitän Strieb ordered his communications section to hail the unknown contacts again as they crossed 30,000 km range from the Prochnow. No response was returned. Strieb suggested trying all the frequency bands, and using standard symbolic messages, as well as a full spectrum of recorded language greetings and math symbols – the experts would have one believe that math was the universal language. This theory was about to be put to the test.
At 18,000 kms, Kapitän Strieb ordered his TacTeam to warm up the combat systems – not to make any active, but to nonetheless acquire a good firing solution. Not that it will help much, given the relative mass factors and the raw numbers. He ordered his helm to make sure the Prochnow was between the non-combatant vessels and the aliens. The aliens ran high intensity scanners over the Task Force ships, making Tac Officers jump and wince. The intensity of the scans could mean the new contacts had a surface map of the Task Force vessels! And for some reason, the human electronics were having trouble tracking the contacts – they seemed "slippery".
At 8,000 km, the excrement hit the rotary multi-bladed air circulation device.
The two largest contacts opened fire simultaneously. In one volley, they totally shredded the NSL destroyer Prochnow like it was a can of beans under assault by an 18mm combat shotgun. Herr Kapitän Streib and his entire crew died without ever actually knowing they were under attack. Without warning, the smaller vessels all opened up on the transcon vessel Aspern-Esserling and the EFE provider VFE Pinot. The Heavy Cruiser class ships rotated to engage the NSL and EFE frigates. The transcon vessel, storing munitions and fuel and having little in the way of effective defences, exploded into a rain of fiery chunks. Up with the transcon went the entire Senior Command Staff and the entire support operation for the ground forces downwell. The EFE provider immediately followed suit taking with it the supplies designed to sustain operations on the planet below.
The two human frigates manoevred desperately, EW systems on maximum power. The enemy weapons systems were of an unknown type, but obviously devastatingly destructive at close range. The four cruisers focused their firepower together on the NSL frigate Esterhazy, bracketing it and then scoring massive damage amidship – ripping open its powerplant. The damage to the fusion plant proceeded to vaporize the greater part of the vessel instantaneously. This brief reprieve of hostile attention was the only opportunity for escape that Captaine D’auberville would probably ever get.
"Helm! Open a jump point, any vector.... NOW!" shouted D’auberville from her shock-frame as the tiny frigate spun and pitched to avoid the tracks of enemy fire.
"But Captaine! We’re within two planetary diameters of LTT 3902!.... We’ll all be killed!" Lieutenant Ortiz, the Ibiza’s helmsman, shouted.
"Probablement! Mais c’est la trop grande merde! We die for certain in seconds in this crossfire! I’ll trade a slim chance for life versus no chance whatsover. Open that Jump Point – NOW, Mr. Ortiz!"
"Aye Captaine! Jump Grid Active, Capacitors Nominal, Over-riding Course Plot Safety Interlocks. Discharging Capacitors into Jump Grid...NOW!" At the last, Ortiz’s finger stabbed down on a large button on the Nav Console, activating the Jump Grid and then he closed his eyes. He and maybe four other people on the ship could do Jump calculations. He KNEW he was dead. It was never in question.
Meanwhile, Down on the Surface of LTT 3902
Down on the planet, the CHQ TacCentre was in shock. Two minutes ago, there had been 300 humans in five vessels and some undisclosed number of alien contacts in orbit around this planet. The humans had been attempting to communicate with the aliens to open first contact dealings. Now, there was only a flat static hiss and no telemetry from orbit, and it had all happened in the blink of an eye. No one really knew what happened, except that someone had, like the very Fist of God, smashed the human Task Force from the skies above LTT 3902. This left combined Rapid Reaction Task Force Zummassenarbeit (atmospheric operations component) all by itself and overseen by enemies of unknown numbers, nature, and intentions.
Oberst Wittman, the Senior Officer downwell and Head Referee for the readiness excercise, was the first to snap out of the shocked daze that hung over the TacCentre.
"Gentlemen, we’re up excrement creek without so much as a toothpick to steer with. And we’ve just lost about 120 friends on board the Aspern-Esserling. We’re all alone here now, we’ve got an unknown hostile force in orbit with obviously nasty intention, and we don’t know if any other humans in the Human Sphere know we’re in our little situation."
"But, on the upside if there is one, we have two things left to us in this world-of-hurt: We have our men to look after and to try to save, and we have our orders: Hold Until Relieved."
Hauptmann Steiner spoke up. As the normal Company Commander of the NSL formation present, he would be leading his men through most of whatever was going to transpire.
"Herr Oberst, can we depend on relief coming? Were the ships able to warn our Sector Command before they were destroyed? If they do not, who will come for us? I do not think that if they wait a week to decide they have not heard from us that we will be here to be found when our forces finally come looking."
"Hauptmann, you raise a valid concern. Fortunately, it need not affect our decisions – we are here. If the hostile forces come for us, we fight or we die or perhaps we do both. Mayhap we get relieved, maybe we do not. In any case, we have little control of that aspect of the situation and there is no way that I can build a signal fire big enough for Sector HQ to see. So I deal with the things I can do something about. We can dig in – no point in running about and making ourselves targets if they have both orbital superiority and the ortillery to make that unpleasant. We’ve picked a tough spot and we can make it very bad for them if they come for us regardless of who they are. And maybe, if we are fortunate, some friendly assistance will come for us before we are all dead. And if not, I plan to make the trip to Valhalla in the company of many of my enemies. It is a petty way to think, but it gives me comfort in this particular situation."
EFE 5ieme LEC REA Assault Trooper
"I too must agree with the Colonel." Major Andrea D’Aubagne, 5th Regiment Etrange Aerospaciale, and the second most senior officer present spoke up. She too had been charged with Referee’s duties. "La Legion Etrange Colonial de l"Etats Federale Europa does not lay down its arms and roll over and die. It would not be...how you say...respectful of tradition." A wry smile crossed her face as she uttered the final sentence.
Hauptmann Steiner steepled his hands and thought for a moment. "So we fight. All right. We dig in the CHQ and the rest of the company as well as we are able in this mountain valley, and we kill anything that tries to come and get us. As to first contact, I highly hope the only alien first contact I am involved with is my rifle bullet making contact with those XTs first before they can do any harm to any of my men! Hold Until Relieved.... whenever that may be....until Hell itself is frozen over if that be necessary. I do not know who these aliens are, but they have picked a fight and we of the Luftelandesturm shall certainly oblige them."
A moment of silence followed as the assembled officers and NCOs mulled over the situation. Then a frenzied level of activity broke out all over the company as preparations were made for the Company to receive visitors – with every intention of providing these alien strangers (whoever they were) a very WARM welcome.....