Fool me once…

Command Deck Rogon Ship Deathfang:

“Captains on the bridge!”

Hunter St James strode to the watch command station in Deathfang’s human modified control room. “What do we have Wendy?” he asked the young officer who had assumed the duties of his chief of staff…

Although Ensign Wendy Taylor was young she was smart and efficient in all things, “Long range scans of the planet are picking up some ship movements.” She activated the main 3-D projection, “At 161 light seconds, we loose a little detail, There’s definitely a hot pursuit going on.”

The big screen above showed time stamps in human base 10 and Rogon base 8 numerals, Hunter ignored that and concentrated on the active symbols. A red triangle was leading a green skull and crossbones symbol at a high rate of speed across the face of the planet “Very cute, now zoom out.”

The scene abruptly changed so that the planet became a 2 foot ball suspended in the vast field of view. “Now project the vectors,” Hunter directed. Suddenly two lines appeared almost superimposed on each other, extending from the ship icons to a small white ball about 4 feet from the planet. “Ok show me the current plot,” again the view change with the ship symbols moving half way up the two colored vectors towards the small moon. “Order the Dragonhead to break off pursuit, they won’t, but send it anyway.”

The message was promptly sent to Dragonhead 2, 161 seconds away, “Your analysis Miss Taylor?”

Wendy Taylor was becoming used to such questions from the Commodore, He expected his officers to think about problems and have quick answers.

“Sir we expected the Colonials to make their supply run to the southern landmass two days from now, apparently they have jumped the gun and were detected by the Dragonhead which is now chasing them into space.”

Wendy was sure she was correct but also thought she should have had more to say. Hunter was reasonably pleased but felt some more instructive questioning was in order. “OK 2 questions, one, if they advanced their plans what doe’s that tell us? and two, why the close pass of that small moon?”

A piece of the puzzle became suddenly obvious, “They must have caught the spy…and decoded his message…but… I’m sorry sir I don’t know why they are going past that moon.”

Hunter was satisfied with that, ” So far so good…passing that close to the moon is no coincidence, obviously they have some kind of trap set, that’s why I sent the recall order. It probably won’t arrive in time, and even if it does the Rogons will ignore it but it is a chance.”

They watched silently as the chase played out above when the two icons reached the moon suddenly a confusing group of red triangles and arrow symbols appeared, in seconds the green skull began blinking and then disappeared.

“Isn’t there anything we can do sir?” she asked in a diminished voice.

Hunter had already discarded the one option but he felt it only fair to explain, “We could order Dragonhead 3 to cut anchors and assume a blocking orbit… she might catch a couple of those ships but probably not.”

Wendy didn’t quite understand. “But Sir” she stammered, “Aren’t two ships better than none?”

Hunter gave the young officer a sad smile, “Sure two ships are better than none, but a smart commander would split his ships up and risk a couple for the chance to slam the planetary base, I’m not prepared to take that bet.”

They watched as the red ships maneuvered on the screen “place two recon drones in very high orbits on opposite sides of the planet…Oh and keep a continuous watch on the spy channel, they will either begin filing false reports or try to contact us direct, either way I want to know.”

After a few minutes the red ship symbols began their return to the planet, the display zoomed in till they filled the screen. As they made the final approach their formation subtly shifted.

“What was that Sir?” Asked Ensign Taylor in a slightly confused tone.

Commodore Hunter St. James stared at the 3-D for a long moment. “It’s called the Missing Man Formation. It’s the way Combat Pilot’s have honored one of their own who died for generations. Those with any sense of honor that is. Somehow I doubt that honor is missing down there.”

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Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
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Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.