Danielle was sitting in her office answering questions on a form about what her needs would be in her new home on Ross. Rose at nine months was standing and holding on to the wall of her play pen watching her mother with obvious curiosity. Danielle pushed her com and said, “Leila, I’m expecting an engineer from Ross to arrive shortly to pick up this form I’m working on; please show him in when he arrives.”
Leila replied, “Yes, Your Majesty.”
Danielle gave a heavy sign and left her com on so Leila could hear it. She wondered if she would ever get used to the honorifics that came with her office. She looked at Rose who immediately smiled and started bouncing up and down at her mother’s attention. Danielle smiled at her blond hair, green eyed child and put the form down. She walked over and picked Rose up and sat down with her in her lap and began singing. Rose gave a shreek and started laughing out loud. Danielle caught the mood and began laughing herself. How many mothers can make their child laugh so hard just by singing?
Her com buzzed and Leila said, “Mr. Ereckson from Ross is here to pick up the form.”
“Send him in, Leila.”
A distinguished looking man dressed professionally entered and came forward and bowed. Rose looked at him with wide eyes. “Please rise and say hello to my daughter, Mr. Ereckson,” Danielle said,
“Good morning your majesty and hello Rose,” he said and offered his hand to the little girl. Rose reached out and grabbed his index finger and smiled. He smiled and shook her little hand.
“Mr. Ereckson, I’ve put as much information as I can think of on this questionnaire but I really trust the building team to just use their own judgment,” Danielle said. “I do appreciate all the effort that is going into building our home on Ross.
“We are excited more than you could ever know to have your family coming to live on our planet. I am actually one of the scientists from the academy that we’re building there. Our engineers are so determined to complete the building on time that they requested me to come see you about your wishes.”
Danielle stood up with Rose and said, “Come with me Mr. Ereckson, I need to put Rose down for a nap.” They walked out of the office into an adjoining room where Rose’s crib was located and Danielle laid Rose down. “I really have very simple needs, Mr. Ereckson. Just tell the engineers to use their own judgment and whatever they do will be perfectly fine.”
Mr. Ereckson nodded and said, “They just want to make sure you’re happy with your new home.” Then he looked at Rose’s crib and said, “Isn’t that a mobile of Ross’s solar system hanging above her crib?”
Danielle smiled and said, “Yes it is. The academy sent it to us saying that they wanted Rose to get to know her new home. I’m told that it is an accurate recreation of all the planets and moons and Rose just loves staring at it watching it move.”
Mr. Ereckson looked at the mobile and his expression changed markedly. “What’s wrong?” Danielle asked.
He looked at Danielle, “This mobile is free moving; it does not move on its own. I remember when we sent it to you.”
They both stood there and looked at the mobile and they could see the planets moving around the sun ever so slightly and the moons revolving around the planets. “I also know that the tenth planet has all of its eight moons positioned exactly as they are now in the system. I was looking at a message that I received that showed the planet just before I arrived here.”
Danielle looked down at Rose lying in her crib smiling up at them. She said, “Mr. Ereckson, can you get a picture of where all the planets are in your system right now.”
Ereckson turned on his com and started speaking into it. Danielle heard, “I don’t care, just do it and do it now.” They continued to watch the mobile move for five minutes and then Ereckson’s com buzzed. “I have it now, Your Majesty. Is there a screen I can send it?”
Danielle pointed to the one beside Rose’s bed and said, “Use that one.”
Ereckson pushed a button and a picture of Ross’s solar system appeared on the wall. They both stared at it and compared it to Rose’s mobile. The two were identical. Danielle looked at Ereckson and said, “Do you know how this could be happening?”
Ereckson said, “No but let’s try something.” He reached up and moved all the planets to different places around the sun. Rose looked up at him with a serious expression and then looked at the mobile and the planets all moved back to their previous locations.
“Let’s try it again but let me take her out of the room,” Danielle said. Ereckson nodded and Danielle picked up Rose and took her into the other room and put her in her play pen. She went back in and watched Ereckson give the mobile a spin. The planets whorled around the sun and then settled back into the positions they were in originally. Danielle and Ereckson mixed them up repeatedly but they always returned back to the current positions the planets and moons were located in the real solar system. Danielle and Mr. Ereckson looked at each other then went back in the office and found Rose asleep in her play pen. They went back and spun the mobile again and watched as it spun for a full minute and settled back into the current orbits of the Ross system. Danielle went back and looked at Rose sleeping peacefully in her play pen and wondered how she could have possibly known the current orbits of the Ross solar system. She looked at Ereckson and said, “How could she have made this happen?
He looked at her and moved one planet in the mobile to the opposite side of the sun and let it go. It slowly revolved around the sun until it returned to its proper place. “The only way she could have done this is to actually see the entire solar system as it is right now in real time. The light from our system won’t get here for thirteen years.” He then looked at Danielle and said, “I have absolutely no way of explaining how she did this.”
Danielle thanked him for his work on their new home and escorted him out to Leila. She walked back in and looked at her child sleeping soundly and wondered what she had just learned. Is it possible that she can actually see solar systems light years away? She had a lot to discuss with Tag.
Two months had passed since the incursion into the Pydres system and Admirals Kosiev, Dorg, and Mikado sat on board the Rossville watching the wall display which was showing a video of Mikado’s action with the Plant Fleet. “Groad, they build them big,” Dorg said.
Mikado nodded and said, “That was a small battleship the Tarpon Springs killed and it was more than seven miles long. I think that every one of their vessels is designed to participate in the harvesting of their food sources. It takes huge ships to load all the resources of a planet and transport them to another world. Matter of fact, the southern continent on the Pydres world is still basically untouched. Most of their cities were on the northern hemisphere so that’s where the Plants landed. It’s a shame to let them take the rest.”
Kosiev looked at Dorg and it was like they had the same thought simultaneously. “You make a good point, Lin. How would you go about stopping them?” Kosiev asked.
Mikado looked at the planet on the display and said, “I would take most of our Ultra’s and Empires and go in to confront the remaining ships around the planet. I would not jump in to the planet but would go in from the jump point at 1/3 speed which is what they saw during the last conflict. I think they would leave the planet to come meet us on our way in so as not to endanger their food source. The Plants would probably jump in a fleet behind us and try to pin us between the two fleets.”
“So how would you counter those tactics?” Kosiev asked.
“Before I even get into that, this war is going to be fought at long range if we can make it happen that way and there will be no hiding our capabilities from them. If we try to hoard the Megaships to get an edge in a significant battle then the war will be long over. This is Plant territory and they have more ships than we could ever handle in continuous battle. We would have to take the fleet out at the planet before the second fleet joins up. Once the second fleet jumps in we will have to go to full speed to open a large enough gap to finish off the ships from the planet. If we can do that, then we will turn and move on the incoming fleet. Just as we engage them we jump the Megaships in behind them and fire a full salvo of penetrators. The Megaships will stand off and target the missiles that will be launched at them. Trust me; it won’t be a small number. If they have to they will jump over the missile barrage and fire another salvo at the Plants and then jump in the middle of their formations fire all their needles, and then jump out of the system to reorganize.”
Kosiev looked at Mikado and shook his head. “Lin, I never knew you were so good at strategy. You should have been making suggestions long ago.”
“Quite frankly Admiral, I was more or less awestruck by Mr. Gardner. He seemed to always have the right answer and I didn’t feel confident enough to contribute. However, I learned a lot from watching the two of you. We also have to do something else when we start this action.”
“What is that?” Dorg asked.
If our goal is to prevent the Plants from harvesting the remainder of this planet; then immediately upon the completion of destroying their two fleets, we have to jump in some seventy foot asteroid forts and Marines to take control of the surface. Since the Empire ships can’t jump out of the system from the planet but would have to move out to the jump limit, we would park them in orbit around the planet inside the forts to support the Marine landings; they will need all the support they can get. The war then begins here with the Ultra and Megaships jumping in and out destroying as many ships as possible that the Algeans send to dislodge us. This also gives us a chance to see what the Plants can do against our technology without risking a populated planet. If they prevail here, we fall back to Dremel.”
The two admirals looked at each other and Dorg broke the silence by saying, “I’ll get the forts being sent to Cainth sent here instead.”
“Admiral, we will need them in Gamma Galaxy ready to jump in to the planet before we begin our attack. It might also be a good idea to have the marines and their transports on the surface of the Asteroids so that they don’t have to fight their way in system. If the Fleet is successful, then we move on the planet.”
Dorg got on the com and talked with Terl about the movement of the asteroids and after a brief description of their plans, Terl agreed that their current forts would suffice until a later date. Dorg then contacted the Asteroid Command and asked when the new forts could be jumped into the Gamma sector. Colonel Taz got on the line and said they were slotted for Cainth. “Colonel, Terl has already approved their use here in the fight against the Plants. Admiral Kosiev is standing by to back the request; what we need to know is how long it will be before they are capable of jumping into the Gamma Galaxy.”
“They have jump capability right now. With the seventy foot cells you could jump them directly to the planet you want to use them to protect. I, however, will have to confirm with the Cainth Clan leaders that this is their wish.” Kosiev and Dorg saw Colonel Taz look away from the display and listen to someone then look back and say, “Alrighty then, they’re yours, when do you want them delivered.”
Kosiev said, “Before we move them from Earth, I need to make some contacts and get some ground forces and their transports on their surface. While I’m doing that, will you jump them close to the sun and get them fully charged then bring them back to Earth.”
“Yes Admiral, I’ll issue the orders now. How many troops are you planning to take with you?”
Eight divisions will make the trip; one for each asteroid. We are going to issue orders to have our stronger Allies provide the troops and our agricultural worlds to provide transports with enough provisions to support them for a year.”
“Admiral, that could take a long time to organize.”
“Perhaps, but don’t let your end of this be the part that slows us down. I suspect that some of our Allies will fall all over themselves for the chance to face a real enemy in combat. I suspect I am going to have to slow them down enough to make sure that that they come prepared.”
General Richard Wiseman was in his office going over the delivery of his new Troop Armor and its specifications. His com beeped and he picked it up and saw Misty Nicole, Earth’s Director, on his display. “General, how long would it take for your division to be ready to fight for a prolonged tour of duty?”
“How long will we be fighting, Madam Director?” he asked.
“Maybe a year or longer,” she said.
“We could be ready in twenty days with all the military munitions we would need. We might take longer to get the provisions to feed the division for that long.”
“General, we will provide the provisions. You handle the military materials you need and organization of the men. When will you be ready to go fight?”
“The first Naval Marine Division will be ready in twenty days.”
“You will receive your orders from Admiral Mikado within six hours. Get your men back on base and get moving.”
“Yes, ma’am, right away.”
Richard jumped from his chair and yelled for his XO to get his grump in his office immediately and bring the staff with him. The ten staff members entered and Richard said, “It looks like we’re going back into the fray. Cancel all leaves, recall all our men, bring all of our armor and weapons platforms out of storage and into battle readiness. I want all of our officers down to company commanders in my briefing room six hours from now.”
Col. Jeremy Watson was packing his gear and thinking about the call up. He had been promoted to battalion commander knew that this call up was not a drill; there was going to be fighting. A pretty dark skinned lady came in and wrapped her arms around him from behind and hugged him tight. He turned and took her in his arms and kissed her lightly. “Please don’t worry, Maria. I’ll be fine.”
“How you can stand there and tell me that I’ll never understand; especially after my last husband was killed on Ross. However, I know who you are what you are and I know that you have to go or you wouldn’t be the man I love so much. Just do you utmost to come back to me. If I lose you I will thank the creator for our time together but I don’t want to lose you. Come back to me, Jer.”
Jer looked her in the eyes and said, “I miss Al too but I know he’ll be there with me. I’ll come back to you or die trying.”
Maria smiled and said, “That’s not funny. You know I’ll be waiting and I love you.”
“I love you too, Maria.”
Admiral Dorg had Tgon-Gee, Terl, and the Vgrig chancellor on his com screen. Tgon-Gee looked at him and said, “What are you up to, Admiral?”
“We are going to take the Pydres planet back from the Plants and we need some drop troops to make it happen.” The Vgrig Chancellor actually grinned and even Tgon-Gee and Terl looked excited. “We are going to need a total of eight Divisions to make the initial drop with all of their fighting gear. They will be on the eight asteroid forts with a division stationed on each with their transports. They will drop on the planet and then the forts will turn on the screen. We will hopefully have Naval ships overhead to support your drop but I can’t say how many will survive the fleet action to be available. You will not be brought in until we defeat the fleet the Plants send in against us. I am asking you the members of our Realm that have the finest fighting tradition first to see if you want to participate. If you don’t I will go to other Allies.”
“Thank Gexel our war god that you have found something for my warriors to do. They have not fought each other since we joined the SR but they are getting more and more anxious; they need an outlet. We could provide all eight divisions if you like,” the Vgrig Chancellor said.
Terl and Tgon-Gee both shouted at the same time that they needed the campaign as an outlet for their warriors also.
Dorg said, “Calm down, we may need to call in reinforcements if the ground battle goes poorly. The Vgrig will be allowed to contribute three divisions, the Cainth two, the Glod two and the Humans one.”
“Who will have overall command of the campaign?” Terl asked.
“The Human General Richard Wiseman who defeated two regiments on Ross with one small Battalion will be in overall command. The Human division will have the best technology and their Commander has been tested in battle. I need you to get your division commanders jumped to Earth to meet with him within three rotations. We have scheduled the mission twenty rotations from now. Are there any problems with the command selection?”
The Vgrig Chancellor looked at Dorg and said, “I’ve seen recordings of the action on Ross. He is one that I can count on to stand firm in the worse conditions. I support your decision.”
Terl said, “I also support your choice but I must make a decision you might not like, Admiral.”
“What is that Clan Leader?”
“I am going to give one of our divisions to your brother. After his defeat on Ross and the subsequent imprisonment by the humans, he has had great difficulty living with the shame of having murdered the Human Colonists. He must be given a chance to redeem himself. Fighting alongside these Humans may give him the release he so desperately needs.”
Dorg looked at Terl and said, “It was I that ordered those murders. My brother was a victim of my stupidity. I thank you Clan Leader for the opportunity. I could never have made that decision but I know he and I will never forget your kindness. Friends, you have twenty rotations to get your troops ready for transport. We will provide all their provisions; you need only worry about their military needs. You will be facing more than two million Plant soldiers. Make sure your warriors are prepared adequately.”
All three leaders looked at each other with the knowing expression that any warrior would recognize as the longing for the good fight against a worthy adversary. Then each of them went to notifying those that were lucky to be in the coming battle and explain to others why they weren’t going this time. It was going to be glorious.
Mikado studied the Algean fleet around the planet. There were 20 thousand ships with some of them more than 20 miles long with hundreds of missile and beam projectors. The Ultras and Empires were being refitted with pulse penetrator ports and all of them were supposed to be ready in 6 rotations. It was the success of that particular weapons platform that would determine the success of his fleet. His ships were going to be too busy knocking those anti-matter missiles out to really fire their weapons accurately. The penetrators were shoot and forget weapons and Mikado made sure that every ship’s Captain knew that he could not stock too many. “Fill every available space with all you can hold. You can get your provisions from the Asteroids after the action but you won’t need the provisions if you run out of weapons. Needles and penetrators; don’t get caught without them.”
Richard Wiseman stood in front of the auditorium facing the leaders of the troops that the SR was sending to take back the Pydres Planet. He thought long and hard about what to say and then turned on the video showing the plants attacking the Pydres settlements. The speed and viciousness of the Plants in their attack was incredible. They wore no armor but they had energy and projectile hand weapons. The floaters provided most of their heavy weapons fire. “What you see here is the enemy. They will not retreat, they will not back off, they will come at you in unimaginable numbers until they over run you. This is like nothing you have ever seen before and these creatures are incredibly strong. Picture a jungle vine capable of picking up a floater and you’ll get the picture of what they are capable of doing. They don’t use armor because if you shoot off an arm or leg, they grow a new one. We will have to totally burn all of the ones we hit. We are not going to wait for these nightmares to come to the southern continent to attack us. We are going to land close to their largest concentrations and dare them to take the ground from us. What I want all of you to know is that I and my Brother Marines will not leave you to die. As long as there is power in our armor, we will support you our brother warriors. We will not run and leave you defenseless. We know the importance of being able to trust your comrades to protect your back.”
The leaders in that room listened to him and knew he meant what he was telling them. They sat straighter and looked at their fellow warriors and each of them vowed to do the same for each other. “We will drop our fort in on the Algeans largest concentration which is located in the center of the northern continent. We will surround it on four sides with two divisions per side. General Dorg’s Division and my Division will take the northern side. Two of the Vgrig will take the south. The remaining Cainth and Vgrig divisions will take the east and the Two Glod Divisions will take the west. We will immediately dig in upon landing and get ready for the assault. We will not have to go to them; they will come to us. We need to handle them quickly because once the word goes out over the Plant message center that a new food source has arrived; reinforcements in the hundreds of thousands will be rushing to join in the conflict. We will need to have completed our fortifications to hold off the coming horde. We think we will have support overhead but we are uncertain of how much. I will let my XO cover you on your individual assignments and I will speak with you again once we are on the ground. There are millions of warriors around the Stars Realm that would actually kill to be in your place right now. Let’s go show them how real Warriors fight and give them something to try and better.”
The entire room stood up and cheered. Death stood among them and cheered with them and the warriors knew death waited for them on Pydres but they didn’t care. This is what they lived for, and this is what they were willing to die for. “This is a strong group,” Richard thought. “Let’s hope this new armor is all they say it is.”
Mikado was sitting on his new Megaship Rising Sun with Colonel McAllister who was charged with weapon development. “Colonel, I’m concerned that our pulse penetrators may not get thru the Algeans screens. The first needle fired at their scout ship did not get thru thought the following two did. The Ultra’s primary beam did make it thru one of their medium cruisers screen but I’m concerned that the way our hornet’s guidance systems are programmed that to only target one ship if it is designated by the sensor may not be enough to stop them. If we don’t impact them quickly after the first strike then their screen may have time to recover. I think from looking at the recording of our last fight that their screens are more powerful than any we have ever encountered but lose efficiency immediately after a hit for a short period. I don’t want to waste weapons but I’m worried about what will happen if we barrage them with single penetrators and none get thru.”
Colonel McAlister watched the display and said, “I see what you’re talking about. What if we set up dual protocols in the hornets software where we can change the system so that they will lock on any ship without a Coronado screen initially but if they don’t get thru we send a signal which will switch them to going after ships that have already been designated.”
“Would you have many then strike a single ship?”
“No, we will program them to lock on a ship if there are no penetrators locked on and then have the closest penetrator to see the single lock designate the same ship. If the penetrators sense that two sensor beams are locked on a ship, then they will ignore that ship. Until you send that signal, they will operate normally. I would suggest your initial salvo be limited so that you can see their effectiveness and then you may want to double your salvos very quickly to make sure you have enough to be effective. Our current magazines can fire a salvo every five seconds. If their screens can recover faster than that the ships that get hit with only one may not be destroyed and you’ll have to depend on your primary beams.”
“Colonel, if we get close enough to use our primary beams, then we are going to lose ships to their anti-matter missiles.”
“How far would you have to be to be able to escape the missiles?”
Mikado thought and said, “At least 100 miles to be able to get up to speed to out run them.”
Cade thought a moment and said, “Admiral, your primary beams are currently as wide as the ship is long. What if you focused all of that energy into a beam that was only 300 feet wide?”
“What would be the benefit of that?”
“The Megaships primary beam would have 95 % of its power 200 miles away. The Ultras would probably be good for about 110.”
“Can we target a ship that far, Colonel?”
“The beam is moving at the speed of light. The ships you’re firing at would be relatively standing still. We could modify the software and have the beams automatically lock on anything your sensors detect. It would be hard to determine what part of the ship you would hit at that range but you could fire each primary on the Megas every five seconds and you have six of them instead of just two.”
“How long will it take to make these changes?”
“All of these changes are basically software changes. If you get all the ships you’re going to use in the upcoming battle in one location, I could download the changes in less than twenty hours after I write the programming. The program can be completed in fourteen days.”
“One more question, Colonel; could this same thing be done to the primaries on the asteroids?”
Cade thought for about a minute and scribbled notes on a pad, “Yes it can.”
“How far would the beam be effective?”
“Well, if you make the ten mile wide beam six hundred feet wide it would have 95 % of its power at 4,000 miles. The seventy foot Asteroids would have a beam 1,500 feet wide at 30,000 miles. Remember that the 70 foot forts primaries are sixty miles wide out to 2,000 miles.”
“Colonel, why haven’t we done this before?”
“Admiral, our development processes were designed to protect a fleet in close fleet actions. We just haven’t focused on long distance engagements. Bigger and more powerful has been the watch word. The needle development has been the closest thing to a standoff weapon.”
“Could a hornet package be contained in those focused primary beams?”
“Not in time for your battle. The protective sheath around the hornets would not handle the high energy of the primaries. We’ll work on it but I doubt we’ll have an answer for that very soon.”
“Has anyone mentioned adding pulse penetrators to the asteroids weapons mix?” Mikado asked.
“As a matter of fact they have. All of the new seventy foot asteroids will have the magazines built right into the surface beside the needle ports and the forts will have more than twenty million penetrators in their stores.”
“Our ships and asteroids will be gathering in the gamma galaxy in twenty days. I’ll give you the coordinates and you can meet us there to download your changes.”
“I’ll need to get to work; I’ll see you there.