The Span Of Empire – Snippet 06

The Span Of Empire – Snippet 06

“I will go and speak to Tully,” she said to Pyr’s back. It was Tully who had first taught her English, coming to the dochaya day after day, telling her and everyone else who lived there in long endured misery that they could have a better life, but they would have to make it for themselves and not wait for the elders in the elian to simply give it to them.

“Let me know when the ship is ready to jump,” Pyr said without turning around.

“Yes,” she said and slipped out of the room.


“Did that go as you expected, Colonel?” Tully’s companion asked after they exited the meeting.

“Pretty much, Sergeant Luff, pretty much,” Gabe replied. “The director isn’t going to give up after this, even if she did talk like that was one of the options. Not after finding those dead worlds. All that does is make her more determined to find other civilizations.”

“I can see that,” the sergeant said. They hit a T-junction in the hallway, and paused. “Sir, we’ve got a little over half an hour before the shuttle leaves. I’d like to check in with the lead sergeant from Lexington’s jinau detachment. Last I heard, he had a suggestion about training that sounded good.”

“Go to it, Top,” Tully responded. He tapped one of his pockets. “I’m going to find a cup of coffee and a table somewhere and see if I can make a dent in this month’s paperwork before returning back to the Ban Chao.

“Very good, sir,” the other said. “Meet you back at the shuttle.”

The first sergeant took off down one angle of the hall, and Tully went down the other. Before long he found one of the Lexington’s officers’ messes and stepped in. He pulled a cup of coffee from the appropriate machine, settled at a mess table, and took an appreciative sip of the dark liquid. Lexington had picked up a few traditions from some of the United States Navy personnel who had survived the conquest and made themselves of use in the new era following the establishment of Terra taif. One of their traditions was having good coffee.

Tully propped his pad up and opened up the next in an interminable series of reports that he needed to read and approve. If he’d realized just how much paperwork being a colonel involved, he’d have turned down the promotion when General Kralik offered it.

Of course, he wasn’t sure that the general would have let him say no. He still recalled that conversation rather well.

He’d been called to the general’s office not long after the Valeron expedition had returned with all the Lleix refugees that would come with them. “Take a seat, Tully,” Kralik had said before he was two steps in the door. The general’s voice was brusque; his face was showing lines that Tully hadn’t remembered being there. Above all, the normally unflappable Kralik seemed to have an air of harried patience.

“Tully, I’ve got a job for you,” the general began.

“Back to dickering with resistance groups?” he’d asked.

“No. We pulled in the last of the effective ones while you were gone, and the others are evaporating now that jobs are available again. No, I need you to take a command.”

That had set Tully back a bit. He’d figured he’d stay with his assault company on Lexington if the resistance work was going well.

“What kind of command?”

“All the ground forces in Caitlin’s flotilla.”

He remembered his jaw dropping as he looked at Kralik in shock.

“You’re making me a freakin’ general?”

Kralik had chuckled, and a few of the lines on his face had eased.

“No, I’m making you a freakin’ colonel. Mind you, I could almost justify a general, because by the time we put a full assault group on the Ban Chao and fill all the companies on the battleships, you’ll have close to an old-time brigade’s worth of bodies. But neither one of us are ready for you to be a general. It’s enough of a stretch giving you the eagles of a colonel.”

“But why me?” He remembered the moment of panic he’d felt. Truth be told, some days the echoes of that panic still were felt. “Don’t you have real colonels you could use? Someone with experience at the job? What about Rob Wiley? He was on the Lexington, too.”

Kralik had leaned back in his chair and interlaced his fingers over his flat stomach. “Yep. And General Wiley and the others are all going to more important, more high profile positions. You haven’t been back long enough to catch on to what’s happening. Aille has us expanding the jinau forces as rapidly as we can; space, air, and ground. We weren’t much more than sepoy troops before, mostly just keeping order and occasionally dealing with the Resistance. Now we’re adding new companies every month, organizing new battalions every quarter. We’ve got three new divisions formed up while you were gone.

“We’ve learned the Ekhat lesson, Gabe. They’ve got our attention. China alone has mounted two of those new divisions, even after the diversion of resources to deal with the aftermath of the plasma bombing. We have recruits from all over the world. And Aille will see to it that they are ‘of use’ in the war against the Ekhat.

“We can train them–barely,” the general had said as he sat back up straight. “We can shove the best of them through quickie officer training and get embryo company officers, enough to keep things organized. And between us, the Europeans and the Chinese, we’ve been able to find enough–barely–effective senior officers to get by. What we don’t have is the middle–we don’t have anywhere near enough experienced field grade officers, even using the simplified organizational structures the Jao have mandated for the jinau. That’s where the casualties of the conquest have really hurt us. You’d have been put to work months ago if you’d been here instead of haring off in the Lexington.

“So why me?” he’d repeated his question. “Why for this one?”

Kralik had started counting items on his fingertips. “One: you have a reputation as a fighter, of not backing down from anybody. The humans respect that, and even more importantly, the Jao respect that. You will have a lot more Jao troops under your command than you’ve had before, so that respect is important.

“Two: right now you are one of a unique–and very very small–group of humans. You have fought Ekhat up close and personal and survived, and brought most of your troops back as well. You have no idea what your reputation among the troops is like because of that. That kind of track record is invaluable.

“Three: the Fleet Commander will be Jao, no two ways about it. It will be years–decades probably–before we have enough sufficiently experienced human ship captains to even consider putting a human in that position. But because Terra taif and Krant kochan contributed almost all the ground troops for the fleet, we can put you in as ground forces commander, which means that you will counter-balance the fleet commander, as well as giving Caitlin someone she can rely on with no hesitation.”

“Politics,” he’d muttered. “I hate that.”

“Time to grow up, Tully. The Jao–or at least Pluthrak kochan–could have taught Machiavelli a thing or two, and Preceptor Ronz could have tutored Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi. You’re going to deal with it for the rest of your life; you might as well get good at it.”

Kralik had ticked off one more finger. “Four: you not only have a reputation of being a fighter, you’re a damn good one. If it comes down to hand-to-hand combat for any part of the fleet, I can’t think of anyone better to have on hand.”

The general had folded his arms on the desk and leaned forward. “I’m not going to leave you hanging totally out to dry, Tully. We’ll find some good sergeants and Jao equivalents for you. They may be more valuable to you than a bunch of new officers.”


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14 Responses to The Span Of Empire – Snippet 06

  1. Positroll says:

    Poor Tully … ;)

    We really really need a homeguard version of the Lexingtons as discussed in an earlier thread – no space drive, less crew, less recreation and storage areas; instead a big spinal gun and a lot of drones [some with fusion pumed x-ray lasers, some chaff/steam filled to confuse Ekhat sensors and reduce the efficiency of their lasers, and some to ram the Ekhat and explode a big fusion nuke inside their ships; maybe some control slops based on German Dolphin class subs?]).

    Lets call them Concorde …

    • Positroll says:

      I mean no interstellar drive – they still need to get around the solar system, of course … Did I mention they’d be 99% human crewed ?

  2. Randomiser says:

    control slops ???

    • Positroll says:

      I’m pretty sure I typed “sloops”. Blame autocorrect …
      I was basically referring to this:

      “That’s a cruiser, El, Andrew Bolton class,” Trevor answered. A pair of tapered arrowhead shapes rose up from underneath the cruiser itself: two sleek remoras emerging from beneath the thick body of a bull shark. Trevor resumed his narrative. “Those two streamlined boats are the newest sloops in the Commonwealth inventory; the ‘Gordon’ class. Sloop is now a slang term, though. Navy acronymization has relabeled them as ‘FOCALs’: Forward Operations Control and Attack Leaders.”
      “That sounds very impressive. What does it mean?”

      Richard unfolded his hands. “The sloops stay close to the drones–the fleet’s various unmanned attack and sensor platforms–and relay commands to them and coordinate their actions. Their crews get the closest to the enemy, which is why, comparatively speaking, they are built for speed.”

      “So they’re like fighter aircraft,” Opal summarized.

      “No, not really. They carry armament, but only as a last resort. Their role is to direct attacks made by remote-operated and semiautonomous systems. They ensure that human judgment continues to guide all our units, even those operating many light-seconds away from the cruisers and other ships.”

      (Gannon, Trial by Fire – Ch 15)

  3. sensei says:

    At this point, I don’t see the need for all these earth-based ground forces that Kralik talks about. The war against the Ekhat appears to be a space war. Ships and crews would seem to be Terra’s most pressing need. Ground forces are useless against invading ships that only wish to sterilize your planet. At some point the alliance will have to start offensive operations against the Ekhat. But are we really going to launch ground operations against Ekhat planets, assuming they have planetary populations?

    • Drak Bibliophile says:

      At least once, in the earlier books, they needed troops to attempt to take Ekhat prisoners so think of these forces as “Marines”.

      Of course, it’s better to have “ground forces” when they aren’t needed than to need “ground forces” and not have them. [Wink]

      • sensei says:

        True. But a current U.S. Army division has between 10,000 and 15,000 troops. Depending on how Kralik’s words are interpreted, either Terra is fielding three divisions, with China contributing two of them, or more likely, IMO, the U.S. is fielding three, and China, two more, plus whatever the rest of the world is forming. So that’s at least 30,000 to 75,000 soldiers. At this point in the book, I see no likely use for such a large army.

        • David says:

          To clarify, Terra has created three new divisions (two of which are Chinese) above and beyond the units referred to in Course of Empire.

    • Positroll says:

      I agree that Earth doesn’t really need more ground tropos right now.

      But maybe the might be useful against the Ekhat on other fronts?

      Helping other Cochans to take over Ekhat planets with limited colateral damage might be worth a lot to Terra taif in terms of reputation + good will and also bring some material profit to Earth – especially if the planet can be settled by humans and Jao and/or we get to free a big bunch of Ekhat slaves that can then be added to the Alliance or even if we just get to study a heap of new Ekhat technology …

      • Positroll says:

        Troops. Kochan. Why oh why isn’t there an edit function ? :(

        • sensei says:

          And “collateral”, has two “l’s”. 😉

          Yes, an ‘edit’ capability would really be nice, but lacking one, it behooves us to carefully proofread anything we write BEFORE hitting ‘post’.

      • Randomiser says:

        30-45,ooo new troops out of a population of 4 billion, doesn’t sound like a lot to me, and certainly doesn’t represent huge diversion of resources, although tha may depend on how you are equipping them. Space marines clearly cost more than ground grunts. AFAIK the former US had 3 divisions of Jinau troops in book 1 and presumably there were other Jinau troops in other places, though perhaps not as many proportionately since the US apparently needed most ‘pacification’
        As for why we want them. The Ekhat sometimes ‘harvest’, rather than eradicate a planet and if we come upon that happening we may need ground troops to liberate the planet without exterminating the inhabitants. Rather more to the point, the Jao do fight on planetary surfaces, and it may be considered prudent to re-develop a big stick in case some of the kochans decide we are just barbarians after all.

        • Positroll says:

          Mostly agreed.

          “considered prudent to re-develop a big stick in case some of the kochans decide we are just barbarians after all.”
          True, but I’d prefer that particular stick to take the form of lots of human crewed and captained spaceships (even if its just inter-planetary cruisers, which should be easier for the Jao to swallow than purely human run Lexingtons, as they are no threat for Jao systems). No need to let the Jao bomb Earth again in the unlikely case of conflict …

          But overall I agree that a 4 billion population that is growing again (in numbers and economically) can easily support a few additional divisions of (rather cheap) ground troops …

  4. cka2nd says:

    Russian officers, or are they counted among the Europeans? Korean, Japanese, Israeli, Indian? Turkish, Pakistani, Arab?

    Also, let’s not forget ships captains from the various navies – surface and sub – of the world.

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