February 2205

Procyon's family campaign

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February 2205

Postby procyon on Sun 07 Aug 2011 21:34

February 2205 part 1

February 1st 0010 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 4 light seconds from Hektor

Commodore Stephan Vasilikos keyed the comm relay over ride. 'They didn't court martial me last time. We'll see what Brenna thinks of this.'
Three hours ago the distress calls from Victoria Colony had come in. Victoria was almost in opposition at the moment to 3rd Light Battle Group. A few degrees more and the sun would have blocked the transmission. Stephan had sent a request for orders to see if the 3rd LBG would move to protect the civilians and assist in rescue operations at Victoria. The reply had stated that they would remain with the FSC colony at Hektor. But as the hours had past none of the Pan Euro Groups were moving to assist. 'It's possible the orders were tight beamed to Victoria's relief force, but I should have received notification. The politicians on Earth are going to leave the people on Victoria to their fate.'
"Comm, get me in contact with the ranking FSC officer out here. Tight beam laser comm only."
Stephan heard the Sensor Officer call out. "Drive bloom detected on Tatianna, Scarlet, and Kathleen."
"I see that. Helm, hold position. Communications, I'm still waiting on the FSC officer." Stephan looked at the sensor returns on his monitor. The three icons for the rest of the 3rd LBG showed active drive emissions. It would take them six days to reach Victoria. Hopefully there would still be someone left to rescue. 'At least with three of them they can manage a decent general quarters rotation.'
The Communications Officer called out. "Commodore, I have a response from the FSC Freighter Mary Reed. The header identifies the Captain of that ship as 'The Dutchman.' Forwarding to your station." Stephan looked at the message. 'The Mary Reed is as much a freighter as we are, and the Dutchman is no Captain. Hopefully he has at least one more armed ship in that gaggle. I hate pulling twelve hour rotations.'
"Comm, transmit that the ASV Red October will remain on station at Hektor to continue with assistance in the defense against alien craft. We will need to coordinate a mutually supportive general quarters rotation. We will fill whatever time block is needed to provide adequate coverage."
Stephan watched the icons for the rest of 3rd LBG as they moved away. 'Those ships have orders to maintain communication silence until they receive orders to the contrary or make enemy contact. As far as the rest of the fleet knows they are still here parked with me. The aliens probed both Victoria and this location within hours of each other. They can't be everywhere. Odds are they have their bombers scouting from various locations and it will take them time to coordinate enough ships for an attack. If the main group of alien warships is close to Victoria it won't make any difference. If they are close to us, the Tat, Scarlett, and Kathleen may make it in time. One way or another I'm sure we will find out.' Stephan watched as messages scrolled across his monitor from the Dutchman.
'Of course I'm pretty sure I would rather deal with the aliens than with Brenna when she finds out.'


0230 hours/Hardened fallout shelter, New Delhi, India

Chairman Mukata stretched out in the padded chair and tried to relax. The emergency meeting of the board members had gone smoothly. It had been conducted remotely from the various shelters that the board had retreated to, but this had not impaired the meeting to any great degree. Decisions had been made and orders issued. Now all that could be done was to wait.
"The Pan Euro vessel Red October has remained near Hektor. Do you think that they intend to assist in the defense or simply monitor the situation?" Board member Maria Rodan had picked another chair in the meeting room to sit in as she idly swirled the rose colored wine in her glass. "I know they destroyed the alien bomber but I doubt it was for our benefit. They simply did not want it to discover their ships. But the fact that they were willing to do this knowing that we would become aware of their presence clouds this issue." Maria took a short sip from the glass and sat it on the table in front of her.
"This Commodore Vasilikos is not unknown to us. He is a capable officer but has a history of insubordination. His orders may not dictate his actions. His sympathies to the FSC are unknown, but I do not believe he will risk the destruction of his ship without good reason. The fact that he has moved the bulk of his command away from danger supports this." Mukata sat up slightly to face Maria. "I believe the order to move the civilian liners from Hektor is the appropriate action. They will be vulnerable to Chinese interdiction, but if dispersed within the civilian convoys of the US and Pan Euro, should be reasonably safe."
"I also believe that moving the civilian liners away from a point of known alien contact was necessary. We may need to consider landing them here on Earth if the alien presence becomes extensive. The Pax Treaty should prevent the Chinese from open acts of aggression. We may also need to consider other steps to deter Chinese action against our assets." Maria slowly moved the wine glass across the table until it spilled into a keypad and monitor and then broke as it rolled onto the table. The screen flickered and then went black. "Perhaps if they were to experience some internal disruption they would become too distracted and unwilling to pursue actions against us."
Mukata sat up slowly and leaned his elbows on the table. This had been her reason for the dinner, and why she had lingered after the meeting. "And I was beginning to think you enjoyed my company." Mukata smirked slightly. "You have reason to believe that such an issue could arise?" Mukata could see the faintest twinkle of mischief behind Maria's eyes.
"Perhaps. There is a group we have made contact with inside the Chinese borders. They are well educated and resourceful. After several members of their group were killed by the Chinese government they now have reason to assist us. We have sheltered several members of this group. Compensation for their continued safety and possible sanctuary from the Chinese could persuade some to act for us." Maria picked up the stem of the broken wine glass and used the sharp end to gouge a shallow furrow in the table's finish. "Even a tool that has been broken still has its uses."
Mukata sat for a moment and thought. "We will need to schedule another meeting of the board. Would twenty four hours be an appropriate time for you?"
Maria dropped the broken stem on the table. "Twenty four hours. That would be fine, thank you." Maria rose from the chair and moved toward the exit from the meeting room. The four armed guards who had waited a respectful distance joined her as she left.
Mukata stood up from his chair and crossed to where Maria had been. He picked up the shard of the wine glass Maria had used to scar the table and looked at it.
'Let us hope we are not also cut by this tool.'


0645 hours/Assault Vessel, dark side of the asteroid belt

The Commander of Fleets moved to the Command Station of the Assault Vessel. With what needed to be done, he could no longer remain on his old Patrol Vessel. The Patrol Vessels would soon be placed in great danger. Too much danger to risk the Commander of Fleets. Even when that Commander considered himself the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17. The Patrol Vessels would also be dispersed and isolated. Sent great distances to accomplish their missions. It would be difficult to Command from one. No, the Commander of Fleets would have to remain in a central location that would allow him to coordinate the actions of the various Strike Groups.
The Commander of Fleets placed his four 'legs' in the divots at the Command Station and felt the field spring to life around him. He altered the field and issued orders to the assembled Commanders. He could sense through his station as the ships began to move into their Strike Groups. It would only take a few minutes and they would be ready.
Attack Vessel 3 had accompanied the five Light Support Vessels that had joined the group. They carried the supplies and additional scout craft that would be needed for the preliminary operations in their cargo holds. The Combat Vessels and Hive Vessels would not be available for some time to come, but the native race had already been given too much time to recover from the last attack. They could be left undisturbed no longer. A New Home had fallen. It would only be a matter of time before the enemy found another. They could not be given that opportunity.
The Commander of Fleets could sense that the Strike Groups had assembled. He again altered the field at his station and issued their movement orders. Only the Assault Vessel would be held in reserve. All of the others would have to be risked. Even the Attack Vessel. It had been assigned to the group that would move to the location where the scout craft had lost contact.
For now the Strike Groups had a mission that required them to appear as small raiding groups. There would be no large coordinated attacks. The native race would be made to think that the New Homes ability to wage war had been crippled. That there were no large groups of vessels that could oppose them. That it was safe to disperse their fleets to chase smaller threats. And a reason to leave those small groups of ships where they could be destroyed piecemeal.
That reason would involve something that had never been done before. It had never occurred in the war for the Home System. But it would occur now, and it would ensure that the enemy would move his assets to locations that would allow the Assault and Combat Vessels to destroy them when the time came.
The closest target was the enemy colony that had been located in the debris field. The first contact would be made there.


0830 hours/Habitat Two, Surface of Titan

Li Xue sat down beside Mae on the bunk in the empty bay. The day's schedule was still on the small video pad in Mae's hand. Unit lists and assignments. Li knew exactly where Mae had scrolled to. 'It's the same place I stopped.' Li looked at the pad in Mae's hand. It trembled a little as she held it. Then the pad fell slowly from her hand and drifted lazily toward the floor.
"You can't go."
"Mae, I have to. You saw the orders."
"Why?" Li could hear a slight tremble and crack in Mae's voice as the young woman turned in the bunk to face her. Li couldn't bring herself to face Mae. Not yet.
"I guess they need an old lady to keep the kids like you out of trouble."
"You're not old." Li could feel Mae begin to lean against her. Then she could feel the tears on her shoulder, and the slow heaves as Mae began to silently cry.
Li turned and put her arms around her. "I'll be back before you know it."
Li closed her eyes and held the young woman, and began to feel tears running down her cheeks also. 'An hour ago I was called into the Battalion Commander's Office and told I had been reassigned from the Training Companies to the 23rd Independent Power Armor Regiment. Thirty minutes later I was notified that we would be loading onto the troop transport in six hours. I don't think it is for training.'
Li felt Mae raise her head. Li wiped the tears from Mae's eyes first, and then from her own. "Jeng will look after you. I'm sure you will have all sorts of fun to tell me about."
"Li, I was talking to Jeng. He said..." Mae couldn't finish as sobs choked her words, and she leaned against Li again.
"I talked to Jeng also. I know. But I'm still going to see you again." Li held Mae tightly as her cries no longer were silent.
'I know what Jeng told you. It was the same thing he told me. That over eighty percent of the troops that landed on that moon by Neptune never came back.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Tue 09 Aug 2011 00:23

February 2205 part 2

February 1st 2300 hours/Interceptor MkIIb JFK, Mars orbit

Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jamie Gauld unlocked his station. "Comm, transmit for Task Force 1 to stand down. Stationary Defense Group to assume General Quarters." Jamie watched as several members of the crew unlocked their stations and began to move around the bridge. Some had work that needed attended. Others just felt the need to move after eight hours locked in a station.
"Mars Station and Defense Station One report in. General Quarters. All systems on line. All crew to stations."
Jamie nodded to the Comm Officer and then looked at his monitor. The magnetic protective field had been activated on both of the orbital stations. 'This is the first time that Defense Station One has gone to general quarters. I wonder how the crew is dealing with it. Less than half of them are cyborgs. With no drive they don't have to be. Any colonist with training can crew the stations. They don't have to worry about being locked in. And I won't disrupt their operations by holding an inspection either.'
"Comm, notify Defense Base One that I intend to conduct an inspection in twenty minutes. Engineering, prep ship's boat for launch in five minutes." Jamie heard the chorus of 'Aye, Admiral' several times as the crew completed their tasks. After a moments thought, Jamie opened up the ship intercom.
"All hands this is Rear Admiral Gauld. I will be transferring to Defense Station One for an inspection and training drill. Upon order, the JFK will lock stations and come to battle stations. Defense Base One will conduct primary safety launches with the JFK as the target. You will implement the evasive protocols to avoid their launches. You will also institute counter battery primary safety launches to test the station's defenses and damage control teams. Training to commence in one hour. That is all."
Jamie was sure he could feel the groans of the crew as they listened. 'After eight hours locked in their stations, they will go right back into them. The station will like me even less when I'm done with them.'


February 2nd 0615 hours/Queen Jane Grey, Mercury orbit

Ensign Gretta Deeters sat at her station. She had only fifteen minutes before Rear Admiral McNeely would expect his briefing. She had been assigned to keep the Admiral updated on construction and assignments in the Pan Euro Groups. The construction of a new Heavy Escort at the Earth Station was easy enough to keep tabs on. This new ship that the Mobile Shipyard had begun construction on was maddening though. The designs and work seemed to make no sense. 'The Admiral said that it was not going to follow established construction principles, but it looks more like a space station than a ship. Granted with only twenty four hours of work it isn't going to look like much yet. But why go all the way to Mercury to assemble it.'
Gretta looked over the notes from the Engineers on the project. 'They say that the hull will take nearly one month to complete, with system installation taking another month. After that will follow a one month trial period outside the belt. With an entire Battle Group watching.' Gretta tapped at her monitor and saved her notes. Gretta tapped at her monitor again and brought up the civilian broadcasts on Victoria Colony. The damage had been extensive, but it had only been a single alien bomber. Most of the colony was still intact and power had been restored to all of the intact habitats. Video files showed the civilian authorities organizing the population for the evacuation of the colony. Lifters had been prepped and large portions of the population had moved to staging areas near the Transfer Station. As soon as the evacuation ships arrived they would begin loading.
Gretta tapped another part of her screen and pulled up the deployment and assignment updates she had for the morning briefing. Not a single ship of any Pan Euro Battle Group had been assigned to oversee the evacuation. The only government owned passenger ship was still at Earth. It only had the ability to move about five percent of the colonists on Victoria. 'Perhaps the US is going to handle security. I've heard they still have several ships stationed at Mars. Mars is very close to Victoria now. They could have ships there in about twelve hours. Perhaps we have coordinated with them for convoy and colony protection.'
'The evacuation would be a massive operation though. It would take nearly two thirds of the Pan Euro civilian assets to accomplish. Perhaps the US and FSC are also assisting. They have to be.' Gretta closed out the deployment notes and looked again at the civilian news broadcasts. She looked at pictures of the twisted wreckage of the two domes that had been the targets of the alien bomber. 'They just have to be.'


February 3rd 2020 hours/Armed Colony Vessel 2, 5 light seconds from enemy colony

The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 2 could feel through the sensors as the two scout craft approached the enemy settlement. The two small vessels would not be able to destroy all of the population, but that was not their task. They would drop the bombs they carried and then return to land on the Patrol Vessel and Armed Colony Vessel. Reports of ground fire began to come back as the scout craft started their attack runs. Dangerous to the scout craft but nothing large enough to reach the rest of the group. The Commander could sense as one after another the four bombs detonated among the enemy population. 'They will pay for what they have done to New Home 3.' The Commander could feel his thoughts echoed in the fields of the crew. 'They too want revenge.'
The Commander felt the signal return from the scout craft. 'They have finished their attack and are returning.' The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 2 altered the field at his station and gave the order for his ship to move forward slowly. He also ordered the crew to prepare the mass driver on the ship. He could feel the hum and growing field as it prepared to fire.
The crew signaled that the mass driver was ready and the scout craft was safely on board. 'It is time to commence the rest of the operation.' The Commander felt the flash as the mass driver launched its payload at the enemy colony and his ship drew closer to its target.


2025hours/Near Garabay Dome, Victoria Colony

Victor Arellano struggled to move in the clumsy vacc suit. 'This thing was designed for mining, not surface work.' Victor looked up at the Transfer station half a kilometer ahead of him. The first of the lifters was already leaving the surface. 'Those things can only hold two and a half thousand people. Last time I checked there were a million people on this rock.'
Victor turned down the volume on his suit radio as he slowly moved along the surface. The screams and distress calls were deafening. Looking around Victor could see dozens, maybe hundreds, of people in the light skin suits that all of the colonist wore. 'If you seal the hood and gloves, you've got about five minutes of oxygen. Cold as hell out here on the surface, but it will take longer to freeze than they have air.' Victor looked back at the Transfer Station. 'Half a kilometer across the surface with no maneuver pack, and only five minutes to make it.' Victor managed a lumbering bound over the two meter tall rock in front of him, and then keyed the jets to push him back to the surface. 'Maybe this old mining suit isn't so bad.'
The hood on Victor's suit suddenly darkened. 'What is going on?' Victor turned down the filter only to have it darken again. 'This suit has to be older than me. What a time for it to go on the fritz.' Victor turned the filter back down and the hood cleared. Victor stood still and looked ahead.
The Transfer Station was burning in several areas with wreckage and rubble careening through the sky. The lifters were gone. But that wasn't what was holding his attention. It was the enormous ship that was slowly descending toward the wreckage. Victor turned and climbed back over the rock he had just cleared, and then watched as the ship descended.
Pieces of rock and metal ricocheted off the hull as the ship settled to only one hundred meters above the wreckage. Thrusters fired throwing even more debris across the surface. Victor crouched down as a large beam glanced off of the rock he was behind. 'What is going on?' Victor turned his radio back up and turned on the transmitter. As he looked back over the rock at the ship he saw more debris glancing off the hull. Then more and more. 'Those aren't rocks.' As several of them came closer to the surface he could see the projections on the 'rocks'. Then he could see the small detonations. The white and red bursts as suits were torn apart. And pieces of the people that had been inside those suits as they drifted in the low gravity.
"Anyone who can hear me get away from the Transfer Station. The aliens are all over. There have to be hundreds, maybe thousands of them. They have landed.' Victor looked up to see an alien suit float twenty meters above him. "HELP US!"
For an instant Victor could see the gout of plasma that washed across the surface where he and a few dozen other people had been huddled.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Tue 09 Aug 2011 23:35

February 2205 part 3

February 3rd 2110 hours/Beijing, China

He could hear the flies buzzing behind him. The body was beginning to smell, but he would be done long before anyone noticed. 'I'm nearly done. They will know by now that something is happening, but won't have enough time to stop me.'
He looked back at the body behind him. A young man. An assistant at the Ministry of Defense. A man with an access code that would allow him to utilize the lower functions of the computers there. 'Not what I needed for this work, but his code cut days off the time it would have taken to crack the database. I'm sorry you had to die, but they killed my brother. This was the only way.'
He watched the screens in front of him. Task bars and counters marked the progress. 'The woman said she would be able to get my sister and parents out of China. To Europe and the Pan Euro. Beyond China's ability to find and hurt them. 'The Ministers are going to be too busy now. They will regret what they did. We did what we did to help everyone. That data and discovery belonged to everyone. So they killed him. The authorities said it was a plane accident, but my brother was afraid to fly. He would never have flown on a plane, let alone died in a crash. All I had to do to save the rest of my family was this. They are going to kill me just like my brother, but they won't get the rest of my family. Not now.'
The screen to his left started blinking. Flashing with blue letters. He turned and quickly began tapping on the screen. Dragging windows and starting other routines. 'Almost done. Just a few more seconds.'
The wall beside the door exploded in a dozen different pieces as the breaching charge tore a hole through it. He grabbed the piece of white PVC off of the table beside him as a Power Armored soldier struggled to tear out the rebar rods that had remained after the charge had detonated. He pointed the two plastic tubes at the figure and pressed the flashlight switch connected to the battery. The two 18mm AP Euro Gyroc rounds hissed out of the makeshift derringer and then the room was filled with the detonation of their propellant charges. The Power Armored body fell back from the hole in the wall.
He grabbed his face and screamed as the soldier fell. The gyroc's exhaust had seared his arms and face while shattering his eardrums. He turned and looked at the monitor in front of him as a Pulse Rifle was shoved through the hole in the wall and sprayed the room. The seventy round clip was empty before the weapon was withdrawn.
Two Power Armor soldiers pushed through the wreckage of the wall and entered the room. A dead man in his twenties slumped over a table covered with computer equipment. Another body lay in the corner, obviously long dead. Moving in front of the monitors the lead soldier could see,

DOWNLOAD COMPLETE.
ENTER VERIFICATION PASSWORD.

The cursor flashed a few times before the room disappeared in an inferno as 4 liters of Astrolite detonated in the heating vent.


2250 hours/Pan Euro Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked at the data on the monitor in front of her as she listened to the staff giving the briefing.
"The few sensor returns from Victoria Colony indicate that only three warships and two small bombers participated in the attack. It appears to be an Alpha, what is now known as a Tango Two, and a Sierra Class. Four more bombs were dropped on the colony, while the Tango Two has fired its mass driver nearly a dozen times. The first strikes took out the Transfer Station and the colony's lifters. The following strikes cleared its landing area. For the last few hours it has directed fire on any organized resistance to the alien ground forces." The young man, Commander Blake, took a few moments as he changed screens for his display.
"Reports are that nearly half a million colonists are still alive, but the alien forces on the surface are systematically attacking the remaining domes. Their initial attack consists of breaching a dome and venting as much of the atmosphere as possible. They then begin to clear the domes of any survivors. Reports are that the Victoria Reserve Infantry has been able to mobilize, but that the older 4.8mm SAR6's have proven ineffective against the alien suits."
Brenna held up a hand and looked toward Commander Blake. "How long do we think they will be able to hold out?"
The Commander hesitated for a moment, and then turned to face the Admiral. "Admiral Muldoon, at the current rate of alien advance, and with orbital support from the Tango Two, they will have cleared the asteroid by the end of the week."
"Commander, why haven't they simply destroyed the population and moved on? Is there any data to support a conclusion as to why the aliens are attempting a ground action at Victoria?" Brenna watched the man standing in front of the assembled officers turn slightly paler.
"Admiral, we have anecdotal reports of aliens capturing isolated colonists. We have also received reports of the aliens attempting to remove or interface with data systems in the domes they have seized. We have no way to verify this at present. Possible theories include that they may be capable of interrogating prisoners and extracting information from our computer systems. The success of our communication attempts on Triton may have been duplicated by the aliens."
"So it is possible that they are trying to gain access to the location of all the belt colonies, and to our codes and data sets?" Brenna watched the already pale man get a few shades lighter.
"Yes Admiral. We believe that is their most likely reason for their current course of action."
"Thank you Commander Blake, that will be all. How long until Third Light Battle Group can reach Victoria?" Brenna looked around the table at the assembled staff.
A man seated near Commander Blake spoke up. "The Red October will reach Earth in just over fourteen hours. The rest of Third Light Battle Group will reach Victoria in just under twelve hours."
Brenna turned back to the monitor. "Notify the US and FSC of our current situation and our conclusions for the alien's current actions. Victoria has navigation data for every colony in the belt, not just ours. They are going to need to know."


February 4th 0235 hours/Q Ship Vigilance, Mars Surface near Olympia Colony

Captain Scott Moreland stood at the top of the loading ramp and watched as the 1st Battalion of the Martian Light Power Armor Division began loading equipment onto the Vigilance. It was projected to take three hours to finish loading the soldiers and getting them prepared for travel. Cyborg Infantry would go much more quickly, but there were only a few platoons of cyborg soldiers scattered through the Division.
"Sir, the Steadfast has begun loading at Ground Station Two, while the Defiant and Resolute have docked at the Mars Station and will begin transferring soldiers and equipment ferried up to them by the lifters in the next ten minutes." Scott turned to look at the Ensign from Engineering and nodded. "Thank you."
Scott activated his internal radio and tuned it to the Vigilance's internal repeaters. "Helm, how long until the Euro Third Light makes its closest approach to Mars?" Scott waited a few moments for the reply to be sorted out of the vast message traffic carried by the radio repeaters. "Captain, Third Light will pass at zero point eight two light minutes from Mars in three hours twenty two minutes by our last update."
Scott watched as the troops tried to get organized on the tarmac outside. 'Three hours is probably the soonest they can load. These folks have spent no time training on processing through a space port.' He broadcast to the repeater again. "Comm, broadcast to the Pan Euro Third Light. Let them know we will probably be running behind their schedule. If they would like us to accompany them, they will need to divert towards Mars. Otherwise we will follow at best speed. Make sure the reply is forwarded to me. Courtesy copy of the message to Admiral Walters and Pan Euro Admiral Muldoon."
Scott waited for the Comm to acknowledge the orders. 'It would be safer for us all if we traveled together. With a few hours before they get here the Pan Euro Command may order them to divert regardless.' Scott turned back toward the soldiers outside. 'They may not have practice loading, but they will survive it. They haven't practiced any combat landings either. God help them when the time comes.'


1120 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 7 light seconds from Hektor

Captain Zedong Tan checked the sensor returns. The FSC target colony was ahead. No ships were visible at this range but that meant little. In the asteroid fields resolving a target among the many drifting rocks was nearly impossible until the ships were within five light seconds or less. Closer if they had their drive off. Small craft were nearly impossible to resolve beyond a light second or so. 'Which is why the Angtung's boat is now moving forward. Not us.'
It would take a few more minutes before the boat would reach sensor range of the colony. "Weapon Conn, confirm Missile Bays One through Three ready for launch." Hektor was at the far end of range for the Dragon Missiles, but if the FSC defenders chose to fire on the small craft scouting the area the Angtung would be able to target the launch signature.
"Captain, we have a message from Boat Fourteen. They indicate that they have sensor returns on a pair of ships near the colony. They also indicate that the colony is directing them to immediately identify themselves and shut down their drive in preparation for boarding."
Zedong looked at the plotted sensor returns for the two FSC ships. They were both close to the colony itself. If the colony had any weapons the ships could be sheltering under that defense. The Angtung would easily be in range of surface based missiles.
"Order Boat Fourteen to return to the Angtung. Communication Officer, when the boat reaches three light seconds from the colony broadcast the message from the Ministry." Zedong watched the sensor returns as the small boat returned toward the Angtung. 'Nothing. The FSC ships have no intention of leaving the safety of the colony. One more reason for us to suspect static defenses.'


1124 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, orbit of Hektor

The Dutchman looked at the translation of the message the Chinese had just transmitted. 'Whatever ship broadcast this has to be just beyond sensor range. That probably isn't going to last long.' "Helm, prepare to engage drive."
The Dutchman looked back to the Chinese message. It was simple. It was also a declaration of war. They were again claiming the FSC was a renegade nation. 'From the rumors we might just be this time. Not that I have a clue what we have done. The Chinese broadcast this on an open frequency. No code. They want everyone to know. Hoping the other powers will sit this one out.'
"Sir, we have magnetic field detection bearing two four four ascension minus five point two. Range to target no less than six light seconds. Unable to identify at this range." The Dutchman saw the sensor data displaying on his monitor.
"Helm, activate drive. Use pre-plotted course. Engineering, I want the field generators online. Weapon Conn, begin plot for firing solutions as soon as target comes in range." The Dutchman watched as the drive engaged and the world turned blue grey. "They are already accelerating and the Mary is no speed demon. This is going to come to a fight."
"Sir, Chinese Missile Frigate resolved at five light seconds. Single vessel. Bearing two three nine ascension minus two. Closing at three nine thousand kilometers per second. Delta Vee of one three zero kilometers per second squared." The Dutchman listened to the Sensor Officer. His monitor showed that the returns were not accurate enough for a firing solution at this range. Interference from the belt would make a successful intercept impossible. 'Of course at the speed they are closing, we only have a minute or two before that will change.'
"Sir, aspect change on Chinese Frigate. She has changed course. Now three three zero. Continuing to accelerate. They appear to be disengaging." The Dutchman deleted the weapon data from his screen and focused on the sensor returns. 'Sure enough. They are breaking off. Why show up, scout the area, broadcast that message, buzz the colony, and then run away? Even with only a single Frigate they had us outgunned. We could have put up a fight, but probably couldn't have won. So why bother?'
The Dutchman watched as the Chinese vessel broke off contact. 'I suppose I shouldn't worry about why. Just being alive should be enough for the moment.'


1145 hours/Venus Station, Venus

Admiral Hu looked at the ship log of the Angtung. 'Why did this happen? In fifteen minutes when the meeting begins someone had better have some answers, and a way to fix this quickly.'
Hu played through the log again. The Angtung engaged its drive and magnetic fields as it closed on the FSC colony. Then, thirty seconds later, generator banks five through eight had went off line. No recorded inbounds. No other contacts. The spooks were analyzing it to make sure that the FSC hadn't managed to duplicate the alien mass drivers, but it looked unlikely. The large magnetic pulse of the mass driver was absent. Sixty seconds after that, generator banks one to four had also went off line. Again no inbound contacts.
'Less than two minutes in and half of the Angtung's magnetic field generators were down. At that rate they would have been defenseless in the next two minutes. What is worse, a few minutes after that the field generators on the Venus Station started going down. Engineering has been fighting a running battle rebooting the operating systems and restarting them. But it only last for minutes before they are back down. At least half of the generators are off line at a given time.'
'The Euro is already fighting the aliens in the belt. We only have limited information but it is likely that the aliens won't stop there. Fighting the war against the FSC that we just declared will be difficult enough. But if someone can't come up with a way to fix this, I don't know if we will be able to protect this station if the aliens return.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Tue 09 Aug 2011 23:36

February 2205 part 4

February 4th 1745 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po sat in the chamber and listened to the debate. The recent turn of events had been unexpected. The source of the problem had been identified. The 'hacker' that had been killed less than twenty four hours ago had managed to penetrate the security of the Defense Mainframe. Whatever virus he inserted into the system had been carried to the ships in the normal communications and updates. It apparently attacked the code that regulated the operation of the magnetic field generators causing the systems to shut down.
The remains of the computers the hacker used had been recovered, but the damage to them was very extensive. The technicians in charge of the software that regulated the field generators had assured the Ministry that the virus could be countered and deleted from the system with what they were recovering. They had also indicated that it would take at least a month and a great deal of funding.
The Ministry had unanimously agreed to fund whatever it took to restore the field generators to full working order. With the alien attack on the Pan Euro colony combined with the Declaration of War on the FSC, the Chinese Fleet was far too vulnerable if it was unable to reliably employ the magnetic defense systems.
Minister Po stood and moved to the podium. His time to address the Ministers had come. As the leading member of the most powerful faction, it was time for him to address the assembly.
"We have decided to fund whatever it takes to clear the virus from our systems. This was a simple matter. The next issue is not so clear. We have proof that this hacker received support from the criminals of the South Seas Confederation, but we do not know if they were aware of what he was attempting or if he accomplished it. Even if they are, it is not known whether the other powers are aware of the situation concerning our field generators. "
"Our declaration of war against the FSC should preclude the Pan Euro and US from acting against us, but if they understand our weakness they may act regardless. We must resolve this situation rapidly before the Euro and US can intervene. The Euro is currently occupied with the alien attack on its colony, while our operatives in the US have confirmed that the US Fleet at Mars has mobilized in support of the Euro group moving to relieve the Pan Euro outpost. Unfortunately the Pan Euro ship Red October has joined the US Task Force at Earth. These four ships represent the fastest warships in known space. With a Pan Euro Battle Group still at Earth, we must assume they intend to use this fleet of high speed ships against us. They will easily be able to interdict our shipping while avoiding our warfleet."
"Our operatives have been able to confirm that no Pan Euro or US ships are currently stationed near the FSC colony in the belt. Venus Station is currently located on the same side of the Sun as Hektor, and nearly opposite Earth. I propose that we detach two Frigates from the fleet gathered at Venus. They will be able to rendevous with the Frigate Angtung and the two troopships, assert control of space near the FSC colony, and then return to Venus Station in less than twenty four hours. Much closer to twenty hours by most estimates. The FSC had only two ships stationed at Hektor. Even with reduced field generator reliability, three Frigates should easily be able to control the situation and destroy any defenses."
"Any other option allows the other powers to reinforce the defenses of the FSC colony, or to exploit our weakness regarding our field generators. This war must be concluded rapidly."
Po stepped away from the podium. There were three other speakers scheduled to address the assembled Ministers but none would attempt to counter what he had said. That had been assured by the security personnel who had stationed themselves at the residences of the speakers' families - purely for security measures. The next twenty four hours should see the landings on Hektor completed.


February 5th 0400 hours/Andvari Crater, Surface of Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank crouched in the tunnel. Hauptgefreiter Ludwig Schimmelpfennig was stationed with her. 'A year ago I was trying to kill Chinese soldiers. Now I'm trying to protect them.'
One hundred meters behind her were elements of the Chinese battalion. They were still acting as security elements for the captured alien population, but it had become far more complicated than that. With the declaration of war between the FSC and China the situation on Triton had become tense. No one had started shooting yet but it had come close several times already.
The Chinese troops had been given advanced warning by their government and had already moved away from most FSC troop concentrations. They had also petitioned the Pan Euro and remaining US forces for amnesty. With the bulk of the Chinese troops garrisoning the underground shelters while the FSC garrisoned the surface supply sites it had been easy enough to keep the two groups separated. The Chinese had agreed to surrender all of their nearly non-existent heavy support weapons and agreed that they would not initiate hostilities in exchange for the protection of the Pan Euro Brigade.
'What we have now is an uneasy truce. We outnumber the FSC by over two to one, but the FSC has managed to seize all of the supply dumps on the planet. Without those supplies our protection will mean nothing. The Chinese Power Armor soldiers trapped down here in the tunnels will die without supplies. We will have a hard enough time fighting without those supplies. We barely have enough ordinance stored underground for three days of heavy combat.'
'Hopefully it won't come to that. The only thing keeping this whole situation from falling apart is the fact that the FSC doesn't want to start a war with the Euro or spoil the political support they have from the US.'


February 6th 0047 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 8 light seconds from Victoria Colony

Captain Scott Moreland watched the sensor returns. Reports from Victoria Colony had indicated that the Tango Two had moved away from the colony over six hours ago. Whether they were hiding in the belt or had left was unknown. 'Either way we aren't going anywhere.'
"Captain, message from Pan Euro Captain Natasha Piotyr of the Heavy Escort Tatianna indicating they have identified landing sites for Ground-to-Orbit-Shuttles 22 and 29."
Scott looked at the sensor returns. 'The 3rd is going to run this show. It's their colony and their call.'
"Engineering, report on the Power Armor Battalion and GTOS."
"All companies report in as ready for deployment. GTOS 22 is ready for launch."
Scott checked the monitor for the sensor returns again. 'With the troops moving around and ready for drop, we are a sitting duck. If we try to accelerate we will kill all of them. The only way to keep them from tearing the ship apart when the drive engages will be to vent them all.' Scott looked at the landing sites. The troops on GTOS 22 would be landing three klicks from the habitat that was their objective. GTOS 29 from the Steadfast would ferry down First and Second Companies of 3rd Brigade. They were all veterans of the combat on Triton and they were coming in nearly on top of Garabay Dome and the ruins of the Transfer Station. Third Brigade was supposed to hit the alien command hub there like a sledgehammer. But a problem had cropped up.
"Weapon Conn, status of orbital support for GTOS landing?"
"Captain Piotyr has still forbidden primary safety release strikes into the landing zones." The Weapon Officer turned in his station. "They still project civilian casualties would exceed alien losses by ten to one."
"Dammit, our troops are being marched in front of a firing squad. Those orbital shuttles weren't designed as combat landers." Scott pulled up the scans of the surface landing sites. Both landers would be coming down with clear lines of fire for the aliens. With the aliens sheltering in the habitats it was nearly impossible to target them. 'On Triton we could shoot at anything. That isn't going to work here.'
"Engineering, lock the GTOS down. Get the troops in their landing brackets. Were putting this thing down. If we draw the heavy stuff, we might buy GTOS 29 a free ride onto Garabay Dome. Comm, let Natasha know what we are doing. Helm, arm the maneuver thrusters. Prep for combat landing. You've done this before, we're doing it again. When the board is green, take us down."
Scott locked his station and watched the monitor. It felt like an eternity until the board lit up with indicators that the troops and lander had been locked in. "Fire thrusters."
Scott watched as the sensors recorded the descent. Much slower than any nuclear drive, but closing on a rock at almost 2000 kilometers an hour was still a ride. As the surface drew nearer the shield generators shut down. 'They can't work that close to the surface. It's either shut them down, or burn them out.' Moments after the shields went off line fire began to reach up from the alien positions. 'Here it comes. Much smaller than the alien missiles, but a couple thousand support weapons all pointing at us is going to hurt.'
Argon blasted through the bridge. Then again, and again. "Captain, damage to forward compartments. Multiple hull breaches recorded. Landing in fifteen seconds. Firing braking thrusters."
Scott listened to the crew and watched his monitor. Scott heard the Helm call "Landing." He could feel the impacts shaking the ship as his monitor tracked the troops disembarking. The progress seemed to crawl by. Finally Engineering called in. "BAYS CLEAR, BAYS CLEAR. THRUSTERS FIRING."
Scott watched as the asteroid slowly drew away from the Vigilance. He switched to a visual feed and saw the surface below him swirling with light. Detonations. Waves of plasma and flame. Tracer rounds and lasers lighting up the dust cloud from the landing. A thousand forms of death rolling across the surface.
"Shields on line. Drive shield clear of Victoria. Engaging drive." The world went grey as the Vigilance rocketed away from the surface. Suddenly the drive cut out and the bridge vented again. Scott looked at the monitor even as he called out. "Engineering. Report."
Moments passed as the drive restarted and the Vigilance again began to pull away from the colony. "Captain. We had a failure in the forward troop hold. A strut failed and we sustained structural damage to Bays One and Two." Scott checked his monitor. The damage was extensive, but not fatal. The Vigilance would be able to put in for repairs. 'Assuming we live to get back home.'
"Comm, any reports from the troops on the ground".
"Captain, reports aren't conclusive. Garabay landing was successful if costly. GTOS 29 took some damage, but survived the landing. First Company of Third Brigade is securing its landing zone under fire. Reports from 1st Brigade are confused. Scans from the Pan Euro Attack Escort Kathleen are showing substantial casualties. We lost a lot on the way in and during landing. Ground fire has also been concentrated. The Kathleen is estimating losses to First Brigade at sixty five percent."
Scott looked at the reports beginning to stream across his monitor. 'My god. Two thirds of 1st Brigade is gone. Third has only started landing, and they are getting hammered. We were only supposed to put two brigades down. The other two were supposed to be headed for Triton with a Pan Euro supply ship. This isn't going to work. The fighting is here. The kids on Triton are just going to have to behave themselves.'
"Comm, get me Commander Lewis of the Resolute. We will be docking in five minutes. Second Brigade needs to prep for landing. We will be using GTOS 22 in addition to the lander on Resolute. Forward the message along with the current situation to Admiral Bradley with a request for further orders. We will hold the Defiant at Victoria pending orders."
Scott began scrolling through the data on the landing as it came in. 'The Resolute and Defiant were already supposed to be heading toward Neptune. I hope the folks out there can wait a little longer.'


0505 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, orbit of Hektor Colony

The Dutchman watched the sensor returns. 'Last time the Chinese decided that they didn't like being outnumbered. So they come back with three Frigates.' The Dutchman watched as the ships closed from five light seconds out. 'We aren't sticking around. The only thing we are going to do is die if we try and stop that group. We have two launch bays total. Those three ships pack three bays each. Two launches will turn the Mary Reed and Krait into so much drifting wreckage. Two launches from us won't even drop the magnetic field on one frigate.'
"Helm, course two seven zero. Full acceleration. Comm, notify the governor on Hektor that he has visitors."
Minutes crawled by as the Dutchman waited to see if the Chinese ships would pursue, but the three frigates slowed down as they approached Hektor. A few minutes later the Chinese ships dropped off the sensor returns. "Helm, change course to one eight zero at minus two ascension. Continue on one eight zero for thirty minutes. Then plot a course for Earth. Make sure we don't come any closer than twelve light minutes to Venus. Comm, let the board know what happened and our current course of action."
The Dutchman switched his screen over to monitor the civilian broadcasts from Hektor. 'They chased us off. Now what are they going to do?'


0521 hours/Troopship One, Hektor Colony oribt

Li Xue woke up lying on her stomach, naked, coughing horribly and dripping with some thin oily liquid. She turned and looked at the noise beside her. She saw a black, vaguely female cyborg pulling another naked young woman out of a honeycomb shaped container of fluid in the floor. The cyborg put the young woman on the floor and pulled the tube out of her throat and then her catherter and the IV in her arm. The woman turned on her side and began coughing up the clear fluid onto the hard grey deck. The cyborg stepped on a glowing area of the floor and the tubes retracted into the fluid and a hatch slid closed over it.
'Oh my, that just happened to me.'
Li felt a hand on her shoulder and stared up to see another young woman looking down at her. Her hair was dripping with the same fluid she seemed to be covered with. "Come on soldier. This deck only stays pressurized for an hour at most. After that they vent this all into space." Li nodded at her and struggled to her feet.
"My legs feel like pieces of wood." Li found herself leaning against the wall to stay upright, then looked at the woman watching her.
"This was only a week. Try the month long trip out to Neptune." The woman turned and started to walk away. Li looked and saw four other women also moving in the same direction. She pushed off from the wall and stumbled after the women. "You were at Neptune?"
The tallest woman, the one who had spoken to her, stopped and turned back. "Yes. A few of us were. What is your locker number soldier?" Li thought for a moment as she tried to catch up. "One two four."
"Your in my squad then. My name is Ling Song and I'm your squad leader. Come on." The tall woman turned and continued moving. Li followed the group down the curving hallway about thirty meters to a hatchway. As Li went through she began to recognize things. 'This is where I stored my gear. This is Arms Locker Two of Bay One.' She moved toward her locker and put her hand on the black locking pad. The hatch dropped quickly into the floor. She found the small towel and tried to wipe off the oily fluid as best she could. 'I wondered why they kept a towel in here.' She pulled out the slick elastic body suit and pulled it on. She looked at herself as she stood on the deck, and then at the young women as they also got dried, dressed, and into their armor. 'I don't look so bad anymore. Until you look at all these twenty year old girls.'
Li turned her back to the locker and stepped into the lower legs and feet of her Salamander Armor. As she leaned back into the suit she could feel the foam expand and surround her legs. 'The blast cushioning works. Now to get the rest of it on.' Li wiggled as she slid her arms into the suit and then unlocked them from the brackets. She pulled the front thigh covers out of the wall recesses next and locked them on. Then she pulled up the breastplate and fitted it on. Each time the foam expanded and filled every available space. Li stepped out of the locker and pulled out her helmet. She pulled it on over her head and locked it in place. This time the foam only covered the back of her head and sides of her face. Her nose, eyes, mouth, and ears were the only things not padded.
Li checked the arm and leg servos, then used her chin to open the HUD menu and scrolled through the operation checklist. 'Everything checks out.'
"Second Platoon, First Company. Report to Weapon Locker and Lifter Bay."
Li filed out with the rest of the women. The Weapon Locker was a large open bay. The entire battalion stored its weapons here and dozens of soldiers were already in lines drawing their equipment. Li followed her squad to a line on the far side of the bay.
Li heard a voice on her radio. "One Two Four. Soldier Li Xue. Wrong line. Support Weapon Type Fifteen is Line Seven." Li looked around and spotted the line she was supposed to be in. She quickly moved to the end of the short line. Two cyborgs moved down the line pulling racks of weapons behind them. One cyborg locked Li's Pulse Rifle to her arm while the other snapped ammo cassettes to her armor before giving Li her Type 15. Lights flashed on the inside of her helmet with lines and arrows directing her to the Lifter Bay. She followed the directions out of the Weapon Locker, down a long ladder, and then onto the deck of the Lifter Bay.
The Lifter Bay she was familiar with. 'I've done this dozens of times with Mae.' The thought of Mae made Li pause for a moment. 'I already know where to go, and what bracket I'm assigned. Mae is fine. I need to worry about me.' She climbed into the Lifter and took her postion. Other soldiers were filing in and filling the Lifter quickly.
As Li waited she began to feel nervous. 'Just breathe deeply. Breathe.' Li closed her eyes, but her stomach only got worse. 'I feel sick. I suppose it's good that I haven't eaten for a while.' Li's radio crackled to life.
"This is your Battalion Commander. We are currently in orbit of the asteroid Hektor. We are also at war with the FSC. Below on the asteroid is an FSC outpost of over one half million. The Twenty Third Powered Armor Regiment will land and secure the space port and cargo handling facilities for the colony. Ground fire and resistance is expected to be light, but Reserve Units will have been mobilized. You are authorized to use any force necessary to eliminate FSC ground forces. The Frigates Angtung, Quinha, and Sichuan will prep the landing zones. Landings will begin in five minutes. This is your Battalion Commander, out."
Li felt cold. The landing brackets were holding the suit still, but she could feel herself trembling in the foam inside the suit. 'This is a human colony, not alien. I don't want to kill anyone.' Li looked with her eyes from side to side at the other suits. 'How many of you wanted this?'
"Lifter prepped for launch. Launch in three, two, one..." Li felt the jostle as the lifter cleared the troopship, then the steady acceleration as it began descent. "Landing in two minutes." Li heard the voices in her helmet as the lifter crew performed their jobs. Just like the dozens of times she had done it in training. 'I know where to go. I know the mark I am supposed to hit and hold after landing. I just have to do my job.' The lifter began to shake and Li could hear thumps and pings through the bracket and suit. "We are taking ground fire. Landing in fifteen seconds."
The landing jarred Li, even with the foam padding. "EVERYONE OUT ! NOW ! NOW ! NOW !" Li unlocked the brackets as the sides of the lifter folded down forty five degrees. She hit her jump thrusters and rocketed up into the darkness, then keyed the braking thrusters and aimed herself toward her mark. Orders screamed over her radio as dust flew up and rock crunched as she landed. Dust began to kick up around her and lines crossed her HUD as the Near Miss Indicator traced bullet paths. She followed the NMI back to a small tower visible as the low light filter turned on. She could see a figure in a vacc suit with some rifle firing. Li held up her Type 15 and used her chin switch to activate the weapon optics. The figure appeared on half of her screen and grew as the magnification increased. 'Li, pull the trigger. Pull it.' She kept telling herself but the weapon wasn't going off, and the figure kept firing. "I'M HIT ! I'M HIT !" Li could hear a young woman screaming and looked about. A suit twenty meters away had fallen and was rolling in the dust. The foam had sealed the hole but whoever was inside was hurt. Dust kicked up around Li again as the NMI traced more paths across the HUD. Li saw the tower suddenly lit up with tracers as other soldiers opened fire. She watched as the vacc suit vented and the figure was torn apart by several bursts.
Li looked around and saw that she was on the flat concrete of the space port landing pad. The concrete was cratered in dozens of places. 'Something big hit this place.' She heard voices on her radio and finally picked out a familiar one. "Soldier One Two Four. On me. This is your Squad Leader. We are to advance on the transfer facility. Confirm."
"This is One Two Four. Confirm." Li looked out and saw the members of her squad beginning to move out. Li moved over to the figure lying in the dust. Li rolled the armor onto its back and the limbs fell limp around it. She looked into the faceplate and could faintly see a young woman. Her face was blue-white and her eyes were open and glassy. Li felt pressure on the shoulder of her armor and looked up. The HUD identified it as 'SQUAD LEADER'. Li heard her radio again.
"She's dead. We need to move, soldier."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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procyon
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 11 Aug 2011 14:49

February 2205 part 5

February 6th 0820 hours/Washington DC, Earth

Admiral Bradley Walters sat at the table in the briefing room. The meeting had started twenty minutes before, but was only now getting to anything important. Secretary of Defense Adam Richards and Congressional Defense Committee Chairperson Harland Meyers were both seated near the head of the table quietly discussing something while General 'KJ' Foxx presented the latest intelligence and updates from the First Martian Division on the Pan Euro Victoria Colony.
"The alien combat units have improved since the battles on Triton. The majority of alien assets are still comprised of 'Gremlin' Battle Suits. The suits are crewed by a single alien. The suit has been constructed of an unknown yet resilient composite with stand off baffles covering eighty percent of the suit. The armament has been upgraded since Triton. It was formerly armed with two dozen twenty millimeter shaped charge explosive cylinders or rockets on external mounts. This load out had limited its ability in an extended combat situation. The 'Gremlins' recovered on Victoria have featured these cylinders plus a single ventrally mounted gauss 'machine gun' firing one point seven millimeter spheroid projectiles at velocities capable of penetrating Power Armor. The standard issue LAR 7 of the Martian troops with its fifty-five millimeter aperture has limited capability to disable the alien suit in most engagements. The SLAR 8 and M174 HLMG have proven capable of destroying the 'Gremlin' at most ranges less than two hundred meters. The forty-millimeter gyroc grenades have also proven very effective at destroying this alien weapon system. The small size of this suit and nearly non-existent thermal signature has made finding them difficult for our troops."
"The second most common suit is code named the Goblin. It is slightly larger and crewed by two of the aliens. It has nearly the same cross section as the current issue Shiloh Power Armor System. It carries the same armament as the 'Gremlin' but significantly better protection for its crew. The LAR 7 has proven completely incapable of destroying the 'Goblin' without extended and concentrated fire. The SLAR 8 has shown some ability to disable the suits while the M174 has become the preferred weapon for engaging these elements of the alien forces."
"The largest alien suit, the 'Ogre' is crewed by six of the aliens. It is composed of the same composites but with heavier construction and dual baffles over the forward sections and single baffles over the rest. The M174 and gyroc grenades have been successfully employed against this suit, but the McClellan Assault Vehicle has proven very capable of destroying the 'Ogre' at extended ranges. The 'Ogre' carries a dorsally mounted two point one millimeter gauss machine gun capable of engaging lighter armored vehicles. It also carries two dozen larger thirty-six millimeter rockets capable of defeating the protection of any US vehicle on Victoria. It is equipped with a close range defensive system. Both front corners mount an eight-barreled apparatus. Four barrels contain sixty small penetrators each which when employed are capable of saturating an area up to thirty meters in the front sixty degrees of the 'Ogre'. The other four barrels each contain an unknown compound that is rapidly converted to plasma and ejected. This plasma discharge is guided by magnetic fields and is capable of defeating any US vehicle on Victoria. The plasma is also capable of destroying the external wall of the Pan Euro domes and is the main breaching method employed. It also mounts a ventral one point seven millimeter gauss machine gun for use against lighter targets."
"These units comprise over ninety five percent of the alien forces on Victoria, with the 'Gremlin' comprising seventy five percent of this number. The Pan Euro Victoria Reserve has assumed a support role for the US Martian Division. Armed primarily with aging four point eight millimeter SAR6's, they have proven completely unable to engage the alien units. They have very limited supplies of heavier support weapons. The Reserve has been assigned to providing personnel and equipment for security and evacuation missions."
Bradley watched Secretary Richards look up and hold up a hand. General Foxx paused in his presentation. "Yes Honorable Secretary." Richards leaned back in his chair and gestured toward the projection showing the alien battle suits. "It would appear that our M174 and McClellan are pivotal assets in this engagement. How well supplied are our troops with these weapon systems?"
General Foxx tapped on a monitor near him and the display changed to the TO&E of the Martian Division. "The Martian Division is designated as a Light Power Armor Infantry Division, not as an Armored Division like the Second Armored was on Triton. They have two M174 HLMGs per company in a Support Weapon Section. The Division has a single armored battalion, with two companies of McClellan Assault Vehicles, consisting of four vehicles each, one company of Stewart Light Assault Vehicles with six vehicles and two support companies. One of the McClellan companies is currently at half strength. The Stewart Company was destroyed in the initial landings."
Bradley watched as the expression on Secretary Richards darkened. Chairman Meyers took up the slack. "How effective have our troops been in destroying this alien menace and preventing civilian casualties?"
General Foxx changed the display again to an overview of Victoria Colony with columns and lists flanking it. Colors began to spring to life across the map. "This is a display of the current situation on Victoria that was shown earlier in the briefing." Bradley was impressed that the man was able to keep the contempt from his face. The fact that the two men for whom this meeting was being held had ignored it for the first half hour was lost on no one. "It shows that lines have stagnated. We have been unable to dislodge the aliens from their currents bases of operation but have been able to prevent the destruction of further domes. It is believed that nearly fifty to seventy thousand civilians are still trapped inside the alien held zone, and that almost twice that number still need evacuation from areas considered active combat zones. Hampering this has been the lack of personnel for the operations, and inability to gain superiority over the alien units, and lack of space to house refugees in the remaining undamaged domes."
"Civilian casualties were high during initial operations but have fallen off. We still have been unable to prevent alien attacks on civilian groups, particularly those in occupied areas. The civilian news services estimates that civilian casualties will exceed two thousand per day. We believe this figure is accurate. It is likely to remain stable for the next few weeks."
Chairman Meyers sat back slowly. "My god. Two thousand civilian casualties per day. What of losses for the US troops?"
"Losses for US troops in the initial landings were one thousand two hundred and seventy three lives in six hours. Losses have fallen significantly for the last hour but are projected to be nearly one hundred lives per day of combat. This figure is still tentative."
"The public isn't going to stomach this for long. What is the timeline for the Pan Euro to land troops and take over the operation?" Chairman Meyers was showing more than mild concern on his face now. Bradley could see that Secretary Richards was busy tapping at a pad he was holding.
General Foxx turned to face Chairman Meyers. "We currently have no information on Pan Euro mobilization. I can't give any estimate at this time."
"Thank you General Foxx. Admiral Walters, will you proceed with your portion of the briefing." Secretary Richards put down his pad and turned in his chair to look at Bradley. Bradley rose from his seat and moved to the front of the room as General Foxx cleared his displays and returned to his seat.
"Gentlemen, at this time we have the Q Ships Steadfast and Resolute on station at Victoria. The Pan Euro Third Light Battle Group consisting of the Heavy Escort Tatianna and Attack Escorts Kathleen and Scarlet are also located in orbit of the colony. Two hours ago these ships intercepted two of the smaller alien bombers and destroyed them prior to the start of their attack runs. There has been no other contact with space-based units. The alien bombers have an unknown range but were likely launched at a considerable distance from the colony. The Q Ship Defiant and Pan Euro Heavy Cargo Three are enroute to Triton with a single brigade of the Martian Division on board the Defiant. They also carry adequate supplies for the US and Euro troops on Triton in the event that hostilities should erupt. They will arrive at Triton on or about the Second of March. The Q Ship Vigilance is currently enroute to Earth for repairs of damage it sustained during the landings. It also carries nearly five thousand civilian refugees that will require processing upon its return. Task Force One is still on station at Mars to maintain security for the Mars Station and its construction assets. Task Force Two has been joined by Pan Euro Armed Science Vessel Red October. They are currently awaiting confirmed contact with alien warships at which time they will move to intercept and engage them. It is believed that these four ships will be able to decisively engage the alien assets currently operating in the inner system. Priority of engagement has been given to any confirmed contact with the Alpha codenamed as 'The Baron'."
Secretary Richards sat up. "Admiral Walters, will the Steadfast and Resolute be capable of withdrawing the three brigades of troops currently on Victoria if necessary?"
Bradley turned to face Richards. "Honorable Secretary, the troop bays of the Steadfast and Resolute will be able to carry eighty five percent of the soldiers on Victoria. The remaining troops will be loading onto the Landers and will remain in the launch bays for the return trip to Earth. It is not an ideal situation, but we will be able to transport all of our assets given sufficient time. It will likely take several hours to load the troops and this could invite attack by alien warships. Alien ground forces are also likely mount an offensive against any landings. Losses will likely be heavy and damage to the Steadfast and Resolute is almost certain. I would not recommend a landing under the current circumstances."
"Do you believe that the Pan Euro ships at Victoria will be adequate for security at that location? Wouldn't it be prudent to move the Steadfast and Resolute to Mars or Earth if they are not going to be capable of safely withdrawing our troops?" Chairman Meyers was making sure to get his two cents in, while trying to appear concerned about his constituents.
"With US Task Force Two at Earth along with a Pan Euro Battle Group, the Q Ships would provide little additional support. They could be relocated to Mars to assist in the defense, but with the continued alien bomber attacks on the colony are likely to provide more support at that location."
"What do you make of the transmissions from the FSC colony at Hektor, Admiral?" Richards had again sat forward, showing obvious interest in this subject.
"We have received the transmissions that three Chinese Attack Vessels have entered FSC space and that troop landings have occurred. We have heard of primary safety launches on the spaceport and cargo handling facilities but are unable to confirm this. It appears that the Chinese are pursuing their war with the FSC in the belt and not at Earth. We have no assets in that area and do not currently have plans to deploy any as our presence could be construed as an act of war. Task Force Two has been considered as a contingency force to interdict Chinese forces should hostilities spill into US held space. The Pan Euro has not indicated that the Red October will support such a move at this time."
"Thank you Admiral, that will be all for now."


2230 hours/Hardened fallout shelter, New Delhi, India

Chairman Mukata sat down heavily into the large padded chair in his quarters. This day’s meeting had been an extended one with many accusations and threats. "Your people in China seem to have been discovered Maria. The board is likely to seek action against you."
Maria followed Mukata into the room and took off her jacket. She carefully placed it across the back of another chair and then leaned against it. "They must have been successful for the Chinese to act so violently. But we have been unable to discover what the cell accomplished. It appears to have been carried out by a rogue member of the group. He was brilliant, but very reckless yet secretive. If only we knew what he attempted or accomplished. The board's decision in this is simply ignorant. We will be taking an angry bear and provoking it. They are likely to create a situation where the fight ends up here on Earth."
Mukata looked up at the Chilean woman. She looked tired. Her normal porcelain face was strained and shined with perspiration. "At least they did not direct the launch of the silo missiles at Chinese targets in retaliation for the Chinese launches on Hektor."
Maria walked around the chair and sat down, then rested her head against the back of the chair and closed her eyes. "They may as well have. Directing the Dutchman to take the Mary Reed and Krait and attempt to interdict and confiscate Chinese civilian lines. For every missile we launch the Chinese will answer with dozens. If the Dutchman should intercept and destroy a Chinese passenger ship we will likely see nukes used on us here at Earth."
"I do not think the Chinese will violate the Pax Treaty so lightly. At least not as long as the Pan Euro and US are maintaining warships in orbit. Mukata got out of his chair and crossed to the teak counter by the wall. "May I get you a cup of tea?"
"Yes please, and some wine also if you would." Maria opened her eyes and looked up at the dark wood ceiling of the room. "Any word on how many dead on Hektor?"
Mukata poured the two cups of tea, and looked for a glass in the cabinets above the counter. "We hear that nearly twenty five thousand died in the launches, and perhaps another thousand since the landing. Accurate reports are difficult to come by."
Maria closed her eyes again. "I have ordered many deaths over the years. But this..."
Mukata brought the cups and wine glass and sat them on the small table between his and Maria's chairs. "Here, perhaps this will calm your nerves."
"Thank you." Maria sat up and took a long sip from the wine, then sat the glass back down on the table and rested her head back against the chair again.
Mukata watched as the tension on her face relaxed. Then as her breathing slowed, and finally stopped. Mukata pressed the button on the arm of his chair to signal the guards to come in. "Good bye, Maria."


February 7th 0900 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 1.5 light seconds from Hektor

Captain Zedong Tan monitored the sensor returns and the reports from the ground troops as he watched the crew rush to their stations. 'It's just us. The Frigates Quinha and Sichuan already returned to Venus so only the Angtung is left. And they caught us out of stations trying to catch up on maintenance.' Maneuver thrusters were bringing the ship about, but with the crew not yet locked in, it would be impossible to engage the drive.
"Captain, lead alien bomber entering low orbit, second bomber still at one half light second from Hektor. We record ordinance launch from first bomber. Surface detonation. The first bomber has lost its drive bloom and is beginning to drift. First bomber breaking up from ground fire." Zedong listened as he watched progress on the crew reaching their stations. 'There, the stations all show green.' "Helm, engage drive. Move to intercept second alien bomber. Weapon Conn, get me all bays online and firing solutions on that boat." The world turned grey as the drive engaged.
"Captain, aspect change on Bomber Two. New heading of zero six three. They are turning away from the colony. Increased thermal signature. They are accelerating. Current velocity of three thousand kilometers per second and increasing." Zedong looked at the sensor returns. 'We need to get closer. Those little ships are hard enough to target. Here in the belt it is twice as hard. It already has a fair speed advantage but it can't outrun us.' "Weapon Conn, fire when we reach one light second from target. Helm, time until we reach one light second range?"
"Captain, at current acceleration we should make one light second to target in three minutes fifteen seconds."
Zedong looked at the sensor returns. "Helm, close to one light second from target and hold. Sensor Conn, I want to know if anything else shows up. Three minutes is going to take us a distance from Hektor." As the moments crawled by Zedong watched the small boat draw slightly away. For a minute it even disappeared from the sensor returns as it passed through a small cluster of debris near the colony. Then the small alien ship reappeared on the same course as the Angtung closed on it. With the colony five light seconds behind them he finally heard the Weapon Conn reporting in. "Range to target of one light second. Solutions on line."
"Launch all bays." Zedong watched as the icons for the outbound missiles separated from the Angtung and closed on the bomber. The returns clouded as the detonations spewed charged particles through the belt. Seconds later the alien ship reappeared continuing on its original course while maneuvering to avoid further launches.
"Weapon Conn, get me a second launch on line. Fire when solution plotted." Zedong heard the crew respond to the orders as he watched the sensor returns on his monitor. 'We are already six light seconds from Hektor and getting farther every second. If something shows up there it is too far for us to even know.'
"Second launch on line. Missiles away." Zedong watched as the missiles again closed on the small alien ship and detonated. And once again the nimble alien craft pulled away from the expanding clouds of plasma.
"Get me a third launch on line. Flatten that bird or you will all find yourself helping the ground troops." Zedong watched as the crew got the third launch on line and the missiles sped away. This time the small alien ship didn't appear from the detonations.
"Captain, magnetic fields detected bearing zero seven seven ascension minus two point six. No drive bloom. Range to contacts four point five light seconds. Contacts as Alpha times one, Tango Two times one. Echo times one. Sierra times one. Inbound detected from Alpha. Magnetic pulse from Tango, mass driver launch." The Sensor Officer's voice gripped his attention as Zedong stared at the flashing red icons on his display.
"Helm, bring us about to heading one three zero. Full combat acceleration. Engineering, get the field generators on line and keep them that way. Weapon Conn, can we target contacts?"
"Captain, firing solutions on launch signatures compiling. Time to launch twenty seven seconds."
Zedong watched as the inbound closed. 'We won't get the field up in time. At least if the mass driver was going to hit us we would already have felt it.' The sensor returns clouded as the alien missile disappeared into a wave of plasma. A wave that was obviously too far away to do any real damage to the Angtung. 'At least this mass of rocks is giving the aliens problems too.'
"Missiles on line. Target captain?"
"Field generators on line. All banks report full function."
Zedong looked at the returns. "Target Echo until destroyed. Helm, hold course with full acceleration."
The drive cut out as the missiles launched, then restarted. "Captain, new contacts. Inbound times two. Mass driver launch detected. Alien Alpha, Echo and Tango Two showing active drive bloom. Accelerating."
"Helm, continue full acceleration. Weapon Conn, get me the next launch on line." Zedong watched as the missiles crossed in space. 'The mass driver missed again. Let's hope we get as lucky with the alien inbounds.' Zedong watched as the Angtung's missiles detonated in space, and the Echo emerged from the sensor disruption with its magnetic field up. 'The range is just too far and this crew has never launched on a hostile target before. If our shields go down we are history. We have to hold on long enough to disengage.'
Detonations clouded the returns on Zedong's monitor. "Captain, all field generators on line." 'They missed again. But it isn't going to last forever.' "Helm, time until we reach six light seconds from contacts?"
"Captain, six light seconds in seventy two seconds." Zedong watched as more inbound icons appeared on his monitor, but no pulse from the Tango. 'Perhaps we are out of range for the Tango.'
"How long until my next launch?" Zedong looked at the Weapon Conn to see the four cyborgs locked in their stations.
"Launch in three, two..." The drive cut out again and the world changed color for a few moments until the drive restarted. "Missiles away, Captain."
Zedong's returns clouded again as the inbounds detonated along the Angtung's path, but again they failed to find their target. It was only seconds before the next pair of inbounds appeared though. "Captain, sensor returns are inadequate for further launches." Zedong clenched his fingers as he listened to the Weapon Officer's report and watched the alien inbounds close.
"Captain, Engineering reports Field Generator Banks One through Four off line."
'Damn it. We need to get out of here.' Zedong's sensor returns clouded again as the alien inbounds detonated. Lights flashed on his monitor. 'Another quarter of our generators just went off line.'
"Captain, no further inbounds detected from contacts. Aspect change on Tango Two. It is turning back toward Hektor. Alpha and Echo continuing pursuit."
Zedong watched as the distance increased and the alien ships fell back to nearly seven light seconds. 'They won't be able to track us if we drop our fields at this range. "Engineering, take remaining field generators off line. Helm, change course to one eight zero. Comm, tightbeam transmission to Hektor, Earth, and Venus. Notify them of current situation and course of the Angtung. Request for orders."
'Command isn't going to be happy. The soldiers will be less so.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 11 Aug 2011 14:51

February 2205 part 6

February 7th 1027 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue crouched in her position. Squad Leader Ling Song was thirty meters away with one other member of the squad. 'I can't stop shaking. This can't be happening. We just secured the Spaceport. I am supposed to be on the perimeter security detail. Now the port is a crater and this place is crawling with alien suits.' Li looked around at the damaged walls of the habitat she was now in. 'At least I'm alive. It sounds like half of us aren't anymore.'
Li heard her radio crackle to life. "Second Squad. Movement in your sector at grid three three one four. Move to engage. Confirm." It was the Platoon Leader. Li heard Ling reply. "Confirm, moving to engage. One Two Two take point. Bounding overwatch. Team B first move. Twenty meter spacing. Move out." Li suddenly felt sick. She was in Team B. They would be the first to move out while Team A provided cover fire. Perhaps the first to make contact.
Li keyed up the grid display on her HUD and looked at where they would be going. It was a section of damaged habitat less than one hundred meters from their current location. With no orbital support exact data on what lay between them and where they were going wasn't available. 'I hate surprises.' Li stood up and could feel her legs trembling. Li watched as One Two Two, who was a young woman called Li-Li, began to move toward the rubble of a wall that opened into the corridor leading to their destination. She disappeared over the rubble and crouched for a moment before signaling for the rest of the team to move forward. The other two members of Li's team rose and moved forward. 'I'm farthest from the wall. I need to hurry.' Li struggled as the maneuver thrusters on her pack pushed her along as she skipped across the floor. 'This place is even harder to move on than Titan was.' Li watched as Li-Li moved down the hall and the other two members of her team reached the rubble and crossed it.
"Move out One Two Four." Li could hear Ling hurrying her. The woman seemed to be unfeeling. The rest of the squad had nicknamed her the 'Ice Queen.' Supposedly for her time on Triton, but everyone knew better. Li reached the rubble and began to cross it.
Li saw the two women in front of her suddenly disappear as a pair of rockets slammed into them. Li threw herself into the rubble as the hallway filled with dust. She could feel the rubble shaking under her like it was piled on top of a vibrating chunk of machinery. 'Oh my god they are shooting the rubble. They know I'm here.' Li could hear Ling yelling at her to stay down. "Where are they?! WHERE ARE THEY?!!!" Li could hear herself screaming into the radio as pieces of the rubble began to fly away. Suddenly she felt her nose slam into her faceplate as the rubble shook from a detonation. Tears blurred her vision and she rolled down onto the floor trying to get as flat as she could.
"FALL BACK ! FALL BACK !" Li could hear Ling yelling at the rest of the squad.
"I ... CAN'T ... MOOOVE !!!" Li's breaths came in gasps as she tried to scream and cry at the same time. Her NMI lit up with white streaks as an alien suit tumbled through the opening above her and shells tore into it or detonated on it. "STOP IT !!! I'M STILL ... HERE !!! "
Li fired the maneuver pack and felt herself scraping along the floor as another two alien suits came through the opening. Rockets broke free from the forms as some type of gun swiveled about underneath them. Trails lit up her NMI while dust and rubble exploded across the room. Li triggered her Type 15 over and over while screaming and could see one of the suits suddenly explode, then the second. Red letters flashed on her HUD that her weapon was empty. Li tried to grasp another cassette of ammo but lost it as her trembling arms couldn't hold on to it. A fourth suit floated through the dust shrouded opening as she watched. It turned toward her and she watched its gun swivel toward her. Li's breath caught in her throat as the strength seemed to drain out of her. And then the suit disappeared in another explosion.
"GET UP LI ! NOW ! DO YOU HEAR ME SOLDIER ! MOVE !" Li struggled to get up as Ling screamed at her. She turned over and fired the maneuver pack as she pushed off the wall she had run into. She could see Ling firing burst after burst as LI tried to angle herself for the other exit from the room. As she reached the hallway and turned she found that Ling was right behind her, still firing. Li struggled to load her weapon and finally got a second cassette out and locked in place. She looked up to see Ling firing through the walls of the habitat toward where the aliens had appeared from. Li began firing with her and watched the 23mm rounds punch holes in the wall the size of her head. Then she grabbed another cassette and did it again.
"CEASE FIRE ! CEASE FIRE !" Li emptied the last rounds out of her Type 15 and stopped. "Reload soldier. That weapon isn't any good empty. And don't forget your shoulder mounted gun and backup on your arm." Li grabbed her fifth cassette and locked it into her weapon. 'Only one left, only one left...' Li thought to herself. She looked around as she tried to catch her breath. The room and the hallway she was in looked empty, except for floating dust, rocks, and wreckage. As her breathing slowed she counted four aliens suits plus parts of several others floating about.
"Where is ... the rest ... of the squad?" Li tried to control her voice, but her pounding heart and gasps wouldn't let her.
"We are the squad. Follow me. We are falling back on Third Squad. The aliens will hit this again soon."
Li tried for a few moments to stop crying as they moved down the hall, and then gave up.
'I'm so sorry Mae. I don't think I will see you again.'


February 8th 0610 hours/Habitat Two, Titan

Mae Ling looked up from her breakfast tray as alarms sounded in the mess hall. Moments later two men rushed in. ''Everyone to your company areas! NOW !"
Mae pulled herself out of her seat and kicked off hard from the table. As she arced up she grabbed one of the ceiling brackets and then threw herself toward the double doors leading out. She landed almost two steps in front of the next closest soldier, grabbed the bar between the doorways and twisted herself so that her momentum carried her down the hall. 'I am so glad now that my mother forced me to take all those years of tumbling and gymnastics.'
Mae entered her bay in time to feel the ground shake underneath of her. "What in the hell was that?" A few other women had made it into the bay and grabbed at whatever they could to steady themselves. The ground shook a second time and Mae grabbed a bed rack as she watched another rack topple to the floor. More women poured into the room. Overhead speakers blared. "All companies to your armories. All companies, suits on and formation outside."
'Where outside?' Mae thought as the ground shook again. Mae pushed off from the bed rack toward the door, but was thrown into the floor as another rack fell on her. Racks were crashing everywhere and Mae could see that the amber alert lights had turned on. 'The habitat is breached.' Mae pulled the hood of her suit over her head then pulled the gloves on her sleeves over her hands and sealed them all. She could see the brown fog rolling along the floor and feel the first chill of the outside atmosphere wash over her. 'I need to get out of here now.'
Mae struggled out from under the bed rack and over the others in her way. She vaulted up and over the women in front of her and pulled herself through the doorway by the top of the frame. In the hallway she pushed off from the wall and began the one hundred meter run to Bay Seven. She could hear the muffled screams of others behind her who had not gotten their suits on as air colder than any found on Earth froze whatever tissue it could touch. The choking cries of some told Mae that not all the frozen tissue was on the outside, as hapless souls inhaled the super cold atmosphere - freezing lung tissue as they struggled to breathe. Mae rushed through the doors into Bay Seven seconds before the automatic safeties slammed them closed. Mae could hear pounding on the outside of the doors as she made her way to the nearest suit.
"Let me." Mae looked up to see that one of the instructors had made it to the bay. He pressed his hand against the lock near the suit. Lights flashed on as systems activated and safeties turned off. "Thanks."
The instructor grabbed her arm. "You're going to need to take a deep breath, hold it, and move quickly. The air in here is warmer than that hallway but the temp is still nearly forty below zero. You’re going to start getting frostbite as soon as you open the hood of your skin suit. When you're done meet me at the Weapon Locker." Mae looked at him and nodded, then turned her back to the Power Armor suit and took a deep breath.
As she ripped off the gloves and hood the air felt like thousands of tiny pins and knives stabbing at her skin. She ripped the seams on the body of the suit and pulled it off quickly. 'Oh my god this is cold.' Mae jammed her feet into the suit and felt the padding expand to fit her legs and start to warm. She pushed numb hands and fingers into the arms and could feel the padding expand and warm. "My eyes. Dammit my eyes!" Mae could hear herself yell and blew out hard to keep from taking in the frigid air as she reached for the frontal thigh plates. She snapped them on and reached down for the breastplate. She pulled it up and the frigid inner surface knocked what was left of the air in her lungs out as she snapped it into place. Her lungs ached and burned as she reached above her and grabbed the helmet. The ground shook again and she fell. 'I'm not dying this way!' Mae pulled the helmet on and locked it onto the suit. Warm air flowed around her face and Mae inhaled as deeply as her lungs would let her.
Mae looked around the Bay to see that five other soldiers had made it and were struggling to get on their armor. Mae rushed to the nearest, a young man fumbling to put on the breastplate. Mae pulled it from his grasp and then locked it in place. She then grabbed the helmet and pulled it over his head and locked it. She didn't wait for a thank you before she moved to the next. In less than a minute all five were suited up. Some more frost burned than others, but all alive.
Mae led the group as they moved through the hatchway into the Weapon Locker. She could see the instructor lining up racks of Type 4's and the drums that went with them. He had also brought out a case used to carry extra cassettes of 37mm rounds for the Type 67's and another case holding 30mm grenades. He looked back at Mae and the others. "Get these on. We are out of here in sixty seconds! Don't be late!" Another tremor shook the ground and Mae ran for the racks.
It took a moment to lock on the drums and snap extra cassettes of 37mm rounds onto her suit. She loaded the under barrel grenade launcher and then headed for the air lock out of the armory. The last of the group straggled after her as she joined the instructor. Mae could hear the instructor as she looked around. "This is Instructor Lao Yat-Sen. I am at grid seven five four six nine two with five effectives. Requesting orders."
Mae heard the instructor as he spoke, but wasn't listening anymore. She had started to look around and saw that the habitat was in ruins. Great holes had been ripped though the dome and fires burned inside. Bodies and pieces of bodies had been strewn across the surface along with chunks of debris and wreckage by the explosions that had torn the habitat apart. Mae had started to look at all of it, but had stopped. Not ten meters from where she stood was a frozen body. The skin was blue even in the dim light of Titan. The skin was covered with frost and dust. Even through all that Mae could recognize the body. Tears began to roll silently down her cheeks as she stared at the body of the young man who had proposed to her only a few hours ago.


0840 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, One light minute from Hektor Colony

Captain Zedong Tan looked at the reports as they scrolled across his monitor. The troops on the ground at Hektor were being devastated by strikes from the alien mass driver. Those left were struggling to hold out caught between the aliens and the colonists. The Regimental Commander had died in the opening bombardment. The colonists were also being slaughtered, unable to adequately combat the Chinese troops let alone the engines of death the aliens had placed on that rock. With alien ships providing support every human being on that rock was doomed. They would be lucky to survive a few days.
Now reports had come in from Titan. The aliens had bombed the habitats there. The aliens didn't even need to directly target the habitats. The mass driver created shock waves in Titan's atmosphere that shattered the domes and killed unprotected colonists on the surface. Landings had taken place and the survivors on the ground were now fighting for their lives. With only the Training Regiment left, many of them dead according to the latest data, the aliens would find little difficulty slaughtering what was left of the inhabitants.
Zedong typed in the over ride to the comm station of the Angtung. 'I have lived long enough. If this costs my life then so be it. It will not be the only one sacrificed in these next few days.' He typed a message on his screen and then keyed in for an open transmission. 'For once we have to set aside these petty politics, or we will all die.'


0857 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po heard the door crash open to his office. He grabbed for the pistol in his desk as two soldiers barged into the room. Neither was brandishing a weapon so Po paused for a moment.
"Minister, you need to read this and accompany us to an emergency assembly of the Ministry." The man looked deadly serious as he held a piece of paper toward Po. Po took the paper and rose from his chair to follow the men. As he moved down the hallway his blood ran cold as he read the message.

ATTN FSC FORCES
ATTN ANY EARTH FORCES VICINITY OF HEKTOR

FROM CAPTAIN ZEDONG TAN
MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG, CHINESE IMPERIAL SPACE COMMAND

ORDERS TO ALL CHINESE GROUND FORCES ON HEKTOR
CEASE FIRE IN EFFECT WITH FSC EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
23RD POWERED ARMOR REGIMENT TO SUPPORT FSC OPERATIONS AGAINST ALIEN FORCES

MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG MOVING TO SUPPORT OF FSC COLONY HEKTOR
REQUEST SUPPORT FROM ANY FSC, PAN EURO, OR US FORCES ABLE TO ASSIST
NOTHING FOLLOWS.

Po crumpled the paper as he began to jog after the soldiers.


0930 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 12 light minutes from Hektor

The Dutchman sat at his station and stared at the messages displayed on his screen. 'The board has forbidden us to respond to this message from the Chinese Frigate and its Captain. Suspicion that it is a ploy to lure us into a trap.' The Dutchman cleared all of the messages off his monitor and stared at the blank screen. 'I had to abandon that colony and the people there. Leave them to the Chinese troops. And now the reports are that the Chinese Captain has been forced to do the same thing, only now it won’t be an occupation. It will be a slaugher. There are even messages that the Chinese have a colony at Saturn that has come under attack.'
The Dutchman brought up navigational plots. 'A lot of people are dying, and I can't do anything to help sitting here. The board would even have me intercept shipping that could be needed to fight the aliens.'
"All crew lock stations. Helm, plot a course for Hektor. Comm, broadcast to the Chinese Frigate Angtung that we will be moving to support an offensive against the aliens at Hektor. We may not be able to defeat the aliens, but I'm going to try. Courtesy copy of message to the board."
The Dutchman sat and thought as the drive engaged. 'The board is going to have a long walk to come out here to collect my hide. Assuming we survive.'


1200 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 7 light seconds from Earth

"Can we verify the authenticity of these messages?" Commodore Stephan Vasilikos turned in his station to look at the Communication Officer.
"Admiral, we have no way to verify this message traffic. They were all broadcast on open frequencies with no encryption protocols. The last messages requested positions for tightbeam transmissions. It would appear that both the Chinese Frigate and FSC Mary Reed supplied coordinates and times that could be used for the ships to maintain contact. We can also verify that the positions broadcast coincide with plotted positions for triangulation of the broadcasts. Who or what is actually sending them is unknown. But why would anyone go to the trouble of creating these false message logs?"
"I have no idea. One thing is for sure though. The aliens have landed in at least two locations in the belt. Transmissions would indicate that they have also conducted landings on a Chinese site at Saturn." Stephan sat and thought for a moment. "Comm, get me a link to US Rear Admiral Jack Ryan. Patch it through to audio at my station. Isolate from repeater traffic."
"Yes, Commodore."
Stephan waited for a few long moments until he heard the audio pickup at his station activate. Stephan keyed open the link. "Rear Admiral Ryan, this is Commodore Stephan Vasilikos. Are you there?"
"This is Rear Admiral Ryan. Is this an open or closed link?"
"Closed on this end. Just I can hear you. Is that acceptable?" Stephan waited a few moments for a reply.
"Both ends are closed now. I suppose you have something you need to discuss that required this?"
Stephan thought for a moment about what he wanted to say. He had heard enough to know that Rear Admiral Ryan was willing to take risks and bend rules. But only occasionally. He had gained several promotions in less than a year. He hadn't spent decades as an Admiral and gotten stuck in tradition and protocol. The question was if he would agree to this. "You have been monitoring the transmissions from Hektor." It was less a question than a statement.
The comm link crackled back to life. "We have monitored transmissions."
Stephan thought a moment. That answer left Admiral Ryan's cards pretty close to his chest. He wasn't giving away anything one way or another. "We both know that your US troops are fighting to protect our colony on Victoria, and both our governments have ships there to give those soldiers a chance. It sounds like the Chinese troops have stopped their offensive and are now fighting to save South Seas colonists, and both the South Seas and China plan to try and take back the orbitals to give the folks on the ground a chance. Would you agree?"
The comm sat silent for a moment before coming to life again. "If the transmissions we have gotten are accurate that appears to be the situation."
Stephan sat for a moment. The US admiral wasn't giving anything away. Perhaps he was concerned that the transmission wasn't closed. 'I'm just going to have to say something to convince him that this is just us chatting.'
"At the moment it sounds like the Chinese have troops fighting the aliens on Titan. It also sounds like they are getting the shit kicked out of them on the ground and from orbit. It has occurred to me that we have nearly thirty ground based launchers here at Earth, and an entire Pan Euro Battle Group parked in orbit. Now to me it seems we have a lot of firepower here at Earth, with no one to fight. With your Task Force and the Red October we have the four faster and most dangerous ships known to man. I hear that we also have an admiral who could get us to Saturn faster than any other man alive. We also have a commodore whom we can blame this whole thing on and everyone would believe that it was his fault." Stephan waited only a moment for what he had said to sink in. "I think this group could do a lot of people a favor if we just moved it a little, say to Saturn. We could chase off the bad guys and give the troops on the ground a fighting chance. My question is, are you game for this and how fast can you get us there?"
Stephan waited. 'If that doesn't convince him that this is a closed channel nothing will. Now we have to see if he agrees or turns me in to Brenna. I'm already in enough hot water with that prune as it is.'
The line was quiet for almost a minute. Then finally the connection crackled back to life.
"We can be ready in three minutes. Assuming your aging crate can keep up, time to Titan is twenty hours and thirty seven minutes."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Fri 12 Aug 2011 19:11

February 2205 part 7

February 9th 0930/Surface of Hektor

Team Leader Li Xue cycled through the filters on her optics. Low light, UV, IR, and thermal. 'Nothing. With luck we will be gone before the aliens hit this place. Battalion has a report of movement, so they want us to check the area.' Li looked at the four other members of her team. 'I hope we don't meet anything. We don't have a prayer against the aliens. At least since the alien warships left an hour ago we can move around in groups bigger than a platoon.'
Li held her hand out and signaled her team to hold their positions. Li moved to the nearest member of her team, a young man named Marcus. 'Four of them and only one I can even talk to.' Li knelt beside Marcus. 'The FSC armored vacc suits aren't going to help them much but at least it has a good maneuver pack. And this surplus Euro 4.8 mm SAR 5 will be lucky to stop even the little alien suits. At least he still has a full load of ammo.'
"Marcus, check the rest of the team. Make sure the suits and weapons are ready. Headquarters says one of the movement sensors in Corridor Two dash Seven has been tripped. I will need one team member to go with me and recon the corridor. We will move out in three minutes. Confirm."
"Yes, Team Leader." Li watched as Marcus began to move from one team member to the next. 'He doesn't know protocol, but at least he can talk to these FSC reserves. Let them know what we will be doing. Reassure them.' Li keyed off the transmitter and started taking deep breaths. 'I need to stay calm. We need to check the corridor ahead. It leads to the airlock that the company is evacuating civilians from. We need two hours to finish the evacuation. The movement was probably just settling rubble. This place is a wreck. We are going to be fine.'
"One Two Four. Status." Li heard Squad Leader Ling Song checking on her. 'The Ice Queen calls.' Li turned on the transmitter. "Squad Leader, completing equipment check. Move to beacon in two minutes. Confirm."
"Confirm. Sitrep on arrival. Out."
Li looked at her team. Three of the four carried surplus Euro SAR 5's, while the last carried a 6.9mm SSR 4. The 6.9mm support rifle could penetrate the lighter alien suits and the team's position was built around it and Li's weapons. 'I can't take the SSR, or they will have no chance if anything shows up. They won't have any heavy weapons when I go regardless of who I take.' Li looked around at the rubble in the bay. 'A bunch of old furnishings, some of the ceiling, and one support beam that failed and left a hole to the floor below us. This room also has two exits, one of which we are covering.'
Li saw Marcus moving back towards her. 'It's time.' "Marcus, you're coming with me. Tell Number Four that he is in charge and to stay near the SSR team. I will be leaving an automated support weapon forward of this position. They are not to advance or it will fire on them. Confirm." Li watched as Marcus nodded then heard the gibberish as he spoke to the team. Li took one more deep breath and closed her eyes. 'I can do this. We will be fine.' Li stood up and moved slowly across the bay, going from one piece of cover to another. A pile of furniture in one place. Rubble from the ceiling in another. Marcus would cover her movements, and then she would as he caught up. Small spurts of white gave away their positions as their maneuver packs fired. Li cycled through the filters again as she scanned the area.
Li reached a pile of ceiling materials just short of the hole in the floor. She used her chin switch to turn on the main HUD menu and waited for the voice recognition system to cycle on. "Set Type Sixty Seven. Movement sensor targeting. Auto target select. Auto target fire. Sixty degree cone. Detach Type Sixty Seven. Remote operation in sixty seconds." Li heard a click as the small cannon on her shoulder unlocked from the suit. She pulled it off her suit and extended the three legs on the Type 67. 'From here it will cover most of the bay and the hole in the floor. That should give the team a little more punch.' Li backed away from the meter long weapon system and watched as it began to pan back and forth.
Li looked at Marcus crouched a few meters away. 'He isn't doing me much good with that pop gun of his. I might as well be alone.' Li took a deep breath and moved beside Marcus. "Marcus, put away your weapon." She watched as the young man looked back at her with confusion on his face, and then slowly put the old Euro assault rifle in its mount on the side of his maneuver pack. Li unlocked the mounts on the 6.5mm pulse rifle mounted on her arm and held it out toward Marcus. "This will do a lot better than that old gun of yours. It has standard optical sights on the sighting rail." Marcus took the pulse rifle and looked it over, then nodded. Li looked back towards the exit into the corridor they needed to check. 'We are going to be alright. I just have to remember that I only have six cassettes.'
Li got up and crossed the rest of the bay to the small hallway that lead to Corridor 2-7. She activated the optics on her Type 15 and held the weapon out into the hall. She panned it back and forth. Up and down. "Clear. Move up Marcus." Li waited as he moved to the door and crouched again. "I need you to move down the hallway twenty meters." Li gestured in the direction she wanted him to go. "At the end of the hall is a hatchway to Corridor Two dash Seven. Do not open it. Wait for me there. Confirm."
"Yes Team Leader." Li watched as Marcus got up and moved slowly down the hall. He used his left hand to hold the railing while covering the hall in front of him with the rifle. 'Smart boy. As long as he uses the railing his maneuver pack won't fire constantly to keep him on the floor.' Li saw Marcus stop and crouch in the hall and aim the pulse rifle into a doorway. "Marcus, report."
"Team Leader. I saw movement." Marcus had both hands on the rifle now and occasional jets from his pack fired to hold him steady.
"Hold your position, I'm moving forward." Li tried to steady her nerves but could feel her heart beginning to pound again. Li moved down the hall and then past Marcus to the door. Li used her weapon to look past the door. 'Just living quarters. Furniture and clothes scattered about. Two more doors. They probably just lead to other rooms, but not an exit.' "Marcus, move up and clear the rooms." Li waited as the young man slipped past her in the hallway and through the door into the room. Li shifter her weapon to cover the hatch into the corridor they had come to check out. Suddenly Li could here Marcus spurting gibberish again. "Marcus, report."
"Team Leader, I have two survivors in here. Man and a woman. Standard vacc suits. No weapons. They say they only have a few hours of oxygen left."
Li breathed out hard. 'Survivors. At least it wasn't aliens. These two are what probably set off the movement sensor.' Li felt several small vibrations and heard her radio fill with voices yelling. Then she heard Ling. "One Two Four. We have contact in Corridor Two dash Six. Falling back. You need to fall back to the evac site. Confirm." Li felt cold and sick. "Confirm. Falling back." Li pulled up the schematics of the dome on her HUD and looked at them. "Marcus, Corridor Two dash Six is hot. Get the rest of the team up here. I will deactivate the cannon. Have them pick it up and bring it forward." Li stared at the map. Corridor 2-6 was the team's route back to the evac site. They were cut off now with two refugees in tow. The only clear path to the evac site was through Corridor 2-7. 'I hope these two were what set off the movement sensor.' Li switched off the Type 67 and waited.
It took a few minutes for the rest of the team to move forward. Two were carrying the Type 67 while the SSR gunner covered them. 'At least in the low gravity they can move the Type 67 around.' Li took the weapon and reattached it to her suit. 'Four more shots if I need them.' "Marcus, Number Four in the lead. SSR gunner next. Then Number Three. You and I will cover the rear. Civilians in the middle. We need to move fast. Pass this on to the team. Confirm."
Li waited as Marcus spoke to the rest of the group. As the team moved into its new order, Li listened to the radio traffic. It sounded as if the Battalion was struggling. Two of the largest alien suits were spearheading the attack and were tearing through walls and positions. Li looked back at her team and checked their order. "Move out."
Number Four, a man that Marcus called Jacob moved through the hatch and into Corridor 2-7. After a few moments Li saw him motion for the group to move forward as he moved away from the hatch. In less than a minute the team and the two survivors had moved into the corridor and were moving quickly toward the evac point. The radio was filled with voices. Most of it was the gibberish that the FSC colonists spoke, but enough was Chinese for Li to get a good idea what was happening. 'The whole perimeter is collapsing. The fact that our battalion is now three companies of FSC reserves with a few Power Armor soldiers scattered through them, and only a single Power Armor Platoon acting as the heavy weapons element for the battalion doesn’t help. And it sounds like the Power Armor platoon has been torn apart and scattered. The Headquarters Company is the only thing left between the two big alien suits and the civilian collection point.'
Li checked the dome layout on her HUD as they moved down the corridor. 'Corridor 2-6 and 2-7 run parallel most of their length. The last access hatch between them is one hundred meters ahead. Past that is the lock to the surface outside.' Li used her maneuver pack to jump past the team and stop the group. "Marcus, this corridor looks clear. You and the rest of the team take the civilians outside. You and the team will need to stay close to the dome's base. The aliens have firing points on the upper dome, but the curve should give you cover at the base. Move to the evac point. I will be taking the next hatchway. I will meet you at the evac point." Li watched as Marcus looked at her, and then listened as he relayed the orders to the rest of the team. Moments later the team began to move down the corridor. All except Marcus.
"Soldier, I gave you an order." Li looked at the FSC soldier. 'He's nearly a foot shorter than me in this Salamander Suit. He probably will tower over me out of it though.' Then Marcus turned to face her.
"Yes Team Leader. You will need someone to cover your back. Your suit can't see behind it any better than I can."
"We will discuss your insubordination later. If you refuse to move with the team, you are going to have to follow me. I can't have you disappearing into the civilians to escape punishment. You South Seas types all look the same to me." Li was sure she could see the small smile on Marcus' face. 'The other three members of the team are white as snow, as is most of this dome. They all came from Australia to hear of it. Marcus is brown as toast and from India. Says he learned a few Chinese dialects from relatives in Tibet.'
Li moved to the hatchway and continued to check the schematics on her HUD. 'The aliens have moved fast, but pushing past the perimeter and then the power armor troops has cost them time. We have moved down the hall unopposed. Marcus and I could get ahead of them if we move through the maintenance section ahead. It has two exits into Corridor 2-6.' Li moved quickly down the hallway to the access hatch for the maintenance section and opened it. Moving into the cluttered rooms Li moved past equipment and supplies. The frequent firing of her maneuver pack scattered small objects off of shelves and set them to drifting about the rooms. As Li opened the third door she was greeted by the site of literally hundreds of objects drifting and crashing about in a room. A room with a gaping hole out into the main corridor. Li had a moment to see three canisters in the mass of floating debris begin to turn toward the door as she slammed it closed, and then Li was flying back as the door and parts of the composite wall exploded. Even as her pack stopped her Li fired two 37mm rounds into the mass of drifting material. Two more detonations stirred the debris even more. Li looked over to see Marcus moving behind some large piece of machinery and covering where the door had once been with the pulse rifle. Li moved behind a large generator and watched the opening also. Bottles, boxes and papers drifted into the room. Li could feel her heart pounding and sweat beginning to roll down her face. Her arms and legs felt weak.
"They must already be past this area. We need to get through that room and into the corridor." Li could barely believe what she was staying. 'I just want to hide here. The corridor must be crawling with aliens.' Her heart pounded in her ears as she stood up and moved toward the opening. She heard the clicks and thumps as debris bounced off of her armor, and each made her flinch. As she reached the opening she thrust her Type 15 forward and swept it across the room. She could see the opening into the corridor and two small alien suits in the corridor. Li triggered her Type 15 and saw the first small suit go spinning out of view as the 23mm shell slammed into it. A heartbeat later and the second small suit suffered the same fate. Li then leaned forward and fired a single 37mm round into the corridor and watched it detonate. As she leaned back she could feel her breath coming in ragged gasps and it felt as if her heart would pound its way out of her chest. It was then she saw Marcus fire his maneuver pack and rush past her.
Li moved around the corner and found Marcus at the hole leading into the corridor firing burst after burst from the pulse rifle. A detonation in the corridor knocked Marcus cart wheeling back into the room. A second canister came through the opening and detonated but Li felt her maneuver pack steady her as more debris crashed into her. Li fired her maneuver pack and drove through to the opening into the corridor. She spotted another pair of alien suits and fired her last 37mm shell at one. The detonation tore apart one and sent the other careening off the wall and ceiling. A single shot from her Type 15 finished it off. Li ejected the cassette and locked a new one in place. Li looked back to see Marcus struggling past the flying debris to reach the opening.
Li could feel her whole body trembling as Marcus reached her. Marcus leaned out into the corridor and then back quickly. "I saw half a dozen or so smaller suits and a really big bastard coming this way." Marcus' words were punctuated by a detonation in the hallway and followed by dozens of holes appearing in the wall.
"FALL BACK !" Li grabbed Marcus' suit and fired her jump thrusters. A moment later they were out of the room and into the adjacent one. Li's NMI traced hundreds of lines as alien weapon fire poured into the room they had been in moments before. The crash into a wall lit up her HUD with half a dozen red warning messages. Li pushed Marcus toward the machinery he had been hiding behind earlier as she pushed off toward the generator. A flurry of detonations told her that the aliens were closing. Li looked over to Marcus. 'We need to hold their attention for a few minutes.'
Li's NMI lit up again as alien machine guns tore through walls. Dozens of holes sprouted in the wall beside her as Li shifted around the generator. Li fired through the wall again and again with her Type 15. Li saw a small suit tumble into the room as burst after burst from the pulse rifle ripped apart its outer hull. Li punched the tumbling suit away as the wall in front of her suddenly burst into thousands of glowing shards. Li grabbed the generator and was tossed about like a rag doll as chunks of the wall smashed into her. Li’s maneuver pack fired over and over trying to steady her. She looked up to see the huge alien suit hovering in the corridor only meters from her. She threw herself behind the generator, swung her Type 15 around it and fired the last rounds into the large alien suit. The huge suit wheeled about wildly in the hall and crashed into the far side of the corridor. Li struggled to load another cassette into her weapon as she watched Marcus throw the pulse rifle aside and pulled out the SAR 5 and began firing. As the cassette snapped in place Li pushed the weapon around the generator again to see Marcus firing on the last of the alien creatures crawling out of the damaged suit.
Li sat down beside the generator and felt her breath come in ragged gasps. Her left thigh began to burn and she looked down to see a small hole in the armor plate. She began to cough and could taste blood. Li scrolled through the menu and found her suit had been holed in both the right thigh and right upper torso. 'I guess the damned things didn't miss. At least the holes sealed.' Li struggled to take a deep breath and began coughing again. "Marcus, I'm hit. You need to move on to the evac site. I will try and hold them." Li began to cough again but found she was actually beginning to feel calmer. 'At least there is no reason to be scared anymore.'
"I'm not going anywhere either Team Leader." Li looked up to see Marcus attempting to put patches on one of four leaks sprouting air from his suit. Li began to pull herself over to him, but coughing stopped her as she moved forward. Li watched helplessly as Marcus began to move more slowly and then went limp in the micro gravity. His maneuver pack still fired intermittently when it tried to keep him from drifting as floating debris bounced off of his armored vacc suit.
Li triggered the distress beacon in her suit and then keyed on the radio transmitter. "Squad Leader Ling Song. This is Soldier One Two Four. Engaged and destroyed one heavy alien suit and several smaller suits in Maintenance Section of Corridor Two dash Six. Casualties are myself and one FSC soldier. Unable to proceed. Confirm."
The radio was still a mix of voices as Li waited. 'Maybe she didn't make it. At least headquarters will be able to sort it out of the radio log later. They will know.' Li saw movement in the corridor and struggled to swing her Type 15 around but a coughing fit left her curled up. As she stopped coughing Li looked out and saw another Chinese Salamander Suit standing over her. The form bent down and looked in Li's faceplate as it picked her up off the floor. Li could dimly make out the face as her radio picked up the transmission.
"I hadn't expected to meet you here. I suppose you won't be up for a rematch on that racquetball game right now, will you."



1240/Washington DC, Earth

Admiral Bradley Walters sat outside the briefing room. An afternoon meeting had been called to address the newest developments. The easiest to address would be the situation on Victoria Colony. The combat situation had stabilized with heavy casualties being taken by all sides. More supplies would be needed before the end of March but current resources were adequate for at least two more weeks of combat. The situation in space around the colony was unchanged with no additional alien contacts to report. 'For once General Foxx will have the easy end of this. I'm going to be the one put through the wringer.'
Bradley began to list out items on his HUD as he waited. 'First on the agenda will be reports on the civilian communication from the FSC outpost on Hektor, and those communications we have intercepted from the FSC ships there. Once again the aliens have abandoned the location of an attack within twenty four hours of contact. Two FSC ships and a Chinese Strike Vessel are parked at the colony but once again can do little without inflicting substantial civilian casualties. The situation on the ground sounds dire but we have no way to confirm that. We also have no plans to support it at the moment.'
'The big issues for the meeting will all revolve around the Chinese outpost at Saturn and the alien attack there. We have suspected for months that they had a colony on Titan but now it is confirmed. Transmissions make it clear that alien ships are in orbit around Titan and that the Chinese troops and colonists there are taking a beating. That in and of itself is only a small problem. The fact that Jack has taken off with Task Force 2 and the Pan Euro warship Red October is a little more difficult. Jack's orders were to interdict alien warships in the inner system and asteroid belt. I might have even been able to justify Jupiter if there was a reason to suspect aliens were there, but Saturn is one hell of a long ways out to take a little trip to try and catch alien warships before they disappear again.'
'Worst will be the debate that will drag General Foxx back into this. The Defiant is currently less than three days out from Saturn, but getting farther with every hour. It sounds like the Chinese troops on Titan won't be able to hold out even if we do clear the orbitals. The Defiant's brigade could go a long way to stabilizing the ground combat there. That would either leave the supplies for Triton stranded here in the inner system or we would have to send them on unescorted. Either choice is a losing gamble. Something and someone is going to be left hanging out in the wind as it were.'
"The President is going to have to make the call on this one. Putting our troops on sovereign Chinese soil isn't something this meeting is going to decide. Richards and Meyers aren't going to take this in front of the big man without wringing every last bit of data that they can. All I can do is give them what I know and answer their questions. Then I'm going to make plans for whatever decisions they make.'
'Of course if Jack can actually catch the aliens before they leave Titan, this could all change rather quickly.'


February 10th 0215 hours/Surface of Titan

Mae shivered slightly as she watched the barren landscape. Dark and broken jumbles of icy rock casting shadows on an already dark landscape. 'Heated or not, the cold here always seem to creep through the joints of this suit. It doesn't help that I feel half starved.' Mae could feel her stomach growling. 'Last time I ate was the few bites of breakfast before the attack started.' Mae looked out over the landscape again.
'At least I'm alive.'
Mae looked at the other soldiers gathered around her. 'Seventeen of us in power armor in this platoon. Plus forty two more from the Civilian Defense Units. They wear standard EVA suits and carry 7.6mm submachine guns. They were meant to put down civilian uprisings without being able to threaten the power armor units. They will be useless in combat with the aliens.’
‘Now it's our turn to take the perimeter watch again. Four hours in the cold and dark. Then another eight hours to try and clean our gear and get a few hours sleep before our next turn.' Mae looked at the approaching suit. 'Here comes Platoon Leader Lao Yat-Sen. It must be time.' Mae's radio crackled to life.
"Second Platoon. The situation has changed little in the last eight hours. The aliens are still in orbit of Titan. For the Salamander Suits, you will need to spread out over the sixteen kilometers of perimeter. That means you will each have a sector nearly a kilometer wide to cover. Defense Unit soldiers will man the twelve rovers and perform recon sweeps up to ten kilometers from this location. Supplies are still low. Ammo drums will be at half load. Two rounds for the Type Sixty Sevens and two grenades per Salamander Suit. Rovers will carry only a single round for the Type Sixty Three. We have recovered a number of pulse rifles and each rover will be issued one with a single load of ammunition. Headquarters is promising some food before your next rotation out, but no word on what or how much."
Mae heard several quiet groans as the news came out, and knew her voice was one of them.
"The rest of this was only for the Platoon Leaders and above, but you might as well know what is going on. Regimental Command shows that out of the three thousand soldiers and eight hundred instructors and cadre in the Training Regiment, barely eight hundred of us are left. This is the only location with a group of soldiers larger than a platoon. Most groups are little more than squads or teams struggling to hold on. Any larger groups are taken out from orbit. Civilian casualties are well over a quarter of a million. We don't have anyone coming to save us. Whatever happens here, it is up to us."
Mae didn't think she could have felt worse than she had before the briefing, but as Mae listened she could feel the pit in her stomach sink even lower. 'We are going to die here. Just like the soldiers on Triton.'
"The aliens haven't found this location yet. When they do, we will be in for one hell of a fight. The underground bunkers will provide us some protection, but you can bet that they will use their orbital assets. If they decide to try and take this place intact, the fight will come to us. I don't know what the aliens will do, but plan on a fight. Now get out there. First Platoon needs its four hours of sleep."
Mae took a deep breath and tried to resolve herself to four hours of cold and loneliness. She looked at the entrance to the underground bunker and wished she could go back in. Even if there was no food, at least it was warm and had a cot to sleep on. Mae turned around to climb her way out of the canyon they were in. Mae looked up and saw why they were here. Why the aliens were sure to come. Why they would all die here, one way or another.
Nestled in the jagged walls of the canyon and shrouded in the perpetual fog and darkness of Titan, over fourteen hundred meters long, was the form of the Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang.



0315 hours/US Q Ship Defiant, 30 light minutes from Saturn

Commander Aaron Steele checked the navigational plots from the Helm. "Helm, projected time until Task Force Two reaches Saturn?"
"Task Force Two will reach Saturn approximately zero eight thirty, Captain."
Aaron looked at the plots again. The Defiant and the Pan Euro Cargo Ship would not arrive at Saturn for another 60 hours. Even at best speed it would take nearly fifteen. 'We aren't going to be any help to them in this fight. Assuming the aliens haven't disappeared again before Rear Admiral Ryan gets there. The troops on the ground will just have to hold out a little longer. If we could only send them a message that help was coming.'
"Communications, do we have any situation reports from the Chinese on the ground combat?" Aaron had seen what had happened to the Vigilance at Victoria, and heard stories of the landings at Triton. In both of those cases several ships and landers had made coordinated landings. When the Defiant reached Saturn she would be alone. The aliens would be able to concentrate everything they had on one target.
"No word from the Chinese government. What we can pick up and translate from the civilian channels is not much help. We can make assumptions about habitats the aliens are attacking or have secured, but with no data on the colony there it is just names. We have no idea where these locations are on the surface of Titan.
Aaron looked at the few scans the US had of Titan. They were very dated. At least fifty years old. 'I am going to try and land a brigade against concentrated enemy resistance. I have no idea of the enemy disposition and only limited geographical data. And to top it all off we have to do it in an atmosphere as thick as pea soup. The lifter crews will be trying to land in pitch black darkness, in the fog, with no idea where they are going. We will be lucky to get a single soldier onto the surface alive.'
"Do we even have any confirmation that the Chinese have authorized a landing yet?"
"No Captain. Nothing yet from Command."
'Wonderful. We are going to get most of us killed, and this ship torn to ribbons, just to start another war with the most powerful space faring nation on Earth
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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procyon
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Sat 13 Aug 2011 14:03

February 2205 part 8

February 10th 0830 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 40 light seconds from Saturn

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan opened the tight beam comm link to the Pan Euro warship Red October and the rest of US Task Force 2. "We are approaching Titan with Saturn itself masking our approach. With luck this will hide our presence as we close. Don't expect it. Whatever these aliens are, they are not fools. We have no idea what is at Saturn. Reports from other landings would indicate they only have two or three warships, but with the moons and rings of Saturn they could easily hide twice that many. Fight as if we were outnumbered and this was the Earth you were trying to liberate. Hold nothing back. Or next time this might be the Earth. All ships to Battle Stations and shields up when we reach 15 light seconds from Saturn. Good hunting."
Jack turned off the comm link and watched the sensor returns as they closed on the large ringed planet. 'They could have anything hidden here. The entire US Fleet could hide in those rings alone. If I was ever going to conduct an ambush, this would be the place. If it is, we need to make the broadcast to the Defiant. No sense them walking into it also.'


0836 hours/Patrol Vessel 24, orbit of Titan

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 sensed the transmission of the Light Support Vessel hiding within the rings of the large planet. Four ships were approaching from the far side of the large planet. All four were moving faster than any ship in the Strike Group. They were here far sooner than had been anticipated. The Strike Group was to have left before the native race could arrive.
'We cannot escape. Armed Colony Vessel 8 could not outrun any of the standard enemy warships, but not even the Patrol Vessel can outrun these. They have three Patrol Vessels and one Heavy Patrol Vessel. This Strike Group is not to use the defensive systems and maneuvers until given orders by the Commander of Fleets, but we will die for nothing if we do not. We will only throw away our lives.'
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 altered the field at his station. Orders sped through the ship and across the vacuum of space.


0837 hours/ASV Red October, 5 light seconds from Saturn

"New contact. Romeo Class times one. Designating as Romeo One. Range four point seven light seconds bearing one two two ascension minus two. Velocity two thousand kilometers per second with delta vee of one three zero kilometers per second. Heading of two eight zero degrees."
Commodore Stephan Vasilikos heard the Sensor Officer as the contact information appeared on his screen. 'They don't have an unarmed freighter out here by itself, and it has definitely seen us.'
"Weapon Conn, firing solution and launch on Romeo One. Helm, hold course and speed."
Moments later the drive cut out long enough for two Scorpion Missiles to separate from the ship. The world turned blue grey again as the drive re-engaged and the Red October rocketed on toward Saturn.
The Sensor Officer cut in again. "A new contact times two. Designating as Alpha One and Tango Two A."
The Sensor Officer continued to call out information as Stephan pulled up the data on his monitor. 'Now the fight starts.'


0838 hours/Armed Colony Vessel 8, 0.75 light seconds from Titan

The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 8 could sense the four enemy ships. They were beginning to turn. The Heavy Patrol Vessel and lead Patrol Vessel would pass behind the large ringed planet before the mass driver could be brought to bear. The trailing two enemy Patrol Vessels would not find safety behind the large planet though. A message from the Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 designated the closest of the enemy ships as the target while the Patrol Vessel launched a torpedo toward it.
'The enemy ships will be skimming the rings of the large planet when our weapon reaches them. It will do them little good. The debris may fool the sensor on the torpedo, but not the mass driver. A ship moving that fast can only maneuver so much. It will not be enough.'
The Commander felt the fields build as the long and heavy cylinders began to spin. One hollow cylinder inside of the other. Each nearly as long as the ship, and each with a magnetic coil spiraling in opposite directions. Each enormously heavy and slowly building speed as they reached velocities of thousands of revolutions per second. Then a packet of charged metallic hydrogen would be fired into the center of the cylinders by a smaller mass driver. The packet would be thrown forward by the cylinders' revolutions and carefully synchronized changes in polarity of the coils. The packet would pick up a small portion of the momentum from the two enormous cylinders, but it would be enough to drive the small packet to nearly the speed of light. And then that packet would cross the vacuum of space to find its target.
The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 8 felt the flash as the packet of metallic hydrogen was ejected from the ship. It was obvious already that the torpedo of Patrol Vessel 24 had lost its lock amidst all the debris of the great rings. Moments later the Commander could feel the sensors pick up the four inbound torpedoes from the two enemy ships. The Commander altered the field at his station and activated the small rapid cycle mass driver. 'Now our second mass driver shall prove its worth.'


Interceptor MkIII Sai, 0.5 light seconds from Saturn

"Magnetic Field Generator Banks One through Eight off line. Banks Nine through Twelve still operational."
Captain Todd Allison heard the reports from Engineering as he watched the sensor returns. 'It must have been the mass driver. We had no contact info.' Then his attention was drawn by reports from the Sensor Conn.
"Captain, new magnetic signature from the Tango. Low powered and high frequency. Intermittent signature. Captain, Missile Two has just lost drive bloom. It seems to have broken up."
Todd pulled up the sensor returns. 'What luck. We have had a few reports of missile failures in the last two years and we get one on the first launch.'
"Track the magnetic anomaly. Transmit to comm station for relay to the Yari."
"Captain, aspect change on Tango Two. Multiple aspect and velocity changes. They seem to have a version of the evasive maneuver protocol."
Todd looked at the data as it scrolled across his monitor. 'Shit, what else can go wrong.'



0839 hours/Armed Colony Vessel 8, 2.5 light seconds from Saturn

The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 8 struggled to stay at his station. The new evasive maneuvers were throwing the ship violently in dozens of directions. Ten inbound torpedoes had already been targeted on the ship and four more were closing. Every time the drive shut down to allow the Armed Colony Vessel to reorient the small mass driver would hurl another pattern filled with hundreds of tiny metallic hydrogen spheres. Pattern after pattern would converge on the inbound torpedoes. Two inbounds had been torn apart by the new small mass driver while others had lost their lock or failed to make intercept. The remaining inbounds had managed to overload the magnetic field generators and the baffles, tearing into the empty troop compartments of the Armed Colony Vessel.
'The first target has disengaged but still has its magnetic protective field up. The second enemy Patrol Vessel has also been engaged but is showing no signs of damage. It has now moved too far for us to target and we will have to engage the third enemy Patrol Vessel.'
The Commander felt the flash of the huge mass driver and then could feel through the sensors as first one, and then a second inbound torpedo broke up as the enemy weapons crashed into the mass of projectiles thrown into their paths. Then a third enemy torpedo that had been targeted on Patrol Vessel 24 broke apart. 'We may not survive this, but the enemy will use all of the weapons that they have to destroy us. They will be helpless when this is done.'
The Commander sensed as the remaining enemy torpedo detonated and the wash of heat and particles forced Armed Colony Vessel 8 to shut off its drive and vent. The field at his station told him that his ship had suffered badly. The small mass driver had been destroyed and the large one had lost alignment and would be unable to function. Then he sensed the torpedo from Patrol Vessel 24 collapse the magnetic field around the second enemy Patrol Vessel, causing it to vent damaged sections of its hull into space.
'At least our drive shield has survived. The enemy will not know how bad our damage is.' The Commander altered the field at his station to ensured that the Armed Colony Vessel 8 would continue on at its best speed toward the enemy warships.
'We can give Patrol Vessel 24 a little more time.'


Interceptor MkIII Kama, 3.25 light seconds from Saturn

Commander Jason Collins III pulled up data on his HUD. 'Half of the bridge systems are down, to include my monitor. At least the direct connection is still up. It looks like the targeting array and launch bays are still online.'
"Helm, come about, course two one zero, full combat speed. Weapon Conn, get the next launch online and away." Jason checked the sensor returns and saw another missile break up as it approached the Alpha. 'Damn it. Eighteen missiles away and six have broken up. It has to be something the aliens are doing. And now we have another inbound tracking us.'
"Range is too great for another launch, Captain." Jason knew that the weapon crew was right. There was nothing to do but hope the inbound missile lost tracking as it crossed the five light seconds between the ships. "Captain, Tango is breaking up. Intercepts from the Yari and Red October tore her apart."
Jason heard no one celebrating. Everyone knew that in seconds it could be their turn.
The Kama shook as the drive cut out and blasts of argon filled the ship, gushing into space from the breaches in the hull or vent shafts designed to clear debris. Red damage indicators flashed on Jason's HUD. Engineering reports flooded the Kama's intercom. "Captain, Particle Accelerators Two and Four off line. Targeting array damaged. Failure on linkage in Bay One. It looks like the missiles in Bay One have vented." The reports continued to come in. Jason heard the Helmsman report that the ship was decelerating.
'We aren't going to be able to break off. This is going to be it.'
"Captain, the Sai is altering course and falling into formation with us. We have a sensor feed from the Sai. It looks like the Alpha is turning toward the Red October and Yari. The current launch from the Alpha isn't tracking the Kama. The Alpha is turning away from us."
Jason tried to relax, but couldn't. One thought kept running through his head. 'The aliens have already pushed two of our ships out of this fight, and the only ship we have destroyed is a souped up freighter. The Yari and Red October are going to face the real warship now.'


0840 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 4.5 light seconds from Saturn

"Whoever that son of a bitch is, he is good. Helm, bring us to course zero three one and maintain range to the target. Weapon Conn, get me a targeting solution on the Alpha as soon as it clears Saturn." Jack looked at the sensor returns. The Alpha had managed one launch on the Yari before it had turned. The only missile from the Yari that had maintained its lock as the alien ship made a run toward Saturn had broken up nearly a light second away from its target. The missiles from the Red October had then lost tracking as the Alpha slipped behind Saturn.
"Sensor Conn, have you reacquired the target?" Saturn was big and the Alpha had been angling away when it disappeared behind the planet. If the Alpha changed course it could be running with the planet between them. Trying to stretch the range while the Yari circled.
"No contact Admiral. Hold, Alpha on bearing three five seven. Aspect change. Alpha passing behind Rhea. We have lost contact again."
"Damn him. Helm, course zero four five. Sensor Conn, lock him up as soon as he clears that moon." Jack waited until the Alpha reappeared. 'Sure enough, he's coming about.'
"Helm full about, hold range at five light seconds to contact. Weapon Conn, lock firing solutions and launch." The world changed from blue grey to normal as the drive shut down and allowed the maneuver thrusters to bring the ship about, then the world turned back to grey as they restarted. Jack watched the sensor returns as the Red October mirrored the Yari. 'Commodore Vasilikos may be insubordinate and unconventional, but he knows how to fight. So does this alien.'
The drive shut down again and two more missiles to deployed from their bays. Jack watched as sensor returns confirmed that the Red October had also launched another pair of missiles. The sensors also showed that the Alpha had launched a single missile in return while the the data on the Alpha began to shift rapidly. 'They finally figured out Brenna's maneuver protocol. It was only a matter of time. I hate being the one to find out though.' Jack watched as one missile after another lost its lock and swerved off course. Then, as the last missile began its attack run from a quarter of a light second out, it also broke up. 'Damn it. Get the next launch online. Some of these missiles have to get through. Helm, begin evasive maneuver protocol. At least we can make it harder for them."


0844 hours/Patrol Vessel 24 6.25 light seconds from Saturn

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 held tightly to his station as the ship pitched and weaved. Again and again the rapid fire mass driver hurled clouds of projectiles at the incoming torpedoes. Again and again the enemy weapons failed to maintain a lock on the Patrol Vessel or were destroyed. But not all of them. 'That last group managed to sneak one more past the defenses and collapsed the protective field. Our ship can't continue the evasive maneuvers much longer. We are slowing down too much. With only two torpedoes left this fight will be over soon.'
The Commander felt the drive stop for a moment allowing a torpedo to launch and for the small mass driver to hurl another pattern into space. As the drive restarted the ship again twisted and turned violently. With each change in direction or speed the drive would cut out and the small mass driver would fire again. One after another the four enemy weapons broke up as they began their attack runs. 'We will survive a short while longer. With the protective field down the mass driver is our only hope. We would have been destroyed by now if not for the new system.' The Commander observed through the ship's sensors as the torpedo detonated. The enemy Patrol Vessel lost its protective field and began to vent. Then its drive restarted. 'At least we have damaged another enemy ship. If our last torpedo can find its mark, perhaps we will destroy at least one of the enemy ships.'
Surprise washed over the Commander of Patrol Vessel 24, both his own and the crew's. 'The enemy ships are turning away. Disengaging. We must have caused more damage than we suspected or perhaps they are also low on torpedoes.' The Commander altered the field at his station and Patrol Vessel 24 began to turn away and accelerate.
'We must notify the Commander of Fleets that the enemy is aware of our new defensive measures, along with their effectiveness in this engagement.'


1045 hours/Washington DC, Earth

Admiral Bradley Walters looked at the men and women gathered in the room. Another 'Emergency Meeting' of the Defense Cabinet and various congressional heads had been called. 'For once, we really need this one. What's worse is that we need Lieutenant Commander Ryan back here to analyze this data, not parked on a moon at the fringe of the Solar System. As soon as the drop is completed on Titan we need to get someone out there to fetch her home.'
A voice brought Bradley back from his thoughts. "Admiral Walters, we have seen your briefing on the engagement. You stated that the aliens lost one warship and one unarmed vessel. You also stated that the last warship was able to disengage. With the speed advantage of the ships in Task Force Two, why was the last alien ship allowed to escape?" Secretary of Defense Adam Richards wore a particularly disapproving scowl as he spoke.
"Honorable Secretary, as I covered earlier the Interceptor Kama had sustained considerable damage and was no longer combat effective. The Sai had suffered damage to her shield generators that would take time to repair and was ordered by Rear Admiral Ryan to escort the Kama as it moved away from the engagement. The Yari was also damaged and had only eight missiles left of its original twenty eight when it disengaged. Rear Admiral Ryan has indicated that he did not feel he could win the engagement and had only the minimum ordinance left to assure the safe return of his Task Force." Bradley looked at Secretary Richards. 'He's not done yet. He wants a scapegoat for this.'
"Admiral, was not the Red October still available to assist the Sai in continued attacks on the alien warship?" Bradley watched Secretary Richards as he leaned forward on the table accusingly. Almost threateningly.
"Honorable Secretary, I need not remind you that we do not command the Pan European Confederation Armed Science Vessel Red October, which was withdrawing. Two warships acting in concert had been unable to defeat the alien warship. It is unlikely the Interceptor Sai would have been able to succeed alone, and it was the only ship of Task Force Two with functioning shields. Risking the Yari or Kama while damaged would have been foolish." Bradley turned away from the table to face Secretary Richards squarely. 'If he wants Jack's head or my head, he's going to have to do better than that.'
Now it was Congressional Defense Committee Chairperson Harland Meyers turn to look for someone to blame. "You stated that of the thirty Hera Missiles used during the battle, nine of them broke up or failed prior to their attack runs. Has the increased production of wartime caused a drop in the quality of the missiles being used?"
Bradley turned to face the table again, intentionally avoiding the Congressman. "The Red October also launched twenty missiles during the engagement and six of them also suffered failures during the last three hundred thousand kilometers of their approaches. The Pan Euro has not suffered this level of malfunctions or structural failures in any previous engagement we have sensor records of. It is unlikely that both the Euro and we suffered the same manufacturing issues during the same engagement. We believe that it is some new alien defense against our weapons. What it is at this time is unknown." This last part bothered Bradley. 'We need Megan to look at this. There was a new magnetic reading during the battle. Whether it has anything to do with our loss of missiles is unknown, but she and her team would have the best shot at figuring it out.'
The room was quiet for a few moments before Secretary Richards spoke again. "You also indicated that they have managed to duplicate the Pan Euro Maneuver Protocol. With both the maneuver protocol and a new defense system, what does this bode for future engagements?" Bradley turned back to face Richards. 'The man is a politician and a snake, but he knows combat. He spent enough time as an instructor at the academy before he got this appointment. He knows what could be important.'
"We need to analyze it further but the initial assessments are not good. Not only do they have their own version of the maneuver protocol along with a system capable of interdicting our missiles, but initial analysis has also shown that it took nearly twice the number of successful intercepts to collapse the shields of the alien Alpha as compared to previous engagements. It is possible that this was not a standard Alpha, but we must assume that it now is. The armed Tango also demonstrated the defensive system and much more powerful shields than during the previous engagement at Triton. The aliens are obviously improving their warships in response to the current combat environment." Bradley paused to let what he had said sink in. Several members of the cabinet were talking in hushed tones. Others were studying the data on the display. 'This war is shifting again. We started behind the aliens in technology. It shifted so that we had near parity technologically with more ships that we could deploy. Now it is shifting again. We appear to have a numerical advantage, but we need it just to hold our own. At least the aliens have settled for raiding. Perhaps their new emphasis on ground combat is an indication that they no longer have the resources to field larger groups of ships.'
Secretary Richards spoke again. "We will schedule another meeting for tomorrow morning to hear the results of the analysis. For the moment, what is the current disposition of our forces near Titan and what plans do we have for them over the next twenty four to forty eight hours."
Bradley was glad he didn't have to worry about his expression. It wouldn't be good. "Rear Admiral Ryan has transferred his flag to the Interceptor Sai. At this time it should have returned all of its shield generators to operation. The Kama is currently docked with the Sai and is transferring her crew, ordinance, and supplies. Damage to the ship is extensive and it will need to be scuttled following the completion of the transfers. The Yari has also suffered damage to many systems and will attempt to make a rendezvous with the Pan Euro Third Battle Group in the belt. There it will dock with Pan Euro Mobile Shipyard Two in the hope that repairs can be affected that will prevent the need to scuttle the Yari also. The Pan Euro has indicated that the Red October will remain on station with the Sai at Titan until the Defiant can arrive to land troops, at which time the Red October and the Pan Euro cargo ship will rejoin the Pan Euro Third Light Battle Group at Victoria in the belt. Plans for the Defiant and Sai following the landings are not yet set."
Secretary Richards began to turn pale. It was Congressman Meyers who found his voice first. "You are saying that not only are the alien ships more dangerous, but that Task Force Two will lose the Kama in the next few hours. And that the Yari may suffer the same fate, and regardless will be down for repairs for some time to come. That Task Force Two will be reduced to just one Interceptor?"
"That is correct."
Secretary Richards stood and gathered his things. Then he looked toward Bradley. "Admiral, you will need to issue orders for the Steadfast and Resolute to return to Mars. Their deployment at Victoria is no longer tenable."


1156 hours/Queen Victoria, Earth orbit

Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked over the data that had arrived a few hours ago from Commodore Vasilikos and the Red October. The engagement had been successful in clearing the space around the Chinese colony on Titan, but it had cost the US an Interceptor, left another badly damaged, and the entire group was now short on ordinance.
'Stephan has always had a knack for putting his ships in the wrong place, for the wrong reasons, and coming away from it with victories that we desperately needed. This battle didn't win much in the way of destroyed alien ships or vital real estate. It was far more important.'
Brenna pulled up data on the Alpha and Tango Two that had engaged the Red October and US Task Force 2. 'He just showed us what the alien ships are now capable of, before we blundered into a battle that could have destroyed our fleets.' Brenna pulled up the sensor data and analysis on the alien ships. 'Stephan also put the Red October right where she needed to be. The US ships there had combat arrays, but the Red October is a science vessel. The data she was able to get was astonishing. We have been attempting to create an anti-missile system since the beginning of hostilities. The big question was if it was possible. The aliens have managed to develop it first, but now we have that data. With the projections for the newer and smaller classes of missiles coupled with small laser batteries and the data we have from this battle, we should be able to field an anti-missile system in the next few months. With a new drive, new missiles, and an anti-missile system we should be able to construct ships more capable than ever projected before. Even the Chinese Cruisers will become obsolete.'
Brenna looked at the data from the alien ships on her monitor, and then at the Pan Euro fleet deployment lists. 'We just need to survive long enough.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Mon 15 Aug 2011 08:21

February 2205 part 9

February 10th 1300 hours/Assault Vessel, dark side of asteroid belt

The Commander of Fleets considered the situation as he reviewed the sensor records of Patrol Vessel 24. Patrol Vessel 24 had survived the engagement due to the use of the new defensive systems, but had compromised the entire operation by revealing their existence. It was possible the native race might alter its fleet deployments after analysis of the engagement, making the current plan impossible to carry out.
The native race had succeeded in destroying Armed Colony Vessel 8 and a Light Support Vessel, but it had expended a great number of torpedoes to accomplish it. Unless the native race carried significantly larger numbers of torpedoes on board their warships, the ships involved in the engagement would be seriously depleted. Two of the native ships had also been damaged. No reports had been received that the native race had reinforced the soldiers on the moon near the ringed planet, and it was likely the warships would remain at the moon at least until they had done this. The native race had been willing to station ships near the threatened populations, but that may have changed in light of recent events.
The possibility that the enemy will withdraw its ships to more central and concentrated groups would need to be checked. It would require a small acceleration of the current plan, but knowledge concerning the disposition of the enemy's forces was vital to the plan. The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station and issued orders. The four surviving Strike Groups would condense down to two, with Patrol Vessel 24 joining the Assault Vessel to transfer additional torpedoes to the small ship. It would cost lives to gain the knowledge that was needed, but there was no other option.


February 11th 0035 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, Earth orbit

Captain Scott Moreland stood on the outside of the hull watching the work crews. It was nearly pitch black, floating in the Earth's shadow. Three Ground to Orbit Shuttles were docked to the hull while a pair of liquid fueled craft were floating nearby. The old rockets carried a dozen banks of flood lights each that were bathing the forward section of the Vigilance’s hull with light. She would be another star shining faintly in the sky to anyone on the surface. 'I wonder if any of the 2nd Marine is looking at us.'
"Work is progressing well on the outer hull. Most of the damaged outer plating has been replaced and the rest will only take a few more hours. The internal damage is going to take longer, but we should have your ship back in service early on the thirteenth."
Scott nodded as the civilian engineer spoke, but his thoughts were elsewhere. "Thank you, that will be all." The engineer began to walk along the hull as Scott looked at the lights dotting the surface of the Earth below. He followed the shape until he found the thin projection that would be Florida. 'It sounds like you boys have two more days. What will you do? Party it up? Spend time with your family? Trying to cram in last minute training?'
Scott thought back on the last six hours. Admiral Walters had actually come up from the surface on a lifter. He had brought news that two other ships of his group, the Resolute and Steadfast, were on their way back to Mars. They would assist in the defense of the colony there until reassigned. The Defiant was due to land on Titan to drop its single Brigade there, and then join the other ships at Mars.
That had been the 'good' news. 'He told me that we had the most experience in combat drops. Two whole drops for the Vigilance and we are the experts.' Scott stared at the thin patch of lights stretching out into the darkness of the Atlantic. 'As soon as our repairs are completed we are to land at the Space Center in Florida, where we will begin loading elements of the 2nd Marine Division. Specifically the 2nd Marine Assault Battalion, the 2nd Marine Combat Engineering Battalion, and the 2nd Marine Recon Battalion. Cyborgs one and all. Then we will have the distinction of making our third combat landing. At least these fellas are good at what they do. What happened to the Martian Light on Victoria was a nightmare. Still is by the sound of it.'
A flashing light on his HUD interrupted Scott's thought. 'Incoming message for me. I so love being popular.' Scott keyed open the message and began to read. 'This wasn't for me. It was for anybody that could hear it.'

FROM COMMANDER JASON COLLINS III
US INTERCEPTOR YARI

FAILURE OF SEVERAL ELECTIRCAL SYSTEMS, TO INCLUDE
MAGNETIC FIELD GENERATORS
TARGETTING ARRAYS
PARTICLE ACCELERATOR BANK FOUR
MAGNETIC COMENSATION SYSTEM
HULL GROUNDING SYSTEMS AND DISCHARGE RELAYS

I HAVE ASSUMED COMMAND FOLLOWING DEATH OF CPT SMITH

SHIP UNABLE TO ACTIVATE DRIVE.
HULL ION LEVELS IN CRITICAL RANGE AND INCREASING.
HAVE ORDERED YARI SCUTTLED AT 021105-0042
CREW HAS REFUSED DEPLOYMENT OF SHIP BOAT

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AWARDS AS FOLLOWS.

Scott shut off the message and turned to face the vast darkness of the sky. He pulled up the coordinates of where the Yari would be and waited for the brief flicker of light that would mark the passing of more heroes that would never see home again.


1350 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, Victoria Colony orbit

Captain Natasha Piotyr scrambled across the bridge. "Where in the hell did they come from?"
"Captain, still unable to resolve contact. Bearing of approximately two eight zero. Range of three light seconds. Most likely a small craft of some type."
Natasha listened to the sensor officer as she climbed into her station. "All ships Lock Stations. Battle Stations. Everyone on Earth knows this is a combat zone so that isn't commercial shipping. Prep bays for launch."
Natasha watched the monitor turn on as she locked her station. She quickly brought up the sensor returns. 'Still too weak of a signal to tell what we are looking at. It could be the little bombers that the Alphas carry, or it might be the fast bastards that hit Earth.' "All ships, magnetic field generators on line. Engage drives when all stations locked. Course one eight zero, then bring us onto an orbital course of Victoria at one half light second."
Natasha waited as the crew finally came to battle stations and the drive engaged. The world turned grey blue as the Tatianna moved away from the colony. "Captain, the Scarlett and Kathleen have engaged drives and are moving into formation."
Natasha looked at the returns again. 'The contact doesn't seem to be very fast. Hopefully it is the little bombers, and not many.' "Helm, take us to seven thousand kilometers per second and hold." Natasha checked the plots. 'At one half light second, we should complete an orbit of the colony every minute. If they're bombers we will be able to hammer them when they line up their attack runs.'
"Captain, contacts identified as alien light bombers times four. Speed of six four zero zero thousand kilometers per second. Range of one point two five light seconds. Target lock achieved." Natasha cut off the Sensor Officer. "Weapon Conn, launch as soon as you have a solution."
For a heartbeat the drive shut down and Natasha felt the slight jostle as two Scorpion Missiles deployed from their bays. A moment later the drive restarted and the world again turned grey.
"Missiles away. Tracking launches from the Kathleen and Scarlett."
Natasha watched the sensor returns as the outbound missiles moved toward the alien bombers. The returns clouded as four separate detonations threw clouds of super heated particles into the vacuum of space. Seconds later the four alien bombers reappeared, still bearing down on the colony.
"Get the next launch online. How long until the bombers reach Victoria?" Natasha waited as she watched the icons crawl across her screen.
"Alien bombers will begin attack runs in ninety seconds. Next launch on line in seventeen seconds."
Time crawled by as Natasha waited for the next launch, and then as the missiles again made their way towards the alien bombers. "Get the third launch ready. If anything makes it through this I want them destroyed before they can reach the colony." Natasha watched as the returns clouded again and wished she could hold her breath as she waited.
"Captain, three of the contacts have lost drive bloom. Two have broken up. One active target remains."
'Yes. One left. We just have to get it.' "Take that bird out of my sky." Natasha felt the drive cut out again as the next pair of missiles deployed. 'The missiles will reach the target just before it can start its attack run. We just need some luck.'
Natasha watched the returns cloud again as the missiles detonated along the small alien ship's path. Four separate spheres of death expanded along the bomber's course. Natasha watched as the target reappeared as a collection of wreckage tumbling past the colony.
"Good shooting people. Let the Kathleen and Scarlett know that we will stay at General Quarters for the next thirty minutes, and then to resume the previous watch rotation. Forward a copy of the sensor and ship logs to command at Earth."


2200 hours/Queen Victoria, Earth orbit

Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked at the logs from the Heavy Escort Tatianna. 'They took out the bombers, but we are starting to run low on ordinance. The two separate groups of alien bombers have used up almost thirty percent of the missiles at Victoria. The Red October only has eight missiles left. The Third Light Battle Group won't have enough left to face down a group of ships like the one engaged at Titan.'
Brenna pulled up the status reports and deployment schedules from the last briefing. 'I've got Pan Euro Cargo Three and the Troopship loading the 80th Ukraine Powered Armor Division. They will still have plenty of space left in the cargo sections on Cargo Three.' Brenna keyed open the intercom.
"Comm, send a message to the Captain of Cargo Three. Tell him after completing loading of 80th Ukraine to move into orbit and hold station over the western Atlantic. They will be loading Scorpion Missiles from stocks in the Azores that will be transferred up by lifter. Forward this to ground command and make sure the orders get published to make this happen. Then get a tightbeam link to Mercury. Let Rear Admiral McNeely know that the Attack Escorts Elise and Keely Sereg will be moving to Earth to accompany Cargo Three and Troopship One to Victoria." Brenna listened as the Communication Officer acknowledged her and then she turned off the link.
'Those supplies should arrive by the 15th, which will be about the same time the Red October makes it back from Saturn. Hopefully the aliens don't show up before then.' Brenna pulled up the broadcasts from the FSC ship Mary Reed. 'It looks like they are having the same problem. A group of bombers hit them also. No damage to the colony but the FSC ships are running low on missiles. Probably the Chinese ship also. The Chinese might resupply their ship, but the FSC doesn't have much in the way of reserve stocks.'
Brenna looked through the reports again. 'If the aliens have more ships than we think... If the ships run dry we will lose them. If we pull enough missiles from Earth to compensate we will cripple the ground based defenses. We can't afford to lose either one. We could be in real trouble.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Mon 15 Aug 2011 23:50

February 2205 part 10

February 12th 0410 hours/Surface of Titan

Mae Ling crouched down behind the outcropping and looked at the rest of the squad. 'Crap. Only eight Civil Defense Unit soldiers and me.' She watched as two of the reservists struggled to move the Type 63 and its ammo box. 'At least they have six of the Type 72 Pulse Rifles and the old 37mm Type 63. Those damn submachine guns were worthless.'
Mae's radio crackled to life. "This is CD Team Six. We are taking heavy enemy fire. Falling back. I say again, we are taking heavy enemy fire. Falling back."
'So much for our reinforcements.' A deafening noise echoed through the broken terrain. "It's just us. We have to find a way to take that thing out."
Mae risked a quick look over the top of the rocks. One hundred and fifty meters away were three of the light alien suits. Two thousand meters beyond that was the beginning of an enormous dust cloud that stretched nearly a kilometer. Mae settled back down and looked toward the far end of the dust cloud. 'The underground bunker ends there in a construction site. A bunch of pilings and equipment that scuttlebutt says would have ended up as a Dragon Missile site. It will be the easy entrance into the underground tunnels. If the aliens get in there this will all go to hell.'
Mae turned back to the eight Civil Defense troops. "We have three suits at one hundred and fifty meters. From here you should be fairly safe. The machine guns they use are dangerous up close, but they die off pretty quick in this dense atmosphere. The rockets will still blow you apart so don't get stupid. Past that is the damned mass driver. We need to tie down the suits on this flank and draw their attention. When they move the support weapon to target this position it will be vulnerable. I will take it out then. Confirm."
"Confirm Squad Leader."
Mae leaned against the rocks and tried to relax. 'They found us twelve hours ago. Swept aside the pickets like nothing. The US ship in orbit says they have enough suits to make two US Battalions closing on us. We have two platoons of Power Armor at this complex and an over strength reserve company. The company of aliens right here attacking the construction site doesn’t have any of the heavy suits, but this damned mass driver is tearing our positions apart.'
As Mae looked up she saw the squad had moved into their firing positions. The Type 63 was secured on its mount and only had to be raised above its cover to fire. Three women and five men about to engage over one hundred alien suits with only their obsolete weapons and heavy vacc suits. 'At least we will die fighting.'
"Ok, Team A, let them know we are here. Pulse rifle fire only. We don't want them to know we have anything heavier yet. After you fire displace to the secondary positions." Mae watched as four of the reservists readied their weapons. The Team Leader counted down and as one they moved above the cover and began to fire. The Type 72 was an older weapon, but had a large seventy two round magazine and a rotary action that fired through the three barrels horribly fast. It was capable of eighteen hundred rounds per minute, but was normally fired as nine round bursts. The 6.5mm rounds were copper jackets around tungsten cores. Newer materials were available, but it had adequate penetration to defeat the small alien suits. It just took several good hits to kill the creature inside of it.
"Cease fire! Cease fire! Displace!" Mae heard the Team Leader as he yelled at his group and they began to move. A red light flashed on Mae's faceplate and she looked up. Two dozen trails streaked across her HUD as alien missiles began to arc across Titan's dark sky. "Get under cover NOW!" Mae screamed into her radio as she huddled under the rock outcropping.
Mae watched as Team A tried to get under any piece of cover they could find. Seconds later the rocks and dust were churned into dozens of fountains as the alien weapons detonated above the position and the penetrators they carried came rocketing down into anything that moved. Two of the team made it behind rocky formations of ice that were shattered into dozens of pieces as the alien penetrators drove into them. Mae saw the other two members as the penetrators tore through the vacc suits. The fountains of dust and ice hurled the two people meters up from the surface. 'Vacc suits don't vent here. They just keep out the frigid air.' Mae watched the two bodies drift down as the dust swirled. She saw as one of the two struggled to move as it fell, and heard his strangled cries as the freezing air of Titan invaded his suit. Mae closed her eyes but could only see Jeng's frozen face as she did.
"Second Squad Leader, you have a dozen suits moving on your position. Several more are moving to flank it. Confirm." Mae heard Platoon Leader Lao Yat-Sen on her radio as she opened her eyes and moved out from under the large ice formation. "Confirm Platoon Leader. Preparing to engage." Mae turned on her weapon optics and put her Type 4 just above the outcrop. 'Her come a dozen of them, weaving around like a swarm of gnats.'
"Team B, engage in three, two, NOW !" Mae didn't turn to see the rest of her squad, but could feel the concussion as the Type 63 emptied its clip. Mae used her HUD to pick three targets and emptied her 30mm grenade launcher at the approaching suits. 'The little grenades don't pack much punch, but in this atmosphere the fins on the back will let them home in just fine.' A sudden shockwave stung Mae and dust clouded the whole area. More detonations ripped up rock and dust. "FALL BACK! FALL BACK! SECONDARY POSITIONS! NOW! NOW! NOW!" Mae hoped that some of her squad would survive but there were so many aliens, and in a minute the mass driver would tear anyone left in this position apart.
'It's now or never.' Mae crouched and gripped her Type 4, then fired the jump jets. In a fraction of a second Mae was clear of the dust and could see the alien suits crossing the open space below her. Four had survived and were pouring rockets onto the rest of her squad. Mae keyed her maneuver thrusters just enough and aimed herself toward the trailing alien suit. 'The little suckers don't have a gun on the top and don't seem to launch vertically well. Sucks to be you now.' Mae saw the warning flash on her HUD that she was closing on the surface too rapidly and fired her jump jets a heartbeat before she would have hit the alien suit. She watched as the alien suit was blasted into the rocky surface and broke up as she rocketed on past. Mae fired the maneuver pack and tried to weave but found herself cart wheeling as an alien rocket detonated near her. Her left shoulder flared with pain as she crashed into an icy formation and skittered on past churning up dust as she went. Mae fired her maneuver pack again and shot into a jagged gully as several alien weapons detonated around her. 'I need to get over this ridge. The mass driver should be just ahead.'
Mae skipped down the gully and suddenly saw four of the small alien suits and two middle sized ones come over the ridge in front of her. She could see rockets detach from the alien suits as she keyed the 37mm on her shoulder to auto-targeting and fired her jump jets again. Excessive heat warnings flashed on her display as she flew up out of the gully and began firing her Type 4 at the suits. One after another suits spun away or exploded as rockets arced about trying to catch Mae. Mae felt a sudden pain in her side as the last suit trained its gun on her before it also exploded. Mae used her maneuver pack to bring herself down into a hollow on the ridge. Mae knelt down and blinked hard to focus her eyes. 'The damn recoil will cripple you up without the aliens help. Looks like the last one holed the suit above my hip but the seal held up.' Mae stood up but the pain in her side flared badly as she did. 'I have to be close. I can still do this. I have to.' Mae keyed the fans on her suit to vent the heat from the jets and maneuver pack, locked her last cassette of 37mm rounds into her shoulder gun, and then fired the jump jets again.
Mae cleared the crest of the ridge and saw the large support weapon below her as it fired. The bow shock of the round it launched churned up a cloud of dust on the kilometer long path between it and her squad's position as the sound of the weapon firing came right through her suit to deafen her. Chunks of rock and ice the size of cars hurtled up into the air where the projectile hit. "ENOUGH !" Mae fired her last four 37mm rounds into the mass driver and watched detonations tear into it. She fired burst after burst from the Type 4 into the nearby alien suits until her HUD lit up with 'Empty Weapon' warnings. Mae kicked off and drifted back into the hollow behind her and slid down it until she came to a stop. She dropped the Type 4 beside her and began to feel pain spreading from several areas. Warnings on her HUD indicated her suit had been holed in over a dozen areas. The jump jets were off line and the maneuver pack was damaged. The 37mm gun had also taken a hit and wasn't responding. The rest of the holes were in the body of the suit. None were leaking atmosphere, but it wouldn't matter.
"Squad Leader, Second Squad, report." Mae heard the Platoon Leader, but it sounded like he was miles away. She keyed on the radio.
"This is Second Squad Leader. Mass driver is down. Destroyed several suits. At least a dozen smaller suits remain near the mass driver. Out of ammo and suit is damaged. Confirm." Mae's voice sounded like it was buzzing even in her own ears, but the buzzing didn't stop as she waited for the reply. She gagged and her mouth filled with blood as the radio crackled to life. She swallowed hard and tried to make out the reply. "... extraction possible..." was all Mae could understand.
Mae tried to breathe deeply but her breath caught as pain sliced through her stomach. She closed her eyes and took a shallow breath. "Platoon Leader, tell Li I love her. Confirm." Mae didn't listen for the reply as the world slipped away.


0830 hours/Washington DC, Earth

Admiral Bradley Walters moved to the front of the briefing room. 'Yesterday was bad. Breaking the news of the loss of the Yari, and that Task Force 2 was down to only the Sai. That the Sai was going to be reassigned to Task Force 1 following the landings on Titan. At least today isn't all bad news.'
Bradley turned to face the table. "Gentlemen, as General Foxx has informed you the Pan Euro Confederation has mobilized the 80th Ukraine and has announced that they intend to make landings on Victoria Colony to reinforce the units of the Martian Light Division there. They will be moving two additional Attack Escorts to the area to provide security so the movement of the Resolute and Steadfast to Mars will not adversely affect the security of the operation there."
Secretary of Defense Adam Richards held up a hand to cut him off. "Admiral Walters, is it true that the aliens have attempted to bomb the troops at Victoria colony again?"
Bradley turned to face the Secretary. "Four alien bombers were intercepted at Victoria Colony just before fourteen hundred hours yesterday. The target of the bombers is unknown and all four were destroyed by elements of the Pan Euro Third Light Battle Group stationed there."
Secretary Richards looked hard at Bradley as he spoke again. "Is it possible that the alien Alpha from Saturn could be involved in this attack?"
Bradley stood still and waited a moment as he thought 'You know quite well they couldn't have.' "With Saturn currently located nearly ninety eight light minutes from Victoria, it is unlikely to have been able to participate in that attack."
"So a second group of alien ships will have to be operating near Victoria. Why do you believe they continue in these bomber attacks?" Secretary Richards sat back and wore a slightly concerned look on his face as he waited for a reply.
'You aren't sure what the aliens are up to either, and are hoping I can clear it up for you.' "Honorable Secretary, it is possible they are continuing to try and support whatever initiative they have on the ground. If the Pan Euro is right and they are attempting to gain code sets and navigational data, the bombers may be there to relay any data they have gained and are unable to transmit from the surface of Victoria. They may be checking on the deployment of our forces to identify weak areas. It is unknown what this second group is and what they would be attempting to accomplish."
Chairperson Harland Meyers was the next to chime in. "And what of the landings of the Martian Light on the Chinese colony at Saturn? Do we have any confirmation from the Chinese government that they will allow these landings?"
"The Defiant is less than thirty six hours from Titan. It will land the last Brigade of the Martian Light Division on its arrival. The Vigilance is projected to complete its repairs in the next twenty hours at which time it will load elements of the Second Marine Division. The four Q Ships will regroup at Mars and move toward Saturn together to provide security for the landings. The Chinese have indicated that they will not oppose the landing so long as no Chinese installations are targeted." Bradley waited for the inevitable questions.
Secretary Richards cut in. "Do you intend to leave the Q Ships at Titan following the landings?"
"No Honorable Secretary. We have transmitted to the Chinese that neither we nor the Euro intend to provide orbital support of the colony on Titan following the landing of the Second Marine. We have indicated that the Chinese will need to have orbital support available at the time of the second landing or we will be withdrawing our troops at that time, and that no second landing will take place." Bradley watched Secretary Richards. 'He is weighing all this back and forth. Where is he going to go with it?'
"Very well. Continue with your current course of action. I want a group to try and analyze this second alien group and what its intentions might be for tomorrow mornings briefing. I would also like a plan on how you intend to locate and identify or destroy it. That will be all." Bradley watched as Secretary Richards began to tap at the pad in his lap.
'Twenty four hours for me to come up with answers to the impossible. Hope you aren't too disappointed.'


1000 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing China

Minister Po walked through the doors and into the hallway. Two of his assistants followed at a respectful distance as Po talked to Minister Khoh. Minister Khoh was the leader of the next most powerful faction in the ministry and had a great deal of control over the ground assets of the Chinese Empire. The next few days would require his cooperation.
"The troopships are stationed in Chinese space at three light seconds from the Earth. The ground based laser battery should be unable to reach the troopships at this distance, but could fire on the lifters moving troops. They have not attempted to fire on any of the civilian cargo ships, but this would be a blatant violation of the Pax Treaty and would invite retribution from not only us but the US and Euro as well. Firing on ships obviously carrying soldiers would be a different situation. It is unclear whether the US or Euro would intervene if the FSC was to attempt such a move." Po walked slowly. Both men were exhausted as the meetings had been nearly endless since the beginning of the month. There had been little time to sleep, and eating had often occurred during the meetings - in spite of the long held customs against such activities. Po wanted to make sure that Khoh was concentrating on what he was saying, not on simply catching his breath and looking to reach his office to sleep.
"The Sixteenth Power Armor Division and Seventh Armored Division are both mobilized and on standby, but these are the only active divisions at the moment. If both were to be moved to the troopships and transferred off world we would have no combat ready divisions to counter an FSC attack. We would be forced to rely on our reserve formations for the initial combat. We have most of the reserve elements on alert, but they lack the combat power of the professional units. We would be faced with using the ground based Dragon Missiles to counter an attack." Minister Khoh made his lack of commitment for the off world deployment very obvious in both his tone and choice of words. 'It will take more to convince him. The loss of Titan will not weaken his power base as much as it will impact mine, and failure of the invasion on Hektor will only serve to prove that my party's beliefs are incorrect. There will need to be something to convince him that his interests will be better served by supporting the current course of action.'
"Perhaps we can make this more attractive to the FSC. We can indicate that China will land the Sixteenth Power Armor Division on Hektor in support of the FSC colony there in exchange for the guarantee that the FSC will not attempt to interdict the troop movements. We will also offer that we will revoke the current declaration of war and support the single laser installation in Australia as recognition of the FSCs emergence as a true world power, in exchange for one of the FSCs claimed colony sites in the belt as reparation for damages incurred by the Chinese Empire. In this way not only can your supporters claim to have decisively ended a war with the FSC with reparations received, but you will also be able to claim that your supporters were instrumental in the defeat of the alien infestation in the belt and in the liberation of Titan. The Seventh Armored should be more than a match for the alien forces that have landed there. If the FSC should fail to maintain its end of the bargain, you will have nearly two divisions on Hektor to seize it and claim a victory for China. You will have also had adequate time to mobilize more of the professional units for use here on Earth if it were necessary. I will see to it that adequate space based warships are available to support these landings if you agree to them." Po stopped in the hallway and faced Khoh. "Would this be acceptable to you?"
Minister Khoh stopped and thought for a moment. He did not turn to face Po, and the look on his face was as unchanging as a statue. Long minutes passed as the men stood in the dim hallway.
"I will see to it that the Divisions are prepared for transport - as soon as we have verification of Chinese warships stationed at Titan. Thank you." Minister Khoh never turned to face Po and moved down the hall toward his office. Po stood in the hallway and watched as he left. When Khoh had disappeared into his office, Po moved to his own and stepped into it.
Po turned to one of his assistants. "I will compose orders for Captain Zedong Tan. I will need them transmitted to both the Frigate Angtung and to Admiral Hu as soon as I have them completed. We shall test this Captain's loyalty to his people."


1030 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, Hektor orbit

Captain Zedong Tan sat in his station and looked at the orders he had received. The Ministry had seen fit to finally address him since his broadcast. 'I had expected them to recall the Angtung to Earth or Venus. Somewhere that they would take me into custody pending my execution. Somewhere that was not in danger, and I could ignore the summons in good conscience. Not this.' Zedong looked at the transmission again.


TO CAPTAIN ZEDONG TAN, MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG
FROM MINISTRY OF DEFENSE, IMPERIAL CHINESE SPACE FORCE COMMAND

ORDERS FOR MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG TO PROCEED TO TITAN
MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG TO PROVIDE SECURITY FOR TROOPSHIPS TWO , THREE
MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG TO PROVIDE SUPPORT OF LANDINGS
SEVENTH ARMORED DIVISION TO LAND ON TITAN
LANDINGS TO OCCUR FOLLOWING ARRIVAL OF MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG
MISSILE FRIGATE ANGTUNG TO REMAIN ON STATION AT TITAN

NOTHING FOLLOWS

This wasn't an order to go someplace safe and turn himself in. It was an order to go and provide assistance to his own people who were dying. FSC colonists were dying here, but the FSC had two warships to support them. The colonist on Titan would have nothing when the Euro and US withdrew their ships. The US had promised to land a brigade on Titan to support the colony, but they would still be horribly outnumbered. An armored division could make the difference between life and death for tens of thousands of people. Perhaps hundreds of thousands.
'And Hektor is close to Saturn now. We are the only ship that could make it there before the US landings and the departure of the US and Euro warships. Without us they will be outnumbered, and blind.'
"Comm, tightbeam transmission to the FSC Mary Reed and the 'Dutchman.' Let them know we will be leaving in the next fifteen minutes. Give them my apologies and best wishes for success. Forward copy of message to Admiral Hu on Venus Station and to Command on Earth. All crew to lock stations. Engineering, get the particle accelerators on line. Helm, plot course for Titan."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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