Read Against All Odds Online

Authors: Thomas DePrima

Against All Odds (2 page)

BOOK: Against All Odds
13.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

"The Ruwalchu are too far away to be of consequence. Their border with the Milori Empire territory is over two hundred parsecs from their home systems and they rarely travel this far out. I've always been amazed the Milori didn't lay claim to part of their territory decades ago."

"The distance might have had something to do with it— and the Milori
preoccupied with us and the Gondusans. But perhaps the real reason is the Milori feared them. My agents have reported that the technology of the Ruwalchu is far superior to our own, or that of their other neighbors. "

"We asked them for assistance when the Milori were driving us from our territory, but they refused to become involved unless the Milori invaded their space. I'll be damned if I'll see them benefit in any way from this accord!"

"Yes, my King. Have I understood correctly that this pact was first proposed by the Uthlaro?"

"That's right. They have the longest common border with the newly annexed Galactic Alliance territory and they fear their Dominion will be targeted next if the GA isn't stopped and pushed back inside their former borders."

"That's a preposterous position. The Galactic Alliance has never exhibited unprovoked aggression towards any of its neighbors. For many decades it has shared common borders with three nations— three nations far less capable of defending themselves than the Milori— but it never coveted its neighbor's space. It only responded to an invasion of its territory by the Milori. And it even went so far as to allow a battered Milori invasion fleet to leave GA space after being defeated the first time. If the Milori hadn't invaded a second time, the Galactic Alliance would not have had to attack the Milori home system. Annexation became a necessity after the second defeat to ensure the Milori threat was gone forever. The Uthlaro are using fear of invasion as an excuse to expand their own territory and want to use us to help them accomplish their goals."

"Perhaps, but our own nobles won't be restrained from moving into the annexed territory to acquire new systems and they believe the might of our combined forces will leave Space Command with no option but to quit the space."

"We've twice witnessed how Space Command responds to invasion fleets that threaten their territory, my King. I fear that any incursion will bring a dire calamity unforeseen by Lord Melendret and his supporters. I rather doubt Space Command will be as generous with us as they were with the Milori. After all, the Milori were declared adversaries all along, while we were allies. Are we prepared to have all our territory annexed by the Galactic Alliance should we declare war and be defeated?"

The king remained quiet for several moments and then responded, "We shall have to make sure it doesn't come to that."

"There's one more consideration, my King. The Uthlaro claim they wish our participation so we appear to have a united front. They no doubt appeal on that issue because our small fleet will add little to the combined forces arraying against the Galactic Alliance. Should our forces be destroyed in this campaign, who is to protect us from invasion by our Uthlaro 'allies?'"

The king was silent for several minutes and the Minister of Intelligence began to wonder if he should quietly depart. He was about to declare his departure when the king suddenly said in a more subdued and weary voice, "Vertap, I share your concerns, but I'm caught up in something I'm powerless to control. I don't wish to join this pact with the Uthlaro, but the nobles led by Lord Melendret have sufficient support to ensure we will. If I oppose too strongly, my power base will be so eroded that I'll be nothing more than a figurehead— a figurehead ripe for removal. It's an open secret that Melendret covets my crown. I can't let that fool depose me. I
sanction the Uthlaro plan."

"I understand my King," the Minister of Intelligence said solemnly.

* * *

"And we are meant to believe this union will somehow benefit the kingdom?" First Warlord Kalisnacos asked angrily as he stood in front of his chair in the large circular building that was home to the Tsgardi War Council.

A warlike alien race that bore a striking resemblance to tall, upright Terran baboons, the Tsgardi were only space travelers by virtue of having enslaved an expedition of peaceful travelers to their planet. They had forced their visitors to bring them to Flordara, where, through brutality, they quickly subjugated the entire race. Under threat of death, the Flordaryns began making spaceships for the Tsgardi, a species whose lack of intellectual acuity ensured they would never be capable of producing their own.

"Our ships are no match for those of Space Command," Kalisnacos continued, his short, thick, grey fur bristling. "Their ships are faster, their hull plating far superior. Our Flordaryn slaves have made no improvements in our technology since we conquered them, while Space Command continues to improve their fleet with every new class of ships. Is our role in this endeavor to be nothing more than to act as cannon fodder?"

"The Uthlaro are promising to share their technology with us if we become signatories," Premier Warlord Qerdesqa said. "Our participation will bring Light-375 speed to every ship in our fleet."

"That's a lie," Kalisnacos said. "The Uthlaro have never exceeded Light-262. They promise what they can't deliver."

"Light-262 capability was the most they would allow their shipyards to sell to anyone other than their own military," Qerdesqa said. "Their own ships have had Light-375 capability for some years. They also promise to help us improve our hull plating by providing Tritanium, for a price."

"Light-375 will make us faster than most of the ships in Space Command," First Warlord Ramdesci said, standing to deliver his comment. "And if we could strengthen our hulls, we would at last be able to face them on an equal footing."

"And when are these marvelous improvements to be made?" Kalisnacos asked. "The Uthlaro want to start this offensive immediately. It will take many years to replace the outer hull plating on every one of our three hundred warships, and perhaps just as long to improve our engine speed once we have the knowledge."

"As soon as Space Command is driven out of the new territory the Uthlaro will help us begin to upgrade our ships," First Warlord Ramdesci said. "It will be worth the wait to become the equal of Space Command."

"We believed the Milori to be far superior to Space Command," Kalisnacos said, "and we've seen what happened to them. Space Command destroyed their fleet with ease and then laid waste to their home world when Maxxiloth still refused to surrender. The same could happen to us."

"The Milori invaded Galactic Alliance space," Ramdesci said.

"And how would our actions be any different?" Kalisnacos asked rhetorically. "The Galactic Alliance laid claim to all of the territory belonging to the Milori at the time the Milori surrendered to them unconditionally, although they allowed the Gondusans and Hudeera to reclaim the space taken by the Milori since Maxxiloth's great-grandfather first began to expand their borders into the domains of other nations."

"With the combined might of the four members of this pact," Ramdesci said, "Space Command won't stand a chance. Most of their ships are hundreds of light years away, while ours are already massed at key defensive outposts along our border. They can be made ready to cross into Region Two within a week. The Uthlaro have promised more than six hundred ships to this effort. We have three hundred ourselves. The Gondusans would add more than seventy and the Hudeera have more than thirty. That's a thousand ships. Space Command has only about four hundred warships total, and most of them would have to remain behind to defend their original territory."

"The Uthlaro don't have six hundred warships," Kalisnacos said loudly. "Our spies report they have only about three hundred, at most. They have a few dozen battleships and cruisers, an equal number of frigates, and the rest are destroyers. It's an impressive fleet to be sure when compared to the Gondusan or Hudeera forces, but not so impressive when compared to that of Space Command."

"The Uthlaro had three hundred decommissioned ships when the Milori first began their invasion of the Galactic Alliance. They immediately began to retrofit those ships and move them to the Milori border lest Maxxiloth's aspirations include plans to absorb Uthlaro space as well. Although the older ships are a little slower and have less hull protection than their current fleet, they represent a formidable force. We estimate Space Command can't commit more than two hundred ships at most," Qerdesqa said. "We'll have them outnumbered by five to one."

"Carver destroyed a Milori fleet of a hundred three warships with just fifteen SC ships," Kalisnacos said, "and then destroyed almost four hundred more of Milori's newest and most powerful warships with her fleet of a hundred sixty-two. All without losing a single ship of her own in either engagement. She's the new military commander of the annexed territory."

"Ah, but the Milori foolishly attacked Carver's ships in one large armada, twice," Ramdesci said. "The Uthlaro plan will have us spread out along the borders and simultaneously absorb the territory as we move towards a central point. Carver will have to split her forces into numerous small battle groups to confront all of ours. Since she can't be in dozens of places at the same time, she won't be able to direct the actions of her ships in battle. We'll have destroyed most of her forces before she even learns of the battles."

"I ask that the matter be put to a vote," Premier Warlord Qerdesqa said to the council. "All who agree that we accept the terms of the pact, stand up as your name is called."

As the roll was called, the member either rose to stand or remained seated. Only First Warlord Kalisnacos and two others of the eighty-six members were still sitting when the vote was over.

"The matter is settled," Premier Warlord Qerdesqa said. "We shall join the Uthlaro in driving out the invaders of the former Milori Empire. We shall deploy our forces and seize all systems in our path until we meet our allies coming from the opposite direction. Long live the Tsgardi Kingdom."

* * *

"How can this body even
making war against such a powerful neighbor?" Senator Prime Curlekurt Emmeticus asked, addressing the Gondusan planetary senate. "We were unable to beat the Milori in a single battle, yet the Galactic Alliance destroyed their massive invasion fleets without losing a single ship."

"We have only their word for that," Senator Neodeet Literamus said loudly. "For all we know they might have lost hundreds."

Externally one of the most human-looking alien species yet encountered, the Gondusans' most obvious difference was their nose. Two pieces of cartilage covered by skin extended down each side of a single nostril, rather than a single piece of cartilage in the center of two nostrils. The Gondusans always carry their fashion to excess and the more powerful the person, the more excessive the fashion. Their garish costumes and use of gaudy makeup make them look like someone overdressed for a Mardi Gras celebration on Earth.

"The Galactic Alliance is an open society," Senator Prime Curlekurt Emmeticus retorted. "They allow anyone to travel freely in their space, even Tsgardi, as long as the travelers respect their laws. They have gone so far as to allow news reporters in a free press to travel on warships during military operations. Our intelligence service tells us the news reports were completely accurate. They were outnumbered seven to one in their initial encounter with the Milori fleet during the first invasion and all ships were required to make substantial repairs afterwards. But following the second invasion where they were outnumbered only three to one, virtually every ship at Stewart Space Command Base was back in service within a few days of having destroyed a Milori invasion fleet of more than four hundred warships. We closely examined a video file broadcast by news services following the battle at Stewart. Our experts certify that it was un-doctored. Two ships, the most seriously damaged, were back in service within a month. Does my esteemed colleague honestly believe we can hope to defeat a powerful military like that?"

"We don't have to defeat them," Literamus said. "We merely have to drive them out of the former Milori territories and then pursue a peace agreement. The Uthlaro promise that the combined forces allied against Space Command will be comprised of over a thousand ships. Space Command will never even engage our ships. They'll be too busy running back to their old border."

"I believe you underestimate their resolve, Senator. They laid formal claim to the Milori Empire when the Milori surrendered, so this act would now be treated as an invasion of
territory. Everything we know about them indicates they will not run. They will stay and fight, to the last ship, to the last crewman if necessary. They are every bit as tenacious as the Milori and, when crossed, far more dangerous."

"The most powerful ships in their fleet are still at Stewart Space Command Base, more than two thousand light-years from our borders. A large force can't be assembled and travel here in less than eight of their years. This war will be over long before then and we will have a large share of the newly commandeered territory. The arriving Space Command ships will find they have no bases in the new territory from which to launch a campaign. Now is the time to strike, before they have time to expand into the new territory."

"The ships that destroyed the Milori had no bases in the Empire, yet it didn't stop them from laying waste to the Milori home world."

BOOK: Against All Odds
13.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Annihilate (Hive Trilogy Book 3) by Leia Stone, Jaymin Eve
For the Love of Ash by Taylor Lavati
Red Hourglass by Scarlet Risqué
Elizabeth Mansfield by Poor Caroline
Babel Found by Matthew James
MAD DOG AND ANNIE by Virginia Kantra