The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

The Heaviest Duty – Uno y Dos – Jose J. Clavell

W+20

Aboard an E4B Airborne Command Post
Over the Pacific Ocean
Twenty Minutes Post Wave

Lieutenant General Jessica Stone, USAF turned off with trembling hands the monitor that had showed views of the empty command center deep under Colorado Mountains. The site for the Air Force Planetary Defense Command had been built at the same time that the better known NORAD command post. However, it was constructed using techniques that even the most casual observer would have identified of at least centuries ahead of anyone else, making it almost invulnerable to any known or foresaw terrestrial designed nuclear weapons.

For all the protection that it had offered its occupants when the Ramellian beam hit, it might as well being built of canvas cloth.

Of course, the cold blooded bastards had only gotten one shot in their quest to destroy the allied Andermani base on Dreamland before the moon based batteries have blown them away to kingdom come. However and sadly, the generated field in an instant had wiped out all higher intelligent life in large portions of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico and Cuba. Worse, it seems strangely persistent, a fact that was discovered after one of the orbital fighters attempted a high speed, high altitude flyby.

With all or most of her family gone, Stone felt devastated. Her youngest daughter Jossie assigned to the Moon outpost and her son Gabriel on the way to the Mars with the Military Expedition were certainly doomed to a slow death. Doomed, because all the support facilities located in Colorado and the Nevada desert that provided their logistical lifelines now stood empty, bereft of any living personnel and due to the force field out of bounds to anyone else.

Stone opened her desk drawer and looked down at the issue sidearm on her survival vest and felt tempted to use it. But quickly put the thought aside and close it, because the planet still needed to be defended until the Coalition rallied and replied to the attack. The irony was that perhaps for the final time, the United States had saved the world and the ungrateful masses were likely to celebrate its demise. Only her devotion to duty and her oaths prevented her from telling everyone to go to hell and left her grieve on peace.

But, like the Japanese saying goes ‘Duty was heavy as a mountain’ and with a deep sigh, activated the intercom.

“Captain Stevens, let’s check the status of our forces, please.”

Perhaps, later when her duty was finally discharged, she will allow herself to join her loved ones.

 

The Heaviest or Hardest Duty, Part Dos by Jose J. Clavell

CINCPAC Office
US Pacific Command
A week after the Ramellian Raid (AKA The Wave)

Stone looked out of the office suite large windows, as Admiral James Ritchie read slowly the technical reports that she had brought him. Outside was a typical Hawaiian sunny day but if the reports from the moon bases and the orbital platforms were to be believed that was quickly bound to change. For a moment, she remembered happier times with Brian, her late husband and the boys, an island vacation that had led to the birth of her daughter Josie and a career into Planetary Defense. Accepting her new posting at the time, had seemed like a perfect fix for a career minded officer with three small kids and a fighter pilot husband, who TDY’s frequently around the world. She never expected that choosing the ‘mommy’ career track would have ended up saving her life.
She had not even supposed to have been in the “Watcher” airborne command post at all due to both her position and seniority. However when General Kennedy, the duty flag officer, had to bow out almost at the last moment to hurry to his dying wife’s bedside, her battle with breast cancer having taken a turn for the worse. It had been a simple decision to take his place instead of tasking someone else. Anyway, since her own husband passing and with her children posted off planet, Stone had buried herself into her job as PDC deputy commander. Her kindness with Kennedy filled her with survivor guilt and damned her with grief, now somewhat assuaged by the relatively good news coming from the Moon and the Mars expedition.
Her attention went back to the Navy man sitting behind the large desk across from her. Stone first impressions of Ritchie were highly favorable. It took a remarkable individual in her opinion, already deep in a world changing crisis to keep its composure when told that everything that he thought he knew was wrong. In his shoes, she probably will have run into the hills. Of course, at first he had not wanted to believe her. Probably, because since her assignment to the blackest program that the United States ever had, she had fallen into a black hole and pulled the hole closed behind her-career wise. Her postings, promotions and even her name like everyone else assigned to PDC were classified to the highest level and not available to the regular military chain of command.
However, she had come prepared to make her case even if her arrival in a not-supposed-to-exist Air Force E4C had not been enough of a credential. The holographic 3D projection device that now sat on his desk had showed Ritchie the attack from the Moon and the orbital fighters’ viewpoint had done much to assuage his initial incredulity. So she continued to watch him quietly until he finished reading and leaned his chair back, his eyes close. Stone could almost swear that under his breath he was muttering a silent prayer and could not blame him for that as she had been doing the same at odd intervals since the attack. He leaned forward again and to her surprise activated the device with enough skill to zero in the particular part of the presentation that he wanted to watch again. The high definition images depicted gun camera footage showing the destruction of the Ramellian fighter escorts. She had not told him that some of the scenes had been recorded by her soon to be son-in-law. As they watched, one of the phones in his desk rang.
“Excuse me, General,” he told her, politely. Stone nodded and continued to watch the end of the presentation.
It had been a damn shame that no Ramellians have survived the attack, she thought. It would have been nice to know which commercial faction condoned it, in case that an opportunity for payback ever presented itself. But Stone could not blame the pilots as she would have not granted quarter either under the circumstances, even if the cold blooded bastards have wanted to surrender in the first place. Ritchie cleared his throat getting her attention back as he hanged the phone.
“I just spoke with my deputy commander for air operations, General Thomas Black. He served with your husband Brian and remembers you but was under the impression that you have left the service after your daughter was born.”
Stone gave him a sad smile. “It made for a convenient cover, Admiral. No one expects that a stay at home mom with three kids to be involved in deep black ops. The kids gave me a great excuse to explain why we decided to reside permanently in Colorado and not longer follow Brian on his assignment around the planet.”
“Around the planet, General? That’s a funny way to put it and suggests to me that there was more to do than that.”
“Well, yes, I rated WSO in orbital defense fighters and have commanded our main Moon base.” Stone did not add that she had also served as commander with the orbital fighter wing. Old habits of doling out information in carefully measured scoops were hard to break.
“Then the Space Program and Apollo?”
“It was another convenient cover for the construction of our Moon bases. I hope that you still remember how abruptly Apollo was cancelled and how the Space Shuttle and the the International Space Station tied us up to only “orbital operations.”
“Remember…? That was one of my biggest disappointments growing up. I had dreamed of walking in the moon one day.” Stone truly smiled for the first time, recognizing a fellow space buff. She had enjoyed walking in the Moon surface during her posting there. The last time was a family outing of sorts with all her children, their wives and Josie’s fiancée, Jimmie, before Gabriel departure to Mars. Rank has its privileges even in PDC
“Same here, I confess to had been trilled when I found out the truth about our space program.” She finally replied.
“And Aliens, I guess that Roswell was true after all,” Ritchie interjected.
“Nope, sorry, Admiral, the story is mostly disinformation. The United States contact with first the Andermani and later the other species of the coalition started on the late 1800s. Roswell was really a midair collision between two of their fighters helping us repel an Orwegian Pirate raid. Suffice to say no all the bodies recovered were aliens but our cover story gloss over that. Because of that incident, President Truman agreed to join the Coalition and allow a joint Andermani-Coalition base in Nevada.
“I presume that we are talking Area 51, General?” She nodded.
“Yes, sir,” Stone remembered her first time there and her surprise at being greeted by her first EBE, a Reticulan, looking exactly just like the greys of legend, folklore and popular media.
Suddenly Ritchie grew serious. “Ok, I believe you, General. Now can you explain to me the context of what just happened?” Stone straightened in her chair and swallowed hard before starting.
“Admiral, in very simple terms, we were collateral damage, the target was Area 51.” The silence that followed hung heavy between them. Stone watched Ritchie’s face as it first turned a sickly green followed by an angry red and braced herself for the explosion. However, he surprised her by standing and then walking stiffly towards the windows facing out into the harbor. The Admiral stood there looking out seemingly for a long time before asking without turning around.
“Why?” Stone also stood up and joined him at the window and looked at the view outside. Pearl Harbor seemed busy and she momentarily wondered if that was part of the normal scene or an increase in activity levels fueled by the wave.
“Frankly, Admiral, we don’t know. In the surface, the attack doesn’t make any sense. Given the size of the coalition and all its members, the base in dreamland was their equivalent of a small local Coast Guard station. Earth, regardless of what we like to think about it ourselves is a very minor coalition member living out in the boondocks of the galaxy.”
She momentarily paused, and although Ritchie continued to look out of the window, Stone felt that she had his undivided attention. “When I started my in processing into PDC twenty five years ago, one of my instructors warned me about trying to attribute to aliens, human motivations. He said that although at times we have shared common goals and objectives, their thinking to get there was…well…alien and that trying to do otherwise was akin to trying to teach a pig to sing. It is going to be a waste of your time and is going to annoy the pig. Believe me, sir. You don’t want to annoy the alien equivalents to pigs.
Richie looked at her, sharply. “Good God, Stone, I don’t think that you are trying to be funny.”
“No, I’m not, sir. Too much is at stake,” she replied quietly looking straight into his eyes.
“But the bastards killed close to 400 millions or so of our countrymen, not counting millions of Canadians, Cuban and Mexicans. Now, you are trying to tell me that we were innocent bystanders in the cosmic equivalent to a drive-by shooting? Preposterous,” he finished with an angry scowl.
“Yes sir, some on my staff have speculated that the Ramellians were testing a new weapon and given what we know of Coalition shielding technology and what it would take to defected it, it could explain the intensity, large footprint and persistence. The coalition is investigating but it probably would take months and most likely years before we obtain an answer. On the meanwhile, we have a world to keep alive and you just read what my analysts are predicting, Admiral.”
“Not that different from what my own people are saying, General. So returning to your Ramellians, do we have to prepare for a repeat visit?” He asked, frowning with worry.
“That’s one of the few pieces of good news that I got for you, sir. Because our response was so overwhelmingly effective, there was no one left to convey to their superior how effective their weapon truly was. The Ramellians are divided into numerous commercial concerns, think the old East India Company as an example. Whoever sponsored the attack took a heavy hit in financial and resources losses for nothing to demonstrate in return. That will put them out of the game for a while. On the meanwhile, the Confederation heavy cruiser Unity responded to our call for assistance and is now maintaining a defensive picket in-system to prevent such eventuality although everyone feels that is akin to closing the barn door after the horses left. They have also assisted our people in the Moon and Mars to start making preparations to live off the land, so to speak as we are not in any position to provide them any support for the foreseeable future.”
“Are they planning to provide any direct assistance to us, too, General?”
“I’m afraid not, Admiral, although they did offer. However on my judgment, the danger to our civilization caused by the revelation of their existence would be a lot greater than any relief help that we could get out of them. So as acting commander, I declined their offers.”
“You did what?” Ritchie demanded angrily.
“Sir, allowed me to explain,” Stone asked calmly, despite his outburst.
“We have been gaming for over a hundred years, countless scenarios where we make known to the general population the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Those and the live tests conducted in 1939 by Olson Welles at the behest of the US government had showed conclusively that such revelation will lead inevitably to mass panic and deaths. No primitive civilization in our recorded history had ever survived contact with an advanced one without adequate psychological and cultural preparation and that’s still an iffy proposition. Our main organization for that effort, Majestic, had been attempting to do so by manipulation of the mass media and culture since the 50’s. However, we can safely assume that after the wave, everything is back to square one. So in our opinion, letting the world know that E.T. really exist and looks at humans like we look at ants, much less that were directly responsible for the wave is not going to help us at all.” As she talked, Ritchie returned to his desk
“Ants? I think that I like those damned Ramellians of yours, less and less by the minute, Stone.”
“Sadly, sir, their attitude is not uncommon within the elder races. On their eyes a very junior species like ours that had not developed independent star travel yet is beneath their notice. The more enlightened to include our closest allies, think of us the same way that we do with the Headhunters of Borneo.”
“Nice place that you go out there, Stone.”
“Is a rough universe, Admiral. I thank God every day for sticking us in the boonies.”
“So where we go from here? My resources are stretched thin, so if you were expecting any assistance from us, you are likely to go empty handed, General.”
“Actually sir, we had been sort of prepared for a worse eventuality, so we do have the redundant facilities, stores and supplies that with our newly reduced numbers would be more than adequate to see us through for the foreseeable future. Our main problem is how we are going to reach orbit and we have our best people working in the problem.”
“So what we can do for you then, General?”
“Frankly, sir, not much. However our chapter calls for always having someone inside the government with knowledge of the threat out there. The wave not only decapitated our government and destroyed almost half of my organization but also leave us out in the dark. As the most senior member of the military not actively engaged in combat operations, I choose you as our inside man.”
“Are you sure that you want to trust me with all this, Stone?”
“Sir, I don’t have any other recourse available, no until someone do something and reestablish the civilian government. I can only trust that you recognize the gravity of the consequences that will befall humanity if our secret gets out.” Ritchie did not answer immediately and stared at the reports on his desk. The time stretched between them seemingly forever.
Suddenly, coming to a decision, he stood up and started to gather all the reports spread on his desk before politely passing then back to her. Stone, without a word, put them back into her briefcase as Ritchie packed the holographic projector. He did so with obvious reluctance and she did not have to read his mind to know that he would have loved to keep it. On that not too different from her late husband and her boys, all gadget freaks. The thought almost brought a thin smile to her face.
Reluctantly, he passed the device over and then offered his hand. “You have my word for whatever is worth.” Stone nodded and accepted the handshake.
Coming around his desk, he walked her to the door. “I just got one request, General.” She stopped and waited for him to continue.
“Get the bastards.” Placing her briefcase and projection device in the floor, Stone straightened and gave him a salute that would have made her instructors at the Air Force Academy proud.
“You got my word, sir.”

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3 April, 2009 - Posted by | Pepsi Challenges, Without Warning

1 Comment »

  1. Jose:

    Well, that’s an interesting take on things….

    Comment by Tom Potter | 4 April, 2009 | Reply


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