I made my way to the replicator, I reflected on the long night ahead of me.
I had the night shift, and there were 8 hours between me and a good
long nap. I took the coffee from
the food dispenser, and poured it into a stainless steel pot.
I then walked back to my lookout tower, climbed into my station, and
began to pour myself a cup when Captain Briggs called out to me over the
“Lieutenant, are you telling me
you made a whole pot of coffee, and didn’t even think to offer your
commanding officer some. Tch, tch,
tch, very sloppy Solomon. With
this kind of behavior, the war will end before your next promotion”.
“I must apologize sir, but I just
thought that you would be following your old habits: sleeping the whole
night,” I responded with a smirk.
“Watch it now”, said Briggs,
“We’ve got a long night ahead of us, and I reckon you don’t want to end
up with another enemy besides that scum out there”.
“Yes sir”, I replied.
“So, how many hours we got left before sunrise, and another good 8
hours of rest?”
“By my watch”, answered Briggs,
“we still got a good 6 hours of nuthin to get through before bed, bath, and
My official designation is
Lieutenant Commander Solomon Triega of the Confederate Spatial Defense Forces,
Third Division. I am
second-in-command on a desert moon orbiting a planet known as Rikos III.
To explain further, The United Terran Confederacy (the humans) are at
war with a strange alien race known only as the Crea. We have signed a preliminary cease-fire agreement, but both
sides feel it is just a matter of time before one side breaks the agreement.
So, all encampments, starbases, and frontier installations were ordered
to be on alert for a surprise attack. In
turn, I decided to take the night shift in order to be ready if the Crea want
to break the agreement.
I poured Briggs a cup of coffee, and
returned to my post on the edge of the base perimeter.
Captain Robert Briggs had been a very close friend of mine in the
military. He was my first
Commanding Officer (C.O.), on a small reconnaissance ship called the Persephone.
I have been working with him ever since.
I sat down and took a sip from my
black mocha blend, and muttered to myself about the awful taste.
It was the best I could get on such short notice, and it did keep me
awake during the wee hours on border surveillance. Replicated coffee had all the caffeine of regular coffee, but
none of the taste. “Man,” I
thought. “It’s going to be a
As I was drinking my caffeine, I
noticed a small blip on my environmental scanner.
As I examined closer, I realized it was a small Crean ATV (All-Terrain
Vehicle). Because of it’s
proximity to a Confederate military installation, this was a clear violation
of the cease-fire agreement. I
confirmed my readings, and opened a secure communications channel to Captain
Briggs. “Hey Briggs,” I
called over the intercom, “Check your scanner at heading 3576.453, it’s
over the North Ridge. You getting
this reading? I’d say
it’s a scout.”
“Yeah kid, I got it.
Better wake up the rest of the command staff,” replied Briggs.
I activated the communications
array, and called back to the center of the lodging facilities in our base. I dispatched a full division of troops to the base’s north
perimeter, and I put the rest of the personnel on blue alert status.
After which, I launched a small probe to see what was hiding out of
reach of scanners on the North Ridge of our moon.
“Hey, what do you think you’re doing?” asked Briggs.
“Who authorized that launch?”
“You always told me to take the
initiative for the good of the team. I’m
just following your orders indirectly,” I replied with a smile.
Briggs thought about it for a few seconds and began to laugh.
“You got me there son”, he said.
“Good job, but in the future, would you mind discussing the plans you
have for the good of the team with me before you act on them?”
This made me feel particularly good about myself, so I sat down and
checked my watch.
Five hours left before sunrise, and
the shift switch. This brought my
spirits back down, realizing I had so much more time before someone else would
have to worry about the ATV out there. But
I decided to buckle down, and deal with it.
It wasn’t particularly warm, or particularly comfortable in my
cramped watch tower, but this was the life of a soldier, and there wasn’t
much I could do about it.
A small alert light flashed on top
of the I viewscreen used to communicate.
I turned around to check, and realized it was the probe.
It had reached it’s monitoring coordinates, and began transmitting
data. “Oh my God,” I thought.
“There are so many of them.”
I realized that the Crea had no
intentions of holding up their end of the cease-fire agreement.
They simply needed time to reorganize their forces, and prepare for
more conflict. The force amassing
over the North Ridge was much larger than any standard strike team in this
war’s history. To defend this
ramshackle outpost by ourselves would be a feat worthy of song.
“Briggs, WAKE UP!
There is a large assault squadron of ground troops lying-in-wait just
outside our base, ready to attack!”
“What the hell are you talkin
about,” Briggs answered rather sleepily.
“My scanners show nothing but sand.
“Check the probe’s telemetry”,
“What the.....”, Briggs said.
“This can’t be right.”
Realizing the truth in my report, he
turned to his com station, and blasted across the array:
“All personnel: battle stations!
Large enemy force massing over the North Ridge.
All units prepare for defensive action!”
I ran down to the armory, found a
suitable sidearm to use in case an alien decided to pay a visit to my
“doorstep”, a spare med-kit I had a feeling I would need, and an
extended-range scanner to help coordinate defensive efforts.
I then proceeded to each barracks, and repeated the same alert to all
those who managed to stay asleep during the commotion:
“Attention all personnel, a large
offensive Crean force has amassed just out of sensor range.
All units report to battle stations, and all those waiting for day
shift, report to the North End fully armored.”
I then returned to my tower to
install the new scanner. As it
came on line, it began retransmitting the probe’s telemetry.
The readings were off the charts!
Seventeen divisions of heavily-armed infantry, three wings of
starfighters, and many other units of heavy artillery.
I sent a message to the starbase orbiting Rikos III, explaining our
situation, and requesting immediate starship assistance.
They responded, promising six squadrons of heavy fighters.
“Good,” I thought. “Not
only will we not have to worry about the enemy starships, but our boys can
harass the ground forces as well.”
“Hey Briggs, you ready to put a
few more notches on your gun?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, it’s been way too long
since I’ve smoked some alien butt.”
“Well, get ready, because
according to my readings, the force is on the move,”
I turned, modified my com frequency for wide-band messaging and began
transmitting defensive positions for each group of units in our base.
After which, I saw the 1st and 2nd divisions of assault troops move to
the perimeter, while the others took up flanking positions, or began
patrolling the rest of the base to prevent any surprises.
The armored walkers issued to us by the Central Military Establishment
were powering up, and preparing for heavy conflict.
Because of their ability to handle heavy fire, they would bear the
brunt of the attack, but with careful repair and organization, they should be
ok. The artillery we possessed was loaded, and brought to the
I opened a communications channel
with the Outer Rim representative of our Sector, and explained the situation
to him. He dispatched three
carrier ships to the moon, and told us that it was imperative to repel this
attack. If the cease-fire were to
be broken with such a spectacular defeat for the Confederacy, the Crea would
press that advantage, and we’d be hard-pressed to make up for a loss of this
Returning to the scanner, I saw that
the Crean force was assuming a “raiding party” formation, and paying
little attention to it’s own defense. “They
have no idea what they’re up against”, I told Briggs.
“How do you mean son?” asked
Briggs. “Looks like a pretty
big force if you ask me.”
“Yeah, for a surprise attack”, I
said. “But, they are counting
on us being snug in our beds, working on a skeleton crew.
When they get over that ridge and see what’s in store for them, they
will turn whiter than Michael Jackson.”
“Ahhh, 20th century entertainer.
Real white”, I explained. “Don’t
worry about it. Just look at the
scanner and remember back to our training.”
“Holy cow, you’re right.”
I transmitted this to our troops
waiting with rifles in hand. This
gave the men much more confidence, realizing that the Crean strike force had
no idea we were ready for them. Also,
the fighters I requested from the starbase arrived.
I now realized this would be one easy fight.
I reexamined my scanner, and much to my surprise, I found only one unit
on the screen. It was moving
rather fast as well, so I decided to zoom in and take a closer look.
“Oh my God!!”, I exclaimed. It was some form of alien ballistics, enroute to the base.
As I tried to jam it’s guidance systems, I realized it was headed
directly for our defenses. I moved back to the communications array and screamed
warnings across the base.
“All units prepare for incoming
missile!!! Impact in
screamed across the base, turning and evading fire as it searched for it’s
target. The missile landed on the
perimeter, causing no damage to our defenses, but it completely destroyed the
tower opposite of mine. “Briggs,
“Briggs, I say again: If you
survived the assault, respond immediately.”
I looked out my viewport, and saw
his tower reduced to ashes, and my heart sank.
Captain Robert Briggs was my mentor and friend.
He defended me when I bent the rules,
got me this assignment, and kept watch over me as I climbed through the
ranks. He even granted me the
promotion that appointed me to the position of Lieutenant Commander.
I choked back tears as I turned back to the scanner, and saw the masses
of troops move over the ridge. “Attention,
all units prepare. The strike
force is coming over the ridge.”
The infantry began moving over the
ridge at frightening pace. But
most were almost immediately cut down by our infantry waiting for targets.
The second rush came over the ridge, and was having almost the same
amount of trouble. They did not
expect any defense at all, but they were sure seeing some at the moment.
The “skirmish” was going quite
well, as our artillery managed to disable any dangerous units, and the fighter
groups sent by the starbase managed to tie up any advancing starships. That is, until my scanner completely lost it’s mind.
I turned away from my viewport, and checked what the commotion was
about, only to realize that Crean units were materializing and decloaking on
every side of our installation, completely overrunning our defenses, and
wreaking havoc inside our base.
Surprise attack from all sides. Infantry
groups 3 and 4 move to defense formation Gamma”, I yelled over our
now-damaged communications system. With
the death of Briggs, the chain of command had fallen to me, so I began to
shout unit orders over the array. As
I looked at the battlefield, my line of sight flashed over the
“multi-function display” (MFD). Four
hours until sunrise. But I
couldn’t think about that now, I had to keep these men alive “Walker group Theta, move to the southern entrance to
intercept enemy units. All other
personnel, fire at will!!!”
Our boys were disciplined,
well-trained, and armed to the teeth, but Crean units kept materializing
almost everywhere in our base. If
the flow of aliens did not stop, we would be overrun in a matter of minutes,
and Briggs would not be the only one who lost their lives today.
Then, as the last glimmer of hope
had almost faded away, I received a transmission from a capital ship in orbit.
Because of the damage to our communications network, I could not
identify whether it was friend or foe. Thinking
it was probably a Crean Destroyer, trying to reach terms of surrender, I
reluctantly opened a communications channel.
Amazingly, the carriers that were
dispatched by Central Command had arrived.
“This is Captain Bernard Qualtham of the Confederation starcruiser
Questor. Anything we can do
to be of assistance?” the captain asked.
“What do you think?” I replied
with a smile. “Your boys will
have a grand ol’ time down here, so anytime you want to send ‘em down,
I’d be much obliged.”
Fighters began streaming out of the
capital ships’ hangers, and garrisons of troops began transporting down to
assist us, easily overpowering the Crea, And with the sight of three
Confederate capital ships on the horizon, most of the Crean forces turned, and
ran like scared kittens. The few
remaining units, seeing their compatriots escape, could do little but
surrender. Our men celebrated their victory like it was 1999.
“Good job boys!” I said with a smile.
“We showed them, didn’t we.
But I doubt they heard me. I saw men blowing entire months of alcohol rations in
minutes, but it didn’t matter. We
had won a great battle in the name of humanity, and frankly, I would have done
the same. A private climbed up
into my tower and asked the time. During
the fight, his watch had broken. I
was about to tell him when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the sunrise.
It had been a brutal 8 hours, but finally, after much bloodshed, the
time for rest had come.