Today’s daily prompt, Elusive, brought a scene from my book to mind, so I want to take this opportunity to showpiece this work with my followers. In the passages below, the acronym USpN stands for United Space Navy.
The United Space Navy had only three fleets. The first fleet (and by far the largest) was stationed in Earth orbit. Its primary function was to maintain order in the near-Earth environs. The second fleet was moon-based, and the third fleet was based in Mars orbit but was responsible for maintaining order everywhere other than on Earth or the moon.
At the moment, First Fleet was on the hot seat, and Fleet Admiral Joshua Brooks was feeling that heat. Brooks had been monitoring the alien flyby of the moon from his quarters aboard the USpN battle cruiser Invincible. When the feed from Governor Winton’s office made it painfully obvious that the visitors were just bypassing the moon and heading for Earth, he moved directly from his desk to the door opening into Fleet Control Center (FCC).
As he entered FCC, his flag aide, Lieutenant Anthony Manzelli announced, “Admiral on the bridge,” even though this was not technically the bridge. In a weightless environment, everyone could not rise and stand at attention at the appearance of a superior officer. The Navy had developed new protocols whereby everyone not engaged in a critical task would turn toward their superior officer and slap their hand to their chest over their heart, similar to the old Roman legions.
“As you were,” Brooks said, and the rustle of everyone turning back to their stations added a bit of normalcy to this otherwise bizarre situation.
“Commander Santos, I need an update on when our visitors will cross our line of defense.”
“Sir, the visitors are proceeding directly in system at approximately thirty-two thousand kilometers per hour and should reach our defensive perimeter in just over eight hours. If we maintain our current orbital configuration, B Wing will be at the approximate crossover point.”
“I assume that means we will have just passed that point with B Wing coming up directly behind us?”
“Yes sir. We will be about eighteen thousand kilometers past the intercept.”
Brooks nodded. “Okay. Notify Captain Greene that I want A Wing to expand its orbit so that we will intercept the three ships just above B Wing. That way we will have at least two wings between them and Earth. Since they are ignoring all of our communications, I think we need to get a little more aggressive and interpose a few of our ships directly in their flight path. Have B Wing running with weapons hot below A Wing while we try to wake them up by blocking their path. I want three destroyers dispatched from A Wing, one for each of the alien vessels. They are to break from the wing ten minutes before intercept and head directly into the incoming flight paths. We are going to play a little game of chicken.”
The scout leader detected numerous ships orbiting this planet in what appeared to be a spherical defensive perimeter. This could prove to be a problem, depending on the ships’ capabilities. Since its orders were not to engage with the locals, it would have to find a way through this rather thin picket line. Once through, however, each scout would have to deal with possible pursuit and disruption of the assigned tasks. It was time to split up and use their superior acceleration and speed to avoid any confrontation.
The leader passed on specific orders to the other scouts. Instead of establishing orbits around the planet just above the atmosphere for completing the mapping, they would have to make multiple high-speed passes over the planet from slightly further out. This would use up more fuel, but they had plenty to spare. The biggest disadvantage was that each of the scouts would have to remain in their acceleration tanks during the mapping process. Controlling the mapping equipment was easier from outside of the tanks but not impossible while immersed. Presetting the laser mapping controls before entering the tanks should be sufficient. If any fine adjustments became necessary, the scout leader would suspend the mapping process long enough to exit the tank, make the adjustments, and reenter the tank before the next high-speed pass over the planet.
“Sir, they’re splitting up and accelerating in three different directions,” Commander Santos reported. “They are already up to almost eighty thousand kilometers per hour, and each has a heading to pass through our screen in less than twenty minutes.”
“Plot the contact points, Commander,” Brooks replied. “I need to know if we will have any of our ships close enough to intercept.”
Thirty seconds later, Santos reported, “They have chosen their breach points very carefully sir. We cannot get any ship close to them.”
“Get me Naval Headquarters.”
Fifteen seconds later, Brooks was connected to Andrea Miller, Secretary of the Space Navy.
“What do you have for me, Admiral?”
“Ma’am, the visitors will breach our perimeter in less than twenty minutes and will be heading directly toward Earth with unknown intentions. They have accelerated to a speed far beyond our capability to pursue or even for a missile to strike. The only thing that could catch them would be a laser weapon.”
“Thank you, Fleet Admiral. Have you seen any evidence of hostile intent?”
“No, ma’am. They were ignoring us completely until we interposed our ships between them and Earth, and then they changed their approach by accelerating around us.”
“I’ll get back to you if we have any further orders, Admiral.”
Secretary Miller cut the connection.
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