December 11, 1757 hrs Earth Standard Time, United Star Alliance Sector Command, Constitution System, United Star Alliance
“Sir, we have a jump signature forming at the point to Kaliban! Readings indicate it’s a message pod.”
“Very well Lieutenant, how long for the signal to reach us?” asked Admiral Joe Straker.
“It’ll take about 5 minutes, Sir.
“I think we can all guess what it’s going to tell us, Lieutenant.” Straker looked around the command center, there was a flurry of activity everywhere. The faces of the staff officers held a mix of fear, and worry.
Since the message pod from Lakota arrived in system 48 minutes ago the sector, his command, had gone from routine to a frantic war footing. The visiting warships from the 9th Fleet who had just arrived in system the other day after a 9 month extended anti-pirate deployment were frantically recalling their people from shore leave. For at least the tenth time he thanked heaven the fleet had unexpectedly arrived the other day.
Admiral Straker turned back to the plotting display where his Operations officer was making finally adjustments to the deployment orders. “Captain Frazer, assuming the pod from Kaliban is going to tell us they’ve been attacked, what’s your recommended course of action?”
“Sir, the deployment orders have one of our System Destroyer squadrons ear marked to jump into Kaliban. The current orders indicate they are to render assistance to the custom station, if the Republic forces haven’t arrived yet, they will maintain station there to assist in the defense if this turns out to be more than an isolated incident… and since Kaliban just sent a message pod, I’m inclined to believe it’s more than an isolated incident.”
“Thank you Captain.” Straker turned to his right, “Communications, get me a link to the Lexington, I need to speak with Admiral Garrison.”
Admiral Susan Garrison, in command of the 9th Fleet was having a hell of a day. The bridge of the Alliance Heavy Carrier, Lexington, her flag ship, had exploded into a flurry of activity as soon as the message of the attack on Lakota was received.. “I should have known everything was going to well. Let’s put in at Constitution for a quick break, re-supply and give the crews some shore leave. What was I thinking.”
“Admiral, I have Admiral Straker on gold channel for you”, reported one of the bridge watch standers. “Put it through to my monitor” replied Garrison as she punched the accept button.
Straker’s smiling image appeared on her monitor, but she could tell the smile was forced, and could see the fear in his eyes. “Susan, I wanted to make sure you’re getting all the support you need from us. Also, we’ll be scrambling the bulk of our sector forces to Lakota within the next 30 minutes.”
Garrison cocked an eyebrow at him as she replied, “Damn Joe, you look old. I’ll keep the 9th fleet here. With 4 populated worlds and over 25 billion people, you’ll need our firepower if, or should I say when, the Republic forces get here. But it still hurts like hell to not go with your forces to Lakota. Any update on the strength of the attack at Lakota?”
“Based on the last message pod we’ve received they’ve got 35 Destroyers, 10 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Battleships, and 1 Dreadnaught. I’m sending everything I’ve got to Lakota except for one destroyer squadron which we’re sending to Kaliban. That means 16 Destroyers, 15 Light Cruisers, 6 Heavy Cruisers, 2 Battle Cruisers and 1 Light Carrier go to Lakota. Lakota has 2 populated worlds, with a strong fighter presence, plus several Cruisers. With any luck they will have whittled them down by the time we get there.” Straker sighed, “Susan, I’m glad you’re here. You may have to pull my butt out of this just like in the Academy days. I’ve got to go now, there’s more activity at the jump point to Kaliban.”
“Sir, second message pod emerging from the Kaliban jump point. We’ll have telemetry in about 5 minutes.” “Very well Lieutenant, let me know once we have a summary,” Straker responded.
“… and the latest information from Kaliban indicates they destroyed the attacking vessel, but that little Custom’s Base is all shot to hell. Captain Frazer, revise the orders of the squadron going to Kaliban; they are now to evacuate the crew. Make sure they have a full load out of mines before they depart, I want a mine field in front of the jump point from Kaliban to Grendal so dense that if the Republic sends through any more ships they pay a heavy price.” Straker paused and looked around at his staff officers, took a deep breath and continued, “All right, you have your orders, they started this but by god we’ll end it. Let’s go kick some pisser ass!