The blue holo-screens flickered with representations of star systems, star-routes, information on planets, fleets, projected vectors for friendly forces as well as the ominous crimson patterns that meant only one thing: possible enemy intrusion paths, ship and number estimations as well as tactical approaches. And much of the vital information about the enemy was still incomplete or completely missing in some areas.
As Admiral Ka’chun turned his gaze from the screen to address the room, he was quite aware that everybody had noticed the missing portions of data. And how could they not notice it? It was a staple of every briefing since the beginning of the conflict with The Collective, over 17 months ago. Information was sketchy at best, although the data they managed to collect over the months of combat was starting to form into a worrisome image.
“I know tactical analysis hasn’t been too reliable since the beginning of the conflict but I called you here so we can discuss and plan for what we do know. We have seen not only different species participating in the Collective’s war effort against us, but each of those species sporting technologies with, in some cases, astronomical differences between them. And we have reason to believe that we haven’t seen the full scope of diversity from this enemy. That being said, Central Command believes that each race, with its characteristic technology, has its own niche in the overall organization of the Collective. That means we can expect to see the same technology we saw before at Barthazom, Korandra or Aveela. And that means we have exact information on at least 70% of technology that we expect the enemy to throw at this system. Even if the natives are still using steam power, this system, and the equipment we managed to place here in agreement with the Candara’ans, is of vital importance. After the loss of the 3 supply transit nodes, this is the only link left in this sector that keeps the Perimeter Planets Front together. Captain Rex Alvos, you are hereby promoted to Bomber Squadron 1 Commander. You are also to instruct the new recruits and devise a plan with the other Squadron commanders. Since most of our corvettes are on convoy escort duty, it goes without saying that your bomber force will bear the brunt of the fighting.”
A melodious chime interrupted the admiral’s speech and a communications officer enter the room with a holo-pad:
-“Sir, we just received confirmation of the enemy fleet, 36 cruisers and 3 unknown cylindrical objects, will reach the planet in approximately 24 hours. Intel thinks the 3 unknown vessels might be part long range supply carriers, part attack craft deploying platforms.”
“Attack craft? Bloody hell, my cadets can’t take on fighters. I don’t have enough veterans to pair the rookies with.”
“Rex, make the arrangements you see fit. You have a day to figure out how to best use your pilots.” He stood up and started shelling our orders faster than a laser battery, yet precise as a surgeon:
“Navigation, I want every freighter, cargo ship and drop pod to clear orbit for the upcoming fight, send them to the third moon of Yeaba with orders that if they don’t hear from us in a week, to start the journey to Antaria system. Communications, send dispatch ships to every neighboring system and warn them of what transpired here. Tell them we will transmit all combat data we can while they are still en route to the edge of this system. If we fall, I want Command to have all the intel possible so they can plan ahead. Intelligence, rig explosives on every communication, data storage and transmission equipment; also make damn sure they can’t find out anything about our operations here. “
After a brief hesitation, he looks the liaison officer in the eye and commands sternly:
“Tell the Candara’ans what’s happening and help them evacuate villages near our facilities. Then raise them to the ground.”
In chocked, half panicked voice the liaison officer manages to squirm:“Sir?” as the rest of the command staff looks in shock at their commander. In a mild voice, admiral Ka’chun proceeds to explain:
“The natives don’t stand a chance. If we fail to stop them, they will descend on this planet as well. But in the event that happens, I want it to make it look as if the natives were oppressed by us. Perhaps that will spare them the punishment the Collective might rain down on collaborators helping their enemy. And make it clear to the local government that this is a last resort measure, to be put into effect only if there is no one left in orbit to fight.”
As the relieved command staff starts heading to their respective consoles and posts to organize as best they can, the admiral turns to the young communications officer still staring at his holo-pad:
“Yuri, I want those new plasma turrets that have been sitting in those damned freighters, down on the planet and fully operational by tomorrow. I don’t care how you pull it off, use the damn steam trains on the planet if you have to, but I want them online and ready to fire. God knows, we’ll need them…… “
After one final hesitation, he steps out of the conference room with Rex by his side and proceeds to address the whole command staff in a loud confident voice:
“ I am not authorized to tell you this, even though it’s still a rumor, but it seems that High Command has started training crews for a new ship that should be entering full production. Rumor has it this new class of ship is armed mostly with plasma batteries and is conceived as an anti-ship combatant. I repeat, this is still only a rumor, however, I am ordering each and every one of you: stay alive to see this new kind of ship with your own eyes. “
A thunderous cheer roared through the room as officers prepared to face the coming fight with new heart.
TO BE CONTINUED.
(Author’s note: This is a chapter from the ARIAN Chronicle. Although well inside the storyline, it is the first chapter published, although not published in chronological order. I would also like to thank Stroude, author of AE story Bomber Cain, and Shpilkus, author of Just another day at the office series, for finally, through their writing, giving me the nudge to put in writing all that I have been brewing in relation to this story line)