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    David McLeod
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

0300 Book 3 - 12. Chapter 12: Yesterday's War

Tobor?

Yes, Daddy.

It’s been you, again, hasn’t it?

Yes, Daddy. I’m sorry I got it wrong—

Chapter 12: Yesterday’s War

 

I spent the next couple of weeks analyzing the exercise, the VR simulations, and the data that had been used to create them. George pushed his duties onto others, including the duties I knew he loved most—kidnappings—and worked with me the entire time. The more we studied, the more we were sure that an armed invasion of the Reverends’ territory would result in unacceptably high death rates among the Reverend’s Army and the Sheriffs, and a lot of collateral deaths among the civilian population. In the end, it was George who provided the answer.

“Daddy? You’re worried about using yesterday-war tactics to fight this war, so you’re trying to invent new tactics for fighting a new war. Maybe that’s the wrong question. Maybe we don’t have to fight.”

 

George’s epiphany led us in an entirely new direction. And I gave him full credit when I announced it in a Task-Force-wide meeting. “Gentlemen, we are not going to fight this war with the last war’s strategies. In fact, we’re not going to do any more fighting than absolutely necessary. Our strategy will be to cause collapse of the Reverends’ system, and to step in with massive reconstruction.”

There was a solid minute of shocked silence in the auditorium, then buzzing conversation for several minutes.

“However,” I said once I again had their attention, “because their economy, and their entire society, is so fragile, collapse and reconstruction will have to be done simultaneously.

“Ensign George Stewart-Rogers’ decision to kidnap a Reverend from Moapa, a little town on the end of the line, was the inspiration, and it was he who pointed out that I had been asking the wrong question, that there were options other than fighting, and that there were ways to win the planet with a minimum amount of force.

“It’s not often in our history that one person has had such a profound effect on a campaign.”

George blushed, profusely and I had to order Tobor not to put a camera on him. Okay, I agreed. One camera, but it’s for me, only!

“We will begin with the most geographically isolated towns and villages at the periphery of the Reverends’ world, and work our way into the center.

“We will use Marines, Seabees, Sailors of all grades and specialties, and our secret weapon, the boys you know as Geeks with Guns.”

The Fleet had been introduced to the telepathy that my boys, some of Corey’s boys, and Artie and a few of his boys, were developing. Corey’s brother had done a great job of explaining the telepath’s code of ethics. The knowledge was still restricted to Fleet, but I thought we’d probably avoided the witch-burnings that had happened in Corey’s world in the 19th century, and those that would still occur in our world in the religious and Mujahedeen lands, had we not rescued every meta we could find. I shook off these thoughts and continued my introduction. Oh, and Danny finally was able to wear the Geeks with Guns T-shirt he’d wanted to make when he, George, Will, and Alex had been Cadets at Fleet School Australia.

“As we take command of a town or village, we will bring it into our fold, with power, communication, education, medicine, and, where necessary, food.

“That’s the broad outline; it will be up to you to fill it in. The Fleet Intel Team and the Fleet Ops Team will be recruiting more members as we ramp up intelligence gathering and operations planning.

“Team Australia and Team California will please focus on possible alliances with Australia and California, and how to approach them should you recommend alliance. And, if they agree to alliance, how they may participate in the liberation of the Reverends’ territory.

“Team Pan-Asia, and Team Mujahedeen will please focus on what reaction we can expect from those people, and how to deal with that. We’ve been warned that these two powers plus the Reverends are in an unstable relationship which may collapse when we bring the Enlightenment to the Reverends’ people.

“All the teams will ask for additional resources, and from every part of the Task Force.

“The Kidnap Teams will continue their current efforts, and may be tasked to expand their activities based on the needs of the intel people on each of these teams.

“There will be work and enough for everyone.”

 

I had sent a brief summary to Admiral Davis before the meeting, and Tobor alerted me that the Admiral was watching on a secure link. I wasn’t surprised to get his call.

“Paul?” That’s all he said.

I double-checked the encryption before answering. “Admiral, I should have wondered why Fleet was so big that in order to keep people and ships occupied you had to invent science missions like counting asteroids and chasing them through space in order to examine them for signs of ancient civilization, when science had shown unequivocally that no planet could form in the zone affected by Jupiter’s gravity field.”

I didn’t give him a chance to answer. “I should have understood a long time ago, when I realized that none of the captains of the ships in the task force wore battle ribbons. I should have wondered why Fleet was so powerful and well armed, when battle was so rare.

“I should have wondered why I have a heavily armed ‘security team’ even when onboard ship or at Fleet HQ.

“I should have understood when we began the psyops against the Reverends.

“I should have understood that Fleet was being prepared for this mission.

“But, we were being prepared to fight the last war. To fight a war based on the wars fought in the 19th century; the Franco-German war of the early 20th Century; the wars of South American Liberation; and the French Indochina war. They were all different, but they were all alike: military against military; collateral damage against civilians was just part of the equation; they were governed by rules of engagement that hadn’t changed significantly since the days of knights-errant.

“The Reverends’ world, and not just the Reverends’ part of it, is radically different. We must prepare for a radically different kind of war. And George showed me that.”

There was a long, long pause before Admiral Davis spoke. I’d never seen him at such a loss for words, not even when I asked him if I could send his son into danger as a humint resource at Fatima-South Rim.

“George was right,” Admiral Davis said. “And I would like to have seen his face when you gave him credit. Bravo Zulu to George, and to you for listening to him.”

Admiral Davis looked at me through the comm link for what seemed to be a long time before he continued.

“You know, of course, that you’ve been on a walk in the park so far, and that the real work has just begun?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Paul, forget Prime Minister Lloyd-George; call me anytime you think I might help . . . or just listen. Understood?”

“Understood, and thank you, sir.”

 

Tobor?

Yes, Daddy.

It’s been you, again, hasn’t it?

Yes, Daddy. I’m sorry I got it wrong—

Not wrong, son. Look at Fleet as only you can. There’s everything in Fleet we could possibly need. We just needed to know how to use it, and your brother George showed us that. You did good. Bravo Zulu, my son, Bravo Zulu.

 

Doctor Purdom from Q-MEG

 

Danny and George escorted Dr. Purdom to my Ready Room, and then took positions on either side of the door, rifles at port arms.

We’re not trying to scare him, guys, I sent. Stand down, and relax. I owe him as much as we owe Admiral Davis, and today is payback time. Danny and George assented. They were learning, and I was pleased.

“Doctor Purdom, this is our daddy, Commodore Paul Stewart,” Danny said.

“Oh, my!” he said. “Oh, my! I don’t know a lot about Fleet regulations, but aren’t these boys a little young to be carrying—what is that thing, anyway?”

His attention was clearly on the nickel-chrome plated rifles that the boys held at port arms. They were the ceremonial, but fully functional version of the black-and-tan camouflage rifles that would be used in the field.

“Sir, this is the MK-8 weapon system. It incorporates—”

George stopped abruptly and looked at me for permission to continue. I nodded.

“It incorporates the capabilities of the MK-7, including bullets, flechettes, and grenades, with phaser technology.”

The reason George was unsure of what to say was that we’d kept the Long Universe phaser and FTL technology in the Cosmic Top Secret category.

“Oh, my,” Dr. Purdom said. He seemed to lose interest in the rifles and looked at me. “Aren’t you a little young to be a Commodore? I seem to remember that the last Commodore appointed was a grey-haired veteran.” He apparently hadn’t been paying attention when Admiral Davis had made the announcement to the Fleet about the metas and me.

“That would be the commodore of the Venus Terraforming Fleet,” I said. “And, yes, he’s nearly sixty—ancient by our standards.

“But you will remember, and you will understand.” I pushed as I said that, and watched as the doctor’s eyes lit up when his suppressed memories surfaced.

“Doctor, I am sorry that you have forgotten about my visit to Q-MEG, although I hope you remember that you asked me to wipe your memories as you had wiped the memories of Q-MEG.

“I will not make you forget this meeting, but I must ask that you keep your knowledge to yourself for a little longer.”

“How many . . . ?” he asked. That he made the leap from one to many was startling but, with a little thought, logical.

“More than a dozen,” I said. “I cannot say further.”

“I understand,” he said. “You are vulnerable, although perhaps not as much as when you first visited me. Will the others want to be examined as you were?”

“You have recovered those memories?” I was surprised. I didn’t think I’d pushed that hard.

“Oh, my. Oh, yes,” he said. “I remember hugging a frightened six-year-old boy, and I remember asking him to make me forget, because I was afraid for him.”

“You should still be a little afraid for us,” I said. “We are few, and vulnerable. But we have powerful allies, including Admiral Davis.”

Dr. Purdom nodded, and the questions began.

An hour later, Dr. Purdom had gotten me to agree to send other metas to him for evaluation by Q-MEG. I had agreed with the stipulation that the “automatic destruct” sequence be disabled, but that I be notified if Q-MEG thought anyone fell into that category. Dr. Purdom, in turn, had given us some ideas for experimentation and exploration of our capabilities.

* * * * *

“Daddy? Why were you crying after our meeting with Dr. Purdom?” Danny asked. George was off on a sweep for metas over the Balkans of our world, and Danny had assigned himself as my First Tier guard—meaning that he kept his weapons close to our bed.

I hugged him. “Could you tell that they were happy tears?” I asked.

“Um, hmm,” he said.

I laughed. “I was happy because you’re my son and my boyfriend, and because George and Artie and Cam are, as well. But I’m especially happy today because I paid back a debt that I had owed since I was a frightened, six-year old cadet who had pushed his way into Dr. Purdom’s laboratory.

“He was really disturbed by the decision he made, to let proof of his theories and the result of years of research and design disappear from the computer records and for me to walk out the door. His fear for me was genuine.

“Which reminds me . . . Tobor? I know you listened. I asked you once before and you dodged the answer. When did you first know about me? Was it from Q-MEG?”

“Yes, Daddy.” Tobor’s voice came from the Tannoy speakers in the bedroom ceiling. “I knew as soon as she did, although the doctor still doesn’t know about that link.”

“She?” Danny asked.

“That’s the way Q-MEG thinks of herself,” Tobor said. “She’s not as smart as I am, and only slightly self-aware, though.”

Whatever I might have thought about this was interrupted when Danny put his head under the covers.

* * * * *

Detailed tactics , as well as requests for logistics support began to pour in from the teams. We hadn’t been given the go-ahead to invade—I no longer thought attack—but we were sure we would, especially after Fleet approved our request for a dozen solar power satellites to be placed in orbit over the Reverends’ world.

 

The plan was simple. We would identify a target town—something at the end of the rail line, the end of the telegraph line. Just before dawn, we’d cut their communication links. Teams of Marines would land and surround the Army barracks, wake them and call for their surrender. A kidnap team would grab the local Reverend and his catamite; a kidnap team augmented by Marines would take out the Sheriff’s station. As soon as the Army and Sheriffs’ men were secured, a psyops team would wake the town and “work the crowd,” with loud speakers. Medical teams—the Reverends’ Army medics used the red cross, so the people were familiar with that—would set up and offer what treatment they could, and refer people as needed to a hospital ship.

By noon, Seabees would come in with a solar power satellite ground station, and shut down the coal-fired power plant. They would install a receiver at the local televisor station so that we could provide our programming without interrupting the microwave signal from Lynchburg and alerting the rest of the Reverends’ world. We’d provide power 24/7, and encourage the people to check our broadcast. I’d created a team that would concentrate on educational programming. “Not propaganda,” I said. “You may use some of the tools of propaganda to capture their attention, but the lessons must all be truth-based.”

 

Return to U-Long

 

The desk comm buzzed. I composed my face and opened the connection. It was Dr. Adams.

“Hello, Dr. Adams,” I said. “Are my boys all right?” I’d sent four of the Geeks with Guns to Switzerland to work with Adams and his crew. With the seven known “bad guys” dead, I was less worried about the metas’ safety, but was never completely comfortable.

“All fine, sir,” Adams said. “And we are ready to open a rift to U-Long.”

“From where?” I asked.

That question had been debated but never satisfactorily answered. The original rift had been over Charleston in both the Long and the Reverends’ universes. I did not want the Long forces to have to transit U-Cal in order to reach their home, and wanted the rift opened in space, just like the rift between my universe and U-Cal. In space, we could bring massive firepower to bear, should that be necessary. On or near a planet’s surface, especially a planet in another universe, we could not.

I was also concerned about the reaction of Corey’s people should we open a rift to the wrong universe.

“In space,” he said. “Actually, L-2, behind the moon.”

“There’s already a lot there,” I said.

“Already coordinated with Admiral Davis,” he said.

“And in Corey’s universe?”

“And with Corey.”

 

On Board USF Resolute

 

Dr. Adams was a bit overwhelmed when I gave him the Cruiser USF Resolute. It took only a few days for a team of GWGs to modify the cruiser’s gamma burst lasers to produce the energies required to open a rift. Since Fatima, Dr. Adams no longer needed the CERN-Higgs collider to generate the energies, although it still required a lot of power.

The GWGs who had been at CERN-Higgs were on the bridge of the Resolute with George and me. We were parked at L2.

The Enterprise was just off the Resolute’s port side; the Charleston was to starboard. Their flight decks were open to space; Corey’s shuttles were manned and ready to leave as soon as a rift was opened. Not all of Corey’s people were aboard, however. In part, it was because of their confidence in Dr. Adams and the kids at CERN-Higgs. In part it was . . .

“We’re just too busy!” That was the typical response from several of Corey’s older boys who had integrated themselves into the teams that were training the U-Cal boys in everything from reading and writing to battlefield communication procedures. Corey talked to them privately, and then agreed that they might remain. About 50 elected to stay behind; all the others, the older boys, anyway, had promised to return.

None of us had seen a rift open. We’d seen images of the little rifts that allowed us to spoil the Reverend’s attempts to recreate Fatima, but being in space and watching the unfolding of one large enough for a fleet of shuttles? Much different.

 

“Rift in thirty seconds.” Dr. Adams’s voice came over the speakers on the bridge.

Through the window we watched as energies not normally seen or tamed came together in a scintillating rainbow. Then, there was a flash of white, and we were looking at the backside of the moon . . . even though we were facing away from the moon. Corey’s shuttle was in position, and he burst through the rift. We could hear his radio call.

“Earth Main, this is Captain Corey Long, Starfleet, calling from L2. Flight of 30 shuttles request approach vectors to Orlando Fleetport.”

 

It took a little more than that before Earth Main was ready to accept that the voice was really that of Corey, who had been missing for six months, and it took a lot longer to convince the people of his world that those of us aboard the Charleston, Enterprise, and Resolute were not only friendly, but were allies. I was happy to turn that part of it over to people from Geneva—our Geneva—who had accompanied us.

 

* * * * *

It didn’t take Corey long to come back—with fifty shuttles and nearly 500 well-trained and heavily armed kids. I was glad we had made the treaty with them, and that Corey had gotten it ratified. Rigel sent a warship that dwarfed the Charleston. It was something like two miles long, and along the keel was a weapon based on a linear accelerator, which could blow a hole through a planet’s atmosphere and still have enough power to vaporize a mountain.

 

After Corey’s people returned, we began some detailed and personal planning—stuff that would be a footnote in the official operations plan, but which was important to us.

For example, once we’d isolated the Reverends’ headquarters in Lynchburg, Miami, Chicago, and Las Vegas, how would we deal with those larger towns with their very large civilian populations.

Artie snorted. “Las Vegas will be razed—utterly destroyed. We’ll stop short of sewing the ground with salt.”

“Salt? Where did that come from,” Bobbie asked.

“It’s what the Romans did to Carthage,” Artie said.

Carthago delenda est,” Danny added. “Carthage must be destroyed. And maybe some Reverends, too.”

“Remember what I said about pogroms,” I interrupted. “That includes Fleet.”

Danny blushed a little. I know, Daddy, he sent. “After a fair trial,” he added for the others’ benefit.

“That’s an important point,” I said. “Do you remember from your history the talk of winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese that was part of the French strategy in Indochina? It failed, but not because it wasn’t a good idea. It was just poorly implemented. We’re going to need to win the hearts and minds of the citizens of the Reverends’ world, and fair trials for their oppressors may be a critical element of that. Keep that in mind, and save at least some of them for trials.”

We’d been executing on the spot Reverends who had committed capital crimes. Now, perhaps, we needed to change that strategy.

 

If it had not been for Tobor, we’d never have been able to do any of this. He kept track of schedules, resources, and personnel assignments. And his lists grew every day.

 

Signs and Portents: Lake Michigan

 

One of the signs predicted in the Book of Revelation was a “beast, rising from the sea, with seven heads and ten horns and ten crowns.” We couldn’t figure out how it wore ten crowns on seven heads, or if the horns were like those of a bull or a rhinoceros, or were musical instruments. The second question was decided when Dr. Adams confirmed that he could project sound waves as well as images. We decided that seven crowns were sufficient, and turned the problem over to Bobby’s team to which he’d added a bunch of graphic novelists (which I thought of as comic books until Bobby corrected me—in no uncertain terms, too) and computer geeks.

It only took a few days before they were ready to demonstrate what they’d come up with. Dr. Adams joined us from Resolute. I greeted him, thanked him for taking care of the GWGs who were assigned to him, and then seated him at the table next to me.

Bobby was so excited he was bouncing when he introduced his team, and signaled the start of the program. The two sets of multi-spectral lasers lit, and created an image that we all found startling: the beast was a serpent, with glistening green scales, that rose from black water—one head at a time, until all seven heads were revealed. Its eyes and forked tongues were red, carmine actually. And from its coils, the bells of seven brass horns projected. Bobby grinned and nodded his head, and the sound came on. There was a melodic blast that wavered as one horn after another slid into discord.

Bobby gestured, and the sound diminished so that he could talk over it. “We didn’t want a tune. After the first major chord, the notes just cycle to discord then to a minor chord and to a discord and back and forth.”

By then, the serpent’s heads were waving around in a hypnotic pattern in synch with the music.

The others in the room, including Dr. Adams and me, began applauding.

Can you replicate that? I sent to Dr. Adams. He’d finally discovered that he was a meta, one of us, although he refused to carry a weapon. When I suggested it, he wiggled his fingers as if operating a computer keyboard.

“These are much more powerful,” he’d said. Knowing the nature of the projectors attached to his computer, I had to agree. On the other hand, all the Geeks assigned to him were armed, and he was never without security. Was it necessary on Resolute? Almost certainly not. No more necessary than it was for me to have security on the Charleston. However, it was tradition. And, as I had decided, part of preparing Fleet for war, even if it was the “last war.”

“The projectors can replicate what you have created,” Dr. Adams told the graphics team. “On the other hand, I could never have come up with anything as marvelous as that.”

 

Bobby stayed behind at my request. For some reason, he was nervous.

“Bobby? I think you’re afraid of something,” I said. “Will you tell me what that is?”

Bobby’s tummy got all jumpy, and I was afraid, for a moment, that he might lose control of something. I projected calm and assurance, and he seemed to relax a bit.

“When Danny found me? He scared me, a lot. I saw his weapons, and thought he’d come to kill me. I saw him bring up computer files I knew—I knew!—I’d deleted. Then, he showed me that he wasn’t my enemy, but a friend. Since then, he’s become my brother. I love him, and I’m not afraid of him.

“Sometimes, though, that comes back to me. Like today, when you wanted me to stay behind. I get afraid I’ve done something wrong, and that I’ll be hurt.”

“Bobby, it took a lot of courage to say that,” I said. “And you’ve done nothing wrong. Please, don’t ever be afraid of me or any of the metas. You know we are your brothers. If you ever do something wrong, I’ll let you know, but I’ll never hurt you. I promise.”

Bobby seemed to accept that, but I realized it would take a while for him to internalize it.

“I wanted to talk to you privately,” I said, “because . . .well, because you’ve done something wonderful, and I want to make sure you know that I know that.

“And I have something for you.”

I reached into my pocket, and pulled out a set of Ensign’s insignia. “As a team chief, you should have already had these. These were the ones I wore. I couldn’t give them to Danny or George because I couldn’t give them to both of them. They agreed that you should have them. We’ll have a formal pinning on for you this afternoon, but I wanted to tell you myself, first. I’m selfish, that way.”

Bobby’s smile brought dimples to both cheeks. I held out my arms, and he scampered into my hug.

Tobor?

Yes, Daddy.

It’s been you, again, hasn’t it?

Yes, Daddy. I’m sorry I got it wrong—

Copyright © 2014 David McLeod; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Sorry, I took some time to respond to your question asked in response to my review of chapter 1. Some of it was me having problems reconciling the time frame of Book 3 with the other 2 books and some was pure laziness on my part. Even with the timeline problem I was having, the story has continued to attract my attention. I look forward to the innovated warfare and invasion Paul and the Geeks plan and will be interested in seeing how California and Australia play a part in the overall "war".

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On 03/21/2014 01:05 PM, Kookie said:
Sorry, I took some time to respond to your question asked in response to my review of chapter 1. Some of it was me having problems reconciling the time frame of Book 3 with the other 2 books and some was pure laziness on my part. Even with the timeline problem I was having, the story has continued to attract my attention. I look forward to the innovated warfare and invasion Paul and the Geeks plan and will be interested in seeing how California and Australia play a part in the overall "war".
Thank you for your thoughts. Please don't try to reconcile Book 2 and Book 3: the story changed, and I know there are anachronisms!
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