Admiral Mitchum Duvall
Location: Lunar Orbit, Sol System, United Commonwealth of Colonies
Marine guards in LACS didn’t cower, but they averted their eyes as the ADM stormed passed them onto the flag bridge. It was where he should have been, but he’d been in a conference room trying to coordinate with his Blockie and Euro counterparts. The frustration was rolling off him in waves, and his staff could tell.
He hopped up onto the dais in the center and sat down heavily into his command chair. His IOR immediately linked with the AI and his preferences opened in a wall of holos around him. He scanned several and dismissed them when he saw none or negligible changes in the data. They automatically rearranged to keep his view of the master holo-tank clear. On it, First Fleet, the Blockie’s Motherworld Fleet, and portions of the Euro’s Home Fleet were in a defensive arrangement around Luna with the enemy barreling toward them at unimaginable speed. At that speed, they’d fly right past Earth in seconds, which didn’t make any sense. That predicament was only one of the problems the three admirals had been trying to figure out. Another was the Blockies were inching their way forward while trying not to look like they were inching their way forward.
<Fucking Yurachek,> Duvall cursed the man who’d been an enemy up until a day ago. For close to a decade, the two of them had been playing a game of chess in the Sol System. It didn’t help that the Blockie was a world class egomaniac.
Up until the latest unpleasantness with the Windsor’s, and ADM Ward’s raid into Blockie space, Duvall had been the greatest admiral of recent time. He’d taken his fleet up against multiple Blockie adversaries in the past and come out on top every time. He’d been a hero of the Commonwealth, and as such, had been given his due reward as commander of the fleet protecting Earth. It wasn’t his fault that it hadn’t seen action in centuries. His challenge was the constant shifting and prioritization of resources as humanity’s greatest powers vied for dominance of one little solar system.
<I’m so much fucking better than he is,> Duvall gave his own ego a stroke as he remembered the multiple times, he’d outmaneuvered Yurachek. If he wanted to, he could have pushed a button and wiped Beijing and Moscow off the map. But he didn’t, he’d left the man crawl away with his tail between his legs only to come back for round two. <Why can’t he follow simple fucking instructions?>
Despite their sudden alliance against the unknown alien threat, Yurachek simply wouldn’t follow the battleplan they’d all agreed to. His battleships were inching away, which in terms of space warfare amounted to tens of thousands of kilometers, so they’d be in position to take the first crack at the enemy. He was trying to keep it a secret, but the Commonwealth and Euro’s both had more than enough Blockie reactor information to know them man was running hot. He was doing the equivalent of stepping on the gas and break at the same time. All he had to do was pull his foot off the break and his ships would shoot forward. The problem was that it taxed the engines like there was no tomorrow, and as a first choice, the Blockie’s might not be the best situated to take on the enemy. Unlike the other powers, they didn’t have any upgraded ships. That meant their weapons and missiles were woefully obsolete.
<Try telling that to a narcissist,> Duvall growled to himself.
“Coms, please send a request to Admiral Yurachek to have him hold formation with the rest of the combined fleet. He’s drifting.” The fact that this had to be a request had Duvall’s grinding his teeth, but accusing the Admiral of letting his ships drift out of position was a small slap in the face from one naval professional to another.
It would take some time as the message daisy chained along the coms buoys the fleet had set up for communications. STRATNET, TACCOM, and the Euros and Blockie equivalent systems were still down. To pass the time he watched the holo-tank, which was how he noticed the change when it first occurred.
“Rapid deceleration! Enemy force splitting and course change!” tactical yelled.
“Impossible,” Duvall’s command face slipped as the numbers flew across his holo-tank. Decelerations like that were close to stopping on a dime for space travel. Anything in a human ship would have turned to paste, and the ships themselves would have crumbled like a tin can. “How the fuck are they doing that?” he muttered to no one, as the tactical situation rapidly changed.
There were one hundred and ninety-six enemy ships in the oncoming formation. The damage second fleet had inflicted must not have been as bad as predicted, because ships they thought needed a shipyard for repairs were flying with the rest of the enemy fleet like nothing was the matter. The combined human fleet was massive in comparison, but on a ship for ship basis, the enemy held a tonnage advantage, plus the obvious technological advantage.
<They hold a lot of advantages,> Duvall picked his jaw up off the ground and watched the holo-tank as it updated the data based on the fleet’s scopes.
“The majority of the fleet is heading for Earth,” the tactical OIC announced as the majority of the red icons veered toward the blue marble that was mankind’s home. “and…”
“They’re sending a blocking force to box us in here while they move into position on the far side of the planet. DAMN!” Duvall smashed his fist against the armrest of his chair.
His mind ran through the physics equations that any naval officer needed to do be able to do on the spot. The results weren’t pretty. Even if his ships burned at maximum acceleration, they wouldn’t be able to slip between Earth and the enemy. It was a hair over three hundred and eighty thousand kilometers from the earth to the moon. The beam weapons his older ships had wouldn’t scratch the enemy’s paint at that distance. His updated ships would have a better shot, but even slight evasive maneuvers by the enemy could cause him to miss. Then, his beams would plow right into Earth. The atmosphere would dissipate some of the power, but no one had tested the new beam weapon’s effects on a planetary target, and he didn’t want to be the one to find out just how effective they were. On top of that, he had to worry about the enemy ships’ unbelievable acceleration and deceleration abilities. If he came out from Luna’s orbit, and the added protection of its orbital rings, he’d need to make sure the enemy didn’t get around him to attack mankind’s first colony. They couldn’t afford another Mars.
<They suckered me,> he didn’t admit it to anyone.
It had been the logical step to take the combined fleet to Luna after they had to stop their burn for Mars and reorient. After what these things did to Phobos, it only made sense. Ships could bombard a planet for weeks before they did as much damage as throwing a small planetoid into a bigger planetoid. That was extinction level shit right there. He couldn’t allow that to happen to the tens of millions on Luna and the tens of billions on earth.
He’d made a tough call, and now that decision was going to haunt him.
“We’re counting one hundred and sixteen heading to the far side of Earth with eighty moving in between us and the planet.”
“Set course for Earth, full speed. Let’s use one of their own plays against us. Get in close, blast them to hell, and make sure they can’t do what they did to Mars on Earth.” He looked around the bridge and saw fear, but also determination. No one wanted another Mars.
“Blockie Fleet is already moving to intercept,” tactical announced, and Yurachek took his foot off the gas and shot forward, quickly building up speed, and reorganizing his fleet for the strike. It looked like a gallant charge, but consulting the numbers, what was going to happen was the enemy was going to cross his T and turn him into space dust.
“Let them go,” Duvall ordered. “They can soak up the hits so we can do the real damage.” It was a heartless order, but if Yurachek wanted to go down in a blaze of glory, so be it. Duvall would conserve his resources to strike a bigger blow.
He sent out a flurry of orders to his ships, and First Fleet started moving. “Admiral Gatz is declining to peruse, she will ready her fleet in the event of a counterattack against Luna,” tactical announced as the battleships and assault carriers of the fleet moved away parallel to the enemies incoming forces. Even with their rapid acceleration, the enemy would enter his target envelope in seconds.
<Coward,> Duvall didn’t like the Euro’s admiral, and she’d done nothing but play it safe since the start of this whole fiasco.
“Acknowledged,” he didn’t have time to deal with her. “Status of refugee fleet?” it was an afterthought as he stared down the barrel of the biggest gun humanity had ever faced.
The refugee fleet had set up at the farthest point away from the enemy and its approach from Mars, and by the looks of it, it would need every second it could get.
Location: Orbit, Earth, United Commonwealth of Colonies
Ben’s hands flew across the holo-tank as Jack Frost accelerated for all it was worth. The enemy had pulled a fast one and everyone was out of position and scrambling. It also looked like the combined human fleet around Luna was in chaos. The Blockies were accelerating straight for Earth like a bunch of drugged up cowboys. They wouldn’t last long, and they’d get a firsthand taste of the tech imbalance they’d been denying for the last six months. Hundreds of thousands would die because some politician wasn’t willing to believe actionable intelligence about his enemy’s capabilities.
<Egos,> Ben shook his head; although, he knew the Commonwealth commander wasn’t exactly humble.
His battle plan was better, but he’d still be engaging the enemy up close and personal with no acceleration advanatage. None of this was going to do the people on the far side of Earth any good. They’d be cut off in ten to fifteen minutes. Ben just hoped that was enough time for the refugees to put enough space between them and Earth, or at least for the enemy to deem them nonthreatening.
“More incoming requests from Gold Technologies Carrier Group,” comms passed along.
Commodore Zahn had been instructed to hold his position and secure the jump point so everyone could portal to Alpha Centauri. That was before the enemy tore apart their defensive battleplans. Ben knew George Zahn, the man wanted to get in this fight.
<We’ll figure out in the next few minutes if we’re going to be alive to fight at all,> he sighed.
He didn’t know a lot about what was going through the minds of the admirals in this fight, but what he did know was that everything he cared about in this galaxy was part of this refugee fleet. His father, mother, brothers, sisters, and fiancée were all onboard Jack Frost thanks to a little creative coding. He hadn’t seen them yet, but he knew their positioning on the ship thanks to Jacobi’s IOR. They’d been given berths in officer country befitting their station.
If Jack Frost went down, it didn’t matter the square footage of your cabin. Dead was dead.