13: The Line
by chaos_eternus

Part of the Dawn of Thunder / Thundersdawn series
I do not own nor do I claim ownership of characters and / or concepts that are not original to me.


There wasn't a day that went by that Peters didn't contemplate retiring and allowing the burden of her command to fall upon another. It was hard, thankfully she was no longer directly responsible for the Command of Thundersdawn herself, that task now belonged to another, but that had never been her only responsibility.

She commanded Earth's defences, not just the build up and allocation of resources but actively in the event of a naval assault on the homeworld. She sat upon the Earth Defence committee, the Ship Construction and Allocation committee, a thousand and one other committees and other duties.

And she was Third in command of the Tau'ri Star Service, or as some were starting unofficially to call it, Earthforce.

In many ways, the responsibility for much of what happened to Earth lay with her. She commanded the space based defences; as such she was responsible for their failures and breeches. The commanding officer was always responsible in a way, even when there wasn't much she or he could do.

Still, their failures did ignite a response from Earth and now she had more tools with which to defend her world and had more on the way but it didn't stop the one simplest and most important dread in her heart.

What if I should fail again?

How many millions more must die simply because I was not fast enough, not decisive enough or merely wrong?

A commanding officers worries, she was sure she could mention a few figures who would more then sympathise, Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding for one.

A enemy too strong to defeat without luck on your side, too few resources and no real failback position. If the enemy managed to obtain a foothold, then only a small proportion of the population, not even a fraction of a percentage point could be taken to safety. The rest would have no choice but to fight and die or to live under a dictator's control.

No, she was pretty sure Dowding would sympathise.


If not her, who else? Who would she trust with this duty, this burden? Could she live with knowing another was doing this task, worrying that she could be doping it better, that something was being missed?

No, she couldn't.

It would be easier in many ways if she could just walk away. Certainly it would get the medics of her back, her blood pressure was fine, her heart, exactly where it belonged.

Worry-warts all of them.

Frankly, it wasn't her heart they should be worrying about, it was Thompsons! Having to deal with politicians' everyday instead of just most days, well, it didn't take a genius to figure his blood pressure was much higher then hers, mainly from having to restrain the urge to shoot the lot of 'em if she was any judge.

Still, Earth's defences were stronger then they had ever been before, more and more Firebird defensive platforms were being launched every month, there were three Lancelot's under construction to form the backbone for the defence of Gaia in Earth orbit, a lot of the older debris was being cleared from earth orbit to make it safer to work and harder to hide.

Perhaps most importantly, for the moment she had nine warships to use should an attack occur. Admittedly, half of those were recent launches and were still being shaken down, she would lose several once they were declared fully operational, but that was more friendly warships that she could remember ever being in the Sol system before and it ignored the patrol boats, the fighters and the second string combatants like the unrefitted Ha'taks or the support craft.

It sounded impressive, it truly did and she knew how reassured that figure made a lot of people on earth feel.

Made her want to remind them of exactly how many hundreds of Goa'uld warships had been lost at Ragnorak alone. She was sure they wouldn't feel comforted then, she sure wasn't, but that was also why she didn't remind them. There had been more then enough panic on Earth for several lifetimes, more then enough riots.

More then enough dead.

Still if she was to be honest with herself, she had to acknowledge that the dying had only just begun. It would be decades, maybe even centuries before Earth could be considered secure and even as she rose as a power, it would only mean an equally powerful threat would rise to meet her. That seemed to be as fundamental a truth as any in this universe.

That and the fact that the stars they looked up too so wonderingly in the past were now very much their blessing and their bane, their hope and their pain.

Oh, if she could write a list and send it as a wish to the stars…

Ten Lancelot's already completed and operational in Earth orbit, at least a dozen warships permanently assigned to Earth defence, a powerful industrial world their enemies didn't know about willing to act as a fallback position…

While she was about it, she may as well ask for World Peace as well. Both would require far more time then their enemies were likely to allow them. Still, it may be cynical but she rather suspected the first list would be filled long before World Peace was actually achieved.

As always, she had to deal with what she had and not what she wished she had.

What she had now at least included the Command Deck, a centre designated specifically to control of the Sol system, a combined space traffic control centre and defence command, taking a lot of the load off the now cramped and overloaded bridge of the station.

That soon would be refitted into a form more suited to simply controlling that stations own functions but that would not happen until the refit of the secondary bridge was completed.

Ah, the joys of working aboard a station that always had sections under refit. But then, this was a station whose role was constantly evolving and whose critical nature meant had to be kept at the peak of technology.

That reminded her, it was time to start 'discussing' upgrades for Thundersdawn's missile racks with the bean-counters. She was sure the stations Captain wouldn't mind and those new missiles definitely showed promise… of course, there was also the issue of refitting the existing emplacements elsewhere to use them and ensuring an adequate supply for all their uses.

Lots of very happy defence contractors in other words.

Still, she had gathered enough wool; it was time to put her mind back where it belonged, on the job.