For four years Commodore Hunter St James had been working under the watchful eyes and ears of the Rogons, he hoped his two subordinate officers could act with enough restraint to satisfy those that listen.
“We are awaiting a full accounting of our loses from the Colonials, at least they were decent enough to give us the names of POWs’ I’m honestly beginning to regret that we are at war with these guys” Hunter place a small glass globe on the table in front of him, he considered it for a moment and began making decisions.
“OK, of the four Dragonheads lost to date 3 were operated by Rogons all under questionable circumstances, from this point on all Dragonhead flights will be manned by UN navy personal. Secondly from now on dragonheads will operate in pairs at a minimum. Now, tell me how long it will take to implement this order.”
Ensign Taylor consulted her clipboard, “Well sir, we currently have 3 heads docked, 2 inbound and two approaching the planet, with one permanently grounded. Of the two approaching Alchibah one has a Rogon crew.”
Hunter was pleased by this “Fine, send orders to the Navy detachment ashore to take over operation of that vessel and that both ships will return together, we will send detail flight instructions later. I’m certain the Rogon crew will want to go off fortune hunting with the rest of the Rogons, so there should be no problem. And send orders to the army as well, all personal are to be embarked on those ships for return to Deathfang. Only those who volunteer to remain with Major Putnam may do so, no one will be forced to stay.”
Hunter went on to the next item on the list “Speaking of fortune hunting do we know how many Rogons have assembled on the planet?”
Wendy Taylor hesitated briefly, “Well sir, obviously the Rogons come and go as they please. I don’t think the Rogon command even knows how many have left…That said I would estimate that including those on route, close to 400 Rogons are at the base camp.”
Lew DeWalt, silent to this point spoke up, “Excuse me, Sir, Miss Taylor, but I have taken the liberty of ordering my men to keep a running tally I can get that information for you, but if anything Miss Taylor is guessing lowl”
Hunter St. James thought this over for a minute “So on the other hand, do we know how many Rogons remain onboard?”
“No sir,” replied the young Ensign, “Our best guess would be a little over 100l”
“Well that won’t do, In the event of an emergency, we need to know who’s onboard” Hunter was obviously speaking as though unseen ears might be listening “I want to encourage some inter-service co-operation.”
“In the event I hold a surprise, being overboard drill, it will be necessary to rapidly account for all personal human or Rogon. Miss Taylor you will develop methods to rapidly locate and count all Rogons on board. Captain DeWalt, you will designate certain NCOs’ to train with the Navy in conducting search parties to locate missing or injured Rogons.”
“Next on the list; Miss Taylor, did I not see some UN fighters on the lower boat deck when I conducted my last walk through?”
Wendy Taylor answered enthusiastically, “Yes sir you did, we have 16 F-91 Stiletto fighters completely upgraded with Rogon-tech, most officers and Non-coms are qualified on them and let me tell you sir they are sweet.”
“I should think so, I checked out in the Stiletto when they came out about 10 years back and they were super hot birds then; I can imagine what a couple hundred extra gees would do…Make up a pilot list of 15 qualified persons and we will start doing work ups for eventual combat air patrols…and no, Miss Taylor you are not to include yourself on that list.”
Hunter ignored Wendy’s obvious disappointmen,t “Oh yeah, going back to the would be gold miners ” I will inform our Rogon Masters that I will send one more pair of Dragonheads to the planet for the purpose delivering Rogon prospectors, after that we will go to a full war footing.”
“Captain I want you to begin planning for a full regimental ground assault on the cave location. It may be necessary to drop in some distance away so do a feasibility study on a hovercraft assault over the sea ice…Lord knows we have the equipment for it; when you make contact you’ll have 7 Dragons 16 fighters and the Deathfang overhead, if that ain’t enough we can all forget going home… I expect an outline in two days.”
Wendy spoke up, “16 fighters, sir?”
“That’s right Miss Taylor… It’s traditional that the first bird in an air wing is reserved for the carriers Captain.” Hunter knew how bad the young officer wanted to prove herself; he couldn’t just shoot her down without building her back up.
Hunter rolled the glass globe between his fingers, “I know I’m asking a lot of both of you; sometimes duty requires everything that you can give and then steals what’s left,” He paused again looking at the globe, “Once the Troops return from the planet we will hold a full command formation on the upper boat deck, Captain DeWalt, I am appointing you Regimental Commander of the 21st, and promoting you to Major” St. James smiled at the expression on the Young Captains face “Oh and you, Miss Taylor, had better have your best uniform laid out, It’s not every day an Ensign gets bumped two grades to 1st Lieutenant.”