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Authors: Thomas DePrima

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BOOK: Against All Odds
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"After the Milori invasion fleet was destroyed, the home world was left practically defenseless. Maxxiloth was a fool to send his entire home world protection force to the borders to fight us and the Hudeera."

"That was Admiral Carver's plan. She used us to draw off his remaining forces, giving her an opportunity to destroy his infrastructure."

"Yes, that's exactly my point! Without us, she would not have been able to destroy the Milori! And how does she repay us? She declared possession of the entire Empire in the name of the Galactic Alliance and didn't allocate even a single system to us."

"Not true. It might have made her task more onerous, but I'm sure she would have prevailed even without our help. And though it seems to have escaped my esteemed colleague's attention, for our participation we regained all the territory the Milori had systematically stolen from us over decades of war. That was all Carver promised in exchange for staging a few lightning raids against border outposts. We lost no ships and quadrupled our territory."

"We were only taking back what was ours to begin with."

The battle of words raged on between the two senators for some time, with neither willing to concede to the other's point. The other senators listened attentively and quietly until the two tired of the verbal fencing.

* * *

"It is all arranged," Uthlaro Prime Minster Taomolu Barguado said to the Council of Ministers. "The Tsgardi, Gondusans, and Hudeera will join us in this endeavor."

Barely anthropomorphous in appearance, the Uthlaro have a very distinctive appearance. Their heads, shaped like the letter 'T', are reminiscent of a Terran hammerhead shark because the eyes are located at the ends of the crosspiece. It gives them the ability to see more than three hundred degrees around their body without moving their heads. The mouth is located at the bottom of the head, but is only used for eating and speaking. They breathe though pores in their skin.

"I never had any doubt about the Tsgardi willingness to join," Minister Ambello Neddowo said, "but I'm surprised the Hudeera and Gondusans joined so quickly. I expected them to debate the issue endlessly. After all, they have only recently reacquired territory lost to them for decades. I thought they might hold some misguided appreciation towards Space Command."

"The vote in each case was close," Barguado said. "The Hudeera had fifty-eight percent in favor of the pact, while the Gondusans had just fifty-two percent in favor. Apparently there
some gratitude. That, or they fear the Galactic Alliance. We shall have to watch them both closely. They may try to withdraw from the pact after losing a few ships. We must be prepared to take over their forces if their leaders falter."

"You mean before we intentionally move against them and seize their entire territory?" Neddowo said, smiling.

"Of course," Barguado said. "The fleet we've been building since we first decided to annex the Milori Empire many annuals ago is now ready to begin operations. The special battle groups we've secreted throughout the former Milori Empire will join the Gondusan and Hudeera forces as they move forward, but our battle plan will always place our
in the most dangerous battle positions. By the time Space Command pulls back to their borders, our
will have no fighting forces left, so there will be no resistance when we also annex
territory. The Hudeera, Gondusans, and Tsgardi are truly witless to think we need them to defeat the Galactic Alliance or that we would share the conquered territory with them.

Chapter Two

~ October 23
, 2281 ~

Jenetta Carver sauntered down the shuttle ramp, her eyes carefully appraising the terrain of this new base. As much as she loved her time in space, it was always a thrill to occasionally step onto a planet with a breathable atmosphere.

The Marine posted near the bottom of the ramp braced to attention as she placed a foot onto the soil of the planet Quesann for the first time. Nearby, crewmembers from the ship stole surreptitious glances as they carried out their assigned tasks.

Even in the muted black uniform of a Space Command officer, Jenetta never failed to turn heads. Her enhanced DNA gave her the face and body of a mythological Greek goddess, and would keep her looking as young as a recent Academy graduate for most of a greatly extended life. The four gold stars on each shoulder ensured that no one in Space Command would ever forget themselves and attempt to accost the tall blonde. Although capable of defending her own honor, the two large cats that accompanied her off the ship would gladly handle anyone who moved too close without an invitation.

With fur as black as space and weighing just a hundred-sixty pounds each, Taurentlus-Thur Jumakas were smaller than Terran Jaguars, but they were just as deadly. The female cats appeared identical except for the tiny tuft of white fur on one's right foreleg where a laser shot from an assassin had grazed her. That assassin had learned about Jumakas the hard way. The cats were on him before he'd had a chance to fire a third shot at Jenetta. While one used its powerful jaws to break the arm holding the laser pistol, the other clamped equally powerful jaws around his throat. He died within minutes, his life's blood turning the space station deck crimson as it pumped out through opened carotid arteries. There was some debate among the morgue staff as to whether the drugged-up assassin had died from blood loss or suffocation. In private, the cats were docile, even playful, but when protecting their mistress they were bundles of pure fury wrapped in muscle, teeth, and claws.

Even without her two pets, Jenetta had proven that it was unwise to attack her. During her career, she had permanently dispatched more than one enemy using the kickboxing skills she practiced religiously. Powerful people make powerful enemies, and Jenetta always had to be on guard against attacks. However, as the only sentient life on this previously uninhabited planet was her crew, she could relax slightly and enjoy being out in the sunshine for the first time after more than a year in space.

Located roughly thirteen hundred light-years from Earth and three-hundred-eight light-years from Milor, the planet Quesann was unquestionably Earth Class. In fact, it was the most Earth-like planet Jenetta had visited, coming closer to her home world than Nordakia, Obotymot, Siena, and Pelomious. Earth Class planets must have a breathable oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere with a roughly 20/80 mix and no more than two percent of non-deadly trace gases. They must have a mean temperature between 5 and 25 degrees Celsius, a mass between 0.7 and 1.3 times that of Earth, and a radius not less than 0.8 nor more than 1.2 times that of Earth.

With a mass of 1.01 and a radius 1.06 times that of Earth, Quesann orbited a Type G2 Yellow MMK class V (dwarf) star once each three-hundred-seventy-one Earth days. The planet made one full revolution each twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes, Galactic System time. Hundreds of massive islands dotted the surface of the planet, making the calculated land to water ratio appear inaccurate, but even with the three main continents, land only accounted for thirty-three percent of the surface. The largest uninterrupted body of water was about half the size of the Atlantic Ocean on Earth. The planet had two polar caps and a molten core with tectonic plate movement similar to Earth's. Fifteen percent of the islands contained active or dormant volcanoes. For now, the entire planet was declared 'off limits' to all but Space Command and Marine personnel. How long it remained that way was yet to be decided, but Jenetta intended to reserve just as much of the planet as possible for military use.

For the Space Command Headquarters of Region Two, Jenetta selected an island where the Milori had begun construction of a new military base a few annuals before the first invasion of Galactic Alliance space. When the new commanding officer for the sector visited the site, he decided that it was far too cold to suit him. They abandoned the base near the outer border of their empire to search for a planet or moon where the mean temperature was a more comfortable forty degrees Celsius, leaving the buildings in various states of completion.

At eighteen degrees above the planet's equator, the island was roughly the size of New Zealand on Earth. It encompassed some 264,000 square kilometers. The usable land mass would be adequate for most of Space Command's present and future needs. Since the nearest neighboring island was over two hundred kilometers away, security should never be a problem although the distance could be covered in minutes by a shuttle. With an average daily temperature of twenty-three degrees Celsius that never varied by more than seven degrees, the crew rightly referred to it as a tropical paradise. Jenetta was adamant the entire island be reserved in perpetuity for military use only, so no civilian areas were included on the maps.

Initial tests showed the base location to be biologically safe for all known sentient species so in-depth studies had begun. Bots with biological survey modules were currently combing the island in ever widening circles as they cataloged all life forms, both micro and macroscopic, while checking the flora and fauna for any danger to recorded species. Bots with construction modules were working with engineers to document the previous construction and developed plans for the layout of the new base.

"Good morning, Admiral," Lieutenant Carstairs of the Colorado's engineering section said as she stepped up to Jenetta and saluted.

"Good morning, Lieutenant," Jenetta said after returning the salute. "How are the surveys going?"

"Excellent, ma'am. So far, everything indicates this will be a superb location for the base. The ground is firm, the soil rich, the air clean, the water potable, and the indigenous life forms so far appear to be biologically safe for hominal life. I wouldn't suggest anyone go swimming until we've had an opportunity to do underwater surveys, but this part of the island seems safe for human habitation."

"Very good, Lieutenant. That concurs with the Milori surveys. I'll look forward to viewing your final report."

"Aye, ma'am," Lt. Carstairs said before saluting again and turning to leave.

Jenetta had little to do at the moment so she took her time wandering around the site, enjoying the fresh air and the sun on her face. The ship had been in orbit for several days and would remain here for the immediate future while the planet was completely surveyed. The Colorado's sister ship, the Yangtze, was also in orbit, performing the surface mapping work.

* * *

A week later, Jenetta conducted a meeting in the bridge-deck conference room aboard the Colorado. Captain Fannon of the Yangtze and the senior officers of both scout-destroyer ships were present.

"Good morning," Jenetta said as she opened the meeting. "The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the findings of the survey work. Captain Fannon, why don't you begin?"

"Aye, Admiral. My people have completed the geological mapping of the planet and prepared annualized meteorological projections. The Yangtze's computer estimates 2.7 significant hurricanes could potentially pass over this part of the planet each summer. My engineers recommend all buildings be constructed to withstand hurricane-force winds of four hundred kilometers per hour, although on average the winds should never exceed one-hundred-seventy kilometers per hour."

"That shouldn't be a problem," Jenetta said. "Even our portable shelters, once properly anchored, are designed to withstand two-hundred-kilometer-per-hour winds. What season are we currently in?"

"We've established this as mid-winter so we should have six months before the summer hurricane season begins."

Jenetta nodded. "The Milori were obviously aware of the potential winds because the buildings they were constructing would easily survive four-hundred-kilometer winds. The tunnel network that connects all surface buildings to the underground complex must have been intended for use during periods of severe meteorological instability or attack by outside forces. Thank you, Captain Fannon. Anything else?"

"Once the planet has been deemed safe, I'd like to request that off-duty personnel be allowed to travel down to the surface for a little R&R time."

"Of course. We'll have to do it on a rotating basis though so at least one ship is always fully staffed and ready to safeguard the new base and the people on the surface. The ship enjoying liberty must always have a sixty-percent crew compliment aboard. This is still a dangerous part of space and we must be prepared to repel an attack at all times. Lieutenant Carstairs, I've read your complete report, but why don't you summarize it for the rest of the senior staff."

"Aye, Admiral," she said, nodding. "The island where the new base is being located does meet the criteria we use as a definition of a tropical paradise. It's very much like some of the islands in the South Pacific back home on Earth. In fact, except for the distribution of surface landmasses, the entire planet is as much like Earth as any other planet we have in the computer database. Once Terrans start coming to this part of GA space, I'm sure this planet will become a favorite destination and possibly a second home to many if SHQ wishes to share the planet with civilians.

"Our survey of the island has turned up a few poisonous species of vegetation that must be avoided until they can be eradicated in habitable areas. There are small lizards and snakelike creatures, but none are venomous. They will inflict a painful bite, however, and contact should be avoided. They run at the sight of Terrans so the only danger is if we pursue them. We've found one species of burrowing insect that has a sufficiently venomous bite to make a human extremely ill for several days, but it hasn't been found within three kilometers of the shoreline. People who enjoy making sand sculptures on the beach will be perfectly safe. A study regarding possible damage to the ecosystem from eradication of the dangerous insect is underway. Fresh water flow from the peaks to the north is available in great quantities so no restrictions on use are necessary. We have noted the presence of potentially dangerous marine life in the ocean so swimming should be prohibited until more extensive research is conducted. At the very least, I recommend installation of a barrier net a half-kilometer offshore and then a sweep of the enclosed area for predators or harmful marine vegetation and aquatic life forms.

BOOK: Against All Odds
3.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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