The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos, The Journey Homeward, Ambush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda, Changing the Moon, and Expanding Horizons. Today we get Episode 32.
Running the Blockade
As they began the return trip it was instituted that evening meals would be diplomatic gatherings. Chambers hoped they would begin to form a cohesive group by being together, but the meals sometimes had the opposite effect. Each night 5 of the representatives were allowed to take 10 minutes to introduce themselves, and to briefly discuss what they felt should be the priorities and course of action for the new government.
The speeches were sometimes elegant and moving, well thought out, and articulately given. Other times though they were tirades against common morality, public welfare, and common sense. Jamison worried about how they would ever find common ground. Chambers and he decided that Jamison would wait and be among the last to give his speech. They hoped that by being among the last, and perhaps working off his name recognition, he would be placed in charge of the group.
When they were about two weeks out, there was a night when the speeches had been particularly bad. The politicians had been advocating the legalization of all kinds of unsafe and cruel behavior, everything from the marketing of highly addictive intoxicants to slavery was lifted up as essential to the survival of the colonies.
The last speaker went even further by stating that alignment with the Kilkians must be made illegal at all costs. Both Chambers and Jamison, of course, already knew this man was aligned with the Dibolocos. But unlike all the other speakers of the past couple of weeks, this man said he planned to cleanse the delegates of the Kilkian menace. He announced they would soon meet a blockade, and they would either, allow the Dibolocos to board and kill all those sympathetic to the Kilkians, or they would all be destroyed.
Chambers quietly slipped to a communication panel, she ordered the convoy stopped and had discreet probes sent ahead which confirmed the presence of the blockade. Given this information she arrested the man for treason and assigned him a cell in the brig. To her surprise several co-conspirators immediately confessed and asked to also be put in the brig. She quickly realized they expected to be safer down there once the impending conflict started.
The other candidates had wanted to return to their quarters, but Chambers directed them to stay together in the formal dining hall. They would be less vulnerable in the event they were boarded by hostiles. Jamison remembered well the attack on board the SS Grover Cleveland, and he hoped they could avoid a similar attack here.
Chambers returned to the bridge after assigning a sizable contingent of armed soldiers to the dining hall. She spent the next few hours sending additional probes trying to find a spot where she could get through the blockade with a minimal amount of conflict. She didn’t see any spot where the blockade was truly weak. In fact, she was startled by the amount of strength she saw in the group of ships. There were hundreds of vessels, including a number of them which had previously been CDF vessels.
Because of the large number of ships, going around the group was not a good option. They had enough ships to shift the ones on the lee side to whichever side they were attempting to use to go around. Facing this reality gave Chambers the plan she ultimately settled on. She sent her convoy up to the point where they might slip over the wall of opponents. She instructed they use the disturbance created by a quasar to mask their approach for as long as possible. But they would be detected before getting through. She even communicated these plans to the candidates. She knew it was likely that some of them were still in contact with these enemies.
When the convoy began moving out from the interference of the quasar the enemy ships shifted as expected to seal them in. As they approached the blockade the number of ships in front of them increased dramatically. But also ships further below thinned out and Chambers slipped through this now barely defended area. She had the delegates and was making haste toward the capital. Prior to engaging the superior force, the rest of her battle group turned and beat a hasty retreat, causing the combatants to give chase.
Just as Chambers began to think the ruse had been a total success, she felt the presence of Dibolocos boarding her ship. Three of them, near the dining hall. From Jamison’s perspective, with the candidates, he felt the presence of the Dibolocos just outside the door, he called the alarm and pointed just as the doors exploded inward. The three aliens marched in swinging their axes at everything and everybody. The small group of Dibolocos had a few humans with them, which were quickly taken down by the defending soldiers. After this, many of the CDF guards scattered, but a few tried to stand their ground and fire on the aliens.
Their attempts were totally futile, since humans cannot harm Dibolocos. Those brave enough to stand and fight were the first casualties in the skirmish. Jamison, moved safely away and tried yelling commands to everyone as to how to avoid the enemy, but in the pandemonium no one was listening.
Half a dozen Kilkians materialized and joined the battle on behalf of the humans. The Dibolocos were able to kill several more people including two candidates, but the Kilkians were able to subdue them before any other damage was done. As these battles must end, the Kilkians allowed the Dibolocos to reform and then transport off the ship.
The two dead candidates had both been unaligned. In addition to these two, eight soldiers were dead and eleven humans who had boarded with the enemy. But to everyone’s surprise, it was also found that the group down in the brig was also dead. No one saw how it happened. There was no electronic record of the event despite the fact the brig was under constant recorded surveillance.
They continued toward the capital. Chambers crew recorded interviews with everyone present during the attack, in keeping with her mission. Jamison and her were amazed how many of the candidates were blaming the attack on the Kilkians. They assumed the candidates in the brig had been killed by the Kilkians as retribution for their cooperation with the Dibolocos. Furthermore, the CDF Central Command was ordering her to report the event as an attack by pirates rather than by the Dibolocos.