Colonel Rölle stepped off the shuttle into the hangar bay of the super-dreadnought. After many weeks in the cramped confines of the Kreta it almost felt outdoors. A Yeoman saluted and motioned for him to follow. With Rölle were Majors Wesreidau and Weston, as well as Leutnant Makowsky, his adjutant, and Hauptman Emma Gehlen, his intelligence officer, and Captain Torkleson, 5th SAS. The small party followed the Yeoman through the First Combined Assault Fleet flagship to the commander's briefing room. It was a spacious affair with walls of actual Mahogany. This was another welcome sight after the gray steel bulkheads of the Kreta. The room was spacious and contained a long Mahogany table with a dozen chairs. Small video consoles were in front of each seat. A podium was against one wall with a large holo-projector behind it. Along the walls were pictures of fighting ships stretching back almost three hundred years. On the opposite wall hung the large red Imperial Eagle of the NSL. It was quite an impressive room for a spaceship.
There was little time to appreciate the surroundings, as they had to set up for the meeting. Two navy types entered and introduced themselves. "Good evening Herr Oberst. I am Korvetten Kapitän Oslow from the commander staff. This is Lieutenant Commander Mallory, from NAC fleet intelligence. Is everything in order?" Oslow's close cropped gray hair and pencil thin moustache added to his rather severe and serious demeanor.
"Everything is just fine Herr Kapitän. Has the Admiral had time to review the materials we forwarded?"
"Yes he has. Quite interesting. This should be a short meeting."
"Very well." Short meeting. Was that bad or good? There was something in the tone of Oslow's voice, which made Rölle instantly dislike him.
After ensuring all the personal data consoles were loaded with the correct info and that the Holo-projector was ready to loaded, they sat down to await the bigwigs. Five minutes later they arrived.
All the officers present shot to attention as Admiral Wilhelm von Bulow, commander of the First Combined Assault Fleet, entered. He was a tall, thin man. He was rather stately in appearance. Worry lines dug deep into his forehead and around his slate gray eyes. A small entourage of officers followed von Bulow.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please sit." Admiral von Bulow waved them down with a casual flick of the hand. He walked directly to Rölle and shook his hand.
"Hello Peter. It is good to see you again. How long has it been, five years? I am glad to have you aboard on this operation."
"The honor is mine, Herr Admiral."
"I don't know if you have met Admiral Bellamy. He is my Deputy commander as well as the commander of the carrier task force so graciously provided by the New Anglican Confederation." Bellamy was a medium height and solidly built, with a pug nose and jutting jaw. A bit off looking for an admiral. he had a touch of gray about the temples of his otherwise sandy brown hair. The NAC admiral looked impeccably turned out in his dress blues. Rölle passed his eyes over the six rows of ribbons on his chest topped with his gold aviator's wings. The man had been around.
"Pleasure to meet you Herr Admiral." They shook hands.
"Yes, the same here, Colonel."
"Allow me to introduce my staff Colonel", said von Bulow. "This is Commander Siegen, chief of operations. A short stocky woman nodded. "To her right is Kapitän Oslow. Kapitän Oslow is my chief of intelligence. Lieutenant Commander Mallory, NAC fleet intelligence is his deputy. To his right is Major Blowers from OSFI (Office of Strategic Fleet Intelligence). He's our resident Xenologist. That is Leutnant Zinger, my adjutant."
"A pleasure to meet you all. Sir, this is Major Weston. He's the operations officer from the NAC 504th Assault battalion. Together with Major Wesreidau from RSL battalion 3, they are my operational planning staff. Hauptman Gehlen is my staff intelligence officer and Leutnant Makowsky is my space landing control officer. Captain Torkleson runs our SOCCE."
"SOCCE?" Asked Commander Siegen.
"It's a NAC term. It stands for Special Operations Command and Control Element. It is his job to advise us on the proper use and capabilities of the Special Forces elements being employed on this operation."
"Very well, let's get started", said von Bulow. "Colonel, we've read over you report to date and in particular the report from the NAC Special Forces element that you have on the ground in Röt Hafen. Very impressive, and very disturbing. It raises a number of significant issues and brings us to a decision point. I know you were planning to give us a full presentation, but I believe the materials you forwarded have been studied by all and we can skip directly to the discussion."
"I'll let Oslow sum up the intelligence for us."
"Thank you Herr Admiral. There are several main points to be surmised by the operation so far. The Kra'Vak have conducted an obviously well planned and prepared assault on Röt Hafen. Upon eliminating the fleet presence and orbital defenses, they conducted a bombardment of several settlements on the planet leaving only the city of Röt Hafen untouched. Occupation of the planet was undertaken quickly and efficiently. Any resistance was crushed with overwhelming force and brutality. Rather quickly, they were able to land sufficient troops and resources to commence large-scale construction or modification of facilities on the planet. Best estimates are that they are constructing a logistical and maintenance base to support further operations in this sector. We've reviewed all the Köhl's sensor logs and we have detected a major modification to the Dortmund space station in orbit. There were many ships gathered around, or docked with, the station. I'd say that they've turned this into a dry dock facility. It is also clear that they have been careful to keep the mining operations functioning on the planet. Köhl's catalogued over a dozen new satellites. Based on their orbital trajectories, we estimate 9 of these to be defensive platforms of some sort. The Kra'Vak are continuing to build up their forces in the system. This is the first case where the Kra'Vak have gone beyond raiding and are attempting to stake a foothold in human space."
"The Kra'Vak have displayed an utter disregard for human casualties in their operations. Already this is shaping up to be one of the worst disasters in the past twenty-five years. They've employed nuclear weapons on several occasions. In fact, a few minutes before the Köhl warped out of the system, they detected two detonations on the planet. We have photographic evidence off mass executions. They appear to be keeping the population alive to use them as slave labor in their base construction and in the mines. It is an appalling situation."
"Also there is some intelligence, which indicates that, the Kra'Vak have prepared for the likelihood of losing the planet. There are reports that they have emplaced a number of nuclear weapons, at various locations still inhabited around the planet to include underneath the city of Röt Hafen."
"And that brings us to the subject of this meeting", said Admiral Bellamy "Is the information to be believed, and if so, what do we do about it?"
"Sir, I don't understand what you mean by 'if the information to be believed'?" Asked Rölle.
"What I mean is that it came from a single source. A worker who 'knew someone' that had seen the weapons or some such thing. That's hardly a reliable source of information for which to base a major change in plans.
Captain Torkleson interrupted. "Excuse me, Admiral. But with all due respect, this information has been classified by the detachment intelligence NCO as B2. That means that the information is believed accurate and that the subject in question is believed quite reliable. That's the highest rating that can be given to someone that is not within the detachment. Regardless of what we think, the men on the ground dealing with the situation believe the report to be true. And they've forwarded their recommendations on what to do about it."
Oslow scoffed. "Yes I see that. They want us to drop them a few nuclear weapons experts. Then presumably they intend to infiltrate the base and disarm these weapons. Sounds more like an action vid than realistic planning."
Rölle felt a sudden flash of anger. "I have known Master Sergeant Lawrence for many years. He does not purport himself to be an action here as you put it. He has a great amount of experience in these matters, as does the rest of his team. We must rely on their judgment as they are the ones on the spot down there."
Oslow pressed on. Rölle could see the veins on his temples bulging out. "Colonel, this is an immense multinational operation being put together at virtually a moment's notice. Just the kriegsraumflotte assets number nearly 90 ships! We cannot amend our operations at the last minute based on the word of one decrepit old prisoner and the opinion of one enlisted man."
"And frankly, Sir, I have a problem with some of the decisions your team is making down on the planet. Ambushing that column and order to capture that human traitor has no doubt resulted in the deaths of many hundreds if not thousands of civilians through reprisals. I think your men are out of control down there and jeopardizing this entire operation. I assure you here will be a full court of inquiry into this matter once we've taken back Röt Hafen." "Let's shelve that discussion for now, shall we people?" Said Bellamy. "I would suggest we keep on the agenda."
"Perhaps we should review our objective as set forth by Herr Baumgartner and Mister Pimms our respective government's Defense Ministers". Commander Siegen could see all of the soldiers were on the edge of their seats and Rölle looked ready to leap over the table at Oslow. "We have been tasked with executing this mission with the three objectives in mind, in this order of priority. "
"One: We are to gain as much intelligence a possible as to the organization, ships and equipment, fighting methods, origins, and motivations of Kra'Vak forces. This is in anticipation of the fact that there will be an increasing threat to human space from these aliens. Attacks have been on the rise with five serious incidents in the past year. All of which have seen human forces come off badly in the exchange. We still don't know why they have initiated this war against us"
"Two: To inflict so complete a defeat upon the Kra'Vak forces so as to deter them from further aggression in Human space. They must be made to realize that we can amass overwhelming combat power against their forces. Our Xeno people have worked up a sociological/psychological background on the Kra'Vak which you have all seen. They believe that overwhelming force is a message that they should understand."
Rölle smirked at that. At this point there was so little hard intelligence on actual Kra'Vak psychological or sociological beliefs and activities. The whole thing was nothing but SWAG. Scientific Wild-Assed Guess.
"Three: To evict Kra'Vak forces from Röt Hafen and return control of the planet back to it's rightful government."
"I'm surprised that the safety of the population is not the top priority." Said Rölle.
"Colonel, the perspective governments of the New Anglican Confederation and the Neu Schwabian League realize the grave long term threat that the Kra'Vak pose to all of humankind. It's not just about this one planet. We are preparing for a long war here. Keep in mind that news of events on Röt Hafen have not even been reported to the press or the UN general assembly yet."
"What? How do you hide the disappearance of almost a million people? I can't believe that the Prime Minister would take such risks with her political career."
"Now it was Siegen's turned to be annoyed. Damned Landser, she thought. Doesn't understand anything. "Colonel you are hardly in a position to be questioning the political decisions of the respective governments of our alliance. Your position is to carry out those orders."
Rölle decided to speak directly at von Bulow. There was no point going round and round with these people. He'd remember to settle his score with Oslow whenever they found themselves alone. He was white ht with anger but had no intention of letting it effect this meeting. He'd deal with it later. "Herr Admiral. If this information we have is correct, and I believe it is, then we risk the elimination of the entire population of Röt Hafen the minute we set foot on that planet. Not to mention losses to our own forces. Not discounting the obvious moral ramifications to whoever makes that decision, I would point out that we stand to gain extremely valuable intelligence from any portion of their forces or installations that we can capture intact. This speaks directly to the primary objective of this operation."
"You've seen the intelligence. You know what's happening to the people on that planet. You've seen our recommendations for supporting operational detachments 946's plan. Ladies and gentlemen, I implore you to consider this decision carefully!"
Siegen's voice raised an octave in annoyance. "Colonel Rölle. One of the greatest assets we have right now is surprise. We choose the time and place of initiating the engagement at Röt Hafen. The Kra'Vak are already at a state of heightened alert. We go back in and we risk losing that advantage."
"Surprise? Do you think the Kra'Vak don't know we're coming for them. They're not stupid, you know. You can always pick exactly when and how to strike, but they know we are coming sooner or later. And the later we come the more thousands of civilians are murdered. The more time they have to dig in and build up."
"There's no arguing the fact that we have to move quickly", said Mallory. "We cannot allow the buildup to continue. The few ships we've encountered have given us enough problems as it is. No one's looking forward to engaging the bulk of their fleet in one fell swoop".
There was a pause as both sides stared each other down. Admiral von Bulow looked at his watch. "I'm afraid that we do not have time to continue this discussion. We've listened to both sides. Admiral Bellamy and myself with confer together and appraise you of our decision before the end of the day. Colonel Rölle, I want to you continue planning the insertion of the assets requested by your men on the planet. All other operational planning and preparations will continue as scheduled. By the way, Oberst, I believe that the last elements of task force Hannibal are arriving today?"
"Yes, Herr Admiral. The 4th Hussars, an armored battalion, the 43rd fire support battalion, and the 18th Medical battalion are all arriving today. This will complete the assembly of ground elements of Task Force Hannibal"
"Very well. See to their integration into your scheme of maneuver. I will call another meeting as soon as practical. Dismissed." Both staffs filed out of the room with glum expressions. Bellamy and von Bulow waited until they room was empty and the hatch secured.
"Well Wilhelm. Quite a dilemma." Said Bellamy.
Admiral von Bulow put his elbows on the table and rubbed his temples. "Yes James, quite a dilemma. What do you make of this report?"
"Well I am no intelligence analyst but from what we've heard of the Kra'Vak, it sounds bloody well up their alley to pursue a scorched earth policy if they can't hold on to the planet."
"Quite. But what about authorizing the attempt to disarm the mechanism?"
"Seriously? I don't see it happening. I don't care how switched on those lads are down there. Sounds well nigh impossible."
"So you are against Colonel Rölle's plan?
"Now I didn't say that, did I? Seems to me if we don't even try we'll be marked as a pair of callous bastards."
"We are following the directives set down by our governments."
"Oh dear that will go over just peachy in the press won't it?"
"I was merely suggesting.."
"I know, Wilhelm. Sorry."
"Do you think we would be throwing away the surprise factor if we insert these individuals?"
"Well we sure had a few close calls. The Kra'Vak were onto Köhl on their first two operations even if they couldn't pin them down. Things looked like they were going well on the last show until they nuked the general vicinity of the transmission site right after Rölle's boys made with their transmission to Köhl.
"They could be dead."
"Your boy Rölle thinks not. Apparently it is their SOP to make transmission well away from the main body in these clandestine operations to prevent just such a likelihood."
"So that brings us back to the original point. We need to make a decision. We have our visitors coming tomorrow and they will be expecting a brief on the mission. So, is it worth the risk in losing surprise to get them in?" They both sat in silence for a moment. Bellamy rubbed his chin in deep thought. He had been a boxer in his younger days. thick fingers and wide knuckles were still callused from many ours of hard work at the Gym on the punching bag. Suddenly a thought occurred. Then he held up a finger.
"Hmm. I think I have an idea that will get them in and still maintain surprise. Best of both worlds, old boy."
The two guards leaned back against the wall of their dugout, buried underneath a large overhanging boulder. They were wrapped in thick coats. Scarves and goggles protected their faces against the incessant sandblasting of the wind. From here they had an excellent view of the approach to the resistance nest. Other OPs were manned around the perimeter of base. There were also remote seismic sensors out ahead of them on likely natural trails that led to the site. However with all of Röt Hafen's seismic activity they had proven very difficult to monitor.
Below them they heard the feint sound of dragging steps, and they both sprung to alertness. By the time they had fumble their weapons into position and were dialing the cave entrance guardpost, a real enemy could have marched a platoon by them.
They saw two figures stumbling down the small gully towards the entrance. Once had the other slung over his shoulders but was limping badly. They called in the sighting to the cave entrance then both left their post to investigate.
"Halt! What are you?" One man was carrying another. Both had blackened faces and torn up clothing.
"It is Meinriche. I...I have Sergeant Brooks with me." He leaned back against a rock and set his burden down. The two guards could see he that he was in severe pain. His eyes rolling deliriously in his head. One foot was missing, the stump wrapped in a bloody rag. Dried blood was caked on both their faces. Another arm was wrapped in rags also.
"Mein Gott, what happened?"
It was that bomb..."
Later that evening, at another hidden observation post, two partisans sat huddled against the howling cold night air. A third slept in the floor of the dugout wrapped in blankets. This OP observed the winding twisty gully which 946 had used to escape from Röt Hafen. The Aurora activity was fierce tonight and the shimmering greens and oranges vied for the two sentries' attention with the sensor.
"Hals. Hals! For god's sake wake up, man!"
"What? What is it?"
"There is movement down below. I'm reading it on the motion sensor."
"Shit." He scrambled to his feet. "Let me see." Hals looked at the motion sensor to confirm Erik's readings then dug out his night vision scope. At the bottom of the Gully he saw two Kra'Vak moving cautiously down the trail. Ten meters behind them was a file of 6 more figures. The lead was holding a device in one hand. They stopped for a moment. The point element stooped to examine the ground. They were held in rapt attention by the aliens. The way they moved, their posture, their equipment. Everything was so...different.
"This is not good. It looks like a tracking party." Hals scratched the remaining sleep out of his eyes and peered again. This had to be reported. But he dare not risk a transmission from here. The creatures were about fifty meters from their position.
"Petra. Listen to me. Take the radio. Sneak out the back way and get to the next observation point and warn them. Don't use the radio until you are well away from here. When you are done come back. I don't want to risk a transmission from here in case they have a direction finding device with them. Understand?"
"Ja", she said.
"Good. Now go quickly and silently."
"After she left, they watched the Kra'Vak sit in place for an additional ten minutes. It was difficult to discern what they were doing. Suddenly they stood up and continued on, past the OPs line of sight. A second unseen group followed behind. That left the count at nineteen Kra'Vak. Hals and Erik waited nervously for more groups to appear but none did. Knowing the Kra'Vak had passed by them added to the tension. Had Petra made contact?
"Go out the back and watch our rear. At least for an hour, until we know they are away from us. Hopefully Petra got through." The young partisan buttoned his coat up to the neck grabbed his rifle and squeezed out through the opening in the rear of the dugout. Hals heard him shuffle off a few steps then the howling night wind was his sole companion.
Hals returned to peering through the night vision goggles. He swept its view throughout the length of the gully until it disappeared in a bend. Dancing shadows from the Aurora made detecting movement difficult. He set down the scope for a second and rubbed his eye which was getting sore. Beside him he saw the motion display flashing and picked it up quickly. Erik must have been using it with the sound alarm off or turned down, because he hadn't heard it. It showed a single contact approaching from the rear. Must be Erik. Hals heard the footsteps approaching and then someone squeezing through the opening. Goddam what the hell is he doing back here already? Erik's head came through first, then shoulders. Hals thought it odd that his head was lolling from side to side. In a panic, Hals brought his rifle up as Erik's body came through the opening and was thrown at him. Before he could get a shot off, he was knocked back by the weight. Hals became entangled in the lifeless body. In the dancing green light he could see Erik's eyes staring out at nothing, a huge slit nearly separating the head from the rest of the body. By the time Hals had pushed the carcass off him, the Kra'Vak crouched at the opening. It lunged at him, a long blade flashing in green light just before it struck.
Petra was moving as quietly as possible over the lose rock along the steep ridge. Occasionally, one would slip and bounced down the slope. She was sure she was being followed. One hand steadied herself on the steep slope while the second gripped the handheld radio. Her rifle was slung across her back. She paused for a moment behind a ledge outcropping and thought she heard a feint noise of loose rock or sand collapsing. Or was it the wind? The green aurora caused shadows flickered like candlelight. She started wide-eyed at them, trying to control her breathing. A second sound of moving rocks rattled in front of her. She stared off in that direction, mouth agape. She looked at the radio in her hand, gripping it tightly now with both hands. She would have to make the call from here.
She turned it on and spoke quietly the built-in microphone "Post two, post two, this is post one, come in. Post two, post two, this is post one, come in!"
Very faintly amidst the crackle generated by the heavy aurora action, she heard a reply: "This is post two. Say again, last calling station."
"Post two this is post one! Enemy in sight. Enemy in sight!"
"This is post one. Did you say you have enemy in sight? Where? how many?"
"Unknown. We saw six to ten. I think I'm being followed."
"Where are they?"
"In the gully and on the ridge. Can you come get me? I think I'm trapped!"
The response was heavily garbled.
"Post two. Post two. Come in. Come in!" She shook the radio, trying to make it receive better.
She stared at the small radio in disbelief, then another sound caught her attention. More rocks moving. Faintly. Petra, put the radio on the ground and slowly grasped the sling of her rifle with both hands. Squatting against a rock, she couldn't bring herself to slip the rifle over her shoulder. She was too afraid of making noise. Right in front of her the shadows danced. She noticed one of the shadows moving out of synch with the others.
The creature hopped down in front of her. It squatted in front of her, its long air tubes swaying from side to side. It too had its rifle slung and a long blade was held in one hand. Petra closed her eyes in fear as the Kra'Vak soldier sank it into her belly.
Frament and Molitoris sat at Brook's bedside monitoring his vitals. Outside the room stood most of 946 except those actually working on the raid plan. Brooks had been brought in, near death. Meinriche had reported that after the nuclear detonation they had been flung down the ridge like ragdolls followed by a landslide. Three of the partisans had been killed outright. Brooks' helmet had probably saved his life. Meinriche found it smashed in two pieces beside his head. Obviously something large had rolled over Brook's head. He had also suffered a compound fracture to the forearm. Worse, however, was his ankle. Another large boulder had crushed it, ad the foot was hanging on by a thread. Meinriche, no medical expert himself, cut it away from the last threads of flesh, then applied a tourniquet and bandage. Then he had carried Brooks on his should the entire way back. He had found Brooks morphine syringes and administered both tubes, one a day, to lesson the pain. Still it had been an ordeal. 946 were grateful for the little partisan.
Brooks still looked in sorry shape. Infection had set in on the stump and they had been forced to take his left leg off, just below the knee. He wore a CV collar around his neck, having suffered some compressed vertebra and a concussion. A fractured ulna had been reset also. Now he was stable but still unconscious. Hopefully the infection had been arrested.
Frament walked into the hall. "Well. What's he deal? How is he?" Asked Donner.
"He's resting and stable right now. Gangrene had set in just above his ankle so we had to take the rest of the leg off just below the knee to a make sure we got it all. I've got him pumped full of antibiotics right now. He's got a concussion so there's no telling when we'll be able to speak to him. He's gonna need a few days of rest before he's in any shape to talk. But he's gonna live."
There were a few sighs of relief. "Way to go, Doc."
"Hey no problem man, that's my job.
Gerard came tearing down the hallway. The Kra'Vak are on the way. Let's saddle up! We gotta go!."
The VIP shuttle pulled into the Markgraf's hangar bay. Admiral von Blow and Admiral Bellamy, their staff and a small honor guard in dress uniforms waited patiently as the tailgate opened and the official party stepped out. Three gentlemen and a lady in business suits exited followed by their own entourage of lessor minions.
Admiral von Bulow recognized Herr Baumgartner and Mister Pimms instantly, but was surprised to see Frau Leni Mostik the NSL Foreign Minister accompanying them. Also with them was a short black man. Bellamy leaned over to von Bulow and whispered. "Do you know who that is? That's Elias Tesfane, UN Secretary of military operations. If the UN knows about this then it is safe to assume that everyone does."
Baumgartner, erect and stately in his manner of walk, proceeded directly to von Bulow. "Admiral von Bulow, good evening to you, Sir."
"Herr Minister, on behalf of the First Combined Assault Fleet, Welcome aboard the Markgraf." He snapped to attention and saluted.
"I believe you know Mister Pimms, the NAC Minister of defense?" Pimms nodded.
"Of course". Your reputation proceeds you, Sir.
"And of course, Frau Mostik, our illustrious Foreign Minister."
"Please, Rudolf. Stop being silly." She said with a smile.
"Oh forgive me Madame", he said with a smile.
"And this is Mister Elias Tesfane, Secretary of Military Operations for the United Nations." It is an honor to meet you all. You will forgive me if I'm taken somewhat at a disadvantage. I was not aware that Frau Mostik or Mister Tesfane would be accompanying you on your visit."
"A last minute change in itinerary. you will forgive me Admiral."
"Of course. Lady and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce my deputy commander, Admiral James Bellamy."
" A Pleasure."
"Would you like to be taken to your quarters to freshen up?"
"We've had plenty of time to rest on the trip out here. We'd like to get right down to business. Are you ready for the briefing?"
"Yes of course. Right this way. Your bags will be taken to your quarters."
"That's not necessary. We will be staying aboard our transport. Also I'd like for the meeting to consisted solely of yourself, Admiral Bellamy, and the four of us if that's all right with you?"
"Of course, Herr Minister. Right this way."
Once in the briefing room all aides and lessor officers were asked to leave. Baumgartner began the meeting with little fanfare. "All right Admiral. We received your report on the way in and have gone over it. Perhaps you can summarize the situation and your plans for us?"
"Of course, Herr Minister. As you are aware on 6 July, 2193, Staffel II/KG14 was conducting exercises in the outer system of Röt Hafen. It was ambushed by a Kra'Vak force and destroyed, together with the Spiegel owned research vessel Gussman. However due to the nature of the exercises, one of our ships, the Köhl, was outfitted with an experimental modification to the cloaking device. Käpitan Markmann, commander of II/KG14 had the presence of mind to order the Köhl to remain hidden and record all events. The Köhl subsequently remained in system for several days observing the Kra'Vak occupation from afar before exiting."
"The Kra'Vak promptly secured the space around Röt Hafen and eliminated all shipping and satellites in orbit except for the Dortmund station and its associated smelter. They eliminated three settlements on the planet and then conducted an orbital landing and occupied the main city and spaceport. The Kra'Vak were able to rapidly gain control of the entire planet. They also secured the mining facility and left the atmosphere processors intact. Using slave labor to operate these facilities, they also began major modifications and construction on the plant, which suggests to us that they are turning Röt Hafen into some kind of base or logistical facility. Apparently they are able to communicate with their captives through a kind of neural/telepathic device installed in certain individuals which act as go-betweens with the slave workforce and their captors." An image of one of the handlers, captured by 946, appeared on the holo-projector.
"The Kra'Vak occupation has been brutal and much suffering has been inflicted on the population. They have employed nuclear weapons, both in the initial attacks and in some dealing with the partisan force, which was rapidly established to oppose them. They have treated the population with brutality and are using them merely for slave labor." Bellamy engaged the holo-projector and the scenes of the mass grave, shot buy Donner, were displayed.
"Gott im Himmel!"
"Oh my God." The politicians were visibly shaken. The scene switched to a number of short clips taken by 946 during their reconnaissance. As you can see, conditions on the planet are extremely harsh and there is much suffering. Deaths are at least in the tens of thousands.
The First Combined Assault fleet was called into being by combined order of both the Nue Schwabian League and New Anglican on 11 July 1998. After rapid consultations and initial planning we established the fleet rendezvous site here and began preparations for an eventual counter offensive against Röt Hafen. Throughout this period, the Köhl, with her special cloaking ability, continued to observe the situation in system. On 21 July, we inserted a NAC Special Forces team to conduct clandestine surveillance of the target area and to establish contact with the resistance. The excellent intelligence we have can be traced primarily to the Köhl and this Special Forces team."
"I'd like to meet the Captain of the Köhl. Quite an impressive job he's done."
"I'm afraid that's not possible Herr Minister, The Köhl is once again in the Röt Hafen system on another intelligence operation.
"Pity." When this is all over he'll be honored as a hero."
"Yes, well, as I was saying..."
"The First Combined Assault Fleet has been gathering here for the past fifteen days. It has been conducting pre-battle maintenance, mission preparation and training exercises. From here we are two small jumps form Röt Hafen. We currently have at our disposal over 90 warships ranging from Corvettes to Super dreadnoughts. Admiral Bellamy's carrier task force contains 3 fleet carriers and 2 light carriers, plus a fifteen other escort warships. Our ground component, headed by Colonel Rölle, consists of one aerospace landing battalion, one air assault battalion, (Skimmer), one armored battalion, a fire support battalion, a small contingent of Special Forces and of Power armor, and a large medical support unit."
Go to Operation Harbinger part 2 of 4
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