K osiev and Admiral Dorg were on board the Moscow watching the feeds from the Fleet and land battle. The victory left them both exhausted; especially the land battle. “Those forts are incredible,” Dorg said. “That Algean fleet had no chance once it came as close as it did. Maybe they’ll think twice before attacking again.”
Kosiev shook his head and said, “What would you do if you had just lost half a million ships to our forts. Would you go away and forget about it?”
Dorg said, “Of course not and you’re right, neither will they.”
“They will do exactly what we would do in their place. They’ll go back to the scientific drawing board and develop something to offset our advantages,” Kosiev mused. “Their screens and ant-matter weapons concern me. If they develop screens that can last longer after a hit, then fleet actions can become really dangerous.”
Dorg thought a moment and said, “We also don’t know the scope of this enemy or where their central planets are located. I think we need to do some scouting around ourselves to get an idea.”
Kosiev thought about what Dorg was saying and then had an idea. We know the direction they came from. Just line up the Dremels planet with the Pydres and follow it in toward the center of the galaxy.”
Dorg nodded and took another bite of popcorn. “There’s something else that has me concerned.”
“We need to rethink the command structure of our ground forces.” Kosiev looked at him quizzically and Dorg continued, “I’ve been talking with my brother about what he has seen during the battle and he readily admits that the Humans are twice as good as his best warriors.”
Kosiev said, “He’s exaggerating.”
“Let me explain why he feels that way. My warriors, the Glod, and the Vgrig have had a long history of traditions revolving around single combat. We nearly lost the land battle when the Vgrig left their line for single combat glory. The Glod also looked to fight single opponents during the break in their lines. The Plants didn’t care; they just swarmed anything they could eat. We are not well equipped or have the temperament to fight well as a group. Even our Navies look for single combat unless ordered to attack together and even then it’s not well coordinated. I’m sure you saw this in our earlier conflicts.” Kosiev shrugged and then nodded. “We need to sit down with the leaders of our warrior members and discuss what we learned here.”
Kosiev looked down at his bag of popcorn and then put it aside. “My friend, will you set it up and I will try to get the Royal Couple to attend. I also need to speak to McAllister and see if he can beef up the screens of the forts.”
Dorg tilted his head to the right and shrugged both sets of arms, “Why, I thought they performed well?”
The Algean fleet did not launch a massive missile attack but take a look at this.” Kosiev then showed where an anti-matter missile struck the screen and the entire screen went red briefly.
“I haven’t seen that.”
“What do you think would happen if they managed to crash a ship loaded with anti-matter into our screen?”
Dorg just looked off and said, “Show this to McAllister. We need to work on this immediately.” Dorg looked out the viewport at the millions of stars and said, “What do you think the Plants will do next?”
“If I had to guess, they’ll design some new ships to fight us. I don’t think they are mindless; their technology belies that, so I don’t think they will throw more ships away. We need to relook at our own ships and think about where our next development will be. The Megaships will continue to roll off the assembly line but we need to get our scientists and engineers to see if we are maxed out right now on our capabilities. I may be wrong, but would you continue attacking an enemy that you can’t run from and every weapon you have is too slow to hit them?”
“Put like that, no I wouldn’t. So you think we will have a period of no attacks.”
“I think that if they were going to continue with their offence, then the fleet would already be here. I almost wish they would; I’m worried about what might show up next time.”
Dorg only nodded.
Danielle was on the air again addressing all the citizens of the Stars Realm. Most every planet had heard about the battle at the Pydres Planet and there was huge interest in what she was going to say. It was also the second time that everyone was going to see her new child which was reason enough for a massive viewing audience even if the battle had not taken place. Then there she was on everyone’s display.
“Good evening, to everyone on all your worlds. I thank you for taking time to allow me to share some things with you. As you can see, this is Rose Luanna Gardner and she has grown a lot since our last conversation,” Danielle held her up so the recorder would have a clear view. “Thanks to those of you who have sent your well wishes and after our battle with the Algeans, I feel somewhat better about her future and our defenses. However, I am asking for all of you to support the following changes. First of all, I am making Ross the Capital of the Stars Realm. It is literally the birth place where our union began. The Colonists, soldiers, and sailors that were killed there gave their life’s blood to cement the building blocks of our new civilization. Their sacrifice on Ross ultimately led to all of us coming together. It is only appropriate that we honor them with making that hallowed soil our Capital. The Government of Ross has donated one of the Northern Continents that is now unpopulated to our new union.”
All the billions of citizens were amazed at her choice. Everyone had expected it to be one of the first three members with the majority expecting Earth to be the first choice. The choice of Ross was perfect. Every race respected what the Humans did after they confronted the Cainth after they had killed the colonists but then allowed them to survive and embraced them as brothers. It was known by all that you could actually insult a Cainth and get away with it but it was fool hardy to say anything bad about their Human brothers. A fight always followed. Those deaths on Ross bound the two of their races together for all time.
Danielle paused a moment and then said, “I have been a reluctant ruler. I do not like forcing my will on others however it is the lot that has fallen to me. the birth of my child and becoming a parent has shown me that if hard decisions have to be made, then I am the one to make them; however, I don’t want to make them without your advice. We are building a government center on Ross and I want each member of the Stars Realm to elect a representative to serve you there. They will discuss critical issues and offer me advice on what they would like to see done. I’m hoping that they offer multiple suggestions which will allow me to make the best decision possible. I may not always see it like they do and make a different decision based on what I sense is right but where I can, I do want to use their wisdom and judgment. The Government center will be finished in six months and I’m asking you to elect your representative by then. That will allow those who would be interested in serving your planets to make their desire known. There will be two organizers initially that will serve to lead the sessions; Tgon-Gee and Terl. They will take turns because they also have responsibilities leading their own planets.”
Danielle paused once again to give time to digest what she was saying. On every planet there were politicians already thinking about how to win their planets choice. Then Danielle said, “Third, I am going to impose a tax on all trade in the Realm.”
Billions thought, “Here it comes; we knew they were going to hit us.”
Danielle continued, “I know the Alliance had a tax of thirty three% and quite frankly, I don’t see how you tolerated it. The Stars Realm tax will be three%.”
The citizens were stunned. They expected at least thirty% to be levied and most of them thought that three% was not enough.
“I don’t feel that this will place an undue burden on any one and we plan to live within our budget. It is my plan to develop products on Ross that we will sell to raise the bulk of our operating expenses. We currently don’t have the businesses yet but we do have a number of scientists that have requested to come and help us develop our world and we have accepted their application. Anything that we develop will be shared with all members equally. I thank you for your time and once again I thank you for your confidence in me. My family will continue to serve you and do our best to make life good for all. Good day.”
There was a huge aftermath following Danielle’s speech. Election fever ran rampant on all the planets; anyone who was anyone wanted to go to Ross. There was also a huge surge of applications from businesses to relocate to Ross. Danielle refused relocation but allowed some of them to open a branch. She would not allow loss of employment to develop her capital. What actually happened was that the branch on Ross ultimately became the headquarters for those businesses. Even before the Government center was completed, thousands of businesses had built their facilities in a technology center surrounding the Government Center and Castle. The members of the Stars Realm donated funds to build the Castle that Danielle and her family would live in. They also sent the engineers and construction workers to build it and it was going up fast. Danielle insisted that a humble structure would suit her just fine. The leader of the project told her that they would make it as humble as possible with the funds that they had. Danielle agreed that it was wise to stay on or under budget.
Finally the day arrived and she was told to pack and bring her family to her new home. Tens of thousands of people were at the spaceport to say goodbye. The signs and banners wishing the Gardner’s farewell were too numerous to count. The Director was there and handed Danielle a dozen roses.
“We are going to miss the two of you. Our entire world is so proud of all you’ve done to save us from annihilation. We can never show you how much you mean to your people. Earth has moved from being second class citizens to being highly respected by all the members of the Stars Realm. Have a safe voyage and don’t forget to come back to see us.”
Danielle and Tag loaded all their belongings on the Atlanta and looked down at Earth that had been their home for so long. “I’m going to miss this,” Danielle said as she held Rose and cooed her to sleep.
“Well, it could be worse but we have been able to make a few personal things happen.”
Danielle said, “What things?”
“Well, Leila and Eric are already there getting your office and staff organized and Tara and her husband Tim have also taken positions on the administration staff.”
“Really!” Danielle squealed. “That makes it a lot better.”
“You might also find it interesting that Eddie Ortiz is now responsible for castle security and Esa Conner has allowed Julie to finally retire and become the head of your communications. Maggie Wiseman and her family are also there now and they will be responsible for the upkeep of our new home.”
Danielle started to cry. “It really will be home now.” Then she thought and said, “Where are all these people going to live? We’ll have to build them homes near ours so they can get there easily.”
Tag smiled and said, “We’ll make sure they live close, Darling.”
Tag then looked at Admiral Smith and said, “You may jump now.”
The megaship jumped into Ross’s orbit and Danielle and Tag with Rose boarded a shuttle and headed toward the Planet. Their new home was on the night side of Ross so Danielle couldn’t see it. The shuttle landed at the spaceport and they boarded a floater to go to the Castle. Danielle saw a large city ahead and marveled at the beautiful spires rising from it. “That must be the new government center,” She said. As they approached at ground level, suddenly the structure ahead turned on all of its lights and Danielle was almost blinded when night turned into day. The floater rose above tree level and Danielle saw a huge city in the distance reaching the horizon. Then she saw it; the giant structure they were approaching had a giant Rose superimposed over a G on the center tower. The building extended more than a mile in both directions and was nine stories tall. Her eyes grew wide and she looked at Tag, “They built it under budget dear. It’s powered by black hole reactors and the entire roof is coated in Coronado Power Cells to supplement the power.”
“Tag, it’s enormous. How could we afford to build this?”
“We didn’t. One of the news agencies went on the air and asked for donations to build your new home. They even played your request to the head engineer that he should stay within the budget and that you had no problem with humble dwellings; it seems your subjects did. He only used one third of the donated funds to build this and the rest are going to be used to pay all of your workers for the next hundred years; what remains will be used to build the Fleet academy. Everyone who serves you in your home has a place to live in the structure. The head engineer said to make sure you know he stayed under budget.”
She looked at the central tower and said, “What is the G with a Rose over it?”
Tag looked at her and said, “There was a contest among all the children of every race to come up with a Royal Crest for you. This entry was selected by a majority of all the children. It’s simple. I have a little difficulty accepting myself as royalty; I can always say I attained it by marriage. I can understand how you feel about all the attention now, however, Gardner is the name of the Stars Realm Royal Family and it’s only appropriate that the flower associated with love is part of our crest. It’s my understanding that the sale of roses throughout the realm reached epic proportions once it was broadcast that we named our first child after a flower grown on Earth that symbolizes love.”
“Tag, it’s beautiful. The crown on top of it floating like a halo is a nice finishing touch. Let’s go home; I’m looking forward to our new accommodations.”
Tag stood behind her and enclosed her and Rose in his arms. They felt that warm glow again and they both knew Rose also liked her new home. Life was good.
The Elder Leaders on the Algean Home World swayed gently in the wind and watched their display once more as they saw the Rocks around the food source planet destroy their half fleet. They also saw their ground forces being mowed down while their last ship was blown out of existence. The Eldest Leader said, “The Strangers have too big of a technological edge on us. They are faster and their beams are too strong for our screens. It would not matter what size fleet we used, they would have all been destroyed. It would be foolish to follow this loss with another fleet until we can counter their edge.”
Another leader replied, “You didn’t mention that they can use their null engines anywhere in the system. It appears the star does not affect them.”
“Which only means that even if we did trap them with our numbers they would just jump away,” a younger leader said.
“What have the scientists reported after they viewed this information?” the Middle Leader asked.
“They say we have to build a different type of ship. Our ships are too big and slow to stand up to these strangers. They also report that multiple force fields must be used to resist their weapons. They are strong enough initially but can’t regain enough strength quickly to stop the second impact.” The Science Leader said.
“How many more fields?” the Eldest asked.
“At least five to stop that biggest beam from their large ships,” the science leader said.
“You haven’t said anything about our missiles being so slow.”
“That’s the easiest part. We put three engines on the power missiles and use a tool to fly it in to its target. We also increase the anti-matter in the war head.”
All of the leaders thought about that and nodded. None of them even flinched at the suicide nature of the mission; that’s why the soldiers were called tools. “Will they be faster than the Strangers ships?” the Eldest asked.
The Science Leader swayed gently and said, “If launched within one geld of their target they should match their fastest speed.”
“How long will it take to build the new fleet and weapons?”
“Three Cycles of our Home World.”
“That long, what about their ability to jump away?”
“I believe we have an answer to that. We have a frequency generator that will prevent null drive usage close to the sun. This frequency was discovered more than 10,000 cycles ago. We have never had a use for it in the past because nothing we’ve ever seen could use their drive inside the null band. The frequency coupled with the star’s gravity will prevent null jumps inside most systems. They still might be able to use their jumps closer than normal but not by much. Now they will have to move outside the new null band to use their drives. It only works in combination with the star. It will take three cycles to build enough ships because the Strangers will also be building at the same time we are. We will need at least a half fleet to defeat them.”
The Leaders swayed and the Eldest said, “Notify us when you have everything ready.”