The Alexanderov Federation
#2 - Growing Pains
By Robert Huntingdon
Table of Contents
Chapter One - The Senate
Chapter Two - Tailspin
Chapter Three - Meltdown!
Chapter Four - Storms on the horizon
Chapter Five - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part I
Chapter Six - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part II
Chapter Seven - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part III
Chapter Eight - 007 he is not
Chapter Nine - A time for peace...
Chapter Ten - Revelations
Chapter Eleven - Tachidi Raid
Chapter Seven - The Battle for Rotan Prime, Part III
Meanwhile, on the planet below...
Due to the fact the Rhea were a lot taller than the Raas, both sides of the pincer force saw their targets before the enemy saw them. They were not above of taking advantage of this fact, either. As soon as they had a clear shot, they opened up with a full barrage of phaser fire. The 80mm phaser beams more often than not utterly annihilated their targets, and within 10 seconds both flanks were taking heavy, non-stop damage. As vehicles on both sides of them were blowing up, the Raas in the center, believing they had walked into a trap of some sort, drove forward all the harder in hopes of getting past it and turning around to regroup and attack from the other direction. It was the last mistake they would ever make, for a few seconds later the artillery opened up and literally cut them to shreds. Inside of a minute, the Raas force was a disorganized mess. Inside of 10 minutes, the entire leading half of the Raas force was completely obliterated, and the Rhea turned to face the remaining units. As this was head-on-head combat, they began to take a few casualties, but the greater range of their weapons proved absolutely devastating. Most of the time the Rhea didn't even bother to dismount their vehicles but just ground right through anything and everything in their way before they could get into range of their smaller hand held guns.
Although they didn't realize it, just as Goodman began to discuss the situation with his counterpart on the Raas fleet, the last of the Raas ground force was defeated and the Rhea troop carriers, faced with a lack of military targets, began to roll into the capital in search of political targets.
A few seconds after he requested their presence, the door to Goodman's office opened and Captain Riley walked in, followed by Commander Turley. Since nobody on the bridge behind her, including Turley, could see them, she smiled and winked at Goodman briefly, then quickly assumed a business-like demeanor as the door closed behind them. "Admiral, I told Commander Roberts not to take any action except self-defense until ordered otherwise by myself or you."
"Was that necessary?"
"Her husband was one of those who sacrificed himself earlier for the defense of the fleet. I figured better safe than sorry."
Goodman looked pained for a moment, the asked quietly, "Has she been informed yet?"
"Not officially. She won't be until his body is recovered. He could, after all, still be alive out there, holding out on emergency life support from his EVA suit. We've already found four in that condition, in fact. He has another four hours for the medical ships to find him, more if he's unconscious but the suit is undamaged."
"But she knows?"
"I believe so. She received a private delayed communication an hour ago. I presume it was her husband's final words. She returned to the bridge a few minutes later, and though she was covering extremely well, the only way I could describe her expression is 'grief-stricken'."
"Well, she has been an exemplary officer to date, but you are correct, under the circumstances it is better to make sure." He paused to look down before continuing. "Make sure to schedule extended leave for her, and any other crew members who lost family in the engagement earlier, as soon as possible."
At this point the room lighting began to darken, signifying the teleconference system was activating now that all participants were accounted for. Riley and Turley quickly found seats and sat down, just in case. Though the setting for the meeting would be Goodman's office, they did not want to be victims of a computer malfunction in the projection causing a chair to appear to be slightly off of its real position. The Commodores of Task Forces 75, 77, and 77.1 wavered into view, briefly distorted before solidifying. The system wasn't quite perfected yet, and was only useful over short distances, due to the high bandwidth of the signal and the fact nobody had been able to figure out how to make a tachyon burst transmission (the signal used in long-range real time communication) handle that much data. But it was ideal in short range communication where it was impractical or impossible to physically meet, because you saw body language as well as heard their voices and saw their faces.
"Where's Morolotski?" asked Goodman.
"I'm here, I'm here, I'm just having trouble with my holographic scanner, it seems," came the disembodied voice of Commodore Burskin Laverentievich Morolotski, the Commodore of Task Force 71. "Give my engineer a second here... ah there we go!" he finished, as his image appeared and quickly solidified.
The completed scene now looked exactly like it would had the conference been physically held in Goodman's office. Since his was the flagship, the entire room was wired with holographic scanners, but the program knew to leave four spaces in the scene for the insertion of the images from the commodores. On their ships their offices, which were also located directly off the bridge, were much smaller since they only used them when leaving their second in command, and only a small segment of the room was wired for scanning, limiting them to a set position where they had to be if they were to participate. The effect, however, was to create a virtual conference room that could be used in such a situation, where a potential battle was sitting on hold at the moment and they needed to discuss their next step.
Goodman quickly outlined the gist of his conversation with Admiral Thazzdss of the Raas fleet. As soon as he was done, the 'room' echoed with deafening silence. Finally, Borolin, Commodore of Task Force 77.1, spoke up. "Sir, if it comes down to a fight, my ships will not be able to provide much in the way of missile defense. Most ships have damaged weaponry and many could use a full overhaul before I can guarantee their functionality."
Turley quickly spoke up. "That won't be a problem. As they approached I did a full scan of their systems. There is not one missile launcher on those ships. They're beam cruisers only."
"Unless you missed something or they've managed to cloak it from our scanners."
"Possible, but highly unlikely. And even if they had, I suspect our fighter elements would be more than enough to handle the minimal missile defense necessary."
Goodman looked over at Commodore Gretzov, who nodded. "Even with the losses we took in the first fight, unless they have about forty times more missiles than anybody here thinks possible we have more than enough fighters left to handle the job on our own." Gretzov turned to look at Morolotski, who nodded his assent. "Sir, we have sufficient firepower and range on our weaponry that we can destroy most if not all of their fleet before they could get into range to counter-attack."
Goodman slammed his armrest. "That leaves me in the same position as we accuse them of -- the unjustified aggressor! I can't just unilaterally attack them for no reason, at least not now that they have stated their non-aggressive intentions. But at the same time, how can we let them get close enough to where they could attack us if they are lying?"
Sarah piped up quickly, "We must prove their intentions, then."
"Yes, but how do we do that?
As the leading elements of the Rhea ground forces began to probe slowly into the city, unsure of what to expect, GR's'tl was glad for the lack of military history among the Raas. Unlike his own people, and indeed, unlike even their former Sakkra masters, the Raas had not spent thousands of years fighting one another for dominance. They, instead, had spent their years of war in fighting for freedom, where they learned the value of guerrilla tactics, hidden passageways, hidden doorways, and the like, but they had not learned the tactical benefits of small streets. Instead they had created the standard large thoroughfares of a non-warlike species, and for this GR's'tl was quite happy as it allowed him to send his units in with multiple vehicles abreast of each other, instead of in single file. Since he couldn't fire over a tank in front of him, his units staggered themselves and proceeded only two units deep to provide maximum ability to cover each other in case one came under fire.
However, as the first units approached the city, he felt sure at least some of the citizens would pick up a hunting weapon and resist his forces. But none of them did. Curious now, he proceeded into the city cautiously, while small clumps of Raas civilians watched from alleyways and places of hiding, or through the windows of their homes or businesses. But while not one made any move to fight against his approach, neither did they embrace him either. Curious that a former slave race would not react violently to an invader, he thought. There must be something else going on that I do not understand. Fortunately, it was not his job to understand, just to lead his troops effectively, and this he was able to do. Still, perhaps he should report this to Gretskov. No, not before discussing it with his peers, it would be dishonorable not to give them a chance to choose whether they agreed with him or not first. He ordered his troops to continue their cautious progress, and not to hesitate to return fire if fired upon, but not to initiate fire on civilians.
He then opened a channel to his counterparts, the Colonel who had been in charge of the right flank, and now was in charge of the perimeter defense, watching for any counter-attack from forces missed in the earlier engagement, and the Colonel who had directed the artillery fire. He explained his hunch to the rest of them, and they agreed. So he went ahead and called Gretskov, and informed him as well. Though careful to explain that it was merely a hunch at this time, Gretskov as well felt it was plausible, and ordered him to seek proof.
A few minutes later, he found it.
Goodman's last question yet still hung in the air when the intercom sounded. "Admiral Goodman, this is General Gretskov. I have news you need to hear."
"Very well, General. We are in conference right now, so we can all hear you."
"Good. I am calling first of all to report complete success in the ground war. We have completely eliminated all organized resistance, and captured the capital city. Probe elements of our forces are exploring the remainder of the planet but it appears that the orbital scans are correct, the Raas bet all their forces on the immediate capital environs."
"That is good news indeed, but not necessarily urgent. What else do you have for us?"
"An odd situation, Admiral. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it. As you no doubt noted earlier, barely 2 full companies of Militia showed up for the battle. In addition, we have faced absolutely zero resistance from the citizens as we rolled into the capital. Mostly the civilians just hid and kept out of our way. A few have cautiously approached our position, curious to see a human or a Rhea up close. Of and by itself, though, that could just mean a former slave race has decided to wait until they can organize real resistance before counterattacking. But, in addition to this, when our forces arrived within sight of the palace, we found a most unusual thing. A ring of bodyguards surrounded the place, but they all had their weapons turned inwards. It appears that the royal family's cadre of bodyguards has turned against them, and is holding them captive in the palace!"
Immediately everybody in the virtual room began speaking at once, mostly with expressions of disbelief. Within seconds everybody was talking to their 'neighbor' in the 'room' and practically having to shout to be heard even by that person. After a full minute of jabber with no end in sight, Goodman hit a button on his desk. Instantly Sarah's high alto voice rang out clearly "...don't care what they..." and then she bit off as she realized the noise level had diminished and turned back to Goodman from the Commodore she had been arguing with. "Sorry, sir."
Goodman nodded and then, after glancing around the room to see that his action had had the same effect on everybody else, pressed another button, this one ordering the computer to continue to mute everybody but himself. "Alright, folks, I agree with you this is all but unbelievable, but let's display a tiny bit of self-control and let the General complete his report before we begin discussing it, and then one at a time. General, what does this mean?"
"Well, Admiral, my best guess is that there has been a popular revolution on the planet. The people don't know us all that well, so they're scared to welcome us with open arms, but at the same time they feel betrayed by their government and feel the devil they don't know can't be worse than the devil they do."
"As much as I would tend to disagree on an emotional basis, I can't come up with any reasonable argument. For the moment, then, assuming that this is true, what does this mean?"
"I have no idea sir. That's your department."
Sarah couldn't quite keep the smile off her face as she added, "I believe this is the proof we are looking for, Admiral."
"If we can confirm it. General, have any of your troops spoken to the guards? Asked them what's going on?"
"They don't speak the language, sir. I'm on my way now with an automated translation unit."
"Report back in when you have found out exactly what is going on, then."
"Aye, sir." The channel closed immediately.
Goodman turned to the rest of his aides. "OK, we're going to cautiously operate on the assumption Thazzdss is telling the truth. Keep your crews alert and watching for any indication of betrayal, but turn our targeting scanners to standby." Four "Aye sir"'s chimed in immediately. "Lewis!" barked out Goodman, stabbing at his desk yet again.
"Yes sir?" came her reply.
"Get me Thazzdss, please."
"Aye sir." A few seconds passed, then the same screen the Admiral had been on before brightened again. "Admiral, I've decided to trust your word on a provisional basis. I ask you to continue to hold position, but if you have any hospital ships in your fleet, I would ask that they help us search for any survivors from the earlier battle, and collect the dead."
"We would be happy to assist. We have only five such ships, but they are headed for the debris fields as we speak."
"Thank you. I have one last question for now, if you don't mind."
"To date all Raas forces we have encountered since the battle at Wasilkoff have seemed quite eager to engage our forces. Why then were you not?"
"Well, that's a bit of a long story, Admiral. You see, while we respect our warriors and honor those who fall in battle, we are not as violent a people as the Sakkra or Grendarl, and we do not seek war for war's sake. We had to learn to fight to obtain our freedom from the Sakkra those many years ago. And so, about two weeks before war broke out, the government began to carefully purge the ranks of any soldiers who displayed any sympathetic leanings to your cause. Rumors began flying that some of our forces were coerced into changing their minds through drugs, which of course were immediately and vehemently denied by the government. However, a large group of government 'advisors' boarded my ship the next day, with orders to interrogate every crewmember and ship planet-side any dissenters. After two people who I knew were strongly against the war and had had to be placed in confinement due to their rebellious actions suddenly were behind the government 100%, I knew something wasn't quite right."
"I took a small cadre of security personnel whom I knew idolized me and would follow my orders explicitly, even to kill themselves if I asked, and boarded their shuttle. Inside I and my chief engineer found cases of mind-altering drugs and, once we decrypted their orders found that the rumors were indeed true. Furthermore, we found proof that the government and not you were the instigators of our current conflict, for no reason other than because you wouldn't fall for their attempt to increase our power at your expense."
"Furious at the dishonorable behavior of my government, I immediately set upon a new course of action. The drug, fortunately, had a common counteragent, and they had kept records of everybody they had 'adjusted'. So I cautiously began to remove their influence from my flagship, and once that was completed recalled the other agents from all the other ships. Fortunately, our weapons do have a vaporize setting. I then sent everybody I knew was voluntarily pro-war to the planetary surface on a variety of phony missions after programming their communicators to short out when they tried to call for pickup, and treated all those who'd been 'adjusted' with the antidote. I then went system-wide with the proof of the government's misdeeds. The reaction was quite immediate, and rather violent. Within hours a hastily formed militia had seized and executed the government's 'advisors' on the planet who were working on the planet-based military at Delta Omicron. A short, bloody, but ultimately futile counterattack was brought by those I had shipped planet-side and those the government had had time to adjust, but they failed completely."
"A hastily formed planetary council asked me to be the leader of the resistance movement, and I agreed. I left them with orders to spread the news ten days after I left so that I would not fall under suspicion, but we could protect our people in the other systems from the government's treachery as much as possible. Then I quickly brought on enough volunteers from the planet to bring my crews to nominal levels and departed at top speed, and the rest you know."
"Not quite, Admiral," replied Goodman. "I do not understand why you were not interrogated first."
"I suppose you wouldn't know. I am considered the hero of the battle at Delta Omicron. When we first arrived in that system, we found a single small Antaran vessel that had been abandoned there by its fellows. It could not jump out of the system due to engine problems, but its weapons were still in fine shape, as ten of our ships discovered to their detriment. As commander of one of the two carriers in the fleet that came to investigate the loss of our scout, I was one of the few command-level personnel to survive the battle, and after all my superiors had died in a futile frontal assault, the one to come up with the strategy that gave us our victory. Part of my 'hero' status put me above suspicion, for they felt surely that having put my life on the line for them before I would unblinkingly do so again. They were not far wrong, at first. But once I realized the government was so devoid of herpatra, I could no longer support them."
"I understand. So how many systems now support your resistance movement?"
"According to the last update I received a few minutes ago, all of them, Admiral. All of them. In Mahktoz a fairly large fleet awaits the arrival of your forces and will have to be destroyed, as our information did not reach them in time for any sympathizers to be left on the ships. But the planet below is in open revolt, and in Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Omicron our forces control both any ships in-system and the planet surfaces as well. On Rotan III the same is true. The cost to our people has been quite horrendous, but we have won our freedom from the maniacs in the royal family."
"So what next?"
"Now we wait to see how you choose to deal with us. Deal with us honorably, and I expect we shall seek membership in your Federation. Deal with us treacherously, and though we will regret doing so, we will fight tooth and claw to the bloody end."
"You have given me much to think about, Admiral. I appreciate your candor. I have forces on the planet surface who as we speak are endeavoring to find out just what's going on, and if their report jives with yours then this war may be over as soon as the Ninth Fleet can deal with those unfortunate enough to be forced into fighting them. I will speak to you again as soon as possible. Goodman out."
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