Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Here Is The News

Carstairs reviewed the repair logs for the fleet. The lack of the third Nova left a hard stone in his stomach. Jeff could be an arrogant pain in the ass, but most truly good captains were. He could still see him sitting in the ready room on the Scott.

"If it makes it easier for Hamato to finish the war, it's completely worth it."

I hope you really felt that way, Jeff. The intercom chime interrupted Carstairs' thoughts. "Sir," the comm officer began, "General Rosales wishes to speak to you."

A small shudder ran down Carstairs' back. His commanding officer's CO and Executive officer of the Liberation Navy, answering directly to Hamato? Carstairs had long ago ceased to be worried about communications from top brass but he knew that this call would be either really good news or really bad news. There was only one way to find out. "Count to ten and then put him through to my screen." He turned his chair to face the screen, pulled the bottom of his jacket to straighten out the wrinkles, ran his hand through his hair and waited for the image to come through.

Herve Rosales' image formed from the static. "Good morning, Admiral Carstairs." he said, slightly rolling his Rs, revealing the accent of his native Spain. "I hope I'm not disturbing you."

"Not at all, sir. How can I be of assistance to you today?"

"Actually, I will be helping you, I think."

Wheels turned in Carstairs' head. "I don't follow you, sir."

"First, let me say that you have done an excellent job of tying the Dilgar up in the Krish System and the intelligence you have provided us has been of great value in the war effort."

Carstairs inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you, sir."

"For that, you are welcome. Even more importantly, little stands between us and Omelos. Preliminary strikes have already begun and we should begin the final assault within the next few days."

"That's wonderful, sir! Please confer my congratulations to Admiral Hamato."

With a slight smile beneath his this mustache, Rosales said "I shall do that. Unfortunately, I do not think that this news will be good for you."


"Our scouts tracking their flagship, the Mancat class vessel 'Seat of Punishment', detected it jumping out of the system two hours ago. We have reason to believe that it is heading in your direction."

Carstairs wheels began to spin again. "It's arrival in system would confirm my belief that the Dilgar are trying to relocate to this system. I had hoped to dislodge them from the planet I believe they have chosen with our last attack but we failed. I wanted to overwhelm them with our force but it was much more heavily defended than we had expected. While we did sizable damage to their forces, it was not as valuable as what we lost."

"Esto es la guerra. But this is both bad and good. If the forces around Omelos feel they have a way out, they may not fight like caged wolves to the death. Good for us but not so good for you."

Carstairs showed a confident smile, but inside he was quite concerned. "I don't suppose you could help us with that, sir?"

"As luck would have it, yes. With the help we've been getting from the worlds we have liberated, we have been able to free up other resources to send your way. We begin with some more Sagittari to replace the ones you have lost. Along with the engineers and tech upgrades, we will have you in better shape. If 'Seat of Punishment' arrives, you'll need it. That thing is a monster. And once we have pacified Omelos itself, we will be able to dispatch more forces from the fleet to aid you."

"Sir, permission to speak freely?"

Rosales leaned back. "Granted."

"Sir, if I remember the specs on the Mancat correctly, I'm not sure we have the firepower to destroy it. And with the Centauri here, I'm loath to commit too much of our forces lest we leave them masters of the system and two jumps from Earth."

"Patience, Admiral. Once Omelos is disposed of, we can turn our attentions to your little problem."

But would we survive our little problem? That remained to be seen. But Carstairs knew Omelos was the most important mission of all. "Understood, sir. We will maintain resistance until more forces can be sent to aid."

"Very good Admiral. Oh, and one last thing, would you pass a message to Captain Cargano the next time you see him? It is not important enough to tie up a channel."

"I'd be happy to, sir." It was a little unorthodox, but everyone passed messages back and forth this.

"Tell Bill I said Queen's Knight to King's four. And that I will mate him in nine moves. Anything else you would like to say, Admiral?"

"No, sir. I have much to prepare for."

"Then I will leave you to it. Good luck, Admiral Carstairs. May God be with you. Rosales out."

As the screen went dead, Carstairs sat back and closed his eyes. Losing a Nova is now, officially, the least of my worries...

Comes the Messenger

War Captan Tor'han sat at the bridge of Incorruptable, breathing a sigh of relief. The humans were ending their attack and retreating to hyperspace. His plan of splitting the enemy forces on either side of the planet had paid off. Tactical was reporting the descrutction two hyperion cruisers and half the enemy scout ships. More important was the destruction of the nova dreadnought Posiedon. This was one of only three such ships in the human fleet and it had worried him almost as much as those damnable Orestes battleships.

As if to echo his thoughts, Incorruptable began to shudder as power was restored to the engines. The masive dreadnought had been struk twice and set adrift by the powerful laser of the Orestes, Winfield Scott. A shame he hadn't been able to reach optimal fighting range with him. Tor'han wondered who would prevail in such a battle. Incorruptable was a tough ship, but the Scott could match it blow-for-blow. Intelligence informed him that the commander of all human forces in the system was on that ship. Commendable; and telling. Nearly every other race the Dilgar had fought were commanded from remote locations. The humans seemed to understand that a commander leads from within the battle.

Reports continued to arrive. Their primary assault ship, Terror, along with the other assault craft had been savaged. It seems the humans had singled out his virus bombardment ships intentionally. Why, he wondered? Their contribution to the battle was a token one. Their virus bombs and mass drivers were of little use outside a planetary assault. Perhaps they meant to blunt the Dilgar ability to capture more planets? Since the humans held no other habitable planets this implied close cooperation with the Centauri - a troubling thought.

A full pentacon of torpedo frigates was lost. Again. Duty on these ships had become a kind of punishment, or proving ground depending on the outlook of the crew. The replacement ships were even begining to show this in their names: Hazard, Peril, Penance. The War Captain chuckled at this. At least gallows humor was still humor. And they would need all the elan that they could muster.

Things were much more desperate back at Omelos. The homeworld was now under constant attack. Raids for now, but the final assault was expected at any moment. Everything rested on his success here. The torrent of refugee ships had now ceased entirely. What they had was all there would ever be.

Sieze the system then destroy the jump gate. It was a slim hope, but all that remained for his people.

Still, they were well established here. Their scientific and industrial base was growing as the facilities around the base expanded. A testament to this was the series of new and experimental vessels leaving the local shipyards now. There was a command destroyer with a Jump Engine installed - the smallest jump capable ship in the history of his people. Several craft were upgraded with improved sensors, able to pinpoint and target enemy scout ships despite their stealth technology. If they could simply buy breathing space, a few decades at most, then their people could once again be a vital empire.

The ELINT officer suddenly broke his reverie, "Sir! We have a ship arriving in high orbit. Jump point opening now. IFF codes identify her as... Sir?"

High above the glittering orb of Demeter a tear in space opened and a ship made the transition from the hellish landscape of hyperspace to the relative calm of realspace. The ship was massive, larger even than Incorruptable. Its configuration was one Tor'han had never seen before. But the huge imperial seal emblazoned on the hull left little question as to what it represented. This was the Throne of Judgement, flagship of the Dilgar empire and arguably the most powerful ship in space outside the Minbari Federation.

"Throne of Judgement requesting to speak with you, War Captain!" the comms officer relayed in barely suppressed excitement.

"Acknowledge their transmission," Tor'han pushed off from the console and floated to his command chair. Once he was strapped in he nodded to the young officer, "Patch them through."
The screen came to life, showing a suprisingly young woman in the commander's chair. Even more suprising was her low rank, not the sort of officer you would expect at the conn of the Imperium's flagship. The young officer addressed Tor'han with a salute, "Battle leader Fen'sta reporting for duty."

The War Captain regarded her with a mix of curiosity and dread, "Battle leader, perhaps you should explain yourself."

"Greetings, War Captain. I bring you a gift from Omelos," her eyes dropped to the floor as she finished the message, "The last that you will ever receive."

"Explain yourself, Battle leader," Tor'han calmly requested, though he feared he already knew the answer.

"Omelos has fallen. The fleet destroyed. It is now at the mercy of our enemies."

Silence filled the bridge of Incorruptable as each crewman processed this last statement.

Tor'han considered this news for a long moment. "We have a strong base of operations. From here we could wage a long and bloody vengence. It may take years but we can still liberate our people!" He was already begining to work out the logistics of an extended guerilla campaign against the League and Earthforce.

Fen'sta slowly and sadly shook her head. "Sir, I hold your final orders from the Emperor himself." She held up a sheet of paper and began to formally recite, "Tor'han, you have served the Imperium with honor and glory. I hereby appoint you Supreme Warmaster of the Dilgar Imperium. This ship...the flagship of the now your flagship." It was an effort for her to keep her voice steady, but to her credit she barely managed it. "You are to never return to Omelos. Consider it lost forever. You will understand in due time." A moment's pause, and the young officer looked up at Tor'han. "That is the end of the message."

Gal'fen, the XO and Tor'han's aid de camp through decades of campaigning, stood to attention and shouted, "Hail the Supreme Warmaster!" Such was the confidence and power of his voice that the rest of the bridge crew immediately responded.

"Hail the Supreme Warmaster!"

Tor'han looked out the viewport amidst the cheers of his crew. The planet hanging there in the sky was no longer Demeter. For better or worse it was Homeworld.