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Dione's War Part 1: End of Order
Dione’s War Part 1: End of Order

  Copyright 2016 by J.J. Mainor

  This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

  Table of Contents

  Legacy’s Lament

  Recriminations

  Captain’s Triumph

  Author’s Notes

  Also By J.J. Mainor

  Legacy’s Lament

  “Red alert! All hands to stations!”

  Lieutenant Junior Grade Jack Corbitt dove from his bed, glancing to the chronometer on his nightstand as he slipped his legs through the flight suit and into his shoes waiting on the floor. Ten more minutes and he would have been up anyway. Emergencies never pay mind to the time or to duty shifts. Just like his shower and breakfast, Corbitt had to accept the loss of those ten precious minutes.

  A red alert signaled only the most severe emergencies. Every second counted which was why he couldn’t pause to finish dressing. He grabbed a meal bar between his teeth and raced out to the corridor, into a sea of half-dressed officers and crewmen. Each one threw their shirts on or set their belt buckles in a chaotic dance of preparedness.

  As a flight officer, Corbitt only had his one-piece flight suit to navigate. His arms entered the sleeves, managing to avoid striking one woman just then darting from her cabin. Then in a smooth movement suggesting plenty of practice in speed dressing, he grasped the zipper and closed the suit.

  Reaching the fireman’s pole, he threw his hat onto his head while awaiting his turn. With almost five hundred men and women all rushing off to their duty stations, the lifts were impractical. Ladders at various points throughout the ship made for movement up the decks without waiting for a free car. For downward movement, the fireman’s poles spaced throughout provided the fastest and most thrilling route.

  Corbitt wrapped the pole in his elbow and placed it between his feet as he stepped off. It took a bit of skill to stop oneself at the desired deck, but since the flight deck was all the way to the bottom, his only concern was not hitting the floor in a pure free-fall.

  The meal bar was consumed on route to the hangar bay, and spying the flight chief, Lieutenant Commander Park, Corbitt raced over with the other flight officers while he stowed the empty wrapper in one of the pockets.

  “This is it boys and girls,” Park boomed out to officers and support staff alike, “The Vandals left Mars and are on their way here. You have thirty minutes to get through your pre-flight checks. I want fighter pilots locked in and ready in forty-five. Troop transports, standing by for the Marines in sixty.”

  Corbitt and his fellow pilots dispersed to their craft. All five of the fleet’s battle carriers carried twenty fighters, five troop transports, a cargo shuttle, the captain’s personal shuttle, and trained pilots for each.

  Like the other pilots, Corbitt had his own craft. In a pinch another pilot could take it, but for the most part, each fighter and shuttle had become molded to the specific pilot like a worn glove or a comfortable pair of pants. Officers who never flew never understood how or why, but a pilot could always tell if someone else had been sitting in their cockpit.

  A heart split by a lightning bolt with the word “hopeless” identified Corbitt’s fighter. His aide already had the clipboard, waiting to begin. As the pilot ran through the list of systems, buttons, and displays to check, the lowly Seaman quietly made note on the checklist.

  The fighter itself was like a giant dart, long and sleek. The main fuselage was about twelve meters long and only a meter and a half wide. Wings adorned either side, swept back as close as possible to provide stabilization in an atmosphere. It was designed to present as small a face as possible to enemy cannons.

  A pair of 50mm lasers adorned the nose, capable of firing short, alternating bursts of superheated light at a rate of two blasts per second each, or a long continuous beam to drill through a difficult target. Beneath each wing hung two high yield missiles. Only a meter long, each one had the punch to destroy a fighter or pierce the hull of the Vandal battleships. The whole package was a smaller, compact version of the carrier’s armory.

  Despite being a one-man craft, the fighters carried a second seat behind the pilot. Rarely used, but sometimes a second man would be required on a mission. And since the pilots would suit up into a modified pressure suit prior to launch, the canopy could be opened in space to recover another pilot who had to bail on his or her fighter.

  The controls in the cockpit, like those on the bridge, were very tactile. The whole thing could have been a giant touch screen, but the fear of damage to the screen spooked designers into sticking with ancient buttons and levers. The displays though had to stay modern for the sake of practicality. Every read-out projected across the clear canopy so the pilot wouldn’t have to take his eyes from the fight outside to read a warning or line up the sights.

  With the pre-flight check finished and everything working perfectly, the Seaman ran off to present the report to his ranking officer, returning moments later with the Lieutenant’s pressure suit.

  “Think this is it, Sir?” his assistant asked, helping Corbitt into his suit. “Think the Vandals really mean to strike Earth?”

  Corbitt knew the man only intended to break the tension between them, but the question was defeatist. No one could afford to think a chance of success stood for those barbarians.

  “The Vandals are nothing but terrorists, Seaman. We knew it was only a matter of time before they came after Earth, but they haven’t yet encountered the full force of the EDF.”

  * * *

  Commander Sadiq raced onto the bridge fearing the wrath of the Captain. A stop in the armory delayed his coming, but it would not spare him from a dressing down over being the last to report.

  In unison, the other officers turned anxiously in his direction, as if they had been trained to fear the sound of the door, but with a collective sigh of relief they returned to their stations. With the red alert, Sadiq would have expected his humiliation to last a mere second before work intruded.

  The Legacy, however, seemed to operate like no other ship he had served on before. Never in his years of service had the Commander ever dreaded being on the bridge. He had as much disdain for the Captain as the Captain had for his men. When he brought himself to look on the captain’s chair and face the tongue lashing he expected, his eyes met with neither surprise nor relief – nor did they meet the Captain.

  “Where is Captain Petron?”

  A nervous silence hung in the air as each of the officers around him pretended to focus too much on their work to hear his request. In truth, there wasn’t one man or woman on that bridge who wanted the responsibility for calling out their Captain’s fault; and in truth, Sadiq didn’t need anyone to answer him.

  He reached across the armrest and punched a direct line to Petron’s cabin on the intercom. “Captain Petron, you are needed on the bridge.”

  * * *

  Captain Robin Petron stirred beneath his blanket, trying to ignore the call, but when his executive officer repeated the page, he rolled over to study the time. Then with a displease
d sigh, he tapped the call button on the intercom beside the chronometer.

  “Commander, what time is it?”

  “Sir, we have a fleet-wide red alert.”

  Petron cut him off with his usual condescending drawl. “And I asked you what the time was.”

  “0525, Sir.”

  He heard the annoyed frustration in the Commander’s voice but ignored it. Everyone under his command was annoyed with policy and procedure. If he entertained their frustrations even once, he knew performance would slip.

  “And what time am I scheduled to be on duty?”

  “0600.”

  “Then why are you bothering me now? You are the executive officer, not some seaman new to the fleet. I expect you to be fully competent to handle any problem you have up there. Now if you can’t handle the bridge while I’m off duty, then maybe we should sit down with the Admiral about finding you a new posting.”

  He turned off the comm system before Sadiq could bother him further, then rolled over and shut his eyes to get those last minutes of sleep in before his alarm went off. His mind filled with the ineptitude of his executive officer, keeping a mental note to place him on report as soon as he reported to the bridge. However, he was so angry and so focused on that report, his thoughts would not calm him enough to enjoy the quiet.

  The alarm awoke, and he sat casually upright in his bed. Taking a moment to stretch, he placed his feet on the floor and rose to begin his morning routine. After a quick shower and shave, he made a bowl of oatmeal while he made his bed and stowed his dirty clothes. When the chronometer read 0559, he took one last look around to make sure the cabin was squared away.

  He took up a clipboard and stepped casually out into the corridor. With everyone already at their duty stations, there wasn’t a single individual around. He knew though, in the rush a red alert tends to cause, there were those who slacked in the duties they felt were unimportant. His officers especially tended to cut corners in their haste.

  Petron started with the officer’s deck. Sure enough, the first door he opened met him with an unmade bed and dirty clothes left on the floor. As he crossed the room to find the intercom on the nightstand, he noticed empty wrappers on the floor. If they saved time on breakfast by eating a meal bar, he figured, the least they could have done was spend some of that time placing the wrapper in the trash disposal.

  “Lieutenant Kwan, I need to see you in your quarters.”

  * * *

  Lieutenant Kwan turned to the Commander with a mix of panic and frustration. Her job was to monitor the myriad of communications coming in from all over the fleet. With the flag officer issuing steady orders and the other ships returning regular updates, Sadiq counted on her to wade through the noise and pass along what was important.

  It wasn’t that Kwan feared her captain’s reproach. She knew whatever his problem was this time, she would find herself on report. She expected she might even receive an Article 13. But with conflict drawing ever closer, leaving the bridge now, even at her captain’s request, meant shirking her duty.

  Sadiq knew the frustration all too well. He could call down to the Captain and remind him once more of their situation, but in the end, Petron would threaten him with an Article 13 for insubordination, and Kwan would have to report anyway.

  “Sooner you get down there and get it out of the way, sooner you’ll be back here at your station.”

  She rose from her chair, hanging her head the entire way off the bridge. Sadiq could do nothing but assign a junior officer to take her place while he waited for the next officer to leave him.

  * * *

  Captain Dahlia Min sat in her chair on the bridge of the Vandal battlecruiser Fury. Her elbow pressed into the armrest, supporting her chin as she waited for news. The view out the windows ahead was of the asteroid hiding their approach.

  “They’ve taken the bait,” one young man announced, spinning in his chair looking for approval from his captain. “The Earth Defense Forces are moving off toward our fleet.”

  “Excellent, Sergeant.” She cast the youngster a rewarding smile, almost tired of the constant need for approval all around her. But then again, it was their need for that approval that brought these youth to the Vandal settlements.

  For hundreds of years the elders on Earth sought to better their lives and situations with false wealth, promising better pay, better health, or better whatever each generation felt they lacked. But in those hundreds of years, the wealth required to back those promises could not be produced and society’s leaders pushed the burden onto the children and grandchildren of the future.

  Each generation pushed that burden to the next, then the next. Once it reached the point the accountants and bureaucrats no longer knew how much was owed from the future, the promises increased. Each generation of young bore an increased burden that could only be shaken once their turn came to rape the future.

  Each new generation rose up with hopes and dreams of a brighter future. Each new generation tried to right the mistakes of their parents, spending those years of youth spinning their heels before their attitudes shifted toward practicality. But two generations ago, a handful of young men and women realized the system was too far gone for change. They realized early on that the resistance from the adults to pay for their own largess would block their own efforts at change. Those youngsters realized the only way change could be achieved was through forceful upheaval.

  Space had long ago been conquered, but the worlds discovered and the resources abounding had been wasted on generations too comfortable to exploit them. For the rebellion to start, it had to be away from the status quo. Those worlds became places for the young to hide and make their plans and build their forces.

  As others followed, Earth welcomed the departure, believing the loss of the troublemakers would protect their status quo. At first they heard nothing from the colonies but the calls of recruitment. Eventually, those camps needed more. If they were to truly rebel, they needed weapons and more powerful ships.

  They called themselves the Vandals after the barbarians that brought down the ancient Roman Empire. Like the Vandals of ancient times, this modernized group desired more than anything to bring about a new order. They raided the handful of research stations for medicine and equipment. They pirated supply ships to boost their own fleets

  Earth had created the Defense Force to combat the rising threat. Expecting the massive gunboats to instill fear in the Vandals, instead they became easy targets. Word of each capture spread through the news outlets intending to stir fear and hatred toward the wayward youth, instead providing those rebels with the strongest recruitment campaign they could have hoped for.

  The decades passed as the Vandals stockpiled arms. They knew something was coming as it was only a matter of time before Earth would rise from their comfortable chairs and make an earnest effort to wipe out their scourge.

  Captain Min considered the Sergeant at communications. This proactive strike against the decay of the ancestors would not have come about if their children had the approval they sought. Had they been valued, these young men and women would not have found that value in this rag-tag collection of colonies.

  “Maintain position until they’re fully engaged. We can’t afford to let them learn of our presence until it’s too late for them to stop us.”

  Min glanced around at all the young kids monitoring their stations. She herself was only a couple years older than they were, yet she felt so much older.

  This wasn’t a real military at her command as evidenced by the unkempt uniforms and confusing mess of ranks. In fact, the whole structure had been created by people with no knowledge of military matters. Though no one could tell by ranks or insignia who was in charge over whom, somehow the individuals themselves commanded the respect they were owed.

  It was the system all of them felt should have existed on Earth. The true leaders rose to command through their own skill and efforts, and n
ot through a system that rewarded seniority or elbow rubbing. Captain Min herself commanded some individuals ten to twenty years older, and she was by far the youngest captain on this campaign. It was a position earned through cleverness in smaller conflicts. Providing the suggestions that allowed a smaller gunboat to commandeer an EDF carrier three kilohours earlier earned her this commission.

  To be fair, the Fury was not a premier ship, and she would have earned more glory commanding a decoy with the rest of the fleet. However, she remained proud of this ship and its crew, and took on her role with the same level of enthusiasm. And though her role wasn’t the most prestigious, it was the most important. Since the rest of their forces played decoy for the Fury, Min figured she had to be certain her crew was ready for their roles when the time came.

  “How long before they launch fighters?”

  Her bright-eyed sergeant turned once again, proud to answer. “Based on past engagements, twenty minutes.”

  She shook her head still resting on her hands, then rose from her chair. On her way toward the rear hatch, she paused by her executive officer, Colonel Evermore. “I’m heading to the lab to make sure they’re on track. You have the bridge.”

  Min glided through the corridors, greeting each and every crewman she passed. It was as tiresome as it was on the bridge, but the horse-and-pony show was important. She knew too well one of the things setting them apart from Earth was that feeling of importance and connectedness. No matter how low on the food chain someone was, it made them feel better about themselves and their work believing their captain cared about them personally. Without that, it was doubtful any of them would have gone along with this plan.

  Inside the lab, she found a bunch of young scientists busy screwing warheads onto a handful of missiles. The Vandals hadn’t attracted merely vagabonds and drifters; they appealed to all manner of youngsters. The men and women before her donning the white lab coats bore similar gripes to the underprivileged youth with no future plans in their old lives.

 
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