I’m afraid it turned more into a fight by fight log of the game rather than a dramatization towards the end here. Ah well.

Shortly after the escape from the Dreadlord system, Fleet 2’s commanders realized they were still being followed. The same 4 Dreadlord ships that had previously set the trap for them were following them, along with another new Dreadnought class ship. They couldn’t lead these beasts home so they would have to delay their refit temporarily. The home base commanders saw this as an oppourtunty however and told them to lead the enemy ships between the two human clusters and towards the edge of Torian territory. Fleets 6 and 7 were set in the path of Fleet 2 and the Torians were asked to send one of their fighter squadrons as well.

Fleet 6 and 7 attempted to attack the weakest ship as a test of their new weapons systems. The weaker Battleship was being protected by a stronger Dreadnought ship however. Both ships fought valiantly but were only able to bring this larger ship down to ¼th of full strength before they were destroyed.

Disturbing reports started coming from Fleet 5 in the frontline cluster. That new dreadnought wasn’t the only new ship the Dreadlords had pumped out. Another Dreadnought, a new escort, and yet another troop ship were also manufactured.

Fleet 5 dived in, destroyed the troopship, then killed the escort, losing only a single fighter craft.

Fleet 2 managed to push far enough ahead of the horde that it would take them 3 weeks to catch up. Long enough for refit shuttles to be sent to their location for a quick upgrade.

With the enemy so far ahead of them and two torian fleets between them and their target, the Dread lords decided to cut their losses and head home.

A newly formed Fleet 8 intercepted the lagging damaged Dreadnought and scored the first capital ship kill of the mission, losing a single ship in the battle.

The advisors were not optimistic. In the time it took to destroy a single dreadnought, they built two more. We also lost 9 ships in the process. Clearly the industrial base on these 4 dreadlord worlds are much more formidable than the previous world we took.

I thought Logistics would provide an answer. I traded for additional logistics support with an ally and worked out how to have 5 ships working together in a single fleet.
The now understrength Fleet 2 and Fleet 8 were working together to draw the dreadlords away from the planets in the northern edge of the cluster, while fleet 5 picked up another pair of fighters to become full strength.

The Dreadlords started to construct a barrier out of their capital ships, threatening to pounce on any ship that stayed too close to the cluster. I decided they were probably up to something and sent a singleton ship from one of my planets through a gap they had left. Sure enough, a troop ship was headed for Florin. I moved Fleet 9 into position to intercept. Meanwhile, one of the dreadlord picket ships had strayed into Torian territory again. I relayed a message and they dispatched their three fleets up to meet it. Sadly, before they could catch it, it destroyed one of the Torian troopships. My single rapid fighter swooped in to finish off the single Dreadlord troopship that was headed for Floria. The Dreadlords continued to press my other fleets outward but in doing so exposed their Battleship to the combined might of Fleet 8 and Fleet 2. The fleets lost no ships in destroying the poorly defended smaller capital ship. Both fleets then rushed southwards to *ahem* aid the torians.

The first torian fleet was destroyed while dealing minimal damage. Fleet 5 then came in to assist and was destroyed after removing 2/3rds of the ships remaining integrity fields. Fleet 8 attacked next and destroyed the Dreadnought with only a single surviving ship. The final survivor from Fleet 8 was merged into Fleet 2, bringing it to full strength.

The demonically clever Dreadlords this time sent a Frigate along with their troop transport. Luckily the frigate proved no match for Fleet 9 who lost no ships in dispatching it.

The boys at R&D finally came up with something to match my beloved Plasma cannons from the prior campaign, and produced the RapidNuker MkII. This had twice the firepower of the RapidDuo line by using Harpoon missiles along with Warp-5 engines to allow us to dart in on troopships even quicker. It would be over a month before any reached the front lines however. We were hoping that these would help the abysmal 9 to 1 ratio we have against the dreadnought however.

Quietly, off in the other corner of the cluster, our old foes the Drengin threw in the towel and gave their worlds to our other old foes, the Yor. Luckily, they were on the other side of the galaxy from me and my fight with the Dreadlords and were proving to be no match for the Iconians.

While fighting the onslaught of the Dreadlord’s dreadnoughts, the Torians lost yet another fleet. I slowly brought down the 9th fleet to assist them however holding the 2nd fleet in reserve. The torian fleet knocked about the same off this time as last. The same ship attempted to attack the Drath homeworld and didn’t fare quite as well. With 1/3rd remaining it started limping home, and towards fleet 9. Fleet 9 picked it off with a single loss and then moved back up to resume guard duty over the forward cluster.

The forward cluster was starting to be more active again. Another frigate and escort had been constructed, which meant they were going to try another invasion. I pushed Fleet 9 and one unattached ship up where they could intercept such an attempt.

The remaining forward Dreadnought continued harrassing shipping and attacking the Drath homeworld. They retained negligable damage from this attack. Fleet 10 was in position and Fleet 11 was starting to come together as my first next generation fleet. The dreadlords weren’t joking around on the next invasion attempt. They sent two seperate troopships. Luckily my first RapidNuker2 had just come online off the Floria assembly plant so I was ready. The Dreadlords started pressing again with a Dreadnought, a Frigate, and then stacked one of their troopships with an escort. Fleet 9 was there ready for the escort but I had to move them further off the line to keep them away from the dreadnought. The second troopship headed for Iversona. I pushed Fleet 11 up there early to keep that planet safe.

The dreadlords made their move towards my ships and towards the planet. I was in luck though, because the Troopship had seperated from its escort. The RapidNuker made its move and slaughtered it quickly. Fleet 9 also dove towards one of the three prongs of the attackers and wiped out the Frigate without any casualties. Fleet 11 moved up more towards the other troopship. The nuker was unable to escape and was caught by one of the dreadnoughts.

The dreadlords really weren’t joking around now. They followed up that one troopship with 2 more. Fleet 11 destroyed the one that was already in play and awaited the next two. After destroying the last two it was pushed away from the cluster by more dreadnoughts. Fleet 11 picked up two more ships to become full strength. Fleet 11 and 9 quietly set a trap for the nearest Dreadnought so they could finally test the harpoon’s effectiveness. Fleet 9 was utterly destroyed but Fleet 11 destroyed the dreadnought with a single loss. The Harpoon was less effective in its first round but later showed its effectiveness.

Fleets 2 and 10 moved up to defend the cluster from the other side.

The next attempted invasion went badly, for the dreadlords. Fleet 2 and 10 cleanly killed the two troop transports then moved to a safe distance.

Fleet 12’s attempt to ambush a Dreadnought failed. They did bring it right to the edge however and the first salvo from Fleet 11 destroyed it. This left 3 escorts and 3 dreadnoughts left for the enemy.

Fleet 10 destroyed two of the escorts, losing only a single ship. There was a sense that the tide was finally turning in the battle against the dreadlords.

The dreadlords launched another surprise invasion which was thwarted by Fleet 10. This left them dangerously close to one of the remaining dreadnoughts however. Fleet 10 was destroyed by a Dreadnought, leaving only minor damage.

As fleet 2 once again retreated, the Dreadlords had launched yet another Dreadnought. There were now 4 of them to deal with.

Yet another troop transport was sent. Fleets 11 and 14 formed up to take on one of the dreadnoughts, while fleet 2 was sent to deal with the transport. Fleet 14 was destroyed, and Fleet 11 once again cleaned up the dreadnought. The Dreadlords are starting to show a most burdensome ability to zigzag their troopships back and forth so I don’t know which planet to protect. Luckily I have double coverage this time… The troopship was destroyed and Fleet 15 managed to destroy a dreadnought without sacrificing another fleet to it first. Fleet 11 manages the same with another dreadnought. Both fleets are combined along with a new ship to reform Fleet 11.

A new ship is designed, this time with Photonic Torpedos. This class, the RapidNuker MkIII, has 33% more power than the prior model. Hopefully this will aid futher in turning the tide against the final scattered remains of the dreadlords. They now have 1 Dreadnought, 3 battleships, and 1 escort.

Fleet 11 takes out the final Dreadnought with a single survivor while a singleton RN2 takes out another troop ship. It rejoins 4 other new ships and then takes out a Battleship without any casualties.

Fleet 2 recieves yet another upgrade, this time to RN3’s.

Fleet 11 takes out an additional Battleship, this time with 2 casualties.

The new photonic torpedos are proving devilishly effective, Fleet 16 destroying a frigate in a single salvo.

The remaining resistance is easily swept away. The 3 fleets, 2nd, 11th, and 16th all swarm the enemy homeworlds. Troopdroppers are brought in from their distant hiding places and prepared.

The 2nd fleet destroys a defender, the 11th destroys a cruiser while losing one ship. The 2nd then also destroys a troop transport and another defender. In a last ditch effort to save their planets, they pump out a Dreadnought. The 16th fleet defeats it easily with only 2 ships lost. The 2nd fleet defeats another defender then the battle for Gladstone begins.

Gladstone 3 is conquered. It is covered with the same amazing industrial infrastructure as we found a handful of on Florin. Quite impressive. Gladstone 4 was next on the military schedule. We were shocked to find that it had almost no infrastructure on it at all. There was one partially built industrial park, but nothing more.

Fleet 11 sweeps the defenses of Gladstone 2, while Fleet 2 goes for DunZa-Thi. Neither is much of a challenge and both are taken within the day. Gladstone 2 is also devoid of infrastructure, but DunZa-Thi has the same giant cluster of industry that the first planet had.

The dreadlords are now defeated in this cluster, their local homeworld neutralized. Hopefully they will not again rear their ugly heads, but you never know.

Apparently the Drengin are now on the move attacking Arcea again. Ah well, another day, another race to conquer.