Admiral’s Fall – Sneak Peek Chapter 4!
Because the last two chapters have been super short and people chimed in I’ve decided to go ahead with the grand double release!
Chapter: Deceptive Maneuvers
“Alright where are we at?” I asked.
“We’ve segregated as many of the Glorious Fleet personnel both old confederation and imperial on a few big ships that still have fully functioning life support system as we can. That mean’s mostly battleships and heavy cruisers sorry Admiral we knew you wanted them off the prizes as soon as possible but there really was nowhere else to put them,” said Commodore Druid.
“Understandable if not ideal,” I said wearily. The weight of having hundreds of thousands of prisoners, many of them old confederation personnel angry at their losses and feeling personally entitled to premier treatment under the rules of warfare and prisoner of war codes, weighing on me.
I could deal with being prosecute for failing to give them the Ritz Carlton treatment but not if someone who surrendered to my fleet suffocated to death while clawing at an air lock trying to escape.
“What else?” I asked.
“Our shuttle pilots are working overtime, not just in rescuing trapped personnel but also furiously transferring as many glorious fleet personnel to our freighter transports as we can fit it. With,” he said raising a hand when I started to interrupt, “a bias towards any wounded or injured that would be better served in a real hospital facility. The kind we just can’t provide here on a warship.”
“Not to mention our doctors and healing tanks are already operating beyond capacity,” I remarked.
“A number of glorious fleet personnel may not make it simply because we don’t have enough hospital beds to put them in and doctors to treat them, we’ve already got injured lining the halls outside the medical department and sickbays of every single battleship and cruiser in First Fleet,” reported Commodore Laurent.
“Failing to properly treat surrendered personnel includes adequate medical treatment,” observed Commodore Druid, “I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m not eager have to defend myself before a tribunal because people died before the doctor could see them and they were just down the hall waiting.”
“I’m with you I just don’t see what we can do about it,” Laurent said bleakly, “there’s not an empty medical bed in the fleet.”
“We can only do the best we can,” I said taking back control over the meeting, “if possible look into if we can use any doctors or medical teams from the old confederation prisoners, under appropriate guard of course. It’s a stop gap measure but at least it’s something. I understand why you’re more worried about the after math of this battle and the status of our prisoners than previously.”
The two men looked uneasy.
“The foe we are facing is unlike any other. However at the very least we’ll be able to look ourselves in the mirror and honestly say we did our best,” I finished.
“I understand,” said Druid.
Laurent nodded then pursed his lips.
“No imperial physicians?” he asked.
“Allow any imperial physicians and medical personnel that are onboard the temporary prison ships to help out in that ship’s medical department,” I decided, “but other than that? No. I don’t trust them not to cry ‘For the empire!’ and try something. But then I could just be biased,” I added not really caring if I was wrong. Having imperial personnel free to run around on my ships, even with escort, was a road too far. At least for me and at least right now.
“Even just that much will help out greatly. I’ll see that it happens,” Laurent said.
“Now onto other business,” I said looking around the room, “what’s next on the agenda?”
Lisa Steiner my ever helpful chief of staff stepped forward placing an already activated and open data slate in front of me.
I looked down.
“Yes the disposition of the first group of captured warships. How is that going?” I looked around the room.
Spalding scratched his chin and yawned a big opened mouth jaw cracking yawn.
“I’ve had MSP engineering teams running around in gunboats performing assessments on every captured ship and just finished making up the different lists just like you asked last shift, Admiral,” he said.
“Good work! How long until your engineers are ready to start moving them around. I you to take charge and get this done as soon as possible,” I ordered the Commander.
Spalding cracked another yawn.
“Begging the Admiral’s pardon but since you were already fast asleep after I finished the lists I just went ahead and assigned tugs to start moving the ships around,” said Commander Spalding.
I drummed my fingers on the table and then nodded.
“Good work,” I decided.
“I figured it would save us some bellyaching if the usual suspects saw woke up without any excuse to complain about how we were dragging our heels,” laughed the old Engineer with a dark thread in his voice.
“Manning and his crew have been keeping an eye on our captures and haven’t been shy about staking claims here there and everywhere in the name of the confederation and their homeworlds,” I said darkly.
“I can’t imagine what gave them that particular idea,” Druid said dryly.
The mood immediate broke and we all laughed.
With the mood lightened I finally settled comfortably in my chair.
“Alright I’ll admit the former High Captain has his points just like the rest of us. That said the Multi-Sector Patrol Fleet answers to no one but me,” I said looking around the room and sweeping its occupants with my eyes.
Druid looked back at me concerned but Laurent just met my eyes.
“Just let us know what you need, Admiral,” said the Commodore.
He then paused.
“What do you need from us, Sir?” he asked.
“Nothing illegal,” I said lifting a finger for emphasis and then turned the gesture into a languid wave, “but with that out of the way let’s just say there are many legal routes available to us and I hardly think that Grand Admiral Manning or the captains currently under his have done anything to earn our trust.”
“Meaning?” Commodore Druid asked uneasily.
“Meaning I intend to strap those ships that have Manning and his people have incontrovertibly claims to, to the hulls of his warships and cut orders sending Manning and his people back home by the fastest route available to them. Meanwhile the rest of the warships have been segregated into two different groups,” I said meeting and holding his eyes.
I could see the hesitation in the other man before he took the plunge.
“What groups, Sir?” he asked finally like a man reaching for a piece of wood after his ship sank in the middle of an ocean.
I frowned. This was unusual behavior for the commodore.
“There is the group that engineering considers unrecoverable and will need to be broken down for spare parts,” I said.
“Right,” his brows furrowed.
“The group that I intend to hand back over to Confederation at Hart’s World, it being the nearest core-world that could take them considering the current state of Central and Aegis which is still under occupation or for that matter Prometheus and New Pacifica,” I said evenly.
Heads nodded around the table and Druid’s relief was visible. I smirked clearly he’d thought I intended to seize everything.
“Last of course is the group I’m taking back home to Gambit with us,” I finished with a nod to Spalding and the old engineer put up a graphic on the screen.
Druid took one look and momentarily froze and then laughed helplessly.
“I guess you really can’t teach a tiger how to change his stripes,” Druid laughed.
“Commodore what’s wrong with you? This is serious business,” I joked.
“Of course, Sir,” Druid said straightening.
I shook my head.
“Anyway if anyone asks, except for the ship’s that will be personally transported by Manning and his team of ‘loyal’ order followed warships, every ship we transport will be transported to a designated fleet facility,” I said.
“And is it true?” he asked.
I gave him a ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ look.
“Of course it is. After all I designated them using my authority as Grand Admiral and Fleet Commandant,” I said.
“The Spindles are charged and ready to go we can have the first load ready to go by this morning,” said Spalding.
“Make it so,” I said.
“Let’s just hope that no one catches wind of what we’re doing,” said Commodore Druid.
“Soon it won’t matter what they know and if they try to stop us with force they’ll be up for mutiny charges,” I said.
“Even so considering the stunt we pulled in Easy Haven they might not trust us enough to let us just jump them away,” warned Druid.
“I agree,” said Laurent, “somehow I just don’t think the Grand Assembly will ever get around to prosecuting them for it either. Even if it came to blows.”
“A good point,” I said mulling it over for a minute before reaching a decision. “We’ll have to move fast and if we’re not fast enough then we can let them send observers with the first couple transfers. Of course that means the last transfer would be absolutely critical. Not an idea that makes me entirely happy either.”
“Most of their heavy ships will already be tied up with the ships we send over during the night shift,” Spalding pointed out with a wicked smile.
“We could also wait until the last minute to move the first load to Gambit,” said Druid.
“Worst case we could jump early,” interjected Laurent.
“Good ideas,” I said after a moment.
“Bah,” Spalding snorted, “I say we just tell them the truth.”
“Which is?” I asked looking at him with a raised brow.
“That we don’t have enough fuel to jump all over the sector without stopping back at either Tracto or Gambit for a fuel reload. Even the Spindles only have so much internal capacity,” he said with a sly expression.
“Alright let’s do it,” I said.
“You know,” said Spalding leaning back in his chair and playing with his mechanical hands as he one by one flicked over the first joint on each finger one by one and lit up a mini-plasma torch before closing it up again, “I don’t understand why we’re carrying the Spineward Confederation’s water in this particular situation.”
“I don’t follow,” I said giving him a look. Spalding was an insightful person and even if he was wrong or wildly divergent, it was often at his most crazy that he came up with his best ideas.
“Why are we transporting the captures and derelicts for the new Confederation in the first place?” he asked.
“I don’t follow. I’m the Grand Admiral of the Confederation, these are warships captured in a battle with our enemies,” I said.
“Yes but are we even being paid? It’s not like they’ve promised to reimburse us or anything. Why I sent in a requisition for them to cover the costs of the trillium we used in the last war with the Reclamation Fleet and it bounced back to me as denied,” Spalding said reasonably.
“Uh… because it’s the right thing I guess,” I said lamely.
“Then forget being paid. Will they thank us for a job well done or spit in our eye for not doing it better?” Spalding groused pounding a fist on the table, “I mean if we’re going to do the time then why the blazes not do the crime. Not that it’s even criminal, now, all I’m saying is we refuse to work an honest day’s labor until the promise to reimburse us for the trillium.”
“You know what that’s an even better idea than that one I had originally,” I said slowly. The more I thought about it the better I liked the idea. I mean in truth who knew how long the Elder Spindles would keep working and if and when they broke was the new confederation going to replace them for me?
They’d either pat me on the head and commiserate or more likely laugh at my misfortune.
The more I thought about Spalding’s point the more I found I liked what he was saying.
If the New Confederation asked me nicely and played by the rules, I was more than willing to jump their share of the captured warships over to them. But if they wanted to play hardball they could go and get good and blasted.
Abuse me on the floor of the grand assembly and drag me through the halls would they?
Maybe it played well to the public, putting the boots to the ‘tyrant of cold space’ but as they say everything had its price. Mine was warships. If they wanted to steal my pride and smear my reputation, I could accept that in exchange for oh….something one the order of 200 warships? A lot of them were broken beyond repair and would have to be stripped, broken down for parts and then melted but still…
Snickering on the inside I straightened up.
“Alright move the Spindles into position and post a guard, MSP warships only, and let’s see just how appreciative the Grand Assembly is prepared to be with a battle won,” I said finally.
“Aye aye, Sir. We won’t let you down. In fact I think I’ll have the surviving orbital defenses repositioned. The gun turrets only need to be moved but we can take the time to reload the stealth missile launchers. I don’t think we have enough extra missiles on hand to do a full replacement but as they say every little bit helps,” Spalding said.
“Agreed,” I nodded. We’d just fought and bled for the people of the Spine. Now it was time the new Grand Assembly got its act together and stood up for the people of the spine as the beacon of light, justice and the confederation way we’d all been promised they stood for.
Barring that I was ready to take my new toys with me and go home. Then let’s see how they felt dealing with the more than four hundred old Confederation warships that had retreated from the star system.
The Deposed King