Part 23: Target of OpportunityI reckon I've got about ten minutes to prepare for the AI homeworld to get into range. Time to get cracking.
I've finally decided to just throw the fleet at Hasquon to get rid of most of the remaining threat. It hasn't been neutered yet, but the artillery golem changes that in a hurry...
Location: Nomad One
Threat has been dealt with. We've fully repaired the nomad becon, but it hasn't come online yet due to us not having enough energy. And the nomad is easing ever closer to the AI homeworld.
Okay, let's review the strategic situation. I want to get as many ships as possible over to the Nomad. Sadly that means no golems, but I can repurpose some of the 2.8k ships I have on Savkeael. I'm actually not sure how I even got that many.
Intra-galactic warp gates on Nomad One are switched on, so let's see what I can easily scrap and rebuild. We don't want to kill any of the reclaimed ships, as we can't reconstruct them. We also don't want to kill any of the starships, because they would take far too long and cost far too much to rebuild. However, Mk I fleet ships are perfectly valid scrapping targets.
We have a mix of Mk I fleetships and Mk II or even III reclaimed ships in our fleet. We want to select only the Mk I ships, because those are the ones we can actually rebuild at will. Helpfully we can do this by dragging a selection box while holding down 'N' and the '1' key. We'll do the same with 'N+5', to select any fabricator created ships.
Even after that scrapping we're left with a fairly significant force of fleetships. The selected ships, with the exception of a few parasites and tackle drone launchers / lightning frigates, are all reclaimed. All 1,500 of them. Along with the 600 or so reclaimed ships already on Nomad One, talk about providing the tools of your own demise.
I love leech starships.
Hmm, so we want some way of shuffling our starships across to Nomad One without scrapping them. If only there was some kind of low capacity, cloaked, teleporting transport...
Aha, perfect. One Pysite and two Xampite are spent to get myself 50 units worth of lightning-fast lift capacity. The four Mk II jumpships have a capacity of 40 units, while my transport-capable starship fleet is 81 units, and if my calculations are correct the jumpships should be able to survive two trips to the nomad and back. So that works out nicely.
Poor Sother, miles away from anywhere else. Good job we've got the Mk I (Pysite) class jumpships to help out. One of them delivers two remains rebuilders and three engineers to Sother in order to bring it back online. The other is held in reserve, to perform a similar duty in the future if required.
Location: Nomad One
Starship armada has been safely delivered to Nomad One and spacedocks are churning out new copies of the ships I just scrapped. Hmm, the jumpships actually held up far better than I was expected. What else can I do with a bunch of perma-cloaked, teleporting transports?
Scout drops! Shove ten scouts into a teleporting transport, then send them on a mad-cap cross-planet tour until the transport finally attritions to death. A jumpship will attrition on any planet which is a higher mark than them in around 20 seconds, and they are already at half health. If each load -> teleport -> move away from wormhole -> unload cycle takes roughly two seconds, given judicious use of the pause button, then we can explore 5-6 brand new planets per jumpship.
The two jumpships I send out to do this bring back some nice info before they finally die. We've found another two data centres, three spire civilian leaders and another spire archive. Along with the usual mix of golems and fabs.
Some fancy footwork by one of the remaining jumpships, a spire frigate and two raids takes out a data centre and two civilian leaders. Then another strike force using the 'spare' Pysite class jumpship takes out the last data centre. All in all, these jumpships weren't too bad an investment.
Right, all of my forces except the missile frigates are now in place. That just leaves us to make best use of the local spirecraft asteroids before we get into attack range. We've got two reptite, seven Pysite and two Xampite asteroids to play with. My current thinking is this:
10 Mk I spirecraft shieldbearers, from 2 Reptite and 4 Pysite asteroids. That will give me 2.5 million health's worth of forcefields to cover the nomad beacon when we move it onto the planet.
A Mk III spirecraft translocator. The mark III can translocate 60 ships every two seconds, which works nicely to keep them out of range of the beacon.
And three Mk II Martyrs, to go with the two Mk IIIs that are already stored on Nomad One. Because I'm going to need some serious firepower to deal with the strategic reserve.
Here's the AI homeworld. Home command station is up at the top there. Currently there are only 290 ships on the planet, but that's going to change dramatically as soon as a military ships enters it.
Unfortunately we haven't yet had a chance to take down the core shield networks. As such we can't touch any of the guardposts. However we actually got fairly lucky with the wormhole placement, as the only guardpost in range is the core bombard post. What we need to do is dive all our forces right down to the bottom of the grav well, as far away from the AI's fixed defences as possible.
Other disadvantages. Despite being out of range of its main guns, that Teuthida post is going to be spamming out drones at us the entire time we're on the planet.
The Orbital mass driver the AI has defending this world isn't covered by the core shield networks and can be taken down, and we really need to do this before bringing any starships into the system. However it's sitting right next to a core anti-starship arachnid, which is unfortunate.
Last but by no means least, we have the core CPA post. This will fire off a cross-planet attack as soon as we move military ships onto the planet, and will continue to do so every 13 minutes. In an ideal world, this assault needs to be over before the second wave fires.
Back on Nomad one, we've got no time for any further planning and no time to wait for our spirecraft to finish building. A previous abortive experience with a nomad attack has told me that the nomad planet has to move in real-time on the galaxy map, which means the further away we let Nomad One get from the AI homeworld the harder this is going to be.
8 hours, 20 minutes and 25 seconds since the resistance began. Engineers are finalising the last translocator and Martyr, but I need to strike now if I want to take advantage of this opportunity. Time to die.
Next Time, on AI War: Planet Crackers Inc.