Part III continues. If you’ve just started following this blog, Part I can be found here.
Weather Mountain, VA
0800 Local (0700 Central)
“Sir, they’re all here,” Star-Colonel Sir Conrad Bradstock, Knight of the Bath to Queen Elizabeth I, said quietly. The Englishman was massive, especially when one considered the average height of men in the 16th Century, his original time. His beard, a flaming red, was trimmed in a sharp-pointed goatee, while his head was shaven completely bald. Cool, blue eyes stared out from a narrow face, eyes that had obviously seen far too much even before his vessel had been sunk while raiding the Spanish Main. Bradstock and the ten surviving members of his crew had been plucked from the Caribbean for “research purposes” by the Confederation Science Directorate in 1585. Like many of Earth’s expatriates, the overwhelming majority of whom had gotten in position to be abducted/saved due to their adventurous nature, his mind had been open enough to accept the existence of aliens and their technological marvels.
“Who was the last to arrive?” CINC-TEC and Hero of the Confederation, Star General Adam Baines Connelly, asked. A tall, broad-shouldered man, Adam looked like someone who had definitely lived a long and eventful life. Like many men who assumed flag rank in the United States Army, he had been a combat veteran, in his case four times over, getting to see Panama, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and Iraqi Freedom. Unlike the vast majority of his peers, Adam had never forgotten what it meant to be a young junior officer, and he had always been a champion for soldier’s rights.
The latter was a large part of the reason why he had had only had two stars despite his stirling record—Adam had never been one to go along just to get along, not when it meant young men and women might die. With all three of his sons joining the military shortly after he had made flag rank, Adam had had first-hand knowledge of the anguished worrying parents faced. The past six years had made him even more aware of those horrors.
“President Nazarofa just arrived from Moscow five minutes ago,” Conrad replied. “Seems that he wanted to give Spetznaz time to get a special reaction force in place.”
“Did they link up with the Special Forces and Rangers that are already outside?”
“Yes, and it brings the forces outside to a grand total of five hundred and seventy-five special ops folks waiting for the signal to attack this facility and seize or kill all twenty of us.”
Adam shook his head. Even after seeing first hand that TEC’s personal battle suits were immune to normal small arms fire, President John Rutledge was trying to double cross him. Fortunately for the soldiers outside, Adam had no intentions of wasting a resource so precious as highly-trained and motivated elite troops, especially when the universe’s largest supply of humanity was about to take a huge hit.
That old saying about people being the most precious resource was never so true, Adam thought.
“Have any of our people been sighted yet?”
“Sir, if the Orionans cannot spot the bloody Tectals ninety percent of the time, why would this batch of idiots have a chance?”
Looking at Conrad’s lips, Adam once more marveled at the translator chip’s ability to adapt to dialects, local accents, and quaint phrases. He had once heard Conrad speak without the translator chip in, back in the early days when its constant low vibration against his inner ear had occasionally bothered him. The Queen’s English had certainly changed over the years, and that old saying about American versus English only made things worse. While his Chief of Staff could, with great effort, speak discernible American, he was far more comfortable speaking in his native, anachronistic English.
“I was hoping that they were at least in rudimentary battle suits by now. We had started experimenting with that technology when I left!”
“Well, apparently that program got cut, according to the records you had me review. Seems like your fair leaders didn’t quite take the threat seriously enough, they were more concerned with lining their own pockets.”
“Bastards,” General Connelly said fiercely. He fought the desire to go two levels up and start blazing away with the plasma pistol that resided in his battlesuit’s internal hip holster. My son and over a million other humans are dead, and for what? he asked himself. So the idiots in the next room can have gotten themselves fat off of cheap power and miracle cure patents?
“Sir, it won’t do any good to go up there and kill every single one of them,” Star Colonel Jack Halwac, “Black Knight Six”, muttered lowly. Halwac was a former member of the Special Air Service hostage rescue team and Adam’s chief of Special Operations. “It won’t bring any of our dead back, and it certainly won’t give the spooks time to finish hacking all of the military and civilian communications networks.”
Adam took a deep breath and got control of his emotions.
“We need to do something about him,” he said, gesturing towards the far corner where the unconscious Presidential Chief of Staff lay, “before we open the door,” Adam said. He was glad that they had disabled the four hidden cameras located inside the small office they had commandeered for the conference with Kwirh and Eric.
President John Rutledge, the 44th or 45th man to hold the office, depending on how one counted, had demanded that at least one representative from his government be present during his communication with Kwirh. Laughing at how the presence of American soldiers outside the command post made the man far braver than he had been three days before in the Lincoln bedroom, Adam had agreed. Emad Mahoney, Ph.D., had not been aware of First Contact, having been selected by Rutledge as an attempt to create diversity in his cabinet. In their limited interaction, Adam had actually found the former Yale professor to be very competent and professional—which was the only reason he was still breathing.
“I’ll stay with him,” Halwac said. “That’ll keep me out of the room and able to coordinate things without distractions.”
“Good enough. Keep feeding Conrad with the status—the minute we’ve got control of those command and civilian nets, we’re ending this circus. Time’s awastin’.”
“Wilco,” Halwac replied, turning away from the door. His suit’s holocamera began projecting a high-detail map of the area within six kilometers of Weather Mountain on the far wall, with TEC and Earth troop positions marked. As Conrad and Adam turned towards the door, they could hear him starting to give commands and ask for updates from the TEC Special Ops forces grouped around the facility.
The two men opened the door and quickly slipped through it, their bulk preventing the two Secret Service men outside from getting a clear look in before they closed the door.
“Where’s Dr. Mahoney?” the younger of the two men asked, his hand subconsciously drifting towards the pistol at his waist. Adam and Conrad both moved to clear each other’s arcs of fire, the movement smooth and unhurried.
“He is still inside monitoring our communication as President Rutledge asked,” Conrad snapped. “Is there a problem?” he asked, his Enlish accent thickening with the rise of his anger.
“Yeah, we were told that he was to accompany you back to the main briefing room,” the younger agent said. His hand was clearly on his weapon now, eyes defiantly meeting Conrad’s as he started stepping forward.
“I think the orders on how many men were allowed into that room were quite clear, Agent Dawson,” Adam said sharply to the older agent. Thank God we’ve already hacked the Secret Service agent database, he thought to himself, his suit having presented the requisite image onto his retina. While some officers, specifically Eric Walthers, had refused the insertion of the nanites that allowed him to seamlessly join with his suit, Adam had found the ability to have information overlain directly onto his eyeball quite helpful on numerous occasions.
Taken aback that Adam knew his name, Agent Dawson put a hand on his younger companion’s arms.
“Dan, ‘Silverfish’ was quite clear that we were not to interfere with these men in any way,” Dawson said, using the codename for Secret Service Director Donald Townshend.
‘Dan’ was clearly not happy about his partner’s decision, unaware just how close to a violent and sudden death he was. Conrad had come from an era where killing men up close and personal with one’s bare hands was often a necessity. Given the power that his battle suit gave him, and the generally foul mood he was in, he would have probably made Dan swallow the pistol if he had drawn it. Proving his relative inexperience with dangerous men, the young agent gave Conrad a final glare before letting his hand drop off of his weapon.
“Follow us,” the young man snapped.
“Or?” Conrad asked, his blood definitely up.
“Colonel Bradstock,” Adam barked in reproach, then turned to Dawson. “Lead on, gentlemen.”
It was a short trip to Weather Mountain’s main briefing room, an indoor ampitheatre that allowed the briefing of up to one hundred individuals in four separate blocks, with each block consisting of plush seats arranged in five rows of five seats with a small table in front of them. The doorway to the room opened just to the right of the main podium, with a second exit between the tops of the middle two rows. As Adam and Conrad walked into the room, they could see that the room was packed with the core G-8 nations’ heads of state and their primary military staff. The two Secret Service agents peeled off, making a beeline for Director Townshend. Conrad split off from Adam, heading for the far corner of the room.
Taking a look around, Adam mentally counted security personnel, coming up with a count of twenty leaning in various states of readiness against the walls. The largest contingent were the six Secret Service agents that stood alert and ready, their hands resting not-so-casually on their sidearms, their eyes locked on Adam as he walked up to the podium, followed by the four Russian Spetznaz members that stood with suspiciously bulky attaché cases at their feet. After those men the honors were about even, the remaining six countries having one or two men apiece.
“General, we are all here,” President John Rutledge stated, his tone imperious. Adam could see the man was trying to convey the impression that he was in charge of the situation, and not someone who owed his existence to the simple fact that he was momentarily more useful alive than dead.
I can just imagine the panic if the news had hit that some ‘alien’ had shown up in the White House and ripped the President limb from limb after subduing his Secret Service guards. Adam had been inches away from crushing the man’s windpipe from sheer fury less than twenty-four hours before, and it was only how much harder it would have made his life that stopped him. Now, as Rutledge spoke to him like he was some junior private, he felt his pulse quickening the color starting to rise to his face.
“Sir, the codes,” he heard Conrad murmur, the sound completely inaudible to everyone else in the room. Looking across at the Englishman, he nodded, then turned to face the gathered group. Purposefully delaying, he scanned the room, then focused back on Rutledge. Utilizing his retina, he brought up an overlay that allowed him to scan the man’s pulse and brain activity, ensuring that he would be able to tell when POTUS was telling the truth.
We humans really missed the boat on nano-technology.
The Confederation, as per most governments that had been around forever, had done research on its various member races, as well as the lesser developed races that inhabited its sector of space. There were several trends that it had found in the more advanced races, namely that most of them had avoided having a great worldwide war—it tended to kill off many great minds. That Humanity had had two, and been on the brink of a third, was actually quite sad—apparently mankind had missed out on its great chance to cure many of its diseases when the European powers had lost their collective minds in 1914, then all but ended that chance when accounts were settled twenty years later. When the smartest minds of a generation died screaming in some muddy field or blown to pieces in mid-air, it severely diluted the available talent pool. Looking at the gathered group of men and a pair of women in front of him, Connelly could suddenly understand how these great disasters had happened.
Now because of these idiots a disaster of epic proportions is upon us. Where did we go so wrong?
Rutledge cleared his throat, causing Adam to turn and regard him with dead eyes. As he watched, the man’s pulse began to increase, fear and anger both fighting to be released. As far as Adam was concerned, the fact that Rutledge was now President of the United States (POTUS) had changed since he had left made no difference—he had renounced his old long before when he became a member of the Confederation Fleet. The fact that Rutledge had basically lucked into the office didn’t help matters any.
A relatively unknown diplomat who had risen to Assistant Secretary of State, Rutledge had become acting Secretary of State in late 2005 after the sudden death of his predecessor in a helicopter crash. After a bruising confirmation hearing, he had finally been confirmed as Secretary of State on September 5, 2006. Six days later, with the deaths of the President and Vice President in New York, Senate and House majority leaders at the Flight 93 crash site, and President Pro Tem of the Senate at his home residence had placed him in the Oval Office through sheer good fortune. If Rutledge had not come down with the measles two days after his confirmation hearing, he would have been with the President and Vice President in New York for the five-year anniversary ceremonies. As it was, the Islamic Revolutionary Brigade had attacked Rutledge’s home in the mistaken belief that he was home instead of at the local hospital.
Thrust into the breach, President Rutledge had been firm and resolute in the days following the shattering attack on America. Even as the fallout from New York’s warhead was still contaminating the Atlantic, he had mobilized all of America’s armed forces in invoked the NATO charter, demanding that the Alliance’s allies fulfill their agreements and mobilize themselves. When the money trail led back to the Saudi Royal House, the retribution had been swift and terrible. Like many wars, it had quickly spread, with most of the Middle East becoming embroiled on one side or the other. In the end, both Holy Cities of Islam had been turned into rubble, Tel Aviv and Tehran had both been destroyed on the nuclear pyre, and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan had been absorbed by India. The worldwide death toll had approached that of World War II, and a U.N.-overseen government oversaw the administration of a region that had formerly included the countries of Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.
Unfortunately, all of this had made it nearly impossible to release the information about what Rutledge had perceived as the far more distant threat of the Orionan Empire. Or at least that was Rutledge’s justification according to the interrogation Adam had subjected him to the night before. Of course, according to Rutledge, the fact that all the leaders in the room had become insanely rich off patents was sheer coincidence. While his predecessor owned a portion of the blame for Earth’s current state, having had the First Contact information over a year, it was Rutledge who had made the bulk of the decisions of what information was released and when. Adam fully intended to see him pay for that.
They will never know what opportunity they squandered, Adam thought, the time stretching out as he continued to stare harshly into Rutledge’s eyes. Grudgingly, he began.
“I will assume that you have all read the provided briefing packets, so I will not pause to explain anything,” Adam said, his tone making it perfectly clear that he did not intend to answer questions. “At this time, the CCDF Third Fleet is in Lunar orbit with six hundred and fifty-five combat vessels. Of these, only sixty, twenty-five battleships, a single battlecruiser, and thirty-four carriers are considered capital vessels.”
“Excuse me, what is the difference between these ships?” Prime Minister Tonya Yeldham asked. A stunningly beautiful woman, Yeldham was the youngest Prime Minister in British history, her brains and ruthlessness matching her beauty. She had only been in office for two years, and there had been some discussion on whether or not she should face the same fate as the remainder of the individuals in the room. Star Colonel Halwac, who had known the woman through mutual friends, had argued most strenuously in her defense.
In the end, it had been Conrad who had made the most damning discovery. Having examined the world’s financial records, he had pointed out that Yeldham had made plenty of money by investing in the “breakthrough technologies” market. While Conrad believed it was probably a case of realizing that her life was in real danger if she spoke up or spilled the beans, the fact remained that Yeldham had not taken a stand for the good of humanity. That meant she shared the guilt of all those present.
“That is also in your information packet, as well as the packets of your staff,” Adam snapped. “If your military leadership has failed to keep you informed, that is not my issue.”
Before Prime Minister Yeldham or anyone else could reply, Adam touched the wrist of his suit. A hologram of the Sol system appeared in mid-air approximately five feet in front of him, from the sun itself to Pluto manifesting itself just a few inches in front of President Rutledge. POTUS jumped backwards as a comet headed towards his eye, the tail turning to brush towards his nose as the holograms went into motion. The gathered ships of the Third Fleet burst into life as brilliant blue dots, looking like a swarm of locusts near Luna and Earth.
“Arriving in system are the advanced waves of the Orionan Fleet, here at Pluto’s orbit.” As Adam continued, several bright red dots appeared just a few feet in front of the President to the right of Pluto. The dots continued to grow, as his suit fed in the live feed from the battlecruiser Huntress, flagship of the Third Fleet. As they watched the red dots continued to grow, already clearly outnumbering the blue, with more appearing slowly but steadily as they spoke.
“At present the Orionan Fleet consists of twenty-nine battleships, to include six of their massive Emperor-class battleships. For Prime Minister Yeldham and the rest of you who seem to think that this is just a bad B movie, I will show you the difference between those vessels and the Huntress, flagship of the Third Fleet.”
First appeared a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, still the largest warships on Earth by a large margin. The vessel’s dimensions were flashed on the screen, along with its complement and aircraft capacity. Adam gave a moment for the familiar ship to sink in, then with another touch of a button displayed the Huntress. The Earth carrier was dwarfed, the Huntress more than six times her length, three times her width at the beam. The battlecruiser’s weapon armaments scrolled by, with the yield of her numerous weapons being presented in terms, such as kiloton and Megaton, that each and every man and woman in the room could understand.
“With one salvo of her energy main battery, the Huntress expends more energy than the combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and Russia combined,” Adam intoned flatly. “With her advanced shielding, shooting the world’s current weapons at her would be like throwing spitballs at the side of a brick wall.” He looked directly at General Joseph Reilly, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“That includes the prototype weapons being developed in Nevada or those issued in small numbers to America’s Armed Forces.”
There were several gasps of consternation at that revelation, as only Great Britain had been aware of the United States’ attempts to develop next generation weapons. A few years before, Adam would have taken pleasure in dropping that particular turd in the punch bowl. Now, however, as he watched looks of shock and anger cross everyone’s face except for Prime Minister Yeldham and Chairman Xian Qing Hsiao. Looking at the Chinese Chairman, Adam realized that the man had known about the U.S. Deep Black projects.
Always knew the Chinese had us more penetrated than a two-dollar whore when a carrier comes to town. No matter, makes this end game a whole lot easier.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, please, let us be calm and set our differences aside in the face of this greater threat,” Rutledge said, staring daggers at Adam the whole time.
“While all of this is well and good, Connelly,” General Reilly snapped, “I don’t see how it affects us one bit. That’s a friendly vessel, is it not?”
“Yes, it is, or at least it will remain so unless someone gets a brilliant idea like trying to appeal for mercy from the Orionans,” Adam said, once again looking directly at President Rutledge. Unknown to POTUS, Adam had bugged the White House five ways to Sunday on his way to the Lincoln Bedroom. One of the options that had been placed forward, especially in light of Adam’s obvious hostility, had been an attempt to kill Adam and then launch a salvo of the world’s nuclear missiles at the Third Fleet in an attempt to gain good faith with the Orionans. Reilly had been the primary advocate of this plan, further demonstrating the lack of mental capacity and imagination in most modern flag officers.
You would think a major theater war would have leavened out some of the idiots, Adam thought. But apparently they’re all still stuck at Corps and below while these idiots finish out their time. No matter.
“But you are correct, General Reilly. Here is the enemy’s flagship, the Emperor-class battleship, the Heart of Orion.”
Cued by his voice, Adam’s suit displayed a representation of an Emperor-class battleship compared to the Huntress. There were several sharp intakes of breath and a couple of whimpers, as the Orionan flagship was clearly two times the size of the CCDF battlecruiser. The statistics began scrolling in mid-air, starting with lesser weapons and their locations. Adam continued talking.
“The presence of the Orion indicates Emperor Krognan himself has come to oversee the destruction of this planet. You should all be familiar with Emperor Krognan from your packets.”
Provided you read them, which many of you obviously didn’t or you wouldn’t be so shocked by the information being presented. If I had known that we needed to evacuate the planet, much less how little time we had to do it, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with you idiots.
“General Connelly according to your reports this Emperor-class battleship is armed with what you termed an ‘extinction level event’-generating laser in the bow of the vessel,” General Reilly stated, his tone clearly indicating that he had had a seemingly brilliant epiphany.
“Yes, it does,” Adam replied evenly.
“Okay, then pardon my asking, but why aren’t we all dead already?” Reilly asked. “It would seem that it makes little sense to invade a planet when you can just blow it up with damn Death Star lasers from these ten battleships, once they all arrive?”
Adam looked at Reilly. The man’s haughty voice and posture had finally broken through is last reserve of patience.
“Because, you fucking idiot, as I pointed out in that same report, there are only two battleships armed with the laser, one of which had its laser disabled at the Battle of Taurus IV. Now, if you wish to continue asking stupid questions and wasting precious time, please, go ahead.”
Reilly stared daggers at Adam, getting ready to make a retort when the President waved him silent. Reilly was a political animal, and Connelly had always hated men who used the uniform as a way to gain power and prestige. While the man had ostensibly demonstrated great bravery in Desert Storm, Connelly knew that his Distinguished Flying Cross had more to do with his four-star father’s friends looking out for him than any particularly brave thing Reilly had done.
That’s all right, because we’ll be getting ready to see how brave you are in a little while, Adam thought.
“Five minutes,” Conrad muttered into his ear, nearly making him jump. “They’ve used some of the technology Lihr gave them for encryption, it’s costing us a bit of time. By the way, a live audio feed has been established to the commandos outside. When the President says Rubicon, it’s a code word for them to start this dance.”
Adam waggled his fingers to let Conrad know he had heard him as he looked at Rutledge.
“What is their plan, General?” the President asked, his voice clearly indicating he didn’t care about Connelly and Reilly’s personal disdain for one another. Adam changed the scale of the hologram, zooming in to Neptune’s orbit. Earth appeared just in front of the podium, the Third Fleet arranged in its probably formation. The Orionan Fleet in all of its glory advanced into view just in front of the President’s face, the vessels’ drives glowing like small dots of light.
“Once the Orionan Fleet is completely deployed, the assault will begin. The bad news is, the Orionan Fleet won’t stand off at several thousand kilometers and attempt to pound the planet into slag.”
“How is that bad news?” POTUS asked, his eyes wide and nostrils flaring.
“Because it means every man, woman, and child still on this planet when the Orionans make planetfall, which they will do because we’re not sacrificing the Confederation’s best vessels for an indefensible ball of dust,” Adam sneered, “will serve as food for a blood feast the likes the Orionan Emperor has probably never seen.”
There were several sharp intakes of breaths and one half scream as the import of what Adam was saying sunk in. He watched as Rutledge’s face went white with shock, and he suddenly realized just what the price of his duplicity was.
Yes you dumb bastard, come to grips with what I’ve known for the past three hours, Adam thought with white hot fury. This is what your greed, ignorance, and incompetence hath wrought.
“Given the slow transition to the evacuation and the utter lack of available shipping, we estimate the final death toll will be in excess of five billion,” Adam continued, the tempo of his voice hammering the point home. “Getting the billion people off the planet is going to take a Herculanean effort, as Admiral Tobarakh’s fleet is not equipped for planetary defense and the only way we are able to evacuate what we can is by relay trips to the nearest systems.”
There was stunned silence in the room as everyone realized that one in six people had been handed a death sentence. Everything that they had ever known in their lives, the great cities of makind, all of its treasures, everything was about to be erased by a horde of aliens most of them had only become aware of in the last couple of years. The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids, their own residences and loved ones—all gone. Adam watched as all the emotions played across everyone’s faces and was surprised that none of them dropped dead of a sudden heart attack. Turning back to Rutledge, he locked eyes with POTUS, making no effort to hide the emotions going through his mind.
Yes, you stupid bastard, you are most responsible for this, you and that idiot still probably circling the upper atmosphere.
“So this race of super aliens was unable to realize they just might need more shipping to evacuate six billion people?” Reilly asked. “Maybe we are helping the wrong side.”
Adam looked at the man, utterly disgusted.
“They weren’t expecting a bunch of ignorant sons-a-bitches like you to sit on over two thousand years worth of advancement for the last five years, or turn it for your own personal profits,” Adam seethed. He was about to say more when Rutledge interrupted him.
“Why…why aren’t the Orionans attempting to surround the entire planet and bag your fleet also?” POTUS finished, gesturing at the hologram in front of him.
“Sir, space ships are vulnerable for about two minutes when coming out of hyperspace,” Adam said, reigning in his tone in response to the actually semi-intelligent question. “Also, coming out into the middle of a Solar System is a capability that’s still beyond the Orionans—they tend to get smacked by planets when they try it. Finally, if the Orionan Fleet attempted to come out behind the fleet Admiral Tobarakh would probably clean their clocks for them, defeating them in detail.”
“So why doesn’t he do that now?” Reilly broke in. Everyone in the room could hear the silent question on Tobarakh’s bravery in his voice.
“Because we can evacuate the planet or fight a fleet action, not both,” General Connelly replied as if explaining things to a child. “If the Third Fleet moves out to start engaging, that leaves Earth undefended. Unless there’s something I’ve missed, we don’t have enough forces to defend this planet should the Orionans get any elements past the Third Fleet and onto planet—hence the evacuation.”
“Why aren’t you people doing more to get other ships here?” POTUS asked, his voice starting to indicate his panic.
Just like a politician—looking for blame rather than realizing it’s his own damn fault, Adam thought. His disgust at the state of the planet, i.e. only slightly from whence he had left, was overwhelming. Adam had realized immediately that everyone responsible for what had happened had had to be removed. Given the disaster that was about to befall his species, the solution that was starting to come into his mind was going to be poetic justice.
This is the longest five minutes in the world.
“Because there are is a large segment of the Confederation that has been against the inclusion of any Humans at all, much less with weapons, since Admiral Lihr exchanged his life to give us a fighting chance. Those same species are not going to disrupt their own defensive efforts, economies, or lives to save a bunch of ignorant savages who were given what they worked thousands of years for on a platter.”
“Why not?” POTUS asked angrily. “Six years was far too short a time to prepare the country, much less the world for interstellar warfare.”
Adam looked at POTUS in stunned amazement. The man actually believes that, he thought. Nevermind the fact that an entire corps of men and women from our planet were trained and combat capable within six months. The performance of the Terran Expeditionary Corps had been a stunning surprise for the Confederation, even more so for the Orionans. The Dominionite Battle Computers had predicted that the Corps would fail in its first three missions, with around twenty-five percent losses despite facing the second-tier units of the Orion Empire. It had been half right, as the initial losses had been prohibitive. But once Adam, Eric, and other members of the Corps had been given a say in the design process for their equipment, things had improved remarkably.
“Because idiotic statements like that seemingly validate that we are closer to our own evolution forebearers swinging in trees than those races that have been around since dinosaurs roamed this planet.” Adam shut off the hologram and began looking around the room, meeting the eyes of every leader present. His voice began to rise, aided by the suit’s electronics to become ever louder.
“Because in half a year roughly two million men and women learned to do what you have said was impossible in six. Some of those men and women haven’t even seen inventions as rudimentary as indoor plumbing in their lives, but yet were able to grasp concepts that apparently were beyond the best and brightest men in this room.”
Adam’s voice was approaching the level of some construction tools, causing some people to begin reaching to cover their ears, his words piercing into their skulls. He deliberately cut his volume, making everyone concentrate on his next statement.
“Finally, because most of the rest of the Confederation figures it will take the Orionan Horde six months to finish gnawing the last bit of sinew from the last human left alive on this world, and the war effort could really use that six months.”
There was a stunned silence as everyone contemplated exactly what Adam was saying.
“When will our evacuation ship be arriving?” Prime Minister Yeldham asked, her voice trembling.
Sweet Jesus, could it have taken any longer?! Adam thought, allowing the tension to ratchet up in the room. He looked up in Yolanda’s big blue eyes, and realized the woman knew. While many of the men in the room were used to being powerful, and were arrogant enough to believe that nothing untoward could happen tot hem, Yolanda had first came to fame through the entertainment industry. In pulling her file, Adam had seen just some of the bad things that had happened to her, both as a child and an adult. For a brief moment he felt a pang of sympathy, right up until the point he remembered the violent deaths of some of the TEC’s first members. His heart hardened, and his smile grew broader.
“There will be no evacuation ships for anyone in this room,” Adam said with barely contained relish. “You have been weighed, measured, and found wanting.”
The room erupted into chaos, as the most powerful leaders in the world suddenly found themselves instantly converted into another category—victim.
Adam never heard the code word, and was never even sure it was given after his statement. What he did see was Director Townshend starting to go for his service piece and the Russians’ attaché cases flying open, submachine guns and short-barreled automatic rifles in hand. All of the action appeared to be in slow motion as his suit automatically injected him with pseudo-adrenaline and simultaneously raised his personal shield and armored helmet, the latter irising out and around his head.
“Black Knight Six, execute,” Adam barked, just as the Russians opened fire.
In the end, it was a very short fight. General Connelly’s men had all been fighting literally larger and better enemies for the past six years, and they were interlinked with his combat suit’s sensors. Even as the first rounds were spouting from the submachine guns, the dozen soldiers of the Rakkasans, his own personal guard contingent, were taking down the six men guarding the entrance to the room. The men were vaporized where they stood, not even aware they were about to die as the Rakkasans seemingly appeared right in front of them.
Conrad put on a first hand demonstration on the overwhelming technology disadvantage Earth was now at. The target of three of the Russians, their bullets crossing the intervening space in seconds, Conrad received twelve hits of various calibers, six of them instantly fatal if they had pierced his armor. Of course, that would have required them achieving a speed ten times that of sound, the maximum kinetic rating on his personal shield, and then having sufficient energy to penetrate the suit itself. When compared to rail guns, laser weapons, and anti-matter warheads, gunpowder proplled bullets were about as dangerous as a feather pillow. The suit’s shield functioned exactly as advertised, absorbing the bullets’ energies and stopping them completely cold ten inches from Conrad’s face. Conrad watched them stop and deform right in front of his eyes, the slugs dropping to the floor.
“Holy shit,” Townshend said, his expletive answered by the Russians just before the distinctive buzzzzzsnap! of a plasma bolts from the doorway turned the upper half their torsos into crimson steam with the dinstinctive. Then suddenly the room was silent, as fired a high-pitched sonic blaster wave into the room. Specially modulated for the human brain, the sound wave knocked everyone in the room not encased in shielding as unconscious as if they had been hit with a giant tire iron. In a pair of cases, the Prime Minister of Canada and a Secret Service agent blissfully passing instantaneously beyond the veil. But for every other man and woman in the room, the device worked as Adam had planned it, knocking them into a deep and senseless slumber.
After making one last check to ensure the room was clear of opposition, Adam dropped his shield and helmet. Turning, he looked at Halwac, who’s helmet remained upright, his eyes seemingly intently focused on the faceshield of his helmet. Somewhere far off in the shelter, Adam heard the thud of several explosions, and knew that someone had found some heavy weaponry amongst the to use against the TEC forces.
“Jack, anyone who’s still resisting can have their spaces filled by other people,” Adam said, intending to make Halwac’s job easier. “We don’t have time to be nice about this, we’ve got the codes, let’s get the Hell out of here.”
Halwac nodded, issuing commands into his facemike. There were several louder explosions, the entire Weather Mountain Complex shaking with them and dust falling from the ceiling.
“Of course, that doesn’t mean bring this whole place down on us, either,” Adam said drily.
“Wasn’t us,” Halwac replied, his face suddenly relaxing. With a whir, his helmet irised back into the shoulders of his suit. “People should really be careful about playing with rocket launchers around ammunition—backblast is a killer.”
Adam winced. Since one of the first places Halwac had intended to seize was the armory, he could see what had happened in his mind’s eye. Someone had probably attempted to use a rocket launcher from within the confines of the armory, either not realizing or recalling that a jet of superheated gas exited out the rear of most anti-tank weapons. The resultant fire had ignited ammunition, and blown the person, the armory, and several other people to kingdom come.
“Losses?” Adam asked, sighing heavily.
“None,” Halwac replied. “First Battalion is still battling the Rangers and Spetznaz outside, but they should be able to secure the facility momentarily.”
“There was one short signal that we couldn’t jam, but after we put a rail gun through the commo room, that solved that problem.”
“Grand. Any idea what it said?”
“No Sir, none. But we have the codes, just waiting on your go signal.”
Adam looked at his watch. Time was precious, but he wanted to make sure he struck the right tone with the broadcast he was about to make. ‘Sorry folks, you’re all going to be lunch meat’, probably won’t do much good.
“How long until the first batch of ships are loaded?”
“The latest will be Russia, and that should be complete in one hour and forty-five minutes.”
“Two hours, we go live and in color world. Meeting with all brigade and above commanders in one hour and forty-five via holo-network.”
“Understood, Sir,” Conrad said, nodding to Halwac.
“Inform Admiral Tobarakh and request that he listen in,” Adam said wearily, running a hand over his close cropped hair. “Until the meeting, tell all commanders they may interact with local officialdom at their own discretion.”
“Already done, Sir,” Conrad replied.
“Is that why you let those jokers get their shots off?” Adam asked.
“Actually, yes,” Conrad replied. “Figured about the point you called General Reilly an idiot it was time to issue orders. Speaking of which?” Conrad gave a meaningful glance towards the slumped bodies littering the room.
“I thought of that while I was speaking. Let me tell you my plan.”
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