Dueling Politicians

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding Horizons, and Running the Blockade.  Today we get Episode 32.

 

Dueling Politicians

They arrived at the capital city, and the delegates were shuttled to the planet’s surface. They were assigned luxury housing in the downtown area. The compound had been built just for them. It had elaborate security systems and a contingent of troops assigned to protect them. They settled in and planned to meet together the next morning to begin the process of designing what system of government they would choose.

To everyone’s surprise the CDF commanders informed them they would be giving them an orientation for the next couple of days that would acquaint them with the history of the colonies, the past styles of government, the resources and economy of the different planets and the basics of political theory. It made sense when you realized that most of the representatives were completely new to politics. But on the other side of the coin, it also made sense that the military leaders wanted to have as much input into the new government as possible.

Jamison felt a certain amount of suspicion about the arrangement. He saw the distinct possibility that the CDF would ultimately not turn control back to their elected government. But no matter what fears he had, there was no real choice, except to go along with the program.

The first day they were escorted into a meeting room. It was arranged with lots of small desks, all facing a stage. Up on the stage were larger desks for three leaders to sit, between these leaders and the delegates desks, was a podium for whichever delegate had the floor. They were all assigned desks, and for now at least, a CDF officer named Commodore Galvez moderated the delegation.

Jamison was seated on the third row and a little to the right of center. He looked around the room and realized every single desk had a delegate at it. He settled in for the first day of instruction, presented by the CDF. He found it to be a lot more helpful than he had expected. He took extensive notes, on a console provided for the purpose. It was set up with some impressive tools he found genuinely useful.

When it came time to return the second day he was surprised to discover he was looking forward to further education. He noticed one of the desks was empty. He asked several others about the politician who had been there and he either got someone who didn’t know or else someone who seemed to know, but still answered vaguely. He then sent a message to Chambers and asked her if she knew anything about it. She didn’t, but promised to look into it.

By the time the first break came around a message was waiting, explaining what had happened. During the previous evening delegates were gathered informally and discussing what they hoped would be the policy and shape of the new government. Two of them had a heated disagreement about the best direction, and it ended with the two of them stepping out back, with their weapons. A little while later the CDF was quietly disposing of a body and only one delegate returned.

After lunch another delegate was missing. A few questions later and Jamison realized there had been another duel. By the third day they had eight fewer delegates than they started with. Those who were unaligned or aligned with the Dibolocos were fighting for who would be in control. This was a cruel way to sort out a new government. Jamison took note of how little the Dibolocos cared if their minions killed each other off. He also noted that the winner of the duels was gaining greater respect among the representatives. His name was Richards, and Jamison figured he would cross paths with him sooner or later.

That evening he saw Richards looking for his next victim. He challenged one of the unaligned men to a duel. The man refused to step out back for the fight, he said he would settle his battles through debate. Jamison thought he was being wise.

Then Richards smiled broadly and said, “Have it your way, but no one will listen to a coward.”

Jamison thought about that statement. The group was working out a pecking order. With the CDF not allowing them to begin active debate, they were finding other ways to wrestle for control. When Richards walked away from the first victim he started straight towards Jamison.

“How about you, sniper, or are you chicken too?”

“Gunplay won’t determine who’s right, only who is left.” Jamison responded.

Richards cackled out a laugh. “How do they expect us to rule the colonies with a bunch of cowards? We’ll see you in the slaughterhouse yet, boy.” And with that he walked away.

The other man Richards had challenged was visibly shaken, so Jamison walked back with him to his suite. But along the way they found themselves surrounded by hostile delegates who pushed and prodded the two of them out to the back alley where the duels were taking place. Jamison immediately felt the danger of people trying to kill him. He felt the presence of a Dibolocos nearby. Colopher spoke to his mind telling him to focus on the men and Kilkians would remove the Dibolocos. A moment later he no longer felt the Dibolocos presence.

Richards stepped out to the middle of the alley on the far end, and asked which of the two victims would go first. Jamison knew the other man stood no chance, so he stepped up. As he surveyed the situation he sensed there was a shooter on the roof too. The second shooter nearly guaranteed Richards the win.

“So how do you go about this?” Jamison asked.

Richards laughed, “We will use a timer, one of the spectators will set it for 1 minute, and when it beeps we both draw our weapons and shoot. Should be easy for a big shot sniper like you.”

“Okay. Mind if I take a practice shot first, to range in my weapon?”

“Knock yourself out. It won’t help.”

Jamison drew his weapon, set it on small explosion and blew a hole in the wall just below where the man was hiding on the roof, the blast killed the man who was thrown up into the air. When the body landed the eaves of the building were shattered, allowing the body to fall into the street beside Richards.

Jamison watched as Richards began trembling and sweating. Jamison asked, “Maybe you changed your mind about dueling?”

Jamison thought for a minute he was going to back down, but after a second he called out. “Start the timer.”

The men on the side did as he asked and after a long minute the timer beeped. Jamison ignored it and watched for Richards to reach for his gun. But he didn’t. The men on the side started yelling at Richards. They called him names and commanded him to finish what he had started.

Then he tried. Jamison shot him before his gun was clear of the holster. He had forgotten to reset it to the appropriate setting. So the man was blown to bits with most of the audience being splattered by the bloodsport they had been encouraging.

Jamison spoke to the group. “Are you satisfied now? Or does anyone else want to try their luck?”

The men found their way to their suites. Jamison walked his friend back to his suite, before returning to his own and vomiting.

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Running the Blockade

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush 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.

Expanding Horizons

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda and Changing the Moon.  Today we get Episode 31

 

Expanding Horizons

Jamison was quietly freaking out, trying to come up with a plan to call his team back together without tipping off the enemy that he knew they were there. Colofer indicated it was under control, but Jamison still felt uneasy. It was one thing when he placed his own life in peril, but it was another to have the lives of these other people in danger because of him.

Colofer said, “So that you may understand and learn to trust your king, your eyes will be opened.”

At that moment Jamison suddenly felt the presence of another Kilkian. Then he became aware of more. Finally he realized there were many more. He looked across the greenbelt and saw what might have been hundreds of Kilkians, shrouded from everyone else’s view. Some were guiding the men back to the transport, others were guiding the animals he had ordered to be collected to move in the same direction. There were some others moving in the lake, causing fish to respond so that exactly one of each of the five species were caught in a matter of seconds. Other Kilkian’s he could see were obscuring the view of the enemy.

He saw all this activity around him and was suddenly aware that the King was constantly more actively caring for his people than Jamison had previously understood. He silently asked the king’s forgiveness for his own lack of trust. And within a few minutes the entire mission was successfully finished. All the men who had come along realized that it had been a miraculous event, but only Jamison was aware of the Kilkians working together to produce the miracle.

Then just as quickly as they had been revealed to him, the many Kilkians around the island became cloaked once again. Jamison vowed to himself to remember this lesson and to not distrust the capability of his king ever again.

When they returned to the mining colony, Jamison assigned the animals to a research team. With the advanced scanners it was quickly dicovered that many of the animals were excellent for food. Others were good as pets. Among the fruit gathered in the greenbelt there was a variety of healthy and tasty options.

Over the next couple of weeks Jamison continued sending out teams, and found additional greenbelts all over the moon they lived on. He even proposed that one be built up as a vacation spot for future visitors. Platinum 9 now had several things to build a healthy economy upon. First they had the food source Platinum Sweet Moss, or rodent weed as they called it locally. Second, they still had the platinum mines. They also had several other types of food from the green belts that could be marketed in limited amounts as delicacies. Finally they had tourism, or they would have once they successfully developed the resort.

Jamison was excited about all of these possibilities, and looked forward to bringing them forward. But he constantly kept the others on his leadership team involved, both so that the work would develop faster, as well as to allow the possiblity that he would not be there to finish the tasks. This possibility seemed likely since his calling for the king had been to bring law to all the people, not just this small colony.

While these developments were taking place on Platinum 9, Chambers was continuing her job of driving back the pirates and as an agent of propaganda. She was instructed to highlight successes and Platinum 9 was the most successful story she was able to share. Every colony she visited was treated to the report of how this moon went from complete despair to great success. People were excited to hear about a return to normalacy. This included a return of a healthy economy, and the possibility of a successful government of the people. But for many they also sought to align themselves with the king because her videos highlighted his role in the achievements.

The end result was that many colonies experienced a revival as people aligned with the king and began living the lifestyle that went with it. Their were places though, where the message was totally rejected. The capital, the colonists center of operations landed in between the two extremes. But the capital did take extreme notice of one thing, they wanted a return of government. The people wanted a society of law and order, again.

People began to call on the CDF to establish a representative government. A few weeks later a notice was sent out for colonies to elect a candidate to gather and begin the process of establishing a central government. The military planned to help them get established and arrange a transfer of power once they were ready.

Naturally, Jamison was the candidate appointed to represent Platinum 9 at the capital. He worked with his alternate to become chancellor after he was gone. She was an older, well respected and very capable woman. He found her to be trustworthy, not just in her leadership and care for the colony, but also in her loyalty to the king.

Chambers was sent out to gather the candidates. The CDF still considered her their best bet at a successful run. Despite the success of her missions they did not yet trust other battle groups would come back again if sent out. Part of the problem with their mentality was they still had a disproportionate amount of leadership aligned with Dibolocos. The rest though was realism. Prior to the return of Chambers, they had a pattern of losing ships.

Chambers arranged to pick up Jamison early on. This gave him the advantage of being on ship and meeting the majority of the other candidates as they were picked up. A few were aligned with the king. Not as many as he had hoped for. More were aligned with Dibolocos. The few that were not aligned either way were purposefully shown the video footage of Platinum 9. To the surprise of both Jamison and Chambers, not a one of them made the personal choice to align with the king, even after seeing this evidence.

Since they were picking up elected officials, these guests were treated very well on the gathering cruise. They were fed the best of foods. Jamison noted with pride that Platinum Sweet Moss was among the foods being offered. They were given luxurious suites and were provided with staff who were charged to meet their every request with a smile.

Jamison took note that many of the candidates were taking full advantage of the opportunity. He looked on this behavior as more befitting spoiled brats than individuals who were responsible for the welfare of the colonies. In spending time with these people he realized that more than a few of them were self-appointed. They came from places where there was no structure yet, therefore they were not selected by their peers, but whoever could muscle themselves into the position filled it. This included a couple of thugs, at least one loan shark, and a couple of local crime bosses heading up large criminal organizations. One individual even described a race, whereby the candidates left the center of town and whoever made it to the pick up zone first, or alive, became the candidate.

Given the collection of representatives, he suspected it was going to be a difficult time forming one united government out of them.

Changing the Moon

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed and Convoys and Propaganda.  Today we get Episode 30

 

Changing the Moon

Back on Platinum 9, Jamison had made great headway.  The people were organized into a temporary government and when it came time to elect regular representatives, the people had asked for Jamison to consider running for Chancellor, the post they had determined would be the highest office.

Jamison had originally declined, but Colofer suggested he change his mind. When he announced his candidacy, he also was obligated to discuss what his operating principles would be. He used that chance to tell the people about the nature of the warfare going on around them between the Kilkians and the Dibolocos. He told them his own history and how he had been led to the rodent weed by the Kilkians. Finally he explained what it really meant to be aligned with the Kilkian king and invited any others who wished to make this choice to join him.

In the days that followed, Platinum 9 began changing very quickly as large numbers of people also aligned themselves with the Kilkian king. Those who had aligned with the Dibolocos were hostile to the whole transition, but the majority of the people understood this hostility and were not dissuaded by it. Jamison made sure he began carrying a side arm again, because he knew the battle of ideas often spilled over into a more physical battle.

When the election came he was elected Chancellor, and to his surprise every single member of his governing board was aligned with the Kilkians. He took this as a mandate to set up a society operating on the principles of the Kilkian king so he immediately set about making laws affecting moral behavior. Severe penalties were put in place for causing injury or death, theft, sexual crimes, and many other activities which harm others. In addition to this, sexual entertainment was outlawed, as was most forms of chemical recreation. The proprietors of these businesses were uniformly under the control of Dibolocos and Jamison knew outlawing them would invite trouble. But he also knew removing their influence would help even more people accept the Kilkian king.

Regarding trade, they determined they needed a way to market their rodent weed. So a signal was sent to the capital city seeking a partner in marketing the product. It only took a short time before a businessman contact them back offering to trade water and cash for the product which he would then package and sell. Jamison believed this negotiation was critical to the future of the colony so he took on the task of finalizing the negotiations and signing the agreements personally. When he did, he found out the businessmen was his friend, Compagno.

Compagno insisted on giving him better terms than previously negotiated, and the deal was finalized. One aspect of the deal which was normally in place during this time was agreements over who took the losses due to pirating.  Compagno and Jamison both felt there would be no pirating, having been so led by their Kilkian advisors. The product would be marketed under the name Platinum Sweet Moss.

In the meantime, the colonists had harvested enough extra rodent weed to fill the first order. They discovered that it would keep very well as long as it was kept cold and moist. Jamison sent out a general request for traders to work the short route between his moon and the capital, but got no immediate response. After a couple of days the message reached Chambers. She would be able to bring her convoy by on their return trip. They could expect her to be there in two weeks.

For Chambers on the convoy, the two weeks went very smoothly.  She was surprised that there had not been another pirate attack on her trip. She decided this meant a few things, first no one with her was communicating their plans to the pirates any longer. Second the pirates themselves were having to find a new tactic. If any of the pirates were truly just human and not guided by Dibolocos then they would not be anxious to attack an entire battle group.  But she doubted there were any in this category. She believed all of the pirates were guided by Dibolocos and this explained their great success. Now that four CDF ships were controlled by Kilkians, the Dibolocos no longer held the advantage in battle.

When she pulled up to Platinum 9 she was amazed at the transformation of the colony since their last visit. She made sure this fact was recorded and added to the video documentaries they were preparing. She also spent some time with Jamison. She attended a Chancellor’s dinner and met the governing board. More interviews were done and additional footage was available to show the other colonies what success was possible when governed with a moral standard and under the leadership of the Kilkian king.

The visit of the trading convoy also meant the resumption of business on platinum 9. Store owners could stock their shelves, the colony government had cash to restore public services, and most importantly they had fresh water. This allowed Jamison to do several things he had been pondering since he took control of the local government. He wanted to know what else was on this moon. Were there other resources and supplies that could be useful to the colony?

Since the records held by the previous mining interest had been erased, the quickest way of knowing was going out and exploring. So he immediately sent out parties with this purpose in mind. They had very few vehicles for this kind of operation, but they did have some of the best scanning and survey equipment in production.

The early trips found that this moon truly did have a remarkable amount of platinum. There were trace amounts of other minerals, but in order to make mining them profitable they needed more concentrated finds. After a few days of these explorations a group came back with a very surprising report. Their scanners had shown ground water. This led them to a small lake and an area of only a few square kilometers with a lush life belt. Jamison figured something like this had to exist because there was no other explanation for the source of the rodent weed, and rodents.

The team that found it encouraged him to come and see it for himself. He found the idea to his liking and loaded up with them for the trip.  But when he set foot on the land-barge he immediately felt a sense of danger.  Looking around he realized it all settled on one of the men in the expedition. Colofer confirmed this to him, and noted the man planned to kill him if he got the chance. Jamison simply handled the situation by having the man assigned to a task which required him to stay behind.

Upon arriving at the life belt Jamison was surprised at how lush it was, given its small size. There was a a variety of game, fish in the lake and fresh fruit. He decided a sampling could be taken back without depleting the resource and assigned men to gather these products. But he also sensed they were not alone. A Dibolocos was a couple kilometers across the life belt. He was aware of the presence of Dibolocos from time to time even back in the mining colony. They would come in and manipulate the unaligned or directly control the individuals who were aligned with them. But finding a Dibolocos out here was surprising.

It took him a few minutes to realize that with the Dibolocos was a man with a sniper’s rifle. Jamison knew that his side arm did not have the range that this weapon did and likely if he came into view he would be killed. Other members of his party were probably also in danger, but he had already sent them out. Even worse, if they heard the firing of a weapon, they would likely just attribute it to the hunters gathering game.

Convoys and Propaganda

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink and Saved by Rodent Weed.  Today we get Episode 29

 

Convoys and Propaganda

Chambers took her battle group out for training prior to beginning combat duty. During the course of this training she first set up her own command to her liking. Then she assisted the captains in setting up their commands. She met them individually, giving them a detailed view of how she arranged her own structure. Then she allowed them to return to their ship and set up their own commands.  Finally she inspected each ship to verify that whatever command structure the captain chose to use would be functional.

When it was time for her to train Captain Avery she found him to be well versed both as a military commander and as a servant of the Kilkian King. He was already aware of her alignment but did not have the advantages that had been extended to her and Jamison.

Captains Corel and Dremmer both were competent officers and she believed they would both cooperate and follow orders as needed in a battle group. Unfortunately, Captain Bittlesworth seemed to have no intention whatsoever of following orders. On the final day of training she gathered all of them to discuss strategy and experience with pirates. Bittlesworth started off the meeting with a sullen attitude, but quickly progressed to accusing her of being inexperienced and incapable of leading. She reigned him in by assuring him she knew how to fill out a court martial. He quickly submitted, but the exchange made it clear to Chambers that she would continue to have trouble with him.

From there the group went to the moon, Adjupt. It served as a space port in the past, but now it was more like a parking lot. It was filled with ships that were afraid to do any trading. She made the normal announcements for a convoy. Even as recently as six months ago these ships would have jumped at the chance to trade under protection, but now they were afraid to go out even with a full battle group guarding them.

About this time though the news broke, carefully crafted and spun by the military command, regarding Chambers victories against the pirates. When word got around that the battle group was commanded by the same Captain Chambers, a few ships agreed to go out under her direction and protection. Normally a convoy might be as many as twenty merchant ships, Chambers would be heading out with only five freighters. It was a very small start.

As they departed to begin trade with outlying colonies, the merchant captains loaded up with different goods to sell and trade along the way. They would also bring back goods from these different colonies to sell at the home planet.

Prior to departure Chambers hosted a formal dinner with each of the captains both CDF and merchant. At this meal each was interviewed on film so the CDF could publish it later if the run was successful. As she watched this process, she became aware of a sense of danger or anxiety from one of the merchant captains. To make matters worse this captain was also actively aligned with the Dibolocos and seemed to have already formed a partnership with Captain Bittlesworth.

When they headed out the first stop was a relatively close star system with two different colonies on different planets. Chambers planned to go to the larger colony first and to the smaller one after. The whole point of a convoy was sticking together for safety. Captain Bittlesworth sent a communication indicating he was taking the one ship with him to the smaller colony and would rejoin the convoy later. Chambers ordered him to stay with the group, but he simply took off with his new friend. All of these events were faithfully recorded for later publication.

When the trading was done on the larger colony for the majority of the convoy, they started toward the other planet in order to join up with Bittlesworth and his friend. But as they approached the planet Chambers became convinced they were flying into a trap of some kind.  She ordered the colony therefore to stop before getting within firing range of the planetary defenses. Bittlesworth sent numerous communications asking, ordering and even begging for her to come toward the planet. She refused and continued to order him to come out to rejoin her.

Finally he did come out, with guns blazing. On one side of him was the friend, his ship now transformed into a gun boat, and on the other side was a more traditional pirate ship. She quickly configured the group to get the military ships between the honest merchants and the pirates. They counted a total of 11 missiles launched toward them.

She also deployed a volley of torpedoes. Instead of placing the torpedoes in front of the oncoming enemies, she put a missile above two and below the third.  The first connected with Captain Bittlesworth’s ship and disabled it. It should have missed him completely, but he dodged downward right into its path. At the same second the two other ships dodged up. The pirate ship was hit and was completely destroyed. The last ship, the converted merchant, saw what happened and survived the first volley, by a sudden turn away. But Captain Avery had fired a single round into that spot of space and it was also disabled and on fire. After a few minutes it exploded. Most likely internal fires found their way to the ship’s ammo stores.

These successes might have allowed for a moment of celebration, but they needed to identify and deal with the incoming missiles.  A few different defenses were utilized, Captain Dremmer deployed a series of drones which each dispersed a storm of holographic decoys. The majority of the missiles detonated beside one of these. Two missiles remained. The first was aimed at Captain Dremmer’s vessel, but Avery’s defenses managed to destroy it with a close range laser as it passed by him.

The other was aimed right at the bridge of the flag ship. Chambers saw it coming on the read out, and as all other options failed she enabled a tactical display of her own and shot a single plasma burst at it. The normal procedure would have been to fill the section of space with multiple shots, but she fired once and downed the bird. All of these remarkable shots had been guided by Colofen’s advice.

They boarded Bittlesworth’s vessel and arrested him and his remaining crew.  A large number was missing. Chambers could guess they had been sold into slavery or executed.

The ships remaining celebrated the victory and Chambers hosted them again for a formal dinner. More interviews were filmed for use in reassuring the public that order was being restored. But as these activities were winding down the Captains asked Chambers to explain the wildly accurate nature of her shots and offensive. To her surprise, Colofen suggested she tell them the whole story.

After a long explanation of the nature of the warfare, she also described the special training she had from the Kilkians. She did not tell them Colofen had been onboard helping her, but she did give anyone who wanted an invitation to align with the Kilkians. By the end of the meeting every one of the Captains chose to align.  The majority of her bridge crew did the same and the same changes occurred on the other vessels, as well.

All of this was recorded by the communication equipment the CDF had provided.

Saved by Rodent Weed

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9 and Refit, Retrain and Rethink.  Today we get Episode 28

 

Jamison was holed up in a den under a water tank waiting for his eyes to adjust to find out what was moving around him in the dark. He knew by his senses that he was in no immediate danger, but his imagination was still having a field day. It could be spiders, reptiles, or almost anything else. He stayed calm but was still glad when a few minutes later he could begin to see.

Over the next few minutes he found that the bottom of the tank was leaking slightly. This allowed the soil beneath to be viable and a moss like substance was growing. A family group of some small rodent was living in there, and as he watched the animals both ate the moss and fed it to their young. Jamison thought to himself the whole family would be short lived. Unless it had some unusual qualities anything grown in such contaminated water would also be contaminated.

He spent the rest of the day listening as the men outside milled around and considered their options. Late in the day he heard a couple of them talking about the water. Apparently the colony was dreadfully low on water, would run out soon, and expected no more deliveries since they had no means of payment. They had few choices. Let their families die of hunger and thirst, or filter this water and let them be poisoned by what could not be filtered out.

Jamison’s heart broke at the choice. Soon he came to understand the king wanted him to intervene, but he didn’t know how or what to do yet. He also expected that he would be seen as a traitor if he showed himself. Everyone off world was seen as the enemy that had abandoned them there to die. He was from off world and worse, could only have been left behind by the ship that had rescued the administrators.

Jamison understood how they felt, he himself was hungry and thirsty. But he was especially thirsty. He had not had a drink in almost 24 hours. It would not be much longer before his mind began to cloud and become less trustworthy. In order to prevent focusing on these thoughts and on his thirst, he spent a lot of time focusing on the family of rodents. They were cute, and very friendly. The babies were curious and crawled all over him. The adults were equally friendly and soon were nuzzling up under his hand whenever he was not petting one of them.

The whole family was wiggling around like nothing was wrong. Jamison was getting curious. He waited till it was quiet outside, and risked turning on the sensor he had taken from the control room. When it beeped it seemed so loud he was sure someone would come. But when no sounds could be heard he scanned the water in the ground. Again it was full of heavy metals. But this seemed in opposition to the fact the creatures were healthy. He scanned one of the creatures and found it uncontaminated. This was puzzling. Next he scanned the moss. It was a great deal like the sweet moss dessert, and it was not contaminated either.

Further investigations proved the ground there was super saturated by heavy metals, Jamison came to the conclusion that the plant somehow filtered that stuff out. He scanned it again and when it registered as safe to eat he tried some. It was delicious and a bit like eating watermelon it was so saturated with cleaned water. He had his fill and began to feel his energy and strength return. Being full and warm, he napped and when he awoke it was still daylight. But he noticed the moss had already grown back. Then the makings of a plan took shape in his mind.

He stayed in that den all day long and didn’t come out until evening when he was sure he could move around undetected. He then used rubber hoses to release the water into the dirt landing field between the mine and the settlement. Then he made repeated trips into the den to bring out some of the moss. Each time he spread little bits of moss into the ever expanding puddle created by the water coming out of the tank. By morning the large flat area which had been dirt, looked like it was covered with grass. He tested the fast growing edible moss several times. He found it contained enough fresh water to keep the colonists alive and was totally safe.

When they approached to see what it was, they were anxious to hear from him, and elated to hear they had, not just a means of survival, but a product that would entice traders back to their colony. That is if any could get around the pirates.

Jamison helped the men harvest enough food for their families’ immediate needs and in the process came to know and be known by almost everyone in the colony. As he interacted with them about the new product, the people developed a degree of trust in him. He used this fact to garner shelter, and over the next few weeks considered with the miners what their next steps should be.

First was the question of legalities. After all, they had obtained their situation by rioting, but on the other side of the coin the company had abandoned them there to die, so under common law they had also forsaken any claim to the resources there. So the individuals who had remained would likely be considered the rightful owners of all land and resources.

But who would be in charge of the colony and what type of government would they use. Jamison saw the problems coming and decided to deal with them as straight on by asking for a general assembly. There was no place large enough so he organized it in the cool of the evening on the dry portion of the landing field.

He suggested that the colony form a coop. This allowed for everyone to be a partial owner of the enterprise. In regards to governing the colony, setting its laws and administrating the details of trade, he suggested they elect a temporary council to handle the most pressing details. During this period candidates could campaign by putting forth their plans and ideas. Then after an appropriate period of time they would hold elections for members of a permanent government.

The people approved of this idea, and many asked him if he would head up the council. He called for them to vote on it and after winning by a landslide he accepted. Then they worked out twelve others to work with him. They were men and women who were known and respected among the miners. These individuals would meet together nightly for the next several weeks to work out the basic details which would allow them to move forward.

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey Homeward, and Ambush on Platinum 9.  Today we get Episode 27

 

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

Chambers took the ship back to home port outside the capital. After checking orders and finding nothing pressing she dismissed the crew for two weeks shore leave. But she herself stayed on in order to both oversee the repairs and to go through the crew. She planned to have a crew she could trust when she was done, and it was the privilege of a captain to take such an action.

The CDF engineers put a new main drive into the ship and also upgraded most of the weapons. They were hoping that these new weapons would allow them to have more success against pirates. Chambers knew their main problem was not weaponry, but that the nature of the Dibolocos gave them advantages which could only be counteracted by the assistance of the Kilkians.

But she kept this knowledge to herself, at least for now, because the people here looked at the two alien races as much the same. Even the very few who were genuinely aligned with the Kilkian king were not as aware of the true nature of their warfare as she and Jamison. Although every person aligned with the king had a helper assigned to them, most were totally unaware of them.

In fact, the official status of the CDF was that they were not at war. They simply had a large number of pirates to deal with which had successfully disrupted trade at a critical time in the history of the colonies. Because of the inability to trade, society had further dilapidated and the military had taken full control of the government. Furthermore the CDF believed the pirates were random groups which could be Dibolocos led, human led or even led by Kilkians. Chambers understood that the piracy was actually an organized continuation of a secret war by the Dibolocos, but Colofen had advised her against voicing this truth. The people were not ready to believe it.

When the two weeks was nearing completion, Chambers was summoned by the CDF Strategic Command. When she prepared to meet with them Colofen warned her she should expect the meeting to be difficult.

Upon arrival, she discovered that she was the guest of honor at a banquet. She was aware that her victories had been the only success achieved by the CDF. This banquet which was being recorded, would be used as propaganda to help quell the fears of the populace. The CDF was in danger of being overthrown by the anarchy which had overtaken the general population. They hoped to be able to use her story as a success story, which would buy them time in restoring order.

But at the event she was alarmed to discover that a full third of the Central Strategic Commanders, the CSC, were actively aligned with Dibolocos. None were actively aligned with the Kilkians, only her. She was relieved that they did not seem to have any idea what was really going one. But she didn’t understand how she could bring about a unified defense or central government when so much of it was controlled by the enemy.

During the ceremony, she was made aware of several things. One was that she was being given a promotion in rank in addition to being commissioned as captain. The other was that they were moving her from her current command to a heavy cruiser. The CSC had handpicked a crew for her. She would be obligated to use the new crew, a fact which immediately worried her. Her efforts in getting her current crew and ship squared away had been a total waste.

One last fact that surprised her was, that her ship would be equipped with a full communication center. Not for military communications but with equipment used for civilian communication and entertainment. She was made to understand that they expected to continue using her as the primary source for their propaganda. In order to be prepared for this role, they had a couple of days of specific training for her to go through before departure.

During this training time, Chambers began to notice the problems of working in a world that was predominantly controlled by Dibolocos. While the training materials did mention that Dibolocos or humans could be the captain of a pirate vessel, the majority of their energy was in convincing her the Kilkians were the primary culprits. They even put in some suggestions that the Kilkian king might be orchestrating all of the piracy. The training reminded Chamber’s of brainwashing as much as a training event, but she kept quiet and didn’t correct any of the lies at the request of Colofen. Once she and her ship had departed then she would be freer to speak about the truth.

She also learned that her orders would be convoy escort. Along with her heavy cruiser, four light cruisers including the one she had brought home would be in the group. She would have command of all of all of them. On the last day of the training she met the other captains. Captain Bittlesworth was a man actively aligned with the Dibolocos. She was dismayed to make this discovery. Captain Avery was actively aligned with the Kilkian king. She was glad for this and hoped for a chance to speak with him privately in the near future. Captain Dremmer was passively aligned with the Dibolocos, but not particularly loyal to them. In a similar mindset was Captain Corel. He was the first officer who had unselfishly given her the credit for the victories over the pirates they had experienced.

Captain Bittlesworth had expected to be made the group commander and to have the helm of the heavy cruiser. He was a tough looking, handsome and self-composed man. He also gave every indication of wanting to get to know her better. She supposed he planned to charm her based upon his demonstrative attention and overly gentlemanly behavior. She also supposed this meant she would have to watch him the closest.

Ambush on Platinum 9

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating Dibolocos and The Journey Homeward.  Today we get Episode 26

From there they made a direct path back to the colonies. As the normal operations of the ship resumed, Chambers now had the opportunity to drop in and chat with Jamison fairly often, captains can do whatever they want. This was how he learned of everything that had happened on the journey thus far. For both of them it was refreshing to see each other, but visiting the enlisted area allowed Chamber’s to see that some members of the crew were not loyal to her leadership. She made plans to review the entire contingent aboard the ship so that when she went back out she would be able to completely trust everyone on board.

These plans had to be put on hold when they received a distress signal about two days away from port. It was from Platinum 9, a mining colony on a massive moon. The civilization on the colony had broken down to the point where the workers were rioting in the streets and the surviving members of the administration were holed up in their headquarters asking for immediate evacuation. Chambers diverted to the site and dispersed enough personnel to pacify the situation.

Below deck, Jamison had been studying the conditions among the colonies. While focused on this and strategizing with Colofer in unspoken conversations, he learned his circumstances were about to take a drastic change.

“A group of men are about to come and get you. Do not fight them.” Colofer spoke the warning only seconds before Jamison became aware of their approach. They quickly surrounded Jamison with drawn weapons and insisted he come with them. They gathered with the remainder of the landing party. If any of the other men had questions, they did not ask. Keeping with the instructions of Colofer, Jamison did not resist in any way either.

When they hit the ground the majority of the soldiers were sent to recover the colony administrators. The group holding Jamison was left behind to guard the shuttle. As soon as they were alone, his captors dragged him out of the ship and instructed him to run for his life. He only delayed a second, as his new insights and the cold look in their eyes indicated they were planning to open fire.  He ran towards the settlement, knowing he would never cover the ground before they started shooting.

About 25 meters later Colofer instructed him to dodge left. As he did so a shot ripped through the air he had previously occupied.  A few paces later he was told to dodge left again, with a similar outcome.  Following these instructions he survived the dash into the cover of the buildings on the edge of the settlement.  At first he thought this meant he was safe, but he felt compelled to keep running until he was past several more buildings.  Behind him the soldiers fired a larger weapon and completely destroyed the building he had first hidden behind. If he had stayed in the original hiding place he would have been killed.

They were sending a group out to make sure he was dead, but that group encountered resistance from a group of disgruntled miners. A firefight ensued, until the main group returned with the evacuees. They were returning with all haste and also taking fire from the disgruntled workmen so dealing with the situation on the ground prevented them from discovering Jamison was still alive. A few minutes later the shuttle pulled away leaving Jamison hiding in the colony without a weapon and surrounded by thousands of angry people.

He hunkered down half expecting Chambers to realize what had happened and send a landing party down for him. But instead a couple of hours passed and he felt the departure of the ship in his emotions. Colofer assured him it would be alright. And on the ship Colofen had similar instructions for Chambers. As she pulled away, knowing full well she was leaving her friend in a very hostile situation, she silently asked the king to watch over him.

Back on the moon, Jamison was hunkered down in the rubble of the destroyed building. It appeared to have been an empty warehouse. The shelving made for lots of mangled metal, but there didn’t seem to be any goods among the destruction. This was probably the cause of the rioting. Pirates made shipping difficult, or sometimes impossible. So colonies began to starve, and starving people could do desperate things. Jamison well remembered his short return to the capital city after being rescued from the Zilkas Asteroid Belt. If the capital was in that much distress it only made sense outlying areas were worse.

He spent the rest of the night searching for anything useful, and evading detection from the large mobs roaming the streets. Unfortunately he found nothing he needed. There was no food, no water, no weapons—and daylight was approaching.

He decided his best bet was to be out of town when the sun came up. So he worked back to toward the landing area where he had been shot at. As he approached the destroyed warehouse he realized a lot of people were gathered there. This time it wasn’t workers. It was their families. They heard the facility holding their supplies had been destroyed and came to scavenge what they could. The discovery that it was empty had hit them hard. Many groups were weeping openly. Others were wandering with that particular blindness brought on by hopelessness.

Jamison considered whether or not he could blend in with these groups and perhaps be undetected as a stranger. He doubted this plan would work, and decided to circle around them and head out of town.  Across the landing zone was a mountain range where he hoped to hide. But upon arriving he realized that those mountains were the center of the mining operations. The workings held lots of hiding places as long as the workmen didn’t come back to the mines.

By this time the growing twilight allowed him to see farther than he had before. In front of him was a series of cliffs he would not be able to climb. Behind him was the landing pad, with thousands of miners crossing toward him to reach the mining works. They were probably looking to scavenge anything useful. Jamison’s mind searched for a plan, he needed a hiding place. Every place he looked was unlikely to work.

Too quickly for comfort he was against the rock wall, and scouted toward the right hoping for cover. What he found was a massive water tank. He climbed the ladder to the top and found a control room.  Apparently they had used water pressure to perform some of the drilling and digging. The water was then collected and reused. According to records the water would eventually be too heavy with sediment and have to be replaced.

In the control room was a few instruments including sensors to analyze material.  Since he was thirsty he tested the water to see if it was safe to drink. It was not. It had absorbed massive amounts of heavy metals and contaminates from the mining operation.

He kept one of the sensors. It was the only useful thing he had found after searching all night. Every water cooler was empty, every weapons locker emptied. He climbed down and continued his search for a hiding place. The workers were already moving into the camp. He assumed they would search every room, he needed a someplace that was less obvious.

As he heard angry footsteps approaching he noticed a small tunnel going under the edge of the water tank. With no other options he crawled into the opening and disappeared into the darkness. In the dark he could feel his hands and knees come into contact with something slimy. Then he felt his head contact the back of the burrow. He rolled over on his back and waited for his eyes to adjust to the dark. While he waited he listed to the rustling of something else that was in the den with him. Probably, whatever animal had dug the hole in the first place, he just hoped it was not dangerous.

The Journey Homeward

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting Compagno and Unseating Dibolocos.  Today we get Episode 25

The Journey Homeward.

The light cruiser set up an orbit while injuries and damage could be sorted out. A shuttle picked up Jamison, along with all their usable supplies and logs. Shortly thereafter they were underway to return Chambers and Jamison to the colonies. Battlefield repairs were made, but the ship would have to be docked to allow it to be returned to full battle readiness. Colofer and Colofen came on board too, but they hid themselves so that only Jamison and Chambers understood they were there.

They both had trouble sleeping on the month long voyage. Jamison had been put in a bunk in enlisted quarters, not the normal place for a major, but his commission had not been accepted so they saw him as a civilian. He had to get used to the rush of emotion caused by so many around him being unaligned, or worse being aligned with the Dibolocos. He also had formed an unconscious habit of tracking where on the ship Chambers was. It especially bothered him that she never seemed to lay down to sleep herself. He didn’t know why or what was unfolding but he could tell something was odd.

For Chambers her first victory on the ship had been met with the gratitude of the crew, but the captain quickly grew suspicious of her. She was assigned to sick bay since she had a medical background. Unfortunately the officer in charge wanted to play doctor with her. So she was constantly playing cat and mouse to stay out of reach without creating an open conflict. Since they bunked in the same section she found it necessary to avoid the sleeping quarters when he was there.

During these times she would spend time in the chart room, studying the spread of CDF forces. Her visits there were noticed by the captain, which only raised his suspicions further. They would be traveling by the Capital Nebula, and every time she saw it on the charts she felt uneasy. Then one night she was there, head down taking a nap in the seclusion. She bolted straight awake and in a panic drew her side arm searching the room for a target. Her eyes found nothing, but the automated charts revealed their course had altered to pass immediately beside the nebula. Suddenly she knew she had to get to the bridge.

She ran down a corridor for ten feet before realizing she was headed the wrong way. Back the other direction and around two corners was a lift that came out near to the bridge’s only entrance. She sprinted all the way up, hoping she wasn’t too late. Then she was stopped cold in her tracks by two guards at the bridge entrance that had orders to not allow anyone in, especially not her.

She begged, she reasoned, but the two low ranking men just stared at her with mild amusement. She was considering how to force entrance when the doors opened from the other side. The first officer, a man passively aligned with the dibolocos came out and started at seeing her there.

“Chambers, I was just coming to get you.”

“Why what’s happened?”

“I am demanding the Captain seek a second opinion on his current course of action. You being an outsider struck me as the most logical choice. Follow me please.”

The soldiers who had barred her entrance now followed her onto the bridge. Standing behind her with their weapons held at ready.

“Chambers what are you doing here?” the captain demanded. Then seeing the guards he yelled, “Collusion! Mutiny!” At this he drew his side arm and aimed it at one of the startled guards. The man dropped dead before having a chance to react. He might have fired again, but the helmsman disarmed him. This, of course, made him even more angry and he threatened personal violence toward everyone he saw.

The first officer had him subdued and confined to quarters. Then he explained they had become aware of a supply convoy moving in a similar route to them. Instead of joining the convoy for safety the captain had insisted they move the other direction. Hence the order to approach the nebula.

The first officer objected since this route made them vulnerable to ambush. It’s hard to sneak up on someone in open space. Any object could hide an enemy, but a nebula would be ideal cover for a trap. To make matters worse the first officer was pretty sure the captain had been quietly sending messages off-ship of an unknown manner and destination.

Chambers demanded an immediate halt. They came to a complete stop in space in relative proximity to the edge of the nebula. Then she ordered three missiles be sent into denser pockets of the nebula. All three found a pirate ship. Their hiding place also served to prevent them from seeing the incoming round and do anything to prevent their own destruction. Cheers were rounding out the bridge when the officers realized she was shouting a new order.

“Now, Run! Top speed! Heading 287 mark 65.”

“What are you doing?” asked the confused first officer. His question was answered when a fourth ship came out of the mists. It was huge, and would not have been brought down by a single missile like the others.

The commanders on deck followed her orders and they were off on another wild chase. Again the other ship was faster, but less nimble. They fired their big guns often and the competent crew dodged the shots easily, but as the distance closed it would get harder and harder.

Chambers focused her thoughts to see if Colofen had any ideas, “Make a giant arc back toward the nebula. You will have just enough time to get back before they catch you.”

The route worked, and everyone was hopeful there seemed to be a plan. When they neared the nebula again, Colofen had Chambers command they enter at a very specific point. As they did the mists cleared for about 20k meters. At the end of this spontaneous tube they found another turning off at 90 degrees. They turned and followed the new tube to the end where they stopped. The tubes closed behind them and they were blinded by the nebula. Behind them and close came a massive explosion. The nebula cleared enough to show the big ship had chased them in and when the nebula closed they went straight instead of turning. This caused them to impact a moon sized asteroid.

The first officer would normally become captain when the previous captain was unable to serve. As soon as they were out of danger the man began communicating with the CDF Strategic Command. After giving them a full report he made an unusual request. A few hours later, Chambers was made captain. When the previous captain was told about it, he committed suicide.

Unseating Lobokidos

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common Sense and Meeting Compagno.  Today we get the Episode 24 or the fourth episode of the second battlefield.

Unseating Lobokidos

They spent the rest of the day together and then the entire next day.  Then it was time for Jamison and Chambers to head back to the lake house. Compagno was going to pack up too, and head back to the colonies. He had once been a business leader and now he was certain he could help restore law and order to his homeland.

The journey back to the lake house was uneventful. When they got there they were told their training was complete. They should pack up and prepare for the CDF ship that was going to discover them. From there they would return to the colonies. Where each of them would take on separate assignments.

They dreaded the idea of parting, but also held excitement at the prospect of a new assignment. They both agreed, whatever the king had planned would be a okay with them. They double checked the emergency beacon on the lake house and confirmed it was working well. Then they sat down to dinner together.

It was during the meal that Colofer and Colofen began to reveal what their assignments would be. First for Chambers, her skills and her background were going to be especially useful as a warrior in service, not just to the CDF, but also to the king. When she returned she would be quickly commissioned to captain her own warship. In this position she will do much to stop the piracy and smuggling which prevents safety and a sound economy for the colony.

As she proves her capability she will become one of the key officers directing the defence of the colony and quickly be promoted to the security of all the colonies in their section. She would then be in a position allowing her to use her relationship with the king and special skills to greatly curtail the activity of the Dibolocos. When the enemy is no longer able to operate freely among the colonists they will have a greater opportunity to see the truth about the Kilkians and their king.

Chambers had quite a few specific questions about how all of this would come about. But instead of being givin the details she was simply encouraged to move forward, trusting the king. She accepted that answer. After all, the king could tell her in advance it was going to happen, so she had confidence in his abiltiy to work it out. But at the same time she felt some apprehension about the possiblity she would mess up the plan by some mistake she made along the way.  Colofen reassured her, but not in the way she had hoped. He told her that she absolutely would make a series of mistakes along the way. The reassuring part was the king already knew and planned how to make it all work out alright.

Jamison was getting antsy to hear what his assignment would be. He was glad to hear that Chambers would be so successful and instrumental in bringing about the peace the colonies, which they needed so desperately. In addition to this, he was glad to hear about the way the king was compensating for human weaknesses in advance. He was quite sure he would make mistakes along the way as well.

Colofer, in response to his thoughts, announced it was time for Jamison to learn his assignment as well. Jamison was going to be the king’s lawbringer. He would organize the people into a local government. This government would be challenged at every turn but once it was established it would pass laws to protect the citizens of the colony. Selecting the right set of laws in order to maintain a safe and morally ordered society would be difficult, but after it comes about people will be able to choose their alignment for themselves without as much of the manipulation and control of the Dibolocos.

They cleaned up after dinner, and not hearing anything from rescuers, they went to sleep as normal. In pre-daylight hours the next morning the sensors on the lake house went off, waking up everyone in the household. Jamison arrived first, and to his surprise the ship was not hailing them, instead it was sending out a distress signal.

Chambers arrived next and as she came in she kept glancing up. She said Dibolocos pirates were up there somewhere. They both recognized the impression and knew it was Lobokidos. Then the distress call was repeated indicating a CDF light cruiser under attack by pirates, it was mostly disabled. Chambers pushed Jamison out of the way and indicated she was available to help. The communications officer responded there didn’t seem to be anything they could do.

Chambers asked to be taken aboard. She explained she was a military officer with experience fighting pirates. At first they refused stating the move would only get her killed. But she insisted and they were getting increasingly desperate. The ship didn’t see any means of getting Chambers on board anyway, they didn’t have the technology to beam people back and forth. That was Kilkian and Dibolocos technology, but not human.

Chambers took that as permission so she prepared herself for the trip. A moment later, she was beamed aboard into a chaotic situation by Colofen.

At first she was almost struck down by the overwhelming sense of immediate danger. Complicating the matter, this was the first time she had experienced a group of people, and the inherent feelings of some being actively or passively aligned with Dibolocos. But she had to push this all aside in order to join the battle. She had been beamed directly onto the bridge. The communications officer was the only person on the bridge who was not injured in some way.

“What is the status of the ship?” she commanded.

“Shield is at 15%, Power is still full, all weapons are disabled with the exception of a surface mine layer.”

“And what damage has been done to the pirate ship?”

The captain, first mate and navigator all glanced at each other in a way that made Chambers sweat. “As far as we can tell, they have not sustained any damage.”

“So as far as you can tell, they are about to destroy us without our having any chance to defend ourselves?”

“Yes.” The captain was under dibolocos influence. Chambers wondered if this was why he didn’t seem more upset at his impending death.

“How far back are they?”

“They are ten-thousand meters back and closing. We assume they want to be close enough to make killing us a more personal experience.”

Chambers believed this was true because of her past experience in fighting Lobokidos and speaking with Jamison.  Suddenly an idea came to her and she commanded they enter the atmosphere of the planet. Next she gave the navigator orders to fly down to about 3000 feet above the surface and to head toward the previous settlement. When they began to approach the camp Chambers dropped even lower to just above the treetops.  Then right before crossing over the camp, they took off again, changing their trajectory to straight up.

The pirate ship, which was now just a couple of hundered meters behind, was not as nimble as the CDF ship.  So when it turned upwards to follow its prey, it swung wide over the settlement. When it did it vibrated every building in camp, including the one storing the instable explosives. They responded as Chambers had anticipated and the massive explosion ripped upward into the pirate ship, destoying it completely.

Lobokidos was not hurt in this explosion, but his body was blown apart into hundreds of pieces which settled down on the planet with the rest of the debris. It wouldn’t take long for the parts to all come back together and form again. But everyone else on board the pirate ship was dead.