Mistakes Were Made

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Shintok

Fortson and Reye watched the tight-beam laser feed showing the beginning of the Rogon attack on the southern continent while seated in the communications room at the cave complex. The rest of the citizens watched, either on their own com units, or seated with others in the common areas.

The Rogon troops snaked between the hills staying on average about 2000 yards from the rivers course. The rapidly moving force got occasional glimpses of Soessossins between themselves and the water. They moved unopposed and with growing confidence in what looked to be, from all they knew, a lopsided conquest. The plan itself showed they were in a hurry to get the one-sided war over and move on to better things as rapidly as possible. At least that’s what Fortson thought considering the fact they were making no effort to investigate what might be on their exposed flank.

“Send what you got Joe,” Les Reye authorized. “I doubt they can intercept us but even if they do what with the relays they won’t know where we are sending from.”

Fortson merely nodded then said, “I would bet better than even money the caves are no longer a secret Les, the Stuart compound sure isn’t, and that’s the first relay point.”

In the common dining hall Bill and Janie Bartlett along with the Parkers and a dozen other colonists at first made idle chitchat as the drama played out on a large screen set against one wall of the cavern. Later the mood became much more somber and Fortson’s voiceover comments came more often as the circle closed. All attention became riveted on the screen. On a hill another 500 yard further from the river, some of the Leviticans and their allies had a much closer view.

Jedediah and Aaron said little or nothing; all of the direct commands and statements of advice, were given by Sister Martha. Ruth and Miriam Dobswell held themselves off to the side on a blanket, holding hands and silently praying for the best through all that was to follow.

“We wait,” Martha said in response to Hosham who was eager to begin moving the mass of the Soessossins closer to the half-deployed Rogon troops. “Another few minutes and we make sure that those with rifles are spread out equally. Those behind at least.”

The Llama’s had two different sexes, but except for birthing and a few months of early child raising there was little to separate one from another. Their reproductive organs were hidden from sight, at least as far as humans were concerened, and even after more than an Earth year of contact none of the humans could tell one sex from the other except at birthing time. And that was something that happened rarely.

It came as a surprise to Jedediah when some of those he assumed to be male turned out to be female instead. Because of the Soessossins actual gender equality in most respects, more than 80% of them were ready for and became active combatants.

The bulk of the ‘Native’ force, some 3500 soldiers, 300 of them armed with projectile weapons supplied by Liberty City, were strung out parallel to the Rogons route of march. but concealed in the hilly ground behind them. The Llamas visible to the Rogon, about 200 in total, those between the Rogon and the river, were stationed as a lure and showing themselves only enough so as to insure the much larger force behind the encircling soldiers remained undetected. The inept Rogon leadership was turning this simple ruse into a masterful strategy.

RoDan and the Jeep remained motionless dug into their holes at either end of the western flank where Shintok; petok-S waited for all his soldiers to get into position. When petok-S moved inwards the bots would follow. For now the risk of exposure was too great to justify the risk involved. At present the moon Carter was above the battleground but she would be below the horizon in another hour. From that point on the information relayed to Liberty City would become very scarce. The hope was the Dobswells and Marty could send information to the bots who would do all of the transmitting back to the north. Rodan and the Jeep would rely on movement and burst mode to keep from becoming targets.

* * *
Shintok; elron-A, with argo as his second, were on one of the skimmers and huk with teth on the other. They waited along with the western force and would do whatever petok-S ordered. The Rogon commander, true to his reputation as an original thinker, had hinted that if the fight went well he might even use the skimmers to retrieve wounded troops and bring them back for timely medical care. Elron could scarce believe one might dilute the rewards of victory in this fashion and was not happy his role might be minimized, but still as leader of the transport team, his reward would be greater than that of any common soldier.

Shintok; huk-T was more than pleased he was out of harms way. As soon as an opportunity presented itself he was going back to the crater lake and start staking out a claim. What foolish ness, hauling around wounded soldiers, after the fight was through petok-S would find his career was too. Even teth his second conceded the very thought of assisting failure and cutting the spoils went against everything the Rogon stood for. How could a Shintok fall so low?

* * *
The viewscreen flickered, showed random bursts of static, and then went dark, all within a few seconds as Carter went below the horizon. Fortson announced, “From here on in no more pretty pictures. We will keep the voice feed on but I think we can tell what happens next.”

“The Rogons will make a mass charge along their front and drive the Llamas against or into the river and use their vastly superior fire power to kill enough of them so that surrender and slavery become the only option. As soon as the Rogons are committed to that plan the rest of the Soessossins behind them will be on their heels and attempt to do the same, but with the Rogons as victim. Against good leadership the Llamas don’t stand a chance.”

“All the Rogons need to do is wait until the attack from the rear starts, then halt and hold their ground. Weapons range and the relatively open terrain and the Llamas can’t get close enough to hurt them. The Rogons uncommitted and in the west start rolling up the flank and the battles over but for the body count. I don’t think it’ll turn out that way due to how we’ve seen the Rogons perform in the past but once the fighting starts all bets are off.”

“There is a third option Joe,” came Andy’s drawl from Ft. Stuart. “If the Rogons turn and run too soon and with what we have seen of their normal control; this could turn into another Concord Bridge. Those MK I’s are a bit better than smoothbores dontcha’ know!

“Depending on the first round of targets the Llamas pick, this could get ugly for the Rogons and fast.”

* * *

“And all of the people of war who were with him went up.
and they proceeded to camp in the north…
with the valley between them…
And it came to pass as soon as the King saw it…
The men of the city rose up and went to meet Israel in battle,
he and all his people at the appointed time.”

Joshua 8:11-14.

“Father, Sister Martha, all of you who are the Lords people,” Aaron Dobswell said, “Let us pray.”

“Thus was it recorded,” said Jedediah Dobswell, “And the King is the Rongon, and Joshua and the Israelites are as us, and with the help of the Lord of hosts, Joshua defeated his enemies, as so shall we…”

“It is starting,” Hosham said to Marty as they watched the Rogon begin to move with a lumbering gate towards the river.

“Go tell the ones with Jedediah and Aaron, They will want to be here when we start moving ourselves.”

“Things are going well,” Shintok; petok-S said to his staff watching the displays from the front. One in nine of his soldiers had equipment for visual communications and the view was both impressive and gratifying though tending to flicker in and out as the repeated plasma bolts caused the optics to automatically dim in order to keep from burning out.”

“Send a message to all leaders that I only want intermittent fire unless they can see the enemy in front of them. There is no purpose in expending energy on dangerous rocks and plant life.” It was the right command but petok-S would be happy if even a scant majority of the Rogons complied. Obedience and discipline in the heat of the moment was an uncommon virtue and not one he expected.”

As the Rogons neared the crest of the various hummocks and ridges the Llamas were hiding behind, flights of arrows began to fall amongst them. Few hit anything and the lack of success and fewer than expected numbers caused a general speed up in the rate of advance. Only two Rogon were hit and down by the time those first positions were overrun and from the heights the flight of the retreating Soessossins was clear to all.

Marty gave the order to move just as the Rogons hit the ridge and the Dobswells arrived. The Rogon by now had vanished and were out of sight and below the first set of hills by the time the Soessossins could start to get underway. In war—especially in war— time waits for no one.

“It is time, we advance now and close the trap,” Shintok; petok-S said with more certitude then he felt. Something was wrong here. He wasn’t seeing as many of the ponies as he expected and he hadn’t heard any reports of the ancient projectile weapons that Edwards had talked about being used yet. Still it was time. He told elron to circle behind and start picking up the wounded then took his position in the rear as the western portion of the line went into motion.

Shintok; elron-A was moving almost at once, driving his skimmer in the start of an arc so that he would come into the battlefield from behind. Anything else and confusion would be the result. He looked behind to see how close huk was and couldn’t locate him anywhere; nor was there any reply when he tried to signal him. Communications equipment failure was his guess…well… it was more like a hope.

“Off we go to make our fortunes,” huk-T said to his broodmate teth as he turned around and sped back to the crater lake. His descendants would praise him for this and he might even become an ‘-S’ himself.

The Jeep and Rodan followed behind the flanking petok-S careful to remain hidden but sending occasional updates to Liberty City; still pictures only keeping the bandwidth down. They had seen the skimmer and kept out of sight when it passed between them going the other way. If nothing else it was one less enemy to worry about.

The Rogons could already see the river and the fewer than two hundred Soessossins crowded on its bank when they became fully aware of the problem behind them. “Damn you stupid assholes,” petok-S heard Cotton Edwards exclaim as he saw the same picture stream the Rogon leader was looking at.

“What mean you by this?” came the imperious challenge. “Speak must! What have you been shielding from your betters Slave?!”

“If you frackin’ morons had the brains god gave a duck you wouldn’t need to ask!”

That was all he could take, Shintok; petok-S triggered the plasma rifle slung beneath his belly and Edwards literally vanished in a cloud of steam and a puff of smoke. A waste of meat but such insolence must not be tolerated.

Turning to his second in command he said, “Yes the major part of their strength is behind us. Send instructions to stop the advance and destroy them before any more damage is done!”

All too predictably the orders went unheeded. Those in the rear continued to drop and those in front kept firing and rushing towards the river and the helpless prey upon its banks. Before more than a tenth of the Soessossins were killed the others had plunged into the water and were swimming towards the opposite shore, which at most points was less than a hundred yards away. Most of the Rogon were by now down on the rivers narrow flood plain with the Llamas holding the high ground behind them.

A few Rogons turned around and started to fire at the protected positions on the hills above the river. The rest just followed the Soessossins into the water, weapons and all, ready to finish off the easy ones first. —And got a surprise—They learned why in the future the river would be called the ‘Cold River’. It was ice even at this time of year. The channel was deep and filled with melt water from high up on the mountains from inside of the continent. The water never got closer than ten degrees above the freezing point until it had a chance to fill up the crater lake, settle, and warm in that larger body before finishing its journey to the sea.

It only took one or two to start firing the plasma rifles, now submerged, to get the others, those not so numb they had lost control of their musculature, to fire also. Steam rose, seals leaked, and explosions rocked the water. As many as a dozen made it to the other shore where they lay, still numb, exhausted, and helpless, as the once pacifistic Soessossins finished them off with spears or arrows or sometimes with knifes and bare hands. Those who stood their ground on the other side, outnumbered forty to one fared no better.

Shintok; petok-S ordered retreat. He called for elron-A to arrange a pickup and only afterwards did he find out what had happened to the missing Liberty City rifles… None on the Rogon side survived. Twenty Soessossins would join them in hell, or wherever the dead in battle landed.

By the time Shintok; elron-A circled back the massacre was complete. Four hundred fifty Rogons against a weak and backwards foe. Hardly worthy of being a slave race and yet, until he found huk and teth at the crater lake, elron was convinced that he and argo were the only survivors. This whole mission was one disaster after another. There was nothing to do but return to the grounded Dagon’s head and await whatever was in store. Those on board had seen the record. Except for acknowledging his call they weren’t saying anything else.

With his skimmer in the lead, elron-A was only five miles away from the grounded ship and base-camp when the darkening sky ahead lit up with the glare of a hundred suns. The SwiftStrike was leaving the planet, and leaving without him.

Can I Trust Him?

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Andrew Stuart

Ft. Stuart, Alchibah Evening Day 889

Ash Andrews

I walked into Andy’s place to see him with his feet up and a drink that had not been touched. It was fairly obvious that he had just sat down. I knew he was working hard but at this moment I had little or no sympathy. “OK, Cuz. All of the birds are converted, the Dora is completely up-rated and I even have two of the old 2 CM’s in each of the Cargo Buses. They are not offensive capable but, at least they are not defenseless anymore.

“The only thing keeping me from my twins is that Kara said you wanted data on Capt. Hunter St. James?”

Andy looked at me like a stranger, “It’s Commodore St. James these days and do you know him?”

“I know of him duty wise and showed him the best places to find bootleg steaks a couple of times when he was down at HQ for Commanders Conferences. I was the Deputy Plans and Training Officer remember. Besides after the UN fully took over he was the only other guy in the room with an IQ higher than a fracking rock.”

Andy leaned back, “Well pour yourself a drink and tell me about him.”

I fixed the drink at the bar and sunk into a chair. “Well, he’s an Academy grad from before the UN abolished the Honor Code. Knows his shit for sure, had he been a die hard believer he would have been on the short list for Admiral. Ruthless Bastard for sure but, no worse than you in that department. If killing a hundred will save a thousand, he will pull the trigger.

“Married, got a wife he loves enough he will not cheat on her. Couple of kids, girls I think, that the universe revolves around. Scotch drinker, prefers Single-Malt when he can get it. Holds it pretty well also.

“Come to think of it the person he reminds me the most of is you General Cuz.”

Andy leaned back in his chair and just stared into space for a few minutes. “OK, Ash I know you have a touch of Mariana’s shit thanks to your Dad, just as you have a load of mine thanks to your Mom. You have looked this guy right in the eye. Million Dollar question, can I trust him?”

“Andy, if I had to go back to fighters I had fully intended to wrangle my ass under that man. He was the only person in that room I even vaguely trusted and for one reason. The mans word is his bond. If he says he is going to do something, he means it.”

Andy took a long pull on his drink, “I can live with a gut feeling. Go hug your kids Ash, you deserve it.”

Yahoo for Goohoo

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Kara

Ft. Stuart, Morning Day 889

“Hey Kara? I’m having trouble with the intel database.”

Kara ran over to Robert, taking over his keyboard. “Ooh, yes, of course you are. I’m still working on it, but let me link you to the new starting page for the intel area.”

The page came up and Kara slowly nudged him aside. “OK, there are so many different databases currently housing intel data, and I’m in the process of consolidating them. For now, though, I’ve cross-referenced most of them and you can just use this page to search what you need. Let’s use St James as an example.”

Kara punched in his name and many lines came up. “So now when you go into one entry, you’ll see the areas that are cross referenced. Use this key and it’ll automatically open any of the hyperlinked words into tabs behind the entry. Hit the key again and they all close.”

Moore stared at Kara as she worked, thinking that he hadn’t seen someone get this excited about databases since Harry Kim at University.

Kara continued, pausing just long enough for some air. “You’ll see with this St James search that it is pulling information from the colony’s public journals also. It isn’t finished, of course, but it is getting there.”

Kara realized she had taken over his workspace and had been rambling. She moved aside. “Sorry, Robert, I guess I got carried away.”

“I take it this is what you’ve been working on these past few days?” Robert asked.

“Yeah. It has been fun working with databases like this again. If you can’t tell, I kind of like them,” Kara said sheepishly.

Robert thought to himself, “You don’t say,” but instead said aloud, “It looks like you’re making great progress. Did you write all this yourself? Using C+9?”

Kara sat back at her workstation. “I brought some of my tools with me from Earth. I’m using an IBM MDM overlay, but their engine is a bit weak, so I replaced it with OTS Goohoo enterprise engine. I used this setup back on Earth with good results, and so far its working pretty well. Just some more manual referencing left to do, and the first stage should be done in the next day or so.”

“Is that the Goohoo 2.0 engine? That’s very outdated now. I’ll see if I can dig up the latest in my files. If not, I know some of the fixes they made, and I might be able to tweak the 2.0 code to fix some of the security holes and add some features. Let me know when you’re done and I’ll take a look.”

“Be still my beating heart. Someone else on this rock who knows they’re way around the back alley of computers. There aren’t many of us, and few have time for this stuff. Glad to have you on board, even more than I was yesterday.” Then Kara got back to work.

Robert smiled. “Making new friends here might be easier than I thought,” he said to himself.

A Southern Strategy

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Shintok

The Rogon had been marching for two of the Unruth days now. Order was being enforced and close to being maintained. Shintok; petok-S has stopped worrying about the big things and was concentrating on the small. With that in mind he summoned elron-A, who was directing his broodmates and a squad of twenty others, to report to him in person and immediately. This was an order to which the lesser Rogon wasted no time in responding.

“You are handling your duties well and have your squad is performing in a fine military manner. But I must ask you elron-A, why did Jaric: tilmer-N insist that you and your broodmates must accompany me and say that he found you annoying?”

“The Submaster said this? I had no Idea. This is not good,” elron wailed in an almost plaintive tone. “I only went to the academician for advice and was very surprised when he sent me away. But annoyed? I never ever even suspected.”

Shintok; petok-S felt an urge to lash out at elron for failing to answer the question directly and fully, but instead, and this was why he was an up and coming leader ready to close with the top of his profession, merely roared, rather than rage about and take to throwing things, “Answer the question! What was it that you asked of him?”

“It had to do with nicknames Master.”

“Yes, the humans give all their warriors ferocious sounding military names like Firebird and Angel and Wildcat. These names must somehow increase their stature and make them fight as if they were two people instead of one. And I was thinking we could do the same thing. Like for instance, and I tried it out on my broodmates, we could take names that would make the humans fear us. Names that would, once they heard of them, cause consternation and fear. Names that would weaken their resolve and cause them tremble and consider the fate of all slaves of the Rogon.”

“An imaginative idea. You should have approached me with this first, but tell me, what were the names and what did tilmer-N say?”

“Knowing how the humans abhor the notion of becoming food, I can’t explain why this is so but I have seen it over and over, I suggested argo become ‘Pork Chop’, teth become ‘Banana’ and huk, due to his injury be called ‘Drumstick’. For myself, and since the main enemy military commander is known as ‘Reaper’, surely relating to gathering grain for later eating, I would call myself ‘Harvester’! My first choice was Butterball but I think I got the spirit right with that one.”

“I told all of this to Jaric; tilmer-N, seeking his guidance and assurance of proper word choice and pronunciation as I am still learning the humans tongue. When I did this the Submaster closed his eyes and said nothing for a time. Finally he stared at me and then motioned me out of the room. Next thing I knew I was ordered under your command for the march against the Soessossins. I thought it was a mark of favor. Perhaps I was wrong?”

“Dismissed Shintok; elron-A. I do understand now and no nicknames until I so order.”

Shintok; petok-S went on to the next small matter he needed to deal with. He was in charge of almost 450 Rogons who would rather be staking claims on the continents mineral resources than fighting a battle with Humans and Soessossins so there were plenty of small matters to handle.

Somehow or other his supply master had failed to bring along enough food for an expedition expected to last several weeks. Half of the skimmers that should have held food instead were loaded with claim stakes and metal locating equipment. He had enough claim stakes to mark half the continent but food for only one more day. The Yelsig were food on the hoof but petok-S was certain once any were put to that purpose the rest would make every effort to distance themselves and he still intended using them as shock troops.

Several Rogons had already damaged themselves, either by mistake or out of boredom, playing with and firing the heavy energy rifles they carried slung under their bellies. They had in each case discharged without being sure the barrel was extended and their front legs were spread and clear of the beam. The muzzle of the weapon was supposed to be thrust several feet forwards before firing but some young idiots thought it fashionable to emulate what they saw on dream tapes and never learn except the hard way.

Petok-S would have gladly made an example of those soldiers but Rogons did not eat their own except on planetary holidays. He would dump the assay gear and claim markers and send the cripples back to the skullship and have food enough loaded and brought back on the return trip.

Even Shintok; petok-S was not immune to temptation and was having a hard time keeping his mind off of the riches he would posses in a few short days. Such prospects of wealth were impossible back home on the Rogoss except to those born to great family and power. The single-minded drive that put him in charge of this force was being tested to near the breaking point. It should never have been disclosed that the scan upon their arrival of the water filled meteor crater, towards which he was heading, had taken the detectors off scale. Unfortunately that kind of secret was impossible to maintain.

He needed to hold the troops together until he encountered the opposing group of Soessossins and break them by superior force of arms. Based on what petok-S observed concerning the essential pacifism of the Yelsig nature, this task would go smoothly. What would be more difficult was once victory was assured keeping them from scattering and running off into the interior. Shintok; petok-S spent what little time he could spare from the little details thinking about how he might accomplish that.

Shintok; huk-T was driving one of the skimmers. He was mostly recovered from the injuries he suffered in the fight up north but would have been hard pressed if he were forced to march like most of the force. All in all huk was happy to be here. If he could just get out of elron’s sight for long enough to plant his own markers his future was assured; elron was playing the military game rather than looking out for his own future and that of his broodmates.

Stick together broodmates must, so huk would make sure that after his claim was secure and afterwards he would help elron in securing one for himself. And to that end when the two skimmers sent back for supplies were unloaded, huk had grabbed a portable locater and several armfuls of the claim markers and dumping the tools from his skimmers storage chest loaded the newly acquired items inside and away from casual detection.

Shintok; petok-S called his subleaders together for a final briefing in a secluded location away from the main encampment. Only thirty of the Rogons had deserted when they passed around the side of the impact crater lake. Of those there were ten he would bring up on charges of desertion and some might even suffer for the act. The others had too much family power at home to be held accountable but petok-S was going to punish them none the less by making sure if he had any say so the first levies paying for the occupation came from the richest sections of their holdings.

“The plan is very, very, simple,” the Rogon leader began, “and as such all of you should be capable of understanding it.” In petok’s experience a vote of confidence was always the best way to keep the command structure together. “We, along with the enemy are on the south side of the river and its narrow floodplain. The Ponies and a small number of Humans are in the hills overlooking the natural battle field.”

The Rogon had a simplified map of the area that he pointed to as he described the salient points. “We will split into two forces. The first, larger force will lead the Yelsig behind the hills, and when all is ready send them into the enemy camp disrupting them.

The easternmost portion of this force will drive to the river and seal off escape in that direction while our heavily armed forces follow behind the Yelsig and push all in front of them off of the hills and onto the river plain. Our second force under my direct command will come in from the west completing the encirclement. They will be trapped and helpless between us and the river and forced to surrender.”

Shintok elron-A was not really thinking about the plan; he was thrilled to be here and that was enough. He was by far the most junior of those present and if not for his luck in commanding the small skimmer force would never have seen the masterful performance. It was with the same sense of shock and outrage shared by all of the gathered Rogon that caused him to blanche in response to the ceremonial request for questions and comments, the Edwards creature, almost forgotten in the back, spoke up. He must have been following the map directions for surely he could not follow the spoken language.

“Are you sure,” Edwards started–before cries of silence!–and respect must!–and menacing glares–brought him abruptly to a halt.

On a hill not far away, with only a head and optics above ground and while sensors picked up all the conversation, R. JP watched and recorded the entire meeting.

No more fooling around

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Richard Redmond

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.”

Phoenix Rising!

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Andrew Stuart

Ft. Stuart, Evening Day 888

Andrew Stuart

I settled into the chair groaning, the shower had helped but from before Sunrise to after Sunset building towers hurt. It was something that had to be done and done fast but, it still hurt. Note to self, Teach someone younger Tower work. My desk unit chimed and it was Tim at Communications Central.

“Andy, those lists you asked for are ready and are in common database files ready to transmit. Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Tim, I kinda have to. It’s all part of feeling out that crew up there not to mention that one file. Those Guys and Gals went down like Soldiers not thugs and deserve better than an unmarked grave. Shit that LT at the Lab made a dumb as hell move but it was a gutsy one and one you would expect of a leader. Good or Bad, you can’t ask much more out of a young 2LT.

“So, cue up the files for my signal and put me through to Task Force Alchibah.

“Task Force Alchibah, General Stuart Strike Force Alchibah on the line. I have data and a request for you!”

The obviously tired voice of Ensign Taylor came on the line. “Congratulations General and what can we do for you?”

I heard the suppressed giggle in that young voice and just had to ask, “Have my troops been telling tales out of school?”

You did not need video to see that smile across all the miles, “You have to admit Sir that that story is going to make the rounds of the lower ranks in any service.”

“Yeah Right, at any rate I have three database files for you. The First is those Soldiers we have captured or wounded who have been able to give us their Rank and Name. Anyone who made it to our Hospital is on that list. The Second is a list of wrist comp serial numbers; if you can tie those to the baby raping, back shooting and looting bastards who were wearing those, I have burial locations for them. The Third is pictures, where I would want anyone to see them, and fingerprint files for a bunch of Kids who went down hard as Soldiers.

“I would like very much to get Names, Ranks and Birth Dates for that file. I will later amend that file with appropriate plot locations for those. Those kids deserve better than an unmarked grave. At any rate here come the files.” My hands flicked the key signal to Tim and I waited out the delay.

Command Deck, Deathfang

Wendy Taylor turned towards the Commodore in what she thought was starting to be a habit, “Sir, what do I do?”

Hunter St. James stared at the overhead for a moment. “Send him the data Ensign. I think our new General down there is going to give those people Military Honors. Like I said, if anything is lacking down there I don’t think it is Honor.”

Communications Central, Liberty

Tim’s voice rang in triumph, “Got a correlation running message. How did you know?”

I picked up the drink that had been waiting, “Tim, I can not tell you that I will like that man if I ever get the chance to meet him. But, I can tell you right now I will not hate him. The man is a Professional Naval Officer, which of course means there will be some friction. Look up the traditions of the old Army-Navy Game. Remember four months after that game those Kids went to War together. Cripes that would mean a four boat race, shit!”

Tim killed the Microphone and pointed his head at the roof and let the tears and laughter roll. Just days ago Alchibah had been reeling slightly as the rock they had counted on to carry them though this War almost seemed to be crumbling. Suddenly out of the ashes had come this new rebirth. Joe, Bart and Rocco were dealing with the South. Andy was snapping Commands in all directions. Ash, Hibbs and Chandler were burning bandwidth in cryptic mathematics and Hanna was smiling.

Tim was just a Comm’s and Data guy but, this sure seemed to be a bad time to be a Snake.

Here We Stand!

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Andrew Stuart

Ft. Stuart, Late Evening Day 887

Gabriel Benjamin

I had rounded up the whole crew that Andy had asked for and everyone had just finished attacking the Bar when Andy walked in. I was stunned for a moment then yelled at the top of my lungs “Detachment, Attention!”

I snapped off the first well meant salute since the day I had left this man’s Command at old Coronado to the sight of that Star replacing the Eagle on the collar of Andy’s jacket. I could not help but gloat, “Mine was the first General; you owe me. I might even forgo my Silver Dollar for the story of how the Council hung that Fracking Star on you, for I know that you took that about as willingly as I would a Commission.”

Andy returned the salutes of the room with Professional Cold Precision, “Carry On, Master Chief; One of these days!

“Anyway when the Council broke it to me they had a member of the Council and an invited Observer with their sidearms already out with the safety’s off.”

I had to laugh, “And who were those brave souls? Two on one has never stopped you before that I know of.”

Andy’s head dipped like someone who had a straight flush turned on him. “Gabe, it was Mariana and Jai!”

I could not help it, for the first time since this had started; I totally cracked up. The only two people in the Universe old enough to hold a weapon that Andy would absolutely positively not take out, drawing down on him…. priceless!

Andrew Stuart

“All Right you group of reprobates settle down and we will brief the situation.”

Then from the back corner came the voice of Connor Benjamin, “But first a toast for Histy. The only man on this planet who has ever been able to snake trap the Boss!”

I heard the room explode in laughter and high fives and just slumped in my chair. Mariana came by from her trip to the Bar, “Let them celebrate love, this is what you have built. They will follow you into Hell itself computing the loot they are going to bring back. They just might deserve a laugh on the Boss every so often!”

I waited till the commotion started to die down then stood with the tears of laughter still visible on my face. “If you turkeys are ready to quit laughing at the Boss, we do have some business here. Gabe, Connor; rest assured I owe you one.

“OK, here is our status. Ash, Walt, Tim and Subbu are working their tails off on the cockpit upgrades to the MK V. The MK V-A is going to be a single Pilot bird. Every Wizzo who is qualified to be a Pilot is now on the duty rotation for the Cockpit.

“Jai, your bird will be ready by dawn. Move it up to the Dam Complex so we have our assets split. You and River are 10 and 10 on that bird.

“Ash’s and my birds will stay here. We will have two bird’s on ready 5 at all times. I am going to spend tomorrow putting up the two Radar Towers we had ready but just did not get the time to put up. We are going to surveil and defend this globe.” I threw it on the projection screen.

“This is the area that Commodore Hunter St. James would have to enter to launch a Nuke Strike against Liberty. It is my intention to send this projection to Him tonight and inform him that we will likewise not attack outside that perimeter. Remember, every hour we buy is one more that the Mayflower crew has to complete their upgrades and finish the Hamilton. I do not want to go up against that damn Rogon mothership without the Hamilton. Any questions?” The room was amazingly quiet.

“Then finish your drinks and get some sleep. Major Pierce a moment please?”

John Pierce came over, “John as of tomorrow morning you go back to being a General Contractor. Of course Hanna’s is the first major project in the pipe. But, I have one personal request. The Council approved Strike Force’s claim for the 440 acres around where we buried Steve Fallon and Robbie McMaster. I would like this Arch in wood placed over the center of the Southern edge please.”

I showed him the rough drawing of a simple, non-pretentious arch with the simple engraving.


The Cold River Valley

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Jedediah Dobswell

Cold River Valley

In My Fathers Eyes:
“In league with the devil I tell you, in league with evil incarnate,” Jedediah said or ranted to his son Aaron as they turned inland heading for the pickup point where the Liberty City colonists had left the weapon supplies.

“In more ways than one father, but we are free of the serpent in our midst. When I confronted Edwards with the truth of his perfidy he laughed then turned his back and rode off in the direction of the Rogon camp. Aram, Ephraim, and Joseph went with him. The rest obeyed my commands. I think now I might have ordered those with me them to give chase but at the time I was not so sure where everyone’s loyalties lay.”

“Take not the council of your fears, the Lord will provide; and the provision of weapons was certainly unexpected. I see you are not carrying a rifle yourself my son. Why is that?”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield. I need naught else. Sister Martha has taken to riding with me since Edwards left and in any case; she is armed enough for the both of us. Have you spoken yet again with those we left behind?”

“I have not. Joseph Fortson, who is speaking for them, said that communications would be limited unless and until we come under attack. The landing party that left us the guns also he says left behind two robots. He did not tell me where they are; only that they are somewhere up ahead of us. They are to act as forward observers but are not under our direction. We shall trust in the Lord and all will be as he desires.”

* * *
Standing outside of the milling herd, no it was a crowd, herd was used for animals, Sister Martha watched as the two large Tulari, Enoch, and Belsethar, as they began passing out the rifles to the waiting Tulari. Each Llama next went to either Hosham or Micah and in seconds received all the training they would get in one mental transfer. After all the guns were passed out and over the next few days Marty would visit the rapidly dispersing groups and make sure that each one of them fired enough rounds to zero-in the rifles. It had been a very pleasant surprise when she saw that the Agorans, Marty could not bring herself to think of them as Aarons, with their four footed stance and stability were amazingly good shots.

The combined tribes, Agorah, Tulari, Richirty and now Piridem, the first of whose members had just arrived, were going to keep marching towards the Rogon camp all the while and She would travel with Aaron and Jedediah; acting as their voice when required. They were sill at least three weeks from reaching the landed party but contact could happen at any time. With Edwards gone, and that was all to the good, the ‘Generalship’, from the human side at least, had fallen on her shoulders. How very, very, strange. ‘Martha the Warrior Princess’, no that wasn’t right, ‘Martha the servant of the Lord’.

* * *
Cotton Edwards was traveling as rapidly as he could manage, so much so that his wife was suffering visibly. She said nothing but the hour upon hour of walk then ride with scant rest had dulled her perception. Even the three Soessossins traveling with them were showing the strain. Helen had given up asking any questions or even talking to her husband, it was too much effort. Cotton had said they would reach the Rogon camp in a week, and from time to time he would say they were still on track. He made no effort to conceal his contact with the Rogon/UN force any longer. He had been assured the humans back in Liberty city were no longer a threat. He was sorely puzzled by the fact that he had to make the march at all and that a shuttle was not just sent transport his party to the camp in minutes rather than the days it was taking.

RoDan and R. JP, sheltered in the tall grass of a hillside watched the party of five pass. They followed for a day until it was certain that the destination was the Rogon camp. While Edwards was still approaching them the bots had picked up the fringes of the directed com signals. Now, with the party beyond them that was no longer possible. But it wasn’t very important either. Most of the communication was one way; Edwards telling all he knew about the Levitican and Soessossin plan with no information going in the other direction.

In the Cave and in the Stuart Compound the infrequent signals, relayed whenever the moon Carter was in a favorable position, were monitored around the clock.

“I almost wish I were there,” JJ Parker said.
“Sure ya do,” Joe Fortson replied. “You got ‘Hero’ written all over you.”

JJ’s face reddened and he answered, “You’re right Joe, I’m not all that much younger than you. The both of us are too old for that kind of thing. The waiting is what is getting to me and I’m not the only one. The Rogons must know all about these caves by now, what with Buchanan telling all. Is there anyway we can move from here to a new location that is secret?

“Not much chance of that JJ. Whatever is going to happen it will play out one way or another long before we could find and rebuild in another place. If I were you I‘d be getting with the prisoners and trying to learn a little Rogon. No matter how this turns out it could be of use.”

“What are you going to tell the Jeep and RoDan to do?”
“I just sent word for them to fall back towards the Levitican main party and to stay about a day ahead of their travel but make sure and stay out of sight. When we see what the Rogons and UN decide to do we can figure what comes next.”

* * *
Ten days since the march began and the tribes were almost all in place. Aaron no longer spent all of his time reinforcing the faith of the recent converts. He spoke mostly to his inner circle and they spread the word. His mother and sister were being raised to near deity level as the Soessossins interpreted and reinterpreted all that Aaron or his father Jedediah said and mixed it into their understanding of the biblical text. According to his father heresies abounded and Jedediah was free in condemnation and correction. Aaron’s approach was much milder and in tune with the gentle creatures nature. Or it had been; but the continual search for dietary protein that fueled the march was turning the once pacifistic creatures into something much closer to an angry mob.

The colonists at Liberty City, from time to time, contacted Jedediah and advised that they give up the march to the Rogon camp and scatter into the wilderness. When his father spoke to Aaron concerning the matter, Aaron had mildly rebuked him saying, “We are of the Lord and he is of us. Our faith is both our armor and sword and whomsoever shall stand in our way shall perish thereby.” Jedediah accepted the words, though reluctantly. For the Soessossins they became a prophesy and battle cry.

Communications with Liberty, however infrequent, would give some warning should the Rogons chose to do anything but wait for their arrival.

As everyone else in the group was drawing deeper and deeper into the religious fervor, Sister Martha was beginning to have doubts. She had traveled with Aaron whenever he went away from the main group and saw how much the Llamas were changing. That was something that was easier to do when contrasting the new converts with the Agoran who had been with them from the start. It seemed to her that the Soessossins were no longer out for salvation but out for blood. There was nobody to talk to about this, Sister Ruth was too young and Jedediah’s wife Miriam was a captive to her faith or perhaps in thrall to both her husband and son. Doubts and all, she had no out, so would make the best of it.

“The Yelsig may be useless but they will accompany you Shintok; petok-S,” said Jaric; tilmer-N. “Our Overmaster has so demanded. I have spent much time reading and researching the military histories of these Humans and there is a term they refer to which covers this situation. Such soldiers are called ‘Cannon Fodder’; a wave of ineffective troops that both distracts and attempts to overrun an opposing force. They are not expected to survive nor are they trained in military virtue and tactics. They also need no motivation beyond the fact that should they fail to advance, or when engaged flee to the rear, they will be shot by the forces behind driving them forward. Ineffective they may be but the cost of using them is nonexistent.”

“You will take no time investigating for mineral deposits until all of the clients of the Chewpess are subjugated. Upon expeditious completion of your mission your reward will be commensurate with its success.”

“Submaster-tilmer, I claim no special knowledge concerning the strength of these slaves to be, but would not it be advisable to use the Dragon’s Head to end this thing at once?”

“Obey Must! Policy is not for such as you! You will take the Edwards creature with you but no other Humans, your masters find reason to question their subservience. You will take also your underlings and in particular elron-A and his broodmates argo and teth and the damaged huk, I find they annoy me. You will remember that a live slave is more valuable than a dead slave and conduct yourself accordingly and as directed!” Jaric; tilmer-N gave not a second glance to Shintok; petok-S as he walked away from the lesser Rogon. Appearances must be maintained.

Liberty City:
“They’ve sent out a force,” Subbu Akai said to Fortson and Reye who were waiting to see the latest download from Rocco from his tent up on the moon Carter. All Rogon, no UN people in view. Can’t tell exactly how long ago but when I get the speed of the march calculated I’ll let you know. Must have been a few hours ago anyway.”

“Any vehicles?” Fortson asked.

“Only a couple of skimmers that I can locate and they are off to the sides. Think they are herding in the Yelsig and trying to get them out front. Yes that’s it. Sabbu said that after fast forwarding ahead in the data stream. I see a few Yelsig bodies down and on the ground. Looks like it took a bit of convincing to get them moving.”

Les Reye spoke up, “If the Guardians are ever going to interfere now is the time. I am at a loss to explain why they are waiting.”

“Not our problem,” Fortson said. “Les could you put out a call for some of our military brain trust and we can try and work out their intentions and figure what to tell Dobswell and where to send the bot’s”

Reye sent a query… “Andy is with Bart and Connor at the castle. Let’s send them the download and then we’ll see.”

“Give it another day,” Andy said. “Until we know the rate of advance we don’t know where they meet. But we should give Dobswell a heads up and show him the best spot we can find for him to make a stand. He sure as hell can‘t go up against them in a set piece battle. Hell he can‘t go up against them in any fashion and expect to win against competent leadership. But the Rogons thus far haven‘t shown much of that now have they?”

Progress reports made after Carter completed two more orbits showed the two groups would meet on a vast open plain in six more days. That was the kind of terrain Dobswell needed to avoid if he were to have any kind of a chance. Fortson sent a brief message advising of the fact and suggesting they halt their advance while still in the foothills the plain abutted.

Looking at the downloaded views they saw a likely spot just before the Levitican led Soessossins would breakout into the flatlands. It was nicely hilled and partially forested with a small river running through from east to west. The river came from deeper inside the continent and was fed by mountain snow runoff. Just as it broke out of the hilly land it fed what looked to be a large impact crater forming a lake just beyond the point where they advised Dobswell to stop. It took some convincing but finally Dobswell agreed that he would halt just before he reached the plain and lake and prepare for battle there instead of rushing madly onwards.

Joe directed RoDan and the Jeep take up positions on either side of and in front of Dobswell. They would have a somewhat distant, but with their advanced optics, still ringside seat for the coming engagement.

First Contact

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Andrew Stuart

Alchibah Space Day 887

Andrew Stuart

Tim was hesitant. “Are you sure you want to do this without talking to the Council?”

“Yes Tim, this is a pure Military Decision. Getting Politicians in the middle of this is the one thing that might Frack it up. Fire it up and let’s talk. Kara be ready on that database, it was accurate as of the Day we stole it off of that Cruiser.” I calmly waited as he flipped the switches and waved at me.

“Good Morning, whatever you Goonies are calling yourselves these days. We are in the clear I have nothing to hide.

“If I am talking to Political Directorate, I strongly suggest you get Naval Intelligence on the line. If I am talking to Naval Intelligence, I am the local Commander and I am declaring a Case Zulu. I suggest you get your Boss on the line.”

“OK Kara who answers will be our first hint of what’s going on.”

After almost a minute a woman’s voice came from the speakers.

“Ensign Taylor here, the Commodore is in route; please hold one.”

“Bingo Kara, NavInt. Now I am willing to bet the Commander is on that three name short list.”

“My pleasure Miss Taylor!”

Tim looked stunned, “You were right.”

“Tim, there is a real life pro up there. I am gambling that I can connect to him or her!”

“Commodore Hunter St James, Task Force Alchibah, Commanding. To whom am I speaking?”

“Kara, I have heard that name, dump the file to my screen ASAP! I’ll tap dance him. At least we will have a couple of minutes to think”

“Colonel Andrew Stuart, Strike Force Alchibah, Commanding and might I add the only Commander authorized by the legitimate Government of Alchibah to use that title. Yours Sir, is the title of a would be Conqueror.”

“Good job Kara. That’s who I thought it was. Hang on boys and girls I gonna jab and weave and see how he is thinking. If he doesn’t tell me to go straight to hell, we have a chance.”

Commodore St. James

“Colonel Stuart, I’m not going to debate legalities with you, I know your record, and I respect you. But you of all people know what will happen if we go at it. No matter how well equipped and trained your people are…you’re going to take casualties.

“The difference between us is that the families of me and my people are safely 49 light years away, and yours are with you in the combat zone”

St James closed his eyes and squeezed the glass globe in his hand “I have to pretend that’s true”, he thought, “or I’ll never get home.”

Hunter continued, “Colonel I didn’t come all this way to make war on civilians, but I’ll do what I must to complete my mission.

“Now I’m prepared to offer you and your uniformed personal full military recognition, complete amnesty for any and all previous crimes under UN Law. Those who wish will be offered full recognition of service and incorporation in the UNWG Alchibah garrison.

“I can offer you a 72 hour truce to take counsel of your officers, and for further negotiations…

“Sir, I know your honor as a warrior will compel you to reject this offer, I hope you sense of loyalty to your troops and duty to the community you’ve built here will let us find a peaceful solution here.”

Colonel Stuart

“Sir, I also know the butcher of Ceres by reputation and expect you to take this calmly.

“First, I have your young LT Anselmo in our Hospital. His physical injuries are mostly bruises from the original incident and not being in an acceleration seat on the way down. He is under observation for the mental affects of being found when He was down to four minutes of air.

“Second, the people I have promised to defend intend to never be slaves to any system whether, it be human or alien. The UNWG exists by enslaving people and we will not stand for that.

“Sir, if you think you will get close enough for one of your patented Nuke Strikes; I am afraid you are wrong.

“There is one difference between us Commodore, I will die in the doing if necessary; but you will not make slaves of my children.”

Commodore St. James

Onboard Deathfang St James had to think fast, “Guy alive?” he thought, “well prisoner release will take care of itself in another couple weeks, best not to think about it now” He keyed the mike:

“Colonel, you know as well as I do that the conscience of a soldier is often sacrificed to the needs of the state. In all the years since that terrible day there is not a single time I could look at my own daughters and fail to think of those children, but to save the lives of many, a warrior must sometimes foul his soul with the blood of a few.

“In the last Century governments on Earth Killed 100’s of millions of innocents in war and peace; I’ll admit to you that the leaders of the UN are corrupt and immoral, But the United Nations World Government has provided peace and safety to all humanity since its inception. I have spent my life serving the ideal of a peaceful world, that is what I am trying to offer to you and yours.

“Just say the word and I will send food and medical supplies to the colonials hiding in caves, we will help rebuild your town, you can live the life of a gentleman farmer and spend the summer on your sailboat”

Wendy Taylor looked at her Commodore with wide eyes “Sailboat sir?”

St James answer came from far away “verifying Intel Ensign, just a test”

Colonel Stuart

“Should we ever get the chance we can exchange stories about our respective Ghosts. You can tell your efficient sounding young Ensign to look for Second Tehran, Khandar Palace; I will be listed as an SFC, my Officer record is all Black Ops you won’t find anything there.

“Sir, tell me without lying though your teeth that your job here is not to make that piece of Human Excrement Richard Redmond the Political Governor of Colony Alchibah. You speak of honor but you take orders from that scum. At least do me the favor of putting that asshole in the jump seat of the next sacrificial Skull Ship you send this way. At least that way when the main fleets meet, I can at least die happy.

“What would you do if I were standing between you and your children? Dear God, I would fight my way through all of Earths slave soldiers to save yours.

“Would you want your daughters to live in a city ruled by Richard Redmond? I sir would fight to the death before I’d let my daughters live on the same planet as that bastard. Shit St James, I don’t want to fight you.

“But, fight we must unless you have a way of getting the damn Guardians to talk to either of us; the only thing they ever told us was ‘Stay the Hell away from the South Continent!’ St. James, I have had three of the greatest Physicists and Mathematicians Earth ever produced working their ass off for two earth years getting ready for this.

“You have no idea what I am capable of. I hope to the Gods we never have to find out.

“Just what kind of Man are you Sir?”

I winked at Tim and went for the downs. “You missed one thing though. I don’t farm, I run an Industrial Complex and I make Booze. My sailboat is a Bluenose Class Open Water Schooner named Cuchulainn. Come on down I’ll give you a ride in the spring.”

I chopped the mic and stared at the room. “Now we wait and see!

“This may just be the longest few minutes of my life.”

Fool me once…

Posted in In Defense of Liberty by Richard Redmond

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.”

Colony: Alchibah is a science fiction blog novel.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Probably.

All Contents (written or photo/artwork) not attributed to other sources is
Copyright (C) 2006 - 2011 by Jeff Soyer. All rights reserved.