Here\'s the first chapter of a story that I\'m working on right now. It\'s going to be a long post so you\'d better have some patients to read it.
• President Samuel Williams; president of the United States of America
• Lieutenant Zachary Johnson; officer in the Office of Naval Intelligence
• Admiral Franklin Gates; former fleet commander of York Defense Fleet; commanding officer of the battle cruiser John Adams
• Captain Isaac Reynolds; commanding officer of the destroyer, Harrison
Harrison command crew
Ensign William “Will” Adams; sensor operator
Lieutenant Tom Chen; communications officer
Lieutenant Dennis Williams; navigational officer
Lieutenant Ryan Hall; weapons officer
• Airman First Class Jamie Reynolds; pilot and member of Tempest Squadron (Tempest 5)
Other Tempest Squadron members
Senior Airman Cameron Rowe (Tempest 3)
Airman Mark Clayton (Tempest 4)
Airman Parker Caviness (Tempest 6)
Airman David Windham (Tempest 7)
• Doctor Christopher Overby; former head scientist of York Research and Development
• Captain John Cleghorn; commanding officer of the carrier Davis
• Lieutenant Junior Grade Haley Traylor; surgeon on the USS Harrison; former head surgeon on defense station Gamma
• Sergeant-Major Casey Gwertzman; U.S. Marine
• Captain Derek Stewart; leader of Banshee Squadron
1500 Hours, June 20, 2613 (Military Calendar) /
United States Space Command, the Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia,
Lieutenant Zachary Johnson walked through metal and explosive detector gates and into one of the entrance halls of the large geometric structure. Designated the Pentagon since its construction in the mid-twentieth century, it was head of the United States military for and would continue to be for as long as America had a military.
It was late afternoon and the humidity did not make the summer heat any more bearable.
He marched passed officers and government officials as they move to do whatever it was they were supposed to do. To the lieutenant, they were not even there. He had more important business to attend to.
In about another hour, two tops, the entire United States military will hear that York, the main shipyard and military base within the Outer Colonies had fallen to the Torinth. He could already see chaos within the Pentagon as everybody scrambled to try and figure out what will happen next.
Lieutenant Johnson approached the receptionist’s station under the careful eye of several MPs.
Keeping secret would not be an easy task. Once the general population heard that the U.S.’s greatest outpost within the Outer Colonies had fallen to the aliens, there would be swarms of refugees fleeting the rest of the Outer Colonies and swarming the Middle and Inner Colonies as well.
No one outside the military actually knew how bad the Navy was suffering in the war. Even though the war was only a few years old, there was only a handful of total victories that the U.S. had to show for itself. Not even the other empires were doing so well.
The handful of bases and mercenary outposts that had managed to avoid the Torinth, were only because they were extremely well hidden, or the Torinth just did not care for them at the moment. The latter seemed more logical to the lieutenant.
“You’re expected today, Lieutenant,” said the receptionist. He was a young Petty Officer and looked as if he did not know anything. His eyes though, were what gave him away. He knew that there was something, but what is was he was unsure of.
“Please proceed to elevator seven,” he said and retuned his attention toward the screen in front of him.
Lieutenant Johnson moved toward the solid steel wall, and a pair of doors parted for him. He enters the small room and the doors close and lock with a silent click.
A pamlprint scanner and retinal scanner extended from the wall. He placed his hand on the scanner and waited until the scanner was done. He then blinked a few times and placed his chin on the retinal scanner.
The elevator stared to move and after what seemed forever, the doors opened before him and revealed a corridor lined with walnut and paintings of Iwo Jima, the First Flag; Washington Crossing the Delaware; various landscapes; and space and land battles.
Even though it looked like he hadn’t gone that far down, he knew that he was over two kilometers underground, protected by steel, rock, and anything else between himself and the surface. He wasn’t sure how safe to feel. York had a whole network of bunkers and facilities like this all over. He was unsure if they would serve any purpose than tombs for those who had managed to avoid being killed in the first strike.
He steps off the elevator and swallows. Even though he had done these many times before, this was one hearing that he was really worried about. Doing a debriefing in front of the President and the Joint Chiefs was something that he never would have believed of doing.
A pair of MPs stood at attention as he approached the set of double doors. They did not salute him, but they had their hand on their holstered sidearms. They stared strait ahead, as if ignoring the lieutenant, but he knew that if he even moved funny, they would kill him without asking any questions.
The doors silently opened inward, and the lieutenant, taking one last deep breath walks inside.
The doors closed behind him as soon as he entered and locked. In front of him were six men and women. Johnson recognized all of them: President Samuel Williams, Vice-president Alice Pierce, General William Holt of the Army, Admiral Jason Maxwell of the Navy, General Daniel Martin of the Marines, and General Samuel Rivers of the Air Force.
There were about another half dozen other people in the room as well. All of them most likely part of various government agencies and the like, which made Johnson even more nervous than he already was. Each one of them had datatablets and displays in front of them, and even though he was looking at them from upside-down, he recognized the footage from his escape from York.
Johnson stood at attention and saluted, waiting for one of his superiors in the room to notice him.
General Daniel Martin placed his tablet on the desk and switched off the display. “Christ! Did we even know that the Torinth had that many ships?” He banged his fist on the desk, causing everyone to look up at him. “Who in Intelligence let this one slip?”
“I don’t think this is anyone’s fault,” President Williams said. He placed the tablets on the desk, took of the glasses that he was wearing, and rubbed his eyes before continuing. “What can we do now is what we should be concentrating our efforts now.”
“What can we do?” General Holt asked. “Our entire fleet at York was completely decimated.”
“No it wasn’t,” Admiral Maxwell sternly. “Our fleet would be decimated if we lost a fifth of what we had there. It would be decimated if we lost over half of the fleet there. Instead, we lost about every ship at York and Highland. It was a complete and utter disaster.”
General Rivers pushed his datatablet away and finally acknowledged Lieutenant Johnson. He returned the salute and said, “At ease, Lieutenant.”
Johnson placed his hands behind his back and moved his feet apart slightly. Other than that, he didn’t relax an inch. A person was never relaxed when in the presence of danger.
Admiral Maxwell seemed to have noticed that Lieutenant Johnson for the first time after General Rivers gave him permission to relax. “Before we decide on our course of action, there is something that I would like to know.” He looked down at the report and looked back at the lieutenant. “The time difference between now and the time of the event…” He paused, deep in thought. “Excellent job, Lieutenant. You’ve just made a speed record from York to Earth. I’m sure that you followed our established protocols of randomized hyperspace jumps before making your trip to Earth.”
“Admiral, sir,” Johnson started. “I followed our protocols to the letter. I would never endanger the safety of any of our colonies or our homeworld.”
That was a big, fat, lie and everyone in the room knew it. The only reason that they were going to let him get away with it was because of the information that he was carrying.
“This is hardly the issue though,” President Williams said.
“I would have to beg to differ,” the admiral explained. “With York gone, there’s no other military base from where could launch any sort of attack against the Torinth to defend the remaining Outer Colonies.”
“The admiral is right,” said General Holt. “With our military stretched to the limit already, the loss of York pretty much means the rest of the Outer Colonies will fall.”
“Lieutenant Johnson,” said President Williams. “I’ve read your report and it’s extremely detailed. However, I want you to tell me what you saw; leave nothing out that would normally be too sensitive to be put in your report.”
Johnson took a deep breath. He had been preparing for this moment since he arrived on Earth; even before that he knew that he would have to give them this briefing. He related how the Torinth arrived and disabled their early warning system, the courageous efforts of the American men and women to defend York, and how it all had failed.
“When the Torinth took out most of the Orbital Defense Stations and began lading their forces on the surface… it was lost,” the lieutenant said finally. “Well…it was beginning to be lost. I left soon after the rest of the refugees and naval personnel were left the system and only saw the beginning of what was going to happen to the people we left behind.”
The President and several other people in the room nodded sympathetically.
General Martin let out a snort. “We have no time for sentimentality right now. We need to focus on what we are going to do about our current situation. I suggest that we pull back all Outer Colony forces into the Middle Colonies to consolidate.”
“And what about the civilians we will be leaving unprotected?” Vice-President Pierce asked. “We can’t sacrifice the lives of those people.”
“So what do you suggest?” General Holt asked. “Do you think we should go and try and retake the York System; if you are, then you would have to be out of your mind.”
“Either way, the Outer Colonies will fall no matter what we do,” General Rivers said finally. “Even though we’ve been saying that we’ve been holding our own, everyone here knows just how bad the situation has been. The only reason that we haven’t told the public is because everyone will go into a panic.”
There was a long silence before President Williams broke it. “Lieutenant Johnson, you said that you jumped soon after the rest of the civilian and naval vessel left. Did you ever receive word from any of those ships?”
“Unfortunately, I did not receive anything from any of those ships, Mr. President,” the lieutenant answered. “However, I didn’t get the chance to try and establish contact with any of those ships.”
The President watches a short video of a destroyer leading four other ships against a much larger Torinth force, and destroying all of them. “So there is still a chance,” he said quietly.
Admiral Maxwell shook his head. “No offense, Mr. President, but I doubt that we’ll see any of those ships. I’ve already had ONI search all planetary entries and there is no trace of the ships that supposedly escaped from York.”
“I would have to agree…” said General Holt. “If we haven’t seen or heard any trace of survivors, then we have to expect the worst. There aren’t going to be any survivors.”
“Those people,” the President whispered. “York, Admiral Gates… We’ve already lost too many people to this God forsaken war.”
“I think we should send a small reconnaissance fleet to see just what’s left of York and search the surrounding space for survivors,” said Vice-president Pierce.
“I don’t think that would be very wise,” said General Rivers. “As much as I’m sure all of us would like to send a fleet to search for survivors, we can’t risk putting more personnel at risk.”
“The General is right,” said Admiral Maxwell. “Until we can regroup our forces, we are not going to risk any more ships or personnel for people who are most likely, dead.”
“And what about those on York and o the other colonies out there?” the Vice-president asked. “What about those who are stuck on those planets?”
“There’s is nothing that we can do for them,” General Holt said quietly. “They’ll end up dead, just like when all of this started on Olympia.”
Johnson hid a grimace at the reference of that planet. He was there when it fell and was there when it was retaken. All the people were either taken prisoner or killed by the Torinth when the United States retook the planet. The few survivors told them what the Torinth did with those who didn’t die. Enslavement and death after taking every natural resource was something that no nation had ever committed.
Seeing what the Torinth had done to those people was the reason Johnson had been stationed on York with Intelligence. He thought that he would be safe, but the Torinth proved that wrong.