The Battle at the Delta Serpentis node
After the fall of Vasuda Prime it was already known that the Lucifer’s fleet next target would be Earth. Even though the information regarding the Shivan superdestroyer’s weakness in subspace was already known, and the Bastion started its hunt, success wasn’t sure or even considered probable. On the other side of the node, in Sol, a blockade was forming up to try to delay the Lucifer should the Bastion fail. During this time the population in Sol was restless. A good proportion had withdrawn to Earth, along with most of the remaining military ships and most of the administrative staff, some out of idealism and a wish to die where humanity was born, others out of desperation because deliveries of food and water to the outer solar colonies had been halted, and Earth was the only planet with such resources still available. On the other hand a very small segment began to leave for the asteroid belt or Kuiper’s belt, hopping to escape the wrath of the Shivans. At the same time 3 old Henderson class destroyers had been refitted to serve as cryoships, housing 1200 human beings and 200 Vasudans were launched in the Kuiper belt in case everything failed. They were modified so that they wouldn’t send identification signals and couldn’t receive or send messages, with minimal energy use for the pods, to lessen the chances of detection and give humanity another chance. Also onboard was a database with all the cumulated knowledge gathered by the GTA and PVN. The blockade force consisted of two Orion class destroyers, the GTI’s GTD Latium and the newly constructed GTD Tirpitz, along with two old Zagreus destroyers, the Zuigo and the Littorio, along with another Zagreus, the GTD Eagle, stripped of all weaponry and most systems and fully packed with explosives, which was to be set on a collision course with the Lucifer. The Eagle had a crew of only 10 aboard. The task force also consisted of four Leviathan and five Fenris cruisers, and 12 squadrons of fighters. When the Lucifer arrived however, not even half the blockade was in place, but this proved to be a blessing in disguise. Upon arrival, the Lucifer’s reactors had already been destroyed by the attack squad sent by the Bastion, and the Lucifer, halfway through, exploded. Most of the blast was sent sideways, and to the back, sparing the Bastion attack squad, but wiping out Beta wing from the 66th Black Nights and Delta of the 103rd Flaming Skulls that were already launched, disabling and heavily damaging the Tirpitz and the Littorio, and critically damaging the Eagle. The cruiser wing along with the Zuigo and Latium were not on the scene at the moment. The damage to the Eagle was harsh, and the ships reactor was leaking and about to give way, exploding along with most of the explosives on board. The leaking was stopped by Anton Stradjinski and Joanne Antonescu, thus saving the two other destroyers and the Eagle, but the two died two hours later due to extended exposure to the reactor radiations. The Zuigo and the Latium arrived afterwards, and provided assistance to the crippled ships, while the Latium started to gather up materials from the Lucifer wreck. After restoring engines on the Littorio, Tirpitz and Eagle, the fleet moved to Earth for repairs. However, at the Canaveral shipyard only four destroyers arrived, with the Latium disappearing along with most of what was collected from the Lucifer wreck at the time. The outcome was grim, with 653 dead, of which 23 were officers, the Littorio and the Tirpitz were to be in repairs for the next 8-9 months due to severe damage and shortage of materials, the Latium disappeared, the Delta Serpentis node was closed and the GTA and later AEC were denied any further access to the Lucifer wreck by the following events.
In the wake of the Lucifer
As soon as the news spread, system-wide celebrations erupted. The Shivan superdestroyer was vanquished; the Terrans and the Vasudans were free to find their way among the stars. Or they would have been, if the Sol-Delta Serpentis node wouldn’t have collapsed. Since the colonization era, Earth has been the major hub for all shipping and commerce, having a bigger population than whole systems and being supplied with materials and goods from the whole Alliance. But now it found itself stranded. 150 years had passed since agriculture had been practiced on the planet, and Sol’s 12,7 billion people were left without a food source. Of those 12.7 billion, some 72,4% were housed on Earth itself, and the recent “Flood home” had increased that to 85,3%. This hurried withdrawal had left whole colonies, shipyards and installations devoid of human presence, and as soon as it was clear the Shivan threat was no more, pirates, separatists and extremists began crawling out of the woodwork and claiming these. Military analysts today agree that a prompt offensive on part of the GTA would have quickly quelled these revolts, and kept Sol united for at least 2-3 more years. However, the GTA was slow to respond, keeping Luna under its hand, and only due to rapid action on part of the few Vasudan remnants were in Sol was Mars also held. The rest of the system fell into anarchy, various factions springing on all the planets except those held by the GTA. It is to be noted that 12.356 Vasudans were present in the system at the time of the Lucifer explosion, and most of these were afterwards settled on and near the Amazonian Plains on Mars. The changes on Earth were dramatic. A planet of skyscrapers, large warehouses, advanced robotics, mechatronics, electronics and weapons factories and laboratories, home to most of the media trusts and research labs, Earth had only a meagre 3% of its surface without any structures, those 3% being dedicated to wild parks and reservations. In two years almost 33.4% of the surface, almost 62.703.740 km had been razed and used in agriculture so as to be able to supply the immense population under its hegemony. During this time period diplomatic relations were established with the other rebel factions in the system. While Earth was now a rich source of food, most of its raw materials had already been stripped clean by centuries of mining. The effects of the node closure were also first recorded in this period. Subspace jumps became shorter and shorter, as the jump drives seemed to lose efficiency. Despite recognizing the link between the cause and the effect, the physical model that governs subspace isn’t fully developed and understood. The realization that jump drives were losing efficiency prompted the grounding of most fleets around the system until the effects could better be studied. This was done as a response to the destruction of the JRWC Wien after a short subspace jump between two of Jupiters moons. While at the time it was believed to be caused by the cataclysmic subspace event triggers by the destruction of the Lucifer, it is now known that the Wien exploded due to a miss-aligned cowling in the primary drive coupling.