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Authors: Thomas DePrima

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BOOK: Against All Odds
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"I'm amazed the Milori simply abandoned this base. They had concentrated on completing an extensive underground complex first so it's virtually ready to move into except for equipment. We'll need power generation, life support systems, computer systems, and furnishings, but the belowground complex is clean and dry. After cutting it from solid bedrock, they lined it with a meter of pre-stressed plasticrete. It's a hundred meters below ground level so it'll provide a safe haven from almost any aerial attack or bombardment. Above ground, there are three completed buildings and eighteen buildings in various stages of construction. One of the completed buildings was intended as a power station, but the equipment was never installed. We can install portable units for the short term to provide power to the entire site through the existing power grid conduits and wiring left by the Milori. We have neither the materials nor the equipment necessary to continue construction so what we have now is all we're likely to have until supply ships begin to arrive."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Jenetta said. "Good work." To the entire staff she said, "Good work everyone. Here's our current situation. The dozen ships we've revisited for supplies since we left Stewart SCB won't reach this location for almost eight more months. The other fifty M-designate ships we captured from the Milori and converted for Space Command use have been assigned to the Region Two fleet. They've been loaded from bulkhead to bulkhead with ordnance, supplies, and people, but they won't arrive here for fourteen months.

"The good news is that all three of the new Prometheus class battleships are on their way here. Like all future warships and transports, they're sheathed in Dakinium and capable of achieving Light-9375. They won't be here for several more weeks, but they'll bring our first headquarters personnel, along with adequate supplies to obviate the need for return to our supply ships. They'll also be conveying thousands of personnel destined for placement at newly established bases in this territory. Several new Quartermaster transports capable of Light-9375 are nearing completion at the Mars shipbuilding yards. The supply depots are already assembling cargo deliveries for us. The new ships may arrive here even before the slow ships that departed Stewart more than a year ago. At Light-9375, we're only fifty-two days from Mars or Earth.

"I've been promised this command will receive twenty of the twenty-five new warships produced each year for the next decade. The reason we'll be receiving such a disproportionate share of the new ships is because we have the greatest need for their speed capability and hull integrity. But for the immediate future we still face the problem of controlling a territory that's 2000 light-years across, with just a handful of ships. The Admiralty Board fully expects this territory to sink into complete anarchy for perhaps as long a decade because it will be that long before we have sufficient ships to give us basic patrol coverage. I'm sure you realize the deeper it sinks the more difficult it will be to resurrect it, so our task now is to minimize the turmoil until we can get this territory under control."

"Will the Colorado be remaining in Region Two, Admiral?" Lt. Commander Gallagher, that ship's first officer asked.

"Of course; this is where we're needed most."

"I only wondered if we'd be reassigned to the Prometheus now that three new battleships will be arriving to take our place. We were only intended as an adjunct to a battleship, after all."

"The Prometheus and Chiron will be receiving new scout-destroyers to replace the Colorado and Yangtze very soon, so these two small ships will remain here to bolster our forces until the Second Fleet becomes a reality. We'll need every ship we can get for a while, even if those ships weren't intended to perform as independent warships. The scout-destroyers will serve as the protection group for this base until the first dozen M-designate ships arrive."

"Where do we even start, Admiral?" Lt. Commander Ashraf, the Colorado's second officer and Jenetta's aide, asked. "We have a territory almost double the size of Galactic Alliance space before the annexation, virtually no ships, no supplies, no bureaucracy, and we face complete ignorance of Galactic Alliance law throughout this new region."

Jenetta took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. "It's a daunting task to be sure, Commander. We've been operating in war mode until now, able to simply destroy anybody or anything offering resistance, but now we have to switch back to crime prevention and protection activities. I've prepared a message for transmission to all planets that were part of the former Milori Empire. Thanks to the files we were able to download from captured Milori ships, we have contact information for every system. By now most have probably learned that the Milori have surrendered and we've annexed the territory, but this should clarify the situation for them.

"The message will be broadcast in Amer and the principal languages of this and the surrounding territories, including: Weutrak, the language of the Milori; Vewcalu, the language of the Uthlaro; Gucceral, the language of the Tsgardi; Fryvylous, the language of the Gondusans; and Lacynyc, the language of the Hudeera. Anyone capable of interstellar flight, or anyone who was subjugated by the Milori, will surely be familiar with at least one of these languages. We'll be appending a complete copy of the Simplified Galactic Alliance Law Text. Beyond that, there's little we can do except let the word spread as we enforce Galactic Alliance law."

"Where do you foresee the greatest problem, Admiral?" Fannon asked.

"Within their territory the Milori effectively suppressed any civilizations with aspirations of achieving interstellar flight, so I expect most of the trouble will come from outside the territory. Tsgardi and Uthlaro smugglers and pirates will probably be the greatest threats, but we mustn't forget our old enemy, the Raiders. We knocked them off their feet in Galactic Alliance space before the annexation, but they'll probably see Region Two as fertile ground where they can establish themselves before we can bring law and order.

"We know the Raiders were in league with the Milori, but we don't know how extensive their power base was. We suspect they had a major falling out just before the second Milori invasion attempt. I'm basing that on the destruction of a Raider base by Milori warships just before they attacked Stewart, but the Raiders might still be firmly entrenched in this space. A fourth possibility might be independent Milori pirates. Part of the Milori invasion plan for Galactic Alliance space was to allow pirates and privateers to roam freely until their government was both ready and strong enough to assume complete domination. We've never faced Milori privateers, but I imagine they exist. I don't expect the Milori government to sanction them openly so we'll just respond to them as we would pirates. There may even be former military units that have found themselves without an organization and who turn to piracy for survival.

"But for the time being we're powerless to implement
control in this territory, so we'll stand down until the new battleships get here. I'll create a ship schedule for rest and relaxation. Dismissed."

* * *

In the weeks following, the crews of the Colorado and the Yangtze would have a rare opportunity to soak up the sun while lying on pristine beaches or enjoying other recreational pleasures. The ocean remained off limits and the crews knew better than to violate such a directive on an alien planet, even if it did seem so much like home.

* * *

Twenty-two days later, as Jenetta sat in her command chair on the bridge reading a report, the com chief said, "Admiral, we're receiving a call from the Themis."

"Put it on the front viewscreen, Chief," Jenetta said.

"Aye, Admiral."

Jenetta watched as the image dissolved from a view of space to one of an SC captain on the bridge of a Prometheus-class battleship named after the mythological Greek goddess of justice. The message bar across the top of the screen identified him as Captain Sandor Erikson of the GSC Battleship Themis.

"Welcome to Region Two, Captain," Jenetta said.

"Thank you, Admiral. It's an honor for the Themis, Boreas, and Hyperion to join your command. May I offer my personal congratulations for your incredible successes against the Milori?"

"Thank you, Captain. How was your trip?"

"Very quick, Admiral; we're still all drunk with excitement at having traveled so far so fast. I can imagine your exhilaration when you pioneered this new technology."

Jenetta smiled. "It was quite a shock when we learned just how fast we had traveled. When do you expect to reach Quesann?"

"We'll be entering the system in a few minutes, Admiral. You should already have us on your sensors."

The officer manning the tactical station looked up and nodded as Jenetta glanced over. "We do, Captain. Link up with us using your bow airlocks when you arrive. I'm looking forward to meeting you, the other captains, and your senior VIPs."

"Aye, Admiral. May I suggest you join us aboard the Themis? I'm sure you'd like to see the new ship and, even with the overabundance of supplies and personnel, we still should have a lot more room here than aboard the Colorado."

"Fine, Captain. I would enjoy having a look around your ship after our conference. Colorado out."

"Themis out."

Forty minutes later, Captain Erikson and his first officer, Commander Kimberly Riccio, welcomed Jenetta and her senior officers aboard the Themis. They proceeded together to a large conference room for the meeting. The internal color scheme of the ship was slightly different from that of the Prometheus and Chiron, but the basic layout was the same. For Jenetta, it brought back memories of her first time aboard the original battleship of this class.

Everyone in the conference room stood up as the doors opened and Jenetta entered. The officers in the room immediately walked to where Jenetta had stopped. First in line were the three admirals, naturally. All Rear Admirals, Upper Half, they would each be assigned a StratCom-One base in the new Region.

"Admiral Carver, permit me to introduce Admiral Vincent Sprague," Captain Erikson said as a seventy-three-year-old officer saluted. Jenetta returned his salute and then extended her hand.

"It's a pleasure to meet you at last, Admiral," Admiral Sprague said as he shook the proffered hand, "and an honor to be part of your command. I was delighted when the Admiralty Board selected me to come here. Things had gotten a bit
at Edwards Space Command Base in recent years."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Admiral, and I'm equally delighted you were chosen to join us here." Smiling, she added, "I think I can promise you won't find the next few years
. Welcome to Region Two."

"This is Admiral Rebecca Colsey," Captain Erikson said as Admiral Sprague moved aside and a woman in her late sixties saluted Jenetta.

"An honor, Admiral," Admiral Colsey said.

"It's an honor to have you in Region Two, Admiral. Brian Holt has mentioned you and he are old friends."

"Yes, ma'am. Brian was the second officer on the destroyer to which I was assigned immediately following graduation from the Academy. I was the helmsman on his watch for my first three years aboard the old Kiev."

"You'll have to tell me about your adventures together sometime. Welcome to Region Two."

"Thank you, Admiral."

As Admiral Colsey stepped aside, Captain Erikson introduced the youngest of the three flag officers. Jenetta knew he was sixty-six, but his outward appearance was that of a fifty-year-old.

"And this is Admiral Jorge Mendez."

"I'm honored to meet you, Admiral," he said, "I've been looking forward to this meeting since I was informed I'd be serving in your command. It's a real pleasure."

"Welcome to Region Two, Admiral. I'm pleased to meet you and happy to have you with us."

After Captain Erikson had introduced Captain Neil Elder of the Boreas, Captain Lynda Stager of the Hyperion, and their first officers, Commander Diana Durland and Commander Scott Hyland, Jenetta introduced Commander Fannon and Lt. Commander Soren Mojica of the Yangtze, and Lt. Commander Gallagher and Lt. Commander Ashraf of the Colorado. With the introductions out of the way, the group took their seats and two mess attendants served coffee or tea to the group.

As the mess attendants left the room and the doors closed behind them, Jenetta said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm very pleased you've arrived. We've felt a little lonely and isolated out here by ourselves since the Milori surrendered. Our first supply ships won't be arriving for months."

"Yes," Admiral Sprague said, "we passed them on the way here. They send their regards and report they're still proceeding at top speed. I wish we could have hooked up and dragged them along."

"The equipment, supplies, and personnel you've brought will allow us to begin operations here, and save us from having to make another trip back to the ships for resupply."

"We'll be glad to be rid of it," Captain Erikson said, smiling. "We have equipment, people, and ordnance stuffed into every available square inch of space. I barely have enough room in my quarters to get to my bathroom.

"I know how you feel," Jenetta said, returning his smile. "When we launched our attack against the Milori, our two small ships were stuffed in a similar manner. It was a relief when I could finally walk around my quarters, but I later wished we could have brought even more."

BOOK: Against All Odds
10.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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