On board Deathfang
Alchibah system A+4
There were no friendly faces, smiles, or polite greetings as Richard Redmond entered the mess hall, which had been appropriated for the UN Alchibah joint command staff conference. Perhaps the chilly reception was caused by the Rogon scientist who accompanied him…or perhaps not.
Hunter St. James had taken his place at one end of the table, so the Rogon settled himself at the opposite end. Like antagonists in an old Army/Navy game the officers of each separate service faced each other from opposite sides. Because there were several empty spaces on the army side Richard Redmond sat on that side next to the big Rogon.
Orderlies distributed water glasses and coffee about the room and then withdrew as in by some secret signal
Hunter looked about the table ”Everyone seems to be here except for Lieutenant Commander Antonovich is he tied up somewhere?”
Ensign Wendy Taylor of the UN Navy spoke up ”The Commander is…indisposed sir” Hunter accepted this fact without question “Very well we can proceed without him“ He tapped a spoon on his water glass to gain attention.
“I’ll begin with an overview of the historical background and move on to an appraisal of the loss of taskforce Alchibah, If anyone has critical information feel free to interrupt… otherwise hold your questions for later” Hunter looked around the table, and with the exception of the alien everyone seemed to accept the rules.
“When Taskforce Alchibah was organized four years ago the primary mission was to enter this solar system, locate the StelCo asteroid ship and bring the crew and colonists under the authority of the United Nations. A secondary mission was to deliver additional colonists, and establish a permanent peacekeeping presence in the system.”
“Obviously the Rogons arrival in our Home system forced us to modify those plans. The decision was made to continue the mission under Rogon supervision.”
“We now know that the planning was inadequate due to the suppression of information in two areas” he continued “The first of these was knowledge of a previous mission to this system, in which one vessel was destroyed and a second was badly damaged by an advanced alien race known as the Chewpess or Guardians”
Richard Redmond sprung up out of his chair “The man was insane, a murderer, we couldn’t believe his story”
“Mr. Redmond please sit back down” Hunter said stopping the rant “You also had the Stingray, any close examination would have revealed the extensive damage was the result of hostile action” Redmond slumped back into his seat “Of course we now are monitoring the Guardian ship stalking us as we move about this system”
“The second and more serious area of faulty intelligence was regarding the flying asteroid, we now know as the Mayflower” Redmond was clearly squirming in his chair but he did not interrupt again. Hunter went on. “It has become painfully obvious that Hamilton had loaded the Mayflower with weapons and personal familiar with their use. It would have been a big help had we been told that these people actually fought there way out of the Home system beating off two attacks by troops from the political directorate…despite the fact that PD had infiltrated Hamilton’s organization.”
Hunter took a sip from his water glass and continued speaking “Had we been able to anticipate the Colonials would attempt to meet us in space, we would have plotted a course to avoid the electromagnetic interference that virtually disabled our sensors in the belt.”
One of the ubiquitous 3-D projections appeared above the table. The destruction of taskforce Alchibah was replayed “As you can see the enemy ships appeared without warning”
The Rogon, krett made a motion with one clawed hand that immediately got everyone’s attention “The sudden appearance of these rogue slaves, was not the fault of your sensors, the Chewpess use a 12th dimensional transposition drive that allows them to bypass normal space, these human ships obviously were equipped with that drive. Shintok; maylock-A wrongly assumed they were Chewpess vessels. We regret that maylock disabled your weapons systems and caused the destruction of your ships.”
Hunter was a bit taken back by the Rogons apology “Be that as it may; the destruction of Taskforce Alchibah was caused by a third failure of tactical intelligence which occurred at this point” Hunter took another drink of water “This ship and the firepower it represents had caught up with The UN taskforce two weeks ago and were following at 5 million kilometers unbeknownst to us. This represents a serious violation of the strategic principle of Unity of Command. When the Colonials attacked the main Rogon force was conducting independent and unrelated operations that failed as a result, Captain DeWalt, will now make his report about the failure of these other ops.”
DeWalt came out of his chair and went to the head of the table, opting to give his presentation standing beside the Commodore “16 days ago we began launching high speed recon drones past the planet.” He began “signals analysis indicated a major concentration of human activity on the northern landmass and some minor activity on the southern one.”
“No evidence of human habitation was found on the Southern continent, but we obtained very good images of several occupancies on the Northern mass concentrated in one area about 20 kilometers across, only one structure evidence any military value” the image projected above the table didn’t have the 3-D quality of most Rogon displays, but the clarity was excellent, “From the air it looks like a classic stockade from the American west, although obviously upgraded with anti aircraft mounts on these platforms, also the communications tower and radar dishes are out of place, when I throw up a side view penetrating radar scan, it gets interesting…although nothing is visible you can see the uniform compression lines, obviously something very large is buried here, something very carefully hidden”
“The major decided the best way to deal with this location was to drive 2 penetrating 10 megaton warheads into the reverse slope of the adjacent ridge. That would have dumped a couple hundred meters of lava on top of this place while minimizing fallout. Unfortunately the Rogons overruled that plan.”
Shintok; krett-N spoke again “It was thought that your Mr. Hamilton might likely be at this fortress a request was made that he be captured alive”
St James was suddenly alert “And who made that request?” He asked
“Why that was from Mr. Redmond of course”
“Just a minute” St James was half out of his chair “Are you saying that Redmond was in contact with this ship two weeks ago?”
Redmond stood up “Hamilton was a criminal, terrorist and enemy of the state, it was a priority of this mission that he be brought to justice
Hunter suddenly realized how the Rogon scientist had set up Redmond, he visibly calmed himself “let’s play this out he thought”
“OK table that for now, please continue Mr. DeWalt”
Yes sir” DeWalt continued “After that Major Watson refused to allow UN troops to attack the fort. The fort is in a valley that has a dog-leg just south; the all Rogon force was supposed to land just beyond the dog-leg
and attack on foot.
“The attack on the town was more straight forward, two ships would approach from the south, landing right alongside the shuttle pad on the southern edge of the town. The town would be swept house to house from one end to the other”
Both operations were to commence while the Mayflower was on the opposite side of the planet. The Asteroid was to be hit with a low yield nuke to disable her engines and two larger nukes to burn off all her antenna and surface airlocks.” DeWalt was obviously trying to hide his amusement.
Hunter was grinning as well “Sounds like that battle of Ceres all over”
“Yes Sir, Commander Antonovich had studied all your battles. At any rate the Rogons overruled that one as well, no doubt for the same reason”
DeWalt continued “The actual execution of the plan left much to be desired, the attack began approximately 43 minutes early, a reconstruction of sensor data indicates several small explosions on the surface at that time. Dragonhead 2 the unexpectedly left formation and began her approach several minutes before the others.”
Wendy Taylor raised her hand “Do we know what the explosions on the planet were?“ she asked
“From navy reports filed by survivors of Dragon head 4, it seems Major Putnam had been in contact with a UNPD agent on the ground, and instigated the sabotage of certain communications equipment.”
“Wonderful” said St James “Putnam jumps the gun to cut comm. links when waiting for the Mayflower to pass around the planet would have accomplished the same thing”
“Yes sir, at any rate Dragonhead two landed on the wrong side of the ridge to the west of the target, and failed in its mission because of insurmountable terrain, snow and some unexpected local resistance”
The holo projector began showing two dragon heads in landing mode when suddenly a fast shuttle moved into the display and began firing missiles. Lew DeWalt began to explain
“The Reb…colonials had enough warning to get their small craft into the air, as you can see this one was far more dangerous than we had anticipated” One of the Dragonhead ship was destroyed in the display and the other received minor damaged “At this point Maj. Putnam instructed the pilot of Dragonhead 4 to land in the center of the colonial town”
Hunter asked the obvious question “What were his reasons for that change of plan?
“Major Putnam has not seen fit to answer our request for an after action report” Richard Redmond had to speak up in justification of his minion
“Political Directive Officers are not required to answer to line personal”
He stated, again Hunter was quick to slap him down “They are when they take it upon themselves to make tactical decisions, we will deal with the major in due time, please finish your report Captain”
“Because the attack was in the center of the town the Rogons and the Troops supporting them split up and lost all semblance of military organization. When the explosion occurred serious damage resulted to Dragonhead 4, and the ground force was totally demoralized”
“The attack on the Mayflower started with an unfortunate acident, that being the loss of Dragonhead 6 and Major Watson when Mayflower fired her main engines. The attack was apparently going well, but failed after Dragonheads 7 and 8 withdrew to rescue the ground force”
Again Hunter had a question “Was that Putnams doing again?”
“No sir, that was a Rogon decision, although obviously the ground forces could have retreated to the safety of their ships, and effected the evacuation using Dragonhead 2 alone… That concludes my report”
Hunter stood up to stretch “Very well in the absence of Commander Antonovich, Ensign Taylor can report on our current situation”
Young Wendy Taylor was obviously nervous as she stood up to speak but her voice was strong when she began ”We are currently traveling accoss the system well above the plane of the ecliptic towing the capture liner New Palmtree, we are now inside the orbit of Alchibah Prime about 25 degrees behind her orbit, we have transferred the munitions to this ship and are in the process of moving the rest of the cold sleep capsules form the Orion into her hold…although I don’t understand why”
Hunter had resumed his seat “ I will explain that, we can’t tractor the Palmtree at anywhere near the accelleration of this ship without destroying her so we are going to put all the cold sleepers on board and turn her loose under a prize crew”
He went on “After this meeting Captain DeWalt will see to it that there is no trace of wine or liquor on board that ship, and then place Lieutenant Antonovich on board to command the prize crew, She will eventually arrive at the planet and if the Colonials wish to waste effort trying to take her back so be it, Ensign do you have anything else to report?”
Wendy was ready now “Only this sir, all of our Dragonheads have been dispersed by the Rogons and we don’t know why”
“Thank you Ensign, I would like to add a question of my own for our invited guest Master krett, What is the Rogon force on the planet trying to accomplish with this operation on the southern landmass”
If he was offended by being questioned by human slaves in this fashion Shintok; krett-N gave no indication he rose a little and answered in perfect English ”both questions are related, our earlier probes had detected large amounts of what you would call heavy metals and transurananics on the southern landmass, we surmise they are the result of a long ago asteroid strike. Many of our crew have departed to be involved in the recovery efforts”
Hunter was momentarily speechless “Are you saying the Rogons are interrupting offensive operations to go looking for gold?
“Yes Commodore, essentially that is correct” replied the humanologist
“Master krett, with all due respect I must protest, this system is occupied by Humans who are far better equipped and organized than we expected. If we wish to bring them under Rogon/UN control we can not afford to waste time with side issues, so far we have had one disaster after another, we must begin effective operations against the colonials as soon as possible”
krett was not disturbed by this criticism “I agree with you wholeheartedly, I admit that it was Rogon incompetence that cause most of problems so far, and I wish to inform you that the leaders of this expedition place their full trust in your command…unfortunately we can not easily stop our volunteer crew from visiting the planet if they want to, however in the interest of assisting with your plans I believe Mr. Redmond has something to offer”
Redmond was unprepared for this move by his new master “That’s not.. I mean…what I mean is that… yes, I have information from my spies on the planet, The rebels have been driven from there home and are hiding in caves north of the city, they plan on sending weapons to the religious fanatics in the south thereby weakening there own position”
“And just how do you know this?” asked St. James
“I have an encrypted commlink to my agents that’s how” said Redmond
“Exellent” replied St James “You will make that link available to miss Taylor so that our naval Intel can monitor It.”
“ Never! You can’t give me orders! That is a UNPD link and…“ but Redmond couldn’t speak due to the sudden constriction of claws around his throat.
“Everything will be as you wish” said Shintok; krett-N, master of humans.