Blue and Red: Stories From Shanxi
The Ballad of Metal Angels: Opening Moves

Flight Lieutenant Tyune Satarn, Novus Leader

"Yes, yes, that's me. The infamous 'Boney von Richthofen.' Where do I start? I suppose the beginning would make sense. I was a test pilot, and I had been attached to the Mehrkuri project since its inception. In fact, during the war, I flew the original prototype, which is why it had those oh-so-famous red markings.

"I'd heard the rumors, of course; we all did. The only thing faster than a mass relay jump is scuttlebutt. Some new aliens with fighters that couldn't be shot down and could bring down cruisers; everyone was talking like it was the next Rachni War. I don't put much faith in rumor, but what I'd heard about the fighters was interesting: durability, maneuverability, firepower, and some radical advances in variable geometry.

"If only a third of what I was hearing was true, it was no wonder the Carthaans were getting slaughtered out there. We were engaged in live fire trials when General Arterius called for reinforcements.

"General Gantorus and I put our case before General Oraka, who was overseeing the Mehrkuri's trials. He was skeptical of the concept, and it was clear he had already made up his mind before the trials began. If the Mehrkuri was going to succeed, it needed a real test, one with teeth, something that would break through the general's preconceptions, and this was it.

"This would either make or break the Mehrkuri."

Sergeant Michael "Sandy" Sanders, Talon 22

"Talon Squadron was assigned to the UES Rickenbacker in Admiral Drescher's Second Fleet. I'll admit, we'd gotten spoiled by the easy kills by the time Nutcracker kicked off, and besides, this was supposed to be a milk run, a quick and easy bombing run on some orbital fuel depots.

"We sure as hell weren't expecting to defold on top of a goddamn fleet."

Flight Lieutenant Tyune Satarn, Novus Leader

"The dreadnoughts were discharging their drive cores into Telos's magnetic field when the humans showed up, probably the worst possible moment. You see, in order for a ship the size of a dreadnought to discharge its drive core, it needs to be well within a planet's magnetic field, and being that close to a planetary gravity well limits the maneuverability of a ship that size.

"Most of the smaller ships had already discharged their drive cores, but they were refueling from the orbital depots. Only the carriers, a couple of cruisers, and a handful of frigates were free and clear when human ships started appearing out of nowhere."

Sergeant Michael "Sandy" Sanders, Talon 22

"Naturally, we scrambled and launched as soon as we defolded, but it was a mess. A few squadrons were redirected to hit the turian capital ships, while the rest pursued the primary objective.

"The Talons were reassigned to hit one of the carriers. Of course, we didn't know they were carriers until fighters started boiling up out of them. The new fighters looked almost nothing like the old ones, which put the veterans among us on their guard.

"I'll admit, I was one of the cocky young punks who didn't know any better at the time. I mean, we were leagues and bounds ahead of the bonies when it came to fighter doctrine, and it showed. By that time, we'd lost a grand total of two veritechs to enemy fighter action and had over three hundred confirmed kills overall.

"We were overconfident. We got careless."

Flight Lieutenant Tyune Satarn, Novus Leader

"The Mehrkuri was a revolution in Citadel fighter design. It was faster, more maneuverable, and had more firepower, thicker armor, and stronger shields than any fighter before it.

"And spirits, we were still behind the tech curve. Even the Mehrkuri couldn't quite even the odds.

"Still, they performed beautifully. Granted, the humans had gotten reckless, but not all of them. I still remember my first kill at First Telos. He was a smart one, fired off his torpedoes as soon as we started to engage - I don't even know if any of them hit the Resolute, to be honest - and went to guardian mode.

"Protip: Never get in a turning contest with a veritech. You will lose.

"Fortunately for me, the Mehrkuri was tough enough to take a few hits and keep going, long enough for me to switch tactics. Now, understand, this was 2157. Combat FTL was in its infancy at the time; General Arterius was just beginning to experiment with FTL strafing with capital ships.

"So when that veritech got on my six, I did something very stupid: I made a blind jump to FTL. Now, there's a reason FTL jumps take time to plot. It's to make sure you don't smack into something fast enough to reduce both you and whatever unfortunate obstacle you encounter down to your component atoms.

"I got insanely lucky. It got me out of that furball in one piece, but I dared not try an encore performance. Boom and zoom is a decent tactic, but because of the nav computer limits, it makes you either slow or predictable."

Sergeant Michael "Sandy" Sanders, Talon 22

"One minute, Lieutenant Ferris was tearing through the turian fighters in guardian mode, the next, one of them dropped out of FTL, right on his six. To be fair, the Ell-Tee reacted instantly. He went to battloid and spun, but... I swear, I've never seen anything like it before in my life.

"That red fighter sideslipped and rotated, staying on the lieutenant's six and keeping him in her sights, peppering him with gunfire. But even with Boney von Richthofen herself in the cockpit, the new turian fighter couldn't keep it up for long.

"But it could keep it up for long enough."

Flight Lieutenant Tyune Satarn, Novus Leader

"I barely managed to get a missile lock before he slipped out of my sights, and after that, the Render did its job."

Sergeant Michael "Sandy" Sanders, Talon 22

"Warp missiles are nasty, rip a VT apart on the molecular level. As tough as the Baldur's armor was, it wasn't designed to stop something like that. Once it hit... Ferry didn't stand a chance."

Codex: Mehrkuri Heavy Fighter

Best known as the fighter of choice for ace pilot Tyune Satarn - nicknamed "Boney von Richthofen" by Alliance pilots during the Relay War - the turian Mehrkuri heavy fighter represents an unusual departure from standard Citadel military doctrine. The dagger-shaped Mehrkuri is built more like a turian capital ship than its more traditional counterpart, the Carthaan. Nearly twice the size of the Carthaan, the Mehrkuri boasts an eezo core three times as large, granting superior acceleration, maneuverability, and kinetic barriers. This does come at a price, however; although exact figures remain classified, the Mehrkuri is estimated to be over three times as expensive as the Carthaan.

For armament, the Mehrkuri carries a pair of tri-barrel forward mass accelerator cannons and a centerline Render missile tube, the core of the design. Developed in conjunction with the Mehrkuri to counter any copycat designs, the Render missile is a variant of the traditional disruptor torpedo used by fighters to harass capital ships for centuries. Physically larger, the Render missile retains the disruptor torpedo's shifting mass effect field warhead and pairs it with more sophisticated targeting software capable of disabling or engaging the mass-increasing effect as needed, allowing it to effectively engage fighters as well as capital ships. On its dorsal surface, the Mehrkuri also mounts a fully-automated defensive turret capable of shooting down multiple incoming anti-fighter missiles, a particularly notable feature, given the rarity of anti-fighter missiles in Citadel space prior to the Relay War.

In test production just before the Relay War, the Mehrkuri heavy fighter first saw action at the First Battle of Telos in 2157. When General Arterius's call for reinforcements came, the PFS Resolute - an experimental carrier built to carry both Carthaans and Mehrkuris as part of a radical new combat doctrine - was attached to the turian Fifth Fleet for the Mehrkuri's final evaluation under the skeptical eye of veteran General Septimus Oraka, who reluctantly took the then-unproven heavy fighters into battle. Despite his misgivings, General Oraka would not regret his decision: At Telos, the Mehrkuris proved their worth by crippling an Alliance cruiser - the UES Monument City - forcing it to withdraw early in the battle, and successfully engaging Alliance veritech fighters, scoring the first confirmed fighter-to-fighter veritech kills of the Relay War. After this early success, the Mehrkuri was rushed into full production and continues to serve today.

Codex: Relay War: Operation Nutcracker

Because the Relay War revolved around Shanxi, it is easy to forget that, although the bulk of the war was fought on the planet or in its orbit, fighting also occurred in other star systems as well. In late 2157, Operation Nutcracker was the first incursion into turian space by a hostile military power since the Krogan Rebellions.

After being relieved by the Fourth Fleet, the Second Fleet under Admiral Kastanie Drescher had returned to Space Station Freedom for repairs, resupply, and replacements. At this point, the Relay War was a vicious stalemate, both on the ground and in orbit, as each side sent wave after wave of reinforcements to replace losses and strengthen the front, but the two task forces continued to maintain a relative parity with each other. It should also be remembered that the Alliance knew nothing of turian motivations or overall resources at this time.

While the Second Fleet was recuperating at Space Station Freedom, Admiral Drescher received an intelligence update: Through methods that remain classified, the Alliance had discovered the planet Telos, the turian staging ground for the war. In response to this new intelligence, she commandeered two battle groups - originally assigned to reinforce the Fourth Fleet at Shanxi - to fill gaps in the Second Fleet's order of battle and launched Operation Nutcracker. It was hoped that a swift and decisive strike at Telos would stall turian operations long enough for the Alliance to gain the upper hand and secure orbital dominance over Shanxi.

On October 29th, 2157, the Alliance Second Fleet defolded over Telos, only to encounter the turian Fifth Fleet under the command of General Septimus Oraka, en route to reinforce General Desolas Arterius at Shanxi. The unexpected encounter left both sides suffering significant losses, but Admiral Drescher's forces were able to withdraw after successfully completing Nutcracker's primary objective: the destruction of Telos's orbital refueling depots.

Unfortunately for the Alliance, the depots were not as critical to turian operations as they had believed. The primary reason the Hierarchy was using Telos as a staging area was to discharge static build up from their eezo cores into the gas giant's magnetic field; the refueling depots had only been placed there as a convenience. Despite the success of Operation Nutcracker, the stalemate in orbit over Shanxi would continue throughout the war.

Codex: Starships: Resolute-class Carrier

The Resolute-class carrier is currently the Turian Hierarchy's only known class of carriers. In 2152, the Mehrkuri heavy fighter project and its related Render missile project had come to an unavoidable obstacle. Until then, standard naval doctrine deployed fighters only in a support role, using their disruptor torpedoes to harass the enemy or finish off crippled ships and fend off enemy fighters, rather than as the main striking force. This meant that they were only carried in very limited numbers; even a dreadnought only had hangar space for a couple dozen fighters. In order to realize its full potential, the Mehrkuri needed much larger numbers than any fleet could practically deploy. Enter General Salin Gantorus.

In 2149, construction had begun on an Invincible-class dreadnought. It and three other dreadnoughts already under construction had been slated to join the Turian Navy's existing 33 dreadnoughts in defending Citadel space. However, construction on all four dreadnoughts halted less than two years later as Citadel authorizations to expand the turian fleet up to 40 dreadnoughts under the Treaty of Farixen were revoked. After several months of political maneuvering, construction restarted on two of the four dreadnoughts, but the question remained as to what to do with the remaining two half-completed dreadnoughts. General Gantorus, deeply involved in the Mehrkuri and Render projects, proposed stripping the weapons out of the design and turning them into dedicated fighter carriers instead.

In 2156, the PFS Resolute was the first carrier out of the shipyard, with her sister ship, the PFS Undaunted, following three months later. Instead of a spinal mount and as thick a broadside armament as could fit, the Resolute-class carriers mount only minimal broadside armament, devoting the rest of the hull space to the maintenance, launch, recovery, and repair of fighter craft. Capable of carrying hundreds of fighters each, the two carriers and their deadly cargo proved instrumental to turian efforts to control Shanxi orbit in the Relay War.