February 2205

Procyon's family campaign

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Re: February 2205

Postby procyon on Wed 05 Oct 2011 03:10

February 2205 part 21

February 24th 1257 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 4 light minutes from Victoria Colony

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could feel the crew's apprehension as Patrol Vessel 13's transmission reached the ship. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 13 had ordered his Strike Group to move on the enemy. The colony that Patrol Vessel 13 was stationed near had begun an evacuation. Warships of the native race had landed on the surface and the population had begun loading into the vessels.
The logic of the order was obvious. If the native race evacuated the colony, there would no longer be any reason to station warships at that location. The attack would have to be made before the enemy could complete its evacuation, if possible. And so the Commander of Patrol Vessel 13 had issued the orders that defied those given by the Commander of Fleets. It was the only hope to achieve the goal of the operation.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 felt the crew's fears and misgivings growing. 'I am new to this position, if not the ship. I have served on this ship since our arrival in this system. But the crew does not know what to expect of me. What my decisions will be. How I will react to the situations as they arise. If I will prove as capable as the one who is now Commander of Fleets.'
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 looked at the options before him. The goal of the opening portions of the operation had been to force the native race to overextend itself and expend a great deal of its ordinance dealing with annoyances. It depended on the enemy always believing that what was happening was no more than raids, not an attack in force. That had been compromised by what had happened near the great ringed planet. A Strike Group had been forced into combat. Had been forced to demonstrate the new systems, maneuvers, and designs. The native race had been given a chance to strengthen their positions in response to this new information. Or to withdraw their forces to consolidate their strength.
'The native race has not withdrawn from the nearby colony. Every attempt to send scout craft to the colony has resulted in their destruction. The enemy has landed additional forces on the colony and our troops are being pressed hard. No, the enemy is still at this colony. They may have stationed substantial forces there to guard it. There is no way for us to know exactly what they have there as every scout craft in this Strike Group has been lost attempting to gain exactly that information.'
'If we withdraw, we will fail to destroy the enemy ships that are stationed there and will grant them the chance to withdraw to a stronger position. If we attack, we risk destruction against an unknown foe. Either action could spell the doom of this operation. And in the end, be the doom of us all.'
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 changed the field at his station and felt the crew respond. The Commander could feel as the drive engaged and the rest of the Strike Group moved into formation. Moved toward the nearby enemy colony. Sensed as transmissions sped across the void of space to announce that they were also moving to attack.
'If what waits at the enemy colony can destroy us now, it will surely be able to do so later. But if we can destroy them, the chance may not come again.'

1305 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, surface of Hektor

Captain Scott Moreland tried to keep up with the enormous amount of data appearing on his monitor. 'How in the hell are we going to pull this off.'
"Captain, Engineering reports boarders in forward section destroyed. We have additional reports of alien suits attempting to move support weapons to attack the drive shield."
Scott heard the Communications Officer and wanted to curse. "Comm, raise the Senior Engineer, whoever the hell that is right now. Move the Aft Damage Control Team to Exterior Hatches Seventeen through Twenty. They need to make sure the aliens don't get the drive shield or we will be sitting ducks here. Then try and raise any troops nearby to see if there is anyone left who can assist."
"Yes sir." Scott watched as the Comm Officer began tapping madly at the screens in front of him. 'Poor bastard has to do the job of three right now. Just like the rest of us.' Scott looked around at the bridge. ‘Helm, Comm, Weapon Conn, all of them stripped down to skeleton crews. Everyone who can be spared right now is fighting or fixing. Trying to keep this crate in one piece, or fighting the aliens trying to tear it apart. Using weapons that for the last ten years I have looked at as ornamental.' Scott felt a slight shifting of the ship and more prompts appeared across his monitor. Before he could touch one the Comm Officer cut in.
"Captain, priority message from Earth Command for you. From Admiral Walters. Forwarding to your station."
Scott saw the new blue box appear and he opened it. 'Any good news would be appreciated now.'





Scott looked at the message. 'God, how has it come to this.'
Scott keyed open the ship intercom. "Launch bay, GTOS Twenty Two, respond."
Moments passed until the intercom carried the response. "Aye, GTOS Twenty Two, Midshipman Fairchild here. Make this good. We just finished off three of the damned little suits trying to bypass the Bay doors. And there could be more around here somewhere."
Scott opened the intercom link again. "Midshipman Fairchild, this is Captain Moreland. Prep the lifter for launch. Full load of colonist pods. Is that clear?"
A long silence ensued. "Aye Captain."
Scott looked back to the Comm Officer. "Comm, transmit to the Steadfast. Have them load their GTOS with colonists for launch. Then transmit on open frequency that two GTOS will be moving on bearing two seven zero from Hektor with passengers. Request assistance from any ship capable of responding."
Scott didn't wait for the answer. 'Before I kill every soul on this rock, I will damn well save every one of them I can.'

1313 hours/GTOS 22, bay of Q Ship Vigilance

Midshipman Ed Fairchild moved along the side of GTOS 22 going over the preflight checklist displayed on his HUD. The lifter rocked slightly as the last pod began loading into the cargo bay.
"Why in the hell do I even bother? Twenty Two has already failed half of the checklist. There isn't going to be time to fix anything and the Captain isn't going to have a change of heart. Whatever shape this crate is in, it will fly or crash in the next few minutes.' Ed shut off the checklist and moved to the front of the GTOS.
Ed climbed up the lifter and opened the hatch to the cockpit. 'At least the stations are still intact.' Ed began turning on the systems at his station and prepping the ship for low G launch. 'We will parade this cripple in front of its firing squad nice and slow. Wouldn't want the aliens wasting their ammo on a hard target would we.'
Ed saw a green light flash on the console, indicating that the cargo section had been secured. 'Only a few minutes left.' Ed turned on the radio and punched in a frequency.
"Tom, if you are still alive out there, Twenty Two lifts off in ten minutes. You said you would catch the next ride and this is your last chance. I could definitely use your help right now." Ed turned off the radio.

1318 hours/Surface of Hektor

Li Xue knelt behind the rocks piled near the loading ramp of the US ship. 'It’s a miracle any of the pods full of colonists survived this.'
Li fired a burst from the Pulse Rifle on her arm and watched the tracers arc toward a pair of small alien suits a few hundred meters away. She watched as several ricocheted away from the suits. Two rockets peeled off of one suit as it fired its gauss machine gun. Li watched as the rockets slammed into the cargo area of a large mining hauler. The detonations blew out the rear hatches of the cargo section and rocks began to drift out as the mining vehicle continued to move on with the 'Pod Crawler' moving along beside it.
Li fired three more bursts at the alien suits as tracers from other FSC soldiers joined hers. She watched as one of the suits spun and drifted away while the second rapidly moved behind another rock formation. Seconds later three more small alien suits appeared to fire on the convoy.
Li ducked down and looked back at the pod filled with colonists. 'It doesn't look damaged. Green lights are still on.' Li looked back along the trail toward the nearby dome. 'Maybe these will make it.' Li counted the pods and crawlers littering the trail where alien weapons had taken them out. For every Pod Crawler at least a dozen other vehicles had been destroyed. 'Anything that can move and give the pods cover has been used. Now the wrecks are isolated pockets of cover. A few FSC soldiers at each one trying to keep this trail open.'
Li stood again and saw that one of the alien suits had moved to only one hundred meters from the crawler. She emptied the Pulse Rifle into it before firing her jump jets. As she drifted toward the US ship she saw the rocks she had been hiding behind scattered as several rockets detonated among them. Li fired the braking thrusters and landed at the foot of the ramp. She ejected the clip from the Pulse Rifle and waited for the auto loader to snap the last magazine into place. Li tried to raise her left arm for the hundredth time to find it was still useless. Li took a deep breath only to be reminded how badly her side hurt. 'I'm the last Power Armor here, but I can't do this much longer.'
Li knelt down and looked back along the trail. Scattered among the destroyed vehicles were the dead. 'At least those that weren't blasted into orbit of this rock.'
Li saw a Chinese Suit near the wreckage of another mining vehicle. Her HUD still displayed 'PLATOON LEADER' as she looked at it. It marked where Ling Song had died trying to hold off two squads of the alien suits. Suits that had cut her down and then continued firing their machine guns into her long after she was dead.
Li closed her eyes and wondered what had happened to Kwang. Kwang and Kei had lost contact with the group during the move from the pad. They had ended up cut off by alien forces. Li could hear Kei as she had fought. Her yells. Then her screams. Finally the choking, gasping cries as she had died. Cries she had heard over and over again as the FSC soldiers had given their lives trying to protect their own. But Kwang had never transmitted. Whether by choice or malfunction, he had died in silence.
Li opened her eyes and saw the green prompt that the Pulse Rifle was loaded. 'This is it. I pitched the Type 15 and 67 long ago. I've got nothing else to fight with.' Li tried to stand but her aching legs refused. 'Nothing else at all.' Li saw movement and noticed the US cyborg moving beside the Pod Crawler as it approached the bottom of the loading ramp. Saw that the cyborg’s left hand had been shot away. The right leg moved with a hitch and was damaged. That the torso had two small holes in it. 'After all that and he is still firing that puny laser at anything that moves.'
Li saw the cyborg swing its laser, then saw the squad of alien suits rushing toward the loading ramp. Dust churned up as rockets exploded and weapon muzzle blasts stirred the fine powder. Li fired burst after burst as alien suits tried to reach the opening into the ship or fired on the vehicles. Li saw the red light flash on her HUD that the Pulse Rifle was empty. Li leaned back against the ramp support and closed her eyes. "I tried my best Mae. I tried."
Li felt her suit as it bounced off the ramp a few times and waited for the pain or the hiss as her suit lost its seal. And waited. Li heard snapping noises and opened her eyes. Li looked up at the US cyborg as it dragged her along the deck inside the ship, too tired to care why, and passed 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: February 2205

Postby procyon on Wed 16 Nov 2011 15:14

February 2205 part 22

February 24th 1520 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 5 light seconds from Hektor

Commodore Stephan Vasilikos checked the drive output reports against the drive status updates from the US Q Ships Vigilance and Steadfast. The two US ships had finished loading over an hour ago and had lifted off from Hektor Colony shortly thereafter. Captain Scott Moreland of the Vigilance was pushing the drive relentlessly. 'Moreland has exceeded the safe thrust limits set for the civilian lines by nearly a factor of ten for most of this trip. The colonists are going to feel like hell when they wake up, assuming they survive. Pulling that many G's when they are just packed into shipping containers, not all of them will.'
Stephan saw the prompt appear for the next update from Hektor. He opened it and watched as the data appeared on his monitor. 'The last two Q Ships have secured their LZs and begun loading operations, but just barely. With almost all of the Chinese troops having withdrawn to safe distances from the blast zones, it is down to a handful of reservists protecting the US ships.'
Stephan checked the reports from the FSC ship. 'The Mary Reed looks to have half an hour left to finish loading. That will help. The Power Armor Battalion securing its landing area will be able to move in support of the US ships when the Mary Reed lifts off.'
Stephan closed out the status updates and checked the sensor returns and drive outputs again. 'This ship was built to achieve, maintain, and withstand a speed of sixteen thousand kilometers per second. The drive was never designed to run at the low outputs of a civilian liner, unlike the US Q Ships that originally were civilian freighters. The Helmsman and Engineering have to perform a constant balancing act to not overshoot these US ships.'
A red box suddenly appeared on Stephan's screen as he heard the Comm Officer call out.
"Broadband transmission from US Q Ship Resolute. Priority channel and open coding. Report of new contacts. Three alien ships. An Echo and a pair of Tango Twos. Range to Victoria of four light seconds on bearing zero zero two. Velocity of nine thousand kilometers per second on course one two zero."
The Comm Officer had barely finished when Stephan cut in. "Helm, drive to full combat acceleration. Bring us about to course three zero zero, level ascension. Battle Stations. Engineering, prep magnetic field generators but do not go online until my command. Comm, transmit to Captain Moreland that we will be breaking formation."
Stephan watched the sensor returns as the drive blooms for the Vigilance and Steadfast grew. 'If I thought Moreland was pushing his passengers before, they are in for a ride now.' A magnetic signature appeared near Hektor. "That will be the Krait. The Q Ships and Mary Reed won't have had time to lift off yet," Stephan said to no one in particular.
'They will need to vent their 'cargo' first.'

1520 hours/US Q Ship Resolute, surface of Hektor

Commander Baxter Lewis looked at the flashing red prompt on the screen in front of him as he locked his station. He used the armrest controls to guide the cursor over the box flashing "<VENT CARGO SECTIONS>". 'This is Engineering's job, but I can't ask anyone else to do this. Forgive me for what I have to do.' Baxter tapped the key and felt the Resolute shudder as gouts of argon designed to clear battle damage blasted the tumbling containers loaded with human beings out into space or across the surface of Hektor. "Engineering, how many were loaded?"
"Thirteen containers. Three thousand two hundred and fifty souls."
"Get us off this rock. Engage bloom when the drive shield is clear. Shields to full ASAP. Battle Stations. Get me a firing solution on that Echo. We have to keep the aliens busy here." Baxter didn't finish the idea that he was thinking. 'If they get past us, the Vigilance and Steadfast will have to do the same thing. And they are each carrying fifteen thousand colonists in their holds.'
"Captain, sensors show the Defiant has cleared her holds and is lifting off. The FSC Mary Reed has not cleared her holds and shows no drive activity."
Baxter heard the Sensor Officer and checked the readings. 'Why is the Mary Reed just sitting there? They will be harder to find sitting on the surface with their drives off, but the alien troops have to be transmitting its location. The aliens won't even need to be close to blow the ship apart if it is just parked there.' Baxter thought for a moment as the helm announced that the drive shield was clear and then engaged the drive. 'Unless he won't do it. The Mary Reed is nearly full. They will have almost fifteen thousand passengers now, and those are their people. And we can't nuke the habitats with that ship parked in the middle of them.'
Baxter's attention was grabbed as the Weapon Conn called out. "Target lock and firing solution online."
"Captain, launch detected from Echo. Inbound. Initial readings give target as Defiant. Magnetic pulse detected from Tangos." Baxter saw the flashing prompt on his screen even as Engineering announced "Shield generators off line. Hull intact." Seconds later the Sensor Officer called out "Defiant has lost shields. Apparent mass driver hit. No venting or drive interruption detected. Launch detected from FSC ships Mary Reed and Krait."
"Get the next launch online." Baxter could feel irritation growing inside him as he watched the missiles cross in space. 'We are too slow for the Defiant or us to use the evasion protocol.' The sensors clouded as the alien missile detonated. Moments later the scattered wreckage of the Defiant appeared.
"Captain, sensor returns show shield failure on the Echo. Aspect change. Echo attempting to disengage."
Baxter looked at the returns. "Send that ship to hell."
New flashing icons appeared on his monitor and Baxter felt his strength draining from him even as the Sensor Officer called out what he could already see.
"New contacts. Alpha times two. Magnetic field deployment detected. Inbounds times two. Target is the Resolute."

Fifteen seconds later a detonation shattered the Resolute's drive shield and the ship disappeared as its drive bloom consumed the ship.

1521 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 5.5 light seconds from Hektor

"Captain, we have a sensor feed from FSC Krait."
"Forward to my station." Captain Scott Moreland watched as the sensor feed showed first the destruction of the Defiant followed by the appearance of two Alphas, and then the destruction of the Resolute. Moments later the second missile from the Alphas turned the location where the Mary Reed had been into a mass of expanding contacts as wreckage and rubble blasted away from the surface of the asteroid. Two more detonations gouged huge craters into the surface as the sensors showed another pair of magnetic pulses from the Tangos as they fired their mass drivers.
'At least we won't have to fire on the habitats. Not after that.'
"Captain, incoming transmission from the Steadfast. Patching through to your station."
Static filled the comm channel then cleared as the signal came through.
"Scott, if you give the order we will vent our holds and turn this crate around. Launch bay and shields are prepped. What do you want to do skipper?"
Scott tried to think for a moment. 'The Krait is back there fighting four on one while the Red October is running at them. I don't know about the captain on the Krait, but Commodore Vasilikos knows he can't take out two Alphas and two Tangos with only eight missiles. All he's doing is giving them a target and keeping them busy. Buying us some time.'
"No Coop. We can't win this fight. If there is going to be anything good come from this, it will have to be us and our cargoes."
The line was silent for a few moments. "It's your call Scott, but I can't say I wanted to vent this cargo."
"Don't get ahead of yourself. If those Alphas get too close, we may have to."

1522 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 4.5 light seconds from Hektor

Stephan watched the sensor feed and status reports from the Krait. 'I don't know who that Captain is, but I like his style. Charging those Alphas like he was ready to ram, just to make them break wide. That move alone bought the Q Ships a few more minutes.' Stephan looked at the Red October's sensor returns. The Krait, Alphas, and Tangos were just vague magnetic readings as the asteroid field interfered with the returns, but the detonations as the Tangos shelled Hektor were brutally obvious.
'At least if those Tangos are busy bouncing the rubble, they aren't targeting the Krait.'
"Echo signature lost. Beyond sensor range. Krait magnetic signature lost. Sensor feed still online."
Stephan watched as the feed from the Krait shifted wildly. 'They are trying to use the maneuver protocol to shake this next pair of inbounds from the Alphas.' The sensor feed cut out as the alien weapons closed.
Stephan checked the last plot of the Q Ships and then plotted their projected locations.
'The Alphas are still closing on the location of those Q Ships. We need another ninety seconds to reach full speed. If the data we got from that captured Alpha is still accurate then they can't see the Q Ships yet, but it won't take long if they don’t change course.'
"Sensor Conn, forwarding plot to your station. Let me know when those Alphas close to five light seconds of that point. Weapon Conn, do we have a firing solution yet?"
Stephan waited a few moments for the reply. "Commodore, we have lock on the last launch signature from the Alphas and a solid lock on the Tangos."
"Bay One and Two, target Alpha One. Engineering, ready field generators." 'All we can do is wait now.'
"Alphas at five light seconds from plot Commodore."
"Weapon Conn, lock in firing solution and launch. Engineering, get those field generators online NOW !" The grey haze cleared for a moment as the drive shut down allowing the pair of Scorpion Missiles to deploy, and then reappeared as the drive engaged. Seconds later two inbound indicators appeared from the Alphas. 'We got their attention, now we just need to live long enough to draw them off. If we survive that would be great also. I would hate to deprive Brenna the chance to kill me herself.'
"Get the next launch online. We don't have many missiles but I plan to use them."
Stephan heard the Sensor Officer as he called out the contact updates. "Missile Two off target. Tracking lost. Missile One closing on Alpha One. Time to intercept seven seconds. Five seconds. Missile One lost drive bloom. Appears to have broken up. Inbounds closing. Time to intercept eight seconds."
"Second launch online." The drive cut out again then restarted. "Missiles Three and Four away."
The sensor returns on Stephan's monitor clouded over and red data flashed. 'We just lost half the field generators in this first exchange. At this rate we won't even survive to get all our birds away, let alone do any damage to those Alphas. The fact they just shot down our bird shows they are the newer models.' Stephan keyed open the intercom to Engineering. "Prep the particle accelerators for red line. This is going to be over fast." Stephan ignored the outbound indicators as he watched the two inbound missiles close. One hundred thousand kilometers. Seventy five thousand. Forty thousand. The sensors clouded again as more red flashed on Stephan's monitor. 'That finished off the field generators. Time to go.'
"Engineering, red line the drive. Hold output levels until further notice. Weapon Conn, hold further launches."
Stephan watched while the returns on the Alphas clouded as the drive bloom's bleed around the drive shield began to blind the sensors. 'If this doesn't work, we won't even get to see the missiles that kill us.' Stephan turned off the sensor returns as he watched the timer slowly count the seconds. As it turned 15:25:00 he keyed open the intercom again. "Drive to full combat output. Helm, change course to two seven zero. Sensor Conn, get me an update on those Alphas."
It seemed like an eternity until the Sensor Officer called out. "Alphas at five point seven light seconds bearing zero eight three, ascension minus two. Aspect change. They are breaking off and turning back toward Hektor."
Stephan forced himself not to pull up or look at the sensor returns. "Sensor Conn, range from Alphas to prior plot?"
"Commodore, Alphas range at twelve light seconds from plot and increasing."
Stephan relaxed his grip on the armrests and looked around the bridge. "Comm, open transmission. Let the folks back home know what happened here. Tightbeam of sensor log to Admiral Muldoon. Helm, plot a course for Victoria. They may need us."

1606 hours/Washington DC.

Admiral Bradley Walters moved quickly into the briefing room and towards his chair. He could already see that Secretary Richards was in his seat firing questions anxiously at the staff that was assembling. Coming in through the front entry to the room was Congressman Meyers, his face red and slick with sweat from running. Bradley heard Secretary Richards yell as he turned toward the admiral.
"What the hell is going on out there?!"
Bradley moved toward the front of the room to the naval staff that had already arrived. He pushed aside a young Commander and sat behind the terminal he had been using. Snapping back the cover plate on his left index finger Bradley plugged it into a port on the computer. Data and prompts flooded his HUD, and he began selecting through the menus.
"I said, WHAT IN THE SAM HELL IS GOING ON, Admiral?!!"
Bradley looked over at Secretary Richards as Congressman Meyers piled into the chair beside him, still panting for air. "Secretary, we are picking up coded transmissions from the Vigilance and Captain Moreland, but it is heavily encrypted. Civilian channels from Hektor were filled with chatter but abruptly went dead."
"Admiral, we are just picking up an open transmission from the Pan Euro Science Vessel Red October. It is broadcast in the clear."
Bradley looked at the young man he had just pushed aside and nodded, then used his internal menu to select for open broadcasts on any priority channel. As data began to stream across his view he turned back to Secretary Richards.
"Commodore Vasilikos of the Red October is transmitting in the clear from near Hektor. The transmissions indicate that the aliens have returned. Alien forces include two Alphas, an Echo, and a pair of Tango Twos. No bombers were present. The FSC ship Mary Reed was destroyed before liftoff. The Q Ships Resolute and Defiant were destroyed shortly after liftoff. The FSC vessel Krait was destroyed in an engagement with the two Alphas. The Red October had its shield generators knocked off line diverting the Alphas from the remaining Q Ships, but sustained no structural damage. They hope to have shields online by twenty hundred but have only two missiles left on board."
Congressman Meyers interrupted. "What were the alien losses?!"
Bradley searched the data for a moment. "The Echo had its shields knocked off line but no evidence of venting in response to hull damage. No other alien losses."
Bradley watched as the already winded Congressman clutched the edge of the table as if someone had just knocked the last of the air from him. Secretary Richards turned pale, but took a deep breath and looked hard at Bradley. "What of the civilian habitats?"
Bradley knew what he wanted. "Secretary, it would appear the alien bombardment of the Mary Reed on the surface, and continued attacks by the Tango Twos on the remaining troop concentrations destroyed any civilians or infrastructure that might have been left."
Secretary Richards exhaled slightly, and then looked again at Bradley with a more puzzled look. "What was the Red October doing there? She wasn't supposed to be anywhere close to Hektor at the moment. And where does Commodore Vasilikos indicate that he is going now?"
Bradley checked the data again. "The transmission gives no reason for the Red October's presence, but indicates that sensor records and ship logs are being sent on encrypted channels. Perhaps they would hold that answer. The transmissions indicate that he is currently moving towards Victoria Colony, which is where he was supposed to be going according to the last Pan Euro updates."
Bradley saw in the edge of his display as the young Commander moved to the front of the table again, but this time his face was pale as death. "Gentlemen. We have a priority transmission from Pan Euro Admiral Muldoon. It indicates that the Third Light Battle Group has encountered alien warships in force at Victoria. No details, but she has indicated that she has given orders diverting all surviving Pan Euro assets assigned in the belt to Mars. We also have reports from the Eastern Sensor Arrays that the Pan Euro's newest Heavy Escort has blown its docking clamps to the Pan Euro Space Station and that the Pan Euro Fourth Battle Group is showing active drive blooms. We also have transmissions from the Third Brigade of the Martian Light on Victoria that they are receiving heavy bombardment from orbit."
Bradley turned from Secretary Richards to the young man. "You need to send orders to Captain Moreland. He is to divert course to Mars at best possible speed given his cargo. Contact Admiral Muldoon and see if it is possible to coordinate escort for the Vigilance and Steadfast with the Red October, or any other Pan Euro warships." Bradley turned back to the two politicians seated across from him.
"You need to contact the FSC embassy and indicate their colonists are headed for Mars. You may also need to contact the Chinese. This isn't a group of raids to gather intelligence. This is the opening to a concerted attack."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Fri 18 Nov 2011 18:33

February 2205 part 23

February 24th 1527 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 0.5 light seconds from Victoria

Captain Natasha Piotyr locked her station as she called out orders. "Comm, all ships, lock stations, battle stations. New course on heading three zero seven. Drives to full. Shield generators online. Full sensor transmits to Earth." Natasha knew that the Attack Escorts Elise and Keely Sereg were not officially hers to command, but she was sure that neither Commander Breiholz nor Commander Bortz would question her orders.
'The new course will take us away from the three Alphas and two Tango Twos. We need the time to get our ships up to combat velocity. With the Tangos already at over nine thousand kilometers per second and the Alphas at fourteen thousand, we don't stand a chance unless we give our drives a chance to catch up.'
"Captain, multiple aspect changes on Tangos, apparent use of a maneuver protocol. Tangos slowing as they approach Victoria. Magnetic pulse detected."
Natasha saw on her monitor as the sensors recorded the detonations of the alien weapons impacting among the habitats on Victoria Colony. Multiple prompts appeared as numerous distress broadcasts began to come through on the comm channels. Natasha closed out all of the comm updates and switched to the tactical display. A red circle suddenly appeared around the red icon of the leading Tango and she heard the Weapon Conn call out, "Target lock on Tango One and Two. Firing solutions coming online."
Natasha knew that not all of the ships in her group had come to battle stations, but waiting for them wouldn't save anyone. "All ships, launch on Tango One." Natasha watched the display as contact indicators for outbound missiles appeared from the Tatianna, Elise, and Scarlett. 'At least we got four bays operational in the first minute.' Natasha watched as three new contacts appeared from the Alphas, as they targeted the launch signatures from the Pan Euro ships.
"Captain, two missiles have lost lock on Tango One. Remaining missiles have broken up on final attack runs. Inbound missiles have lost tracking."
Natasha's monitor flashed with numerous prompts as she rapped her knuckles hard against the armrest controls. She cleared off the clutter and focused on the display. 'How are we supposed to fight them if we can't even get a missile close?! The alien missiles missed but that won't last forever.’
The display showed that the five Pan Euro ships had reached combat velocity, while the Tangos were continuing to slow and employ the alien version of the maneuver protocol as they fired on the colony.
"Captain, second launch from Alphas. Range to Alphas of four light seconds and holding. Inbound intercept in twenty seconds."
Natasha watched as the display showed the Tangos closing with the colony while three inbound missiles from the Alphas closed on her group. 'No matter how much damage the Tangos do to the colony, if we don't engage the Alphas we are dead.' "Weapon Conn, all ships, new target. Firing solutions on Alpha One. Launch." Natasha felt the drive cut out as the two bays on the Tatianna deployed their missiles, and then restarted.
Natasha’s display disappeared as the bridge went dark and was filled with clouds of argon. A heartbeat later the cloud was gone, vented into space. Her monitor was dark, as was the bridge lights. A few monitors flickered back to life giving a dim light to the compartment. Natasha plugged her finger into the direct feed port at her station and saw her HUD fill with data. Red damage warnings filled the display. 'All of the magnetic field generators are off line, but the sensor array, drive, and both launch bays are still online.' Natasha patched her station through to the radio repeaters on the bridge and found they still worked. "Weapon Conn, time until next launch?" Natasha grew more nervous as the seconds crept by silently, until she finally heard a response. "Captain, next launch ready in fifteen seconds. Compiling solution on Alpha One." Natasha didn't recognize the voice, but someone was still alive at the Weapon Conn station. "Launch when solution complete."
Natasha pulled up the sensor display and clenched her fingers as she saw that Alpha One still displayed an active magnetic field. 'Doctrine says the Tatianna should attempt to break off while the other ships turn into the Alphas, but we need every missile we can get on that target if we hope to get any through. The Tatianna will still be in range regardless, as we can't outrun the alien ships. Doctrine will just make the Attack Escorts an easier target if they turn into the Alphas.' The grey haze of acceleration disappeared for a moment as Natasha heard some call out, "Missiles Three and Four away."
'At least we got the next launch away,' she thought as she watched the three inbound indicators close on the Tatianna. The sensor display on her HUD turned grey again as the drive restarted and slammed the ship forward, then clouded as the alien weapons detonated. Moments later the sensors cleared and the display showed the six outbound missiles from her Pan Euro group closing on Alpha One. Only this time the display showed the indicator that Alpha One’s magnetic protective field was down and that Alpha One was initiating an aspect change as it began to turn away from the battle. 'Can't shoot them all down every time, can you? Your turn is coming.'
Natasha checked the status of the Tangos. They were only fifteen thousand kilometers from Victoria, had slowed to only a few kilometers per second, and were still firing their mass drivers into the habitats and troop concentrations on the asteroid. Still not a threat. 'If we let Alpha One break off, it is five on two with our six launch bays against their two. But we haven't even dinged the fields on Alphas Two and Three, while Alpha One has shown no signs of venting to clear damage. If we are going to do any real damage we can't let it slip away, but that will put us nose to nose with the last two Alphas.' Natasha hesitated for a moment, and then made her decision as she opened the 'All Ships' comm link.
"All Attack Escorts, change course to maintain range on Alpha One. Primary target is Alpha One." Natasha changed over to the internal repeaters. "Helm, maintain current course and speed." Natasha watched the sensor returns as Alpha One grew more and more distant. "Helm, turn to hold Alpha One within five light seconds. Don't let that ship slip out of range." The drive cut out several times as the Tatianna began to come about and deployed two more missiles. Natasha watched as the outbound missiles closed on the fleeing Alpha. First one veered off, and then the second lost tracking. But three of the four missiles from the Attack Escorts maintained lock. Two of the three missiles broke up on approach but the last pushed through and detonated, clouding the returns on Alpha One.
"Captain, Alpha One venting. Drive restart detected. Alpha One continuing to disengage."
'These new Alphas aren't invulnerable.'

1531 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 3 light seconds from enemy colony

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 tried to keep up with the vast amount of information carried by the changes in the field at his station. 'The magnetic protective field is down and the rapid cycle mass driver is off line. The enemy Patrol Vessel has been destroyed and Patrol Vessels 7 and 24 are closing rapidly with the enemy Attack Vessels. All the vessels are rapidly changing aspects to shake torpedo locks. All of them except this ship. We need to be a target the enemy can't refuse. Draw them a little farther along.'
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 reached his perception out through the sensors and could feel as Armed Colony Vessels 3 and 7 came about on a new heading and restarted their drives. 'In a few moments the ships of the native race will draw in range of the Armed Colony Vessels’ mass drivers. Then it will be a battle of four on four.' The Commander sensed as the four torpedoes of the native race passed through the formation of Patrol Vessels 7 and 24. The rapid fire mass driver of Patrol Vessel 24 destroyed one while another enemy torpedo lost tracking in the trail of high energy particles from the two Patrol Vessels’ drive blooms. Even as the last two enemy torpedoes closed on Patrol Vessel 17, the Commander could sense the torpedoes from PV24 and 7 closing with an Attack Vessel of the native race and detonating, collapsing its protective field and causing it to vent. A moment later the magnetic pulses of the Armed Colony Vessels washed over the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 as the two packets of metallic hydrogen raced past.

1532 hours/Attack Escort Elise, 4.5 light seconds from Victoria

"Captain, Tangos coming about. Magnetic pulse detected."
Commander Dana Breiholz's monitor displaying the sensor returns clouded from the wash of ions and radiation as the Attack Escort Keely Sereg disappeared in an enormous explosion only two thousand kilometers away.
'Oh Brittany, not you.'
"Captain, Tangos showing active drive blooms at four light seconds. Accelerating and closing. Alpha One confirmed destroyed. Alphas Two and Three continue with rapid aspect changes at range of two point five light seconds."
Dana clenched her hands. 'I don't want this command. I want my friend back.' Dana forced herself to look at the display in front of her. "All ships come about to course two seven five. Cease evasion protocol. Drives to full combat velocity. Target Alpha Two." The kaleidoscope of colors from the evasion protocol slowed to the steady flicker between the grey-blue haze of acceleration and the normal view of the bridge as the Attack Escort Elise stuttered its drive to allow the maneuver thrusters to bring the ship onto a new course. Dana watched the sensors recording the appearance of two more alien missiles closing on the Attack Escorts as they launched their own missiles in return. The seconds seemed to crawl by as her ship came about and the alien weapons closed.
Dana's monitor showed the alien weapons detonating around the Attack Escort Scarlett, knocking the ships magnetic fields off line and forcing its drive to shut down as it vented damage from the hull. Dana stared anxiously at the returns until the ship's drive bloom reappeared. She shifted her focus to the outbound missiles and saw that only two of the three were still tracking Alpha Two, and then one of the missiles broke up. 'Damn it.' The last missile detonated along Alpha Two's course but the ship emerged with its magnetic field still up. Dana's gaze was suddenly drawn to the flashing returns as the sensors recorded the Scarlett breaking into dozens of pieces.
"Engineering, drives to red line. Weapon Conn, continue launches on Alpha Two. I don't care how poor the solutions are. Give those Alphas something to deal with and get us the hell away from those Tangos." Red prompts appeared on her monitor as Dana heard Engineering announce, "Field Generator Banks One through Eight off line."
'This isn't working. Guess I will be seeing you soon Brit.' Dana watched as the sensor returns cleared for a heartbeat as the drive cut out, allowing the launch bay to deploy another missile. Dana grabbed the armrests of her station as the display recorded a contact rushing by on the port side only kilometers away.
The Elise shook violently and the bridge filled with white clouds of argon. As the argon cleared Dana could see the red flashing indicators on her monitor that the magnetic field generators were down and that damage indicators along the port side had lit up. The world shifted to grey-blue again as the drive restarted and the ship plowed forward again.
'Cargo and missile storage on the port side are breeched, but at least the drive and launch bay are still online. The Phoenix Array seems to be functioning but with the drive redlined it isn't doing us much good.' Dana checked the sensor returns and then turned them off in disgust. "Weapon Conn, status on the next launch."
"Captain, next launch in twenty two seconds."
'Maybe we will even live that long.' Dana watched as the seconds ticked by, expecting each one to be the last. She listened as the crew reported another missile away. As they reported the drive restart. As they reported increased radiation readings from alien missile detonations. But no damage reports. Dana tried to relax as the seconds continued to tick by.
"Engineering, reduce drive to standard output, standby to increase to redline. Helm, change course thirty degrees starboard. Sensor Conn, get me a clear fix on the Alphas." Dana waited as the drive emissions reduced and the Elise came about slightly to clear the blindspot created by the drive shield.
"Captain, Alphas and Tangos have broken off. They are moving toward Victoria. Range to Alphas of six point five light seconds."
"Comm, transmit full sensor record and status to Earth. Request for additional orders. Let them know that the aliens hold the space around Victoria."
Dana could only watch as her monitor filled with the distress calls from the civilians and military units on Victoria.

1536 hours/Patrol Vessel 24, 2 light seconds from enemy colony

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 began the transmission to the Commander of Fleets. His former command, Patrol Vessel 17 had been destroyed. Patrol Vessel 7 had exhausted its supply of torpedoes while Patrol Vessel 24 had only a single torpedo remaining. Armed Colony Vessel 3 was parked near the enemy colony while Armed Colony Vessel 7 had landed to resupply the troops there and provide reinforcements from the division it carried. Three of the five enemy warships had been destroyed with a fourth damaged before it disengaged.'
'We have won this battle, but only by the thinnest of margins. If the native race returns that will change quickly.'

1603 hours/Queen Victoria, Earth orbit

Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked at the collection of messages and orders she had prepared for transmission. First were the orders directing the Attack Escorts Elise and Kathleen to Mars, along with the Red October. There was also the order directing the crew of the Heavy Escort E. Avery to report to stations and proceed to Mars. The four ships would then be designated as the Third Light Battle Group. Accompanying the Heavy Escort Avery would be Mobile Shipyard One. It would continue the work installing the final banks of magnetic field generators onto the newest Heavy Escort. 'It would be faster if the work could be completed here, but we can't wait.'
The next set of orders were essentially orders to herself, directing the Fourth Battle Group to move from Earth to Mars as escort for the scheduled civilian shipment of Scorpions Missiles and other required supplies normally delivered to the Third Light Battle Group. 'The composition of the Third LBG hasn't changed, just the ships that are in it. They need those supplies. If that civilian liner were to be lost those ships would be crippled even more severely than they are now. A full Battle Group to protect a single civilian freighter may be a bit much, but we can't take the risk.'
Brenna sent the orders to the Comm Station for transmission to the required ships, with copies to all the interested parties ground and space side. Then she brought up the next item, a message to Rear Admiral James Gauld of US Task Force 1. It was a request to allow the Third LBG to assist in the defense of Mars, under his direction. It also requested the assistance of the US Spaceworks in assisting with emergency repairs of the Attack Escort Elise when it arrived at Mars.
The last message was to Rear Admiral Robert McNeely authorizing him to violate the Chinese exclusion of ships within one light minute of Saturn if it became necessary to assist the Chinese in defense of their colony on Titan. Doing so would be at his discretion, but preparations should be made for such an event.
Brenna sent the two messages to the Comm Station for transmission as she leaned back in the chair in her quarters. 'The paperwork is done. That is the easy part. The hard part will be finding a solution to this mess.' Brenna tapped at the monitor and brought up the reports and records from the engagements at Titan, Hektor, and Victoria. 'In the next few hours or days I need to come up with a way to deal with the new alien defenses. The records show that less than half of our missiles are achieving intercept courses now that the aliens have begun employing their new maneuver protocol. Worse, only half of those that maintain a lock survive to reach their target, the rest being destroyed by the new alien close range defensive system. Coupled with the stronger magnetic protective fields of the alien ships, the Captains in the field are finding it impossible to engage the enemy successfully. The Pan Euro, US and FSC have lost nine combat ships to destroy a single Tango Two and one Alpha.'
Brenna pulled up the roster of active Pan Euro ships, and the list of known US ships. 'With what we have left, I don't know that we can take out the ships we have faced so far.' Brenna shut off her monitor and watched the screen go black.
'And I doubt what we have seen is all that they have available for this attack.'

2245 hours/Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters watched the assembled staff as they set up the undecorated concrete room as an ad hoc briefing room and command-communications center. Two young civilian technicians hooked up a pair of monitors on the table Bradley was seated at. Bradley watched as the screens sprang to life. The young Commander seated beside him, Victor Jones, immediately began to pull up data and reports.
"Are we ready Gentlemen?" Secretary Adam Richards walked in and towards the large table that dominated the front of the room. Bradley watched as Richards took his seat.
Bradley stood and faced Secretary Richards. "Sir, we have begun formal analysis of the sensor and ship logs from the engagement at Hektor, and the initial analysis of the logs forwarded by the Pan Euro. It will take several more hours before we are able to complete a formal analysis of the data from the engagement at Victoria." Bradley looked over to General 'KJ' Foxx and saw that he was preparing to speak also. "The data shows that the Alphas and Tangos operating in the belt are the newer models, with stronger shields and missile interdiction systems. The Echo appears to be the basic model we have encountered before and should prove vulnerable to our current forces. The aliens are in two separate groups. The first appears to be composed of two Alphas, an Echo, and a pair of Tango Twos. The second was composed of three Alphas and a pair of Tango Twos, but lost one Alpha in the engagement with the Pan Euro Third Light Battle Group. This gives a total of four Alphas, an Echo, and four Tango Twos active in the inner system. We must anticipate these groups combining for further operations now that the alien offensive has begun."
Secretary Richards nodded. "What is the disposition of our forces currently?"
"We have given orders for the Vigilance and Steadfast to join Task Force One at Mars, but with the cargo of colonists they will not be able to arrive there until late on March Third. We have recalled the Sai from Saturn and it will move to escort the two Q Ships and will arrive at Mars with them. At that time the Sai will be assigned to Task Force One and Rear Admiral Ryan will assume command. Rear Admiral Gauld will assume command of the stationary defenses. This includes the six Defense Modules of Mars Station, Defense Station One, and Defense Station Two. Defense Station Two is not scheduled for operations until the First of March, but is capable of acting in the defense of Mars now." Bradley saw Commander Jones subtly move his hand toward the monitor in front of him, signaling Bradley that he needed to see whatever was on the display. "I believe General Foxx has information that needs to be addressed at this time." Bradley saw 'KJ' look towards his table and nod slightly
.Secretary Richards turned to face General Foxx and picked up a glass of water on the table. "General Foxx, do you have information that is pertinent to the current situation?"
General Foxx stood and moved to the display on the wall beside the large table. Tapping at small icons on the side of it, he brought up a map of the surface of Victoria. "We have been attempting to sort through the civilian broadcasts from Victoria, and have been able to identify that these domes," General Foxx began gesturing toward the display as he spoke and one after another domes changed from white to red, "have been destroyed by orbital strikes. We project that civilian survivors still number approximately one hundred thousand. Surviving elements of the Martian Light Division and Tenth Ukraine Division are scattered and mostly combat ineffective. All of their supply and ammo dumps have been destroyed or seized by alien forces. We have confirmed reports from the surviving elements of the Martian Light that the aliens are securing the remaining domes and capturing both personnel and data storage equipment. We have gun camera footage of both prisoners and computers being loaded onto a Romeo Class alien vessel that landed on the surface. Additional footage of alien bombers landing and lifting both prisoners and equipment to orbit has been acquired." General Foxx turned from the display to face Secretary Richards. "I have issued orders for the surviving combat units on Victoria to seize what equipment and supplies they can from any source and prepare to conduct guerilla operations as possible. The battle for Victoria is effectively over without additional landings or support. We have a platoon still holding one of the surface sensor arrays, but they will likely be forced to abandon the position in the next few hours. The array currently shows no alien vessels in close orbit of Victoria. It would appear that all alien vessels that participated in the attack have moved on."
Bradley stood again and held up a hand. General Foxx paused and looked toward him with a concerned expression. Secretary Richards looked at both of them and turned to Bradley. "You two apparently are working on something together that you haven't been sharing."
"I issued orders following the attack on Hektor for both the Steadfast and Vigilance to ask for volunteers to pilot launches back to Hektor. We needed to gain intelligence on the alien’s intentions there. The data from those launches arrived twenty minutes ago and has finally been decoded. It shows that there are no alien ships in the area near Hektor. Close passes to the surface show no alien troops or supplies. They are not attempting to evaluate the ruins for any intelligence. This data supports the conclusions from my prior conversation with General Foxx." Bradley turned back to 'KJ'.
Secretary Richards leaned forward in his chair. "And what are these 'conclusions'?"
General Foxx moved back to his table and leaned on it, a concerned look on his face. "Secretary Richards, the data on the landings and reinforcements at Victoria indicate that what was deployed was only a small fraction of the prior landings. This would indicate that the Tango Two in question may still have most of its division onboard. If the aliens have pulled the other two divisions off of Hektor for reorganization and resupply, this could indicate that they intend to continue ground operations in the inner system. Unless the aliens have been able to identify additional belt colony sites, the only populations the aliens have had contact with are at Titan, Mars, and Earth. The aliens have already landed elements on Titan. We need to consider the possibility that the next target could be Mars or Earth."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Sun 20 Nov 2011 03:28

February 2205 part 24

February 25th 0015 hours/Queen Jane Grey, 2000 kilometers from Phoebe, Saturn

Rear Admiral Robert McNeely looked at the sensor returns as the drive emissions of the US Interceptor Sai became more distant.
"I will start working on the new General Quarters rotation. Do you have any requirements before I publish it for transmission?" Robert looked over at Ensign Gretta Deeter as she spoke to him. 'Not unless you can come up with more ships,' was all Robert could think. 'We have reports of two attacks by alien warships in the last eight hours, both of which showed the vast improvements in the alien designs and tactics. We are down two of our Attack Escorts, have no hope of replacements soon, lost the US ship that represented twenty five percent of our firepower here, and are only a light minute from the site of the only other alien landing.'
"No Gretta, set the rotation and transmit it to the rest of the ships and a copy to Admiral Muldoon."
Robert turned back to the monitor at his station. 'The only help we have nearby are the Chinese boats circling Titan. From the messages sent by both Command and the Chinese, we are as likely to be shot by them as the aliens. Admiral Muldoon has authorized us to intervene if the aliens attack Titan, but that could be a losing proposition.'
Robert turned back to Gretta. "Ensign, do we have any further updates on the status of the US request for reassignment of the marines on the troopship?"
Robert watched as Gretta tapped at her screen several times. "No Admiral, we have the last transmission from Admiral Muldoon that the US had requested the troops be redeployed to Earth, but no movement orders for the troopship or escort orders for the Third Battle Group."
Robert turned back to his monitor again. 'We might as well be a Light Battle Group at the moment. The Third Light had six launch bays at the start of the engagement at Victoria, and it did them little good. One Alpha out of three, and none of the Tango Twos. All for the loss of the Tatianna, Scarlett, and Sereg, with the Elise damaged.' Robert pulled up the transmissions they had received. Several of the broadcasts during the attacks at Hektor and Victoria had been open transmissions. There was little sensor data included but it might be worth looking at. "Ensign Deeter, when you are done with that I would like you to look over the transmissions from the engagements at Hektor and Victoria. See if you can come up with anything that could help us. Any little chink in the alien defenses."
'We are going to need something if we hope to come out better than the Third Light Battle. The aliens hit the first two landing sites. I am willing to bet our turn is coming. Soon.'
Robert saw Gretta turn in her station slightly. "Yes Admiral."

0210 hours/Assault Vessel, 24 light minutes from Saturn

The Commander of Fleets finished with the transmissions and reports from the two Strike Groups. The attacks had been against his prior orders, but the Commanders of Patrol Vessels 13 and 17 had acted appropriately. There would be no reprimands. The outcomes had been good, if not ideal. The native race has lost four Patrol Vessels and three Attack Vessels with a fourth damaged and venting.
'The operation has failed to draw any of the larger enemy ships into an engagement, but that has been anticipated. The first attack did record the presence of the Heavy Patrol Vessel that has displayed the high output drive, but failed to decisively engage it. With luck the next two operations will force the native race to commit its larger vessels. We will need to engage the enemy Assault Vessels before our Combat Group's strength becomes depleted. The loss of Patrol Vessel 17 has proven that this operation will not go without cost.' The Commander of Fleets felt a small pang as he considered the loss of his former command, and of the crew he had spent so much time with.
The Commander of Fleets extended his perception through the sensors and could feel the distant presence of the great ringed planet. 'We might increase the drive output to reach our target sooner, but it would only risk damage to our drive. If the enemy is going to redeploy their vessels from the colony ahead, they will be able to evade us regardless of how quickly we move. No, we shall continue at our current velocity.' The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station and issued orders to the distant Strike Groups. 'The Strike Groups need to prepare for the next part of this operation. It will begin sooner than anticipated, but must not be delayed. The native race has been dealt a blow but they will quickly be able to recover from it. We must not give them the opportunity.'
The Commander of Fleets then altered the field again and more orders sped away across the void. 'The third Strike Group will need to begin its operation. Their waiting is done.'

0330 hours/GTOS 22, 6 light minutes from Hektor Colony

Li Xue opened her eyes to find the face of a cyborg only centimeters from the faceplate of her helmet. Li startled and moved to put her arms out only to scream as pain lanced along her left arm and side. Tears blurred her vision as Li tried to look about and cradle her left arm, but found both her arms and legs could not move.
Li's radio crackled to life. Li looked up at the cyborg. "Back off and enough with the gibberish!" Li looked around and could see that she was in a ship of some sort, but nothing looked familiar. She was also strapped into an acceleration couch. The cyborg backed off and turned away. Moments later Li heard a sterile voice on her radio. 'It is all right. You are safe on board the US Ground to Orbit Shuttle number Twenty Two. We need to move you to the end of the cargo section. We will be landing on the US vessel Vigilance in a few minutes."
Li looked at the cyborg. 'His torso is damaged and part of one arm is gone.' "Are you the cyborg that grabbed me on Hektor?"
The cyborg turned back to her and stood motionless for a few moments. Seconds later the same sterile voice appeared on her radio. "Yes. I am Ensign Thomas Hudson of the US Space Forces. You were on the loading ramp of the Vigilance when I boarded. You appeared unconscious and would have been killed so I moved you out of the line of fire. You were not prepared for transport on the Vigilance so I had you placed on this shuttle. You will remain on this shuttle but will need to be prepared for transport following our landing." Li watched as the cyborg pushed a button on the couch she was in and the straps retracted into the armrests.
Li sat up and found herself drifting away from the couch. She keyed her maneuver pack to put her on the deck beside the cyborg. She then activated the magnetic soles and hoped they would work on the US ship. Li breathed out heavily as the boots snapped onto the deck and pain again flared in her arm. Li looked at the cyborg. "What do you need me to do, and when will I be able to rejoin my unit?"
Li watched the cyborg motion for her to follow him as he began to move along the deck. The same sterile voice sounded in her helmet. "There are medical personnel at the end of the cargo section. That area has been pressurized. You will need to discard your suit so we can prepare you for the higher gee transport on the Vigilance. You will be sedated and the preparations completed while you are asleep."
The ordeal of waking up on Troopship One returned to Li with a shudder. 'I guess if I have to do this, I want to be asleep.' Li stopped and looked at the cyborg as he walked on. "You haven't answered when I will rejoin my unit. Am I a prisoner?" Tension began to tingle through Li. 'Just breathe Li. There is nothing I can do right now. I doubt he rescued me just to kill me now.'
Li saw the cyborg stop. Li could feel her heart pounding harder as the moments passed. Pain began to throb in her arm, keeping time with her heartbeat. 'Did I say the wrong thing?' Then her radio crackled back to life.
"You are not a prisoner. Six hours ago the aliens returned to Hektor Colony. We were unable to repel them. The aliens seized the orbitals and began to target any habitats or troop concentrations. You are the only Chinese soldier on our manifest, and the two US vessels that escaped only loaded pods of colonist." Li felt her legs beginning to fail as the cyborg turned to face her. "You are the only known survivor of the Chinese units on Hektor."

1445 hours/5000 meters below Andvari Crater, Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank moved through the tunnel as she returned to her squad. ‘We have enough supplies to keep this up for a few more weeks. The last two weeks have been one extended drill. The standoff with the FSC troops has cost us a fair amount of supplies, but at least it hasn’t turned into a shooting match.’
“Hold, Frau Frank. Advance and be recognized.”
Hauptgefreiter Ludwig Schimmelpfennig stood in the tunnel with his weapon at low port. Tanya looked at him for a moment and then dropped the supplies onto the floor of the tunnel. “Ok Ludwig, it’s me. And I’m ordering you to pick up this mess and store it in our position.”
“Crap. Do you have any sense of humour left?” Ludwig slung his weapon and moved forward.
“No, they took it out with the rest of me. And we will be taking yours out soon if you keep this up.” Tanya walked on down the tunnel and wished she could smirk at the thought of taking Ludwig in for a ‘tune up’.
Dust suddenly settled from the ceiling of the tunnel and Tanya stopped as she watched the particles slowly drift in the low gravity. “Feldwebel Frank, what was that?” Tanya looked about and pulled her weapon from its mount. “I don’t know.”
A red light began to flash on her HUD as a message displayed.

...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Sat 17 Dec 2011 10:16

February 2205 part 25

February 25th 1505 hours/5000 meters below surface of Triton

Brood Mother 218 could feel the presence of her alien. She could feel his fatigue. A numbness also. 'He takes many medicines to make this bearable. Contact is so difficult for him, yet he has never shied away. We have accomplished so little, but still much more than all the others.'
Brood Mother 218 moved close to her 'Chen' and reached out her perception to him. 'He is so like the young ones. I have always spoken as a mother to a child with him, but it is almost too much for him to endure. Perhaps I need to reach out like a child, as the young reach out to one another. With the faintest of whispers.'
She felt the confusing mass that was her alien's thoughts. A swirling mix with only the slightest hint of order. 'He is learning to focus, but is still like the newest of young.' "Chen, you have come again. Is this better."

Chen tried to relax as he watched the 'tentacle' of the alien move closer and closer to his helmet. 'It is just her and her young, with the little ones huddled in the far corner. She has sent me to the hospital twelve times now. Each time worse than the last. The docs have come up with a cocktail of drugs to try and help, but they don't do much. The pain is worse than ever. They tell me that I won't be able to do this much longer. Not that I will get sent home.' Chen let his thoughts stray from what he was 'supposed' to be thinking. 'I wish I could go home. Even for a bit.'
Chen felt the first twinge of a headache and tried to prepare himself.

Brood Mother 218 could feel her 'Chen'. "This is better, yes? Not the pain of before." She could feel the wonder and surprise of her 'alien'. Relief. Almost joy. All mixed like a young one receiving a gift. It was tinged with a wistful feeling. A longing of something missed. Brood Mother 218 reached gently into the swirling mix that was her 'Chen' and found the longing. "You miss your family. The other young you grew with. Your mother. Your home. You do feel belonging, even without a connection to those around you. Alone but somehow still together."

Chen could feel the alien as she moved through his thoughts. 'It has always been like I was swallowed up in pain and light, as if I was being consumed in what she was. Now it is more like a bad sinus headache and lying in the sun with your eyes closed. A warm and somewhat painful brightness.' Chen could feel the memories of his family seem to come alive as she became part of them. Shared them. "This is my home. My family." He suddenly felt 'new memories'. Memories of her with her young. How they grew and lived. Her pride as her older 'children' had become adults. Sadness as they left. And new joy with her current 'children.'

Brood Mother 218 could feel the wonder of her 'Chen' as he shared in her memories. "We each have families. Each have those dear to us. For all of our differences, we share this. This feeling of belonging with those close to us." Brood Mother 218 sensed another presence. A powerful one. An Elder. He reached through her and into 'Chen.' She tried to resist the Elder. To shield Chen. It was useless. She felt Chen's pain and terror as the Elder forced his way through Chen's thoughts, feels, and emotions. Like one rummaging through a pile of equipment looking for something lost or useful. She could feel Chen's body begin to writhe and convulse as the Elder tore into everything that her 'alien' was. How he was killing her 'Chen' as the Elder looked for something. Brood Mother 218 reached into the fading life and found the memories they had just shared. Tried to push away the terror that gripped the young male as he was dying. To bring the comfort in those thoughts to him. To help him focus on them. Then he was gone.

2130 hours/Adirondack Defense Command Center, US

Admiral Bradley Walters watched as General 'KJ' Foxx moved to the front of the room. He moved by the large table that dominated that end of the room and the civilians gathered around it. Then the General touched the large wall monitor several times. Menus and views scrolled by until a display of the surface of Triton appeared. Bradley heard General Foxx clear his voice a few times before the room quieted.
Congressional Defense Committee Chairperson Harland Meyers stood from his seat at the large table. "I hope you have some good news for us General. I am busy enough without more bad news."
General Foxx looked at Congressman Meyers, and then at the rest of the assembled staff. "We have only a small section of seventeen soldiers on Triton lead by Space Forces Lieutenant Commander Megan Ryan. This gives us limited ability to gather data on the situation on Triton leaving us dependant on updates from the Pan Euro and FSC. I can report that all of the equipment and data gained by Lieutenant Commander Ryan's team has been moved to the sub-surface tunnels and is currently secure. The Pan Euro has agreed to provide space and supplies to our team in the Headquarters Company of the Thirteenth Mechanized Infantry."
Congressman Meyers nodded and sat down. "Thank you General. I cannot stress enough how important that data is, and how disastrous it would be should it fall into alien hands."
Secretary of Defense Adam Richards looked up from the pad he was tapping at. "General, what is the status of our troop activations?"
General Foxx touched the display a few times and brought up several lists on the screen. "Most of our active units have been assembled. Identification of units for transport to Mars is proceeding at this time. We have contracted with several civilian lines and now have the lift capacity to move three divisions from Earth to Mars. More would be possible but the current situation has created a great deal of resistance from the civilian lines. Several have placed court filings pursuing a ruling that the inner system is now a contested zone and will require government escort before providing transport. This does not restrict transportation between the Earth and Luna. The First Power Armor Infantry Division is currently processing for a lift to support the Pan European Lunar Colony. They are scheduled for lift off tomorrow at zero two hundred."
General Foxx tapped the display again and a new list appeared. "The National Guard and Reserve Units have been on alert for several months now. Most are mobilizing as we speak. The nine Martian Guard and Reserve Divisions of Fifteenth Corps will be mobilized and operational by the first of March. With the support of the three active duty divisions from Earth we believe they should be able to resist any ground offensive from the alien forces we have seen so far. Mobilization of the Earth based units is proceeding more slowly due to the large number of troops involved. It is projected that all of the units will be operational by mid March. They will be integrated with the active duty units as they complete processing through the mobilization sites. The exact organizational charts are still being completed, but it is anticipated that the ground units will be organized into two Army Groups in the CONUS Theater with one additional Army Group OCONUS. The Air Command will handle all atmospheric operations regardless of location. The disposition of the naval fleets is still under consideration. I have been informed that Admiral Heckart will be controlling Naval surface fleets and the Naval Air assets."
"Thank you General. Representatives of the Naval and Air Force branches will be here in a few hours to prepare for the morning briefing." Secretary Richards then turned and looked toward Bradley. "Do you have any new developments to report at this time?"
Bradley stood. "The Red October is now escorting the Q Ships Vigilance and Steadfast, which will meet with the Sai and Rear Admiral Ryan within the next three hours. The Pan Euro Attack Escorts Elise and Kathleen have arrived at Mars. The Mars Station is assisting in emergency repairs of the Attack Escort Elise at this time. The Pan Euro indicates that the Heavy Escort Elizabeth Avery will arrive at Mars no later than zero seven hundred tomorrow, accompanied by a Pan Euro Mobile Shipyard. Nothing else at this time."
"Thank you Admiral. That will be all for now."
Bradley nodded to the Secretary, and then moved over to the small group of tables where General Foxx was now seated. Bradley pulled out a chair near the General and sat down. "KJ, you didn't give any update on the combat at Triton. I realize we don't actually have a combat element there, but what do we know of the situation?" Bradley watched as General Foxx looked at him, and then turned a monitor so that both of them could see it.
"The FSC is currently running the show there. Major General Billings is the senior officer, and the FSC controls all of the supplies. They have enough to keep the troops in combat through the end of March, but that is it if we can't get more supplies to them. Reports seem to indicate that the aliens landed a single division, but separated it into several battalion sized landing groups spaced across the moon. The FSC has an over strength power armor battalion on Triton while the Chinese survivors have been organized into another light power armor battalion. The Pan Euro has the most troops, with the remaining elements of the Thirteenth Mech amounting to an over strength brigade. The aliens outnumber them three to two, but our troops have well established defensive positions. The aliens also did not employ any orbital strikes, allowing the FSC to move the bulk of the supply dumps below the surface."
Bradley shifted in his chair at the last statement. "No orbital strikes? How many ships did the FSC or Euro report were involved in the landings?"
General Foxx shrugged. "I don't know. They report several landing sites, but they were not simultaneous. It may have been only a single troopship."
Bradley thought for a moment. "If there were no orbital attacks on the surface sites, perhaps the aliens don't have any warships left to support the landing. The aliens may have committed everything they have to this offensive in the inner system. That may make it possible to get support through to Triton. How long do you project that the troops there can hold out?"
Bradley watched as General Foxx sat back slowly in his chair. "Sorry I can't be more help, but I just don't know. We don't have enough information about the Pan Euro, FSC, or Chinese units on that moon. If I had to take a guess, they can probably hold out as long as their supplies last. The troops are in a bad position though. They have good defensive positions in the tunnels and the alien combat troops will have limited points of contact, but there are still over a quarter of a million alien 'civilians' living in the deeper tunnels. If the alien civilian population moves to support the attack, our troops are trapped between that anvil and the hammer of the attacking troops."
Bradley nodded. "Thank you KJ." Bradley stood and began walking back to his table. 'It is only going to be a matter of time before Jack hears his little girl is in trouble out there. I hope to hell he doesn't do anything stupid right now. We need him more than ever at Mars.'

February 26th 0650 hours/ Attack Escort Elise, Mars Spaceworks

Commander Dana Breiholz looked at the prompt on her monitor and then tapped at the keys on her armrest. "Helm, as soon as the station releases the docking clamps, pull us clear. Then engage drive on my command to join formation with the Kathleen and Avery. All crew, lock stations."
Dana sat quietly at her station. 'Ever since I became a cyborg, I haven't really been able to feel anything other than what the sensors on this body feed to my brain. But I have never felt this numb before. Without Brittany here...'
Dana saw the new prompts appear, and could feel the Elise begin to move. The green light appeared on her monitor indicating all stations had been locked. "Helm, engage drive."
Dana's vision went blue grey as the drive engaged and the Elise moved toward the other two ships of the 'new' 3rd LBG. 'We had five ships at Victoria and were ripped to pieces. We are now down to three ships, and two aren't even fully operational. Our hull has been patched up some, but the outer plating and baffles are still torn apart. At least the shield generators are on line. The Heavy Escort Avery still needs her banks of shield generators installed. With her hull naked to the alien weapons, she won't last a minute in combat. They say that she will have them on line by the tenth of March, but that is a long time for the aliens to show up.'
Dana pulled up the sensor returns and watched as the Elise pulled into formation with the Kathleen and Avery. She looked at them, and then at the returns for the US forces displayed on her monitor. 'The US has three Interceptors, two Defense Stations, and the Mars Station with its six combat modules. All told they have eleven missile launch bays and eleven laser batteries. We add four more missile bays. The last transmission from Commodore Vasilikos stated that he would be here by the first of March That was a lot earlier than Command had indicated, but Command and Stephan have never really seen eye to eye. So in two more days we will add another Interceptor, two Q Ships, and the Red October. Six more missile bays. That will make twenty one missile bays and eleven laser batteries.'
Dana thought back on the engagement at Victoria. 'We needed five ships to destroy a single Alpha. Six missile bays to kill one alien ship while we lost three and almost a fourth. Reports indicate the aliens likely have four Alphas and four Tango Twos in the inner system. Plus an Echo. I wonder if twenty one missile bays will be enough.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Fri 23 Dec 2011 08:14

February 2205 part 26

February 27th 0214 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 0.5 light seconds from Titan

Acting Captain Seo Jihu saw the prompt appear on his monitor. 'It's the Angtung's turn for General Quarters while the Sichuan stands down.' Jihu tapped at the monitor and opened the ship's intercom. "All hands, lock stations. Come to General Quarters." Jihu closed out the maintenance updates and brought up the tactical display, then locked his station. 'Eight more hours of staring at the monitor. I should have gotten up and moved around more when I had the chance. Since we are now in a stationary orbit above the complex on Titan, the tactical display doesn't hardly move anymore. I suppose I should enjoy it while this lasts. The Ministry is unlikely to let a native Korean remain in command of a warship.'
Jihu looked at the maneuver plot that Captain Shen of the Sichuan had come up with. The smaller moons of Saturn, along with the planet's rings, were to be used in an attempt to draw the aliens in. The alien troop carriers were armed with a mass driver, as were their larger combat vessels. The small moons and rings would be used to deny the alien ships the ability to gain solid targeting locks on the Missile Frigates. 'If the aliens wish to keep their mass drivers pointed toward the group, they will be forced to close. At close ranges the Frigates will be able to put most of their missiles on target, hopefully overwhelming the new defensive system the aliens have devised. If the aliens turned away to avoid closing with the Frigates, they will turn their mass drivers off target. The Frigates will then engage the enemy and maneuver to keep the mass drivers from being brought to bear.'
'The magnetic field generator's software is still infected with whatever virus was transmitted to the ships of the fleet, but a short term solution has been devised by the Ministry. The virus shuts down the systems by inducing destructive harmonics that force the generators to shut down. It does not affect the generators while they are off line. Under the new protocol ships will only keep two full banks of generators online. The other generators will only be activated in the event of failure in the primary systems. Two banks will normally prevent damage from an intercept. Multiple intercepts can easily overwhelm two banks, but the Minstry has chosen to accept that risk. The fact they aren't the ones being shot at makes it considerably easier for them.'
A red icon flashed on Jihu's display as the Sensor Officer called out data. "New magnetic contact bearing three zero zero. Range to contact uncertain. No less than fourteen light seconds. Number of contacts unknown. Speed of contacts estimated at over ten thousand kilometers per second. Exact course of contact uncertain, but appears to be closing."
"All hands, Battle Stations. Comm, open frequency transmission to contact. Indicate that this is Chinese controlled space and that if they do not immediately move beyond one light minute of Titan they will be engaged and destroyed. Engineering, prepare particle accelerators and drive." Jihu looked at the tactical display. 'Those aren't stray merchant ships. If they have magnetic fields they are warships. If they belong to the Euro or US, they know this is a restricted zone and are prepared to fight. If they are aliens, they are also here to fight.' Jihu opened the intercom again. "Weapon Conn, compile firing solution when sensor lock achieved. Bring all launch bays online and prep missiles for launch. Fire when solution complete."

0217 hours/Assault Vessel 3, 10.75 light seconds from Titan

The Commander of Fleets knew that having the three ships approach the enemy colony with their magnetic protective fields up would give any native ships a great deal of time to prepare for combat. 'It is necessary. The Combat Vessel crews are inexperienced. The ships cannot be risked needlessly while the crews learn. They must remain in condition for battle when the time to face the enemy Assault Vessels comes.'
The Commander of Fleets sensed the three enemy Heavy Patrol Vessels as their magnetic protective fields bloomed around them. 'They are at the very edge of range and moving toward the small moons near the ringed planet. In all engagements before this our Combat Vessels have only employed a single torpedo launch bay while the Assault Vessels have only employed two. We will perpetuate this belief.' The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station and issued the orders for the Combat Vessels to only launch a single torpedo, while the Assault Vessel would launch two.
'Now we will see how they react to this threat. We need to destroy as many of the enemy ships as possible. If they feel they can engage us decisively we may get them to commit to combat against three larger ships.'

0218 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 2.25 light seconds from Titan

Jihu watched the tactical display on one side of his monitor while updates filled the other. 'A second group of missiles is inbound while the alien ships remain just beyond range.' A flashing message appeared in the list of updates. 'The first bank of field generators just malfunctioned and went off line.'
"Helm, implement the evasion maneuver set. Engineering, activate the third bank of generators and get the first bank online again."
Jihu could see the other frigates had also begun using the evasion set as the alien missiles closed. Sensors identified the target as the Quinha and the display recorded the detonations.
The Comm Officer called out "Quinha reports no damage and field generators still online."
'Even the alien weapons have a difficult time making intercept at these long distances.' Jihu checked the tactical display and saw that the Mobile Construction Vessel Zhuang was now beginning to alter its course and move toward Iapetus. 'The US troops had to see it lift off, but it could not remain on the surface of Titan. If we were unable to hold the orbitals it would be destroyed. If the Zhuang is able to put down on Iapetus the aliens will have to spend a lot of time searching these moons to find it.'
"Angtung passing behind Dione. Losing sensor fix on alien warships. Switching to feed from Titan." Jihu heard the Sensor Officer calling out the updates as the tactical display froze and then realigned itself as the feed from Titan was displayed. 'The feed is a few seconds old, but still lets us know what the enemy is doing while the aliens have to guess our course.'
A message flashed on his monitor. Captain Shen of the Sichuan had changed the course plot. The Frigates would now turn and skim the rings of Saturn, then use the large planet as a shield while the group accelerated away. The frigates were also to shut down all magnetic generators to impede the alien targeting locks while they crossed the debris of the rings. 'It looks like Captain Shen doesn't want to engage three larger ships if he can't bring them in range. Shutting down the generators will also allow Engineering a chance to concentrate on getting the malfunctioning banks of generators back online without risking more malfunctions. We just have to hope the aliens can't get a lock while our defenses are down.'

0221 hours/Assault Vessel, 5 light seconds from Titan

The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station, ordering the group to change course again as they closed on the large ringed planet. 'These ships are proving far more difficult to engage than I had anticipated. These Heavy Patrol Vessels seem unwilling to engage us to protect their colony. Perhaps the loses the native race sustained in the first two attacks have had a large impact on their tactics.'
The Commander of Fleets waited as the Assault Vessel cleared the ringed planet and then sensed the three enemy ships again. 'These ships did not use the rings to force a close range engagement. Instead they are nearly five light seconds away and fleeing. The thermal readings are well beyond the normal range. They will only remain in range for a few launches.'
The Commander of Fleets sensed new contacts as each of the enemy ships released three torpedoes. The Commander altered the field at his station and gave the order for all bays to deploy. 'If we are to destroy even a single enemy vessel, we will need to use every bay we have.' Moments later four torpedoes separated from the Assault Vessel while two deployed from each Combat Vessel. The eight torpedoes began to home on the trailing ship of the native race. 'We could use the defensive maneuvers, but it would only slow us and allow the fleeing ships to disengage more rapidly. We have to trust that the increased strength of the magnetic field will protect these ships.'

0222 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 5.25 light seconds from Titan

Jihu wanted to curse as the flare of the red lined drive blinded the sensors. 'We can barely tell that the aliens are behind us, let alone target them.' Red prompts flashed on his monitor as a bank of field generators malfunctioned. "Engineering, get the field generators back on line."
The Communications Officer broke in. "Captain Seo, Quinha announces all field generators off line. Multiple hull breaches. One launch bay off line and half of their particle accelerators have burned out."
Jihu checked the tactical display. 'The Quinha is falling behind. They will never be able to break off.' As Jihu watched the Sensor Officer broke in.
"Aspect change on Quinha. She is coming about."
'They are going to draw the alien fire. They can't escape, but they are about to make sure that we can.' Jihu watched the tactical display. The sensor returns were still poor, but even through the interference of the nuclear bloom's bleed around the drive shield the sensors recorded first one, then a second, and finally a third launch from the Quinha before the ship broke up as an alien missile found its target.
A new prompt appeared on his monitor. 'Captain Shen has ordered the drives reduced to standard combat levels.' "Helm, full combat acceleration. Hold current course." Jihu watched as the returns cleared. 'The three alien ships are still there, but they have changed course. They are moving toward Titan.'
The Comm Officer called out, "Captain Seo, incoming transmission from Sichuan. Putting through to your station."
Jihu keyed open the comm link and heard the radio crackle to life. "Captain Seo. We will set course to hold an orbit of Titan at seven point five light seconds. Maintain full combat acceleration and formation with the Sichuan."
"Yes, Captain Shen. Confirmed."
Jihu closed the link. "Helm, maintain formation with Sichuan." Jihu watched as new prompts appeared on his monitor. Distress calls and pleas for help as the alien bombers began to attack the remaining habitats on the surface of the moon he was supposed to guard.

0235 hours/Assault Vessel, 0.5 light seconds from Titan

The Commander of Fleets sensed as the scout craft launched from their bays for the third bombing run. The only active enemy habitats were now located near the underground complex on the surface. The complex was also where the troops of the native race had concentrated, so these attack runs would be the most dangerous.
'This attack has proved less successful than I had hoped. We did destroy one of the enemy Heavy Patrol Vessels, but two still remain and seem determined to shadow this group from beyond our weapon range. Those Heavy Patrol Vessels will make it nearly impossible for this group to engage the Assault Vessels of the native race favorably without altering the current operations and delaying the current time table. It may prove necessary to recall the Strike Groups and have them box in the enemy ships. For some reason they are not maintaining their magnetic protective fields. That will make an ambush and their destruction much less difficult.'
The Commander of Fleets sensed the two enemy ships suddenly change aspect and disengage, then move beyond sensor range.
Moments later the Commander of Fleets could feel the magnetic fields of the ships reappear. 'Why would they move farther away and then raise their magnetic fields?' The Commander of Fleets knew the answer even before the sensors told him he was correct.

0238 hours/Queen Jane Grey, 7.75 light seconds from Titan

"Rear Admiral McNeely, Titan at eight light seconds. Hold. New contacts clearing Titan. Alien Foxtrot times one, Delta times two, bearing zero niner five at eight point five light seconds. Velocity of four one zero kilometers per second on course one eight one. Changing aspect. Turning to close. Chinese ships moving into formation at one light second to port. Holding formation with Queen Jane Grey."
Robert watched as the two Chinese ships settled into formation with his own ship. "Ok Gretta, time to see if we just made a huge mistake or not."
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Mon 13 Feb 2012 06:04

February 2205 part 27

February 27th 0239 hours/Queen Jane Grey, 6.5 light seconds from Titan

Ensign Gretta Deeter wished there was more she could do. 'After so long as the Helmsman for the Red October, I feel useless simply monitoring information for the Admiral. Everyone seems to have a real job here, except me.'
"Launch detection. Tracking four inbound missiles from the Foxtrot. Two inbound missiles from each Delta. Total of eight inbounds. Target is Chinese Assault Vessel Sichuan. Time to intercept seventeen seconds. Chinese vessels employing evasive manuever protocol."
Gretta listened to the Sensor Officer as she watched the new icons appear on her tactical plot. The blue grey haze that colored the world disappeared as the drive on the Jane Grey shut down and maneuver thrusters brought the drive onto a new bearing while the four launch bays deployed missiles. More icons sprang to life on the display as missiles separated from the ships of the Third Battle Group and joined the six missiles that had been launched from the two Chinese ships.
"Helm, implement course corrections as I forward them to your station." Gretta heard Rear Admiral Robert McNeely. She could see him out of the edge of her vision. His fingers were rapidly dancing across the controls on his armrests. 'Even the Admiral has something to do.' Gretta watched as new course plots appeared on her display. 'Robert is going to take us through the middle of the small moons near Saturn. What can he hope to accomplish in that mass of rocks and ice? We will suffer as much sensor interference as the aliens.'
"Chinese Vessel Sichuan has lost magnetic signature. Venting. Drive restart detected. Hold. Sichuan has broken up." Gretta heard the Sensor Officer continue to rattle off more information as she watched the icon for the Chinese ship disappear, replaced by markers for wreckage. 'The ship must have suffered some damage to its drive shield. When it restarted, it tore the ship apart.'
Gretta saw that most of the Chinese missiles had lost tracking on the alien Foxtrot. Only one was continuing on its way to intercept. She pulled up the sensor returns on her monitor and saw as the high frequency magnetic pulses began to appear from the huge alien ship, and seconds later the Chinese missile became a scattered group of returns as it was torn apart by the new alien defense system. 'Maybe we will have better luck.' Gretta watched as the six missiles of the Third Battle Group began their final attack runs. 'All of them are still on target. That Foxtrot is going to have trouble with six missile closing on it at once.' Gretta watched as the high frequency magnetic pulses reappeared on the sensor returns, and then one after another missiles began to break up. Both of the missiles from the Attack Escorts broke apart, and then two of the missiles from the Jane Grey. Two survived to detonate along the Foxtrot's path, but the alien ship came through the sensor distortion with its protective fields still in place.
The Sensor Officer's flat voice made Gretta feel as cold as ice.
"New inbound contacts times eight. Tracking on Third Battle Group."
Gretta realized Robert was speaking to her and she suddenly tried to concentrate on his voice instead of the Sensor Officer's. "Gretta, you need to contact the Captain on the remaining Chinese ship. We can't stand here toe to toe like this. I have an idea but we are going to need that ship's help."

0240 hours/Missile Frigat Angtung, 1.2 light seconds from Saturn

Acting Captain Seo Jihu struggled with the armrest controls as new data and alerts streamed across his monitor. 'We need to get in closer to Saturn. We need to use the rings to break up the tracking on those alien missiles.' A new alert flashed on his monitor as the large Pan Euro warship changed course and its drive plume began to spew radiation across the Angtung's course.
"Helm, thirty degrees to starboard, down ten degrees." Jihu wanted to curse as the Euro ship cut off his path toward the rings. 'The Euro ships are breaking formation and scattering into the rings and around the moons. Why?'
"Captain, incoming message from the Pan Euro flagship. Forwarding to your station."
"It had better be an apology of they will be our next target." Jihu opened the message and began to understand as he read it. 'The Euros are manuevering so that the aliens can't focus more than a single launch at a ship, and the target ship will be manuvering against the launch. The other ships will use the moons and rings to block intercepts and allow them to regain speed after using the evasive protocols. The aliens will be forced to slow down from evading one launch after another while we will be able to hold our speeds. It might work.'
Jihu looked at the plots in the message. "Helm, adjust course to put Tethys between us and the alien cruiser. Full combat acceleration. Cease evasion."

0240 hours/Attack Escort Catherine, skimming rings of Saturn

"Aspect change on Chinese Vessel. Now on course one two five ascension minus ten. Accelerating. Will pass behind Tethys in five seconds. Aspect change on alien vessels. Foxtrot employing evasion protocols on course heading two two eight. Delta One now on course one eight one and accelerating. Delta Two on course one zero three."
Commander Sarah Sieren watched as the alien ships broke formation and began to cut off the routes the Battle Group could take that would hide them, but her attention was focused on the eight missiles homing in on the Attack Escort Isabelle. The returns clouded as one detonation after another blossomed along the small ships path.
"The Isabelle has broken up." Sarah felt sick as she watched icons for the wreckage of the ship appear on her screen as the Sensor Conn called out the destruction of the other Attack Escort. 'We are going to die here. Those ships will give us nowhere to run and the Jane Grey will catch hell from all sides. Even she won't last long unless we can manuever against those damned aliens.'
"Helm, course change. Bring us to heading three three zero and then maintain heading directly toward the Foxtrot. Lets see if they are willing to play chicken. Weapon Conn, hold next launch."
Sarah watched as the distance began to close between the Catherine and the big alien warship. 'The Jane is coming about and going to pass the Chinese vessel nose to nose.
"Aspect change on Foxtrot. Coming about to heading zero three eight."
'Yes, That will put Saturn between the Jane Grey and the Foxtrot. But both the Deltas will give them nowhere to run unless...'
"Helm, come about to heading two seven five, implement evasion protocol. Weapon Conn, time launch as we pass the drive bloom of Delta One." 'Let's see if they can stop a missile coming straight up their tailpipe.'
The Sensor Conn cut in. "Captain, inbounds times four from Foxtrot. Delta One and Two launching on Queen Jane Grey."
'Here is where we pay for our good deed. The big ship broke off, but now we are the only ship it can get a lock on.' The grey haze of acceleration disappeared as the Weapon Conn called out, "Missile away", then was replaced by the kaleidescope of colors that came with the manuever protocol.
Sarah watched as the four alien missiles closed. 'If Admiral McNeely is going to say thank you, he needs to hurry up.' She gripped the armrest as the icons merged and detonations clouded the display. Moments passed and Sarah heard Engineering on the radio repeaters. "Magnetic field generator banks one through eight off line. Field strength at thirty five percent."
Sarah keyed open the intercom and cut off the Engineer. "Helm, drop evasion protocol. Full combat acceleration. Bring us about and put us in Saturn's rings. We just got lucky, don't expect it to happen again."
"Captain, missile making final run on Delta One. No magnetic pulse detected."
Sarah watched the returns as the missile ran down its target.
'You can't shoot straight back through your drive bloom any more than I can.'
The returns clouded as the missile detonated, followed heartbeats later as missiles from the Jane Grey disappeared into clouds of ions and radiation along the alien ships path. Sarah wished she could hold her breath as she waited for the sensor returns to clear.
"Captain, Delta One has lost magnetic field signature." Sarah was almost ready to cheer when the Sensor Officer cut in again. "Jane Grey is magnetic field down."

0241 hours/Missile Frigate Angtung, 1.25 light seconds from Saturn

Jihu tried not to clench the armrests as his view of the monitor shifted colors wildly. He stabbed at one of the controls, clearing an alarm box obstucting part of the display. "Engineering, get the first bank of generators back on line. Activate third bank now." With a bank of shields off line, the Angtung was vulnerable. The alien missiles could easily tear through the weakened field and disable or destroy the ship. 'And we have missiles closing on us. At least Saturn is between us and the alien cruiser.' Suddenly Jihu saw one alien 'delta' - as the Euros called them - turn toward the Euro flagship. The two ships were closing on each other, both trying to use Tethys as a shield while trying to line up a shot on the other. Missiles began to sprout from both ships. But this alien warship had its magnetic fields up, and the Euro warship did not.
"Helm, bring us about on course two two zero. Bring us in behind contact three. Weapons, launch all bays when we cross the bloom. Engineering, all operational generator banks online."
The Helmsman was the first to respond. "Captain, we will intercept the wash from the enemy vessel."
Jihu's vision cleared as the drive cut out to allow the ship to fire its manuever thrusters. "Better the drive wash than a point blank broadside from two ships. We already have one set of inbounds."
The world slammed back into a blue grey wash of color as the drive restarted. Seconds crawled by as the alien inbounds closed on the Angtung, racing her to the launch point. 'We aren't going to make it.' Jihu watched the sensor returns of his monitor cloud as the alien missiles detonated and saw more warning prompts flash. 'Two banks of generators off line from the attack, and one down from the terrorist virus. But we still have one left.' As the sensors cleared the drive bloom of the target ship began to dominate the returns. The drive cut out.
"All missile bays deployed."
Jihu watched as the missiles closed on the retreating alien ship. Detonations from the Euro missiles clouded the returns, and Jihu cursed quietly as one of his missiles lost it lock amidst the sensor disruption.
"Contact three has lost magnitic field signature. Aspect change. Alien ship coming about. Magnetic pulse detected."
'Shields down but they are clearing their drive shield. Maybe we can use this to our advantage.' "Helm, course change. Now one four zero ascension plus four. Move back toward drive wash of contact three. Weapons, I want the next launch ready by the time we cross contact three's drive shield." Jihu watched as one of the two remaining missiles tracking contact three broke up. 'We need something to go right or we are all going to be dead in the next minute.'
The returns on Jihu's monitor clouded as the last missile detonated.
"Contact three is venting. Drive restart and aspect change."
Jihu clenched the armrest. "Helm, get me behind that cursed ship, NOW !"
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Tue 14 Feb 2012 05:43

February 2205 part 27 (2)

Feburary 27th 0242 hours/Assault Vessel, 1.5 light seconds from Saturn

The Commander of Fleets reached his perception out through the sensor arrays towards the enemy ships. 'Only three enemy vessels remain, but the are making it nearly impossible to keep track of their movements. The enemy Combat Vessel and Heavy Patrol Vessel have both lost their protective magnetic fields, but they have manuevered so that this Assault Vessel has been unable to launch against them and now Combat Vessels 6 and 7 have both lost their protective fields. The native ships have also pulled in close enough to Combat Vessels 6 and 7 that the torpedoes have limited time to correct for any maneuvers and the new crews have been unable to destroy the enemy ships.' The Commander of Fleets struggled to suppress his frustration as the two torpedoes from Combat Vessel 7 missed the enemy combat vessel as they twisted amongst the moons near the ringed planet.
'Combat Vessel 7 has begun to vent in response to damage. Its Commander reports that several of the particle accelerators feeding the drive have been damaged. His ship will no longer be able to disengage from the enemy Combat Vessel and Heavy Patrol Vessel that have trapped it.' The Commander sensed the torpedoes that had to come from the enemy Heavy Patrol Vessel as they closed from behind Combat Vessel 7. Frustration welled up within him as another detonation forced Combat Vessel 7 to stop its drive and vent more damage. As the drive restarted the Commander of Fleets could feel that it had lost more power.
The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station and the crew responded, turning the Assault Vessel in toward the ringed planet. Orders sped across space to Combat Vessel 6 and it also changed course. 'We will see how committed they are to this attack.'

0242 hours/Attack Escort Catherine, 1.75 light seconds from Saturn

Commander Sarah Sieren watched as the grey blue haze returned as the drive restarted.
'We are an awful little fish for this pond. The Admiral gave us orders to extend and disengage if we can, but we aren't going without saying good bye.'
Sarah saw that the icons for the Foxtrot and Delta Two had nearly merged. The large warship had slowed down and was now holding close formation to the crippled alien warship. Sarah watched the sensor returns as missiles from both the Chinese ship and the Jane Grey closed on the two ships, only to disappear as the alien defensive systems on the Foxtrot destroyed them.
"Delta One, aspect change. Employing evasion protocol. Will clear Saturn and be able to fire on Jane Grey in seven seconds."
Sarah watched as the Delta moved to attack the two vulnerable ships. 'Those two ships are about to find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Maybe we need to give Delta One something else to worry about.' "Weapon Conn, firing solution on Delta One. Fire when solution completed. With their shields down they can't afford to ignore us."
Sarah listened as the crew acknowledged the orders. She watched icons appear from the enemy warships as missiles began to close on the Jane Grey and Chinese ship. Missiles crossed in space as ships turned and twisted to aviod the oncoming death.
"Chinese Vessel venting to clear damage. Drive restart detected. Aspect change, coming about. Jane Grey now venting."
Sarah watched as the lone missile from the Catherine seemed to crawl across the space toward the alien Delta. 'I hope this does some good. If not those two ships won't last much longer.' Sarah watched the sensor returns of the magnetic pulses as the alien defensive system activated. Seconds crawled by as the missile continued on its attack run, then the returns clouded as it detonated. She looked away from the monitor as she waited for the Sensor Officer to call out the results.
'Please, please, please...'
"Delta One venting. Drive restart detected. Aspect change. All alien ships on vector to disengage."

0244 hours/Queen Jane Grey, 2.5 light seconds from Saturn

"Ensign Deeters, damage report."
Gretta scrolled through the data on the monitor. "Baffles have been breached in three areas. Damage to forward cargo storage, auxilary control, missile storage area for bay three and four. Minor damage reported to engineering space on port side. All launch bays still online. Engineering projects first bank of field generators online within one hour. Full power to magnetic field in four hours. No other reports. Commander Sieren reports no damage to hull of the Catherine. Magnetic field reduced to one third of original strength."
"Thank you Ensign. Monitor the progress of repairs. Send orders to Mobile Repair Ship for rendevous point at six light minutes from Saturn to assist in emergency repairs. Begin analysis of engagement after forwarding copies of all logs and sensor records to Admiral Muldoon and Ground Command."
"Aye Admiral." Gretta began pulling up the data to forward to the Comm station. She then pulled up the format for the orders that would need issued to arrange the meeting with the Repair Ship, so she could begin to fill it out while the various files compiled. Her attention was broken as a prompt from the Comm Officer appeared on her monitor. 'A little early to be pestering me for transmissions.'
Gretta openned the intercom. "Ensign Roberts, I haven't quite compiled the Admiral's outgoing comm traffic. Give me another five minutes or so." Gretta heard the Comm Officer reply. "I have an incoming message from the Chinese Captain. It is addressed to the Captain but I think the Admiral will want to see it." Gretta thought for a moment. 'Robert has his hands full as it is. If this is routine and I bother him, I will regret it sooner than later.' She keyed open the intercom to the Comm Station. "Forward the translation to my station. I will handle it from there."
Gretta watched as the new prompt appeared. Tapping at the keys on her armrest the prompt expanded into a block of text.







Gretta looked at the message for a long time, then keyed open the comm link to Rear Admiral McNeely.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Thu 23 Feb 2012 05:00

February 2205 part 28

February 27th 1420 hour/6500 meters below Andvari Crater, Triton

Lieutenant Commander Megan Ryan leaned over the display on the table. A maze of tunnels, shafts, and chambers were laid out in a rainbow of colors. Blue for Chinese held locations and units, green for areas held by the Pan Euro, tan for the units of the FSC, and shades of red for areas held by alien troops or militia. 'There is an awful lot of red on this map.'
A new chart appeared beside the display on the table sized monitor. "As you can see from this data, attacks from the indigenous population have caused few casualties but are forcing the redeployment of units to counter incursions from newly dug tunnels. Maintaining a cohesive front has been difficult, and our units in contact with the alien combat troops that landed on the surface are being forced to withdraw from several areas to consolidate their remaining personnel and resources."
Megan listened to the FSC Major as he continued with the briefing. 'At least he invited me. Lord knows he didn't have to. The entire US detachment on this moon won't make a platoon and most of them are technicians, not combat troops.
Megan looked up as she heard her name called. "Lieutenant Commander Ryan, has your group intercepted any communication from the alien units?"
Megan looked at the display in front of her, and then at the Major in his Power Armor. "We have been able to intercept a large number of alien communications, but they are not of the form we have seen to date. The aliens apparently use some form of encryption in their communication between combat units that has defeated any effort by my team to decipher. The few aliens we have tried to interrogate have also shown a remarkable ability to suppress their normal emissions. Most of the aliens seem to broadcast ceaselessly to any other alien around them, but can apparently suppress this when under duress. I am afraid that my team and I will be unable to assist much."
Megan watched as the Major stood quietly for a while, and then nodded. "And what is the status of the soldiers in you communication project? The ones who had been in direct contact with the aliens."
Megan looked back down to the display. "All of the project participants were dead within minutes of the assault, apparently killed by massive disruption of their central nervous system's conduction. With the exception of one. The Chinese soldier Chen Hyang survived but is currently in a coma. The monitors that recorded his meeting with the alien he called 'Brood Mother Two One Eight' have shown that this alien apparently disrupted many of the alien signals that would have induced the fatal arrhythmias that killed the other participants. Whether this was intentional or not is unclear. We have forwarded requests to Major General Billings that identification and capture of this alien be given the highest priority."
Megan stepped forward toward the display and placed a hand on it. "I believe we need to attempt to place cyborg units in these areas that are in contact with alien combat units. We have monitored unusual emissions from aliens in these five areas." Megan pointed at the display. "My team and I are unsure as to what these new emissions are, but they resemble the emissions from the aliens in our communication project. We feel that it may be an attempt by the aliens to gather information from the soldiers they are in combat with. As no alien has ever successfully initiated contact with a cyborg, we feel these units will be the most appropriate."
The Major looked at Megan, and then turned toward his assistant. "I will need a list of all cyborg units in this area. Forward this information to Major General Billings."

1545 hours/4200 meters below Andvari Crater, Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank looked at the dozen FSC soldiers her team was now assigned to replace. 'I realize we are good. But how in the hell do you justify pulling a dozen combat soldiers off the line and replacing them with just the four of us. My platoon is now so strung out we may as well be on different sides of this moon.'
"Frau Frank. Where do you want me to set up shop?"
Tanya looked at Hauptgefreiter Ludwig Schimmelpfennig. "You've got the only Rollover Missiles in the team. I need you to take an overwatch. Pick a perch somewhere up on those structures. If we get hit heavy, use them to seal up the tunnels into this chamber that are the biggest problems."
Tanya looked at the pock marks and burned areas in the chamber, then at the dozens of small alien suits. 'It looks like the FSC soldiers here saw some pretty heavy action. If the aliens are serious they will hit this area with their big units soon. We need to be ready.'
"We have four entrances into this chamber. We own one of them. The aliens can come down the other three anytime. We will each take one entrance to cover. If you identify aliens or alien combat suits, engage and signal the rest of the team. Ludwig, you will provide suppressive fire if any member needs to displace. In the event we need to abandon this position we will move to our secondary combat positions. Are we clear on this?" Tanya waited a few moments as the rest of the team acknowledged her orders and began to move into position.
'They don't need much baby sitting from me. We have been here for months now. Everyone left is a combat veteran.'
"Ludwig, keep an eye on my entrance. I need to emplace the mines." Tanya put down the crate of DM-1533 Magnetic Detonator Mines and began to unpack them.
"Go ahead and put out the party favors. I'm sure the company will appreciate your thoughtful consideration when they come to visit."

2005 hours/Hardened Fallout Shelter, New Delhi, India

Chairman Mukata sat in the padded chair and sipped slowly on the hot tea. He reached out with his free hand and tapped at the monitor on the table beside him. Status reports on the various projects displayed, followed by updates from the general on Triton.
Mukata looked up as the door opened. One of his Power Armor security detail entered the room and moved toward him. Mukata watched as the seven foot tall surplus Pan Euro suit moved nearly silently across the room. 'It is remarkable that such a large thing can move with so little noise.' The suit stopped a few feet from Mukata and held a small chip out toward him. "The array in South Africa received this coded message. I have been directed to bring it directly to you."
Mukata nodded and took the small chip, then watched as the soldier quickly exited the room. After the door had slid closed, Mukata put the chip into the port on the monitor and watched as a keypad displayed. Mukata typed out his pass code and waited. In less than a minute the message displayed on the screen.





Mukata tapped at the monitor's keypad and waited. 'Someone survived. The question is who.' Seconds later the answer displayed on the screen.

...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

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

Postby procyon on Mon 05 Mar 2012 06:20

February 2205 part 29

February 28th 0630 hours/Queen Victoria, 2 light seconds from Earth

Admiral Brenna Muldoon reviewed the orders. 'Less than four days ago I sent out the order designating what ships were in the Third Light Battle Group. Now I am dissolving it.' Brenna looked over the ship roster again. If I take what is left of the Third Battle Group and the Third Light, we barely have enough to make one Battle Group. Robert will have the Queen Jane Grey and the Attack Escort Catherine. Stephan has the Red October, Heavy Escort Avery, and Attack Escorts Elise and Kathleen. A total of ten missile bays on six ships. But two of those ships are damaged and the other is still finishing up its initial construction. For a Battle Group, it is cobbled together at best.'
"Admiral Muldoon, Admiral Walters is on the line."
"Thank you, Ensign." Brenna saw the flashing prompt on her screen and opened the comm line.
"Admiral Walters. Thank you for your time. I needed to address something with you." Brenna waited for the reply. 'The comm lag is going to make this drag out.'
"You extended me the courtesy of the last meeting. The least I could do is make time for your call. That, and this is keeping me from a meeting I don't want to attend."
Brenna wondered what it was like stranded on the ground with the politicians, but decided she didn't want to know. "I have a plan. It might work to draw the aliens into a battle that would favor us. But I will need you to adjust your fleet deployments." Brenna waited for the time lag on the comm link again. 'He asked me to shift ships last time we met. Let's see if he will return the favor.'
"Just how much of an adjustment are you asking for? I will need to run it past the Defense Committee reps, but it shouldn't be a problem."
Brenna sat for a moment, and tried to think of a better way to say what she needed to have happen, but couldn't. "Admiral Walters, I need the US to pull all of Task Force One away from Mars. Just leave the stationary defense and the Q Ships." Brenna gripped the armrests as she waited for the response.
"I'm sorry Admiral Muldoon, there seems to be some interference on this comm channel. I thought I just heard you say that I was to pull the mobile defenses from Mars. That couldn't be correct."
Brenna sat back in her station. "No, that is correct. I need you to pull back from Mars."
The line was quiet for a long time. Finally, it crackled back to life.
"You are going to need a good reason for me to even pitch that to the politicians. Even then they likely won't agree. I assume you have a reason."
Brenna keyed the comm link from her station and began to transmit the documents she had drawn up. "I do, Bradley. It is going to be a gamble, and you are going to have to put up the stakes. Here is why..."

1250 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po put down the glass of water and looked at the report, then settled back slowly into his chair and tried to relax. 'They have finished the patch to the software for the field generators. In a few hours the virus that has plagued our fleet will no longer be a problem.' Po put down the piece of paper and then looked at the others scattered across his desk. 'If only that were true of our other problems.'
Po picked up a trio of papers and looked at them. "These are much more difficult problems now. We have lost two of our three troop transports along with four divisions of soldiers. The colony on Titan has been reduced to a collection of Chinese and US soldiers holding a half finished bunker. And we have lost three of our Frigates.' Po dropped the papers on his desk and looked up at the ceiling.
'Add to that the fact we are still technically at war with the FSC, while groups of vastly improved alien ships are now apparently preparing for an attack here in the inner parts of the system. The reports from Admiral Hu would have us believe that the alien force at Titan included one cruiser, along with two of the alien's heavy frigates. And Hu thinks that within a month, the aliens will attempt to strike at Earth.'
Po leaned forward and pressed the button for the intercom to his assistant. "We will need to convene an emergency meeting of the Ministry. We will need all Ministers in attendance. This meeting will be of the utmost priority. Do you understand?" Po waited for the assistant to give a hurried and nervous affirmation that he would arrange for the meeting, and then shut off the intercom.
'The Pax Treaty has stood for a century. I will need the backing of the Ministry if we are to break it.'

2250 hours/Surface of Hektor

The Dutchman watched as the lifter moved slowly through the debris. 'That is a fair job of piloting, trying to pick your way through the rubble swirling around this rock.' As the lifter settled to the ground the Dutchman motioned for the soldiers with him to move forward. White jets appeared as maneuver packs fired gouts of gas into the vacuum, and five figures quickly moved across the surface of the asteroid. Seconds later they had taken positions around the lifter and secured the area.
"Zone secure. Ready for evac."
The Dutchman used the menu on his HUD to control the maneuver pack he wore, and began the move to cross the 200 meters to the lifter. Seconds later he climbed through the hatch into the craft and settled into a station in the cargo area. A cyborg moved over to help secure him and then began locking in the members of the security team.
The Dutchman tried to relax as he watched out the hatch for anything that might be an alien combat suit. "How long until we reach Earth?"
The cyborg returned to the Dutchman and rechecked the restraints on his station, then looked at the Dutchman.
"We aren't going to Earth."
"What do you mean? There are no other FSC holdings here in the belt. Is a civilian ship nearby?"
The cyborg moved back toward the Pilot's Station and began to lock himself in. "There is no ship. We will not be going to Earth."
The Dutchman began to feel the slightest tingle of fear. He tried to use the keypad to unlock his station, but found it would not respond. "You have come a long way just to kill me. It would have been easier just to leave me here."
"The board does not want you dead. It has another assignment for you. But not at Earth."
The Dutchman watched as the bay door shut on the lifter and felt the drive push the small craft up through the debris cloud surrounding Hektor. He began to look around the lifter for any hint of what was going on, or what might be in store for him. He found a clue as he looked at the Pilot's Station. The displays were coded. He couldn't make out the meaning of the displays.
But it was obvious the markings were Chinese.
...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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