As the GMG space station doomed out of the crow nebula, it became clear to Suzaka in an instant. "The GMG is far more powerful then they are given credit for and far more practical then any other corporation in Kusari."
The station was the main base for all operations of the GMG. Not only did it process most of the raw H-fuel to the requested refinement, it was also the headquarters of the organisation. Just a little outpost when it was first established, it was growing and revisited throughout its history.
The transport landed on the station smoothly. The speed was way too high to be on autopilot, but the pilot clearly knew what he was doing. "Well, no time to lose, lets get started immediately", Suzaka thought. As soon as the docking bay was pressurized she opened the door. Two men were waiting for her.
"Hello, Major Suzaka I presume? I am chairman Toriyoshi. This here is commander Kanwara. He will be your guide in the station, and in the GMG. Anything you need, he will help you with it. But first a tour through the station"
"Thank you, chairman. But I would like to start immediately. Commander, I will need a place to sleep, and a room to work in. It needs at least 4 chairs, and must be able to contain 20 people. I want to see the export to Rheinland over the last 20 years. I also want to see the full weapon inventory, and resources. Can you arrange that for me?"
"uh, yes Major."
"Call me Suzaka from now on, protocol tends to get in our way when we will work in this short time. Now hurry."
As she saw him quickly walk to follow his orders, she looked at his pace. "Fast but firm, seems like a good man." She looked back to the chairman: "Do you have the pilot here; I want to speak to him as soon as possible. And, if it is not too much trouble, can I get something to eat?"
The chairman smiled: "I am glad that the rumours are true. They said you were more of a worker then an officer. I must check in with the latest survey of sigma-19 specimens. The gas looks very promising, but it's an unstable jumphole that leads to there. If this checks out fine, I might convince the board to push for Jumpgate. As for you, take the elevator over there, and go to the level twenty four. That is the recreation and mess deck. I will inform commander Kurohyou to see you there."
As she moved to the elevator, she couldn't help but notice the eyes of the workers that followed her. "They must be suspicious about the navy. Well, can't really blame them. The government never really accepted the GMG as a keiretsu and thus was never really important to Kusari. Strange, cause they monopolize the H-fuel mining. There must be a reason. Why doesn't the government keep a closer eye on this large organisation? I must look into that later."
"Miss, what level do you need?"
She looked up from her thoughts: "Sorry, I was out of it. Level 24"
"F&R level, coming up."
20 seconds later the doors opened again. "Here is your stop. Try the fried eggs; they say it is the best in the Honshu system."
As she entered the hall, it seemed like cantina for everyone. The pilots, workers and all the other residents were eating together at the long tables. As she walked towards one of the food displays, a large man crossed her path and stopped her.
"We don't need Navy here. Not even when they are here to help. We manage here just fine."
The room became a less noisy.
"If you want to work in the next few weeks, it would be wise to remove that hand."
More faces turned to look at them.
"And what would a little girl like you do to me. Call in your precious generals?"
Just a few whispers crossed the room.
"I had something else in mind. But mostly I reserve such things for real men. Now, remove your hand."
"Well, let's dance then little girl"
The man tried to hit her with his left fist, but smacked into nothing but thin air. As he tried to recover from his initial attack, a sharp pain in his entered neck. He suddenly felt very weak and dropped on his knees.
Suzaka removed her foot from his neck. "Maybe you should try to pick some girls from you own size."
"Or Yuji should keep his mind to his work and own wife.", a voice went from behind her. It was the guy from the elevator. "Right, Yuji?"
Sounds were suddenly spreading though the hall again, and here and there credits exchanged from owner.
"Say that to me sooner, little brother." The large man named Yuji stood up. "Wow, woman! Is that the new academy fashion in New Tokyo?"
"No, just some own style", Suzaka replied.
"Meet my brother, Kurohyou Yuji. He is not that bad as he may look at first sight and he is a hell of a mechanic."
Yuji bowed before Suzaka. "Kurohyou Yuji, at your service. And if you excuse me, that mechanic part of me should get his butt 22 decks lower."
As Yuji walked to one of the elevators Suzaka looked at the younger brother. "And you are?"
"I am the man that you are looking for. Commander Kurohyou Ryosuke. Saviour of big brothers and finder of explosive spy drones."
"So, the Rheinlanders are willing to start a conflict with the Kusari." Queen Andrade I of the Bretonian kingdom looked across the table. Colonel Graves of MI6 was sitting at the other end. "Or do they expect that the Kusari government let the GMG down."
"All our agents within Kusari have heard of no troop movement within Kusari. That could indicate two things. It could mean that the Kusari government knows nothing, or that they indeed let the GMG loose their control of Sigma 13. The Rheinland agents must have drawn the same conclusion."
The Queen pressed a button on her panel, and the holoscreen displayed the Sigma-13 system. "How long until they will attack", queen Andrade asked.
"The Rheinlanders are trying to remove all Kusari agents as of last week. We estimate that they will move their fleet within the next 30 hours."
"That fast? And we were thinking that they were building forces to secure the Omega regions against the Corsairs. Well, nothing to be done about that. What do you think will happen?"
Graves looked at hologram. "I think that the Rheinlanders will move with an overwhelming force into the system. The GMG will try to stop them, but will fail in that. The Rheinlanders seem to have this planned for at least 10 years. Even if they will not take control of the system in 48 hours, they will be able to keep it up for more then 6 months. They have been storing a lot of supplies."
"I think you are right", the GMG doesn't stand a chance. "Do the lords know about the situation?"
"They are being informed by my men at this moment."
"Good." Queen Andrade pushed another button, and a man entered the room within seconds. "Summon all lords for a meeting. I want them all here within 6 hours. Make preparations for it too." The man left a quickly as he came in.
"I want you at the meeting too. Go to the housemaster to get decent clothing for it, and report back her in 5 hours. I will contact the Liberty president and get there position in all of this."
"Yes queen." He bowed and walked to the door."
"Colonel?" He stopped his movement and looked at the queen. "What if the Kusari knows about it, and they will lead them into a trap?" "Then the Rheinlanders will need far more supplies then they have stored I guess."
Marlene Schwanbeck looked at her ship. One of the new cruisers, secretly created in the Dresden system. It had the newest guns and missile racks. And, on top of that, it had a command bridge to control a fleet. "Can you fly around it before we land on her?" she asked the pilot. As the pilot moved around the cruiser, she looked.
"A second command bridge on the fleet", went through her head. "The Chancellor will control one and I will command the other. But at the end only I will command the fleet. With the destruction of his battleship, the fleet must still be commanded to destroy the GMG. And my dear Brother in Berlin will immediately take the seat of power."
"Ok, you can land now".
The pilot carefully executed the landing manoeuvre. He slowly placed the transport in a good position and contacted the cruisers flight control to take it from there.
As the ship steadily landed, Marlene moved to the door: "take my bags to my room as soon as possible, soldier."
As the door opened, she heard the attention signal. All men immediately jumped into position.
A man moved toward her. "Colonel Schwanbeck, I am captain Schwarz. I hereby transfer control to you, sir. As I understood I will be your second from now on."
"you are right, commander Schwarz. We will leave within 30 hours. I heard you have had command training?"
"Yes sir, I have attended the same class as your brother."
"That's why I asked you as my second. There are a few private things I want to discuss with you. I want you to come to my quarters at 2100. Understood?"
"Ok, carry on with your duties." Marlene looked as he walked toward the stairs. "A fine person, but with one weakness," she thought: "He has not had a woman since he came here 4 months ago. That will be the bargain chip. At least he looks alright."
"An increase of 46 highly refined fuel to Rheinland in the last 9 years, and you do not think it is strange?" Suzaka looked at Toriyoshi. She was still in the mess hall. Kanwara gave all the info and stuff she wanted while she was still busy with her dinner. Now, three hours later she had not toughed it since. Commander Kurohyou was called away for another patrol, this time in the nearby crow nebula. After a while chairman Toriyoshi came to look how she was doing, and found an angry Major.
"No need to get hard, miss Suzaka. Do not forget that the Empire sent you as an advisor." Suzaka quickly calmed herself. "I will let you in into a little secret. In the last 6 days, our agents in Rheinland are being hunted as hell. In the same time we find a spy drone in your precious sigma 13, and now we find that Rheinland has been stockpiling enough fuel to remain independent for the next year. And you do not think that is strange? My best estimation is that they will invade sigma 13 in 26 hours and with an overwhelming force. We know there military has consumed about 27 of there total income last year. Now you know what is aimed at the GMG. Luckily, the Kusari government would hate to see Rheinland so close to our borders. Sigma 13 is only 1 jump away from this system. And we also do not wish to see any other house producing H-fuel. That would ruin our economy. But we also know that Kusari cannot go to an open war with the Rheinlanders. So, there we are. If you have any idea's, now is the time."
Toriyoshi was silent, and looked a bit pale now. For at least ten seconds it was quite on the table. He grasped his communicator: "Ops, I want the board in 30 minutes in the conference room. I also want the leaders of Samura Industries and Kishiro on the line, before that time. Give them the following message: Tasogare. Also, scrap all flights to any other system then 13. To 13 I want only patrols, double strength. Retreat the gas miners stationed there" He looked at Suzaka: "If what you say is true, we will need all the help we can get and all ships we have, and even that might not be enough. Can you get all the data organised and ready to be presented before the board meeting starts? Kanwara, help her with that. I will set the great lobby machine in work." He immediately walked to one of the elevators.
As Suzaka looked at the pads before her, Kanwara saw the face of her. "Miss Suzaka, please let us go to your work room. We can get the presentation ready, and in the meanwhile get you into shape for the meeting. Though the GMG is more liberal then other companies and the chairman is one of the more liberal amongst the board, there are a lot conservative minds in the higher places."
Suzaka replied: "With old fashioned thinking about women."
The gas miner Sakura was one of the oldest ones in the Guilds possession. Though the ship was a larger then most miners, its cargo hold was on the smaller side. This was mainly because the first miners were not fitted with shields, and thus needed a strong armoured hull. Shields were later installed, but the armour remained, making it ideal for deeper mining in more hostile environment. And so it did, now doing its third run in sigma 13 this year, it was harvesting H-fuel the on the edge of the gravity dead zone between the two stars. It was a more dangerous place, and without strong shielding and armour the ship could be torn apart. That would also be the case if they were going too far in the dead zone or if they would come to close to one of stars. In the latter case they would sink into the star. But the rewards of this place were high. The warmth of the sun's, in combination with the gravity of them, and the dead zone between it, created fuel pockets that were far richer then the average pocket. "Commander, we have an urgent transmission from Aomori ."
Commander Kaori Hanto walked to the screen near the processor.
"Put it through", she replied to the voice. The screen displayed a single word:
She switched off the screen, looked at the heavy mining equipment in the processing area, and shouted a few curses. "Nothing on this damn trip works properly. First the accident that killed 4 men and injured the captain, now we have to get back home with a half cargo." She pushed a few buttons and got the medical bay on the line. "Doc, when the captain wakes up, tell him we are on our way home."
The refining foreman walked toward her. "That wasn't a retreat message was it?"
"It was", Kaori replied, "Finish things up, I will go to the bridge and hope I can get this thing out of the zone."
While she walked to the stairs to climb four decks to the bridge, she could hear the foreman shout: "Ok, maggots, we are going home. Now get that last fuel in and out of the way. It is going to be a bumpy ride."
When she arrived on the bridge, they all looked at her. They were still not used to be commanded by a woman. But when the captain was down, she was next in line. " Aomori just called. We are to go back to the Kusari immediately. Notify all stations to secure the load. Helm, plot a course and get this ship home. We are to use the jumpgate to Honshu . The tide and currents aren't favourable at the moment, so prepare for a hell of a ride out of here."