Wing Commander: End of an Era
Homeworld of the Kilrathi Empire
Prince Thrakhath walked briskly across the large audience chamber towards the raised throne which held his grandfather the Emperor of the Kilrathi Empire. Upon reaching the base of the throne he bowed his head in a show of respect and submission, and waited.
"When you left Kilrah four of eight days ago you commanded a fleet of our finest warships, crewed by the finest warriors of our race. A fleet of five of our Hakaga class carriers supported by ten of our current fleet carriers. Tell me grandson, how did the final battle above Earth go?"
Prince Thrakhath opened his mouth to speak but was immediately cut off.
"YOU FAILED!" roared the Emperor. "You return with only five fleet carriers and one severely damaged Hakaga, the ships we declared near invincible in battle destroyed by the hairless apes! Not to mention the numerous frigates, destroyers and cruisers along with over nine eighties of fighter craft lost in what was to be a moment of triumph!"
The Prince remained silent and calm allowing the Emperor to continue to rage.
"Yet the loss of our fleets pales in comparison to the loss of all the firstborn sons of the nobles who rode to their deaths either in a fighter or onboard the capital ships. The other clans are in outrage over this debacle" the Emperor finished bearing his fangs in open hostility and disgust.
"They all died gloriously for the empire. As for our own losses the humans fared worse" Prince Thrakhath calmly replied, "Of their five fleet carriers three were destroyed, the other two damaged beyond repair. Their own fighter losses nearly equal are own. We destroyed their inner colonies and devastated the Earth with orbital bombardment. They may have driven us back but our claws are buried deep into their heart and—"
"Do not insult me!" the Emperor roared once more, "You destroyed only three of their colonies, and three out of hundreds is not a death blow. The other clans know this! I know this! You know this! Those figures mean nothing when our own clan's resources were pushed to the brink to build the Hakaga fleet."
The Emperor rose to his feet and his next words were spoken with severity in his voice. "Understand the danger we find ourselves in grandson. When word of your failure reached Kilrah it set in motion events that lead to two assassination attempts on my life. And if they had succeeded in killing me you would most certainly be dead by now as well."
Thrakhath looked up to his grandfather in open amazement.
Making his way down the steps before the throne the Emperor continued to speak. "Our clan has held the throne for centuries and in order for this to continue, and for you to eventually take my place, certain changes must be made" the old warrior sighed as he came to stand before his grandson. "The remaining Hakaga-class carriers under construction are to be dismantled and used to create a new fleet." Prince Thrakhath tried to argue but was silenced. "They are a stain on our clans honor and I am glad to see them gone. We will use the resources of all the eight ruling families to build and crew a new fleet of superior vessels. This will placate the other clans for now."
"You trust the other clans when some of them have just tried to kill you" Thrakhath said bewildered.
"We need the fleets rebuilt and brought to bear on our enemies now. With all the clans working together the Kilrathi are stronger than ever and it allows the clan leaders to believe they have some semblance of control and influence over me" the Emperor stated chuckling softly. "Besides, all secret projects are still directly controlled by our clan so it keeps ultimate power with us in the end. The clans will not openly challenge us when I can order the deaths of their own worlds."
The two Kilrathi began to walk together towards the exit of the throne room while discussing their plans.
"When the new fleet is complete I will take command and destroy the humans for good. I will burn their worlds and enslave the entire pathetic race." Thrakhath growled triumphantly.
The Emperor halted and turned to his grandson. "No you will not. The first part of the fleet will not be ready for another half of eight months and even then I require you here to oversee final construction and as a show of intimidation towards the others. With the two of us in the home system it will crush any lingering hopes those usurpers have."
The Prince bristled with anger but one look from his grandfather and it dissipated. It was after all a sound move until there was no chance of any more coup attempts; and while he was here he may as well begin the hunt for the traitors that thought to forcibly remove his clan from the throne. That thought alone brought a dangerous smile to his face as he looked forward to the challenge.
The Emperor began walking once more and continued "Also there is another matter that must be discussed. When I spoke of bringing our fleets against our enemies I was not speaking strictly of the humans."
Prince Thrakhath was confused at first by this statement but then clarity dawned on him and his red tinged-golden mane bristled with apprehension as he turned to look at his grandfather. Not in fear, for a true Kilrathi was never afraid, but he was no fool in the art of war. The Kilrathi Empire had never lost a war with its enemies (even if the hairless apes had survived this long it was only a matter of time) and the Empire never would lose but a war on two fronts would push them to their limits.
"They are returning?" he asked.
"No they are not but that is why we need our new fleet now to replace the Hakaga's that were lost. Those ships were to face them if they ever returned" the Emperor scolded. "No, we have received only whispers on the edge of our shared territory, nothing to act on…yet. What I speak of is a new report from a deep space probe in the M'shrak sector."
As the two exited the throne room the Emperor motioned for one of his Imperial Guards to come forward. The guard came up to the Emperor, then bowed and handed over a datapad. The Emperor dismissed him and then handed the pad over to Thrakhath. The Prince began to read over the information and his eyes widened as he continued to read what was discovered. He looked over to his grandfather searching for answers.
"After your departure from Kilrathi space," the Emperor stated "the probe came across this construct. Soon after we sent two Ralarrad-class destroyers to discover its origins and species responsible. While they have yet to discover who built it what they did find is quite astonishing as you have no doubt read."
The Prince looked back to the pad and continued reading. This technology is incredible, he thought to himself, not only its size but what it is capable of accomplishing is beyond the technology of any race we have ever encountered. The implications of this are… He looked back to the Emperor.
"Now you understand why I need you in the home system helping to prepare our forces. I believe you when you say the humans will have great difficulty overcoming their loses at Earth. Even though you were not wholly successful in your campaign we now greatly outnumber the humans in every sector of space and every type of military vessel. So for a time let them bleed. We will crush them underfoot regardless. For now, we must gauge this new threat and act on information gathered in the coming months."
The Emperor turned away and began walking down the corridor with his guard at his side leaving Prince Thrakhath alone with his thoughts.
He looked back down at the datapad and focused on the pictures of the strange device.
Very smooth in its design, he mused, it is larger than our heavy carriers. Split into two prongs at one end that meet in the center of the device…what kind of energy powers such a creation? It looks to be contained by those rotating rings in its center…Prince Thrakhath began to stride down the corridor opposite his grandfather with a feral smile that displayed his fangs. I look forward to meeting those who built such a device.
7 months later...
Terran Confederation Space
Orbital Defense Station 4
Earth, Sol Sector
Colonel Christopher Blair mentally sighed as he sat in the lounge outside the conference center. The young, and pretty he thought, ensign had just offered to refill his cup of coffee for the third time in the last ten minutes. He politely declined and offered his thanks as she went back to her desk and began typing away on her computer. Well at least its good coffee. Never would have got this back in the fleet. He sat quietly with his thoughts for a minute and sipped on his coffee again to then look up to see the ensign once again watching him from across the room. Sighing once more he smiled at her and raised his cup.
"Thanks for the coffee. It's quite good." he stated truthfully.
"Glad you enjoy. If you need anything else don't hesitate to ask." she cheerfully replied.
So this is what it feels like to be a famous war hero he thought smiling to himself. He never felt like a hero in this war, he simply was glad he went into the fray and came back alive. The Confederation had a habit of embellishing some of the details when it came to the heroes of this war but then again, how else do you keep morale up in a conflict that has lasted 35 years. His entire adult life had been in service to the Terran Confederation and its struggle against the Kilrathi Empire.
Blair shook his head sadly. And now it looks as though the fight is almost over he thought to himself. Immediately he shook those thoughts away. He couldn't start thinking like that and to do so was just inviting death in your next engagement. However, a small part of his mind continued to whisper doubts.
And those doubts were not completely unfounded. Ten months ago the Kilrathi made a stunning move by declaring they wanted to come to the table to discuss a formal peace treaty with the Confederation, and after 35 years of constant war who could blame the humans for wanting to believe them. After tense negotiations a formal peace was established on the primary condition the two sides decommission their fleets to avoid an accidental return to hostilities.
Both the Humans and the Kilrathi obeyed this condition but the Kilrathi merely used the month of peace as a ruse to finish construction of their fleet of super-carriers. Once the fleet was complete the Kilrathi launched an all-out assault on Confederation space using fleets that had been hidden from the human inspectors. Luckily, while the civilian government of the Confederation had agreed to the terms of the peace, the military leaders knew it was a deception from the beginning. The problem was they had no proof until the main fleet of the Kilrathi began its move towards Earth.
These same military leaders were tragically killed in a Kilrathi suicide bombing. Nearly leaderless and scrambling to prepare, the Confederation Navy quickly brought as many of their own carriers and other ships online. The massively outnumbered Confederation fleet led by Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn then fought a fighting withdrawal across three star systems. It was in these earlier battles that the Kilrathi's true goal was revealed. Once they had pushed humanity's fleet from its colonies the Kilrathi bombed the worlds with nuclear ordinance loaded with strontium-90, a deadly radioactive isotope. These warheads were set for atmospheric detonation ensuring that an entire planet would be covered in radioactive material and devoid of all life for the next 10,000 years.
With this knowledge the Confederation threw everything they had left into the final battle above Earth. A hundred vessels from both sides along with a combined number of fighters and bombers reaching in the thousands fought in the battle. Humanities defeat was guaranteed until Confederation Marines were able to board the super-carriers and detonate fusion bombs deep inside the ships. Even still, with the loss of the super-carriers Earth was in danger. Several Kilrathi cruisers had successfully dropped antimatter bombs on numerous cities across Earth's continents, and were poised to unleash the strontium clad warheads until a fleet of escort carriers and destroyers under the command of Captain Jason Bondarevesky arrived to destroy the cruisers just in time. Earth was spared the killing blow but was left severely scarred nonetheless.
Colonel Blair was one of the lucky ones. He had fought in the Battle for Terra and had accounted for his fair share of kills strapped into the seat of his fighter until he took a hit from a Kilrathi missile. Having safely ejected, he only suffered moderate injuries and was once again back on active duty.
Remembering back to his debriefing of the battle there weren't enough lucky ones. Final toll was 2 billion humans dead, and the three inner colony worlds bombed by the Kilrathi were devoid of life. Three of five Confed fleet carriers destroyed, the other two so damaged they were scrapped and gutted for parts. Three of five orbital defense stations destroyed, the remaining two only spared because they were located on the opposite side of Earth during the attack. All of the Lunar construction yards were destroyed along with the badly needed ships that were still under construction in the hangar bays. Then there was Earth.
Twenty-four cities gone. All of them important centers of manufacturing, economics, and planetary defense.
Blair closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall trying to forget the voice of the officer giving his debriefing. Chicago, Pittsburg, Boston, Miami, Quebec, Amsterdam, Berlin, Constantinople, Paris, Rio, the list went on and on.
Christopher Blair opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. These were truly the darkest days of the entire war, but if anything had been proven it was that humanity was still willing to fight. Throughout the entire war the Terran Confederation had been outnumbered and yet time and again they had come out the victors, including several extremely lopsided battles. The Battle for Terra may not have been the victory humanity wanted, but they would take it in stride and continue to fight until the end. The sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price would be honored and those who could still fight would fight until the end. That was something the Kilrathi could never hope to take from humanity.
Colonel Blair closed his eyes again and smiled to himself. Nice little pep talk, no wonder they made you a colonel. Well that and your impressive kill count, he chuckled slightly.
"Well look who is sleeping on the job." came a call from the doorway.
Blair opened his eyes and looked to the doorway to see his good friend Captain Jason Bondarevesky enter and walk towards him. He stood and offered a friendly handshake to the young captain which Jason quickly returned and then embraced Blair with a clap on the back. Blair took a look at his friend and was again surprised how young the kid was, at least compared to himself. Colonel Christopher Blair's thirty-nine years of age was common place among senior wing commanders and colonels on fleet carriers but Jason had the rare gift of being a brilliant starship captain. At twenty-eight years old he was one of the youngest captains in the navy, but he had most certainly proved himself on a number of dangerous missions. Most notably, he was the commanding officer of the surprise raid on the Kilrathi home world several years prior, not to mention the timely arrival at the Battle for Terra and rescue of Earth.
"Glad to see you up again. Heard you took a Kilrathi missile above Earth." Jason stated.
"It wasn't as bad as it sounded. They had me on medical for the past four months to ensure no lasting damage but I've been back on active duty for the last three months dealing with Inner colony patrols" complained Blair. "What about you, what happened after Earth?"
"Well seeing as how we had the only operational carriers after the battle our job was to pursue the Kilrathi fleet until it completely left Confederation space" Jason explained. "They may have taken a beating but they wouldn't go quietly. The main fleet headed back to Kilrah but several cruisers and destroyers jumped to neighboring systems to take advantage of our limited numbers." He sighed finishing "The cats set a number of ambushes along their retreat; we pushed them out but not without losses."
The two officers remained silent for a moment remembering the lost when they were quickly interrupted by the cheerful ensign walking toward them both.
"Captain Bondarevesky" she smiled and offered a salute, "Welcome, would you care for a cup of coffee or water before the meeting?"
Jason returned the salute then looked over to Blair's cup of coffee still in his hand.
"How's the coffee?" he asked with a slight look of worry.
"It's surprisingly good."
"Remember we are right above Earth."
Jason turned back to the ensign, "I'll take a cup of coffee then, thank you."
"One cup of surprisingly good coffee coming up!" she chuckled and turned to retrieve the beverage. Halfway across the room she turned her head again to look at the two of them standing there. She smiled again and quickly returned to her task.
"Soooo, what was that about?" asked Jason.
Blair chuckled and answered "She did the same thing with me. You do realize that she currently has two of the most decorated Confederation war heroes trapped with her in this room until our meeting begins."
"Yeah but the Kilrah raid was years ago" Jason argued. "All of that fame should have disappeared by now. I heard the film even dropped off the top five charts."
"You are correct" countered Blair, "but that was before you became one of the heroes of the Battle for Terra; flying in at the last moment to save every human on Earth. You've been out of the loop for a while so you haven't heard of the new film they are making about this battle; you're in this one too."
Blair laughed at the blank look on his friends face and walked over to the observation window overlooking Earth.
Jason stood there for a moment digesting his re-found fame when then ensign came back with his cup of coffee in her hand.
"Here you go sir" she stated.
"Ah, yes, um thank you very much" he momentarily fumbled, but then quickly took a drink to cover himself. "Wow that is surprisingly good coffee. Thank you ensign…"
"Davis, sir, Ensign Second Class Lisa Davis."
"Well thank you again Ensign Davis" he replied with a smile. "If I require anything else I shall not hesitate to ask" he finished with a wink.
The ensign blushed and then quickly excused herself with a smile on her face back to her desk where she tried to look busy with her work.
Jason gave himself a mental pat on the back and then turned and walked towards Blair to see him just silently shaking his head.
"What?" Jason said feigning innocence. "Just because I was ignorant of my fame doesn't mean I'm going to remain ignorant of my fame. That right there was the real reason you and I put the uniform on in the first place."
Blair could only laugh along with his friend as the two sipped their coffee at the window gazing out at the beautiful celestial body that was Earth.
Several minutes, and two finished cups of coffee, later the rest of personal for the meeting began to arrive. Blair could see several captains and colonels he had met previously but then there were many others he hadn't recognized. As the group grew they all moved into the conference room and took their seats at the large rectangular table that dominated the center of the room. The group of high ranking individuals, Blair noticed there wasn't anyone below captain in the navy or colonel in the space forces and marines, was finally complete with the arrival of two admirals one of which Blair knew all too well and the other he had trouble placing a name.
Sitting next to him Jason saw the confusion on Blair's face and supplied the name of the unknown admiral. "That's Vice Admiral Richards, or at least when I met him it was Vice Admiral. Looks like he's moved up in the chain of command."
Blair turned to Jason in confusion, "When did you meet the "spymaster" himself. The man in charge of Confleet Intelligence? He has a reputation for never coming to meetings or even being seen in the flesh by others."
Jason opened his mouth to answer and then immediately clamped it shut again. "Opps, I uh, wasn't supposed to tell anyone. It's all still classified. Sorry. Forget I said anything."
Before Blair could respond the first admiral spoke up to begin the meeting.
"Thank you all for coming on such short notice but time was of the essence and that being the case I will get right to the heart of the matter" came the english-accented voice of Admiral Geoffrey Tolwyn. "As many of you know since the climactic battle above Earth seven months ago there has been absolutely no activity along the entire border of Kilrathi space. Not even a single fighter patrol or attempted stealth infiltration has occurred. For the first time since before the war the border between Confederation and Kilrathi space is silent."
He waited for Ensign Davis to hand out datapads to everyone seated and once she had finished and seated herself back in the corner he began again "The first half of this briefing is to bring you all up to speed on our current fleet rebuilding status. If the Kilrathi are willing to allow us the time to repair and regroup we will use it. That is their mistake to make and I won't begrudge them for it."
The room darkened and shades began to lower down the windows that ran the length of the room. In the center of the table the holographic emitters activated projecting a 3-D model of several new ships and Blair noticed his datapad had a more detailed look of any ship he selected.
"As you all know the Confederation suffered severe losses over Earth. The worst was the loss of all five of our remaining fleet carriers. Without these vessels, had the Kilrathi decided to continue the war humanity would have lost. Our remaining light and escort carrier fleet would have stood no chance against the powerful fleet carriers of the Kilrathi Armada. Because of this we have developed a new heavy carrier class that will become the backbone of our fleet named after the TCS Lexington in honor of her gallant sacrifice over Earth. Supporting this new heavy carrier design will be the Jutland-class fleet attack carrier. They are the new first line of defense against the Kilrathi's more powerful fleet carriers."
As Admiral Tolwyn continued to explain these new vessels Blair looked down at his datapad for a quick rundown of each vessel's capabilities starting with the Lexington-class. He had to admit he was impressed. At 725 meters it wasn't the longest carrier ever built but its mass was an astounding 110,000 tons. The Concordia-class which had dominated most of the war was only 65,000 tons. The Lexington is also the first carrier design to have three fly-through launch bays instead of the traditional one. 10 flak-turrets and two torpedo launch tubes for defense was a little light but carrying a total of 140 strike craft and you had the largest capacity of any Confed carrier yet. Add in the heaviest shielding and armor of any Confederation ship he had ever seen and you had a serious vessel bred for war. The Lexington could clearly take punishment and dish out even more.
After looking at the Lexington he was worried the Jutland would be a disappointment but he was happily proved wrong. Where the Lexington had the tonnage and defense for long term fleet engagements of two fleet carriers fighting it out, the Jutland would find an enemy and kill it with overwhelming firepower. 775 meters long and a mass of 60,000 tons it was smaller than the Concordias, and Lexingtons but packed twice the firepower. 15 anti-matter turrets would carve through any opposing vessel, and 4 torpedo launch tubes and 2 missile tubes would ensure no vessel got close enough to return fire. Its heavier shielding and armor of normal carriers came at the cost of reduced fighter capacity however. Only 90 strike craft. Even with that heavy armor its enhancements to engine propulsion and design still guaranteed it to be the fastest carrier in the war on either side.
Well with all those guns 90 strike craft is probably overkill, Blair thought to himself. The fleet engineers worked their asses off designing these beasts. He was brought back to the briefing when Admiral Tolwyn began talking numbers.
"As from what you can see these new carrier designs will see the Confederation through the times ahead. Except for the light carriers of the Yorktown-class and the escort carriers of the Wake-class, it is the decision of the president and joint chiefs that these will be the only two fleet carrier designs built for the foreseeable future. As for the hard numbers we have currently completed construction of two Lexington carriers and their accompanying one-hundred and forty strike craft each, along with six Jutland carriers and their accompanying ninety strike craft each. Along with the new carriers we also completed four Yorktown carriers along with their strike craft and ten Wake carriers as well as their strike craft. Some of you no doubt saw portion of the new fleet as you were being flown in for this meeting."
This announcement was met with numerous amazed and confused looks from most of the officers at the table and a low whistle from a marine colonel at the center.
"How did we build a fleet that should have taken over four years to complete in less than seven months?" asked a captain near the end of the table. "Last time I asked for repairs it took me a week simply to get the paperwork through" she joked.
Colonel Blair noticed Admiral Tolwyn slowly grip the pointer in his hands tighter before he answered.
"After the Battle for Terra the Kilrathi were forced into the situation having more surviving fighters than carriers to land them on. On their way out they simply landed the fighters on remaining carriers, extracted the pilot, and then were forced to dump the excess number of craft overboard. These abandoned craft, along with the numerous wreckages orbiting Earth after the battle, were cannibalized to help create this new fleet. That goes for our own wrecked craft and stations as well." Tolwyn explained.
The space forces colonel sitting across from Blair asked the question he himself, and no doubt the others, were thinking.
"Even if that's true the amount of time it would take to melt down and refine those resources far outstrips the manufacturing capability of Sol system. A fleet of this size created in the time you were given would take several sectors worth of combined resources, not to mention the resources necessary to build new destroyers and cruisers, coupled with the damage done to Earth and the other colonies when the Kilrathi pulled out…"
Here comes the part they didn't want us to know. Blair could see the expressions change on both admirals' faces.
"You are correct in assuming it took more than just Sol to produce this fleet. It was a combined effort of the entirety of Sol, Hawking, Avalon, and Gemini sectors manufacturing capability with a general order bringing a complete halt to all other ship construction and repair in those sectors, this along with a freeze on all planetary restoration projects in the Sol and Vega sectors of Confederation space that lead—"
"You have got to be joking!" Captain Bondarevesky nearly yelled. "You are telling me that not only have our numerous devastated colonies of the Vega sector not been sent aid but that Earth itself has laid in ruins for the last seven months! No one has received any help!?"
Admiral Tolwyn looked across the table into every face and he showed no emotion when he answered.
"What the fuck Geoff!" a captain yelled, standing up out of his seat. "That damn communication blackout was only so no one would complain to the rest of the Confederation while this fleet was constructed! I'm sure I'm not the only one that was told it was the "same old bullshit" security reasons story. What the hell kind of game are you playing!"
A number of other officers began shouting their own outrages at the two impassive admirals. Blair himself was fuming inside. The Confederation he had sworn to protect with his life had betrayed its own people in order to build some shiny new ships. How many souls were struggling to survive down on Earth? At least they had the entire planet and established facilities to try and make repairs on their own. Vega sector directly bordered the Kilrathi Empire and was a newly colonized section of space. Some of those worlds were still basically frontiers, and from what Jason had told him earlier they were the targets of retaliatory strikes from the retreating Kilrathi.
Both Admiral Tolwyn and Admiral Richards remained silent as their junior officers continued to shout and accuse them of betraying their oaths. Finally Admiral Tolwyn spoke up.
"How many cities destroyed the Kilrathi super-carriers above Earth?" he stated coldly, while walking around the table. "You all know it was the hundreds of marines and pilots that gave their lives to defend that planet below us, they destroyed those carriers. It is cruel but it is truth that if we rebuild a city it cannot shoot down an enemy capital ship. If we spend time rebuilding a city or a world it will only be destroyed tomorrow when the Kilrathi return to finish us off!
"These ships still took seven months to build and in that time the Kilrathi could have burned half the Confederation away. The fact they haven't attacked yet is nothing short of a miracle." Tolwyn began to slowly walk back towards his place at the head of the table. "No one here is being asked to like the situation we are in, and I'd be disappointed if you did accept it without question. However, despite your feeling you will accept the decision made!"
He stopped and stood at the head of the table again his voice losing some of its coldness. "Ten months ago I was a junior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Now with our losses above Earth I am one of its senior members alongside Admiral Richards and the few surviving admirals we have left. You want to pass a complaint up the chain of command? I'm here to tell you that as of right now, excluding the joint chiefs, you officers gathered here represented the most experienced minds the Terran Confederation Fleet has left. That is the situation we find ourselves in ladies and gentlemen. Junior officers made the captains of fleets and academy cadets fresh out of training trying to take their places."
With this realization everyone who was standing fell to their seats and everyone seating tried to stay that way. We are all that is left after the attack? Blair looked around the room at the other officers. There are no more than twenty people in this room.
"Needless to say that little tidbit of information is classified. The entirety of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before the attack on Earth is now dead, either from the Kilrathi's suicide bomber or in the battle. And while there is no doubt that there are numerous officers of equal or higher rank than you still in service, no one, but a select few, have the amount of experience fighting the Kilrathi those of us in this room do. If the Confederation assembly found out we were basically the fighting elite there would be a mass panic." Admiral Richards chuckled without humor.
"Is the matter settled?" Tolwyn asked looking back across the table.
Everyone either agreed, or simply nodded. Tolwyn spoke the truth. None of them liked it but the cold logic of war says you need your weapons to defend your homes even if you must tear down your home to build it.
"Now that this matter is concluded I will turn the second half of this briefing over to Admiral Richards."
Admiral Tolwyn took his seat to allow full attention of room on his counterpart.
Standing up from his own seat Admiral Richards began speaking as he typed several characters into the computer at the end of the table.
"When Admiral Tolwyn spoke of a miracle being the only thing that has spared us the wrath of the Kilrathi he was right." The older Admiral chuckled as his presentation began to light up the table. "What you see here is a Kilrathi Fleet consisting of three Bhantkara-class fleet carriers, five Fralthi ll-class cruisers, and sixteen Ralaxath-class destroyers. Most likely carrying a full fighter complement. The fleet is making good speed out of the M'shrak sector and into unmapped space, at least unmapped for us."
"How did we get this level of intell?" Blair spoke up. "The M'shrak sector has never been this deeply infiltrated before."
"And now begins the completely classified chapter of our briefing." Richards smiled and continued "This wasn't taken by Confed Intell but by our friends the Firekka."
"I thought the birds left the Confederation in protest of us signing the armistice with the Kilrathi," The marine colonel asked "how did we get back on their good sides?"
Tolwyn was the one who answered. "Through carful diplomacy by President Quinson, and outright bribery. The ten Wake escort carriers I said we built, originally it was fourteen carriers. We gave them four carriers and a brand new Prowler-class stealth intelligence vessel for them to protect themselves and the Epsilon Sector. They in return quietly re-signed the articles of confederation and promised to report any Kilrathi activity they discovered. And now they have the makings of their own fleet, separate from Confederation control. The Firekka are now finally a spacefaring race."
"Glad to hear it, I've fought with Firekka. Those birds are handy in any fight." The colonel replied.
"They may be tough but they know the score, without Confederation backing their homeworld would have been destroyed by the Kilrathi long ago. And if they continued without our support they would be no match against what the cats could throw at them." Tolwyn then turned back to Admiral Richards to signal a return to the briefing.
"Well, with the Firekka once again aiding us, their stealth ship was snooping around deep behind enemy lines and stumbled upon this fleet. The Kilrathi fleet continued on its way until reaching the Dath-que 8 jump point and then vanished through a previously unknown jump point at the other side of the system. The Firekka followed them to this point before halting and awaiting new orders." As Richards explained the hologram in the center of the table showed the Kilrathi ships traveling through space before simply vanishing in a flash of light through the said unknown jump point.
"After receiving clearance to pursue, the stealth ship passed through the jump point and arrived to approximately this region of space here." The holographic map expanded to show this new region of space. "Eventually the fleet passed through two more jumps before arriving at this star system. Upon reaching this system the Firekka recorded everything they could and then hightailed it back to Confederation space using previously unmapped jump points that lead across six unknown systems before they arrived in the Enigma Sector at Enigma system itself."
"So you're telling us the cats found a back door to Confederation space that places them less than four jump points away from Earth?" a captain two seat down from Blair asked with fear in his voice.
"Fortunately no, that is not the heart of the matter." Richards replied calmly to dissipate anyone's fears. "The Firekka stealth vessel was designed with cutting edge technology to help it locate new jump points. That in itself wouldn't have been enough for them to find their way to Enigma if it wasn't for the abnormally strong gravitational forces located in that sector. They were simply in a hurry to get their data back and were lucky in their choice of available jump points. They left no trace for the Kilrathi to follow and they are currently the only ship in existence to know of this path, and I'm happy to say the ship is currently safe deep inside Confederation space."
Admiral Richards began typing once more into the computer and a new recording began to play out above the table.
"This footage is why they returned home so quickly and this footage is what has the Confederation Fleet so concerned."
Blair watched the footage with open curiosity as the Kilrathi fleet advanced on a rather strange looking and large station of some kind. As the Kilrathi fleet came closer to the station the fleet turned so that each ship was traveling parallel along its side when suddenly a blue lightning bolt attached itself to the nearest vessel and in a flash of blue light, the ship vanished. This continued for each ship in the fleet until there was nothing on the screen except for the strange station.
He could honestly say he was dumbfounded and simply continued to stare at the projection.
"What did we just witness?" someone in the room whispered.
"At first our analysts' had no clue what had occurred and it wasn't until some nut in the lab had the bright idea to slow down the picture to its slowest setting; and let me tell you with today's technology that camera has a very slow setting."
Richards chuckled to himself "That we see what is occurring is again probably a miracle and then only just a few ships are visible."
The recording reset itself at the beginning and played out what the camera could just barley catch that the eye had no chance of seeing.
The Kilrathi ships were being propelled forward at a speed that should be impossible.
"We don't know where the Kilrathi fleet ended up or even if they can get back from where they went but they definitely traveled somewhere in space at speeds faster than light. Speeds we can only reach through natural forming jump points." Admiral Richards explained as the room's lights came back on and the shades over the windows disappeared back into the ceiling.
"This boils down to two things for the Confederation. First, we must continue our stance on increasing total fleet strength above any other construction projects and get the Confederations total naval strength well above what is was even before the Kilrathi surprise assault. If the Kilrathi are on the move again it will only be a matter of time before they return to finish us off and the war begins in full again." Admiral Tolwyn stated while standing back up and walking back to the front of the table while Richards sat back in his seat. "This new intell proves the Kilrathi are on the move against a new race of aliens capable of building these immense artificial jump points. We must prepare ourselves for either their triumphant return, or with a new race of hostiles pursuing their retreating fleets."
No one in the room wanted to think about the implications of an enemy stronger then the Kilrathi entering Confederation space.
"Secondly, a valid point was brought forth when Admiral Richards was briefing the president and joint chiefs. Any race capable of building something like this that also happens to be extinct must have left other valuable pieces of technology behind. It was therefore decided that we cannot allow the Kilrathi to get their paws on anything that would give them an edge in this war. While the rest of Confederation space prepares and continues to rebuild we will be sending our own task force through this device using the newly discovered jump points starting in the Enigma Sector and beyond.
"I will remind you all again, that for the moment, the information you've seen over this new technology is strictly classified. No one below the command ranks of captain or colonel is to have any knowledge of this event until the Confederation deems otherwise. We just took a beating of a lifetime ladies and gentlemen, and if word of a new alien threat leaked out…"
Tolwyn had no need to finish that statement. Everyone knew just how dire the situation was, and if all they had to do to prevent that was keep their mouths shut each one of them would.
Admiral Tolwyn nodded in approval over the determined looks he was receiving around the table and then continued "Now then. This concludes our briefing. With the reconstruction of our fleets comes the logistical task of trying to fill up the gaps in personal placement. Each of you will be receiving new orders in the future. Until that time you are all dismissed back to your previous posting."
Everyone immediately stood from their chairs and saluted the two admirals before them. Both Admiral Richards and Tolwyn returned the salute with Tolwyn finishing "The coming days will be difficult, but you all have the iron will and determination needed to keep the Confederation strong and ensure our continued survival against any odds. Dismissed."
As Ensign Davis began to travel around the table collecting the forgotten datapads, everyone else began to head for the exit. Each one quietly discussing matters with those around them. Blair decided that while he was still technically off-duty for the day he would head down to the mess and grab a bit to eat.
Later, after he had finished his second helping of a surprisingly good meal, he had found himself wandering over to the nearest bar his side of the station to try and collect his thoughts about the briefing he just endured.
When he entered he was pleasantly surprised to see it only occupied a handful of other patrons with a soft jazz melody playing over the speakers. Walking up to the bar and seating himself on the stool he asked the bartender for a beer and settled his gaze outside the window while he waited.
From this side of the station he no longer had a view of Earth but what hid did have was a perfect view of the big black void that was space. Staring out into the vast expanse of stars reminded him of every time he was back in the cockpit of his fighter. He always enjoyed the first few moments after taking off from his assigned carrier and rocketing through space at outrageous speeds. The stars weren't always the same but no matter what he always found it slightly calming to just relax and take in view before him.
Unfortunately, that calm really only did last a few moments because if he ever was flying in his fighter that meant he was either soon to be doing the shooting or being shot at in a coming dogfight.
As the bartender returned with his drink Blair sighed and took a swig of his beer, then turned to the bartender with a smile on his face.
"First it's the coffee and then it was the meal and now it's the beer. I'm telling you right now, I'm never leaving Earth orbit again."
The bartender laughed with him and said "You won't believe how many carrier jockeys come in this bar and say the exact same thing. Everyone always has smile like they won the lottery after their first sip of beer. What do they serve you guys out there?"
"After tasting my across this station and comparing it to the times I've spent in space, I don't think I want to learn the answer to that question." Blair replied after he took another large drink form his cup of liquid gold.
"Tell you what, after seeing your reaction I can't rightly deny a fellow spacer that drink. It's on the house" the bartender chuckled.
Blair smiled, took another swig of beer and then said "Thanks for that but I'm not going to pass up this opportunity while I'm here. I'll take another round."
Laughing again the bartender replied "I was hoping you were going to say that."
After finishing his first and paying for his second beer, Blair thanked the man again and began to make his way back to his temporary quarters while on leave.
He made his way across the station and several minutes later arrived at his room. Well at least this is still constant across all of Confederation space. He opened the door to his small cramped room and turned on the lights. One bed, one desk, and a tiny private washroom located behind the door to his right.
He couldn't really complain. As wing commander of a carrier his own quarters were bigger than this but still nothing to brag about. Only captains of the ships really had any large amounts of space given to them. He quickly changed and fell into bed, his mind wandering back to the briefing.
Tomorrows going to be a hell of a day.
Authors Note: Wow, so first chapter down. Hopefully you all enjoyed it. Now to go over a few things.
First, for the wing commander people in the know, I will be using ships and technologies starting with Wing Commander 3 and eventually progressing up through the games and novels. For some of the exact details on the ships I simply made them up because I couldn't find the actual data. I tried to use other data to keep things realistic. Example would be the exact size of the Lexington carrier is unknown to me, but from what I have read it was one of the largest carriers built at this time. So I made it big with lots of fighters but offset that with lower ship weapons to keep things fair. I have played the wing commander games and read all the books so I am not just making data up, most of it is coming from official sources.
Secondly, I know I didn't really explain what most of the craft looked like. I will be giving a general ideas on what shapes are and color and stuff but I'm not good at describing things in text. If I did all of you would be reading about X-wings and Y-wings and A-wings and B-wings. (And then you would get a rant of how the B-wing looks nothing like a B and why didn't they name it the T or I wing or something). I encourage all of you to go to google images or something like that to get a more detailed idea of shapes and sizes. I am using the correct names for the ships so simply type that in and you get a picture of that vessel. Hopefully you'll enjoy the story more.
Thirdly, I have read numerous stories were at the end the author gives a codex explaining things people might like to know about. Starting on the second chapter I will begin to do the same. I wont however be able to cover everything because that information would lead to a novel in itself. I will cover all the basics but if there is something specific you would like more information on simply let me know and next chapter will try to answer your question.
I would like to kindly remind all of you this is the first time I have done anything like this before so any constructive criticism you may have for me I promise to take to heart.
Lastly to protect my wallet I would like to tell everyone I do not own Wing Commander or Mass Effect, I'm simply enjoying the universes that were created.