Chapter 8: The Secret of Delta Four
The Alliance ships quickly noticed that there was a large contingent of ABH ships behind them. They were chasing the Filcauph but they themselves was being chased by the bulk of the first devastator squadron. The Filcauph had a large gap between it and the Alliance vessels because it took that fleet by surprised when it exited the sord. Now in a display of bravery (or utter foolishness), Ekuryua ordered "Adrian, turn the ship one hundred eighty degrees about and head back towards the squadron!"
The initial shock was evident in the faces of the bridge. " Gunomuboshu, fire as we turn!"
The ship turned suddenly surprising the Alliance vessels as well as the First Devastator squadron. Quickly Spad deduced what Ekuryua wanted to do and ordered all ships to fire upon the enemy.
What shocked the front line Alliance ships commander's was the recklessness that the Filcauph approached them. Ekuryua had trained Adrian well. Too well, if you ask members of the ship, some of whom were now grabbing strategically placed bags and depositing evidence of their breakfast.
The shots that Gunomuboshu fired was able to destroy one more ship and damage four additional ships. Adrian was maneuvering the ship in between the Alliance ships. Making it impossible for them to target the Filcauph without risking hitting their own ships.
The First Devastator squadron had fired their initial shots but now was concentrating on the Alliance ships that were on the flanks of the formation. Once the Filcauph exited the melee, then all ships of the squadron fired. Effectively. Within an hour, the fight was over. Out of the thirty ships that were originally at the sord gate, nineteen remained.
Kilo-Commander Spad was pleased. Ten Alliance ships destroyed and the rest captured. Now what to do with the prisoners.
During the battle Admiral Milan, of the UMK Third Fleet, had watch the events as they unfolded. Immediately he sent three cruisers and two squadrons of destroyers to the sord gate. He knew that it would take almost six hours for them to arrive. The battle would certainly be over but perhaps the ABHs would be defeated.
Notifying the Doctor Flair about the situation, he received an annoying response.
"You can take care of twenty four ships Admiral. I do not see any threat to this facility."
"If these ships are here, doctor, there will be a larger fleet right behind it. My supplies are getting low and no transports have arrived. I need to get you out of this system!"
"Only when we are ready Admiral" and with that the communication ends.
The admiral just thought 'maybe I should consider taking drugs.'
Commander Spad had identified the large Alliance fleet orbiting Vega Four. They were too many ships to deal with and now a large contingent of about fifty ships were heading their way. Now would be a good time to leave.
'Communications Officer" Spad called.
"Yes sir" responded the Front Flyer Boland. A lander from the Vorash system, he had spent ten years in the Labule and was a very competent communication officer. He had short wavy sandy hair with grey eyes. He did turn a couple of heads when he walked through the halls of the flagship, Basauph. Even Commander Spad had to mentally spank herself when her eyes followed him and his nice as... WOP...'I have to concentrate' she thought...again.
She again shook her head to get rid of certain thoughts and then ordered "get me communication with the lead Alliance ship with a translator."
"Um...yes sir" came the response and he started to work on the process.
Soon everything was set up. Spad stood in the middle of the bridge looking at the commander of the Alliance squadron. Or what was left of that squadron. With an automatic translator active, there was that uncomfortable delay between conversations while the translator did it's work.
"Commander, you are our prisoners" started Spad "as you can tell your commander has sent some ships here to either fight us and/or rescue you."
"You will not be in a position to resist them ABH" said the UMK commander and trying to insult Spad. She did not decide to play that game.
"I will give you a choice" started Spad "you can move all of your crewmen aboard shuttles and head back to your own fleet and then I will destroy your ships or..." pausing for a few moments for effect "I can destroy your ships now with all of your crew aboard them!"
"Not much of a choice" responded the UMK squadron commander.
"What is your answer?" Spad asks and then there was a long pause as choices were being thought over, as if the choice wasn't obvious.
The UMK commander came back with his answer "We will evacuate our ships immediately"
"Very well" responded Spad "notify us as soon as everyone has departed." With that communication between the two fleets ended.
Thirty minutes later, shuttles from the Alliance ships were departing. They headed off towards the approaching ships sent by Admiral Milan. Once they were far away, Kilo-Commander Spad ordered the destruction of the Alliance ships. Then turned around and headed back to Sord 865 to reunite with the Futune.
Admiral Milan witnessed the unfolding events and that unending feeling of dread overshadowed him.
"What has you worried Admiral?" asked his chief-of-staff Hanson.
"Make a list" replied Milan "First we have been sitting here for almost three weeks and the transports are still missing. We just lost thirty ships and the ABH are leaving the system and god knows what will be returning. We have one thousand crew members that have to be disbursed among this fleet. We have not had a supply ship in over forty days and we are running low on food ,fuel and weapons."
Giving a big sigh "we also have to deal with a bunch of idiots on Delta Four and I just want to leave here. I swear if an ABH fleet pops out of that sord, we are out of here. Damn those doctors!"
"Yes sir" was the only response that Hanson could come up with.
The normal life aboard an ABH warship tended to be long periods of tedium interspersed with moments of terror. It was the tedium that the scouting fleet Futune was dealing with. They were in "number one duty condition". This meant that while traveling through the sord to the Delta system, there were only three full time crewmembers on the bridge. The pilot, a communications officer and either the ship's commander (Amanage) or sub-commander. In the case of the Heirbyrsh, Admiral Abriel or Kilo-Commander Lynn would also be on the bridge. Otherwise there would be the normal duties and paperwork that each one would have to do.
For Lafiel and Jinto, this involved setting up plans for the various scenarios that they may encounter when they exit the sord. With their relationship somewhat out in the open, they now spent their meals together at the ships cafeteria. The crew became accustomed to seeing an Abriel princess and a noble lander being very "friendly" with each other. Yet most of the time they spent talking fleet operations and contingencies.
Mainly it was just waiting...waiting...waiting...
On the fleet's fifth day in the sord, Lafiel and Jinto were in Lafiel's quarters going over more plans and contingencies. It was almost to the point of just doing this work to keep busy. Jinto's Kreuno vibrated and he answered.
"Yes, Kilo-Commander Lynn here."
"Commander this is Amanage, we are getting communications from the Basauph."
"Thank you Amanage, we will be right up." Then he looked at Lafiel and said "Finally."
"Yes indeed" was her only response as they left to the bridge.
It only took Commander Spad thirty minutes to review the events at the Delta system. It elicited from Lafiel a simple "Very well done and thank you".
Jinto spent the time in his seat on the bridge. After the conversation, he rose and walking around his chair, leaned against the armrest. Lafiel just turned her command chair to face Jinto and started "Well we know a little bit more but not enough to go in guns a blazing. As you have said several times."
With a little chuckle he answered "I know what you mean, they do have a larger fleet than we do. Although I find it odd that they are just sitting around Delta Four. Last I heard they had some type of research facility there."
"It is an out-of-the-way place" said Lafiel "not close to anything that they can use for support. Spad did mention that she did not see any supply ships. What are they doing there?"
"That also has me confused. Usually Alliance fleets keep their supply ships close by. Almost like a security blanket. I wonder if they have not been re-supplied recently."
"We still have another day and a half until we reach the system. I wonder..." Lafiel then stopped and seemed to be deeply thinking. Jinto knew enough not to interrupt until she was done. However, he could tell that an idea had formed and he would be notified of it soon.
"Jinto, can we send a communication shuttle towards the system and let them try to gather any further information?"
"Well we could do that Lafiel. It would small enough that the Alliance fleet might not notice them. Then they could re-enter plane space about an hour before our fleet arrives."
"Better yet" Lafiel added "the Futune will not exit through the sord gate until we hear back from the shuttle. However, if we do not hear anything from the shuttle within forty-eight hours from now, we will engage whatever enemy forces there that exist."
"OK Lafiel, let me get that started now."
Without delay, Jinto had a communication shuttle sent out to get the information before they would meet the Alliance fleet.
"Captain!", the PPF general addressed his subordinate "At ease and I want an update on the Delta system!"
As the captain relaxed, he started his report "Admiral Milan continues to asks Space Command about the status of the transports and Space Command keeps responding as before. Doctor Flair has reported that they are continuing to make significant progress in Project Blue. Supplies are very limited there. A small battle occurred at Sord 865 and Space Command lost thirty ships. There is a suspicion that an ABH fleet is approaching the area."
The general leaned back in his chair and thought for a while. Then "you have read the reports from Doctor Flair." There was a nod from the captain. "Do you think his group can accomplish the tasks?"
"General" the captain replied "I think this was a waste of time and money." The general's eyebrows arched up in surprise. "The doctor keeps sending the same report each time. ABHs will be ABHs. There is nothing we can do to change that, no matter what that doctor states. There is only one way to deal with ABHs!"
The general sighed "I agree and what is the status of the Megiddo squadron."
"Already deployed and ready to exit Sord 866."
"Very well" the general picked up a document and handed to the captain "here are the orders for the squadron, see that they are executed!"
"Yes sir" the captain responded and turned to exit the office.
The communication shuttle from the Futune exited Sord 865 twenty four hours after it departed the fleet. It had ten hours to survey the system and get back to the fleet. What it did find shocked the two man crew.
A message was received by the Megiddo squadron and they proceeded to exit Sord 866. The three ships that formed the squadron were once transport ships of UMK's Space Command. They now belonged to the UMK PPF (A/N: I used to work in Washington DC where there was an orgy of acronyms..it looks like I was infected with that tendancy as well) and were reclassified as Special Operations Vessels (SOV).
As the squadron exited the sord, Admiral Milan breathed a sigh of relief. Finally he could evacuate the occupants of Delta Four and go home. The squadron began to orbit the planet and exchanged pleasantries with the Admiral and his Chief-of-Staff Hanson.
As the doors to the SOV's cargo bays opened, to release the shuttles, there were several simultaneous explosions among the Third Fleet. The heavy cruisers were all hit. The admiral's flagship suffered devastating hits. It became a floating derelict in space. The attack was coming from the three SOVs. The PPF had converted them to armored warships bristling with lasers and EM cannons. They hit the Third Fleet with impunity. Caught completely by surprise and with the SOVs in the mist of the fleet it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Hard not to miss striking a target.
The communication shuttle was recording the everything it found in the system. They witnessed the initial attach on the Third Fleet and continuing devastation that was occurring. They were at a loss to why UMK ships were firing on each other. They stayed five hours in the system, never venturing far from the sord gate. The saving grace for the shuttle was that, with all of the confusion occurring no one noticed this one little shuttle. When they were ready to leave, there were only a handful of Third Fleet ships remaining. Several had escaped through Sord 866 trying to return to Space Command. Those that remained in the system were trying to regroup to battle these SOVs
The Futune was one hour away from exiting plane space when the communications shuttle approached it as fast as it could. Once within range, they transmitted all of the information they had to the Heirbyrsh. To say that Lafiel and Jinto were shocked and confused would be an understatement.
"I don't know what to say Lafiel. This is beyond anything I have ever experienced." All Jinto could do was scratch and shake his head.
"Neither do I" replied Lafiel "however, this is an opportunity that we cannot waste no matter what the United Mankind does."
"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth as Samson would always say. Right."
"Right, Jinto. Let plan it this way. As soon as we exit plane space we will head directly towards Delta Four. Divide the cruiser squadrons to attack those large ships that were doing most of the damage. Assign the assault squadrons to handle any of the other UMK ships we come upon. Leave our supply ships at the sord gate and let them wait for our signal to proceed. " She turned to look at Jinto "I believe this may turn out well for us."
"Yes admiral" he said with a smirk. They were rarely formal with each other on the Heirbyrsh and the ship's crew had grown accustomed to that. "I will issue the orders now but we will have to review it as soon as we pass the sord gate. Who knows what we will find."
"Correct Kilo-Commander" and a low groan was heard from some on the bridge.
Within an hour the Futune exited Sord 865.
The statement from the tactical officer onboard the Heirbyrsh said it all "The three warships have been located. One is in orbit of Delta Four. The remaining two are pursuing United Mankind attack-type vessels. There appears to be thirty remaining attack vessels. "
"Anything else?" asks Lafiel.
"We have evidence that several large shuttles are descending towards Delta Four. They are loaded with life signs."
"Troops?" asked Jinto.
"Unable to tell Kilo-Commander" replied the officer
"Thanks" Jinto said as he went to reset the attack plan that he and Lafiel had worked on. Jinto organized two forces of three cruisers and two attack squadrons and each headed for a SOV. The Heirbyrsh, two cruisers, one attack squadron and two assault squadrons headed for the one orbiting Delta Four. The remaining four assault squadron stayed and protected the supply ships. It did not take long for the SOVs to realize that the Futune was about to pounce on them and this time the element of surprise did not exist. They slowly changed their strategy and headed towards the gate for sord 866.
The Delta system has two sord gates, 865 and 866. Sord Gate 865 came directly from the Signus system and was position just outside of the orbit of the tenth planet in the Delta system. Sord Gate 866 led directly towards the territory of the United Mankind and was relatively close to the orbit of Delta Four. It was a small sord that would normally allow ships two abreast to travel through, it was especially tight if a large supply ship was travelling through.
As soon as the SOVs broke off their attack and retreated to the sord gate, the UMK ships under attack had time to regroup. Their commanders were puzzled. It seemed that the ABH were ignoring them and just attacking the three large ships. They had a chance to attack the ABH supply ships but they decided to hold off and wait to see what would happen.
"All ships attack and crowd them" was the order issued by Lafiel. There was a constant barrage of EM shots and laser firings upon the SOVs. Since these members of the PPF were not formally trained at Space Command, their actions were uncoordinated and slow and sloppy. Under attack by an untrained fleet, they suffered numerous hits without significantly affection any ships in the Futune.
It came to a head when one of the SOVs was maneuvering too close to the sord gate. The gravitational pull of the sord gate was drawing them into plane-space and they had not activated their space-time bubble. As the ship started to cross the event horizon, it imploded. A ship cannot enter a sord without its space-time bubble activated.
The results of the explosion caused the ships of the Futune to concentrate their efforts on the two remaining SOVs. "Cruisers 7,8 and 9 disengage" came the order from Jinto "secure the UMK ships to our rear but do not engage!".
Jinto, ensure their attack squadrons meet up with the supply ships and have them meet us at Delta Four" was the follow-up order from Lafiel.
"No problem" was the short response.
With the increasing pressure on the SOVs, they made the decision to activate their space-time bubbles and exit the system. A bad decision made by inexperience commanders. As soon as they activated their space-time bubbles and turned to enter the sord, they were defenseless. The Futune took the opportunity to fire everything they had at the rear of these ships. Needless to say, both ships ended up with destroyed space-time bubbles as well as damage to their engines. Their momentum (and gravitational pull) carried them into the event horizon of the sord gate and they met the same fate as the first SOV.
Suddenly the battle was over and Lafiel now had thirty UMK warships.
"Communications officer" Lafiel started
"Yes Admiral" came the response from now smiling ABH officer.
"Discover who is in charge of the UMK ships and setup a conference with that person."
"Yes ma'am" and the officer quickly went to work.
Dinner at the Trammel household was unique for this one evening. Daniel Trammel, Secretary of Internal Security, was having a rare dinner with his family and not working late. Well this was a working dinner since it involved talking with his daughter Stacey. In a modest apartment in an upscale portion of Grandon City, the capital of Martine and its only major metropolis, the Trammel family sat down for dinner. Daniel was a sports star in school but was academically mediocre. After a short stint with the police force, he became friends with Jonathan Coleman, who would eventually become Interior Minister and Daniel progressed as his friend did. They were fervent anti-ABH individuals. When the UMK occupied Martine, they were some of the few that did not spend any time in their "democracy schools". Ellen Trammel was a former beauty pageant winner and one of the smartest students at the university of Martine, who stopped her desire to be a genetic biologist to begin and raise a family. Now that Stacey was at the university and her son Vincent was about to finish high school, she wanted to return.
For now they were a picture perfect family, until Daniel decided to open his mouth.
"Stacey" he started and Stacey stopped with a fork full of meatloaf midway between the plate and her mouth "you do know most communication between the planet and the Fuel Depot (he always had refused to call it the Hyde Depot) are monitored and reviewed."
"Yeah I know" she said bit of bitterness in her voice "I sometimes wonder why we cannot be trusted."
"Stacey we do not read these messages just keep track who is in touch with the depot on a regular basis."
"I wonder if that is really true." Ellen joined the conversation and Vincent sat quietly knowing the fireworks could start anytime soon.
"Yeah...yeah...I know. Make sure that the evil ABH are kept away". The sarcasm in Stacey's voice could not be more apparent. "So dad, what is this about?"
"Well do you know that your friend Mary Donnow received a large message from the depot and the only thing we found out about it is that it was sent from the ABH capital."
"Sure I know about it." she replied causing a look of surprise on the faces of her parents "it was from Becky and she told us of her trip to the capital and everyone she met. Really some interesting stuff."
"That is the problem Stacey. Everyone treats it like it's no big deal until the time that the ABH come and take control of the planet. It will be too late then."
"Oh that is a lot of bull dad. No one that I know of is afraid of the ABH. Your generation is afraid of them. I remember the stories that Mom use to tell us about the United Mankind occupation. Now that was scary."
Daniel just gave a sideway glance at his wife. "You know it true dear" Ellen responded to his facial expression "we were lucky because of Jonathan but I know of too many friends that ended up in one of their schools. A couple were never the same afterwards. The United Mankind lost my support back then."
"But we were not under the thumb of a Nobleman that was forced on us."
"Don't give me that Daniel, what did Rock Lynn do that was so bad! He got himself made a Count and ruler of this planet. Hell he probably would have been elected president for as long as he ran. He was just that good of a politician. Head and shoulders above what we have now...and that includes Teal."
"Ellen, talk like that could get us in trouble."
"Great dad" Vincent finally decided to add his opinion "what happen to freedom of expression, the natural rights of men and women. The fight against the oppressive..."
The sound was made as Stacey's forehead hit the table "my brother the angry young radical!" and then she started to laugh. In which everyone, even Vincent, joined in. "Wait a minute dad, let me get something." Stacey left the table to get some papers from her room. Returning, she sat down and started "This is the treasonous letter that Mary got from Becky" as she handed her father the message as well as the pictures "Mary gave each of us a copy so we could read it ourselves." As her father began to read the letter from Rebecca, Stacey took the pictures and started to explain them to her mother and brother.
"That is a lovely group of people there" started her mother "the ABHs look very attractive. Who is this one in the middle."
"That is Count Hyde or Jinto as Becky calls him. The one next to him is his girl friend. She is also an admiral and he is her chief-of-staff"
"That is Rock's son! He has grown up now and really has made a name for himself." Daniel now looked at the picture and stunned into silence.
"Oh mom, his girl friend happens to be the granddaughter of the empress."
Daniel suddenly grabbed the pictures and looked at them carefully. "This is a complication. Stacey can I take these with me?"
She nodded and asked "Sure why?"
"Because I need to have a meeting with President Clint and the cabinet. If the Count is that close to the throne then we may be forced to change our relationship with the empire and the count." Standing up "excuse me now. I have to make a couple of calls." With that Daniel Trammel left to his home office.
As the kids were cleaning up the table and kitchen, Stacey turned to his brother "Vinnie you pervert, Gina told me about your date last weekend."
Blushing a bit "Oh...that...I am really sorry about that and I tried my best to apologize to Gina. I guess I have to say I'm sorry again."
With a bit of a smirk "Oh...Gina does not want another apology." Vinnie just stopped and stared. "She wants to you to ask her out on another date! Don't worry she is just as bad as you are my dear perverted...politically radical brother," With that they both laughed and continued their work.
"Admiral" came the call from the Heirbyrsh communications officer "I have a captain of one of the UMK ship ready. Universal translator has been activated."
"Thank you" as Lafiel was brought out of a trance-like condition. Thinking about what her options are. Suddenly the face of the UK captain was projected on the forward screen.
"Well he is not bad looking." mumbled Deca-Commander Nelson. A lander who is now the Supply Officer for the fleet, she looked at the Captain not as an opponent but as another human.
" I am Captain Aboa of the United Mankind Third fleet." He gave the standard UMK salute.
Lafiel replied "I am Admiral Abriel of the ABH scouting fleet Futune. I do find this situation somewhat confusing. I did not expect UMK ships to be firing on each other."
"Well I am just as confused. Those three ships belong to the Peace Preservation Force of the United Mankind. Space command does not have any control over them. I am not sure why we were targeted." Lafiel and Jinto slightly shook at the mention of the PPF. They remember a certain lunatic Lieutenant Kyte chasing them around Clasbul.
"Now you are our prisoners. So we will have to arrange how to handle your people. Can you give me a count of how many crew members you have and their status."
"Admiral, we have about two thousand scattered among the thirty ships. About one hundred are wounded, ten severely. We are also low on food. We haven't had a supply run in over a week."
Lafiel looked over to Jinto and her eyes was asking him the unspoken questions. He stood up and made his way next to the command chair, where he could be viewed.
"Captain Aboa, I am Kilo-Commander Lynn the Admiral's Chief-of-Staff. " there was a nod from Aboa confirming a silent greeting "We can have a couple of shuttles supply you with some basic food stuffs immediately. One of our supply ships can be reconfigured so that it will support over two thousand and then all of you will be transported back into ABH territory. Deca Commander Nelson" pointing at the fleet supply officer "will organize everything with you."
"Thank you sir...and Admiral. Do I have permission to sent a combat report back to my superiors?"
Lafiel then answered "You have permission but I need to view it before it is sent. I believe you will understand."
"Yes Admiral." The conversation ended as the Futune left a couple of cruisers and assault ships to guard the UMK ships and the rest went to orbit Delta Four.
Without warning, a group of ship exited Sord 865. It was immediately picked up by the Heirbyrsh.
"Commander Lynn" Communications officer Matoko announced "the troop transport ship Darkses and six assault ships has just exited Sord 865. Hecto-Commander Sato wishes to speak with you."
"It's getting crowded out here. OK put Sato on." Jinto told Matoko.
As soon as the video conference was set up "Hecto-Commander Sato, I am Kilo-Commander Lynn and this" pointing to the command chair "is Admiral Abriel. We are surprised to see you here."
"Commander, Admiral" as Sato gives a respectful bow "I was sent here by Admiral Spoor." Lafiel and Jinto quickly look at each other and give a quick smirk. "The Darkses is transporting two thousand ground troops of the Third Expeditionary Corps to their forward base and Admiral Spoor thought you might need us at Delta Four. If not then we can continue on our way."
"Your timing could not have been better Commander" Lafiel responded "there are United Mankind troops on the planet however we do not know the number or their intentions."
Jinto then jumps in "We have unverified information that five shuttles of Peace Preservations Force troops landed on the planet. That means as much as One hundred and fifty soldiers are on the ground."
Then suddenly another voice "They are mostly thugs and violent reprobates Admiral, Commander. Five hundred of our troops should be able to take care of any problems." Said the voice of the ground commander. A woman with short bright red hair and green eyes. A star tattoo on her right cheek and warm smile directed towards Lafiel and Jinto. She saluted and announced "Deca-Commander Shangal reporting at your pleasure." Lafiel and Jinto returned the salute and the smile.
"It has been a while Lala." said Jinto.
"Yes it has Count, too long." The history of Lala Shangal, Lafiel and Jinto goes back to just after the Operation Hunter. To Lobnas Two and the United Mankind prison planet. When the ABH captured the Lobnas system, Lafiel was assigned the ambassador to that planet and Jinto the assistant ambassador. They soon realized that this was a prison planet for the UMK and it was divided into three sections. One for males only, one for females only and separating the two groups was one for mixed couples but they had to be sterilized. At the behest of Lala, the appointed leader of the women's section, Jinto agreed to have the women prisoners removed and placed elsewhere within the empire. Because of a lack of guards and a revolt of the males, Jinto was captured but the women were saved and Lafiel stayed until all of them were finally off the planet. The one problem was that Jinto remained behind and his fate was unknown until three weeks later when Lafiel found him knocking at death's door. It was the effort that Jinto and Lafiel made to save the women prisoners that Lala would never forget and because of that, she joined the Labule in their ground troop section.
She stood there with a warm smile on her face looking a the two people to whom she owes her life to as well as those one hundred thousand females. "What do you need us to do Admiral?"
Lafiel thought for a moment "Could you send five hundred ground troops to secure the habited area on Delta Four. Capture those United Mankind troops that were sent down there as well. We do not know what else is down there so the fleet cannot just starting shooting at random targets."
"Should be no problem Admiral. We can launch in about an hour and have the planet secure in about four hours. Although if there are PPF troops I will not risk the lives of my troops to capture them. They will either surrender or die."
"That is acceptable to us" replied Jinto. "Who will lead the assault?"
"I will" said Lala with what Jinto could only describe as an evil smile. He knew that for her this was payback time for the time she and her fellow inmates spent on Lobnas.
"Continue Hecto-Commander and we await your report." replied Lafiel "and be careful."
The transmission ended and Lala Shangal prepared her assault team.
Twenty assault transports left the large cargo hold of the Darkses fully loaded with ground forces. In all five hundred troops were making the assault on Delta Four. The assault transport was a larger and an armored version of a standard shuttle. It had the capability to withstand entry through an atmosphere. It could land on terra firma or in the water and float. It was armed with lasers and cannons to force itself into any hostile area. It also carried thirty armed soldiers
The group split into three groups. One group of seven headed straight for a beach area where the concentration of life signs were detected. Ten ships circled to the rear of that same position. One group of three ships followed the first group but at the last moment they accelerated and broke the sound barrier. Causing the PPF troops to put their attention upon where the noise was coming from.
Captain Herrick of the PPF then ordered his men to concentrate their fire upon the group that made the noise. They did not have any detection instruments to notice the ships landing behind them or the seven ships landing in front until it was too late. The ABHs came out firing. The PPF troops were able to hold off the two hundred men in their front. Yet when the three hundred in their rear made themselves know, it became a brawl.
The PPF were know as fanatical fighters. Perhaps not skilled but determined and not willing to be captured. The team under Doctor Flair, which consisted of medical researchers and security, did not want to "fight to the death". Once that group was isolated, they surrendered to the ABH. The fight with the PPF lasted almost five hours until the final twenty were surrounded and became unconscious due to the use of stun grenades.
It took a bit longer than Lala wanted but the results were satisfying.
Now came the job of surveying the area.
Admiral Spoor was about a day away from the Delta system and Lafiel was satisfied that the planet was captured and the system was now under ABH control. Since it was an uninhabited system, she would not be made ambassador. A duty she did not like.
"Admiral Abriel" Communications officer Matoko interrupted Lafiel's train of thought "I have Hecto-Commander Shangal wanting to communicate with you.
"Put her on" replied Lafiel.
"Admiral" Lala gave a salute but had a stern look upon her face "the planet is secure."
"Thank you Commander" replied Jinto for Lafiel. "Anything else to report?"
"Yes sir there is..."she was hesitating and then "Would the Admiral and the Chief-of-Staff be able to come down to the planet on the Darkses? I need to talk to both of you. The Darkses will be departing orbit for landing in about an hour."
Lafiel and Jinto looked a little puzzled at each other before Lafiel said "Is that really neccessary? Could you not tell us now?"
"I am sorry but this needs to be done in person. Please."
Jinto recognize that tone with Lala. It was similar to how she pleaded with him to take the women prisoners off of Lobnas during the prisoner revolt. Jinto turned to Lafiel and gave a facial expression that she had never seen. His head was tilted to the side and his eyebrows were both raised. The seriousness in his expression gave Lafiel his answer.
She look at the projection of Lala and said "we will both be down on the Darkses. "
"Thank you" was all Lala said.
The landing of the Darkses was uneventful. With such a large transport and an experienced crew, these become almost ordinary. The ocean was calm and sky clear. The Darkses had to land several miles away from the shore and then approach it carefully. There was no port available with proper landing facilities.
What bothered Lafiel and Jinto was the request. They knew Lala to be a strong willed and opinionated person. Not one to hold back. That still left the question to why she wanted them on the planet.
Once the Darkses settled near the shore, several small boats started transferring people from the ship to the shore...and vice-versa. Lafiel and Jinto were on the first trip to shore and was met by Lala Shangal. With salutes and acknowledgements out of the way, Lala asked "Please follow me." And up they went from the shoreline to the UMK facility.
The area on Delta Four, where they were, had a temperate climate. An evergreen forest started about three hundred yards from the shore and ran inland for miles. For as long as the UMK controlled this planet, no development was attempted. No one tried to populate the planet unlike what the ABH would attempt with a similar planet in their territory. The only evidence of intrusion on Delta Four was the buildings the PPF made in this one little corner of the planet.
As they approach. Jinto mentioned that it looked unimpressive. It was about three stories tall with a minimum amount of windows, considering it was facing the sea. It looked to be almost one hundred yards wide with one central doorway in the middle of the building. He could tell that this was pre-fabricated because the joints between the sections were noticeable.
"Kilo-Commander, there are living quarters on the top floor." Lala hesitated and then with as much venom as possible said "The other two floor was where they performed ..." and she dropped her head and took a deep breath "their experiments."
They stopped just yards away from entering and Jinto and Lafiel just stared at each other. Jinto asked "What kind of experiments?"
"Let me show you..." they walked through the front doors.
The first rooms were typical for use in surgery. Gurneys with high intensity lights and medical scanners and monitors all around. Cabinets with medicine, bandages and syringes. Then there were the jars. Hundreds of them all empty. One aspect was noticeable in all these rooms they were filthy. Blood soak bandages overflowed the trash cans. Blood splatter was on the floors.
Lala said "I do not want you two to go into these rooms without wearing an environmental suit. My medics feel that it is not safe in any of these rooms. We are fine if we stay in the hallways."
"Lala" Lafiel interrupted "what was happening here."
"Let's go to down the hall and you will understand."
They walked further down and they saw rows and rows of filled jars. The labels were clear enough to be understood, since Lafiel and Jinto learn the language of the UMK. Liver, kidney, stomach, intestine, heart and brain were written on each jar. Next to each label, a colored label with a series of coded letters and numbers. Each of them with a different code. They met a medic assigned to the ground troops. Front Flyer Toshi was the chief medical crew member and was supervising the work being performed in the compound. He was introduced to the Lafiel and Jinto by Lala.
Toshi turned and added "Admiral, Kilo-Commander we found the records to this place. They were experimenting to find a weakness in the ABH. On this floor they used drugs and chemicals to see the effects it would have on the ABH physically." Stopping for a moment then "The color coded labels indicates the results and the code itself refers to a folder in their records. They were looking for a deployable weapon to use against us."
"I never thought anyone would even think of this." Lafiel said as she clench her fists and started to shake. Wanting to strike at something or someone.
"I did" said Jinto and he took her hand in order to try to calm her down "this is from old earth history and there are too many examples of this. You were never taught this because the ABH are too logical and cannot see this being beneficial. Landers, those who learn to fear and hate, can easily be convinced to do this." Lafiel could see a tear forming as he was fighting against the emotion.
Toshi continued "Some of the victims died due to the type of experiment and they removed the organ and placed it in these jars. Some, we found out, did not die quickly so the staff pushed the process along."
"How?" asked Lafiel.
"Laser pistols" replied Toshi as he look down. Taking a deep breath "it was not only ABHs that this was done to." Which caused a questioning look of their faces. "It was done to Landers as well."
Lala added "These were prisoners from the war. Both ABH and Landers. They needed Landers as a..."
"Control" Toshi added when Lala had a problem saying the correct word. "You need a control element or baseline to compare your results against. That was what the Landers were used for."
The quiet was broken when several containers were taken out of the building.
"Those are all the files and paperwork that we found here." said Lala "They were very sloppy and failed to destroy most of their files and computer information. All of this should be transported back to the capital."
"Then there is the second floor" added Toshi "That is where the genetic experiments occurred."
"It just gets worst" was all Jinto could say as the group climbed the stairs to the second floor.
The rooms on the second floor were cleaner, if anyone could say something good about this place. Each room was outfitted in a similar way to the first floor. Instead there were no jars but a whole different set of medical equipment. DNA testing machines , centrifuges, gene testers, incubators and a whole lot of others that cannot be listed.
Toshi said "I wish I knew what they were trying to accomplish here. It looked like they were trying to get the genetic makeup of us ABHs but there is no way that is possible considering what we do at birth. Maybe a weakness...maybe a weapon...I do not know ...maybe they were trying to find a way to change us."
"Change us?" asked Lafiel.
"Yes...change us to be like Landers. " There was surprise on the faces on Lala and Lafiel. Jinto looked more like he was in deep thought. After all he had accepted the procedure to make him more of an ABH. Did that make him any better than these people. Were the ABH any different?
Lafiel saw the emotions on his face and without asking she came up close to him. Her mouth close to his ear while she was holding tightly on his arm saying "remember you were asked if you wanted this done. You were not forced nor will anyone else be. It is offered to a special few. The lander part of you, that part that makes you special to me, is always there. Some aspects of the ABH were added to you it did not replace what or who you are." They looked at each other for a while and shared a brief kiss. Causing Lala to smile and Toshi to quickly turn his head.
"The medial facility at Lakfakalle" continued Toshi "will have to figure this all out." Once we get the records and the United Mankind medical people back home this can be sorted."
Lala added "then punishment will be left up to the empress." There was a moment of quiet before Lala continued "I have one more thing to show you outside."
As they walked out of the building, the prisoners were seated in a quickly erected compound. Each were shackled and being prepared to be transported out. Lafiel was close to giving them the feared ABH smile when Jinto squeezed his hand over hers and they continued.
They headed off to a rise on a hill behind the building. It would be in error to call it a medical building since all the effort there could be classified as evil. Yet once the four, Lafiel, Jinto, Lala and Toshi reached the top they saw an enclose compound. It was large. Within the wired fencing there were fifty rectangular buildings. Each made from wood or some wood products. Unpainted and with windows without glass. There appeared to also be small structure where the toilets were located.
Jinto started with "I guess this is a prisoner camp."
Lafiel added "The empire would never house any prisoner in something this deplorable."
"Well Admiral, Commander" added Toshi "this is where they kept the people they needed for their experiments up there." He pointed to the building.
"This camp" Lala said "was able to handle almost two thousand prisoners. We only rescued twenty five."
Jinto stopped and asked "Lala?"
"Over there" as she pointed "behind that large building on the right."
There was a large building on the right of the compound made of brick and having four large chimneys. Looking at the soot at the top, well used chimneys. They started walking towards the compound with the exception of Jinto. He stood frozen in place.
Lafiel turned around and asked "Jinto are you coming?"
"Lafiel, I know what is down there. The missing prisoners are behind that building. Right Lala." Lala Shangal nodded her head. "There is also evidence of those missing prisoners in that building. Right Toshi. " He also nodded his head. With his voice cracking "The evidence is inside furnaces within that building. Right!" Again they both nodded. The look on Lafiel's face harden with each statement that Jinto made. She also realized what was there but had to see it for herself.
"Jinto, please help me with this." was all she asked as she held out her hand. Jinto held on to it tight as they proceeded down the hill and went behind that building. It was a slow walk, not wanting to see the inevitable. Lala and Toshi stayed back almost as if not wanting to relive that moment again. The brick building was almost one hundred feet long and they were approaching it from the long side that faced the opening in the fence. They saw two large doors at either end. Large enough for a tracked vehicle to enter. It was when they turned the corner that both stopped and witnessed the true evil that existed on this planet.
They were stacked like wood.
They could see two rows of bodies laid one on top of another. Approximately ten feet high. If you looked closely, as Jinto did, you could see that this was a pit and the bottom was an unknown depth. So the total number of victims could almost double. The bodies were tossed onto this pile as if you had thrown out the garbage. Limbs were extended in a haphazard arrangement. Some were still dressed in their uniforms and the others in rags that might have been a uniform at one time. Lafiel and Jinto both noticed that there were ABHs and Landers in this pile. They served together, they suffered together, they died together and they were going to be disposed together.
They stood there watching and trying to make any sense of the scene. Jinto knew how a thing like this can occur but never thought he would see the day with his own eyes. 'Why?' was the question running through his head and 'what were these people thinking?' as he was looking back at the imprisoned doctors and medical staff. Only once in his life did he ever see such hatred manifest itself and that was on Clasbul with Lieutenant Kyte. He would have killed Lafiel and himself with no hesitation. Even in the various battles there was never evidence of such brutality. All of this kept circling through his mind.
In the end, he finally broke down. Releasing Lafiel's hand, his knees slammed to the ground. His hands balled up into two fists as he pounded his right repeatedly in the dirt and shouting as loud as he could
"DAMN you. DAMN you all to hell!".
A/N: ok this was a direction I was planning on. A bit dark. Maybe because I am a history major and that I felt the UMK, in the original light novel, was not portrayed in a good light, I went down this route. So now you know where the UMK stands with me. This concept will finish up in the next chapter but might be mentioned later on.
also, guess which popular movie did the last line come from?