“The Fortress Wall.” One of the most difficult things left from a prior license holder that needed explained, because it was never explained. Nor was it ever plausibly accounted for. Somehow, the Republic of the Sphere’s magic “Fortress Wall” sprang into being and my team and I had to figure out how it all worked within the confines of the universe’s physics and world rules.
The best place to ‘reveal’ the details of the Wall, I felt, was in what is now an abandoned project. Suffice to say, this isn’t official any more as it became obsolete the moment I resigned from the company.
But it’s kind of fun to go back and explore the ‘what ifs’ that we had to wrangle with. It’s all part of worldbuilding in an expansive and highly detailed universe. Sometimes, you just have to find a way to make it all work…even if it sounds absolutely insane.
The Fortress Wall
The Fortress Defense technology is simple: HPG cannons in strategic solar orbits get data from an even larger number of satellites spaced throughout the system, also in solar orbits. The sensor sats detect inbound JumpShips and feed targeting data to the HPG guns that target the source of any inbound KF jump signal. In general, this HPG hit can take place within minutes of arrival (as the KF jump signal can be detected within 15 AU, the MAXIMUM lag on a detection-to-disabling shot is going to be about 210 minutes; overlapping fields of HPG fire and satellite positioning makes it more realistic that a JumpShip will take an HPG pulse in less than an hour’s time—maybe even less than 10 minutes, if it appears anywhere within a standard safe point radius of the primary).
The problem: sensor sats cannot ID friend from foe on arrival; the signals go out when jumps are detected, which is too late to wait for an IFF transponder; this speed is necessary to try and ensure a drive-killing shot, as the closer the KF pulses hit, the better. Given that the Republic is just as affected by Clarion as everyone else, advance warnings of friendly ships coming in will be hindered by gaps in the HPG comms network, which means the Fortress HAD to be small to even manage its routine operations, let alone defend itself against attack. Not only that, as long as the Fortress walls are up for strategic defense purposes, ALL worlds in the Republic needed them up; any gaps could be worlds an enemy would exploit. Thus, to move large numbers of troops and supplies for an invasion, the Republic would need to drop the walls entirely, realm-wide, or lose critical time on preparations.
As we see in this latest timeline, it takes the Republic a solid 3 years from Stone and Julian’s meeting before the RAF mounts its expedition to hit the Combine-Davion flank. By necessity, Stone cannot go for New Avalon itself (even at full strength, the RAF cannot hope to get to New Avalon and liberate it, because that pits the entire RAF against the front line of the Drac advance, where it’s strongest—AND puts the RAF out of position if any enemies notice the Fortress walls are down and go for a kill). Instead, Stone’s strategy to help Julian is Teddy Kurita’s 3039 gambit: projecting more strength than the RAF has by bulling through weaker worlds behind the lines. With the DCMS stretched now all across their own realm and half of the FedSuns, whatever forces they left to hold their gains at the old RotS/FS/DC border are weak, even when the targets are juicy industrials. The RAF hits, smashes defenses, and sticks around only long enough to resupply from the spoils, before moving on, driving for Robinson. This (they hope) will force the Dragon to fall back—hopefully before anyone realizes that it means the Republic is open to attack, because the longer the RAF is at this, the more vulnerable the Republic itself becomes.
Then the neighbors strike and the recall order goes out. Again, Clarion Call means the message is delayed, and the RAF inside the Republic is weak. They can’t reactivate the Wall without stranding their forces outside it, and hurting their internal ability to shift reinforcements around. Once the wall is down on the strategic level, it has to stay down until the crisis is controlled.
All of this helps explain what we’ve already written so nicely that I shudder to think what WizKids actually planned to happen (if anything at all)….
The Wall doesn’t really need to come down until the RAF needs to move on the strategic scale; we don’t need Wolf to circumvent it unless we want the Republic to play turtle, which they’re not doing here.
Here’s where we can have fun, though: Locally, the “walls” can be activated and deactivated at will. If we want more delaying actions, for example, a world can reactivate its Fortress Defense to delay an expected enemy advance, or trap an enemy that’s already arrived. The real danger with the latter is that it prevents friendly reinforcements from coming in and opens the system up to enemy observations, but if the attack force is small enough, that is mitigated by rendering said force strategically immobile. Say Alaric has forces arraying at Rigil Kentarus for a big push? The local Fortress Wall gets a reactivation signal and his ships are shot by HPG cannons before they can depart; his offensive loses strength and time while he tries to compensate.
Indeed, Stone can activate the wall at Terra itself to keep Alaric from breaking his bid, gambling that he has the strength to beat him (and losing, but by far less than he would have lost without it).
Crazy enough, it worked enough for our purposes.