February 2205

Procyon's family campaign

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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 18 Aug 2011 19:20

February 2205 part 11

February 13th 0200 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, USN Space Center, Florida

"Touch down, Captain."
Captain Scott Moreland unlocked his station and stood up. "Unlock stations. Prep ramps and bays for loading." Scott walked across the bridge and looked at the Engineering display. 'The repairs seem to be holding well. We will need time to calibrate the drive for the new mass distribution, but we were never a race car to begin with.'
Scott watched as the crew began to unlock stations and move about the bridge. 'We don't get much time out of stations anymore. Let alone any time off of this ship. Our orders are to load three battalions of the 2nd Marine Division. After that we will head for Mars, and then Saturn.' Scott walked back to his station and tapped on the monitor screen, then pulled up the system display. 'Mars just happens to be in the opposite direction from Saturn right now. We will lose three days time moving there. Apparently we are supposed to be giving the Chinese time to get support assets to Saturn before we land.' Scott looked back at the crew on the bridge. 'Our orders are to load three battalions, and it doesn't look like we are in a hurry to get anywhere.'
Scott turned to the Communications Officer. "Let Ground Control know we need a full set of diagnostics on this ship. I want them to go over it and make sure everything is ready for another landing. We won't begin loading of the troops until the diagnostics are complete." Scott then keyed open the ship intercom. "All hands, this is your Captain. We will be allowing Ground Control do a full check of the ship. We will not begin loading operations until this is complete. All hands are now on pass for the next twenty four hours. Engineering will coordinate the use of the ship's lifter to move crew within USN airspace. All hands are to report in by zero two hundred tomorrow morning. This is your Captain. Out."
Scott listened to the chatter on the repeaters. 'There are a lot of happy voices out there. The Second Marine got a few days to see their families before they go off to face death. This crew deserves the same.' Scott thought about the landings on Victoria, and the nine crew members who had died or been vented during the landings.
'God knows they deserve it.'

0930 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po sat in his office and looked at Minister Khoh. "The FSC has agreed to allow loading of the troopships and the landing of the 16th Power Armor Division on Hektor. We will need to act quickly to prevent a reversal of this policy. We will also conduct troopship loading with lifters to avoid the possibility that this is a ruse and the FSC attempts to fire on the operation. The troopships are far too valuable to risk in such circumstances."
Minister Khoh looked over the papers Po had given him. His face was dark as a storm cloud. "The 16th Division is currently under strength, with only half the personnel and heavy equipment that the 23rd had when it landed. It was intended to operate against the reserve formations of the FSC."
"The reports to the Ministry indicate that the 23rd had stabilized the situation on Hektor. The addition of the 16th should allow them to begin offensive operations to clear the alien forces." Po watched Minister Khoh. It was obvious the other man was not enthused with the operation.
"They will provide substantial reinforcements, but there are no Chinese orbital assets to support the position." Minister Khoh turned the page of the report he was holding. "It does not appear that there are any intentions to move Chinese warships to Hektor either."
Po shifted uncomfortably. "The FSC has two warships on station at Hektor. They should provide adequate support. And the Angtung has begun moving toward Titan. It will be there long before the 7th Armored arrives."
Minister Khoh never looked up from the papers he held. "The FSC warships are only converted freighters. They lack true combat power should the aliens return."
Po leaned forward onto his desk. "Venus is still close to Hektor. If it was deemed necessary by the Ministry ships could be deployed from there to Hektor within twenty four hours." Po watched to see if the dark mask of Khoh's face changed in the least.
Po settled back into his chair. 'There will be no pleasing this man.' Po watched silently as Minister Khoh read the report. Pages turned slowly as the minutes slid by. Finally Minister Khoh stood and placed the papers on Po's desk.
"I will issue the deployment orders for the troops. I will expect daily reports in the Ministry." Minister Khoh turned and left the office.

2200 hours/Interceptor MkIII Sai, Titan orbit, Saturn

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan watched the sensor returns on his screen as the Defiant moved into orbit of Titan. "Captain, do we have any information from the Chinese on drop zones?"
"No, Admiral. The Chinese units seem to be disorganized. We have been unable to positively identify any commander, and we have no clarification from the Chinese Embassy on Earth. The only location with confirmed Chinese troop strengths in excess of a platoon is a very remote location just under a hundred kilometers from the nearest habitats we have currently identified. The terrain is very rough and landing sites are limited in this area." Jack listened as Captain Todd Allison spoke. 'Todd has been following the situation on the ground more closely while I have tried to manage a decent watch rotation with only two ships. He will have the best idea, even if it is just a guess.'
"Where would you put the troops if it was up to you, Captain? Make it good, this is where we are going to try and land Commander Steele's ship." Jack waited as Todd thought. Todd had proven he had what it took to command in combat. He had survived the battle with the alien Task Force at Earth, and the one here at Titan. He was going to look over the options and try not to make a mistake.
"Admiral, with all due consideration, I would put it down in the remote area. We have two landing sites available there. I would pick the more distant of the two. The aliens have the equivalent of several battalions in combat there with the last organized group of defenders. Whatever is there we could try to build on. The brigade on the Defiant is purely infantry. Each Battalion has a single Support Weapon Company but they have no heavy vehicles or weapons. The Marine units due in the next week will help with that, but for the moment they will need all the help they can get. The Infantry will have the best chance of holding out for the next week in that broken terrain. Even the aliens will have problems moving support weapons in there."
Jack watched as information and scans began to fill his monitor. Todd had put together a fair amount of data on both the location and the troops the Defiant was carrying. 'Todd is right. The Chinese troops here are dug in hard. They are losing, but they aren't running.' Then Jack saw it. The scans clearly showed the signs of a ground based installation and construction. 'The Chinese have a base here. One they think is important enough to dig in and fight for.'
"There is one thing you didn't mention Todd. You think there is a reason the troops there aren't leaving and the aliens seem so intent on taking it." Jack looked at the returns as he waited.
"That too sir. If the aliens want a look at that complex, chances are we do too."
"Ok, Todd. Send Aaron what you've got and tell him to prep for landing."

February 14th 0400 hours/Attack Escort Elise, Earth orbit

Commander Dana Breiholz studied the sensor returns. 'This place is just full of activity. For two years this has been a war fought between ships in space. Now it is as much a battle on the ground as it is in space. The Chinese have three troopships getting soldiers ferried to them, the US has one of their Q Ships on the ground loading up, and we are here to escort the Pan Euro troops and supplies.' Dana turned off the returns.
"Communications, report to Admiral Muldoon that we are ready. Helm, plot a course for Victoria. Engineering, ready the ship to engage drive. Ten G acceleration to match the troopship." 'This trip is going to take a while. The Troopship can't fire up its drive to full power or it will kill the soldiers. So we will get a slow start. It is going to be our job to keep any alien ships away. The only way the Troopship can maneuver is to vent the whole 80th Ukraine into space. Folks at home won't be happy if that happens.'
Dana waited as the crew set about their tasks. A blinking box on her screen attracted Dana's attention.
"Captain, we have a transmission from Captain Moreland of the US Q Ship Vigilance. Forwarding to your monitor."
"Thank you comm." Dana opened the message.





Dana looked at the message. Moments later her radio crackled to life.
"Dana, this is Brittany. You got the message from the Vigilance?"
"Yes Brit. I got it too. Mars isn't far off course right now and another ship couldn't hurt if the aliens showed up. I think we should do some sightseeing. What about you?"
Dana waited for the few moments it took the message to cross the space between the Elise and Keely Sereg. "I've always liked company Dana. It’s been a long time since I saw Mars. I think we can wait an hour. You want to tell Admiral Muldoon or shall I?"
"I'll tell her. I have a funny feeling that she was behind this anyway."
...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 Sat 20 Aug 2011 10:17

February 2205 part 12

February 16th 0315 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung

"New contacts times three. Bearing two seven zero, range of seven point five light seconds. Contacts in orbit of Titan at one half light second. Contacts identified as Pan Euro Frigate times one, US Interceptor times one, US Heavy Freighter times one. Possible Armed Heavy Freighter on contact three."
Captain Zedong Tan listened as the Sensor Officer called out the contact data. 'This would be the security for the US landing. We have already received transmissions from the Zhuang that the US landed near its location, but has not announced its discovery. They risked their ships and lives to save my people, and it sounds as if they may have lost ships in clearing the aliens from the orbitals.'
"Comm, open broadcast to the contacts. Identify the ship as Missile Frigate Angtung of the Chinese Imperial Fleet. Indicate that we will assist or assume security operations. Also my personal thanks for clearing the area of the alien warships." Zedong waited as the Communication Officer composed and transmitted the message.
"Sir, we have a reply from the US Interceptor. Translating and forwarding to your station."
Zedong watched as the message appeared on his monitor.




Zedong looked at the transmission for a moment. "Comm, send formal permission for US and Euro ships to remain on station. Request permission of US Admiral to assume formation with US and Euro ships. Helm, set a course for the orbit of Titan. Maintain formation with US Interceptor at five thousand kilometers if permission granted."
Zedong watched the sensor returns as the Angtung closed with Titan, and listened as the Comm Officer announced that the US Admiral had given permission for the Angtung to assume formation with the other ships orbiting the Chinese colony.
Zedong typed a short message at his station, and then bypassed the comm station and transmitted directly on tight beam to the US Interceptor.


0900 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue nibbled at the last few bites of the protein bar. 'I guess this stuff is better than starving, but not by much.' She took a deep breath and felt the tube in her side pull slightly. 'The doctor said he would take that thing out today if the X rays were good. I hope he does.'
Li heard the door open and looked up. It was the tall red headed FSC nurse. 'She is always smiling and babbling on and on, and I don't have the faintest clue what she is saying.' Li watched the woman come over to the bed and remove the wrappers and tubes that had held 'breakfast'. Then she checked the IV in LI's arm and pulled a small bag out of a pocket on her suit and attached it to a secondary set of tubing, then began pushing buttons on the IV pump. 'Oh goody, more medicine. At least this one doesn't make me sleepy. Oh crud. She wants to check the tube in my side.' Li held up her right arm and tried to smile as the red headed woman babbled and poked around the tube and the container it was attached to. 'That wasn't so bad.' Li relaxed as she watched the woman move over to the next bed. Li looked around the room. There were three other women in the room. One was missing a leg above the knee, one was missing an arm and her leg below the knee, while the last was missing both her legs above the knees and had most of her face covered in a bandage. 'I'm the lucky one.'
Li looked up as she heard the door open again. Two young men were coming in with a stretcher. They spoke to the woman with her face in a bandage, moved her onto the stretcher and strapped her down, then took her out of the room. Li startled as she looked up and found a woman standing right beside her.
"Relax soldier. I just came to check on you."
Li covered her mouth for a moment and then took another deep breath. "Platoon Leader. I didn't see you come in."
Ling Song sat on the bed beside Li. "The Doc says your lung should be healed well enough to take out that tube. Just a few more days and you should be ok." Ling gestured to the two men who were coming into the room with another stretcher. "They are heading for the troopship. The Sixteenth Power Armor Division just landed. The troopship is going to be taking the wounded back to Earth. The dead too." Ling and Li both watched as the two FSC men spoke to the woman in the bed and then placed her on a stretcher before carrying her out. Ling put her hand on Li's shoulder. "You are good and healthy. No trip home for you. When you're up and about you will join back up with our unit. You're armor is fixed back up. There are plenty of spare parts floating around right now. We have been holding our own against the aliens. With another fresh division here we should be able to finish them off."
Li looked at Ling. She looked tired and her face was pale. "Thank you for coming to visit me. I haven't seen anyone I could talk to since I woke up here, other than the doctor. Any word on what is happening on Titan?" Li tried to keep her face calm. She had heard that the aliens had landed there, but no one knew what was happening before she was wounded. "The doctor has ignored me when I have asked him."
Li saw Ling look at the floor, and then back to her. "No official word. Rumor has it they have been hit really hard though. Worse than us. I overheard a civilian news broadcast that said the US had landed another brigade there, but they were still badly outnumbered and had landed too far from any habitats to help much. Do you have family back there?"
Li looked down at her hands in her lap, and tried to keep them steady. "No just a friend. We joined up together."
Ling took her hand off Li's shoulder. "If she is half the soldier you are, I'm sure she is fine. I will be back to check on you tomorrow."
Li nodded and tried to smile. She watched as Ling left the room. Li watched as the last woman was carried from the room and she was left alone. Li laid back in the bed and velcroed the torso strap across her so she wouldn't float up as she turned on her side. Li remembered the last time she and Mae had been together. 'Mae helped me get my gear ready to load. She looked so sad. I miss her.'
Li closed her eyes but could still see Mae. 'Please, let her be alright.'

February 17th 1710 hours/Washington, DC

Admiral Bradley Walters sat in the briefing room. The meeting had just started. General 'KJ' Foxx was still going over the ground actions.
"The Pan Euro had completed landings four hours ago. The Eightieth Ukraine Powered Armor Division has deployed." A new projection appeared on the wall screen depicting the TO&E of the Pan Euro division. "As you can see it consists of the First and Second Power Armor Brigades, along with the 1st Lancer Battery. The Lancer Battery consists of eight mobile launch platforms that will be able to provide fire missions nearly anywhere on the surface of Victoria. Early tomorrow the Second Brigade of the Eightieth will begin an offensive on the alien command hub near Garabay Dome. As you know all prior attempts to dislodge the aliens from the dome and space port have failed, but the aliens have taken heavy losses maintaining that position. Elements of the Martian First Brigade will support this attack, along with the three remaining McClellan Assault Vehicles. It is expected that with both the Armored Company and the Lancer Battery in support that we should be able to capture this key alien position."
Secretary of Defense Adam Richards held up his hand and stopped the General's presentation. "It appears that the situation on Victoria has improved significantly. I am concerned about the situation on Titan. What information do we have concerning the landings there?"
General Foxx tapped at the console in front of him and new displays appeared on the wall. "The time lag concerning transmissions from Saturn makes this information several hours old, but it is considered accurate. The Fourth Brigade of the Martian Light Division made landing on Titan with little resistance and few losses, but substantial alien forces were located near the landing site and this has hampered the Fourth Brigade. They are currently engaged with elements of the alien forces that have near parity with the brigade, and the Sai has been able to track alien reinforcements moving to engage them. The brigade has been unable to link up with the Chinese forces located nearby, and this has also hampered operations. They are sustaining substantial losses holding their position. It is questionable that they will be able to maintain combat effectiveness until the arrival of the three cyborg battalions of the Second Marine Division."
Secretary Richards leaned forward with more than slight concern on his face. "Are you saying we might lose the Fourth Brigade before the Second Marine arrives?"
General Foxx shifted uncomfortably. "We have monitored the Chinese troop movements here at Earth, and have assurances that the Chinese intend to land an Armored Division on Titan within the week. The aliens should be forced to redeploy to face this new threat. lightening the pressure on the Fourth Brigade. This should allow the Fourth to maintain a cohesive unit structure until the arrival of the reinforcements from the Second Marine."
This time Congressional Chairperson Harland Meyers spoke up. "So we are depending on a Chinese landing we have no way to confirm will occur?"
"We are not depending on it. The consequences of it not occurring could be severe though. Other options could be employed, but may complicate the situation." Bradley watched as General Foxx looked toward him.
Secretary Richards spoke this time. "You would be talking about primary safety launches from the Sai and Defiant to support the Fourth Brigade. Am I correct?"
"That would be an option."
"Thank you General. It appears we need to hear what Admiral Walters has to say." Secretary Richards motioned for General Foxx to take his seat.
Bradley got up and moved toward the head of the table. Secretary Richards didn't wait for him to clear the display before asking the first question.
"We heard this morning that the Chinese Warship Angtung arrived at Titan this morning, and that the Sai, Defiant, and Euro vessel Red October are also on station there. You also briefed that the FSC has confirmed that the Chinese troopships have left Hektor. How long until the Second Marine arrives at Titan, and what is the projected arrival time of the Chinese troops?"
Bradley cleared the display, but left it blank as he turned to face Secretary Richards. "The Vigilance will arrive at Titan on or about the twenty second of this month. The Chinese troopships would need four days to move from Hektor to Titan assuming a normal cruising speed. They could begin landings on the twentieth."
Chairman Meyers cut in. "If we were to conduct primary safety launches to protect our troops. What do you feel will happen? Will the Chinese warship allow this to occur if necessary?" Bradley looked at Meyers and could see that much of the color had drained from his face. 'The thought of telling your constituents that we lost an entire brigade doesn't look to agree with you.'
"We have not addressed this subject with the Chinese Captain. I feel it could unnecessarily complicate the situation if the Chinese landing proceeds as expected. We may never need to conduct the launches, and indicating that we are willing to can only create friction in an already delicate situation." Bradley saw Secretary Richards positioning himself for the next question and turned to face him.
"What would be the consequences of a primary safety launch on the surface? All of them." Secretary Richards was leaning forward intently. 'He is waiting to see if I have any grasp of the political situation. At least the situation as he sees it.' Bradley tapped the console and a display of the surface of Titan appeared.
"This area in red is the position occupied currently by the Fourth Brigade of the Martian Light. These areas..." Bradley moved to the wall screen and gestured to several structures visible on the surface, "...are Chinese positions. These two are habitats, and this one in particular is an underground complex. The areas the aliens are concentrated in are here. The Fourth is isolated from the Chinese populations, but the alien command and support structures are located near the habitats. To effectively target the aliens we will inflict damage on the Chinese structures. The Chinese government has indicated before that this will be unacceptable. Chinese civilian casualties are impossible to project at this point with the limited data we have on hand, but could be substantial."
Secretary Richards held up his hand again. "And what of the Chinese warship?"
"We have no way to tell. We have minimal records of this Captain. We believe he has acted independently of the Chinese Government in recent events, but has acted to protect civilians aggressively. If the lives of Chinese nationals were threatened he may act to protect them. Chinese Strike Vessels have excellent combat records. It is possible that the Sai and Defiant could engage the Chinese warship successfully, but it is likely that one or both warships would sustain extensive damage even if they prevailed. The Pan Euro has given no indication that they would support the Sai and Defiant if hostilities broke out at Titan."
"What are you saying? Do you believe the Chinese Captain would be willing to start a war if we attempt to protect our troops?" Chairperson Meyers was becoming pale and sweat was visible on his face.
"Honorable Secretary and Chairperson, I would not recommend the primary safety launch at this time. We have lost two Interceptors in the last week to action with alien warships. We only have four Interceptors left, and four Q Ships. An engagement could cost us twenty five percent of our current fleet and complicate the situation we currently are in. Any incident could embroil us in a second war."
"Thank you Admiral. I think we have enough to consider for this evening. The next briefing will be at six AM." Secretary Richards rose from his chair and moved to the exit, leaving a still pale Chairperson Meyers sitting at the table.

1950 hours/Armed Colony Vessel 3, asteroid belt 12 light minutes from Hektor

The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 could feel the tension of the crew. Two new contacts had been detected moving through the debris fields. Neither contact had attempted to raise a protective field. Each was no larger than the Attack Vessel, but they could alert the native race to the presence of the Strike Group. The two ships were drawing closer as the moments passed. It would only be a matter of time until they would detect the Strike Group.
The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 sensed the transmissions from the Commander of Patrol Vessel 13. 'Orders to engage the drives, magnetic fields, and to engage the two contacts. We will need to destroy them quickly.' The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 issued the orders and felt the magnetic field expand around the ship. He could also feel the mass driver as it prepared to fire. 'The enemy vessels are increasing their drive emissions. They know we are here.'
The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 could feel the pulse as the mass driver launched its packet of metallic hydrogen toward the target, and then a second flash as the other Armed Colony Vessel fired. Moments later the two Patrol Vessels and the Attack Vessel launched torpedoes. The Commander could feel the targets begin manuevering to avoid the launches, but it was too late. In seconds both ships had been reduced to wreckage drifting through the rocks that filled this part of the system.
The Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 waited for the transmission from Patrol Vessel 13. The Strike Group would have to move. It was possible that the enemy vessels had alerted the native race. The Strike Group could not afford to engage enemy warships at this time. The Commander sensed something he had not anticipated. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 13 had ordered all scout craft to launch and attack the nearby enemy colony.
It took moments, but the Commander of Armed Colony Vessel 3 understood. If the enemy colony was to be attacked, the native race might not redeploy ships from that location to hunt the Strike Group. The nearest enemy vessels would be at the colony. If they were given reason not to follow it could take the native race a great deal of time to bring ships to this location. Then a second order followed. The Strike Group would follow the scout craft. If the enemy had moved its warships from the nearby colony and the scout craft found it undefended, then the Strike Group would again attack the colony. The remaining troops would be landed.
The native race would learn the price of abandoning its outposts.

2230 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, china

Minister Po could feel the sweat on his forehead as he stood at the podium. Po looked out and could see the strained look on Minister Khoh's face. 'Strain and hatred. He has heard.'
"Assembled Ministers, I have received news that the last two scheduled transmissions of Troopships Two and Three have failed to arrive. Attempts to contact the ships have also failed. We must assume that both have been lost, along with the Seventh Armored Division they carried."
The chorus of voices was not unexpected. Po held up his hands to quiet the Assembly. "We still have other options available. Orders have been given for Troopship One to return to Hektor and pick up the Sixteenth Power Armor Division for transport to Titan. They will lack the combat power of the Seventh Armored but should be able to stabilize the situation until additional troops can be mobilized. It will take over five days to move the Sixteenth to Titan, but the additional troops that the US has indicated they will land on Titan should allow the colony to continue its fight against the alien infestation."
Po watched as Minister Khoh rose from his seat. "And what if the US troops are unsuccessful? What if the Sixteenth is unable to stabilize the situation? We will not only have lost Titan, but we will have insufficient troops to oppose FSC intentions in the belt. If the FSC or other governments here on Earth were to act against us we have no professional troops mobilized to resist an invasion."
Po tried to appear calm, but knew he was sweating profusely. "We may have to be prepared for the loss of the colony on Titan. We may be wise to move the Sixteenth to Earth to protect our interests. This would violate the agreement with the FSC, but we have no assurances that the FSC will honor the agreement regardless. This situation will need to be addressed now."
Po listened as the assembled Ministers began to squabble, and knew that the meeting would not be concluded quickly. He also knew that once again his faction would lose much of its power. 'China has certainly found itself cursed with 'interesting times'.'
...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 Wed 24 Aug 2011 07:52

February 2205 part 13

February 18th 1820 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, Hektor orbit

"Weapon Conn, firing solution on alien bombers. Launch when solution complete."
The Dutchman looked at the sensor returns and watched as the four alien bombers moved closer to the colony on Hektor. The Dutchman checked the progress on the firing solutions. 'Those little craft are hard to lock up out here. The debris thrown out here from the combat on Hektor is only making it more difficult.'
"Comm, update on the Krait's status." The Dutchman saw the sensor lock stabilize and the firing solution compile. Moments later the Mary Reed shuddered slightly as a single Devil Class Missile launched and engaged its drive.
"Captain, the Krait reports she is still coming to stations. The captain says they will reach Battle Stations in sixty seconds."
'Damn it, the alien ships will nearly reach the colony before they get into the fight. Only two ships on watch leaves us in horrible shape here. When a crew is not on watch they end up scattered through their ship catching up on maintenance.'
The Sensor Officer's voice caught the Dutchman's attention. "Missile detonation. Targets required. Two bombers show active drive bloom. One bomber tumbling, no drive signature. Scattered contacts on tangent to detonation. Appears to be remains of last bomber." The Dutchman checked the sensor returns. 'That bomber must have been right on top of the missile when it detonated. Two with one stone, now we just have to get the last pair.'
The Sensor Officer cut in again. "Contact velocity change. Deceleration. Range of zero point seven five light seconds. Current velocity of four thousand kilometers per second and decreasing."
"They are braking for their attack run. Time until next launch." The Dutchman looked toward the weapon station and the crew there. He heard the Weapon Control Officer respond. "Next launch in four, three, two, away." The Mary Reed shuddered again as another missile released from its bay and the nuclear drive on it flared to life. The Dutchman looked at the sensor readings and saw the missile moving toward the alien bombers alone. The missile detonation clouded the returns for a few moments but the Dutchman already knew it had detonated short of the alien ships' course.
"Comm, let the Krait know they need to get to stations NOW. Weapon Conn, get the next launch online. Sensor Conn, time until the bombers begin attack runs."
The Sensor Officer was the first to answer. "Aspect change on contacts. Continuing to decelerate. Beginning initial orientation for attack runs. Projected weapon deployment in forty five seconds. Sensors showing launch from the Krait."
"Third launch online and away."
'It's about time. It is getting close. We might get a fourth launch online, we might not.' The Dutchman watched as the two detonations clouded the returns and then as the contacts reappeared. "Hell yes. One more down. Get a fourth launch online and away."
"Already working on it." The Weapon Control Officer had the solutions compiling on the monitors in front of him while the other crew at the station were completing the prep on the missile.
The Sensor Officer cut in again. "Aspect change on remaining contact. Beginning attack run on colony. Projected weapon deployment in fifteen seconds. Range to bomber of forty thousand kilometers."
'This is going to be close. If the missile loses tracking it could hit the colony. Even if it doesn't, it will be uncomfortably close.' The Dutchman watched as the missile appeared on the monitor and began moving toward the target. It lasted for only a second as the nuclear drive covered the distance and then the returns clouded. The bridge seemed quiet as the grave while the ship waited for the sensor report.
"Target destroyed. A few pieces of debris have struck Hektor but none are near any habitat or troop concentrations. Hold, new contact. Magnetic field deployment detected on bearing two five zero. Unable to resolve but apparent range to contact of eight light seconds."
The Dutchman concentrated on the new contacts, the elation of destroying the bombers quickly forgotten. 'Those aren't little bombers. It takes something a lot larger to carry a field generator. And we only have six missiles left on board.'
"Helm, engage drive. Move to orbit of Hektor at half a light second. Full combat acceleration. Comm, relay to the Krait to maintain formation with the Mary Reed then hail those vessels and find out who they are. Weapon Conn, get the next missile prepped for launch just in case." The Dutchman watched the sensor returns as the drive engaged and the world turned grey. 'There are a lot of ships moving around right now and we are pretty close to the course most ships would take to Saturn. Maybe they just detected the detonations and are coming to see if they can assist.'
"No response from contacts. Continuing open transmission."
The Sensor Officer was the next voice on the intercom. "Still unable to resolve contact identity. Contact velocity no less than eight thousand kilometers per second. Closing on colony."
The Dutchman looked at the data as it began to display on the monitor in front of him. 'Human or not, if it was friendly then it would have answered by now. If it is alien those bombers just told them how many of us are parked here. We don't have a clue what they are, and that is a problem.'
"Helm, bring us to course one one zero degrees. Put the colony between us and the contact. Comm, I want a tightbeam link to the ground station on the colony. Get a direct link to the colony sensor array. Feed to the Sensor Conn and my station." The Dutchman watched as the range began to grow between the colony and the Mary Reed. 'The colony will be able to tell us what came to visit. Then we can make a decision.'
One minute crawled by, and then another. Three minutes after leaving orbit of Hektor the Sensor Officer keyed open the intercom. "Colony array has ID of contacts. Armed Tango times two at four point five light seconds bearing two four six from the colony. Velocity of nine four zero zero kilometers per second. Third contact now. Echo times one. Same bearing and velocity. All contacts closing on colony."
The Comm Officer overrode the intercom. "Dutchman, we have a priority broadcast from the Sixteenth Division. They are reporting strikes on troop concentrations near Domes Three and Eight."
The Dutchman sat and looked at the monitor. 'Those Tangos are twice the size of the Mary, and nearly three times as big as the Krait. Even if we could outmaneuver them, the Echo would still be trying to tear us to pieces. And the Mary's launch bay is almost half empty. Odds are those ships can't pick us out from the rocks in the belt at this range. So long as we leave the field generators off we should be fine.'
"Helm, maintain current course. Comm, let the colony know that we aren't going to be around to help. Then send a message to the board that the aliens have returned to Hektor."

1842 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue pulled off the velcro straps holding her in bed and then pulled out her IV. Patterns of water drops drifted through the air as the line twisted back and forth. Li aimed herself toward the door and pushed off from the bed. Li grabbed the doorway as the room shook. Li heard several people squeal as the vibrations scattered objects about the room behind her. 'Whatever that was, it was closer than the last one.' Li looked down the hallway and saw several nurses moving. Some pulling themselves along the rail on the wall, others are drifting rapidly from one point to the next. Li could see the nurses' station down the hall and knew it had an exit from the ward. Li pulled herself quickly down the rail until she reached the desk.
"Where is my unit?!" Li looked about at the room at the nurses moving about. Some looked at her but none stopped or answered. "WHERE IS MY UNIT?!" Li yelled at no one in particular.
A young man appeared from the hallway. "You are Chinese soldier?" Li looked at him. The Chinese was broken and badly accented, but at least Li could understand it.
"Yes! Now where is the rest of my unit?!" Li watched as the man pushed off and drifted to the counter beside her.
The man pulled himself to a stop on the rail and shrugged. "Woman bring clothes. Not clothes." Li watched as the man looked confused and then pointed back down the hallway leading from the nurses' station. "Come." Li followed the man as he pushed off from the rail back toward the hallway. Li grabbed the rail in the hall and pulled herself down it behind the man. He stopped at the room across from the one Li had been in. The man opened the door and pointed inside the room. Li pulled herself to the doorway and saw a portable Salamander Suit Pack in the room. "My suit !" Li grabbed the young man's arm and quickly kissed his cheek. Li looked just long enough to see him blush as she smiled at him and then she pushed off toward the case.
Li grabbed the outside of the case and punched in her suit number. Lights flashed on the front of the case as it expanded and unfolded. 'There it is, good as new.' Li pulled the elastic skin tight suit out of the side pocket and pulled the legs on. The hospital gown got in the way and Li reached around and tried to undo the ties. Pain suddenly flared in her side and Li found herself doubled up clutching at the site where the chest tube had once been. Li felt hands pulling the ties loose and found the young man floating beside her undoing the gown. Li could feel herself blush and all she could think was 'It has been a long time since any man has taken my clothes off.' Li tried not to look at the young man as she pushed her arms into the sleeves of the suit and pulled it up over her. Li found she had drifted away from the rack and had nothing in reach. She looked back at the young man to see he was easily as red as she was. Li pointed back to the case and reached for it. "Help me. I can't reach." She watched the young man grab her arm and pull her back. 'I wish he would quit blushing. Then maybe I could.' Li grabbed the case and put her feet into the suit and felt the blast padding expand. The room shook again as she leaned back into the suit. Li looked at the young man again and saw that the pink had disappeared from his face, replaced by the pale mask of fear and concern. 'Now I wish he was blushing.' In less than a minute Li had the rest of the suit on and the function checks complete. 'Now, what in the hell is going on.' Li turned on the radio and was assaulted by voices. Dozens, if not hundreds. Li keyed in for the suit to screen out all transmissions not from the 23rd Regiment. Li felt the suit shake and the maneuver pack fire as the transmissions died off to only a few voices. Li could feel her stomach sink to her toes as she listened. 'Oh my god, the aliens are back. They are shelling the colony again. It sounds like they might be making another landing.'
Li looked up and saw that the amber lights had come on in the room and that the door had sealed. 'Oh no. The dome has been breached.' Li used the maneuver pack to reach the door, careful not to fire the jets toward the young man still holding onto the case. The door refused to open when Li pushed the button and words flashed near it. The room shook again and the lights went out. Li turned on the suit's lights and looked back into the room. She could see the young man struggling to get his hood pulled over his head. 'Oh no, the room has lost its seal.' Li moved to help the young man and sealed the hood onto his suit, then watched as he struggled with his gloves. Li could see his eyes rolling back and his movements becoming less coordinated. 'He is suffocating. There isn't enough air pressure in the suit. Li reached down and pressed the release on the small air cylinder on the young man's side and saw the hood balloon up as oxygen filled the suit. Then the hood began to shrink again. Li looked down and saw the air leaking out around the cuff on one of the suit's sleeves. 'One of his gloves isn't on.' Li looked at the young man's suit but the glove wasn't attached near the sleeve. Li quickly looked around the room and saw the glove drifting. Li used her maneuver pack to reach the glove as she held the young man's arm. She grabbed the glove and pulled it over the man's hand and sealed it. She looked up and could see that the hood had shrunk down a great deal. His eyes were glassy and unfocused; his face had turned nearly purple. 'What can I do?' Li watched as he gasped several times and arched his body as he tried to find air to breathe. The arches became less coordinated. Became slow convulsions. Then nothing. Tears rolled down Li's face as she let go of the body and watched it drift away.
'I owe you my life, and I don't even know your name.'

2010 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po looked at the papers on his desk. 'The Ministers will meet in twenty minutes. We will have to face this new setback.' Po looked up as one of the office assistants poked his head through the door.
"Minister Po, Minister Khoh is here to see you." The door was pushed open and Po watched as Minister Khoh shoved his way past the startled clerk.
"You know what has happened?!" Khoh stared at Po with barely contained anger.
"I have heard that the aliens have retaken the orbitals at Hektor, and have made strikes on the ground units. There have also been reports of another landing of alien troops." Po watched as Khoh stood shaking in front of his desk.
"The Sixteenth has been nearly destroyed! Their supply dumps are gone! My people indicate that another alien division has landed and is even now crushing whatever units resist them! We are losing both Titan AND Hektor! What are you going to DO?!" Khoh had stepped forward with each statement. He was nearly to the desk. Po reached into the open drawer and laid his hand on the pistol there.
"We will address this in the Assembly. Whatever decisions are made I will support. It may be possible that ships can be diverted to support the remaining troops."
"WHAT TROOPS?!" Po could see that Khoh was rapidly losing control of himself. Po pulled the pistol from the drawer and leveled it at Khoh.
"This will be addressed. We may need extreme measures to control this situation." Po watched as the color drained from Khoh's face as he stared at the pistol. "You need to leave now."
Po watched as Khoh slowly backed away from the desk, and then left the room. Po pushed the button for the intercom. "I will need addtional guards stationed in my office. I will also need several guards to accompany me inside the Ministry. Thank you." Po put the pistol away and leaned back in his chair. 'This is a dangerous situation and we must resolve it quickly. For my own safety if nothing else."

2330 hours/Washington DC

Admiral Bradley Walters stood as the door opened. "Thank you for coming. I realize this is unconventional, but a new situation needs to be addressed and I am unable to respond until after the politicians are briefed in the morning. I am concerned that may be too late. Please, take a seat."
Bradley watched as Pan Euro Admiral Brenna Muldoon approached the desk, and then sat in one of the black leather chairs. Her 'uniform' was nearly unadorned. It was obviously a Pan Euro naval suit, but with no decorations she appeared to be no one special. 'Until you look at the rank.'
"You have heard the transmissions from Hektor, Admiral Muldoon?" Bradley watched the Pan Euro Admiral as she sat across from him.
"We have, Admiral Walters. It would appear that the FSC colony is in jeopardy of falling to the aliens."
"We have heard the same thing. I am also in a position to have information of the situation at Titan. The US has landed ground troops there, and we have more moving toward that location. We have assurances from the Chinese that they will also be landing their own units, but the current situation at Titan is dire. It is possible that Titan could also fall to the aliens. We have additional units moving to secure the orbitals of Titan and to prevent additional alien troop landings. These situations are what I need to address with you." Bradley leaned forward and turned a monitor screen on his desk around so that Admiral Muldoon could also see it, then tapped at several areas on the screen.
"This is a system display. These are the active USN units. As you can see we have been stretched thin. I do not believe that my government will authorize additional units to secure the orbitals of the Chinese colony at Saturn. They may not even leave the units we have at Titan following our second troop landing. The Chinese have a single Strike Vessel at Titan. If additional Chinese warships arrive to support the landing of the Chinese troops we may not need to keep ships there. If it would be possible for the Red October to remain on station at Titan with the US ships for the duration of our deployment would be an immense help." Bradley waited as Admiral Muldoon looked at the display.
"The current deployment orders are for the Red October to rejoin the Third Light Battle Group at Victoria following your landings. Currently we have moved two additional Attack Escorts to Victoria, as I am sure you are aware, to assist the Third Light Battle Group until the Red October's return." Bradley waited as the Pan Euro Admiral paused. "It would be possible to reassign the Red October to Titan until US forces move from that position. I do not see that as an issue that would require this meeting. It could easily be handled through normal channels. The Red October would not have move from Titan for several days regardless."
Bradley leaned back in his chair. "This is true. That issue is not the problem which concerns me the most. We have confirmation from the FSC that the aliens moved three warships to Hektor. A pair of Tango Twos and an Echo. The FSC has indicated that it will not commit its only two warships to this area unsupported. If your analyst's conclusions are correct and the aliens are attempting to gain data on our colony locations from these invasion sites, then the fall of Hektor could impact both of our governments. The US doesn't have enough warships to intervene at Hektor, let alone guard all of our colonies. I find it difficult to believe that the Pan Euro could afford to station ships at each of its belt colonies either." Bradley paused for a moment, to allow what he had said to sink in.
"I do have assurances from the FSC that they have ground troops available for a landing on Hektor. They indicate that the Mary Reed could transport and land those troops if the space near Hektor was secure. The US also has two additional Marine Brigades mobilized and ready to deploy, but we do not have ships available to move those assets. The Q Ships will take too long to land troops at Titan, return and load the marines, and then land at Hektor before the colony is lost. Word from the Martian Light at Victoria indicates that the situation there has turned against the aliens following the landing of the Eightieth Ukraine. I do not know the current deployment of your troopship and the rest of the Battle Group that left Earth late last month, but they may be the only thing between us and a disaster at Hektor." Bradley sat quietly. 'Now it is all up to her. She knows where her ships are and if they can even help.'
Bradley waited quietly as the Pan Euro Admiral leaned forward and looked at the system display. A few minutes passed in silence. "The Pan Euro Troopship would be available for loading of the US troops in the next thirty six hours. You will need to get a message to your contacts in the FSC. If they will support an attack, I will be able to move the remaining ships of the Third Battle Group to Hektor in support of them."
"Do you have a time frame that they might be available for an attack?"
The Pan Euro Admiral rose from her chair. "I will need to send orders but they should reach Hektor in three days. I will forward the rendezvous location for the FSC ships." Bradley watched as she turned and left the room.
'If the aliens seize even one colony we could lose this war. Muldoon knows that. Victoria is nearly secure. With luck we will be able to reverse the situation on Hektor. God help us if the Chinese don't hurry up and get their troops to 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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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 25 Aug 2011 15:23

February 2205 part 14

February 18th 2345 hours/Surface of Titan, 3 klicks from Chinese construction site

"Figures they would pick us for this assignment. We are such people persons. Everyone likes us."
"Can it Fuentes. Cover your sector. It’s almost time to move."
"Yes Sergeant Evans."
'He may be a little prick, but for once I agree with him.' Staff Sergeant Carl Evans watched as First Squad of 3rd Platoon, Company A moved along the slope just below the top of the ridge. 'We have to be on someone's list to have drawn this assignment. The perimeter is barely holding, but it is. So we get elected to try and push down this ridgeline to make contact with whatever Chinese troops are left alive near the construction site. At least that is what the Intel folks are calling it. Could be some fat Chinese diplomat's idea of an outdoor patio for all they know. Doubt they will have anything on the grill for us.'
The radio in Carl's Shiloh Power Armor suit blared. "Sergeant Evans. First Squad and Third Squad are in position. Are you ready to move?" Carl looked down the ridge to see that First Squad had settled in amongst the rocks as he turned down the radio’s volume. "Affirmative Lieutenant. Moving sir. Ok, Second Squad, move up. Fuentes, you take point. I'm sure whoever you meet will love to see your smiling face." Carl waited for the comments he knew were coming, but stopped when he saw First Squad Leader Staff Sergeant Duncan signal for the group to hold position. Carl waved the group to stop as he knelt in a small washout in the side of the ridge. "What have you got Billy Boy? Talk to me."
"Carl, contact with alien suits, nearly a dozen scattered about five hundred meters south of our position. They aren't moving. Looks like they might be dead."
Carl looked in the direction 'Billy Boy' Duncan had said. 'Sure as hell. Looks like someone played kick the can with an alien squad. We haven't got anybody around here so it must be the Chinese troop’s handiwork. Hopefully it isn't too much farther until we reach their lines. So long as they don't blow the hell out of us too.'
"I see 'em Billy Boy. They're down. We are moving up but keep an eye out." Carl motioned for Second Squad to move forward and watched as Fuentes began to pick his way among the rocks and draws. 'Guess that shut him up. The LT should have heard that. Guess it isn't important enough for him to chime in.’ Carl picked his way along the outcroppings and gullies. As Second Squad passed First Squad's position he could see that the seven troops there were focused on watching. No chatter. Nothing. 'Hopefully the only alien suits around are down already.'
Carl checked the squad's spacing. "Myers, drop back some. I don't want the SLAR taken out first thing. Keep to the middle of the wedge." Carl saw Fuentes suddenly signal for the squad to stop. "Fuentes, what have you got?"
"Sergeant Evans. I have six alien suits ahead. Two goblins, four gremlins. They look like hell. I think they are down Sergeant."
Carl moved forward until he was a few meters behind Fuentes. Fuentes motioned down into the gully toward the next ridgeline. 'Sure enough. Six more toasted alien suits. There was definitely a battle here. Hopefully the good guys won.' Carl scanned the ridgeline and a red contact warning flashed on his HUD. Carl increased the magnification on the highlighted area.
"Third Platoon, hold. Contact ahead, two hundred meters. Got a flashing light on my HUD. Can't make out what, it is just lighting up the sides of a small depression." Carl waited for the LT. It only took a moment.
"Sergeant Evans, three men forward to check it out. Never heard of a flashing anything on an alien suit. See what we've got and report. Out."
Carl took a deep breath. 'Just my luck.' "Roger LT. Wilco. Ok, Fuentes and Brown, on me. Sightseeing opportunity. Don't fire without positive ID. The rest of you hold position and prep for cover fire if we need it." This time Fuentes wasn't going to be quiet. "Thanks Sergeant Evans. I always wanted to make friendly with the natives. If they keep livestock maybe even you could get lucky."
"Can it Fuentes. You got point still."
Carl watched as Fuentes moved down the slope slowly. As he reached the bottom of the ridge Carl saw the cloud of dust and ice as Fuentes fired his jump jets. In only a few seconds he had crossed the gully and landed on the far slope. Carl watched as Fuentes swept the area and then signaled it was clear. Carl hit his jump jets and then the braking thrusters until he had landed no more than twenty meters from Fuentes.
"Fuentes, take position on this ridge top. See if we have company on the far side. No jets and stay low. I’ll watch the bend in the gully. Our platoon can't see down there. Brown, check the contact." Carl watched as Private First Class Phil Brown started moving toward the small flashing light. 'I hope like hell this is just a movement sensor, and not some booby trap.'
Carl saw Brown move to the edge of the shallow depression and stop. “Sarge, you need to take a look at this.”
Carl moved slowly up the slope, making sure to let Fuentes have a good lead on the way to the top. 'Ok, let’s see what we've got.' As Carl moved over the lip of the shallow ditch the flashing light was in he could see the form of a Chinese Power Armor suit. A weapon was a few meters away in the gravel. As Carl moved closer he could see several areas that were damaged on the suit. 'Whoever this was, they took one hell of a beating.' Carl looked at the six destroyed alien suits nearby and heard Brown speak up. 'It looks like he took those suits with him.'
"LT, this is Evans. I've got one damaged Chinese suit over here. Looks shot to hell. Nothing else. No alien contacts."
"Ok Sergeant Evans. Mark the area for later. We will pass on the location to the Chinese. They might want to police up the body, and the suit for parts."
"Roger sir. Evans out."
Carl's radio crackled back to life. It was Fuentes. "Sergeant. I've got more destroyed alien suits on this side of the ridge. Probably another eight or so. Also one damaged support weapon. Looks like one of their heavy mass drivers. Whoever that body is, they must have thought they were John Wayne or something. I can also see some structures two klicks to the southeast. Looks like it might be the edge of the Chinese complex."
Carl looked down at the Chinese suit. 'At least fourteen alien suits. A support weapon. And I'll bet you had a hand in the destroyed suits we saw earlier. Somebody ought to know your story. I don't know if the Chinese give out medals or not, but someone ought to send your folks one.' Carl turned and saw Brown standing in the gully. "Brown, you get souvenir duty. Pick up this suit. If we are this close to the Chinese lines we might as well take it in. Maybe they won't blow us up if they see one of their suits."

February 19th 0330 hours/Queen Jane Grey, Mercury orbit

Ensign Gretta Deeter looked over at Commodore Robert McNeely before she locked her station. "I guess the important movements for this morning's briefing will be us. And for the construction issues, the big news will be that one of them has been put on hold. Does this mean I can be excused from the zero six thirty meeting and just sleep in?"
Gretta didn't expect any laughter. She would have been pleased with just about anything. Almost anything.
"Ensign Deeter. Since you are so far ahead of the rest of the staff, I will need you to get me all the information you can on the FSC colony on Hektor, the troops and combat there, and all recorded alien ships and actions. I will also want a full report of the current capabilities of the alien ships encountered at Saturn. The ones waiting for us may be just as dangerous."
Gretta stared at her monitor. 'I should learn not to open my big mouth.'
Commodore Robert McNeely looked at the orders on his monitor, and then at the system display beside them. A green blinking dot marked the location the three ships of the 3rd Battle Group were to move to. Hopefully to meet the FSC warship. 'If they don't show up, we will probably still go in to clear the space there. In the belt. It sounds like the aliens may have some new tricks. The belt will just make it even harder for us.'
"Helm, forwarding coordinates to your station. Plot a course for those coordinates and engage drive. Standard cruise. Comm, message to the Isabelle and Catherine. Hold formation on the Jane Grey and maintain current general quarters rotation. Forward message to Mobile Shipyard Two. Cease construction on hull and place project in stable orbit of Mercury. Mobile Shipyard Two is then to move at standard cruise to a location three light minutes from Mercury and shut down drive. Comm silence follows until otherwise directed or alien contact. Acknowledge orders per protocol."
Robert looked around the bridge. 'We made it longer than nine days, so we did better than Lady Jane. We've been in service for forty days now. It sounds like we get a chance to see our first combat before we make it to forty seven.'

0615 hours/Assault Vessel, dark side of asteroid belt

The Commander of Fleets settled into his station. The data needed careful evaluation. The four Strike Groups had merged into two larger groups. Two enemy support ships moving toward the enemy colony on the moon of the ringed planet had been destroyed. Another landing had taken place on the second enemy colony. Warships of the native race had destroyed four scout craft there but had evaded the Strike Group following them. The enemy had also landed additional forces on all of its colonies that were under attack.
The Combat Vessels and Hive Vessels would need additional time to arrive, along with the supplies, bombers, and troops they carried. The combat at the moon and in the debris field could be enough to convince the native race that this was not simple raiding. They could easily redeploy their forces if they felt a strong attack was inevitable. The disposition of the enemy forces was crucial. They must continue to feel it necessary and beneficial to guard their colonies. To keep their forces separated into smaller groups.
The remaining scout craft would have to be launched to determine if the native race had moved its ships from the first colony that had been attacked. If they still remained, there was a chance that the enemy had not discerned the true intention of the operation. The native race had encountered only three Patrol Vessels and one Attack Vessel. The rest had been Support Vessels or Armed Colony Vessels. Perhaps they still felt this was just a gathering of ships to conduct landings in the inner system, and not an actual Combat Group that was assembling.
If the native race had concentrated its assets, then nothing could be done to change that. The operation would have to continue as it had been planned until it was obvious it would no longer work. The Commander of Fleets issued the orders for the last scout craft to attack the first landing site and for the Assault Vessel to begin moving toward the approaching Combat Vessels.
'If the enemy still has warships at the first landing site, this operation will work and the Strike Group at the second landing site will need to withdraw. If not, then the Strike Groups will need to move to finish the combat on the enemy colonies.'
The Commander of Fleets could feel the Assault Vessel's drive engage as his orders were executed.

1230 hours/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, orbit of Venus

Admiral Hu looked at the orders he had received from the Ministry of Defense. 'This is what it has come to.'
Admiral Hu looked at the orders he had composed displayed on his monitor. 'May my ancestors forgive me and my family redeem me for what I must do.' He tapped the screen and transmitted the orders to the two ships nearby.









...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 Sat 03 Sep 2011 00:07

February 2205 part 15

February 20th 0110 hours/Hardened Fallout Shelter, New Delhi

The room was quiet as Chairman Mukata idly stirred the ice in his glass and looked at the reports on his monitor.
'We have ordered the Dutchman to return and load the 3rd Chilean Power Armor Brigade. This will allow the Mary Reed to approach without crossing Chinese controlled space. The Chinese could still target the ship but would have to launch weapons through the US or Euro controlled zones. With tensions high it is unlikely that the Chinese will risk such a move. The question is will the Dutchman return? If he chooses to remain at large the FSC has no ships to deal with him, and no way to move troops into the combat zone on Hektor. For the moment.'
Mukata tapped at the screen and watched as another report appeared. 'The progress on the underground complex at Queensland is slow, but the hanger should be ready in time for the new ship's construction.' Mukata scrolled down through the data. 'The hanger itself should be finished by the beginning of April, in time to start construction of the new warships. The project engineer, this cyborg Jager, has promised that the first vessel will be completed in May and fully operational in June, assuming the hanger is ready on time.'
Mukata turned off the monitor and leaned back in his chair. 'If Jager's promises are true the first of these Hornet Class warships will make the Mary Reed and Krait obsolete.' Mukata took a long sip of the cold tea. 'Along with nearly every other ship in service. The Chinese will regret declaring war.'

February 21st 0610 hours/Washington, DC

Admiral Bradley Walters watched the briefing start. General 'KJ' Foxx had been late and was busy pulling up displays as he spoke.
"These charts show the timelines for the loading of the First and Second Brigades of the Second Marine Division. The Pan Euro Troopship has touched down in the emergency landing zone near Camp LeJuene. This will allow the soldiers to load without requiring transport to the Space Center, speeding the process by several hours.'
Congressional Chairperson Harland Meyers stopped the general. "Isn't the emergency loading zone located close to both commercial maritime lanes and the civilian housing near the base?"
"The landing should not present a major disruption. The two brigades should be able to load within eight hours. The Pan Euro Troopship is scheduled to leave Earth no later than three PM Eastern Standard Time. We have cleared the shipping lanes to allow the Euro Troopship to lift off without the drive endangering any surface vessels. The civilian housing is safe and the noise should present a tolerable disruption.'
"Have the studies of possible landing sites for the three cyborg battalions of the Second Marine been completed?" Secretary of Defense Adam Richards looked annoyed with both the meeting's delay and the Congressman's question.
General Foxx pulled up another display, this one showing the surface of Titan. "The Fourth Brigade of the Martian Light Division has been able to link up with the Chinese elements located in the underground complex on Titan, but the brigade is still heavily engaged with alien units. The Fourth has been forced to fall back to consolidate its position and contact with the Chinese may be lost if pressure on the unit continues to increase. This location," General Foxx gestured toward the display, "represents what we believe is the best location for landing. The Vigilance will perform its landing here. This will allow the unit to secure the area near the underground complex near the combat zone. It is hoped that the underground complex will provide a base of operations for the unit. This landing zone will be re-evaluated following the Chinese landings to ensure it remains suitable."
Congressman Meyers sat forward abruptly. "Are you saying that the Chinese troops have not landed?!"
General Foxx turned and looked at Congressman Meyers. "There is a considerable time lag in communications with our forces at Titan, but as of zero four hundred this morning there had been no reports of Chinese Troopships or landings."
"Have we heard anything from the Chinese?! They were supposed to land yesterday!" Bradley could see that Congressman Meyers was growing pale, and strain showed on his face. Secretary Richards also wore a concerned look, if somewhat more controlled.
"We have no messages from the Chinese. I believe that the issue would be addressed though the embassies and not by military channels, so any notice from the Chinese should have come through civilian channels first." Bradley could see General Foxx look at the two politicians with vaguely concealed disdain. 'Meyer's panic is clouding his ability to focus.'
Secretary Richards held his hand up. "You are correct and we will pursue this issue through the appropriate channels. That will be all for the moment. Admiral Walters, we would like your report now."
General Foxx cleared the displays of Hektor and the landing zones for the other two brigades of the Second Marine Division, obviously irritated at being dismissed before having completed his briefing. Bradley brought up his displays as the General reached his seat.
"The newest developments are the announcements by the Pan Euro. First is that the Third Light Battle Group has intercepted and destroyed four alien bombers near Victoria. None of the bombers were able to begin their attack runs or cause any damage to the colony or the units stationed there. The Second is the declaration that the Third Battle Group has begun movement toward Hektor to clear the aliens from the space near the FSC colony. This second move had been anticipated, as the Pan Euro Troopship is unarmed and would be unable to conduct landings unsupported."
Secretary Richards nodded, and then spoke. "Do you believe that the Pan Euro Battle Group can clear the space near Hektor?"
Bradley stood for a moment and thought. "We know the Third is short two of its Attack Escorts which are currently on station near Victoria Colony. This would leave it with only six missile bays. Task Force Two and the Pan Euro ship Red October had eight missile bays at the battle near Titan. If the aliens actually have a pair of Tango Twos along with an Echo the battle could be difficult. Particularly in the belt. The Pan Euro ships have an excellent record. If the FSC warships move to support this engagement I believe that the Euro group should be able to clear the space near Hektor. Assuming the aliens remain near the colony and do not have additional ships nearby."
"Do you think the aliens will withdraw following the landing again?" Congressman Meyers was beginning to regain his composure and color.
"It is possible. This is the first time the aliens have landed twice at a colony site and the alien's actions are difficult to predict. We do not know." Bradley waited for the next question. Secretary Richards once again cut off the Congressman.
"Has there been any sensor contact with the Chinese troopships near Titan, or communication broadcasts that have been intercepted?"
"We have no reports of new contacts near Titan. We have also received no comm signals that we could attribute to the Chinese ships."
"Thank you Admiral, that will be all. The next meeting will be at six PM."

1745 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue looked at the hallway in front of her. 'This place is a wreck.' Li moved over a ceiling beam that had fallen and looked through the gaping hole into the level above her. "It's clear Platoon Leader."
"Just LIng now. Our platoon is four soldiers." Li turned and watched as Platoon Leader Ling Song and the other two members of the 'platoon' moved around the wreckage in the hall. "Li, move up through the hole and clear the bay. Kei follow her through. Confirm."
"Confirm." Li looked at Kei as she reached the area below the hole. Li took a deep breath. 'I can do this.' "On three, two, GO!" Li fired her maneuver pack and shot up through the hole into the bay above. Li saw the black of space and countless tiny points of light through a gaping open area in the side of the dome. Li swept her half of the bay but saw nothing threatening. "Clear. Moving to secure."
Li grabbed a bent beam and pushed off toward the wreckage of the dome's outer wall. She grabbed at the twisted metal of the structural reinforcements and pulled herself into the wreckage of the outer wall. 'If I fire the maneuver pack out here they will see me for sure. Right now I could be a drifting piece of debris.' Li held still and watched her HUD. 'A lot of those points of light aren't stars. There is a lot of rubble around this colony, thrown into orbit by the alien mass drivers. Rocks, wreckage, and bodies. Or parts of bodies.' A red dot suddenly appeared on Li's HUD, followed by three more. 'And hiding in the debris are a few aliens, keeping watch.'
"Ling, I've got four active alien suits at two hundred meters above the surface. Closest suit at twelve hundred meters. Confirm."
"Confirm. Moving up."
Li looked out at the surface and the three other domes visible from her vantage point. The surface was bathed in faint light from the sun, but the filters made it bright as midday on Earth. 'This is hopeless. Fourteen domes. Every last one of them has been damaged by at least one hit from an orbital mass driver. Add in a couple dozen hits from the alien support weapons they use to breach holes for attacks. There were over seven hundred thousand colonists when I landed. Nearly three quarters of a million. Now less than one hundred thousand remain. Maybe sixty or seventy thousand colonists huddled in the few scattered areas that have pressure. We have four thousand two hundred in this dome. All of them depending on us.'
Li saw Ling as she drifted beside her and crouched down amidst the twisted metal. "Those little suits are awfully small targets at that range." Li watched as the small alien suits drifted and moved within the debris scattered through the black sky.
"They just want us to fire on them. At this range you have no chance of hitting them. They will maneuver long before the shell reaches them. They want us to give away our positions by trying."
Li listened to Ling and nodded. 'Yah, why waste rounds on them when we have plenty of targets right here in the dome." Li thought of the two small skirmishes she had fought earlier that day, back when their 'platoon' had been seven soldiers. 'We are a mixed group of about three hundred and fifty Chinese soldiers in this dome, with about four hundred FSC reservists. Our newest Battalion Commander figures there are about two thousand alien suits in this dome.' Li looked back at the alien suits drifting in the black sky. 'It isn't a question of winning or not. Just how we lose, and how long we can hold out while we do. At least a civilian tech managed to get a feed from one of the sensor arrays, and it looks like the alien ships have moved off again.'
Ling's voice grabbed Li's attention. "Ok, it’s time to do what we came out here for. Command wants us to keep the aliens chasing skirmishers through the wreckage of this dome instead of hunting for the few intact areas and the colonists. We let the aliens know we are here, hold for twenty seconds, and then fall back. Confirm." Ling's voice sounded flat, emotionless, and tired to Li.
"Confirm Platoon Leader."
"Just LIng, please." Li looked over and saw Ling staring out into the darkness. "Li, take the nearest one. It is only eight hundred meters now. You might actually hit one this time."
Li smiled slightly as she switched over to the weapon optics and aimed her Type 15 at the nearest alien suit. 'When I shoot we will have twenty seconds of the aliens trying to blow this section of the dome apart with whatever they can target on us, followed by a mad retreat through the wreckage of this dome, all the time hoping not to run into a mass of alien suits. Assuming we live through the first twenty seconds. Three of the ten 'platoons' out on duty today have already been wiped out. Three others were left with only one or two members alive. Maybe this is our last time also.' Li swung her weapon sight out in front of the alien suit and tried to guess where it would be when the 23mm round reached it.
'I hope Mae's safe.'
Li fired her weapon.

February 22nd 0315 hours/Q Ship Vigilance, orbit of Titan

Captain Scott Moreland looked at the transmission from the Sai. 'It looks like the armchair warriors back on Earth have figured everything out. We are supposed to land this ship in the most broken terrain on this moon, right beside the Chinese complex, and in the middle of the alien positions. Doubt they asked the Chinese if they approve of our choice. I know that I don't.'
"Captain, all battalions report in as ready."
"Thank you Chief Engineer. Prepare the ship for landing in five minutes. Comm, get me a link to the Chinese Frigate Angtung." Scott keyed open the ship's intercom. "All hands, lock stations. Combat landing in five minutes."
Scott waited for his monitor to show that all stations were locked. "Comm, do you have that link?"
"Link established. Translators coming online."
"Comm, transmit our intention to land and location of intended landing. Request permission for landing."
Scott saw the confirmation on his monitor that all stations were locked as the Comm Officer spoke. "Captain, Chinese Captain Zedong Tan grants permission to conduct landings. Requests alternate landing zone."
Scott looked at the display of the troop deployments and sensor scans of the surface. 'We have done our fair share of landings into a combat zone. How about we try something different.' "Comm, transmit request to land within area currently occupied by the Martian Light."
Scott waited for the reply to come back through and for the translation programs to finish.
"Captain, permission granted to land within area occupied by the Fourth Brigade."
"Helm, plot a course for the landing area previously used by the Defiant when they touched down. Comm, let the Fourth know we will be putting their reinforcements and additional supplies inside their lines. Helm, take us down in sixty seconds."
Scott watched as the timer counted down on his monitor. 'Maybe this time we won't end up shot full of holes with half of the troops we deploy dead before this ship makes orbit again.' Scott felt the ship begin its decent as the thrusters fired.
...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 05 Sep 2011 10:40

February 2205 part 16

February 22nd 0940 hours/Queen Jane Grey, edge of asteroid belt

"New contact. Bearing one seven three. Range seven point five light seconds. Velocity of one seven zero zero kilometers per second. Decelerating. Identified as Troopship One."
Commodore Robert McNeely listened as the Sensor Officer called out the new contact. 'They are behind schedule. The Troopship was due here at zero nine hundred.' Robert waited for a moment as he watched the sensor returns. "Comm, tightbeam to Troopship One. Direct Troopship One to continue on current course and at current speed for the next hour. Tightbeam to Third Battle Group, lock stations. All ships general quarters, prep particle accelerators and magnetic field generators. Sensor Conn, I want to know about any new contacts."
Robert saw Ensign Gretta Deeter look at him for a moment as she locked her station. "Why did I give those orders, Ensign?" Robert waited as Gretta sat locked at her station. Finally she replied.
"We are waiting to see if any ships were following the Troopship."
"Correct Ensign. The Troopship has been travelling unescorted. The navigational sensors on that ship would not be able to identify a combat vessel following it. From this location on the edge of the belt, with our drive off and shields down, we will be able to see any vessel following the Troopship before they can detect us. At least I hope no one has sensors that much more sensitive than the Phoenix Array."
Robert locked his station even as the Comm Officer broke into his conversation. "Commodore. New message from the Queen Victoria and Admiral Muldoon. Forwarding to your station as directed by message coding." Robert watched while the transmission slowly displayed on his monitor as the decryption programs deciphered the message.
"It would appear the FSC has announced its intention to assist in this operation. The FSC Embassy has indicated that two FSC vessels will arrive at this location with one brigade of soldiers at eleven hundred tomorrow. Admiral Muldoon has directed us to wait for the FSC ships to arrive before we begin landings on Hektor. Comm, confirm receipt of message and intention to await FSC ships until eleven hundred tomorrow." Robert cleared the message from his monitor and pulled up the sensor returns again. "For the moment though, we have more pressing concerns."

1230 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue stretched as she drifted in the hallway. She watched the wall as she settled slowly toward the floor, and then closed her eyes. 'I can just pretend I'm drifting on the lake at home, just like when I was a young girl.'
"Sure, a few bites to eat and she gets lazy on us."
"Do you have a better idea, or are you just jealous Ling?" Li waited for the reply, but instead heard the sound of hands on the handrail. Li opened her eyes and looked to see who was pulling themselves down the hall. She quickly recognized the face. "Kwang, what are you doing here?"
Li saw the man stop and look back at her, surprise obvious on his face. "Not looking for you. Although we do seem to keep meeting don't we?" Li watched him smile at her. "I'm looking for my new Platoon Leader. Her name is Ling Song. I hear they call her the Ice Queen. Do you know where I can find her?"
Li tried not to smile as she looked first at Ling, and then back to Kwang. Li watched the smile disappear from the man's face.
"I'm Platoon Leader Ling Song. This has to be a mistake. Where are your orders?" Li watched Kwang dig in the elastic skinsuit that all of the Power Armor soldiers wore. 'God his skinsuit needs cleaned.' Li looked down at herself and suddenly felt self-conscious. 'Oh my. Mine is almost as bad.' Li saw Kwang pull out a piece of paper and hold it out toward Ling. Then Li saw Ling pull herself down the rail toward Kwang and take the paper.
"We always separate combat troops. Why are you assigned to my platoon?" Ling looked cold and tired as she quizzed the man drifting in the hallway.
"I don't know Platoon Leader. I just got this and was told to report to you." Li decided from the sheepish and confused look on the man's face that he was probably telling the truth.
"Well, your timing is good. We are off for the next two hours before we go back out. Get something to eat and some rest. After that it will be more 'interesting'. Li and Kei, wait here while I check with Battalion just what is going on. Confirm."
"Confirm." Li watched as Ling pushed off from her rail and drifted down the hall. Kwang watched her until she disappeared around a corner before he turned back to Li. "Guess she doesn't approve and I didn't make much of an impression."
Li shook her head. "No, you didn't. Hopefully you are better at getting on her good side than you were at racquetball."
Li saw Kwang smile. "I was good enough to beat you. Had to haul you back here after you got yourself shot up too. Doesn't look like you are any better at being a soldier than you were at racquetball."
Li shrugged as she finally settled to the floor and heard Kei speak up. "So what brings you to us? Here to give racquetball lessons?" Li watched as the smile left Kwang's face again, and the vacant look she had seen on Titan settled onto his face again. "Needed a new unit. That's all." Li watched as Kwang looked down the hall absently. "I need to get some food before we go." Li watched as the man pulled himself mechanically back along the rail.
"You know him Li? Seems a little young for you." Li looked back at Kei and saw the young woman smiling mischievously at her.
Li looked toward where Kwang had gone. "We met on Titan, before I became a soldier. His buddy was my friend Mae's boyfriend." Li could feel tears trying to well up in her eyes as she thought about Mae.
"Why do you think they assigned him with us? Do you think it is a mistake?"
Li closed her eyes again. "They always keep us separated to avoid, well, any problems. I guess they think we won't live long enough to be a problem anymore."

1800 hours/Washington DC

Admiral Bradley Walters watched as General 'KJ' Foxx prepared for the evening briefing. 'Twice a day briefings have become the norm anymore. Not that these politicians solve more problems this way. They just get to find out how their plans didn't work out more frequently.'
"This display shows the current situation on Victoria. The alien command hub at Garabay Dome has fallen, and the Eightieth Ukraine has begun securing the dome and the ruins of the Transfer Station. Elements of the Martian Light are now clearing the three domes near Garabay. The alien units have been left in scattered and unsupported groups. It is believed that most of the civilians on Victoria will be evacuated from alien controled areas by the end of the month."
Congressional Chairperson Harland Meyers looked at the display, and then spoke. "Do we have a time frame for withdrawing our troops?"
"Currently there is no time frame for withdrawing from Victoria. When the Q Ships return to the inner system we will be able to look at preparations for a withdrawal and turning over all operations to the Eightieth. Early in March would be the soonest the troops could be withdrawn for resupply and redeployment."
Congressman Meyers nodded as General Foxx changed the display and then continued. "The First and Second Brigades of the Second Marine Division are currently located six light minutes from Hektor with the Pan Euro Third Battle Group, waiting on the FSC ships and troops. They are projected to make landings early on the twenty fourth. Studies are underway to identify landing sites, but the situation there is chaotic and coordination with the Chinese has been non-existent. The Pan Euro has indicated that the warships of the Third Battle Group would be willing to scan the surface to identify the situation and possible landing sites."
Secretary of Defense Adam Richards motioned for General Foxx to stop. "This is all good, but enough with the good news. What is the situation on Titan?"
General Foxx changed the display again, to a section of the surface of Titan. "The situation on Titan is still tenuous. The Recon Battalion and Assault Battalion have been thrown into the line to give the Engineers enough time to construct new perimeter fortifications. This should allow the unit to hold out for a few weeks, giving us time to mobilize additional reinforcements."
Secretary Richards looked at the display for a few moments. "What is the possibility of transferring one of the Second Marine Brigades from the Pan Euro Troopship to one of the Q Ships and transporting it to Titan?"
Bradley watched as General Foxx paused, and then turned to face Secretary Richards. "I would have to check with Admiral Walters and we would have to coordinate with the Pan Euro, but the transfer would be possible. This would complicate the situation on Hektor."
"How 'complicated' would it become?" Congressman Meyers sat forward with some interest on his face. General Foxx paused, and a concerned look appeared on his face.
Secretary Richards sat forward and folded his hands on the table. "What are the current projections for the combat on Hektor, General Foxx?"
General Foxx brought up another display. "The situation is grave. The colony has sustained severe losses. From what we understand the two Chinese units have lost nearly all combat effectiveness and the local reserve units have disintegrated. The aliens have the equivalent of two divisions on the surface. Even with both brigades of the Marine Second Division the aliens will have nearly two to one superiority in numbers. The projections indicate that the civilian population will be killed or controlled before the end of the month. We simply won't have enough troops to prevent it. The combat troops will be able to continue fighting but the aliens will control most of the surface and habitats. The troops will be forced to fight holding actions just to survive."
By the time General Foxx had finished Congressman Meyers jaw was hanging slack and Secretary Richards had sat back in his chair with a deeply concerned look on his face. General Foxx turned back to the display and took a deep breath. "We do not know that all of this information is completely accurate, but there is little possibility of salvaging the situation of Hektor. The civilian portions of the colony will fall by the end of the month."
"Is...is there anything...something..." Congressman Meyers stuttered as he struggled to grasp the situation.
Secretary Richards slowly stood from his seat. "Will the aliens be able to secure facilities that would allow them to identify the rest of the belt colonies?"
"I don't know Honorable Secretary. We cannot rule out that possibility. They will control most of the surface and habitats."
Bradley watched as Secretary Richards turned to face him. "How many colonists could the Q Ship group evacuate from the surface?"
"Most of the survivors, but not all. We don't have accurate numbers to be sure of that. We wouldn't be able to evac any of the Chinese troops if we do." Bradley could feel the chill that was beginning to fall over the room as everyone began to understand what was being discussed.
"Admiral Walters, you will need to divert the Q Ships toward Hektor. We will coordinate with the Euro to see if the Troopship can be moved to Titan, where it can hopefully do some good." Secretary Richards turned to face Congressman Meyers. "We will need to meet with the President this evening to discuss the situation and what will need to be done. Then the FSC and Chinese Embassies will need to be contacted."
The two politicians left and the meeting began to break up. Bradley sat in his seat looking at General Foxx, who stood staring at the display of Hektor. 'I know what he is thinking. Two hundred and sixty years ago the US was the first to use nuclear weapons on a human population. We did it twice. And we are about to do it again.'

February 23rd 0355 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung

Captain Zedong Tan sat at his station and read the transmissions. 'They have ordered the Executive Officer to relieve me from my command. They have also broadcast for the US to withdraw their troops from the surface of Titan in the next eight hours.' Zedong looked at the XO who was also reading the messages displayed on his monitor.
'I don't have long. The US has no ships anywhere near Titan to withdraw those troops, and I have no illusions about what will happen to them if they remain.' Zedong brought up the scans of the surface. 'They might have one chance.' Zedong quickly typed in a message to the Commander of the US soldiers on the surface and then accessed the communications array.
"You need to step away from your station. Bridge Security will escort you to the landing bay for transfer to the Sichuan." Zedong looked up to see the XO and two security members standing by his station. Zedong looked at the message he had typed on his monitor. 'There are thousands of US soldiers risking their lives to save my people. I am going to die whatever I do.' Zedong tapped the screen and saw the message transmit. 'Let it be saving someone.'
Zedong looked back in time to see the Pulse Rifle fire.

0530 hours/Surface of Titan

Staff Sergeant Carl Evans hunkered down in his position as the ground shook from more detonations.
"Whatever crap the Engineers built this out of, it is one tough mother."
Carl looked over at Private Fuentes. "I told them not to spray as much of the construction foam on your side Fuentes, so you had better shut up and start shooting before the aliens knock a hole in it for you." Carl rose up and fired his LAR7 through the cloud of dust the detonations of the alien weapons had churned up. 'Can hardly see a thing and the dust makes the weapon nearly useless. A small alien suit suddenly appeared in the dust spraying fire from its gauss machine gun. Carl saw pieces of the suit shatter or steam as he fired pulse after pulse from the LAR. The alien suit spun about and then disappeared in a large explosion.
"Way to go Sarge, now I can't see a damn thing."
"Shut and shoot! That's an order!" Carl cycled through the filters looking for one that would let him see through the dust. The thermal let him make out some ground formations and the path his and Fuentes' laser pulses cut into the dust, but the alien suits were nearly invisible on thermal. 'At least the construction foam the Engineers built this position out of seems to blind whatever the aliens use for targeting.'
Carl saw tracers flash in front of his position and rocks were thrown into the air. Two more bursts of tracers followed quickly behind. 'That's Chinese fire. They have the left flank, right beside our position.'
"Looks like the aliens found our flank. Corporal Myers, shift fire to FPL."
Carl looked over and saw Myers shift the SLAR to the left and begin firing, aiming the weapon up and then down trying to create a wall of death that any alien advancing past would run into. Carl saw Fuentes shift in his position trying to help cover the area Myers was no longer watching. Another detonation shook the position.
"They may have found the flank Sarge, but they haven't forgotten about us!"
"Then show 'em how much you appreciate it!" Carl saw another two small alien suits flash in front of his position. Carl fired at the trailing unit and saw a gush of steam as the laser vaporized some of its plating, but the alien suit was moving too fast and shot on past. Two more detonations left cracks in the barrier near Carl.
Carl ducked back and looked behind him. "COMING OVER !" Carl saw the two alien suits appear and fly past, then fired the under barrel grenade launcher. The grenade homed in on the trailing suit and turned it into hundreds of pieces of debris. More tracers tore through the air and sent the lead alien suit spinning a moment after it had launched the last rockets off its hull. Detonations sent geysers of dust up from over the rise behind Carl's position.
'We can't keep them all out. There just aren't enough of us. Command ordered that we move into the Chinese construction area and pass through the Chinese lines, but we are getting torn apart during this move. If it wasn't for the Cyborg Assault Battalion holding the old perimeter, and these positions the engineers made, we would all be dead. The Chinese are providing what support they can, but they can't put much more than a platoon on line at a time.'
"OGRE ! ONE O'CLOCK !" Carl heard Fuentes screaming in the radio.
"DISPLACE ! FALL BACK TO SECONDARY POSITION !" Carl fired his jump jets and used the maneuver pack to spin his Shiloh Armor as he did so. Even as he fired the braking thrusters and aimed himself toward the ground, Carl saw their position torn apart by a gout of blue-white hot plasma. Carl fired his last grenade at the large alien suit as it came through the flame and saw the 40mm round detonate. The alien suit shifted violently and then began firing both of its machine guns as several rockets launched. Carl dropped into the gully he had aimed for. 'Without our ships in orbit, we have no idea what is coming at us!'
Carl heard rapid detonations and risked a look over the edge of gully. The Ogre was falling back with white smoke rolling out of it as a Chinese Power Armor suit emptied its shoulder mounted cannon into the monster. Carl aimed and fired at the large suit as it disappeared into the dust. "Get ready, the aliens will be coming through that hole any second!"
Carl's display filters cut out for a second and then came back on line. The brown haze had gone from midnight dark to brightly lit. The entire area glowed with an indistinct light.
"What in the hell is going on Sarge?!" Carl heard Fuentes but couldn't answer, transfixed by the sight on his thermal filter in front of him.
Two Chinese habitats had marked the edge of the Fourth Brigade's 'northern' perimeter. They had always been visible on thermal as the plumes of heat from them rose through the frigid atmosphere of Titan.
Those plumes had now been replaced by mushroom clouds.
...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 Sun 18 Sep 2011 01:43

February 2205 part 17

February 23rd 0910 hours/Washington DC

Admiral Bradley Walters moved to his seat. 'The talk with the President must have run late last night for them to have postponed the meeting this morning. The Intel folks are already having a good old time with the comm traffic right now. It is no secret what was decided. The rest of the world is already talking about it. The fact that the Chinese have already done this to their own colony may help our folks with the PR, but the public world wide is going nuts.'
Bradley watched as General Foxx brought up another display. "This display shows the current positions of the Fourth Brigade of the Martian Light and the three Battalions of the Second Marine. The passage of lines has been completed. The new perimeter around the Chinese complex has been secured." General Foxx enlarged sections of the display. "With the Chinese announcement that we may no longer occupy the space near Saturn, current scans of the surface are unavailable. We do have confirmation from our troops that these locations," General Foxx highlighted four areas, "were subject to nuclear detonations. Each is both a habitat and a known or suspected alien troop or supply concentration. Seismic sensors with the Engineers have also detected what could be three other detonations, but this can not be confirmed at the moment."
General Foxx turned from the display to the group assembled in the room. "What can be confirmed is that it seems to have worked. Alien forces on the surface of Titan seem to have been severely impacted. Attacks on the US perimeter have nearly stopped. Those contacts which have occurred have been probes, not attacks in strength. The 2nd Marine Recon Battalion has begun patrols and sweeps up to one hundred klicks from the perimeter and have met only light resistance. With the current combat intensity the troops on Titan should be able to hold out indefinitely."
Secretary of Defense Adam Richards sat forward and looked at the display. "Has there been any further communication from the Chinese warships located at Titan, or from the Chinese forces there?"
General Foxx turned to face Secretary Richards. "None since the first contradictory transmissions. The first transmission declaring that we needed to remove out troops from the moon, and the second that we were to redeploy to the complex area. The Chinese personnel and soldiers at the complex have provided assistance to our troops, but have declared some areas off limits for our personnel. There have been no further demands that we evacuate the moon. In fact attempts to contact the Chinese ships have been unsuccessful."
Congressional Chairperson Harland Meyers cut in. "Has there been any indication as to the number of civilian casualties the Chinese strikes caused?"
"We have no information on the collateral damage from the strikes. The reported locations would indicate that casualties could have been substantial, but the Chinese may have been able to evacuate those areas or perhaps they had already been secured by the aliens and few civilians were present. We have no way to know at this time." General Foxx switched the display off. "Unless there are further questions that concludes my portion of this briefing."
"Thank you General. Admiral Walters, will you begin?" Secretary Richards sat tapping at the pad he always seemed to carry with him as he spoke.
Bradley moved to the front of the room, but left the display blank. 'I wonder how long it will take him to notice that I don't have any displays up for him.'
"First is the current disposition of our ships. The four Q Ships have acknowledged their new orders and have changed course. They will rendezvous with the two FSC ships at zero two hundred on the twenty fourth. The group will then proceed to Hektor to begin the evacuation. We have received transmissions from the FSC ship Mary Reed that the colonists have been notified and are beginning preparations for the evacuation. The FSC ship has also notified us that they intend to deploy their troops to secure the landing zones, and then will assist in the evacuation."
Secretary Richards looked up. "They have made no statement on the intended action at Hektor?"
A young woman held up her hand from the far side of the table. "Sir, we received notice fifteen minutes ago of a statement from the FSC embassy. They have formally protested the use of drive detonations over the troop concentrations and habitats on Hektor. They intend to demand reparations for any damage that may be caused should we pursue this course of action."
Congressman Meyers turned towards the woman. "No mention of war in the statement?"
"None sir."
Secretary Richards began tapping at the pad again. "Thank you. Please continue Admiral Walters."
Admiral Walters looked at the two politicians and was glad there was no expression on his face for them to see. "I have issued orders for the Sai to divert from its current course and join the Pan Euro Third Battle Group. This will provide additional security for our troops on the Pan Euro Troopship should the situation with the Chinese at Titan become a problem. It will also allow us to get current scans of the surface situation and accurate assessments of the Chinese strikes. I have contacted Admiral Muldoon of the Pan Euro concerning possible support from the Red October, but the Pan Euro Admiral declined to change the current orders of the Red October. The Red October will proceed toward Victoria."
"Do you believe the Chinese will permit the landing of additional US troops on Titan?"
Bradley looked at Congressman Meyers. 'Surprising to hear you ask that.' "I have no idea if the Chinese will oppose additional landings. With the information from General Foxx, it appears additional troops may be unnecessary."
"Thank you, that will be enough for now. We will see you all again at six PM." Secretary Richards finished tapping on the small pad, stood, and left the room.
Bradley watched as the room emptied until just he and General Foxx remained. Bradley watched as the General approached him.
"You weren't finished. They just hear what they want. I remember what you briefed about withdrawing the troops from Victoria if it became necessary. Do you think you can get ten times that many civilians off of Hektor?" General Foxx tapped at the display controls and brought up the last scans of Hektor. "There are twice as many alien troops on the ground there as what you would have faced on Victoria."
Bradley stared at the display. "The troops will be a problem, but at least we know about them. If the colonists can get processed for the evac, our landers could pull them out in a couple of hours. We will lose some of the landers though. The real problem is what we don't know. It is going to take time to get this done and the alien troops are going to see it. If they have more ships nearby...." Bradley looked at the display again. "We will have four ships there, and the FSC will have two. But not one of them was originally designed as a warship. Two of the alien ships took out most of Task Force Two, and those were the best ships we have."
Bradley could see General Foxx nodding as he looked at the display.

1250 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue rubbed at her temples and tried to massage away the headache. 'This just never ends. We don't even get any rest when we aren't out fighting.' Li looked up at the three women standing in line waiting on her. Li tried to smile but it made the headache worse.
"Sit here. This will take a moment." The woman just stared at her. 'None of them understand me.' Li pointed at the chair.
Li could see the young woman was shivering as she pulled herself into the chair. Li strapped on the velcro restraints to keep her from drifting and then wrapped the rubber strap around the woman's arm. Li could feel her shaking as she took the woman's arm and rubbed one of the alcohol soaked cotton balls on her wrist. Li pulled another IV needle from the dispenser beside her and slid it into a vein and then taped it down. Li hooked it to one of the bags of fluid floating in the rack, tied the rubber strap around it to force the fluid through the line, and then undid the straps. Li handed the woman the bag and pointed toward the next station where Kei and a nurse were drawing up and administering meds.
'At least they are asleep by the time they get to the next room. Kwang told me what he had to do in there. They take them and cut all the clothes away, stuff them in body bags, and pack them into one of the lift containers to chill them for transport. They don't have much air in the bag, but chilled it should last them long enough to get to Earth. The container is pressurized, but even one hole from an alien weapon and everyone packed in it will die.'
Li looked at the next colonist, a young man doing his best to look brave. Li pointed at the chair.
'We have to get as many as we can ready in the next twenty four hours so they can be pulled off this rock. We, on the other hand, will get to stay a little longer and enjoy the fireworks when the US nukes the surface.' Li strapped him into the chair, took the man's arm and snapped a rubber strap around it. She looked up at him for a moment and saw him flinch from her gaze. 'I must look frightful right now. Would you look so brave if you knew what I know.'
Li prepped his arm and stuck the needle in. 'I asked Ling what would happen when we reached the capacity limit of the US and FSC ships and stopped getting colonists prepped for transport. Ling just shook her head and said they would all be prepped. Those that can't be evac'd will just be placed in spare containers. Then I asked her how in the hell we were supposed to get those containers out of the habitats before the missiles fell.'
Li hooked up the IV to a bag of fluid, undid the velcro and pointed back toward Kei. She watched the man pull himself down the rail toward the next station. 'Ling said we weren't going to move you if you couldn't be evac'd.'

1800 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 18 light minutes from Hektor

Commodore Stephan Vasilikos looked at the course plot on his monitor. 'It will take us five days to reach Victoria at present speed. From what we have picked up the US ships will arrive to evac the colonists from Hektor in about fourteen hours.' Stephan tapped at the keys on his armrest and watched as new lines and numbers appeared on his monitor. 'This says it will only take us eighteen hours to reach Hektor. If we bump the drive output just a little...' Stephan tapped at the keys again and the numbers changed. '...it looks like a little side trip will only put us behind schedule by seven hours, plus whatever time it takes to pull the colonists off that colony.'
Stephan pulled up the sensor returns. 'The Sai is long gone, and the returns are clear. No one to tattle on us if we make a little side trip. Brenna's probably going to sack me fairly soon so I should get these sightseeing trips in while I have the chance. Victoria should be safe for the few extra hours we will take getting there. It may be quite a while till I get the chance to come out here again. Assuming Brenna doesn't just have me barred from space flight completely.'
Stephan tapped at the keys and transferred the new navigation data. "Helm, implement new course plots." Stephan opened the intercom. "All hands, lock stations for course adjustments, then stand down. We will go to General Quarters in eight hours so get anything you need done finished before then."
Stephan turned off the intercom and locked his station. 'Let's hope we don't meet anything out here. With only eight missiles left on board we aren't up for much of a fight.'
...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 19 Sep 2011 02:49

February 2205 part 18

February 24th 0215 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 4 light minutes from Hektor

"Incoming transmission. Forwarding to your station."
The Dutchman looked at the message as it displayed on his monitor. 'We are a few minutes late, but at least the US ships are here. Without them there would be no evacuation. I don't like the idea of them nuking the domes on Hektor, but if the aliens can actually get into our computer networks...'
"Communications, let them know we will engage drives for Hektor in five minutes. Ask if they would be willing to coordinate general quarters rotations. Also inform them that we carry power armor troops and our current acceleration limits. Let them know we will begin landings in ten hours. They may begin evacuation operations after we have completed troop deployment. Also forward the confirmation from the acting governor of Hektor that the civilian population will be ready for evac in seven hours. We anticipate evac to take between two and four hours depending on landing conditions and alien troop resistance."
The Dutchman waited as the message crossed the void between the ships. 'I'm sure they have intercepted the transmissions from Hektor, but it never hurts to make sure. Comm here in the belt can be inconsistent at times.'
"Dutchman, new contact. Bearing two two three, range four light seconds. Velocity of three two seven five kilometers per second. Aspect change on contact. Coming about on intercept course. Magnetic field deployment detected on contact. Magnetic field deployed on two of the US Q Ships."
"BATTLE STATIONS. Get me firing solutions on line. Engineering, magnetic fields on line. Prep the particle accelerators and prepare to vent cargo and passenger sections." The Dutchman pulled up the sensor returns as he gave orders. 'Four light seconds. Too close. We will never be able to come up to speed. We will have to vent the troops if this comes to a fight.'
"New transmission. Coming in on tightbeam laser. Contact identifies itself as Pan Euro Vessel Red October. Requesting permission to accompany evacuation convoy."
The Dutchman paused as he listened to the Comm Officer. "Sensor Conn, can you confirm contact identity?"
The bridge was silent for long moments until the Sensor Officer spoke. "Lidar return confirms contact identity. Pan Euro Science Vessel Red October. Magnetic fields have dropped on the US ships."
The Dutchman sat for a moment. 'There was no word from the Pan Euro that this ship would be assisting the evacuation. This is the second time in a month that ship has shown up out of nowhere. Last time it wasn't such a good omen. Let us hope our luck has changed.' "Communications, grant the Pan Euro ship permission to enter FSC space near Hektor. Tell them to knock before showing up next time."

0400 hours/Interceptor Mk III, 24 light minutes from Saturn

'Now what? We get there and enjoy the view?'
Rear Admiral Jack Ryan looked at the message on the display. 'The Chinese Embassy sent another message indicating that the space near Saturn was closed and that no further landings would be permitted. Nothing else. It looks like the State Department is trying to resolve how we will resupply our troops or withdraw them from the surface, but the Chinese aren't being particularly helpful. This is not going to help the situation on Triton or Hektor. Even Earth for that matter.'
Jack pulled up the plots of space near Saturn. 'We are supposed to keep at least one light minute out.' Jack began to sort through the plot of Saturn's moons and their current positions. 'Phoebe is a little inside that line, but is large enough to hide this group if we need to. We will just have to snuggle up close to it. Might not be a bad idea to see if the Euro wants to land that Troopship on it. The rest of the rocks any farther out are just too small.' Jack tapped at the controls on his armrest and began a course plot that would bring them to Saturn with Phoebe between the group and Titan. 'If they are patrolling the space near Saturn we could be in some hot water. Hopefully the Chinese are just parked near Titan. Our last trip out here involved enough fighting; I am in no hurry to get into another shooting match.' Jack finished the calculations and sent them to the Helm and Comm stations. "Helm, implement new course plot. Comm, transmit the new course to Command on Earth and to the Pan Euro Third Battle Group. Forward a copy of the Chinese ultimatum to the Third also. They might not be so excited about getting this close to Saturn. Forward any replies to my station."
'The Chinese are up to something. What the hell is it?'

0830 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po looked at the reports from the Captain of the Sichuan. "Captain Zedong Tan's death will only solve one small problem. His transmission ordering the US troops to move closer to the underground complex has made it impossible for the Zhuang to lift off unobserved. The US appears to be ignorant of its existence there. The question before us is whether to order the ship to depart from Titan and allow the US to learn of its presence. The US has maintained close relations with the FSC up to this point and could easily pass on this information to warships of our enemy." Po paused as the assembled Ministers mumbled.
"We are still at war. No peace has been signed with the FSC. The cease fire on Hektor is only that, a localized cease fire. The FSC colony at Hektor is still close to Saturn and FSC warships may yet lurk near that area. They would easily be able to intercept this valuable asset if it were to leave Saturn at this time. But if the US carries through with its bombardment of the FSC colony the relations between those powers may become much more strained. I would counsel patience. We should wait to see the results of the US actions, and then make our decisions."
Minister Khoh stood. "This is of little importance. The Zhuang is safe where it is. The US troops would not dare to attack it, and any FSC ship approaching Titan would be destroyed by the three missile ships stationed there. There is no intention to move those ships that has been put before the Ministry. We will not move the Zhuang, either. We must address the issue of our soldiers on the FSC colony." Khoh slammed his fist on the desk he stood behind. "The US intends to evacuate the entire civilian population on the colony. They have announced that they intend to bombard the surface to exterminate the alien presence there. We need to issue an immediate statement that any attacks directed on our troops on Hektor will be answered with the extermination of the US troops on our colony at Saturn. We also need to issue orders for our troops in the Twenty Third and Sixteenth to withdraw from any alien or colonist positions to ensure that the US can not claim an 'inadvertent attack'. The FSC will simply have to secure its own populations and landing areas. And if the US relents of its intentions, our troops will be trapped on that rock with a vastly superior alien force!"
Po looked at Minister Khoh and tried to control himself. "You speak out of turn. We must move carefully not to create another enemy in this war. Or here in this assembly."
Po turned back to face the assembled minister to find most already talking, and the assembly quickly disintegrating into arguments and shouting matches between the various factions. Po shook his head. 'This is deteriorating far too quickly. We must resolve this or it will undo us.'

1120 hours/Assault Vessel, 30 light minutes from Saturn

The Commander of Fleets felt the approaching ships. 'The Combat Vessels and Hive Vessels have arrived. It is time to begin the next phase of this operation.' The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station. Moments later the drive engaged and the large ship moved into formation with the two Combat Vessels and the group turned to change its course.
'The Strike Groups are in position and only await the orders to attack. Soon this group will reach the great ringed planet, and this race will fear us again."
...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 20 Sep 2011 03:11

February 2205 part 19

February 24th 1145 hours/Surface of Titan

Li Xue tried to steady her breathing. 'We aren't going to fall back this time. No running when they start returning fire.' Li focused on the dome schematics on her HUD. 'We will have to take and hold the upper landing pad to give the US shuttle someplace to land. Then we will have to hold it. Ling said she heard from the Company Commander that our troopship was due to arrive in forty hours, and that most of the other units had already withdrawn from the domes.'
Li looked at the FSC reservists with her. She could see them through the faceplates of their helmets. Young men and women. Faces slick with sweat. Streaked with dust and grime. Pale with fear. 'They could have been packed for evac. They choose to stay. Knew that if we didn't have enough suits to take and hold the landing pad that no one was going home. They will probably die in the next few minutes. Even if they don't, their armored EVA suits won't be able to clear the blast zones of the US missiles.' Li felt her power armor shake slightly from a detonation somewhere nearby and focused on her HUD again. 'That was one of the alien's big suits taking out a wall again. There has to be one of them close. Maybe more than one.'
Li's radio crackled to life. It was Ling. "We move in thirty seconds. Confirm." Li keyed her radio on. "Confirm Platoon Leader." Li heard Kei and Kwang both reply as she looked at the schematics one last time, then turned them off. Then she heard Kwang on the radio again. "Up for one more game of racquetball after we get off this rock?"
"Sure." Li took a deep breath and slowly let it out as she switched on the weapon optics of her Type 15 and watched the timer on her HUD count down.
For a heartbeat Li could see Kwang following her in the glass of the racquetball court. See Mae and Jeng down on the court smiling.
'When this is all over the four of us will get together for a rematch.'
Li's counter flashed 'ZERO' and the breaching charge blew the hatch below the pad.

1202 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 50,000 kilometers from Hektor

Captain Scott Moreland watched the sensor returns as the FSC ship descended toward the surface of Hektor. Clouds of debris swirled around the huge asteroid. Then like a rock hitting the surface of a pond the debris splashed away from the shields of the Mary Reed and out into space. Seconds later the shields shut down as the ship closed with the surface.
'And now the pond will strike back.' Scott watched the sensors try to track the enormous hail of ordinance as the alien ground units threw everything they could at the FSC ship while it descended. Scott switched to the external visual feed and panned the camera. Even without the light enhancing filters the Mary Reed was visible. Blue-white lances of flames shot out from the maneuver thrusters and orange flames crawled across its surface as enemy weapons detonated against the ship.
"Captain, report from the ground site. Dome Seven, Transfer Pad Three secured. Ready for landing." Scott looked up from the monitor as the Comm Officer spoke.
"Launch GTOS."
Scott switched his monitor back to the sensor returns. 'The aliens are going to hear what is going on. For the next few hours we will be sitting ducks.'
"Engineering, shields on line. Comm, transmit to all Q Ships. Shields online. All ships to general quarters." No sense hiding. They know we are here. If they show up, we need to be ready.

1205 hours/GTOS 22, Surface of Hektor

"Vigilance, this is GTOS 22. We have touch down. Again, GTOS 22, touch down. Beginning loading operations."
Ensign Tom Hudson looked out the viewing port in front of him. The black sky was criss-crossed with tracers and the streaks of missiles. A flash lit up the side of the dome and the Ground to Orbit Shuttle shook slightly. "Jesus Ed. What the hell are we doing?"
Tom looked over at the co-pilot, Midshipman Ed Fairchild, who was unlocking his station and getting up. "I don't know about you but I'm going to try and take a better look." Tom watched as Ed pushed off and drifted up to the viewing port.
Tom turned on the external camera and saw over a dozen heavy EVA suits amid the wreckage of the dome near the pad. Scattered among them were several large Chinese Power Armor Suits. Fire sprouted from weapons and tracers streaked out. Tom saw they were near the loading ramp and that the first of the evac containers was being brought out on the bed of a large 'crawler'. Tom saw one of the EVA suits sent spinning as something detonated in the wreckage. Seconds later the suit was torn apart as hundreds of small impacts from alien weapons shredded it. Two more EVA suits began to vent as they were also hit. Seconds later one of the power armor suits crumpled into the wreckage, the soldier inside obviously wounded or dead. Then the lander shook as the feed from the external camera cut out.
"Shit, I think we got hit." Tom saw Ed looking back at him.
Tom unlocked his station and grabbed the SMLR-8 at the rear of the cockpit.
"Stay here Ed. We need somebody in here that can fly this crate, but those folks outside need a hand."

1215 hours/Patrol Vessel 13, 6 light minutes from Hektor

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 13 went through the transmissions from the ground units on the enemy colony. 'The native race is obviously attempting to evacuate the last of their population from the surface.' The Commander thought for a moment. 'If they are successful in removing the last of their populations, they will have no reason to place warships near the colony. It will take them some time to complete the evacuation, but far less than what the Commander of Fleets has directed for us to wait.'
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 13 altered the field at his station and issued orders to the Strike Group, then sent transmissions to both the Commander of Fleets and the other Strike Group. 'It is not yet time, but there is no choice. If the operation is to achieve its objectives we will need to act.' The Commander issued the orders to engage the drive of Patrol Vessel 13 for maximum combat acceleration and could feel through the sensors as the other vessels of the Strike Group engaged their drives.
'Whatever awaits us, the time has arrived for action.'
...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 04 Oct 2011 02:12

February 2205 part 20

February 24th 1217 hours/Surface of Hektor

Ensign Tom Hudson looked back and saw the crawler pull out of the bay on GTOS 22. The outside of the crawler had several holes in it, and one of the windows was splattered with residue from blood. Tom turned back just in time to see an alien Gremlin suit explode in front of him as a burst of tracer fire slammed into it. Tom checked the heat level on the SMLR-8 and swung up on another small suit that had appeared from the wreckage of the dome below him. He watched as parts of the alien suit's exterior shattered away as his laser painted it again and again. Two rockets broke free from the outside of the suit only to detonate on the surface of the dome a short distance from the Gremlin as the alien suit broke apart.
"That was the last of the pods Ed. The crawler is clear. Get the hell out of here."
Tom heard his co-pilot Midshipman Ed Fairchild on the radio moments later. "You need to get your ass on this boat now Tom. If you think I'm ferrying two thousand busy body colonists off this rock and leaving you behind, you are sorely mistaken. I'm pretty sure you owe me money and this is one lousy way to get out of it."
"You can pick me up on the next run. If I don't stay put there won't be a pad left to land on. I say again, Pod Eight is on board and the crawler is clear. Get the ramp up and get out of here NOW ! THAT'S AN ORDER !"
The radio was silent for several moments. "You be waiting with bells on when I get back. You hear me Tom."
"I'm not going anywhere Ed. Now get out of here."
Tom turned just long enough to see the thrusters’ fire and GTOS 22 rocket away from the surface. As he turned back he could see two of the huge alien suits coming out of the wreckage below him and then unleash a torrent of rockets toward the lander as their gauss machine guns sprayed death across the wreckage.

1219 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue felt her left arm go numb even as she emptied the cassette of 23mm rounds into the huge alien suit. The alien monster shuddered as some internal explosion shook it, and then disappeared as another explosion tore it apart. Li watched as half of the rockets veered wildly while the rest from the second suit arced up toward the departing US lifter and then detonated against its hull. The lifter shuddered but continued on. Li crouched down as she ejected the empty cassette and tried to pull another from the bracket on her suit.
'This isn't good.' Li looked at her left arm and tried to will it to bend farther. Tried to get the fingers to do what she wanted. 'Firing this cannon with one hand is hard enough. Loading it with only one hand is almost impossible.'
Li felt a slight jostle and looked around to see that a cyborg had moved behind her and had pulled one of the cassettes from her suit's mounts. She watched as the cyborg struggled to get the ammunition into the Type 15, and then saw the red indicator on her HUD turn green as the cassette snapped in place. Li looked for the other large alien suit but it had disappeared back into the wreckage of the dome below the pad.
"Not so brave with all your rockets gone."
"Hey Li, looks like you have a new friend. Are you alright?" Li heard Kwang's voice on her radio, the Chinese a stark contrast to the constant gibberish of the FSC soldiers.
"My left arm is hit. Can't move it too well, but at least it is numb." Li struggled to move her arm again and suddenly pain shot through her shoulder. 'Most of the time that is.'
"Position report." Li heard Platoon Leader Ling Song this time.
"Position One secure." Li tried to sound more confident than she felt. 'I've got twelve rounds left for my Type 15, two rounds for my shoulder mount, and a full load for the 6.5mm Pulse Rifle. One more good push from the aliens and my position is history. Even with this cyborg's help.'
"Oh no." Li heard Kwang on the radio and looked up. In the distance she could see that another lifter had taken off from a nearby dome. Gas vented from over a dozen places as rockets detonated across the surface of its hull. The lifter began to rotate in a flat spin, then lost control and plummeted back to the surface. Rock and dust geysered thousands of meters into the black sky as the large ship disintegrated.
Li heard Kei on the radio. "How many colonists are in a load for a lifter?"
"Two thousand."
Li could hear herself speak, but it sounded like another person.
One that had nothing in common with the terror she felt inside.

1221 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, one half light second from Hektor

Commodore Stephan Vasilikos watched the sensor returns as first one, and then a second US lifter was destroyed shortly after lift off. He could feel a growing dread as he watched the two surviving lifters land onto their ships, and then minutes later as those two US Q Ships began to maneuver for landings on the surface. Stephan watched as the ships plunged through the alien ground fire to make combat landings near the evac sites.
'This is bad. Those ships took horrible damage in the combat landings when they unloaded soldiers in a matter of minutes. This is going to take hours. And with colonists on board those ships they won't be able to lift off and make combat acceleration without venting all their passengers. They will be sitting ducks. Trapped on the surface. No shields and nowhere to hide.'
Stephan looked at the sensor returns on his monitor. 'The only ships left that can engage drives and have their shields up are the tiny FSC ship, two US Q Ships, and the Red October. And Red only has eight missiles left in her magazines.'
'If the aliens ever needed a reason to show up, they have got one now.'

1245 hours/Washington, DC

Admiral Bradley Walters sat in his padded seat. The entire staff of the meeting was silent as death. 'Everyone’s' attention is riveted on the sound of the transmissions from Hektor. All of them twenty eight minutes old.'
Bradley listened as the report came in of the loss of two GTOS lifters. Then Captain Moreland's orders for the Vigilance and Steadfast to land and continue evac operations from the surface. More orders for the remaining two Q Ships to maintain an orbit at one half light second from Hektor along with the Pan Euro and FSC ships.
The silence in the room was broken by Secretary of Defense Adam Richards. "The evac by shuttle was projected to take eighty minutes. How long will a surface evacuation take?"
Bradley could hear a few hushed voices and the sound of keyboards rapidly tapping. Then a hesitant voice.
"If they can hold the evac zones, it will take approximately six hours to load the Vigilance and Steadfast. Then it will take six more hours to load the remaining two Q Ships."
The room was quiet for several minutes as the sound of the transmissions droned on in the dull monotone of the cyborg crews. Reports of damage from ground fire. Damage control crews responding. Security details moving to secure the loading bays.
"Admiral Walters, can those Q Ships hold out on the surface for six hours?" The tremor in Secretary Richards voice stood out in stark contrast to the voices of the cyborgs.
Bradley sat for a moment and considered the question. "To be honest Honorable Secretary, I just don't know. They weren't designed for this, and we have too little data to know."
Several more minutes of silence followed as the reports continued to pour in from the distant ships.
"Admiral Walters, we will have to consider the possibility that the evacuation will not be possible. We may need to consider other alternatives."
...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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