Chain of Command – Snippet 42

The book should be out now so this is the final snippet.

Chain of Command – Snippet 42

*****

“Curse the Cottohazz and curse the uZmataanki!” Admiral Tyjaa e-Lapeela raged. Vice-Captain Takaar Nuvaash, Speaker for the Enemy, listened in what he hoped gave the impression of respectful silence. “The rotating commander of the Cottohazz peacekeeping force at Fleet Base Akaampta is Hue e-Puttazhaa. You know him?”

“No, admiral, I do not have that pleasure.”

Pleasure? Baa! He fancies himself a man of cunning, and he imagines his tricks are amusing. Also he has never forgiven Bakaa for the death of his son in the K’Tok War. I suppose they will now call that the First K’tok War and ours the Second.”

“I believe the admiral’s insight on that matter at least is correct.” Nuvaash waited to see if the admiral would react to his careful phrasing but e-Lapeela was too involved in his own anger to notice

“E-Puttazhaa has invoked the non-involvement clause of the Cottohazz charter and refuses to release the Akaampta squadron from service. He claims doing so would constitute using the Akaampta base as a support facility to sustain a war by one member against another.”

“Yes, so I understand. It is unfortunate, Admiral, that simply the fact that our cruisers there are carrying munitions manufactured under Cottohazz contracts, and fuel purchased and refined for Cottohazz use, allows Admiral e-Puttazhaa to exercise this inconvenient technicality of the law.”

e-Lapeela looked up and a hint of suspicion flickered in his eyes, or perhaps Nuvaash imagined it. e-Lapeela always looked a bit suspicious of everything. Nuvaash made sure his ears were spread wide and his eyes bore a look of sincere and respectful sympathy.

“That is why the Akaampta squadron has not arrived,” the admiral continued. “They may have to jump back to Hazz’Akatu and conduct a nominal refit before joining us, assuming our government can secure their release at all. I wonder how hard they are trying.”

That was an interesting observation, Nuvaash thought.

“This news came with the new cruisers from home?” he asked.

“A jump courier from Akaampta arrived in the home system just before the two new Home Fleet cruisers jumped here. The original plan was for the Akaampta squadron to join us at the same time, and then we would have had overwhelming force. This delay complicates everything. With our two remaining operational cruisers and the two from home we do not have the ability to guarantee a victory at K’tok and retain sufficient strength to later defeat the balance of the enemy fleet.

“Fortunately, we will soon be joined by a new ally–an uKa-Maat squadron of three cruisers is being readied for dispatch and will arrive within the week. Although they are untested in battle, the fact that two of the cruisers are of the new salvo variety helps considerably.”

“The Federation of Ka-Maat has declared war?” Nuvaash asked. If so, this was good news indeed. A second Varoki nation joining the fight might indeed open the path for others to follow.

e-Lapeela settled back in his chair and considered his words.

“I expect a formal declaration to come later. For now, the uKa-Maat squadrons is acting …on the initiative of its command personnel. To avoid diplomatic complications, the ships will be fitted with uBakai transponders until such time as their government’s policy catches up with events.

“But tell me, how have the Humans responded to the attacks? Speak for the enemy.”

“Confusion,” Nuvaash answered. “We have limited information, most of it from the ground stations on K’tok and the three dark sensor platforms in the asteroid belt. There are four surviving destroyers at K’tok, two cruisers and four destroyers moving from the gas giant Mogo toward K’tok, and the balance of the enemy fleet en route back to Mogo.”

The admiral shook his head in disdain.

“They had two cruisers at K’tok and two at Mogo, and are now wasting days switching their places? Confusion is a charitable characterization, Nuvaash. Had our reinforcements arrived as planned, we would make short work of them.

“We must not let them regain their balance.”

*****

A mess steward brought lunch to Sam in his cabin and he’d just made a fresh bulb of coffee from his drink dispenser when his commlink vibrated and the ID tag of Moe Rice, the supply officer, came up.

“Yes, Moe. What’s up?”

Cap’n, you wanted a heads-up if anything changed on the ground supply front. Well, it hasn’t exactly changed, but it’s getting pretty bad, especially for the Brits. The uBakai are moving those gunsleds south. We don’t have the ability to shift our orbital bombardment munitions around so they’re sticking to our blind spots. The troops on the ground are going to have to handle this one on their own. They need heavy weapons for that.

“Still no word from Earth about those fabricators?”

No, sir. The Brits are down to using captured small arms, no heavy stuff. The US and Indian cohorts can loan them a couple launchers and missiles, but they’re stretched thin on their own fronts. Without those ammo fabricators cranking out some anti-vehicle missiles, they’re in a world of hurt. There was talk of evacuating them up the needle, maybe having to pull the plug on the whole operation. Thing is, with the transports gone that’s not even an option any more. There’s no way a few destroyers can pack two thousand soldiers in, let alone keep them fed and breathing.

“Okay, Moe, thanks.”

Shit!

He was back to Dynamic Paradigms and the cheat code. If he broke his non-disclosure agreement and turned the cheat code over to the supply folks, would his old company make an exception for him? Would they decide the critical situation on K’tok justified the breach of trust? No. The Navy had already been trying to get them to allow cross-access and the firm hadn’t budged. If they wouldn’t budge for the US government, they weren’t going to cut him a break.

Why hadn’t they turned the cheat code over? They were defense contractors. Sure, this wasn’t covered by the original purchase orders, but the company could probably charge the Navy a small fortune to go outside the agreed terms. They were in business, weren’t they? What was this about if not money?

He really didn’t like the Navy, and the prospect of making it his career by default did not appeal to him. In all likelihood the Navy wouldn’t have him anyway when this was all done, he being a scummy reservist and all. Dumped unceremoniously on the beach with no job, no money, and no prospects. Delightful future.

And that wasn’t all. Navy regulations explicitly prohibited him from breaking the law in pursuit of his duty or in following orders. Corporate proprietary information was covered by law. He’d actually be breaking Navy regs to turn over the cheat code. For all he knew he could end up in jail.

There was only one sensible, legal course of action: keep his mouth shut. It still wasn’t too late for Dynamic Paradigms to come through with the master codes to allow cross-programming. Come on, you bastards. Give them the codes.

He looked at the unopened containers of his lunch but they had gone cold and no longer looked appetizing.

 

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One Response to Chain of Command – Snippet 42

  1. Dave Lachlan says:

    Many thanks for the snippets!
    Great teasers!

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