March 2205

Procyon's family campaign

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March 2205

Postby procyon on Mon 16 Apr 2012 02:40

March 2205 part 1

March 1st 0330 hours/Assault Vessel, 55 light minutes from Sol

The Commander of Fleets manipulated the fields around him. The Light Support Vessel would be finished unloading its supplies quickly, and begin the move toward the New Homes again. New bombers and torpedoes had been loaded into the Assault Vessel and the Combat Vessels. One of the Strike Groups had already completed its resupply operations while the second would meet the third Light Support Vessel soon. The Commander of Fleets checked on the status of the repairs to the Combat Vessels. 'Both Combat Vessels have sustained substantial damage, but proper repairs will not be possible until the current offensive is complete. The damage to Combat Vessel 7 is too great for it to continue in direct combat with the enemy, and it is too valuable to risk its loss.' The Commander of Fleets reviewed the current fleet roster. 'Even if having Combat Vessel 7 retire from combat will make the looming operation more difficult. But it could fulfill another role that will assist the offensive.'
The Commander altered the fields at his station and accessed the data that had been forwarded from the ground forces that were even now trying to consolidate their hold on the enemy colony. Nearly all organized resistance had ceased and the ground forces had seized vast amounts of the native race's equipment. The Commander then accessed the data that was being forwarded by the combat forces fighting on New Home 3. There was little hope of liberating the population of New Home 3, but the data that had been amassed there on the enemy was vast. But the most important data was the knowledge the Commander had never wanted to believe. 'The terrible rumor has proved true. The native race has found a way to monitor and understand our communication. But with the data being amassed, they will find that this can now be used against them. The data from the captured colony will be deciphered.'
The Commander closed the connection to the data, altered the fields again, and the communications array responded. The Commander of Fleets began to compose orders for transmission. 'The native race has been dealt a blow. They know we are a threat. And they are even now attempting to counter what we have done. They will be consolidating their strength and protecting their most valuable assets. They will attempt to stop this offensive and thwart our plans.'
The Commander changed the field and the orders sped out across the void to the distant ships of the Strike Groups. 'We must strike the enemy where they are not prepared. They are still too strong for an open confrontation. We will give them more reasons to fear this group, and we will continue to bleed them. The time for the kill has not arrived. But soon enough it will.'
The Commander of Fleets sensed as the Light Support Vessel broke the docking link and began to pull away from the Assault Vessel. 'Soon.'

0615 hour/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po picked up the papers on the podium and shuffled them idly. 'The Ministry has been assembled in this chamber for the last fifteen hours. 'The discussions have been heated, to say the least. Not all agree with the current direction we will take. Least of all Minister Khoh and his group.' Po looked out at the desks and chairs arranged through the room. Only a half dozen Ministers remained. None of them belonged to Khoh's faction.
Po looked up as Minister Liu moved from his seat and approached the podium. Po waited as the older man made his way slowly down the aisle. 'The long hours of these meetings are hard on the old man. But he has power here, and he supports my faction. I must do what I can to keep his favor.' As the old man reached the podium Po reached out a hand to help the old man with the tall step onto the raised area at the center of the room. "Minister Liu, how may I help you?"
Minister Liu cleared his throat and took a small sip from the glass he carried with him. "Minister Po, how long do we believe that the US and Pan Euro ships will remain away from Earth?"
Po could smell that the glass did not contain water, but focused on the pile of papers. He thumbed through them, and then pulled one from the stack. "Given the heading and message traffic we have monitored, it is believed that they are heading toward either Mars or the Pan Euro colony on Victoria. If it is Mars they will be gone for at least 2 days. If it is Victoria it may be close to a week. To that we can add any time they spend at those locations. Assuming they mean to return."
Liu reached out and gently took the paper from Po. Po let him look over the paper for several minutes, trying to conceal his growing impatience. Finally the old man spoke. "We will need to hope that they will take a great deal of time to return. An early return could lead to an escalation of our war with the South Seas nations. If the Euro or US were to side with them, we could be undone. This is a blatant violation of our treaties."
Po took a deep breath and composed himself. 'We have gone over this many times in the last few hours. What is the old man hoping to discuss that we have not already covered?' Po looked at the old man. "Minister Liu, it is necessary. We must defend ourselves. That is obvious to all. The aliens have come to the inner system to wage war. We must protect ourselves. But we cannot move the ships stationed at Venus. They must continue to protect the construction there. So other steps must be taken. The other nations will not realize what has occurred until it is far to late. They will not risk war here on Earth with the alien threat so near and strong."
Po watched as Liu handed the paper back to him. The old man took another sip from the glass he carried and then looked Po in the eyes. "Be that as it may, our enemies have many other eyes that could see what happens. We cannot forget the occurrences of the past months and years. Our borders are not as secure as we hope."
Po knew that had been a quietly skirted issue during the debate that had taken place. No one had openly wished to point out the number of times that even the highest levels of security had been violated. The investigations would inevitably lead to the Ministry, even if there was no leak here. 'I am willing to bet that all of the Ministers have no wish to be investigated. Our very profession here leads one to tread in places and deal in things that should not be uncovered.' Po thought for a moment. "Minister Liu, this is true. But we must spend our time working to prevent those eyes from finding anything, and not simply worrying about them. Inaction now may cost us everything."
Po looked back into Liu's eyes and waited. He could see the old man weighing the alternatives. Then Liu spoke one last time. "You shall have my support, as always. Let us hope that our new path does not lead to our destruction."
Po bowed slightly to the old man, who returned the gesture. Po then watched the old man move toward the exit, followed by most of the Ministers remaining. Po rested against the podium heavily. Po looked at the papers, then picked them up. On top of the pile was the measure that had been drafted and agreed upon. The one that had caused so much strain and debate. 'This is no less than a declaration of war by the current treaties. Let us hope the other nations do not take it to that extreme. The Pax Treaty limits the Chinese Empire to ten ground based launchers capable of deploying missiles with nuclear flare drives. The same number that the Pan Euro and US possess. There is no provision to allow the deployment of laser batteries capable of targeting objects beyond orbit at all. And by the end of this month we will have completed construction of five new sites, each with a single launch platform and a pair of heavy laser batteries.'
"Aid, please take these papers and dispose of them." Po didn't even look at the young man that quickly moved to the podium and took the papers away.

0645 hours/Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters knew this would be coming. 'It's going to take time to sell the politicians on this plan. If it is even possible to sell them on it.' Bradley looked at Congressman Harland Meyers. His face was red and the man was obviously very upset. But even Secretary Adam Richards wore a dark look on his face. 'That is not an understanding, inquisitive look. That is the look that I have almost no chance to get this done.'
"Congressman Meyers, I believe I was clear in what I stated. The proposal from Pan European Admiral Brenna Muldoon is that US Task Force One pull away from Mars, to a distance of no less than one light minute. Preferably to the nearest edge of the asteroid belt. The Pan Euro Battle Groups will join Task Force One at the location we designate."
Congressman Meyers got even redder. "WHY?!" Meyers stood up from his chair. "WHAT CAN SHE HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?!!"
Bradley stared at the Congressman as he stood beside the table. "If you will sit down I will continue." Moments passed. Bradley watched as the Congressman slowly sat down, the color fading slightly.
"You can talk all you want. There is no way I will approve leaving millions of colonists and our only space works undefended. Even if I did there is no way the old man will approve this." Meyers looked over at Secretary Richards. "Don't you agree?"
Secretary Richards sat in silence, the dark look on his face softening slightly. "Continue with your part of the briefing, Admiral Walters. But I tend to agree with the Honorable Congressman."
Bradley moved to the side of the display. "Admiral Muldoon has proposed that we pull back from Mars with all of our forces, other than the stationary defenses and the Q Ships. Our Interceptors and the Euro Battle Groups will move to a location where they will hopefully escape alien detection. Admiral Muldoon believes that Mars will be the next target of the aliens. I agree with this assessment of the current situation."
"If they are the next target, why are we pulling back our ships?" Bradley could see the color creeping back into Congressman Meyers face.
"The intention is to provide the appearance that we have deployed our ships here, at Earth. The aliens would have to approach very closely to confirm any deployments here, placing their forces in jeopardy. This would be the logical location to create a stand. The alien forces we know of have little chance of defeating our ships and the ground based defenses here at Earth. But this would leave our other colonies vulnerable. If the aliens attack Mars and find it poorly defended, they may attempt another landing."
This time it was Secretary Richards that interrupted. "They have already seized the Euro belt colony on Victoria and sterilized the FSC colony on Hector. We want them to attempt the same thing on an even larger population with only token opposition?"
Bradley turned to face Secretary Richards. "We need them to think they have the chance. We need them to commit their forces to an offensive there. It will take the alien ships time to secure the space around Mars. The two Defense Stations, Mars Station, and two Q Ships will take time to reduce. The landings will take even longer. They will need to commit bombers to clearing landing zones and then place troopships on the surface. The attack will take hours to complete. Hours that they will be pinned to a single location. A location that we will be able to respond to rapidly. It is Admiral Muldoon's and my belief that we can decisively engage the aliens with the two Pan Euro Battle Groups supported by Task Force One. A decisive engagement at Mars could end the threat of the alien warships operating in the inner system and prevent an attack on the Earth itself." Bradley paused and waited. It was said. Now they would ask the one question he didn't have an answer for.
It was Secretary Richards who spoke first. "And why do you believe that the aliens will not simply destroy the entire population on Mars after they have reduced the defenses? And then move on to another target?"
Bradley held up his arms. "We don't know that. The aliens have shown a willingness to engage in ground combat up to this time, but they may have achieved their objectives in that regard with the conquest of Victoria. We can only hope they continue with their current course of action."
Meyers almost stood again but Secretary Richards put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. "Put together a list of locations, response times, and projected losses of both a successful operation and of a failure." Richards turned to General Foxx. "KJ, you need to put together a defense plan. If we actually let them land, I need to see a way we can stop the aliens after they do. We aren't talking about an isolated belt colony gentlemen. This is the largest off world colony in the solar system." Richards stood up from the table. "If we are going to run this past the old man, I want all the ducks in a row. Even then I don't see this having much chance. Losing a belt colony or two because the aliens took them is one thing. Giving them millions of lives to destroy is entirely another."
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 03 May 2012 11:19

March 2205 part 2

March 1st 0645 hours/Elder's Chambers, New Home One

The Supreme Elder could sense as the assembled Elders moved restlessly in the chamber. Presentations were made and information shared, but it was not what they had come for. News of the completion of the new construction platform at New Home 5 came and went with little notice. As were the reports that defensive modules were being built for the construction site in orbit of New Home 2. Even the news that a new Patrol Vessel and Combat Vessel were being started passed with only the barest minimum of questioning.
They had all gathered for news from the Commander of Fleets. The offensive in the inner system against the native race had intensified. Several battles had been fought, and ships lost by both sides. News of the new ships and systems effectiveness was mixed. The small, rapid fire mass drivers had more than proven their worth, as had the additional magnetic generators installed on the warships. But the newest ships, the two Combat Vessels that had just reached the inner part of the system, had been damaged in an engagement with enemy warships. One Combat Vessel had been severely damaged and would return to the New Homes for repairs soon. The Combat Vessel of the native race had also been damaged, but not severely and it had escaped. Most concerning was that the enemy Assault Vessels were still at large.
Also of great interest was the capture of the enemy colony in the debris field. Or at least what was left of the colony. It had been nearly destroyed in the fighting, but there were still many members of the native race there that could be used to gain information. Many of the enemy's data systems had also been seized, and would be analyzed to learn more about this foe.
And most hopeful of all was the landing of new troops upon New Home 3. It was still unclear if they would be able to remove the enemy presence there, but they might be able to provide a secure landing zone from which evacuations might be possible. It would have to occur soon though, before the enemy had a chance to move more troops or vessels there.
The Supreme Elder considered intervening, to bring order to the chamber and to focus those assembled on the tasks before them, and then relented. It would do little good at the moment. The necessary tasks were being undertaken, and little the Elders could do at this point would make a great impact upon the outcome of the events that were transpiring. Many more events would occur though. Soon. Events that would require the Elders attention. Waiting to bring order until that time would suffice.

0800 hours/Venus Station, Venus

Admiral Hu sat at his desk and looked at the status reports. 'The technicians on the station have confirmed that all operating systems have been purged of the virus. No protective field generator has failed in over six hours.' Hu sat back in his chair and looked at a small packet on his desk. 'But not in time to save the Angtung, Sichuan, and Quinha.'
Hu picked up the packed and leafed through it again. 'Three Frigates lost. No alien vessel was destroyed, but at least it looks like one got torn up. It definitely confirms the new defenses the Euro and US broadcasts have indicated.' Hu turned to the sensor transcript transmitted by the Angtung before it was scuttled. 'The aliens can shoot down our missiles, but not every time. However they do it, there has to be a limit. They do well when the missiles straggle in by ones and twos, but a salvo from one of the cruisers should put them to the test. If they can stop that, we could be in real trouble. The Heavy Cruiser in the slip outside is still months away from completion.'
Hu turned in his chair and looked out the view port in his office. The tenuous framework of the ship was visible against the dark background of space. Bright flashes lit the structure as crews moved about with their work lights, or welders fused pieces of the polymer hull together. The Frigate under construction in the slip beside it was dwarfed by the mammoth framework. 'The cruiser's frame will be complete in only a week if they are able to maintain the schedule. By the end of the month they will have installed the first of the launch bays. But she won't be operational for many months yet. The Frigate will be loading its crew and starting its shakedown in just two weeks. And then another one will be built in its place.'
Hu turned around as the door to his office slid open. A cyborg, a security team leader, stood in the opening. "Your visitor is here, Admiral."
"Thank you. Show my guest in, and you may leave."
The cyborg nodded and saluted, then disappeared out of the doorway. Moments later another cyborg appeared. This one did not wear any insignia or rank, and was a model that Hu was not familiar with. The parts were far from standard production of any nation Hu knew of.
"Have a seat. You are the Dutchman, I presume."

0920 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 0.5 light seconds from Mars

Commodore Stephan Vasilikos unlocked his station and listened to the captain. "All hands, docking with Pan Euro Cargo Four One complete. Begin transfer of supplies and munitions. This is the Captain, out."
Stephan turned on the external visual feed and began to pan the camera. "With Robert still over a day out, it would seem I am in command of this part of Third Battle Group," he said to no one in particular. "Why don't we just take a look and see at what my command is up to."
The first ships to come into focus were Mobile Shipyard One and the newest Heavy Escort, the E Avery. The open spaces on the hull and workers pulling equipment in and out of them came into view as the magnification increased. "I heard that my next choice as a flagship still had some work to be done. And those look to be magnetic coils for the generators stacked on the outside of the hull. Not a good thing to leave out with company due anytime now." A few of the bridge crew turned to look at Stephan, and he ignored them.
Stephan panned the camera again and found the Attack Escort Elise. The burned patches and damage to the plating and baffles were obvious. "It looks like one of my ships is still being put together, while this one seems to have been taken apart somewhat." The view on his monitor suddenly went out of focus, and then a patch a grey replaced the previous view. "Now what could this be?"
A prompt flashed on Stephan's monitor as he heard the Captain's voice on the intercom. "Transmission from the Captain of the Queen Victoria. He indicates they will dock with the Red October in five minutes. A message from Admiral Muldoon has orders for Commodore Vasilikos to report to her office on the Queen Victoria in seven minutes."
Stephan ignored the flashing prompt and shut off the monitor. "Oh yes, the prune is here also, isn't she."
Stephan stood and began to move toward the hatchway leading from the bridge. 'I have always wanted to visit Mars. I doubt the jail on the surface will have much to offer though.'
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Tue 08 May 2012 03:53

March 2205 part 3

March 1st 0930 hours/Mars Traffic Control Center One, Mars surface

Rear Admiral Jamie Gauld looked at the staff moving about. Young men and women sitting at large monitors or moving between banks of them. Many of those were busy talking into head sets while tapping at one portion of a screen or another. Most wore space service uniforms. None were cyborgs.
'Most of them seem to be trying to stay busy with anything that has nothing to do with me. Not that I blame them. They don't generally have to put up with a cyborg watching them, let alone an admiral.' Jamie moved over toward a bank of screens displaying the various boats, shuttles, cargo freighters, passenger liners, orbital stations and warships around Mars. 'These people are busy organizing several dozen craft moving at hundreds or thousands of kilometers per second. Keeping them on schedule for landings and dockings. Avoiding any accidents while monitoring the various sensor arrays for any new contacts.' Jamie looked at the contact displayed as Interceptor Mk IIb JFK.
'Up until two hours ago I was on board that ship. Until the orders came through relieving me from command of Task Force 1 and giving it to Rear Admiral Ryan. Now I am in command of just the orbital defenses of Mars. Defense Stations One and Two, and Mars Station. Defense Station Three just started construction hours ago, and with luck will be done by the end of the month.' Jamie looked at the entrance to the room as a dozen men in ground service uniforms entered. Two colonels and their staff. 'Wonderful.'
'I also have to coordinate with the ground defense commanders, which is why they transferred me here to the surface at TCC One.'
Jamie pulled up the list of ground units and commanders. 'This is going to be a mess. Congress authorized activation of all nine reserve divisions on Mars, and is going to have the 2nd Marine Division deploy here from the Euro Troop Transport when it arrives. That will put a kink in things as the brass back on Earth have designated the 2nd Marine's Major General as senior over higher ranking reserve officers. At least the 2nd isn't due for a few days. But there is still one heavy battalion of the Martian Light on the surface, and the arguments between them and the reserve units are heating up.'
Jamie turned as he heard someone call for him. Not a flat cyborg voice, but some young man who sounded a little nervous. Jamie saw a young Ensign standing nearby looking at him. "Yes. What do you need?"
"The Steadfast and Vigilance are requesting clearance for landing, and to offload the FSC refugees. They are also requesting clearance for separate landing facilities for their two shuttles." The Ensign stood sheepishly looking at Jamie.
'They just don't want to clutter their bays with refugees while they are clearing their passenger sections through the hatchways. Fair enough.' "Clear the ships for landing as had been planned at Domes Six and Twelve. Clear the shuttles to land at this spaceport. Coordinate medical personnel to assist with the shuttles."
"Aye Admiral."
Jamie turned to face the two Colonels moving towards him. "Welcome gentlemen. Let's move our discussion to my office."

0942 hours/Mars Central Spaceport, Mars surface

Li Xue coughed and felt pain flare in her arm. She opened her eyes and strained against the bright light. 'Who in the hell is she?'
Li looked at the brown haired and fair skinned woman dressed in some uniform as she spouted gibberish at her and acted as if she was saying something important.
"I don't have a clue what you are saying. Can you figure that out?"
Li saw the woman startle slightly as a confused look crossed over her face. Li took the pause to look at herself. She was lying in a reclining chair of some soft plastic, with a heavy blanket laid over her and a bandage on her left arm. That was it. "I am so sick of waking up like this. They sure didn't mention this when I signed on." Li moved to try and get up and found that she suddenly felt dizzy. Settling into the chair she looked back at the woman who was babbling again. Li turned to look beside her where she could hear other voices. Rows of chairs were filled with women who looked to have similar problems. Dozens of women in whatever uniform were scattered among them. A pair of cyborgs were also moving about, but mostly to women who seemed agitated at the gibberish. Some were crying, others yelling. None of it made much sense.
A different type of gibberish caught her attention and Li looked back. A cyborg was standing beside her now. 'Guess that woman got tired of me ignoring her.'
"I don't understand you either."
The cyborg paused for a few moments. "Is this correct?"
The voice was flat, but it was Chinese. "Yes. I suppose. What is going on here? Am I off the ship, or is this some bay?"
The cyborg stood for a moment. 'He is waiting for some translation program to figure out what I asked.'
"You are in the Mars Central Terminal, in Concourse Five. You need to move down the main hall. An area has been set up to process you for Dome Six. You will be transferred there until the FSC can arrange transport for you and the other refugees to Earth."
Li shook her head. "I'm Chinese. Can you get that? I am part of the Sixteenth Power Armor Regiment. Not some FSC colonist." Li watched the cyborg stand looking at her for some time. Finally it spoke again.
"You will still need to move down the hall. You will be provided clothes at the processing center. Some form of living arrangements will be made for you there."
Li nodded at the cyborg, and then fought her way up and out of the chair. 'I feel drunk. I hope it isn't far.' Li walked slowly down the hall, and watched as several other women did the same. At the end of the corridor she found several tables lined up with women behind them. They were all spouting gibberish, but one motioned to Li and handed her a simple skinsuit, a bottle of what looked to be water, and motioned her to a doorway. Li nodded and shuffled into the room.
Li looked around. 'Looks like a locker room.' Li moved to put on the skinsuit. 'This isn't easy with just one good arm.' Finally Li slipped the thin plastic garment on and looked about. Several women were sitting in the room with small vid screens. Li looked around and found the row of slots that stored the screens, and pulled one out. 'Let's see if there is anything worth looking at. Because I doubt I will be able to understand what they are going to say.'
Li tapped at the screen, and was surprised when she was able to access a menu that would supply Chinese subtitles on a few of the channels. 'Looks like it is news, or gibberish. Guess news will have to do.'
Li sat down on a bench and started reading the words on the bottom of the vid screen. 'Oh look, they are talking about the refugees landing here on Mars. That would be me.' Li changed the feed to another channel. 'I had heard that a Euro colony had been invaded. This channel confirms it. And it fell too. Is there any stopping these damn creatures?'
Li swapped to another channel and started reading again, then realized it was an actual feed from a Chinese civilian broadcast. 'Yes, something I can listen too.' Li's heart began to ache as she listened. It was a replay of a taped broadcast of someone on Titan. 'Oh no. The aliens are bombing Titan.' The tape abruptly ended and the subtitles reappeared. Li read as some light skinned woman rattled on, but it all began to blur. She could just make out the subtitle that said, "All civilian habitats have been confirmed destroyed, with no further contact from any military units on the surface..."

0950 hours/Mars Central Spaceport, Mars surface

Ensign Tom Hudson walked around the nose of GTOS 22. "Geez Ed. I get out for a few minutes and you tear the old girl up. I ought to have them pull your license for reckless driving."
Midshipman Ed Fairchild came from around the rear bay doors of the GTOS. "Back end doesn't look any better. But I will say the lifter looks a hell of a lot better than you do."
Tom looked at the shredded end of his left arm, and then how his right leg wouldn't plant the foot flush on the floor. "Ok, so I might have had a little problem while I stretched my legs. It won't be the first time I've needed a new body." Tom heard the hollow chuckle from Ed. The recorded laugh that he had heard a thousand times from him. But it still helped to break some of the tension Tom could feel. 'Looking at this crate, it is a miracle we came back alive.'
"Let's get out of here. I'm sure there is something better to do than look at this. We are going to be spending a lot of time helping the ground crews patch her up anyway. Either that or parting her out." Tom looked up as Ed headed toward the exit from the hanger.
"Sure. Maybe we can find a bar and get drunk. Lord knows we need it." Tom heard the same chuckle from Ed again.
Tom walked quietly to the entrance to the concourse, and then through the air lock. As Tom walked into the main terminal, he noticed that the hitch in the gait of his right leg was beginning to squeak now that there was air to carry the sound. Tom looked at the open area he had entered and saw the rows of women lined up in chairs. Nurses and corpsmen moved among them, reviving the 'passengers' they had just off loaded. A few cyborgs moved around, helping to translate for refugees that didn't speak English. 'It has to be hell waking up after the ride we gave them. But I would still trade whatever life I have left for just one more chance to be flesh and blood again.' Tom walked beside Ed as they headed down the hallway toward the Refugee Processing Center. Tom remembered that the last time they had landed here to load the Martian Light Division; this had been the depot for shuttle buses and taxis that took colonists to their domes. 'Now it is lines of tables where they hand them out some clothes and water, then shuffle them off into locker rooms or offices so they can wait on transportation. But where are they going?'
A pained cry and then rhythmic banging caught Tom's attention. Two security guards rushed into one of the offices.
"Shall we take a look?" Tom heard Ed talking to him, and had already started walking toward the room.
"Might as well. Maybe that is the bar and the fights have started without us."
Tom reached the door and saw the two guards struggling with a small framed woman who was yelling, crying, and doing her best to smash a vid screen on any surface she could reach. The security guards were having a great deal of trouble with the woman, as they were all bouncing off of the walls, and even once reached the ceiling in the low gravity. Tom pulled up the menu in his HUD and activated the magnetic locks on the soles of his 'feet'. His right foot screeched as the powerful magnets tried to straighten the damaged ankle joint. Tom grabbed the group and held onto the woman's leg as she thrashed about. Tom pulled her up and pinned her with his left arm against his chest. She screamed and thrashed for a few more seconds as the guards backed away, then sagged with a wail that sounded like a wounded animal.
Tom turned as another person came towards him. He saw a young corpsman holding a syringe of some medication. The woman didn't even flinch as the young man stuck the needle in her shoulder and emptied it. A few moments later the wailing trailed off and the woman slumped against him. Tom lowered her to the ground.
"Hell Ed, this is the Chinese girl I drug into the shuttle before we lifted off. Wonder what is wrong." Tom looked back to Ed.
Ed stood for a moment, and then moved closer to the woman. The corpsman was busy using a stethoscope to listen to her heart and lungs. Ed picked up the vid screen that had fallen to the floor beside her, and ran his finger across the cracked surfaces. "If I get my guess, the docs are going to call it post traumatic stress. If she was on Hector as a soldier, who knows what hell she's been through."
Tom looked at the woman as she lay on the floor. Saw her bandaged arm, and old scars on the side of her chest where her skinsuit had been torn by the sharp bits on the end of his left arm.
"You know Ed, maybe its not living in one of these shells that is so damn miserable. Maybe it’s just the living."
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 10 May 2012 19:35

March 2205 part 4

March 1st 1020 hours/Hardened Fallout Shelter, New Delhi, India

Chairman Mukata sat in the heavily cushioned chair and turned on the monitor. Prompts sprang to life across it. He ignored them.
"Open conference. Board members. Include all. Voice verification and pass code authorization." Mukata waited as the monitor cleared and new prompts appeared. Finally the prompt began to flash for his pass code.
"Mukata. Two seven three alpha alpha three tango." Mukata watched the screen disappear and fill with dozens of blank, black boxes.
'It will take time for the rest of the board to log into the meeting. They always show their control by making me wait for them. But this gives me time to organize my notes for the meeting.' Mukata shuffled through the screens on his small vid pad. 'First we will have to address the progress on the project in Queensland. The fabrication of parts for the project in both South Africa and Chile are complicating the construction, due to issues with shipping them covertly. The construction should be completed by the end of the month, now that the underground hanger has been finished. None of the other powers should be able to determine what the new vessel will be without getting someone through the security at that complex. The largest security risk is that cyborg Jager. It is impossible to know exactly what that Euro cyborg is capable of without disassembling him. I don't think that would inspire him to assist us any further though.'
Mukata moved to the next screen. 'Next will be the orders to bring Heavy Cargo One in for a landing in the South African Shipworks. The planned refit to a Troopship would be prudent at this time. With no warships to escort her, she will be safer on the ground. The aliens will have a more difficult time identifying her, and the Pax should keep her safe from any human enemies. She will have to skirt the edge of Chinese held space to make the landing, but that cannot be avoided.'
Mukata pulled up the last screen. 'And we shall save the most volatile of the issues for last. The assignment currently given to the Dutchman, and what the compensation will be to the corporations. This will not be well received by all, as many of the board members feel he has become a renegade following the actions surrounding the evacuation and battles near Hektor. The Chinese have possession of him though, and it is in our best interests to seek a financially beneficial solution. If it becomes necessary to divest ourselves of him should he prove subversive, an agreement with the Chinese can easily be undone. This should have suitably harsh consequences for the Dutchman. And in the meantime any funds from the Chinese could prove useful.'
The first two boxes sprang to life with images on the monitor.
"Welcome board members, shall we begin with the preliminaries or wait on the other members?"

1050 hours/7300 meters below Andvari Crater, Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank crouched in the tunnel as another explosion threw debris in all directions. 'Lord, between the dust and rocks ricocheting off the walls you can't see a damn thing. Even thermal is blind. Not the aliens though.'
"We need to get around that corner. Anyone with a good idea, let's here it." Tanya looked at the other two cyborgs barely visible and crouched in the tunnel at ten meter intervals behind her. She heard Hauptrefreiter Ludwig Shimmelpfennig open the comm link.
"Well, we could always send one of the FSC brass that ordered this around that corner. Might not get us in but it will sure make me feel better."
Tanya wished she could smile to let him know she approved, but even if she could he would never see it through the dust. Tanya turned back to the corner in front of her. 'Around that corner is part of the machinery that the brass thinks they used to construct the battle suits that popped up among the civilian crawlies. As heavily defended as it is, they might have gotten something right. Our first nose around that corner reported six gremlins and a pair of goblin class suits before he was blown apart. There will be more than that now. The magnetic commo that the aliens use passes right through the rock, so they call reinforcements fairly quick. If I need help we either have to put radio repeaters at every corner on the way in, or send a runner which puts me another troop down.' Tanya flinched slightly as another flash from a detonation lit the tunnel for a heartbeat.
I suppose a runner it is. With the brass projecting that at least a brigade worth of suits now organized in the civilian sectors we can't push through with three of us. In fact, we probably need to follow the runner for a bit. The aliens are going to push this corner soon and I don't want to be here when that happens.
"Ludwig, why don't you go back and run your suggestion past the brass at headquarters. I and the rest of the squad will follow you; just to make sure you don't get lost or end up finding some cute little thing along the way. Move out."

1100 hours/Edge of Defense Center Ti, Surface of Titan

Staff Sergeant Carl Evans looked out across the flat plain in front of him, to the ridgeline a few klicks away. ‘That is just about where we first came in at.’
Carl’s NMI painted a thin white line on his display, followed by a detonation. “Hey Fuentes, did you catch where that came from. It goes off the side of my display.”
“Na, too far out. Indicator can’t catch them that far away. Somewhere in those hills.”
Carl looked over at the cloud of dust as it settled around the large foam-crete mound. “The Engineers laid it on pretty thick to take this many hits. Who came up with this idea anyway?” Carl waited. If anyone was in on the scuttlebutt, it would be Fuentes or Jackson.
Fuentes chimed in first, as always. “I think it was some slant started it. Don’t know whether they are targeting the magnetics, the electrical signature, or the heat. Hell, doesn’t really matter so long as they are shooting at it instead of us, as far as I care.”
Carl nodded. “Whoever decided to put small electric generators out here in these bunkers sure did us a favor. The aliens seem drawn to them like flies to cow patties. They just keep tapping at it with their rockets all day long.”
“Hey Sarge.” It was Private Jackson. “Aren’t they going to end up shooting at it with some sort of support weapon eventually? What then?”
Carl turned in his position until he could see the set of Shiloh Power Armor to his left, and PVT JACKSON appeared on his HUD. “Well Jackson, I suppose I should trade positions with you, seeing how mine is a little closer to the generator.”
“Uh, no thanks Sarge. I’m sure you’ll be fine. I like it here. Might scratch my name in the wall or something.”
Carl watched as Jackson shifted slightly in his position, obviously somewhat worried.
“Ah, come on hombre, you’ll like it. Sarge got it nice and warm for you.” Carl could here Fuentes beginning to laugh. He always laid the accent on thick when Jackson got nervous. The accent always seemed to make it worse for Jackson.
“Alright. Can it you two. I’ll have you both down here keeping each other company if you can’t behave yourselves.“ Carl turned back to the open ground in front of him. “Can’t have you to bickering like little kids when company shows up.”

1115 hours/FSC Heavy Cargo One, Earth orbit

Captain ‘Jake’ Hannigann tapped at the screen in front of him. ‘The main drive is off now that we are in the outer atmosphere. Nice to not need the station locks anymore. Now to confirm the landing trajectory that will put us down in South Africa. Been a few weeks since we saw time ground side. Will be nice to get out of this crate for a bit.’
Jake keyed open the link to the intercom. “Helm, confirm Pad Two One South Africa for landing. Initiate braking sequence and maneuver thrusters.”
“Aye Captain. Pad Two One, South Africa. Firing thrusters on my mark.”
Jake felt the ship shudder slightly as the thrusters began to change the angle of descent. Turbulence began to bounce the ship. Jake switched over his monitor to the external camera feed as Cargo One crept down through the air.
‘There is South America, directly below us.’ Jake panned the camera forward. ‘And the dirty blue of the South Pacific. Just a few more minutes and we will get sight of the Australian coastline.’ Jake waited as the minutes slipped by until the brown interruption of the blue expanse appeared, this time much closer than the view of Chile a few minutes before.
‘And there is the Indian Ocean. Pan a little north and we can see India herself, and the belt of mountains that surrounds her.’ Jake spotted several darker patches to the north of the mountains. ‘Don’t remember those before. Let’s zoom in a little closer and see what we’ve got. Probably some new towns springing up.’
Jake watched as the view shrank and objects grew larger and larger. Jake began to tap at objects on the screen, and then at prompts on the margin of his monitor. “Comm, I am uploading data to your station. Full encryption. Transmit on tightbeam laser to New Delhi.”
Jake looked at the pictures of seven Dragon Class missiles lined up beside a construction site just north of the Himalayas. ‘I think this might be a problem someone needs to know about.’
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Tue 19 Jun 2012 02:52

March 2205 part 5

March 1st 1830 hours / Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters sat and listened as Secretary of Defense Adam Richards informed the assembled staff that the President had given the 'go ahead' for the withdrawal of the US Task Force from Mars.
'I'm sure it has to do with the Pan Euro announcement that they would be withdrawing their Battle Groups regardless of the US deployment. Even Congressman Meyers can figure out that our four Interceptors and two Q Ships aren't going to be able to stop any real alien offensive without the support of the Euro Battle Groups.'
"And now Admiral Walters, will you brief the staff on the other operation."
Bradley stood from his seat and moved to the display behind the large table that dominated the front of the room, and waited as Secretary Richards sat down again. "Gentlemen, we have proposed an operation and Pan European Admiral Muldoon has agreed to both allow it and to support it. It had originally involved only the Q Ships, but the Euro has agreed to assign both the Pan Euro Troopship at Mars and the Red October to the operation. This group will move to the vicinity of Victoria Colony in the asteroid belt. When the group has reached its position a broadcast will be made from here on Earth by both the US and Euro directing all military personnel and civilians on Victoria to move to one of three evacuation zones at a designated time. At that designated time the Red October will make a pass near the colony to identify any alien warships and hopefully draw them away. If the area is clear or all alien warships are drawn away from the colony, then the Q Ships and Euro Troopship will land on the colony to evac all personnel they are capable of rescuing. Following this all four ships will return to Mars."
Congressman Meyers spoke next. "How many military and civilian personnel remain on Victoria, and what is the chance that we will actually be able to get any off that rock?"
Bradley looked at the Congressman. He could see that the man was in a poor mood. 'He opposed the withdrawal of our ships from Mars, and not getting his way has not put him in a cheery frame of mind.' "I can't predict the alien deployments. If they have any ships on station at Victoria the landings will likely have to be cancelled. If they are able to make landings, it will likely take twelve hours to complete loading of passengers. Whether the aliens will be able to respond in this time frame, and the effect of alien ground forces on the landed ships is impossible to predict. It is likely that even a successful operation will see the Q Ships damaged to some extent. As for the number of personnel on Victoria, I would turn this over to General Foxx as he has more detailed data in that area." Bradley waited until Secretary Richards nodded and motioned for General 'KJ' Foxx to move to the display.
Bradley moved back to his seat at the pair of tables that were his 'area'. General Foxx waited until Bradley was seated to begin. "Gentlemen, the current disposition on Victoria of our military forces, or of the Pan Euro troops, is uncertain. The last radio transmissions combined with our current projections lead us to believe that there may still be nearly enough personnel remaining of the Martian Light to form a battalion. Perhaps two. The Pan Euro Eightieth Ukraine may have up to a pair of brigades still on Victoria. As for the civilian population, we estimate the survivors at fifty thousand, although this number could be very inaccurate."
Secretary Richards looked back to Bradley. "How many personnel will the Q Ships and the Troopship be able to pull off of Victoria?"
Bradley already had the numbers pulled up on the monitor in front of him. "The Q Ships should be able to pull out all the surviving members of the Martian Light, and another brigade of the Euro troops without any problem. The Pan Euro Troopship should be able to transport fifty thousand civilians, although it is considered unlikely that this many will be able to reach the landing site. All ships will transport any civilians reaching their site, but priority will be given to military units reaching the sites of the Q Ships. Additional personnel are already onboard the Euro ship to process civilians for transport, but it will still take time to prep them for travel."
Congressman Meyers cut in. "Are there any plans to pull our troops off of Titan? And what of our detachment on Triton?"
'KJ' replied first. "The Brigade of the Martian Light and the two Marine Battalions have consolidated with the remaining Chinese troops at the construction complex on Titan. The alien forces have made several attempts to breach the complex, but so far have been unsuccessful. Our forces on Titan should have adequate supplies to continue operations until mid month, but will need resupply or extraction by then. The situation of the group on Triton is impossible to assess at present. Communication with them is limited. The FSC, Euro, and Chinese forces on Triton are still active. We can only hope our detachment there has survived."
Secretary Richards stood from his chair. "Admiral Walters, begin the planning for the extraction or resupply of the troops on Titan. Then identify if an operation to Triton is feasible, or if we will simply have to hope that the situation there stabilizes. That will be all for now."

1920 hours/Queen Victoria, 3 light minutes from Mars

Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked at the image on her monitor. "Rear Admiral McNeely, I've got the status updates from your Battle Group. You've actually been able to inspect those ships inside and out. What is your honest assessment of the ships in your group?"
Brenna watched the image of the cyborg in her screen. It moved slightly, tapping at keys on the armrest of the station it was seated in. "Admiral Muldoon, you already know this isn't going to be good. The Jane Grey has all of her systems on line, but the outer plating and baffles are torn up badly. Life support is patched together as are the feeding linkages to the forward missile storage areas. If we survive a hit with the magnetic fields down the repairs will be vented into space. The Elise is in much the same shape. The Heavy Escort Jurkat won't even have the first set of field generators online until the end of the week, with all of them installed and functioning by the twentieth. Maybe a few days early if everything goes well. The big issue on the Jurkat is the crew. They barely have an idea what they are doing at the moment. The construction crews and constant updates and adjustments to their ship has made any worthwhile training nearly impossible. In combat she can fight, but will likely serve more as a target than anything else. The last ship of my group is currently on a trip to Victoria. We can fight Admiral, but I won't lie and say we are truly ready for it."
Brenna nodded. "Do your best Robert. The Red October should be back in a few days. That should improve things substantially. Admiral Muldoon, out." Brenna cut the transmission and sat for a few moments. 'He is right. If this comes to a fight in the next few days his Battle Group will be of more use supporting the action or drawing the aliens attention than it will be in a straight forward engagement. If the aliens hold off for a few days and the Jurkat can get some of its field generators online, that will help.'
Brenna tapped at the screen and pulled up a report. 'This is probably the best news we have had for some time. A group involved in the design of the new missile system has identified that current ship designs could be upgraded to hold the smaller missile on mounts outside the hull. The size of the current Scorpion Missile makes it impractical to do this, and the necessary supports would require a vessel the size of the Red October or a Royalty Class just to carry a single missile on the outside of the hull. The new missile design would allow even the Attack Escorts to mount a single weapon in a recess on the outside of its hull. The Victoria could likely mount four. That would give a first launch capability twice what is currently possible. With the aliens fielding a system to interdict our missiles, putting more of them on target is our best bet to get a few through. Overwhelming the aliens defensive system might even be possible if we can simply get enough missiles on target at once.' Brenna scrolled through the text of the report. 'It is going to take time though. All of the current research facilities are occupied in work on the new missile system, or on a system that will be able to interdict the alien missiles. New construction and purchases of civilian corporations and facilities will allow development of designs that could be fitted onto the current vessels, allowing them to mount the new missiles on the outside of the hull, but research won't even be able to start until the beginning of April.'
Brenna closed out the report and looked at the ship roster still displayed on her monitor. 'We will have everything we need to beat the aliens ready in the next few months. We just have to hold out till then.'

2115 hours/Hardened fallout shelter, New Delhi, India

"The analysis of the images is complete. There is no doubt that the three sites visible are all military construction sites. One of the sites appears to be intended to be capable of launching nuclear flare drive weapons. The presence of Dragon Missiles at that site would seem to confirm this. How long it will take for the sites to become operational is unknown, but it is expected they will be capable of launch before the end of the month."
Chairman Mukata looked at the images of the boardmembers on his screen. Most were as inscrutable as always, but a few showed some hints of concern. 'With new military construction so close to the border of India, and not far from Australia, they should be concerned.'
One of the images spoke up. "How long will it take to mobilize our forces for the defense of our holdings in India?"
Mukata took on a hard look as he gazed at the camera. "We have stretched our assets to the limit with the construction in Queensland, the refits of Cargo One, and our continuing research goals. There has already been some liquidation of board assets just to maintain the timelines on these projects. Without the liquidation of further assets, we will be unable to mobilize any ground troops for the defense. Notification has been sent out to local reserves and militias, but that has been the extent of our response. I do not have to tell the board what further liquidation of assets will do to our future operating capital." Mukata knew that several members of the board had opposed the first round of liquidations to finance the construction in Queensland. Another round could likely leave the FSC crippled economically for years.
"Further sale of assets is not possible. We will need alternatives. Have any been identified Chairman?"
Mukata took on a slightly softer expression. "It is unlikely the Euro or US are aware of the Chinese construction. The construction would be difficult for the Lunar Colonies to identify, and China has rather aggressively pursued its closure of the airspace over its territories. The Euro and US would also have voiced serious objections to this blatant violation of the Pax Treaty, and we have heard nothing in the international councils. I feel that either the US or Euro, possibly both, could be persuaded to channel assets to the FSC in exchange for the images we have. What the extent of this compensation will be is hard to tell, but any funds could assist in the defense of our holdings here on Earth."
Several voices answered nearly in unison on the monitor. All in the affirmative.
"I shall make the necessary arrangements."
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Sat 23 Jun 2012 19:57

March 2205 part 6

March 1st 2315 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po sat and listened with a look of mild disinterest on his face. 'It is difficult to maintain this composure when that man's voice is like nails on a chalkboard to me.' Po tried to concentrate on the papers in front of him, but Minister Khoh was being particularly forceful and loud in his time at the podium. 'Why can he not be satisfied with the new ground construction? That compromise not only protects us all here on Earth, but increases his prestige. The other world powers will not declare war over this. More than likely they are wishing they could do much the same thing to protect themselves. He wastes his energy. He knows he lacks enough support to accomplish his goals. My group still holds the largest power block, if only by the smallest of margins.'
Po let out a sigh as Khoh finally finished his time before the assembled Minister. 'This is almost done and I will be able to get some rest. All that is left to speak is Minister Liu, and he nearly always declines. Even when he does speak it is only a short statement voicing his group's support for another group's stance.' Po settled back in his chair as the call for Minister Liu was announced. When there was no reply, Po sat up slightly to see what could be keeping the old man. 'That is strange. Liu is moving towards the podium. He has not taken the podium in years. Perhaps Khoh has irritated Liu enough that even the old man feels the need to state that Khoh’s proposal is unwise and needs to be abandoned.'
Po watched the old man climb the steps to the podium and then set the drink that never seemed to leave his hand on the edge of it. The old man then pulled a few papers from his jacket and arranged them in front of him. Po watched as Liu looked out across the Ministry.
"Honorable Ministers. It has been some time since I have spoken before you. But it has come to my knowledge that an agenda we have supported to this point may not be what we have been lead to believe. That a group among us has quietly manipulated our policies, or simply ignored them. That they have been too concerned with their own power, and not our security as a nation. And now they support violating a treaty that we have all endorsed, which by the language of the treaty can only be construed as an act of war against the other nations of this planet. All the while refusing to move any of the powerful vessels of our space bound fleet to protect us here on Earth. I have papers here proving that they not only don't intend to station ships here at Earth, but they have secretly begun negotiations with the South Seas nations to gather support for continued landing off world at Titan. Landings that are not only foolish, but serve only to increase the power of this group while weakening us here."
Po felt a cold hatred beginning to form as he listened to the old man.
"These papers show that we can no longer trust this group, and its leader Po. We cannot continue on this course of war while leaving ourselves unprotected here on Earth from both the alien menace and the other nations of this planet. The breaches of security in the last few months have shown that the other nations are as dangerous to this Ministry as any alien menace. We must move to protect ourselves. To this end I will place my support, and that of my group's, firmly behind Minister Khoh. I move that we mobilize with all speed the three Army Groups that Minister Khoh has proposed."
Po watched as the old man handed the papers to an assistant who began to hand copies out to the assembled Ministers. Po took the papers he was handed and threw them onto the floor as he stalked out of the room.
'That old man has played me for a fool and has doomed us all. What Khoh has proposed would be the largest troop buildup since the Annexation of Eastern Asia in the war of 2157. The other nations of Earth will no longer see this as an attempt to protect ourselves from the aliens. There is only one reason to need this many troops on the ground. And that would be a war, right here, on Earth.'

March 2nd 0045 hours/Combat Vessel 7, 1.5 light minutes from Mars

The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 extended his perception through his station to monitor the progress of the operation. 'It is difficult to perceive the Scout Craft from here. The relays to this station were damaged in the combat near the ringed planet and have functioned poorly ever since. It appears that the other vessels have finished launching the small craft and they are forming up into squadrons. It is frustrating to be in command of this group when even the Attack Vessel is in better condition than our ship, but I must not let the rest of the crew sense my irritation. They must have confidence in me and my ability to command.' The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 pulled his perception from the field at his station and turned his attention to his own crew.
"Place the ship in formation and proceed on the course the Commander of Fleets has plotted. Scout Craft to precede the larger vessels by five light seconds. Magnetic protective fields are to be deactivated until further notice." The Commander waited as his orders were carried out by the crew. 'I can feel the slight tinge of fear in the crew and their actions. They know as well as I that this ship is very vulnerable with its protective fields off. It was badly damaged in the battle and would take little to destroy with its protective field down and rapid fire mass driver off line. We must trust that the enemy has no hidden defenses on the path we must take. If there are, we will die moments after they detect us. The Commander of Fleets sees this operation as vital and the danger to this ship as slight. We must trust that judgment. I must let the crew know that I agree with the Commander of Fleets.' The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 strengthened his own field. Filled it with confidence in his ship, his crew, and the rest of the vessels and craft gathered together for this next step in the battle with the native race.

0430 hours/Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters watched as a tired looking Secretary Adam Richards rose from the table and moved to the display. 'This must be important for him to call a briefing at this hour. It is obvious that he has gotten little rest. Congressman Meyers looks even more pale and concerned than usual, although that has been a common occurrence of late.'
Secretary Richards stood before the group and tapped at the small pad he carried with him. Moments later eight separate images filled the display. Each had highlights and text scrawled across it. Before Bradley could take it all in Secretary Richards began to speak.
"Gentlemen, we were contacted some hours ago by what may politely be called representatives of the FSC. They offered intelligence of what they termed 'vital developments' in exchange for concessions on our part. The concessions included semi-permanent placement of the refugees from Hektor on Mars, and that the US would fund the necessary facilities to house and support those refugees. In that this possibility had already been considered it was deemed viable to give the FSC what we had already planned to do, in exchange for whatever data they might possess. I believe we got a bargain on this one."
Secretary Richards stepped to the side and tapped at his pad and parts of two images were magnified. "These were the images they supplied. They show what appear to be Chinese units constructing military installations north of the Himalayas. Both installations have equipment that would be used to construct heavy laser batteries capable of engaging targets beyond Earth's atmosphere. With our support of a similar installation built by the FSC in Australia, it was considered inevitable that the Chinese would begin construction of their own installations. One of the installations though, shows signs that it will also be capable of launching the Chinese Dragon Nuclear Flare Drive Missile. This is in violation of the Pax Treaty and could itself be construed as an act of war."
Secretary Richards began tapping his pad again and new areas on three of the other images were magnified. "We were not willing to accept this without verification. Several lifter crews made passes over Chinese air space and were able to recover these images before they were forced to evacuate that air space or be fired upon. These images confirm the previous ones sent by the FSC, and show that additional sites are also being prepared for military installations. We can confirm at least five installations with this reconnaissance, with two showing signs of being capable of Dragon Missile launch. We intended to send official statements to the Chinese protesting this construction as a violation of the Pax Treaty and demanding that all sites be constructed without Dragon Missile launch capability. Any structures built to support such a launch would need to be dismantled immediately. That statement was scheduled to be broadcast at zero six thirty today, with a supporting statement issued by both the Pan Euro and FSC."
Bradley watched as Secretary Richards took a deep breath, and then tapped at the pad again. The remaining three images had portions of them magnified. "Ninety minutes ago the Pan Euro also violated Chinese air space when a lifter returning from Luna entered Chinese controlled air space on the return trip to Earth. These images show no less than three additional ground sites, two capable of Dragon Missile launch. More disturbing is that they also show massive troop mobilizations in the western and southern holdings of the Chinese provinces. No less than seven Power Armor or Armored Divisions are mobilizing in each of these two locations, with additional Reserve and Category III formations showing signs or mobilizing also. With no Chinese Troop Transports in Earth orbit, it is considered unlikely these troops are intended for off world offenses. The size of the mobilization would make transport off world almost impossible in any case."
Secretary Richards stepped away from the display and moved to lean on the back of his chair. He looked directly at Bradley. "Admiral Walters, do we have any data on the current disposition of the Chinese fleet?"
Bradley remained seated. "No Secretary. The Chinese Fleet, other than the three ships they lost at Titan, have not made any appearance since the last alien offensive. We have no confirmed contact with their cruisers in months."
Secretary Richards looked down at the table and shook his head slowly. "In light of the recent data, the President has directed that we do not broadcast our protest to the Chinese. General Foxx, you are to issue orders mobilizing II Corps, and placing V and VII Corp on standby. All Hera launch facilities are to go on round the clock alert. Admiral Walters, we will need all available military lifters fitted with racks and also placed on round the clock alert. Each is to be fitted with six of the GBM 171 Orbit to Ground nuclear cruise missiles. I am afraid that our situation with the Chinese is about to take a turn for the worse."
Secretary Richards looked up with a hard but weary face. "You are to prepare a briefing for zero six hundred this morning. The old man will be coming to this one. You need to be able to give him the time table, capabilities, and possible outcomes for a pre-emptive strike."
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Sat 07 Jul 2012 00:11

March 2205 part 7

March 2nd 0410 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 9 LM from Mars

Commodore Stephen Vasilikos tapped at the controls on his armrest and opened the prompt on his monitor. Static crackled as he waited for the comm link to stabilize. Then a voice.
"This is Captain Scott Moreland. Little early for a pow wow on how we are going to do this, isn't it?"
Stephen waited a moment to make sure nothing else was following the statement. 'With the US ships a light second away, the comm lag turns conversations into something like a poorly dubbed movie.'
"No time like the present. There is something I want to go over before we get to Victoria. You're little rust buckets don't have the firepower to take down even a single Alpha, and are too slow to get out of a fight if you get into one. If you actually put down on that rock and an alien ship arrives, you won't clear the dust cloud from your drives before you are turned into a bunch of scattered debris in the belt. Do you disagree with this assessment?"
Stephen waited for the comm lag to clear. Moments later the reply came through.
"Now that you are done singing the praises of my ships, is there some point to this?"
Stephen chuckled a bit, and then opened the link again. "Just this. Your rust buckets are still better than nothing in a fight. You can definitely help out the rest of the US fleet. This means we can’t risk losing your ships in a situation like what happened at Hektor. As the ranking officer of this group and as the representative of the Pan European Confederacy colonist on Victoria, I am hereby restricting your group to come no closer to that colony than thirty light seconds. Are we clear on this?"
There was almost no lag before the reply this time. Scott's voice crackled back through almost immediately. "Then just how do you propose that we evacuate the US troops still on Victoria. Or anyone for that matter?"
Stephen waited for a moment. "There can still be three landing zones, but we aren't going to land in all of them at once. You can send in your lifters if you chose to pick up survivors, but I am going to broadcast a revised evacuation schedule when we arrive at Victoria. The only ship landing will be the Pan Euro Troopship. It has the extra personnel to take care of civilians or troops. You don't. And when our troopship is full, it will move to your rust buckets and transfer the survivors over. Then our troopship will return to the surface and land at the next evac point. The Troopship is just fast enough to hold the distance open with an Alpha, and the Red October can give any alien ships a reason to use their version of the evasion protocol to slow them down. Your Q Ships are just too damn slow. I can't keep an Alpha from tearing you, and whatever passengers you are carrying, apart. By the way, none of this is negotiable. Can we agree on this?"
The comm link was quiet for almost a minute.
"You realize that this will extend the time necessary for the evacuation by hours. Probably a day, actually. That is a long time for the aliens to do something about it. But yes, I can comply with this."
"As long as we are clear. You aren't to go looking for trouble at Victoria. There is only room for one loose cannon on this mission, and it isn't your turn." Stephen keyed off the link.

0517 hours/Dome One, Mars

Li Xue sat on the small stool and looked at the food on her tray. 'This tastes the same as what I ate on Hektor. Maybe this hospital gets it food from the same place as our army units.' Li chuckled to herself and slid the flimsy tray to the other side of the table. With her good arm she unfastened the Velcro strap holding her on the stool and sat on the edge of it. 'Go back to bed, or sit at the table. Choices, choices.' Li looked at the small vid screen set flush with the center of the table. 'If I want to watch anything, guess I have to sit at the table.' Li looked at the two small stools and the small round table. 'All the furniture is sitting on a single support that is fused to the floor. The bed is little more than a raised area in the floor with a mattress. The pillow and single sheet are even part of the mattress. Wouldn't want the patient to have anything to hang herself with.' Li tossed one of the empty plastic tubes that had held 'breakfast' into the air and watched it hit the blank ceiling, and then slowly drift down to the floor. 'I doubt I could even hang myself in this low gravity.'
Li looked up as the door opened and a young woman in a uniform walked in. 'The one person who came to me and could speak Chinese told me I was a patient at a hospital and not a prisoner. I can't open that door though.' The young woman was holding a small cup with several pills in it. "Oh goody, you brought me happy pills didn't you?" Li watched as the woman stopped by the table and spouted some gibberish while holding out the cup. 'You don't even understand a word I said.'
Li shook her head and pushed the woman's hand away. The woman just held them back out again. "You are kind of slow, aren't you? I don't want to feel numb or sleep all day. Just take the pills away and leave." Li pushed the woman's hand again and looked down at the table. She had a moment to see that the screen was blinking yellow with strange symbols on it before the alarm sounded. Li saw the cup slowly fall and spill across the table as the young woman ran for the door. Watched as the woman pounded on it and screamed at it. Li put her head down on the table.
'I guess I don't need the pills to feel numb. Just this.'
Li listened as the woman's yelling turned to shrieks as the room shook and the lights went out.

0519 hours/Traffic Control Center One, Mars

Rear Admiral Jamie Gauld held onto the back of the chair as the room shook slightly. "How many are left?!"
A man in the chair in front of Jamie was wildly tapping at prompts on the six screens at his station. A voice called out, "We've lost contact with the Four Twenty Seventh Engineers." Another voice called out. "Richard, you've got four bombers in Sector Seven One. Route Lifters Two Six and Three Eight Five onto course one two two at ascension minus fifteen. Remaining lifters crossing into space above Domes Eight and Nine." A woman called out above the din, "Orbital Transfer Station Two on eight G burn. Clearing GTOS Bays One through Four."
Jamie looked out across the room. Dozens of men and women were frantically moving from one station to another, tapping at prompts and talking or yelling into their headsets. 'At least they aren't screaming. I had expected nothing but chaos here. I guess this isn't the first time they have done this.' Then the man in front of Jamie finally spoke. "Admiral, I've got a link into the returns from Defense Base One. They are tracking fourteen alien bombers within five zero zero klicks of the surface. Forwarding feed to triple A units around this Dome and Dome Three. Trying to patch through to Second Marine." Jamie tried to look at the returns. 'The first reports were of twenty eight alien bombers closing on Mars. Mars Station and the two Defense Bases must have taken out half of them, but that still leaves a lot of nukes left over.'
Another voice cut through the noise. "We have nine, no, correction, eleven confirmed detonations. Reports from Domes Eight, Nine, Eleven and Fifteen of damage. We have lost contact with Domes Two and Seven." Jamie stood up and turned from the nearby console as amber lights began flashing. The woman's voice he had heard earlier shouted to be heard. "Second Marine confirms three alien bombers inbound to this location in eleven seconds."
Jamie leaned over the console beside him and quickly tapped at the monitor, authorizing the use of all ground based munitions against the alien bombers. 'It's too late to save us, but this may save some of the other domes.' Jamie grabbed the console to brace himself and activated the magnetic locks in the soles of his feet. 'Doubt it will make much difference. First time I have ever wished I was locked into a station.' The man in front of Jamie turned to face him, white as a sheet. "Admiral, Defense Base One reports magnetic contact at twelve light seconds, and eighteen additional bombers closing at eight light seconds."
Jamie felt the metal of the console begin to crush under his fingers. 'Here come the alien warships. God help us, there may be no one left here to save."
The woman yelled again, this time her voice began to crack. "Tracking three inbound munitions!"
The lights in the control room went out.
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Fri 31 Aug 2012 16:37

March 2205 part 8

March 2nd 0521 hours/Combat Vessel 7, 7.5 light seconds from the fourth planet

The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 altered the field at his station and the crew responded to his orders. Magnetic field generators spun their coils and waves of protective force began to envelop the ship. Sensor arrays came online and data filled the field at the Commander's station, replacing the seconds old feed from the sensor array on Attack Vessel 3.
'There are not enough crewmembers left onboard to operate all the stations adequately. They have been at their posts too short of a time and are new to their duties. But they will have to staff all of the operational systems for a short time, enough crew or not. The Commander of Fleets gave orders to escort the Hive Vessels for this operation and not to risk the ships. But if the defenses of the fourth planet are allowed to fire on the second wave unmolested, then the losses may hamper our future operations. All twenty eight of the Scout Craft in the first wave were destroyed. The eighteen Attack Craft of the second wave cannot meet that same fate. We will need to direct the enemy's attention elsewhere as the second wave goes in.'
The Commander checked the field strength of the magnetic generators. 'All of the generators survived the last battle, and that will help us. It will be monitoring the Combat Vessel's course and the drive that will test the crew. We are so close to Armed Colony Vessel 7, now less than two percent of a light second, that even a small miscalculation will find one of these ships in the drive bloom of the other. We must remain close so that the rapid fire mass driver of the Armed Colony Vessel can protect us.'
The Commander checked the sensor data to ensure that Attack Vessel 3 and Armed Colony Vessel 3 were in close formation. The Attack Vessel would need the protection of the rapid fire mass driver on Armed Colony Vessel 3. 'The Attack Vessel has the weakest field generators, and they have often been a favored target of the native race. Attack Vessel 3 is at even greater risk than the Combat Vessel.'
The Commander turned his attention to the sensor returns from the planet ahead. 'The first wave of scout craft reported new contacts in orbit of the planet. Two large and sprawling orbital structures were reported, one of them apparently unarmed. Those contacts have always been recorded at this planet. The first wave reported two new orbital structures, both of which were apparently armed and displayed magnetic protective fields.' The Commander extended his perception through the sensor array and could feel the two new structures. 'Both are the same mass as a Patrol Vessel, with magnetic fields that make clear identification of what they are impossible. The first wave reported that many scout craft were destroyed as they approached the planet, but there are no sensor reports of warhead detonations. Not even sensor records of launches by the enemy. These new orbital platforms must be armed with the emitter this race uses that fails to leave sensor records. That may be a problem.' The Commander could only sense the two small orbital structures as he searched the space around the planet. 'The other two massive structures must have moved into orbital positions behind the planet. That is well. There will be fewer weapons to oppose the Attack Craft.'
The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 felt the field alter at his station as the crewmember controlling the Sensor Arrays reported, 'Distance to the enemy planet of six point five light seconds. The Commander altered his field, ordering all of the ship crews to begin the new maneuver program. 'This will test the new crew. Coordinating the rapid aspect changes of the Combat Vessel with those of the Armed Colony Vessel.' The Commander strengthened the field holding him to the divots at his station while the ship began to heave as the drive cut in and out.
The Commander could sense through the arrays as could the crew, that two inbound torpedoes had been detected.

0524 hours/Attack Craft 20, 1 light second from the fourth planet

The Commander of Attack Craft 20 could feel the enemy torpedoes pass the ship and move off towards the distant warships. 'We may have a chance. None of the Attack Craft have been damaged yet.'
It was too far, and the sensor array of the craft too limited, for the Commander of Attack Craft 20 to discern how the battle was going for the warships. But the two orbital stations of the native race were close, and looming ever larger on the sensor array. As a second pair of torpedoes launched from the enemy structures, the Commander could feel as three torpedoes from the warships detonated around one of the bases. The Commander strained to feel past the waves of plasma as they cleared, and could sense that the base had lost its protective field. The Commander could not sense the structure venting damage, but without a drive it had no need to vent debris into space as a warship would. 'Let us hope the damage is crippling.'
Attack Craft 20 lurched and the drive cut out. The Commander could feel in the field at his station that plating on the forward section of the ship had been shattered. The Commander altered the field around him and the drive restarted. 'The native race has decided to fight both these Craft and the warships. Let us hope they fail at both.'
The Commander again altered the field and reduced the output of the drive, then redirected the thrust to slow the Attack Craft as it closed on the fourth planet. 'The atmosphere around the planet is thin, but it will still tear us apart if we enter it too rapidly.' As the Attack Craft slowed and then began a slight roll to begin entry into the atmosphere, the Commander could sense as three more torpedoes detonated around the orbital bases. This time debris was evident in the space around the structure that had lost its protective field. Seconds later the base disappeared in a massive detonation.
'It would appear the mass drivers of the Armed Colony Vessels have come in range. The second enemy base should be destroyed in a few moments.'
The Commander of Attack Craft 20 had only a moment to sense and understand as the damaged forward section failed under the heat and pressure of entry into the atmosphere of the planet and Attack Craft 20 was torn into thousands of pieces.

0526 hours/Attack Craft 23, 0.5 light seconds from the fourth planet

Soldier 24-52 rechecked the systems in his Light Combat Suit, and could sense the other soldiers in his team doing the same. 'The Team Leader is prepping for drop. I can feel the feed from the Attack Craft to his suit. I need to concentrate on my suit though. When we drop, any leak in the suit will be fatal. The air of this planet is thin but will scald on contact. It will only take a leak a few moments to cook a Soldier'
Soldier 24-52 felt his suit shake violently and used the sensors of his suit to extend his perception past the wall of the Attack Craft. 'We are entering the atmosphere of the planet. It is almost time.' Soldier 24.52 could feel the tension of the rest of the Soldiers as vividly as his own. The field around his suit altered and the Team Leader, Soldier 24-50 issued the drop orders.
Soldier 24-52 could feel the Team Leader's orders as they coursed through the craft. 'We will deploy from the Attack Craft just above the tops of the enemy domes, and use the momentum from the Attack Craft to reach our deployment zone. The Attack Craft preceding us will drop supplies for the coming battle. We need to secure the drop zone and then begin moving those supplies into the nearby dome as quickly as possible.'
Soldier 24-52 waited as the Team Leader began to assign tasks and duties. Data flooded the fields as suits were tied into the sensor net of the Attack Craft for a last update. 'I have been assigned an enemy vehicle moving near the drop zone and suppressive fire on a damaged area of the dome we are dropping near. I am also to remain with the supplies outside the dome until the heavy units have breached and cleared an area inside the dome.' Soldier 24-52 sensed the bay open on the Attack Craft and all of his appendages tensed as fear filled him and the clamp released his suit. Soldier 24-52 expanded his field as far and hard as he could, trying to both sense his targets and brace himself inside his Light Combat Suit as it rocketed through the thin air above the enemy domes. Soldier 24-52 felt the faint signature of a moving vehicle below on the ground and triggered two rockets toward it. The detonations were lost among a dozen other explosions and the cloud of charged particles as the planets dust swirled up and acquired static charges, interfering with the Light Combat Suit's sensors.
Soldier 24-52 fired the braking thrusters and ended up pressed hard against the front of the suit. Pain flared in his forward legs as the suit collided roughly with the surface of the planet and then righted itself. He panicked at the thought of searing gas rushing into the suit and dying as he was boiled and burned alive. As the seconds passed he forced himself to check the suit's targeting array and find the section of the dome he was assigned to fire on. Soldier 24-52 altered his field and the rapid magnetic pulses of the gauss weapon coursed through Soldier 24-52. Magnetic waves passed through him over and over as weapons fired and detonated. He felt as if his very insides were being stirred and scrambled as massive surges flared and passed while the Heavy Assault Suits used their plasma dischargers to breach the outer wall of an intact section of the nearby dome.
More moments passed and Soldier 24-52 realized that he could sense none of the enemy near him. There was no return fire. No explosions that hadn't been triggered by another member of his unit. Soldier 24-52 stopped the gauss weapon and waited. He extended his perception to the area around him, and not just his suit and target area.
Dozens of pods were scattered about the area. 'Those are the supplies dropped by the other Attack Craft. They don't all seem to have fared well. It looks like nearly half of them broke up on impact with the surface. At least the supplies they carried seem to be intact, if a little dirty.' Soldier 24-52 felt his Team Leaders field reach out to his own. If the Team Leader, Soldier 24-50, felt any fear, he masked it well.
'Gather supplies with the rest of the team. We are moving into the dome. The longer we remain out here, the more likely we are to become a target for the enemy's orbital assets.'
Soldier 24-52 moved toward the scattered supplies of the nearest pod and used the field of his suit to begin gathering what he could reach. As the supplies were lifted from the dirt and began to cluster around his suit, Soldier 24-52 remembered his training to not let extra equipment block the rockets or gauss weapon. He raised the supplies above the suit and felt the Team Leaders field as he passed near him. The Attack Craft above were transmitting to the Team Leader. It wasn't meant for Soldier 24-52, but he could still sense it.
'Soldier 24-50, enemy forces tracked moving toward your location. Prepare for hostile contact. Withdraw into enemy dome and hold supply dump. Enemy formation appears to outnumber your unit by at least ten to one.'
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Sat 22 Sep 2012 14:19

March 2205 part 9

March 2nd 0535 hours/Dome One, Mars

Ensign Tom Hudson held the fluorescent lantern out in front of him to light the ruined hallway, and carefully crossed a broken light fixture that had fallen. "Sure, Ed leaves me behind and goes on the dangerous mission to the belt, so I sit here safe and sound to get a 'tune up'. So who is the one in the middle of a combat zone?" Tom looked behind him and saw the nurse in her light vaac suit trying to negotiate the same obstacle Tom had just crossed. She seemed indifferent to his monologue. 'Actually, she looks scared as hell. Not one of us has a weapon and the word is that the aliens dropped troops near here. But there are still portions of this medical wing that didn't lose pressure when the nukes hit, and someone needs to get anyone left the hell out of here before the aliens overrun this area.' Tom turned around and started down the hall again. "You guessed it lady. I always seem to be the one left holding the bag."
"No, I've got the bag of supplies. You're just here to help move any debris I can't deal with."
Tom stopped, surprised to hear her speak. He looked back and saw the nurse hop off the edge of the fixture and drift slowly to the floor. He watched as she waved the bag she carried at him, and then began to move down the hallway. 'Guess she can talk. Maybe she just doesn't know how bad this really is.' Tom turned back and began walking down the hall, checking the door to his left as he went. "Seal is broken on this one." Tom pushed the pad to activate the emergency release, but nothing happened. He reached up to the door frame and gripped the edge. The heavy polymer sheeting buckled and snapped under his fingers, and the latch broke free from the frame. "Looks like the new parts are working ok. You did a good job little lady." Tom let go and pushed the door open. Inside were three bodies, all in the light skin suits that everyone wore. They had sealed them, but the only air they had was from a small tank on the suit. Just enough for 5 minutes or so. That time had been up a while back.
"No one here we can help." Tom closed the door and moved down the hall. Tom stopped again to look at the hallway. The fluorescent lantern cast shifting shadows across the pieces of wall or roof that had fallen, or the equipment that had been thrown about as the hall had vented its air. A faint white shimmer caught his attention. Tom increased the magnification on his HUD and the small white shimmer grew and came into focus.
"Ok, we might have a winner here. I can see a small air leak up ahead around one of the door frames. With a little luck we might find someone we can help." Tom pushed aside a piece of wall sheeting that had fallen and moved to the next obstacle. A structural support had fallen on one of the upper levels, piercing through the floors below until it had lodged in the hallway here on the medical level. The debris from the hall ceiling, along with the support, had closed off most of the corridor. Tom waited on the nurse carrying the bag to catch up with him. "Come on missy. The folks in that room don't have all day."
Tom could see the face of the woman as she came up to him. She was pale, with dark hair matted together with sweat, but the stern look on her face could have melted the blast shield on his lander. Tom held the lantern towards her. "Take this; I am going to need both hands." The woman snatched the lantern from him. 'Suppose I should tell her thanks, but I doubt that will make her happy anyway.'
Tom looked at the debris near the support, and dug his fingers into part of what appeared to be a mangled piece of ductwork. Tom activated the magnetic locks on his feet and started backing up. Tom could hear the screech of the metal as the sound vibrated through his 'body'. After two steps a portion of the metal tore free and small pieces of it broke loose as the metal snapped. Tom heard a shriek on his radio and turned around. The nurse was busy trying to hold one hand over a stream of air gushing from her suit while her other hand was frantically trying to grab a piece of the duct tape strapped to her leg. Tom dropped the metal fragment and grabbed a piece of tape from the woman's leg, pulled her other hand out of the way, and sealed the leak with the strip of tape.
"I told you that tape would come in handy. You can thank me later."
Tom could hear the woman breathing hard as she tried to calm down and catch her breath. He looked at the area where the metal had broken free. Tom reached into the mess and crushed several jagged areas of metal back onto themselves. After a few moments, he stopped to check his progress. "I think we can squeeze through here." Tom climbed into the gap in the wreckage and pushed his way through. 'If I can make it, she can.'
Tom reached back through the gap and waited until the nurse handed him his lantern, then he moved up to the door with the small air leak. It only took a few seconds before the woman was through the hole in the debris and had reached Tom. "Go ahead and set up the entry seal for me. If there is anything unhealthy on the far side of this door, I've got a better chance of surviving it."
Tom watched as the woman set the bag on the floor and opened it. "Yeah, I think it's your turn to have something unpleasant happen to you." He watched as she dropped a small air cylinder at his feet and then unrolled a section of heavy plastic sheet and began taping it around him and the door. It took a few minutes for her to finish the seal, but as she completed her work the plastic began to billow up as the small leak filled it.
Tom picked up the small cylinder and slowly released the valve. Air began to hiss from it and the plastic sheet became a 'bubble' of air. Tom hit the emergency release on the door, and again nothing happened. Tom gripped the frame and watched as the latch broke free and the door popped open as the pressure in the bubble pushed it in.

0539 hours/Dome One, Mars

Li Xue swallowed hard to make her ears pop again. 'It helps to make them feel better, but it also makes the leak that much easier to hear.' Li took a deep breath, and then another. 'They told us that long deep breaths help to keep you calm and get the most from what oxygen there is when the pressure drops. I wonder if they taught that to these colonists, or if she just forgot.'
Li listened to the shallow panting of the other woman in the room. The young woman who had tried to get Li to take the pills she had brought. "You need to slow your breathing. You are only making it worse." Li listened as the woman continued panting. 'Maybe she is just susceptible to low pressures. I have heard that some people are, but you would think they wouldn't allow them to become colonists. I can hear her beginning to wheeze, even with her shallow breathing. Her lungs are already swelling and filling with fluid in response to the low pressure in the room.' Li reached out across the top of the table until she felt the pills that had spilled there. 'Maybe these will help her calm down. Or they might just kill her. We are going to die anyway, so I suppose that isn't such a horrible thing. At least she will just feel numb and go to sleep, instead of choking to death as her lungs fill up.'
Li picked up the pills, and lowered herself to the floor. She took a moment to orient to the noise of the woman panting and wheezing, then began to crawl toward the noise. 'At least with the furniture all molding into the floor, I won't have to worry about any of it having moved.' Li felt her heart begin to race slightly as she crawled, and her head began to pound and spin. 'There must be less pressure in here than I thought. We are probably on top of the tallest mountain on Earth right now. Maybe higher.' Li pictured herself crawling across a snowy summit as she moved along the cold floor. Her hand touched something warm and she felt the young woman startle. The girl's breathing became even more rapid. "Calm down child. It will be alright." Li tried to use a soothing voice, as she pulled herself closer and sat beside the young woman. She felt along her body until she found hair, then her face. Li took the pills and held them against the other woman's mouth. She felt the young woman shake her head a few times. Li pulled her hand back and waited as the woman began panting again, then poked the pills into the woman's mouth and held it shut. The girl coughed or gagged for a moment as she tried to push Li away, and then Li heard her swallow. Li took her hand away and tried to caress the young woman's hair. "It's alright. Just a little longer."
Li felt the young woman put a hand on her, and then felt the girl's head as the young woman pulled herself into Li's lap and rested there. The sound of her wheezing was getting worse, and more rapid. Li could feel herself beginning to pant as her chest began to ache. As Li rested her hand on the girl’s hair, all she could think of was Mae. "I hope she is still alive. But if she isn't, I hope she didn't die alone." Li felt tears begin to roll down her cheek as she thought of Mae.
Suddenly something slammed into Li's head and the world began to swim. Her already throbbing headache had become a bright, blinding light and she felt herself fall back onto the floor. Li could just make out a figure behind the light before it all turned into a mix of swirling colors.

0540 hours/GTOR 47, Earth orbit near US Spaceworks

Captain Ron Brook reached forwarded and tapped the navigation computer. "This thing is probably older than we are. It ought to know the way home by now."
"You would think so, but we aren't exactly on the regular route home, are we?"
Ron looked over at his co-pilot, Lieutenant Lainee Thomas. "No, I guess you are right Lainee. The ground-side brass wants another high pass over Chinese airspace to get more pictures of whatever it is they find so interesting. Check in with the Traffic Control Center on the Spaceworks. Make sure we are still on course."
Lainee reached forward and turned the radio to the TCC's frequency. The radio crackled to life. Ron watched as Lainee pulled the neck ring of her aging vaac suit down so she could speak directly at the microphone on the control panel. "TCC Zero Three, this is GTOR Four Seven. Request trajectory check."
A few seconds passed and a reply crackled in. "GTOR Four Seven, this is TCC Zero Three. We have you at one two zero klicks below plotted altitude. Velocity within re-entry parameters. Do you copy?"
Lainee pulled the ring down again. "Copy. Nav Com seems to have an issue. Will attempt course correction. Please stand by."
Lainee let go of the neck ring and looked at Ron. "Guess they will get their pictures from a little closer than they had expected."
"Looks that way." Ron pressed the buttons on the console to activate the external feed and began to align the picture. Reds lights flashed in the cabin as the rocket shook violently.
Ron looked up at Lainee. "What's wrong? Is the Nav Com that far off?!"
Lainee reached forward and began to tap at the screen in front of her. Suddenly the entire bank of screens went black, along with the cockpit. The red emergency lights flickered to life. "Ron, what the hell happened?!" Ron could hear the stress in Lainee's voice as she tapped over and over again at the blank screens in front of her.
"I don't know, but whatever it is, it sure can't be good.".

0547 hours/Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters sat in the briefing room, watching the assembled staff as they hurried about. 'The president is on his way here for a briefing in this unfinished concrete room. If these people are hoping to make it look comfortable and stylish, they are years too late. With reports that the aliens bombed the colonies on Mars and landed troops there twenty minutes ago, and with the president due to arrive here in the next ten minutes, this seems a little inappropriate.'
Bradley watched as Commander Victor Jones pulled up the reports from Mars and read them off to Bradley. "Defense Base Two was destroyed, but Base One and the Martian Spaceworks were undamaged. The aliens bombed the surface, but this time hit military targets for the most part. Usually troop concentrations near several domes. And they landed their troops and supplies with those small, high speed craft they have. Apparently they can be used as something other than a bomb."
Bradley leaned forward and pointed at some of the data. "It doesn't look like they have anywhere close to the number of troops they will need to hold out for long on the surface though. And again they abandoned a landing site." Bradley tapped at the Commander's screen and pulled up reports of the Martian troop movements. "I thought so. The aliens will have a hard time holding any of their landing zones. We have far more troops, and we have orbital surveillance of the alien movements. They may be hoping to bait us into deploying more ships to Mars for them to destroy, but they will end up losing their troops if they don't support them soon. We may have the chance to hit the aliens when they are vulnerable for a change."
Bradley saw Commander Jones turn slightly in his chair. "Do you think that any action against China would be wise at this time? We have a large number of assets here on the ground that could be used to take out the new sites they are constructing, but without orbital support the losses could be tremendous."
Bradley shook his head. "With the chance to hit the aliens, and maybe gain some breathing room for us to rebuild our fleet, I have no intention of recommending that we take any action against China at this time. Other than harsh language of course. But a shooting war here? No."
Bradley and Victor both looked up as one of Secretary Richards' aides rushed in and pulled the Secretary aside. The color seemed to drain from his face as the aide spoke. The man seemed to stumble to the head of the table as the aide left the room.
"Gentlemen, I have distressing news. Ground to Orbit Rocket Forty Seven had been scheduled for a high orbit flyby of Chinese space over the Pacific coast. It had been intended to gain the latest Intel on the situation in that area for this meeting. Our orbital station was tracking the craft and detected energy pulses consistent with laser batteries discharging from the surface in Korea. GTOR Forty Seven was apparently damaged and lost attitude control. Its emergency re-entry systems activated and tried to bring the craft back safely to Earth but failed. Reports indicate that it has crashed in Seattle. Initial reports indicate that the city may be a total loss and that the death toll may exceed five million."
...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: March 2205

Postby procyon on Thu 10 Jan 2013 10:00

March 2205 part 10

March 2nd 0555 hours/Mars Traffic Control Center, Mars surface

Rear Admiral Jamie Gauld looked about the control room. The once bright room was now lit by several battery powered lanterns. The staff, once dressed in Space Service uniforms, were now dressed in light EVA suits. The screens were mostly dark. Power had been restored to a few, but no more than half a dozen. A portable radio, heavily shielded against EMP, was now hooked into the communications array and was set to work as a repeater from the Communication Specialist's EVA suit.
Jamie looked around at the Control Center and the staff. 'We have some ability to follow what is happening and give orders. But it sure ain't much.'
Jamie moved over to the Traffic Control plot. "How is the redeployment of the Seventeenth going? Have we got lifters to their site yet, Charlie?"
A young woman, Ensign Charlotte Peterson, turned from the monitor she had been intently tapping at. "Admiral, I think we have one lifter routed from the Mars Station to their site, but I haven't gotten confirmation that it has landed. The Control Center's array is down and we are working off a feed I have patched through from Defense Base One. But the debris from the blasts is making it difficult for them to track movements near ground level."
"Keep working on it. If you can track down any assets that can help, put them to work. Commandeer anything that can move passengers."
Another voice grabbed Jamie's attention. "Admiral, the Third Battalion of the Fourth Light Power Armor has made contact. They indicate they have their company of Stewart Light Assault Vehicles loaded and ready to go. They could get here with them carrying a company of infantry in thirty minutes."
Jamie moved away from Ensign Peterson and turned towards the radio. "Tell whoever's running the Third of the Fourth that they need to move to the spaceport near Dome Fourteen. There are only two facilities set up to offload the amount of supplies we will need if this drags out, and this one is not open for business. They need to secure the civilian facilities by Dome Fourteen before the aliens do. Get the rest of the Fourth on their heels as soon as possible."
Jamie turned back to the monitors only to see them black out. "What the hell just happened?"
"Admiral, we've lost the link to the external array. All external feeds are down. Comm is out also."
Jamie switched his internal radio over to the Security Team's band. "Sierra Tango Tango Charlie this is Juliette Bravo, Sitrep."
The radio filled with static for a few moments before a voice broke through. "Juliette Bravo, this is Tango Charlie. Heavily engaged in Concourses One through Four. Ogres times two have breached external walls near Hatches Seven and Eight. Moving in unknown strength toward Juliette Alpha. Sending squad for extraction..." The radio signal suddenly broke off and was replaced by static.
Jamie switched his radio back to the Control Center's internal frequency. "Everyone, pack up what you can. We move in two minutes for Concourse Five. Comm, see if you can get that portable to raise anyone over in that area. See if they have any birds on the ground that can still fly, and better yet, someone who can fly them. We are moving to Mars Station One. It's the only place we are going to have the eyes to track this situation and keep in contact with all the units."
Jamie scrolled through the menus on his HUD. 'It's been a long time since I piloted a lifter. Sure hope we can find one I can fly.'

0612 hours/Enemy Spaceport, Fourth planet surface

Soldier 24-52 extended his magnetic field, along with the other light suit and his Team Leader, Soldier 24-50. 'We need to push back all this dust. The particles are becoming charged and clouding the sensors on my suit.'
Soldier 24-52 could feel the rapid pulses from his Team Leader's gauss weapon as he sprayed fire through the nearby hatchway and out across the searing landscape beyond it. Soldier 24-52 could feel that his suit was still far too hot to fire his weapon yet, and tried to vent heat into the lower external rockets. Moments later he detached them and fired both out into the hellish landscape outside, programming their fields to settle into the dust and activate their movement sensors.
'Those two bombs will give us some warning if they try to reach this hatchway. Venting this section of the enemy's home has cooled it for now, but soon it will be just as hot in here as it is outside.'
Soldier 24-52 could sense as the Team Leader moved away from the hatch and Soldier 24-51 moved to continue the suppressive fire. 'It will be my turn in only a few moments. The weapon is ready.' Soldier 24-52 altered the field in his suit and tried to use the targeting sensors to extend his perception through the wall. 'I can feel through the wall for a short distance, but the floating charges make it impossible to lock onto a target from here.' Soldier 24-52 switched the targeting over to a thermal setting. 'This can't see through the walls, but the enemy suits still shine like flaming demons, even in this inferno.'
Soldier 24-52 suddenly felt his suit shift violently as a grenade detonated in the hatchway. He could sense as sections of the external wall were vaporized by some weapon and the two rockets he had placed outside the hatchway detonated, spewing more of the swirling charged dust inside the hatch.
Soldier 24-52 altered the suit's field and moved away from the hatch then began firing on it with his gauss weapon as he fell back. Even as he moved his suit behind a craft in the bay and continued to fire underneath of it towards the hatchway, he could feel the pain and fear of Soldier 24-51 as the superheated atmosphere slowly invaded his suit. He could also feel Team Leader 24-50 sending orders to Soldier 24-51. Even as Soldier 24-51 was dying, he moved his suit beyond the hatch into the scorching ground filled with the enemy and detonated the remaining rockets on his suit.
Soldier 24-52 suddenly sensed several of the enemy suits rocket past the hatchway and into the bay. He shifted behind the cover and detached four of the external rockets and locked them onto the rapidly moving figures. Soldier 24-52 felt dozens of other rockets closing on the hatchway with his and felt the detonations as they shock the inside of the bay. 'We won't have enough rockets to hold them all off much longer.'
Soldier 24-52 could feel a new field suddenly filling the room, followed by the field of his Team Leader ordering him to push forward toward the hatchway again.
The new field became clearer and stronger and meaning filled it. He tried to supress the fear he felt, trying to keep it from invading the field.
"This is Attack Craft 22. Four Heavy Assault Suits and twenty triads to deploy immediately. Supporting fire requested for landing."
Soldier 24-52 moved toward the door and fired his gauss weapon into the clouds of dust and the enemy soldiers it hid.

0620 hours/Mars Central Spaceport, Concourse 5, Mars surface

Li Xue hung on tightly with both hands. 'I feel like part of a streamer some child is waving in the wind.'
A sudden ripple in the human chain made Li grab even harder to the woman in front of her, as her left arm became even more numb. "I know we need to hold on to each other like this so we can keep up with you, but I don't think I can hold on like this much longer." Li waited to see if there was any response.
'I didn't figure he could hear me. This silly suit has no radio. The only people who can hear me are the ones I'm right up against. Which would be some woman I don't even know in front of me, and the nurse that is all doped up behind me.' Li felt a moment of guilt as she remembered forcing the nurse to take the meds that had been intended for her.
Li looked around at the chain of people she was part of. 'There are about eight of us, and I'm halfway back along the chain. The cyborg can move quickly because his feet stick to these floors. But the rest of us just bounce in the low gravity if we try to go fast or change direction in a hurry. So one of us hangs onto the cyborg and the rest of us just string out behind.' Li felt her left arm begin to slip and dug in even more tightly with her right. A muffled squeal of pain and an angry voice echoed in her puffed up skin suit. All of it gibberish.
"Oh please shut up. If I let go, I and everyone behind me are dead. If you don't like it, complain to the aliens. They started all this." Li could feel her left arm slipping more and suddenly reached up with her legs and wrapped them around the woman in front of her. 'Oh my. She sounds even more upset than before.' Li leaned forward so the bubble around her head touched the woman's in front of her. "Just shut up and keep your legs toward the floor. You stumble and both our butts are going to bounce on this hard floor."
Li could feel sweat trickling down her face and back as she held on. She took a few deep breaths but it didn't seem to help. 'The air in this skin suit is getting stale already. They say it will last five minutes, but I doubt that is if you are holding on for dear life and bouncing around like a rag doll. Oh no. Another corner.'
Li braced herself as the cyborg moved quickly around the corner and the chain swung with him. Li could feel feet skittering on the floor trying to slow down, and watched as she and the line slowly hit the wall. 'That wasn't so bad. Maybe that cyborg is taking pity on us.' Li looked up and saw a cloud of dust suddenly billow into the new hallway they had just entered and the lights dimmed. "Oh shit, that isn't good."
Li could feel the cyborg change from a fast walk to a dead run and felt her left arm pull free. Another sudden jerk pulled her right arm free also. Li cinched her legs hard and tried to lock her feet together while her head was folded harshly against her chest as it was pushed forward by the body of the nurse behind her. She felt the pressure on her neck let up and looked back in time to see the nurse drift free as she lost her grip. Li grabbed for the nurse with her right hand and just managed to get hold of her arm. She could feel the nurse's fingers dig into her as she also held on for her life. Suddenly the nurse was rushing toward her and Li felt herself smashed between the nurse and the woman in front of her.
"What was that for?" Li tried to look around and saw that she was only a few meters from a lifter of some sort and that the cyborg had freed himself from the chain and was beginning to move up the side of the lifter. Li released her grips and tried to orient herself as she fell toward the floor in a slow spin. As she seemed to crawl toward the floor she could see that a side hatch on the lifter was open. As she continued her slow spin, she saw flashes light the dim bay. 'Oh no. Oh no ! Please No !" Li struggled to get a hand or foot to the floor to push off with as over a dozen alien suits and power armored soldiers fought in one of the entrances to the bay. Li saw dust spray from the side of the lifter as one of the alien suits fired.
Li pushed her way toward the open hatch and scrambled inside the lifter. "I can't see a thing. Can anyone turn on a light?! Please turn on a light !" Li found a structure inside the lifter and clung to it. Tried to pull it between her and the hatch. Li looked back and forth. 'It's too dark. I can't see anything !'
Li watched as the lifter door shut and the compartment was plunged into complete darkness. Li realized that her chest was burning and her breath was coming in ragged gasps. 'Oh god, I'm going to suffocate in this suit before they know I'm even in here.' Then she felt herself being pulled away from whatever it was she had hold of, and clung to it harder. 'I can't even catch my breath to scream ! It can’t end like this.’
Li's chest began to ache from exertion and her head hurt. Light flooded her vision and she realized that everything looked very grey. She could see others in skin suits gathered in the compartment with her, and that someone was up walking around. She watched as the grey figure reached down to pull the hood of her suit loose and felt cold air on her face.

0629 hours/GTOS 22, 500 meters above Mars

Ensign Tom Hudson tried to pull the struggling Chinese woman from the bracket she had wrapped herself around. 'Damn, she has a death grip on this. She had a good hold on it when she was purple and nearly suffocated. Now she's really latched on. I could peel her off, but I'd definitely hurt her doing it.'
Tom looked over to see that the nurse who'd accompanied him for the better part of the last hour had taken the helmet off of her EVA suit and was helping the other passengers. 'I'm just going to let her take care of the rest. She can fix the ones that haven't opened up their skin suits yet. We didn't go through all that work to save their sorry butts just for them to suffocate on my boat. She isn't going to be able to talk to this little lady though. At least I doubt that nurse Kelly speaks Chinese.'
Tom took a moment to count heads in the shuttle's outer hatchway. 'Looks like I've got six in here. Damn. We must have lost one somewhere along the line.' Tom turned back to the woman curled up into a ball around the bracket, then selected the translator menu on his HUD and switched the output to the dialect of Chinese that had worked a few days before. 'Alright, now what do I say?'
Tom knelt beside the Chinese woman and waited as her breathing slowed down. As he waited he heard several pings on the outer hull that told him some alien was taking pot shots at his shuttle. "Lay off, damn it."
Tom looked back to the woman in front of him and found her looking into his faceplate. "Not you. You're safe for now. Are you hurt?" She seemed to lose focus for a moment and took a few breaths, then began to slowly move her arms and legs a bit. Tom watched her speak and waited for the translator to catch up. 'This is like watching a poorly dubbed vid.'
"I think I'm no worse than I was before you found me. I can't feel my left arm very well."
Tom nodded to her. "I need you to let go of the bracket so we can get you into an inner compartment. We are heading to the station in orbit. If this compartment has been holed it will lose pressure before we dock."
Tom watched as the woman's face grew more focused, and she struggled to unwrap herself from the bracket. "Good. Good. Slowly. There now." Tom gently took her arm as she tried to stand in the shuttle while its acceleration shifted which direction was 'down' every few seconds. "Let's get to the passenger bay. You should enjoy this ride. It isn't every day you get to ride a shuttle flown by an admiral." The woman didn't seem to be paying much attention to what he was saying, just shuffling along beside Tom.
"You might even have left a souvenir on this crate. I don't know if they ever unloaded your suit after we landed." Tom felt the woman stop moving and looked at her. 'Hell, she's even paler now than when I opened the room she was trapped in.' Tom watched as the woman slowly began to shake like a leaf and tears started to roll down her face. Tom waited for a moment and picked her up. 'I used to carry my kids like this. That seems like another life now.'
Tom placed her in the acceleration couch as Kelly came up beside him. "What happened to her? Is she hurt?"
Tom pulled the straps across the sobbing woman and snapped the buckles together, then switched the output on his speaker to English. "I don't think so. Not physically. She was one of the Chinese soldiers on Hektor. I think she's the only one now. Only god knows what she went through there, or who she lost."
Tom was surprised to hear an accented voice from a nearby couch, and the hate in it.
"She should have died with the rest. They killed my husband when they landed. She deserves whatever happened to her."
...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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