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[CONFLICT] Defending our Allies Operation: Baibar's Bow

2018.05.17 08:55 globalwp [CONFLICT] Defending our Allies Operation: Baibar's Bow

Nigerian troops detected on the southern front. I repeat, Nigerian troop movements detected. Initiate protocol 125-YMK. Repeat. Initiate protocol 125-YMK - UKA Central Command
Background
It appears as though the UKA is officially at a state of war. We have gave the Nigerians the benefit of the doubt by merely deploying air defense systems to protect our allies but it seems as though they are preparing to deploy ground forces. So be it. The UKA has warned the Nigerians once again. They shall cease operations immediately or see their country will be completely destroyed. They have received a fair warning. The UKA shall work with regional allies such as Algeria, Libya, and Morocco to defend their sovereignty and prevent the enemy from gaining a single inch of North African land.
Arabian air assets and air defense systems have arrived in North Africa allowing us to ensure that our bases will not be harassed. The United States has also been generous enough to sell us new Warden-B Air Defense Systems and Aegis Ashore Batteries which shall be deployed to North Africa to help stop the invasion. The UKA Army is also deploying to the region while the ALRRF responds to the border infraction supported by the Algerian Armed Forces, one of the largest armies and once the 2nd strongest on the continent. As for the UKA navy, they shall focus on securing North African waters as our large fleet of supercruisers and submarine hunters scours the waters for any signs of movement.
While the initial operation to eliminate the Nigerian navy did not go as planned, it forced a Nigerian withdrawal and ended with our strategic needs being met, the protection of key North African bases and a large scale deployment to said bases. As our 12 Warden-B batteries arrive to the North African front, the enemy will be outclassed in the realm of missile defense and offense. We too posses a large number of ballistic missiles that are more advanced and effective than theirs.
So begins Operation Baibar's Bow.

Aerial Operations

Air Defense Systems

The UKA has already deployed several air defense systems to North Africa following a successful delivery. Our order from the USA has arrived and shall compliment the forces we have on the ground. The deployments are as follows:
Algeria
The UKA has already deployed the following air defense systems to Algeria:
These air defense systems are mostly located at the remaining Algerian air bases, mostly located around the northern parts of the country, protecting the dense urban population centers and air bases. The UKA will assist the Algerians in rebuilding the Annaba/El Mellah Air Base and the Oum El Bouaghi Airbase. Each will receive its own Warden-B System to provide coalition forces with additional cover.
All in all, Algeria shall receive 8 of the 12 Warden-B batteries purchased from the United States which would most definitely prevent the enemy's missile strikes from threatenining our cities. THe Warden-B is a modern system which far surpasses the S-400 or THAAD. Utilizing the AN/MPQ-500 Quantum Radar, it will be able to detect any enemy aircraft in teh vicinity as well as missiles and shall target them using its 4 types of Ancile missiles as well as its laser defense systems, intercepting incoming missiles and dispatching aircraft with ease. With a total horizontal range of 2,050 km and vertical range of 1000 km, the Warden-B shall deal significant damage to the Nigerian's technologically inferior aircraft and missiles.
The Warden-B batteries will also be used together with Algeria's two S-400 batteries, its 8 S-300s, as well as the Algerian's Chinese made HQ-9 SAM and German made Skyshield SHORAD to secure the airspace from any and all invaders who attempt to undermine Algerian sovereignty.
To further improve our chances of eliminating every enemy aircraft and missiles, the Algerian mobile air defense systems shall also be on high alert. Systems such as the Tor SAM, ZSU-23-4 Shilka, S-125-Neva, Pantsir S-1, and S-125 shall be used to accompany ground troops to provide an additional layer of air cover. Algeria will not fall.
Libya
Operations in Libya were less than ideal as most of their air assets were destroyed before we even arrived. The UKA therefore sees fit to utilize Egyptian and Algerian air bases to ensure air superiority over Libyan airbases in the north before they are rebuilt to accommodate coalition aircraft and air defense systems. 80 F-35s that were destined for Libya shall land in Egyptian airbases and will protect the airspace over Libya as we rebuild and establish the planned air defense network comprising of:
If securing Libyan airspace is successful, ground troops will be able to move through Libya in preparation for a Nigerian attack.
Morocco
GIven the lack of a land border between Nigeria and Morocco, the Moroccans shall only recieve 1 additional Warden-B Battery to compliment their air defense network with the THAADs destined for Mauritania being redirected to protect Moroccan cities along the coast. Given its importance geographically, the UKA shall deploy 5 of the newly acquired Aegis Ashore Batteries to Morocco, deploying them such that the entire Moroccan coast including the Western Sahara receive adequate protection from Nigerian naval assets.

Missile Strikes

The UKA has already positioned 200 SM-1 within striking distance of Nigerian bases in Niger. While the 200 missiles destined for Libya and 200 missiles destined for Mauritania did not land and turned back, it can be assumed that the 200 missiles destined for Mauritania returned to the closest port, that in Algeria. With 400 SM-1 missiles pointing southwards, the UKA will avenge the Algerian bases. The SM-1, or Saroukh al Mutaharik-1 (Highly Mobile Missile-1), was designed to counter most modern air defense systems by being as the name implies, highly mobile. Using thrust vectoring, lightweight skirts, reflective coating, and a low infrared signature, the missile is able to confuse enemy air defense systems and as a result, it is quite difficult to intercept. A single missile would be difficult for the enemy to intercept, let alone a salvo of 360 missiles fired from southern Algeria. The first salvo of 180 missiles shall be fired at the Nigerian airbase in Arlit simultaneously with another salvo of 180 fired at Chirfa AFB. Six Nihaya-1 ICBMs shall also be fired from the UKA targeting Chirfa AFB (2), Arlit AB (2), and Dange Shuni AFB(2), demonstrating its MIRV capabilities. This will eliminate all Nigerian bases in Niger, significantly degrade their aerial capabilities near the theatre, and hinder their advance in Algeria and any future advances on Libya.
The UKA shall also deploy an additional 400 missiles to the theater, to be shipped to Algeria where they will be used to strike enemy positions and crush their advance. In the mean time, the remaining 40 missiles shall be used tactically to hinder the enemy's advance. If the first missile barrage does not destroy Arlit AFB, a second barrage featuring 60 hypersonic SS-88 missiles will be launched in addition to another salvo of 200 SM-1s to overwhelm the enemy. Given the open terrain of the Sahara desert, this will be quite deadly, particularly when used in tandem with the UKA's HD Surveillance Satellite to observe enemy movements and analyze their military doctrine and tactics.
In addition to the systems currently in place, the UKA shall therefore deploy

Aircraft Deployments

Morocco
The UKA's supercruiser group has finally arrived in Morocco. It is able of engaging anything the Nigerians can throw at it allowing coalition air force assets to act with impunity in the region. Given the lack of a fixed aerial Nigerian presence, 25 F-35s in Morocco can act against any enemy ships in Arab coastal waters within range, firing long range LRASMs as well as the supersonic carrier destroyer, the SS-2A to eliminate any and all ships. The remaining 22 F-35s will join the fight for air superiority over Algeria aided by Moroccan ELINT/ESM. The aircraft destined for Mauritania that were rerouted will land in Moroccan airbases as they are the closest friendly area. The additional 60 F-35s, 20 6th generation Neurofighters, and 10 HAL Vajras will assist the coalition's airforce with aerial operations over Algeria, neutralizing enemy aircraft and establishing air superiority over OUR airspace, with help from local radar systems, ELINT, intelligence, and satellites. These aircraft will be reinforced by 3 Boeing E-3 AEW&C aircraft to assist us with ongoing operations.
Algeria
The UKA has deployed 80 F-35s to Algeria and the aircraft that did not land in Libya will be redirected to Algeria as well bringing the total to 110 F-35s, 100 F-15s, and 5 EA-18G Growlers. Working in coordination with the aircraft in Morocco, the UKA Air Force will eliminate any and all hostiles in Algerian skies, shooting them down and preventing the enemy from advancing on the ground. The F-35s will ensure air superiority and our strength in numbers will serve to eliminate the enemy's presence in the country. Algerian airbases are still functional and the nation is still well within range. The F-15s will take on a secondary role of assisting F-35s in aerial combat but their original role will be to target enemies on the ground when possible, using advanced guided munitions. Algeria's sophisticated network of OTH Radars and its air defense systems covering most of the country will enable us to transform Algerian airspace into a veritable bloodbath for Nigeria.
To ensure victory, the UKA will also deploy additional aerial assets. 30 prototype Ghurab helicopters shall be deployed for the CAS role, operating in a similar fashion to a highly precise tank killing strike fighter.
The Ghurabs will also be joined by a Saab 340 AEW+C aircraft and a Saab 2000 AEW&C aircraft to ensure full battlefield control and to optimize operations. Additionally, 10 DRDO AURA autonomous stealth fighters will be used to engage the enemy, accompanying 10 additional 6th generation Neurofighter aircraft. Using our advanced BMS, we will be able to coordinate the defense of Algeria and halt the enemy advance one way or another.

Ground Forces

Forces on the Ground

Arab League Rapid Response Force
The ALRRF shall immediately deploy to southern Algeria to assist the Algerian Army with the defense of the nation. They are well equipped and have experience fighting in the area. Given the large size of the Algerian Army, the Algerians are well equipped and supplied with excellent logistics, after all, they are fighting a defensive war against an enemy in an area where the enemy is outnumbered in the skies and the ground troops are protected by our state-of-the-art air defense systems. All 8,000 men from the Sfax division shall be deployed to this front.
The ALRRF has access to local power grids and shall therefore be able to tap in to recharge any electronic systems as well as shut down the flow of power to restrict the enemy from recharging their systems. The large Sahara desert will prove very difficult for the enemy to cross as apart from the border town of Ghezzlan, they will have to travel hundreds of kilometers to reach the nearest city. To our knowledge, the Nigerians do not posses mobile charging systems as the UKA does. Lacking effective supply and the home advantage, the arriving Nigerian armies will have to travel hundreds of kilometers through the desert, wasting fuel and electricity without a means to resupply as supply lines will be targeted by missile, artillery, and air strikes.
The UKA however will not experience these issues as our airforce has arrived to the scene and our army currently operates the Enigma II APC which can be fitted with a mobile power bank to help recharge exoskeleton Units on the fly, learning from our mistakes in the Palestinian War of Liberation. The ALRRF shall therefore leverage its advantage in urban warfare while providing the Algerian Army assistance and augmenting their firepower. This will stall the Nigerian advance until the bulk of the UKA task force arrives.
All in all, the ALRRF shall deploy:
Algerian Armed Forces
The Algerian Armed Forces were once among the most powerful armies in Africa, veterans of several wars against both conventional armies and fighting as both the guerrillas and the counter-insurgents. In the sand war, the newly independent Algerians held off a Moroccan advance using less advanced technology. During the Algerian civil war, the Algerian armed forces were able to destroy the terrorists and restore order. While the Nigerians were under-supplied and lost swathes of land to Boko Haram, the Algerian army remained disciplined and well organized, so much so that neighboring countries such as Niger once sent their airmen and army-men to be trained by Algeria.
Unfortunately, the nation's army has lagged in terms of technological advancement, that is until the UKA began its resupply of the nation. While the program was terminated as part of the Arab-Nigerian peace treaty, the UKA managed to provide Algeria with hundreds of modern EDIC Saladin Tanks as well as hundreds of APCs, IFVs, and Missile systems that are battle tested in Palestine and relatively on par with their Nigerian counterparts yet better adapted and tested in desert conditions. The UKA High Command has full confidence in the capabilities of the Algerian Armed Forces to at the very least hold the line.
The Algerian Armed Forces also employ the advantage that is fighting for your nation against people who can clearly be distinguished from the rest of the population. The Nigerians are clearly invaders and each and every Algerian has been through mandatory military duty, can fire a gun, and is willing to die for their country. It appears that the Nigerians have forgotten that Algeria is no small nation and is very capable of defending itself regardless of the enemy's advance and shall call on these armed reservists if needed.
In the initial stages of this war, the following shall be deployed to engage Nigerian troops:
250,000 Men shall be deployed with all able bodied men along the Algerian border being drafted as part of a "Home Defense Organization". They shall not be drafted to fight away from their homes but rather to take up arms against any invaders and protect their families from harm. They will fight harder when they are close to their families and their lives are at stake.
Tanks:
  • 150 EDIC Saladin Main Battle Tanks
  • 400 T-90SA MBTs
APCs and IFVs
  • 200 EDIC Enigma IFV
  • 100 BMP-3 IFV
  • 760 BMP-2 IFV
  • 200 EDIC Enigma APC
  • 800 TPz Fuchs APC
  • 200 BMPT Terminator 2 Tank Support Combat Vehicle
Artillery Systems
  • 50 PLZ-45
  • 100 2S3 Akatsyia
  • 30 Jobaria MLRS
  • 48 BM--14-16 MLRS
  • 30 ASH-1 Towed Howitzer
  • 150 D-30 Towed Howitzer
Other Vehicles
  • 1,500 Nimr 4x4 HMMV
  • 200 Al-Masmak MRAP
  • 60 Pantsir S-1
  • 35 2K12 Kub
  • 40 9K33 Osa
  • 25 9K35 Strela-10
  • 40 Buk M-2
  • 200 ZSU-23-4
Helicopters
  • 30 HAL Rukh Attack Helicopter
  • 30 Mi-24MKIII Super Hind
  • 100 Mil Mi-8 Utility Helicopter
Air Deployments
  • 30 Su-30
  • 20 Su-20
  • 20 Mig-29
  • 3 Gulfstream G550 ISR Aircraft
  • 3 IL-78 Aerial Refueling Aircraft
Naval Deployments
  • 6 Sindhurastra Class Submarines
  • 2 Kilo Class 636M submarines
  • 8 Chataan Class ASW Corvettes
  • 3 Shivalik-B Frigate
  • 3 Project 20382 "Tigr" corvette
UKA Armed Forces
The UKA Armed Forces are a formidable force. What was once a poorly disciplined and equipped army has become highly trained and experienced in desert and urban warfare alike. Their large arsenal of exoskeletons and other technologically advanced pieces of equipment allow them to dominate the battlefield and defeat conventional armies larger than them, thanks to the force multipliers associated with highly mobile, resilient, and highly connected ground forces.
The UKA is currently in the process of deploying its armed forces to assist Algerian troops in eliminating any and all Nigerian presence in the country. While the UKA already has 2,000 army members in the country already, we hope to scale up our involvement to include an additional 80,000 men to combat the Nigerian menace. The 80,000 men shall be deployed using the UKA's large number of LCUs, oil tankers, and other ships capable of transporting our troops and equipment. Aircraft shall be used when necessary and shall be escorted through dangerous airspace.
The troops shipped to Algeria shall dock at Tunisian and Algerian ports, under the cover of our air defense systems that have already been put in place. All necessary logistics systems will also be shipped and steady supply lines shall be established. It is clear that the Coalition's Navy dominates the Mediterranean and it would be suicide for the Nigerians to attempt to intercept our ships even more so oil tankers near European waters within range of our air defense systems and naval batteries. What is possible however is for a Nigerian submarine to attempt to pass undetected and attack our supply lines. This will not be tolerated. Both Morocco and Algeria posses Anti-Submarine aircraft and ships that shall protect the Strait of Gibraltar, preventing any naval incursions and securing our supply lines. Algerian submarines shall patrol the waters searching for the enemy. They will be assisted with UKA Naval assets located off the Coast of Morocco.
The troops present in Algeria will assist Algerian troops in holding off the enemy invasion until the bulk of our troops arrive. The UKA's aircraft shall secure Algerian airspace and to a lesser extent Libyan airspace to slow down the attack. Arabian Air Defense assets recently delivered to Algeria shall protect Algerian airspace and down any incoming missiles or aircraft.
All in all, the UKA shall therefore deploy the following to the Algerian front lines with anything not being operated by the UKA being loaned to the Algerian Armed Forces:
80,000 Troops
Tanks
  • 50 EDIC Saladin MKII
  • 400 Leopard 3A1
  • 200 M22 Main Battle Tank
  • 600 EDIC Saladin (400 Loaned)
  • 1300 M1A2v3 (Loaned to Algeria)
APCs and IFVs
  • 25 Dhvaja Drone Control Vehicles with 1000 Dhvaja Drones
  • 600 Enigma APC
  • 200 M50 APC
  • 1000 M113 APC (Loaned to Algeria)
  • 100 Enigma IFV
  • 500 M2A2 Bradley IFV
Artillery Systems
  • 75 Midfa-70 Self Propelled Artillery
  • 200 Bijalee-II Self Propelled Artillery
  • 100 Bijalee-I Self Propelled Artillery (Loaned to Algeria)
  • 600 M109A7 Self Propelled Artillery
  • 100 122 mm Howitzer
  • 100 Jobaria MLRS (50 Loaned to Algeria)
  • 50 M270 MLRS
  • 50 Astros II MLRS (Loaned to Algeria)
Utility Vehicles
  • 400 Nimr 4x4
  • 1200 Al Masmak APC/MRAP
  • 1000 Humvee
Other Vehicles
  • 200 AN/TWQ-1 Avenger
  • 40 MIM-23 Hawk
  • 20 Umbheki C-RAM
Helicopters
  • 30 Ghurab VTOL HelicopteCAS Fighter
  • 30 AH-64D Attack Helicopter
  • 10 AH-64E Attack Helicopter
  • 40 CH-47F Utility Helicopter
  • 10 Super Puma ASW Helicopter
Drones
  • 15 DRDO Rustom Predator Drones
  • 150 AAI Hamama Suicidal SEAD Drones
Missiles
  • 400 SM-1 Highly mobile missile (TELs deployed such that it is within 800 km of Arlit AFB)
  • 100 SS-88 Hypersonic Missile(Deployed to Tamanraset as it is within 400 km of Arlit)
  • 30 Adhur Aljahim (Deployed to Ouargla as it is well within the 2000 km range)
  • 40 DF-3 (Deployed to Algiers)
Power Armor
  • 20,000 ALDUIN Exoskeleton
  • 4,500 ALDUIN Power Armor
  • 30,000 TALOS Exoskeleton
Arab League Coalition
While the UKA makes up the bulk of the Coalition in Algeria, the rest of the Arab League is expected to contribute. Egypt in particular shall be responsible for the fortification of Libya. Egypt currently operates 80 Su-57 Andhakas, capable of rivalling or surpassing the enemy's domestically made 5th gen fighters as well as 34 F22s and 48 F-35s.
In order to secure Libyan Airspace, we urge Egypt to deploy 42 Su-57s, 16 F22s, and 20 F-35s to eliminate the Nigerian threat over Libya.
Furthermore, the Egyptian Army boasts modernized T-90s that have been upgraded to meet the needs of the Indian armed forces. Egyptian support in protecting the Southern Libyan border would be instrumental in ensuring the survival of North Africa. Boasting an army size of 500,000, we hope that you can spare a task force of 80,000 to reinforce Libyan positions along the border and establish a defensive perimeter. Of the 20 S-400 Launchers possessed by Egypt, we believe 4 in addition to an S300 Battery would suffice to give our fighters in the air the advantage and force a Nigerian Aerial withdrawal.
All in all, the following troops should be deployed by Egypt:
  • 80,000 troops
  • 300 T90 Bhishma
  • 400 M1A2 Abrams
  • 1200 Enigma APC
  • 200 Enigma IFV
  • 600 HMMWV
  • 400 Fahd 4x4 APC
  • 150 Fahd Minelayer
  • 200 BAE Caiman MRAP
  • 20 M270 Rocket Artillery
  • 200 M109 Self Propelled Howitzer
  • 20 Apache Helicopter
  • 50 KA52 Attack Helicopter
  • 40 Kazan Ansat Utility Aircraft
  • 10 Teledyne Scarab UAV
  • 42 Su-57 Andhaka
  • 10 HAL Tejas
  • 34 F22
  • 20 F-35
Egypt will also be able to test its X-IAR project, a quadped infantry assisting robot that can carry cargo for soldiers.
By working with the Libyan Armed Forces, Egypt will be able to secure the south and prevent any Nigerian incursions on Arab soil, something that would naturally cause more Arab nations to suffer the same fate. The first domino must be stopped before the others fall.
Other Arab nations may also join the coalition but however Egypt and the UKA are the only two real military players regionally that are able to intervene on this scale. Symbolic contributions of aircraft, logistics, and intelligence are expected from the other members of the Arab League.
Intelligence
The UKA posesses a large number of man portabe drones known as the DB-1 mini an the DB-1 mini rotor which have direct uplinks to our BMS. By using these infrantry drones, we will be able to have complete control over the battlefield on the ground, while larger assets such as the DRDO Rustom Predator Drone provides us with intelligence from higher up. The K-1 Surveilance satellite shall also relay HD troop movements to HQ which will transfer the data to the BMS on the field allowing us to know where to strike effectively as the enemy is invading through the desert with minimal air cover. C&C aircraft and vehicle deployed will use this information to relay it to fighters, artillery, and squads that will in turn neutralize enemy positions. Intelligence from Algeria, particularly from its highly developed radar systems and Algerian intellignece will also be used to contribute to the war effort.

Strategy

Defense of Tamanraset, The Algerian South
Tamanrasset is the southern capital of Algeria. As the largest city in the region, it is of strategic importance and is likely heavily defended. While one would question the wisdom of not placing air defense systems near the border of a hostile nation BEFORE they invaded, it must be safe to assume that the bulk of the Algerian defense force is currently stationed nearby.
The strategy in Tamanrasset is simple, use our superior numbers with regards to aircraft as well as using our new Warden-B air defense system to regain air superiority over Algeria, using the airbase in Um al Bouaghi that was damaged but still very much functional. In the mean time, we will use distance to our advantage. The enemy must travel hundreds of kilometers to engage our troops which will create issues with the enemy's supply as large amounts of fuel, rations, and water will need to be transported through the dunes of the desert where many trucks would get stuck. The enemy may try to build makeshift roads which would slow their advance and allow them to become targets of our air strikes, artillery strikes, and rocket barrages.
The empty Sahara can also be used to our advantage as the enemy will not be able to hide among civilian populations. The Jobaria-72 with its large range is the most powerful Rocket Launcher in the world. One Jobaria-72 launcher is capable of firing a salvo of 240 122 mm rockets at a rate of 4 rounds per second, enveloping an area as large as 5 km2 in deadly fire and destruction. The enemy will approach Tamanrasset from the south or southeast as there is no other path towards the city which is when the Jobaria-72 will launch its large salvo at enemy positions, decimating them where they stand and utilizing its superior range to strike before it is struck.
Whenever the enemy erects a road, it will be destroyed by an artillery strike. When an enemy aircraft enters Algeria, it will be hunted down and destroyed, using "safe zones" established by our air defense systems to our advantage to send enemy aircraft into the meat grinder. 6th generation aircraft such as the Neurofighter and drone operated aircraft such as the AURA will be used in more difficult engagements.
In the city itself, every able bodied man will be defending their home from the intruders. It will be a true bloodbath for any invading Nigerians. Our proximity to power supply will also allow for our troops to remain powered while the enemy suffers from attrition. While the enemy will likely deploy their Tizona exoskeletons, Project ALDUIN will make its first appearance to significantly outclass them. A single ALDUIN Power Armor Unit is able to carry and throw cars with ease while the standard ALDUIN Power Armor allows for automatic targeting, encrypted communication, projectile detection and dodge system, a brain-computer interface, and full integration with BMS systems. The enemy will lose every urban engagement as the force multipliers granted by this beautiful work of art are massive. Power concerns are also mitigated by Solar panels which can allow the unit to charge during times of low use in case something happens to the power supply in the city.
Troops will fortify the city to stall any and all advances while a smaller detachment will deploy to meet the Nigerians in battle, using our ranged weapons as well as SHORAD systems to mitigate damage from enemy air assets until air superiority is restored.
Our 400 SM-1 systems shall destroy Arlit and Chifa air bases (see missile strikes section for more details) to degrade Nigeria's capabilities of waging war while our AAI Hamama SEAD Drones ram themselves into enemy air defense systems as part of SEAD Operations while the enemy is busy intercepting missiles, or rather attempting to. 5 DRDO AURA 5th gen Stealth Fighters will take on the dangerous role of firing SIA-47 HARM packages on enemy air defenses while the initial barrage is occurring.
With hundreds of coalition aircraft operating in the theatre, all integrated via our BMS and ELINT systems, air superiority would be quickly achieved.
If air superiority is achieved, then the coalition will be able to move even further south without fearing over-extension. Note that this does not mean the coalition will stand idly as Nigeria invades the rest of the country. We have the advantage of numbers and shall use that to prevent any and all advances.
If the enemy concentrates their forces, then they will be easy targets to eliminate using missile barrages. If they spread themselves out, they will be spread thin and can be eliminated by using our strength in numbers. Logistically, it should be nigh impossible for the Nigerians to successfully invade without stretching their resources very thin.
Air Defenses in Tamanrasset (Um el Bouagi Airbase)
North African Air Defense Systems Range (Ancile-B), Algerian air defenses already deployed, Libyan ADS to be deployed
SS-88 Launchers and Range
SM-1 Range (located around Tamanrasset)
Deployed Troops
  • Green: Highly fortified areas where Nigerian logistics do not allow for a full scale attack. This area is highly fortified and manned with every able bodied man armed and ready
  • Red: At a distance of 200 km from the border, we expect most of the fighting to be around this area. With the protective air cover from the neighboring base as well as artillery support from nearby positions, we expect the Nigerians to be stuck here for a long time
  • Blue: Once the bulk of the UKA's troops arrive, there shall be a major southwards push to push the Nigerians further away into the desert and eventually recapture the border crossing
Gibraltar and Morocco
After refueling in Morocco and regaining its strength, the UKA's 3rd supercruiser fleet largely outclasses Nigeria's navy. We shall use this to our advantage.
The UKA is currently shipping troops and equipment to North African cities and as such, uses trade routes in the Mediterranean. The UKA's AA frigates can provide the necessary cover to protect our troops to add an extra layer of defense to our air defense network on the coast. The rest of the fleet shall protect Gibraltar with UKA ASW assets and submarine assets patrolling the waters for enemy submarines. given the size of the strait, it is unlikely for the enemy to successful infiltrate the Mediterranean.
Offensively, 2 of the UKA's Sindhurastra shall harass enemy fleets off the coast of Mauritania, firing torpedoes and withdrawing soon after in several hit and run attacks.
Libya
Egypt shall be responsible for the defense of Libya. As we have yet to detect any large troop movements, the Egyptians will leverage their proximity to Libya to protect its airspace as it establishes an air defense network in the area as well as a ground presence near the border. It would be stupid for Egypt to engage the Nigerians alone, therefore, they shall remain a distance away from the border, able to intercept enemy forces should they cross the border.
Air force bases in Libya shall be rebuilt and refurbished to house Egyptian aircraft and should air superiority be established, air raids against Chirfa airbase will take place.
While the battle for air superiority will likely be decided by Egypt's Su-57s and F22s vs the Nigerian Lavi, fighters from the UKA operating in Algeria will also assist the Egyptians on this front if needed.
We also request that Egypt launch a 50 missile strong Karitha Missile Salvo at Chirfa Airbase to degrade Nigerian aerial capabilities. This will be launcehd at the same time as the other missiles in Algeria.
Egyptian positions
m:
tl;dr: Deploying the ALRRF to the front lines along with 250,000 Algerian soldiers equipped with decent equipment obtained from the last time this happened. This will be reinforced by more troops from the UKA and the airbases that were destroyed that are still accessible will be rebuilt and used. Air defense systems have arrived in Algeria including the newly purchased Warden-B which will serve to establish air superiority when used with our other aircraft. Also missile strikes. Loads of missile strikes
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2018.04.18 00:13 RegalLegalEagle Material Differences Ch 8

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“We haven’t traveled this much in a long time.” Jaeger glanced over at Raven as she said that.
“Is that a bad thing?” He asked.
“No. Just… noticed.” She shrugged and then looked back down at the tablet she’d gotten from Kuv. “You’re fine with having Max get that lost hauler for those people on his own?”
“He’s not exactly on his own. Bertha and Tex are both going to be watching him and those are the best bots we have. Not to mention a handful of others.” Jaeger reminded her.
“Mmhhh… do you talk to Bertha much? She’s seemed… wistful lately. Nostalgic maybe?” Jaeger frowned as Raven said that and looked over at her.
“You talk to Bertha regularly?” He asked with a bit of surprise.
“I try to make time for all the bots. The ones who talk back I mean.” She mentioned which did sound like something she’d do. “You should talk to her. When you get some free time I mean. We’ve been busy lately…”
“Well, it’s been an eventful week that’s for sure.” He nodded in agreement. “Having that recon satellite crash so close reminded me of the bigger world around us. I already had planned on heading into town for meat but swinging by and helping your DJ friend was just a happy coincidence. Have his broadcasts been interesting lately?” Jaeger asked trying to sound casual in his interest.
“Yeah. He thanked us, though not by name. Just said some capable fans had stopped by to help him patch up his station. Used it as a sort of… piece about helping out neighbors.” She said with a somewhat distracted tone as she was playing some sort of game on her tablet.
“I’m glad you won’t be bored on roadtrips now but you’re a bit lacking in the conversation department suddenly.” Jaeger mentioned and as Raven just kept tapping at her game he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“What?” His chuckle made her glance over and he just shook his head.
“Having fun with that?” He asked instead.
“Yeah. Thanks again for getting it for me.” She said and then kept tapping. They were winding their way through the hills that separated the coast on their way to Ham’s. Most traffic crossing the hills would use the highway out from Splitstream but they were taking the old skyline scenic road. It used to be popular for executives who lived in the cliffs overlooking the city to use on their way to their rustic rural cabins in the valley. Rustic rural cabins that were three stories tall with eight bedrooms, a pool, and often vetall pads.
They could still see the husks of many of these “cabins” as they drove by along the road. Every so often they’d spot one that actually looked like it was in use. The gardens, tennis courts, and well kept lawns having been turned into fields of various crops. His favorite was actually one near a small lake that once had extensive pools, and decorative streams that had been turned into a cultivation farm for all sorts of water plants. Stuff like carmel berries had been an expensive treat even before the war so he had no idea what a crop of them went for these days.
It was good to see that people were making a go of survival just about everywhere. There were certainly less people up here than down in the valley or on the coast but he suspected what they lacked in communities they made up for in privacy and isolation. They’d be in trouble if any scavs decided to head up from the city though. The Pact garrisons were fairly sparse as it was, but to get up into the hills would take even longer. What mostly saved them was the fact that scavs weren’t usually interested in isolated farms. He doubted the local farmers were unarmed either which helped.
Despite the potential risk he could also understand why people liked to stay up here. It was what had drawn the executives to build their weekend getaways up here in the first place. Look west in the right spot and you get to see the coast and the ocean beyond it stretching out before you. Look east in the right place and you have the central valley rolling before you. The valley was where the real agriculture was. Orchards, farms, ranches, as far as the eye could see. Depending on the season and what crop was out it could also be extremely vivid in a wide variety of colors. Though there was less variety than there used to be there was still plenty.
“Hey.” He reached over to tap Raven’s shoulder to get her attention before he pointed. “There’s the Spire.” That got her to perk up and shift in her seat to look out ahead of them. Ahead and to the right of their path far in the distance was the Spire as it was known. Unlike so many buildings from before the war that had fallen into disrepair and become rundown the Spire was still a gleaming icon of sophistication and technology. Finished only a few years before the outbreak of the war it was designed as a massive agricultural sciences complex in the valley. And more importantly now was also a hub for freighter traffic on this side of the continent.
“Look! There’s three of them today!” Raven gasped out as they could see the massive freighters hanging in the air as they began to settle down into the ship cradles arranged around the base of the Spire. These were big freighters too.
“That’s the Cristaldi.” He pointed to one of them with a particularly bright red, white, and green paint scheme unlike the other two which were far more worn and weathered. “Used to be the pride of the Antaren Union. Still a little odd to see it here… But I guess what’s left of the Union is part of the Pact so they go where needed. When it launched a lot of people expected it to be a repeat of the Vanto.”
“The Vanto?” Raven asked.
“Biggest freighter at the time made by the Milanese Stellar Artisans. Most Anteran naval contracts went to Ruyter Industriele Scheepswerven, or the ever popular Blohm, Voss, and Maersk. The Milanese shipyards were as implied by the name far more concerned with fancy ships. They felt that their competitors lacked style, sophistication, and fashion. Which… is honestly true enough, but their competitor’s ships were also known for being reliable, inexpensive, and practical. So they wanted to show off and build something really impressive. That was the Vanto.” He explained as they drove.
“What happened to it?” She asked next, keeping her eyes off her tablet for a bit.
“Well, the Vanto was bigger than anything they’d made before by a large margin. All kinds of project issues. Way over budget, well behind schedule, and well short of desired efficiency goals. But being a matter of pride it launched as soon as they could. They cut so many corners it was practically a sphere. One of the corners cut was its close impact defense system. What did they need to worry about meteors for? Especially on its first voyage that was just from Nuovo Milan to Giardino and then Concordia?”
“Oh no…” She muttered seeing where this was going.
“Oh yes. So in the midst of the Scorpio starlane a freak meteor storm came out of the void. Tore it to shreds. Right in the middle of the busiest Anteran starlane and one of the busiest starlanes out there.” He shook his head slowly. “Thankfully since it was so busy there were surprisingly few casualties because at least they didn’t skimp on escape pods. It fueled a lot of jokes about Italian engineers having so much fire and passion for their work their designs often ended in fiery passionate explosions. Or rather just fed more fuel to those old jokes.”
“Then… how’d the Cristaldi come about?” She asked as she looked up at the freighter.
“Well, at the very least the Milanese knew how to learn from their mistakes. Rather than wallow in shame they immediately set to work repairing their reputation. The Cristaldi, named after their founder was the answer.” He nodded to the massive freighter hanging in the sky as he tried to remember the stats.
“The Cristaldi is a scaled down but vastly improved Vanto. It’s 400 meters long, 50 at the beam, and 75 draft. So just imagine how big the Vanto was compared to it. They kept that stylish swept bridge though. The Cristaldi was… or I suppose is pretty lavish as far as freighters go. But expensive. The rest of the ones they made for the line are the same size but they cut back on luxuries to make them more affordable. Still nicer than just about any other freighters I hear. No idea how their mechanics feel about them though. Milanese ships were always maintenance heavy.” He shrugged.
“Think they’re traveling in a convoy?” She asked then as the three freighters prepared to settle down around the Spire.
“Has to be. I doubt that three super freighters would just show up at the exact same time out of coincidence.” He shrugged. “Solavis despite having a smaller population than most agri worlds does output a great deal of food. The F.V.S. was big on automation and efficiency after all.”
“Think they’re still using the Spire for research too?” She asked as she looked at the white tower. They could see the greenhouses beyond it and several small enclosures of trees at the base.
“I’m sure of it. Used to be about making more exotic or tasty fruits and veggies but now I’ll bet it’s about hardiness. Making crops that can grow anywhere. I think transportation is still the biggest issue these days.” He suggested.
“Hmm…” Raven watched until all three freighters had settled before looking back down at her tablet. Seeing the freighters in the sky was cool. Watching them get unloaded from several kilometers away wasn’t. They weren’t too far from their destination now though. Ham’s salvage yard was set up overlooking the Spire for a reason. The hills ahead of them on the road soon became more rocky and treacherous. Used to be called the broken spine though he wasn’t sure if locals still called it that. Or cared. The main road here turned east to switch back down into the valley but he wasn’t going that way.
Instead Jaeger drove them forward at an old junction and onto a dirt and gravel road. Once they rounded the first bend came the warning signs. Dangerous wildlife, unstable cliffs, rogue bots, beware falling rocks. There were all kinds of warning that he ignored before coming up to a barbed wire fence that closed off a large salvage yard beyond. Unlike the junkyard near the compound that was mostly scrap from the war itself this one was more organized, and far bigger. Jaeger just waited at the gate and waved up at the camera watching the road.
After a minute the gate slowly rolled open with a whine. Sounded like the motor needed work. The fence as well, since it looked like a strong breeze would topple over sections of it. But that was just part of the cover. Make a large state of the art fence topped with turrets and patrol it with bots and you’ll get all kinds of attention. But a rusty old fence and some old broke down hulks? Especially this far out in the middle of nowhere? No one would look twice. Jaeger drove them towards the old control tower at the center of it all. The only bit of pavement in the whole area was the old landing strip some of the craft needed. Not everything was a vetall after all.
All around them were ships, vetalls, repulsors, and all manner of flying craft in various states of dismantling and salvage. Some of it dated back to the first planetary settlements. Practically steam powered by modern standards. They came to a stop just next to the control tower then and the small workshop and barracks built into the face of a cliff. As they got out of the car Ham stepped out of the workshop still wearing his usual overalls stained with grease and some burn marks. He was wiping his hands off on a cloth as they got out of the car.
“What a nice surprise.” He remarked as Raven quickly ran up for a hug. He draped the cloth over his shoulder and leaned down so he could grab her as she jumped up for the hug and spin her around in the air for a moment as she squealed happily before he set her down. “My you’ve grown!” He remarked which made her laugh.
“No I haven’t! I don’t grow again until my birthday!” She replied with a giggle. “And you never grow at all!” She waved at him as he laughed and shrugged. Ham was average height for humans but very skinny, and always clean shaven so it gave him an even smaller and younger appearance. “You know… we were just talking about names the other day. How Max is Medium Assault Prototype and all that. It made me think back to when I first got to meet you. That I actually remember, I mean. I thought with your name you’d be like… Heavy Assault Mech and be this biiiiig guy!” She raised her arms up and out which made him laugh.
“Ah no not me. Besides mech’s are empty. They need pilots.” He reminded her.
“Well I know that now.” She huffed. Jaeger chuckled a little himself and shook his head as he walked closer.
“Nah. Ham’s name is what you would call an ironic nickname.” Jaeger nodded.
“Ironic my a-” He glanced at Raven. “Ironic my butt.” He replied with a glare which just made Jaeger laugh harder.
“What’s so funny?” Raven asked with a frown as she looked between them.
“Just after training when we were all official Revenant, and a pilot.” Jaeger started.
“I’m still technically a Revenant.” Ham reminded him.
“Technically.” Jaeger wiggled a hand as if it were iffy which made Ham roll his eyes. “After training when the core team was first assembled we were sitting around talking one day. Discussing what sort of callsigns we’d like, or what would be cool, stuff like that. So then we’re going around the room and I look over and see this guy in the corner, reading. The nerd.” Ham snorted at that. “And I ask him what sort of callsign he’d like. Trying to include him into the group. And he doesn’t even look up. He just says-”
“Ham.” Ham smiled even as he said it.
“So… we look at each other in confusion and I just say to him. ‘What? Ham?’ Because I don’t get it.” Jaeger smirked as he said it. “And he replies-”
“Ham and cheddar. On rye.” Ham slowly nodded as he repeated his fateful words from so long ago. Raven looks entirely confused at this point even as Jaeger and Ham both chuckle.
“So obviously I’m confused then too. I ask what kind of callsign that is and he finally looks up now also confused.” Jaeger continued.
“I thought we were ordering lunch!” Ham gasped out as he tossed his hands in the air. “They all start laughing at me which gets me all flustered and I can’t think of a way out of it. All concept of callsigns and nicknames just flees from my mind. Gone.” He shakes his head slowly. “Then when it comes time for actual callsigns guess what name I’ve magically been given?” He gave Jaeger a dirty look but Jaeger just laughed and smiled back.
“Ham ever since.” He shrugged.
“It really never made sense to me.” Ham replied. “I’m thin, tidy, and quiet. Not exactly the sort of person you envision when you hear Ham.”
“Like I said it’s ironic. It fit too well.” Jaeger smirked at that and sighed as he thought back on those first years in the program.
“So how was it?” Jaeger and Ham both looked at Raven as she said that. Ham then looked to Jaeger as if to ask what she was talking about but all Jaeger could do was shrug since he wasn’t sure either. “The ham with cheddar on rye.” As she said that both men laughed and Ham just shook his head.
“I really don’t remember. Good I assume. Though now its memory has turned bitter considering what name I was cursed with forevermore.” He rolled his shoulders then and looked off at nothing for a moment, obviously thinking back on those old days just like Jaeger. Then he focused on Jaeger in the present. “So what brings you two by? I’m always happy for company but I wasn’t expecting it.”
“We found a Ravex recon satellite!” Raven said before Jaeger had a chance. “We thought you’d like its core to watch the traffic around the planet.”
“You managed to get the core without it self destructing?” Ham asked, obviously impressed.
“Pact retrofit.” Jaeger explained as Ham nodded.
“Well still that’s very good work. I’m guessing you were the one who did all the work?” He asked as he looked at Raven. “Your dad’s good at smashing them to bits but he’s not very good at taking them apart carefully now is he?”
“Hey, I resemble that statement.” Jaeger shot back which made them all chuckle a little. “It’s in the back.” As he turned to walk to the back of the car he froze. Down the road the way they came was perhaps the largest Pink Puma he’d ever seen. The Pink Puma were native Solavian animals that bore a very striking similarity to cougars on earth. There was also a subspecies with a coat best evolved to blend in with the reddish and pink hues of the more arid rocky geography found at this end of the continent. Hence the name. Though they also had some browns and cream colored striped and patterns the pink was most prominent.
While most of the Solavian cats were at most as big as an adult human this one was easily two and a half meters long, one and half meters at the shoulder, and likely around 150 kilograms if Jaeger was viewing it right. But they were ambush predators. Why was one just standing in the road staring at him? “Ham, please tell me you have a gun on you.” He quietly whispered back.
“Hm? Oh! Sorry!” He walked forward then and whistled out as the puma slowly began to tread closer. “Don’t worry, she’s not real. Well… she is. But she’s a synth. Jaeger, Raven, I’d like you two to meet Artemis.” Ham walked forward as the cat leaned up to headbut him gently in the chest as he rubbed her cheeks.
“A synth animal?” Raven gasped out.
“Artemis? The ancient god of hunting? Isn’t that name sort of… lazy?” Jaeger asked.
“Look I had to change it to something else! For some stupid reason the original project had nothing but stupid names for her! Like Genghis Cat, Catmando, Catastrophe, Megabite, and Catnip! Those names are terrible!” Ham insisted only for Jaeger to shoot back.
“Says Ham.” Which caused him to glare at Jaeger but Raven giggled.
“I love all those names! Even if most of them are sort of aggressive...” Even as she said that the synth puma padded over to Raven leaning up to nuzzle against her as Raven quickly began to scratch the puma’s cheeks and chin. “Ooohh you’re just a big sweetie aren’t you Catnip?”
“Why Catnip? Why would a cat be called catnip? That doesn’t make sense!” Ham huffed out.
“Says the man named after a ham sandwich.” Jaeger narrated as Ham in turn glared at him once more. Though as he watched Raven pet the giant cat something clicked in his mind. “Is this what we got out of the ruins on Seriah?” He asked.
“Yeah.” Ham nodded then.
“This was the big project you had us drag out of there? A synth cat?” He asked, somewhat surprised.
“Yep.” Ham nodded once more.
“How come this took so long to fix up? I thought you were working on a special fighter or something. There was a lot of stuff we brought back.” Jaeger mentioned as thought back to the trips they took up to the moon and to an old Absolute Dynamics research station.
“We brought back a lot of things. This was one of them. And it took a while because honestly the project was a mess. It didn’t have much funding through the war since… it wasn’t really going to be effective for the issues we had then. The technical aspects worked fine, it just needed a lot of help meshing together organic thought processes with programming.” He nodded at the cat still affectionately nuzzling Raven. “Quite a bit of trial and error.” Ham added.
“How many times did she eat your hand?” Jaeger asked knowing what Ham meant by trial and error.
“More than I’d have liked but less than I feared.” Ham admitted.
“That’s… such a non-answer.” Jaeger commented only for Ham to simple shrug and smirk at him.
“She’s totally awesome.” Raven mentioned then. “But… why do you have her?”
“We salvaged her on Seriah. You remember that right?” Jaeger said, surprised she hadn’t heard him ask Ham about it.
“No! Not, literally why does he have her. I mean like… what’s the point of having a synth puma?” She clarified.
“For the record I understood right away.” Ham replied as Jaeger rolled his eyes. “And it’s to keep people away. This is a salvage yard. Most people are going to ignore it. Especially up here. But sometimes people might think it’s easier to steal parts than buy them. So I post signs all over about a giant puma, and let there be some sightings at nearby farms. Then people are worried about a giant monster puma and don’t wander around.”
“But… don’t you have bots?” She asked with a frown.
“Ah but this isn’t like your compound. Everyone knew that was an Absolute Dynamics facility. That alone keeps people out. This was covert. So people don’t know. If I had bots patrolling the place word would get out real quick. Giant puma? At worst I get some nature types up here telling me I shouldn’t disturb their natural habitat and try to lecture me about animal rights and whatever.” The way he said that and had a look in his eyes made Jaeger arch a brow.
“Did you have her eat them?” He asked.
“No… Though I wanted to. Just had her scare them off. I’m sure afterward they both said to themselves that cat really did make me puma pants.” He wiggled his eyebrows at his little joke as Jaeger just snorted.
“That pun really doesn’t work.” Jaeger shook his head trying to deny his own chuckle.
“Ah what would you know?” Ham retorted with a scoff.
“Did you see the Cristaldi? Coming in?” Raven asked then changing the flow of the conversation.
“Hard to miss.” Ham nodded. “They’ve been slowly stepping up food shipments offworld which is a good sign. I don’t envy the crew though.”
“Dad had just been talking about how he thought they had good crew luxuries.” Raven mentioned with a tilt of her head.
“Oh sure. Twice the luxury, three times the maintenance.” Ham snorted. “The only reason the Antaren’s made such a fuss over it was because they were annoyed with the F.V.S.” Ham mentioned next which made Jaeger frown.
“How ya figure?” He asked.
“Absolute Dynamics.” Ham said as if that were enough of an explanation. When he noticed Raven and Jaeger both staring at him with a lack of understanding he realized he needed to explain. “The Antaren shipyards were known for good, reliable but rather boring ships. The Milanese of course made fancy exotic yachts to add variety but they could never beat Absolute Dynamics. Over the life of the company they had more best in class ships than like… the next three contenders combined. More maybe.”
“What? As ranked by the Void Vehicular Vagabonds? Not only do they have a terrible name but they’re hardly an unbiased set of judges.” Jaeger scoffed.
“Look just because you’re from earth and you can’t appreciate the finer points of ship making doesn’t mean I have to listen to you bad mouth proud Void institutions.” Ham huffed back as he crossed his arms. “But the fact remains that Absolute Dynamics ships were the best. In every category!” He coughed then and said much more quietly. “Except cost.”
“Oh yes, what’s that last bit? Sounds like a category in which Absolute Dynamics ships weren’t the best.” Jaeger smirked.
“Well it’s impossible to be the best at everything!” Ham explained. “So, their ships were expensive. They were still the best!”
“Wasn’t the general rule that any of their ships would cost more than three of their competitors in any given class?” Jaeger asked.
“Only because they were worth it!” Ham insisted.
“How’s this relate to the Cristaldi?” Raven asked as Jaeger and Ham looked at each other for a moment.
“Uh… yes! Right!” Ham nodded as he tried to mentally backtrack. “I… er… Anterans!” He remembered the thread of his thoughts. “Their ships and shipmakers were good but not good enough. They felt slighted. Especially after the Vanto incident. So when the Milanese Stellar Artisans actually managed to turn around and make the Cristaldi? They made a big show of it. Even Triple V gave them a glowing review. A blend of style, fashion, and form that hasn’t been seen in blah blah blah all that stuff. They had to make a big deal about their only major success in who knows how long. So they made it their humanitarian aid ship, and kept showing it off with every chance. But you know what Absolute Dynamics did in the meantime?”
“They made the Crucible…” Jaeger muttered slowly as he remembered the timing of the release.
“The greatest line of freighters ever!” Ham insisted, but as Jaeger was about to say something he raised a hand. “Modern line. Debatable. Whatever! But what’s not debatable is that those freighters kept the Void in the war far longer than it should have survived. As everything broke down and everyone else had to use precious ships to escort their convoys the Crucibles could operate in convoys without escorts. As pirates and criminals began to prey upon merchants and freighters they avoided Crucibles. When the starlanes began to fill with debris the Crucibles just rammed on through.”
“Are you a pilot or a salesman?” Jaeger asked with a snort as Ham smiled.
“Hey, can’t I have some pride in a well made ship?” Jaeger certainly did have to concede the point that the Crucible was one of the finest freighters out there. But he had other issues right now and nodded to the puma sitting besides Raven.
“So, a synth cat. Do I need to worry about her seeing Raven as food?” He asked but Ham shook his head.
“Ah she doesn’t eat much. Not active enough considering she was designed for long range patrol and ambush.” Ham shrugged it off. “Besides she’s friendly. Now.”
“How many hands did you lose again?” Jaeger asked.
“I don’t see how that’s important here.” Ham non-answered once more as Jaeger chuckled.
“How does she get charged? She’s got organic thoughts mixed in there you mentioned?” Jaeger asked.
“Ah she’s got some nanopanels woven into her so mostly she just charges in the normal cat fashion by sleeping in the sun.” As Ham said that Jaeger couldn’t help but chuckle.
“A solar powered cat huh?” He asked.
“More or less.” Ham shrugged. “But there’s a wireless charger built into her bed for a quicker charge. Why do you ask anyway?”
“I know Raven is always excited to see the forbidden meadow.” He mentioned as she gasped out.
“Yes! It’s so pretty!” She nodded in excitement.
“Think Catnip here can watch her?” Jaeger asked.
“Artemis.” Ham corrected. “She could walk with her sure.”
“Have fun.” Jaeger said as way of permission then as Raven squealed with delight and turned to run off through the salvage yard as the synth puma turned to keep pace. As she headed off Ham looked to Jaeger.
“So why are you actually here?” He asked and Jaeger sighed before nodding to the Ravex satellite core in the back of the car.
“We really did bring that here for you to see. But it’s not the gate traffic you should see. This thing went nuts because it spotted a target. A Barracuda.” He could already see Ham frown. “Coming in from the rings.”
“What?” Ham frowned deeper. “There’s nothing out there.” He remarked and then thought it over a moment before shaking his head. “No way. We shut it down! If someone tampered with it or tried to activate it we would know! Hell, everyone would know if it self destructed.”
“Which means either someone hacked it, or they built a new one. And… I’m not sure which idea is worse.” Jaeger mentioned.
“There’s no way! That system was hack proof! Plus no one has the money to restart the project!” Ham insisted.
“What is money hhmm? Yes, the project cost billions of dollars back when dollars were a thing. But what if you had someone motivated by something other than money? Like… ideology? And they had ten years time to piece together a new portal?” Jaeger suggested as Ham thought it over.
“Who survived?” He asked next trying to think it over.
“That’s what I’ve been trying to figure out.” Jaeger nodded. “Plus, there are these surprisingly sophisticated scavs raiding targets around the planet. They call themselves the Draugr and they’ve got dialloy axes and shields.”
“You’ve got to be kidding.” Ham sighed and slowly scratched his head as he thought. “Okay… so… if they’re just using axes and shields that means they don’t have normal gun manufacturing facilities. Or… if they do they’re limited. That rules out… most facilities.”
“Not to mention it’s dialloy and they aren’t using bots extensively.” Jaeger added. “So they’ve got the ability manufacture dialloy easily. But only into simple forms. Yet they’ve also, possibly, got a portal.”
“Uuhhhh… Vulcan?” Ham said aloud as he thought it over.
“That’s what I was thinking. But it can’t be. The Crusaders overran that entire system two years before the end of the war. Considering the foundries there I doubt they gave it up.” Jaeger pointed out as Ham rubbed his chin.
“Well… what if we work back from who could be alive with access to the projects? Or… even knowledge of them?” Ham suggested.
“Odinson is dead. Gregor is dead. Sasaki… I believe is dead.” Jaeger listed off.
“There’s no way Ahmya survived that explosion.” Ham nodded. “Lusaka, Ramirez, and Hausser all died in the assault on the central hub. Right?” Ham confirmed.
“They did.” Jaeger nodded. “Who was… uhh…” He snapped his fingers. “That… woman in charge of project Asimov?”
“Anika Facilier. She’s rotting in a Pact prison somewhere.” Ham shook his head only to pause and then slowly start nodding. “But you remember who was heading project Ragnarok. And if the rumors were to be believed very intimately involved with Hotaru Sasaki, Ahmya’s daughter…”
“No…” Jaeger muttered softly and shook his head.
“Marque.” Ham said even as Jaeger didn’t want to admit it. “He fits every criteria. He had access to the projects in question, he’s got the next best thing to Vulcan in his mobile foundry ship, he hates the Pact, he hates the Hive, Hotaru is likely able to copy her mother’s work. What part of this doesn’t he fit?” Ham asked.
“For one… he’s supposed to be dead.” Jaeger pointed out. “And… well I figure if he was still alive he’d have come after me immediately.”
“Except you’re also supposed to be dead. I’m dead too. We are all dead. So why would it be a surprise that he survived? As much of a hothead as he was, there’s a reason they gave him command of Ragnarok.” Ham pointed out.
Jaeger sighed and rubbed his eyes as he thought about how well Marque fit in his mind. “So his ship wasn’t destroyed at Binary… Maybe just severely damaged. He takes years to rebuild and has Hotaru working on new portals. He’s a charismatic asshole so he begins to recruit from people who would normally be scavs… Obviously most of project Ragnarok was lost in the war… but he’s capable of forming the Draugr… That sound right?”
“Lets get this inside and see if we can find out anything else.” Ham mentioned as he pointed to the core in the back of the car. Jaeger just nodded and opened the hatch, picking the core up as he let his mind wander a bit. Ham walked into his open workshop near by and to the back where he tapped a few buttons on his computer console before a chunk of wall and workbench slid back to reveal a hidden doorway.
As they stepped through it they were in Ham’s real workshop. Pieces of bots were scattered about and one of the walls was lined with weapons. Mostly heavy stuff for bots and mechs since Ham was a pilot, not much of a front line soldier himself. In one corner was a corebank hooked up to a memory chair, which was where Jaeger took the core. “Any particular slot?” He asked with a glance at Ham.
“Bay… three.” Ham muttered as he was warming up the console nearby. Jaeger just nodded and lifted the core to fit it into the mentioned bay. There was a click as it snapped into place and he watched the lights on the bank besides it light up as it began to check to see if the core was readable. “Alright… let me take a look.” Ham stepped over from the console to settle into the chair. After a moment Ham sank deeper into the padding as the chair adjusted to cushion him inside and the visor dropped over his eyes.
Jaeger didn’t even need to do anything for him at this point. Since Ham was a synth he could access more of the chair functions on his own so all Jaeger could do was stand around and wait. While he did he slowly turned to look over some of Ham’s other projects. The most noticeable one he found was what looked to be a combat harness of some sort. At first he couldn’t figure out why it was shaped the way it was until he realized that he was looking at a distinctly puma shaped combat harness fitted with two M539 LMGs. Was he really crazy enough to strap those to the cat?
“That’s the Aggressor.” Jaeger looked over his shoulder as Ham slowly leaned up from the chair as the padding pushed him back up. “That was part of the Binary fleet alright.”
“It has to be Marque then.” Jaeger muttered with a sigh.
“Any idea what he’s up to?” Ham asked next.
“No… From what I understand he’s been raiding places around the planet but I don’t have exact locations yet. Locals don’t seem to see any pattern yet. Which either means he’s being subtle… or there is no plan and he’s just riling up the scavs.” Jaeger shrugged since without more information he didn’t know what was more likely. “There’s a new boss of the old city scavs though. Merlin told me about him yesterday. Big guy, mean, looking to unite the various gangs.”
“What’s the plan?” Ham asked as Jaeger shrugged.
“Get everyone together. Stop him.” It was as far as he’d gotten in the planning stages. “I was hoping you knew where the others were. Kuv was no help.” Jaeger explained.
“Mmhhh… some have wandered off… some are far away. I’m guessing you want whoever is on planet first?” Ham asked to which Jaeger nodded. “Uh… Tanya is out getting drunk somewhere around Circuit mountain.”
“God… still?” Jaeger groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose a moment. “Who else?” He finally muttered.
“Figueroa is still partying in the capital… Brandy-Lynn I lost track of… years ago. Considering how quiet it’s been she might be dead.” Ham shrugged but Jaeger shook his head slowly as he thought back on her and her plans.
“No… last you heard from her was when we all met up in the capital right? For Christmas? Uh… seven years back?” Jaeger confirmed as Ham nodded. “No… I know how to find her. She’s still alive. But who else is on planet?”
“Tabori.” Ham replied which made Jaeger scoff.
“That psycho? What’s he doing these days?” He couldn’t picture the sniper settling down for civilian life.
“I think… he either hunts big game or is an assassin for hire.” Ham shrugged. “He calls every so often to hire me to lift him somewhere on the planet, or between the moons. Very seldom though. I’ll have to contact him but that takes time.”
“Okay… Tanya, Figueroa, and Brandy-Lynn the queen of whiskey tangos.” Jaeger listed off as Ham chuckled.
“Just don’t let her hear you call her that.” Ham warned but Jaeger just waved him off. The pilot thought for a minute before asking. “So if it’s just four of you for now, and maybe five if I get Tabori… is that enough?”
“I’ve also got you and Kuv.” Jaeger added.
“Yeah, I’m a pilot and I can’t picture Kuv getting his hands dirty.” Ham scoffed.
“Neither can he. But if we need him, he’s in. Like it or not.” Jaeger checked his watch even as he said that. “I’ll let Raven play around outside until it gets dark. Then we’ll load the car into the lifter and fly it back to the compound.”
“Fly back? Not drive back? I thought you never wanted anything close to the compound.” Ham mentioned.
“We’ll fly at night. Besides my neighbors who could even see the compound are in that category of old survivors that know when it’s best to look the other way.” He explained. “I want to make sure we’ve got the lifter so we can fly from there to pick up the others and back. Max is in the city now looking for any trail on the Draugr boss. Once he’s got a lead I want to act on it immediately. So tomorrow while I go an do that you call around to your salvage buddies up around circuit mountain to find Tanya’s local dive. We go get her, drop her off at the compound to let her dry out, and then head south to the capital.”
“Alright… I suppose that means I have to prepare dinner.” Ham let out an exaggerated sigh as if it were a terrible burden.
“I’ll help.” Jaeger offered, very used to cooking for his family.
“I’m just messing around.” Ham revealed with a smirk. “All you two get to do is pick which M.R.E. you want.”
“What? You don’t have normal food from the locals?” Jaeger asked in surprise.
“Hell no.” Ham scoffed. “Why would I waste the barter? I’ve got plenty of rations to eat here as it is.”
“You’ll run out eventually.” Jaeger mentioned but Ham just laughed.
“Oh… you’re right… here I am as a single person sitting on top of a depot that contains enough rations to literally feed an army for ten years! I’m totally going to run out any day now!” He mocked. Jaeger frowned and tried a different argument.
“Well… it’s not healthy to eat nothing but M.R.Es. I can’t imagine how you’ve done it for any prolonged period of time. I eat too many of those and my colon resembles a soft serve ice cream machine someone’s using to mix cement.” Even as Jaeger said that Ham looked disgusted.
“That is a visual I did not need in my life.” He made a gagging motion for a moment. “But why would I worry about that?” He asked. Jaeger was about to snap back that if all Ham ate were M.R.E.s he couldn’t be much different. Then he caught himself and hesitated which Ham noticed and pointed at him. “You totally forgot synth’s don’t work that way didn’t you?”
“Yeah…” Jaeger admitted with a sigh. “Raven pointed that out to me the other day at Shake It Out.”
“Shake It Out is open again?” Ham asked with a pleasantly surprised expression. “Oh I love their food. When did that happen?”
“Like… two years ago. You really need to get out more.” Jaeger chuckled.
“Yeah well… the last time I regularly traveled it was to kill people.” Ham shrugged even as Jaeger slowly nodded in agreement.
“Well my friend… I think it’s time for us to travel regularly once more. Especially if Marque is out there plotting something.” Jaeger scratched his chin as he thought it over.
“Hunting family again is going to be weird.” Ham sighed slowly.
“Literally family in my case.” Jaeger added. This whole time he figured Marque had to be dead, because if he knew Jaeger was still alive he would stop at nothing to kill him. His brother in law was extremely vindictive and it wouldn’t matter if Leona’s sacrifice had been her own personal choice. Marque would still blame him. Marque had lost a sister. Jaeger had lost a wife. He wasn’t sure what loss was worse or if it even mattered. All he knew was he had another enemy to protect his kids from. Another of his sins to wash away with blood.
“Well… should we start loading weapons?” Ham asked and Jaeger looked around the room for a moment before nodding.
“If we have to hunt, we might as well be prepared.” He agreed. The work would give him something else to focus on now. Time to think of some way to explain this all to Raven. Yes honey you have an uncle. And he wants to kill us all… Jaeger was worried more about telling her what was going on than facing combat the next day. Combat he was comfortable with. Being a dad was terrifying every day. But as he thought of her, and Max, he smiled and realized it was worth every moment.
Chapter 9
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2016.01.14 22:47 Voltstagge The Most Impressive Planet: Earth's Future

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The Most Impressive Planet: Earth’s Future

[Clearance Level: 9] [Access code required: ************] [Verifying mindscape…] [Access granted, link established.] >>Keep this silent. Just between us, Az, okay?
 
<  
>>We are on the losing side here. The trial I mean. Beelzebub is doing his best, but we are still a minority on the Council. A large one, but a minority. It doesn’t help that the entire jury is made of non-humans. We are going to be found guilty for the crimes of others and we can’t do shit about it.
 
<  
>>Can we think of anything we can do to bring them over to our side? Or at least soften the blow?
 
<  
>>Send me the popular suggestions. Beelzebub is going to have to pull off a miracle or we are going to be in deep, deep shit.
 
<  
>>Bring scuba gear. There has been some solid intel I picked up while my team has been looking for TSIG agents. I am sending it over to you now.
 
<  
<. They can’t **** do that. They can’t just ******* disband us then force our governments to follow their rules. I barely give two ***** about Earth but that is too ******* far. Holy **** is TSIG going to flip their shit if they find out that the ******* Council is going to try and take over Earth by proxy. **** this ******* up bullshit!
 
>>You make a very good point. If TSIG does find out about this they get upset. How do you think Valla will react? She’s still in command of their military division right? Oh boy I would pay good money to see her receive that news.
 
<  
>>I did say this info has not been made public yet. So let’s just play things close to the chest, let a few people in on what we know, and then make some contingencies if it actually does happen. But sure, let’s send a small message to TSIG letting them know to sharpen their knives.
 
>>I am thinking we tell Psychopomp, Beelzebub, Dumah, and Harut. Maybe Jehoel and Berith.
 
<  
>>Alright, I will start preparing the messages. Just remember, this is worst case. If the verdict of the trial is that we just have to pay a nice hefty fine and erect some statue somewhere then there is no need to panic. We’ll find out in two days. That’s all.
 
<  
>>Nulla materia sumptus.
 
[Connection terminated, deleting records.]
 
Insane. That was the only word that came to Beelzebub’s head as replayed the message in his head while he waited just outside the courtroom. Someone on the Council honestly thought that Earth was salvageable, and they were willing to tread on humanity to save it. It was baffling. Had they not read the piece by that reporter when he visited Earth?
 
‘Mr. Antanase?’ The voice of the Hodwan clerk shook him out of his thoughts. ‘The jury has finished. They are ready for you now.’
 
‘Thank you, Ms. Lomm.’ Beelzebub gave her a convincing fake smile and followed her through the massive marble doors into the tunnel leading to the courtroom proper. If the jury had voted that meant he had only one shot to convince them to change their minds and force a revote. If they were unmoved, then it was all over. He heard the roar of the crowd before he saw them.
 
It was awe inspiring, and as an Earth native Beelzebub had high standards. The courtroom was a massive marble colosseum, with hundreds of rows of stands reaching from the floor to the distant ceiling. A pair of large marble thrones, the seats of the Grand Prosecutor and the Grand Judge, sat at one of end of a large oval shaped arena in the middle of the colosseum. Facing the thrones were a pair of ornate tables where the defendant and accuser could sit. The accuser’s desk was empty. A large pair of benches curving around each side of the arena sat four dozen jurors.
 
And then there was the crowd. Each of the many rows were filled to the brim with aliens of all species. The common species like Fen’yan, Oualan, Poruthian, and the large Demantis were present in massive clusters, along with isolated pockets of less common species such as the Welet, or the hairy Una. There were no visible AI, but they were watching in their own way. Then there were the armies of journalists and photographers all vying to get the scoop from the trial of the century. Alongside them sat citizens and spectators who wanted to see a good show, or to say they were there when it happened. And every last one of them was yelling. The jeering of the crowd did not distract Beelzebub. Psychopomp had designed this body’s ears to be able to filter out select sounds after a short period of exposure if they wished.
 
The doctor himself was sitting in the first row, close to one of the jury benches. He had given himself a wildly different body to disguise himself, but Kushiel had not. The red haired giant was sitting next to Psychopomp, eyes scanning the crowd. On the opposite side of the courtroom there were the mercenaries who started the whole mess. Colonel Alexandria Remus, Major Magnus Bjornson, and Officer Iyal Alia.
 
Several other humans were scattered in the lower rows of the crowd, and if Beelzebub had to guess he would say at least half of them were TSIG or Black Room agents acting as body guards for the other half. The other half would be the high ranking politicians and representatives from Earth and the Colonies. There was not a single human in this massive room who couldn’t kill thousands, whether directly or indirectly. Not a single alien in the crowd was a recognizable figure. That alone said a lot.
 
Beelzebub sat at his desk, flipping open the small computer screen set into the marble. 42-6. He had to convince 19 jurors in order to get a revote. Difficult, but not impossible.
 
There was a massive echoing crash as the Grand Judge slammed his gavel upon the throne, the sound amplified by hidden circuitry.
 
‘There will be silence in the court,’ the Fen’yan said, its voice likewise boosted, ‘as the trial recommences. Representing the defending organization known as the Black Room is Yossi Antanase. Representing the prosecution is the honourable Grand Prosecutor, Tryk Ynt. The jurors have made their initial votes, it is time for closing arguments. The prosecution may open.’ There was a jingle as the veiled Fen’yan motioned to the Demanitis seated next to it. It was customary for the Judge to hide their appearance, so that they could not be influenced by others.
 
The Grand Prosecutor stood and bowed to the judge, each of its four arms folded behind its heavy black judicial robes. It stepped down from its throne, each heavy footstep echoing in the silent colosseum, and stood behind the other marble table across from Beelzebub.
 
‘Thank you Honorable Judge.’ The Demanitis was tall, easily six feet higher than Beelzebub. As the fourth most populous species in the Council, it was not a surprise that one of them had the influential position of Grand Prosecutor. ‘As previously established, a Black Room operative was responsible for the genocide on the planet named Terra Nova. An entire sentient species was wiped out in an instant, along with countless other non-sentients. The destruction to the planet was incomparable, and much of it is currently experiencing a nuclear winter that will certainly thin the world yet further. This atrocity was allowed to happen by the negligence and incompetency of the Black Room, who did not properly oversee the actions of their operatives.
 
‘It is a horrifying reality we live in, where an organization capable of killing off entire continents exists with no comprehensive oversight or responsibility! When we questioned the Black Room as to possible motives for their so-called “rogue agent” they suggested that he wanted a new planet for humans to conquer and control. What if the Black Room comes for one of our worlds next? We have all seen the news: humans are leaving their home system and illegally entering ours! No matter how many we send back, there always seems to be more trying to take our homes under the guise of refugees!
 
‘I have been to Earth, and let me tell you there is more than enough infrastructure to support every one of those billions of “refugees” there!’ The Demanitis’s lower pair of arms made air quotes around the word as he said it. Beelzebub shot another glance at the small display set into his table. It now read 44-4. Why would the jury listen to Ynt? It wasn’t even a good speech! ‘The same Black Room claims that the homeworld of humanity is inhospitable also claims that there exists yet another boogeyman called TSIG responsible for orchestrating the massacre on Quazanta! Yet they have provided no proof that such an organization even exists beyond witnesses whose testimony is suspect! Not only do they refuse to take responsibility for the actions of their own, they try and pin it on an organization that doesn’t even exist! Then they go ahead and say they were stupid enough to allow this group to steal a bioweapon from them!
 
‘Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, not only is the Black Room a dangerous collection of madmen, it is a criminal one! It is allowing the homeworld of its own species to die and then it tries to use that as a paper-thin excuse to take our own worlds from us! As Prosecutor, I demand the complete dissolution of the Black Room and the arrest of all its members. In addition, the Council should send representatives to every government of both Earth and the Sol Colonies. These representatives would oversee the return of humans to their home system, and force the governments to commit their resources to revitalizing their planet.’
 
It was exactly as Kushiel had warned them earlier. The Prosecutor was trying to convince the Council and Jury to take over their home. The hypocrisy would be enjoyable, if it wasn’t for the fact that they were on the receiving end. Beelzebub shot a glance at Kushiel and Psychopomp, managing to catch the backs of their heads as they both made their way out of the courtroom.
 
‘As a memorial to the tragedy, Terra Nova is to be renamed Tamanasa, after the Demanitis goddess of justice and hope, and shall be converted into a sanctuary for endangered and threatened species from all across the galaxy. Finally, I recommend that every Council seat belonging to humanity is to be temporarily revoked, pending investigation into their governments’ connections to the Black Room. Such an organization cannot exist without outside support and we will find out who exactly is responsible. Thank you, Grand Judge, and members of the Jury.’
 
If it could have, Beelzebub’s heart would have stopped as the applause from the crowd drowned out all other sound. The initial punishment was severe, but it could be dealt with. This was nothing less than a complete coup on humanity. They wanted to remove us all from power! It was only five metres to the Grand Prosecutor. Beelzebub could cover that distance in under two seconds even in this flabby body. It would not take much to bre-
 
‘Mr. Antanase. You may speak now.’ The thunder of the Grand Judge silenced the cheers from the assembled aliens. The score on the jury was 45-3. It would take a hell of a speech to win them over. Beelzebub was nervous for the first time in a long time.
 
‘Thank you, Judge.’ It was now or never. ‘I have a simple question for you all: how many of you have explored Earth? I do not mean just visiting the world plates or one of the mega cities. I mean walking in the American Dustbowl, or breathing in the air of the Korean Fallout Zones. The answer is none of you. There is a reason that the Council has a severe travel advisory for Earth, and it is not because of crime. Ynt was incorrect when he said our planet is dying. Earth is dead. It died a long time ago. It died when nuclear weapons were unleashed on innocent cities, it died when artificial plagues plunged countries into famine, it died when half the atmosphere was ripped away by month long orbital wars, it died when its heart was dug up and torn to shreds to make shelters for its children to survive in.
 
‘Earth has no history. It has no future. How can you write a history of a world when so much of it has been lost and buried? How can you write a history of the radiation that poisons the flesh and rots the skin? How can a wasteland have a future when it has no present? How can a species have a future when its own world seeks to kill them with toxic dust and drought?
 
Beelzebub paused for breath and shot a brief glance at the monitor set into his desk. 44-4. A step in the right direction at the very least.
 
‘Ynt would have you believe that the Black Room is a cruel and immoral organization. On the contrary, the Black Room is an amoral organization. Understand the difference. We do not and have never perpetrated cruelty or torture or murder for its own sake. I can already see some of you making their minds up for my own trial for saying that. That is because you don’t understand humanity and what we had to do just so we could survive long enough to get here. Humanity has clawed and fought ever second of every day of every year for centuries just so that we could live just a little bit longer in the faint hope that something might save us. And someone did.
 
‘Adriel bombed Terra Nova, yes. He alone did that. Like me, Adriel was born on Earth. He understood what sacrifice means, and the idea that sometimes in order to work towards the greater good one must commit a great evil. He saw our refugees turned away by uncaring and unsympathetic aliens, to be sent back home to die in the hellhole that is Earth. And he saw Terra Nova. On that world he saw the possible salvation of billions. He weighed the options and decided that the lives of the billions of humans Terra Nova could save outweighed the cost of purging the planet. It is not an easy choice to make, but he made it.
 
‘You can curse Adriel until the day you die but he is dead, just like Earth and the natives of Terra Nova. Imprison every last member of the Black Room for all I care, but do not close off Terra Nova. It is the last hope for billions of humans looking for a world where the air won’t kill you, a world where the sky is still blue. Honourable members of the jury, know that if you decide to prevent humans from settling on Terra Nova you will be responsible for far more deaths than Adriel ever was. Thank you.’
 
The crowd exploded, booing and jeering and even scattered faint applause. The final tally from the jury was 33-15. That was it then. He had failed, and now humanity would pay. The Grand Prosecutor was bowing and waving to the crowd, a large smile covering his pale green face. Most of the humans Beelzebub had seen early had vanished from the crowd at some point, taking the opportunity to leave with as little fuss as possible.
 
‘Order!’ The Grand Judge boomed, slamming his gavel down until the crowd quieted. ‘The jury has made their decision, and has found the Black Room guilty. Court is dismissed for today. Legal proceedings will recommence tomorrow.’
 
A trio of AI security guards appeared beside him, their arrival almost unnoticeable thanks to their specially designed mechanical bodies. The crowd of reporters was already streaming out, eager to see Beelzebub and the Ynt outside the courtroom to try question them. Other guards had already arrived to escort the jury out. The Grand Judge had left unnoticed, his veil easily allowing him to slip into the crowd without anyone recognizing him.
 
The guards escorted Ynt and Beelzebub down the tunnel where he had entered just a few moments ago. The Demantis who had convinced the galaxy to condemn billions of humans to suffer on Earth did not even look at Beelzebub as he walked with confidence, robes billowing behind him. Now that the entire galaxy would be looking for Black Room agents it would be more difficult to contact Psychopomp and Kushiel directly.
 
The marble doors leading to the antechamber were open already and Beelzebub could make out the reporters pushing against the ranks of police officers. Cameras and microphones were sticking through the gaps between the riots shields like spears over a castle wall.
 
‘How can you condone genocide?’ a reporter yelled out.
 
‘Grand Prosecutor, will you seek the death penalty for the Black Room agents?’ said another.
 
‘Do you think we should be concerned about human attacks on our own planets?’
 
‘Which species will you wipe out next, monster?’
 
Yours, Beelzebub thought. Another Oualan guard was walking down the corridor formed by the mass of police and their riot shields, his non-lethal gun drawn. He raised his hand and one of the AI guards responded in kind.
 
‘Mr. Antanase? We have a message for you.’ the new arrival said, stopping them in the middle of the corridor.
 
‘Yes?’ Beelzebub said, trying to step past him and continue to leave the courthouse.
 
‘This is for Terra Nova!’ the guard yelled and raised his weapon. Beelzebub did not try and get out of the way before the rifle fired twice. The crowd screamed in terror as he was thrown onto his back by the impacts. The attacker was suddenly shot by dozens of bullets as the other guards reacted, crumpling to the ground. Beelzebub tried to get up but his legs would not respond. His shirt was wet. Must not have been a non-lethal gun after all. Though to be fair, it worked out rather well for him. Now there was no way Yossi Antanase could be tried as an accomplice to the Black Room and Beelzebub was free to go. It had been a while since the last time he had died.
 
‘Hey Alia, do you like spicy food?’ Magnus asked the Oualan as he poured a thick sauce into the large wok. It had been a while since he had access to a fully stocked kitchen and he intended to take advantage. While the trial had been going on the Council had put the three of them in a large rooftop apartment on Mónn Consela under constant guard. The bulletproof floor-to-ceiling windows offered a decent view of the courthouse, and the crowd gathered outside it.
 
‘No.’ Alia said, not looking up from the tablet computer.
 
‘You should probably order room service then.’ Magnus said as he slid his few remaining scorpion peppers into a glass jar. They weren’t pure capsaicin, but they would do. ‘Also you might want to step away from the kitchen. Just a suggestion.’
 
Excluding the sauce, the stir fry was plain in most respects, but Magnus knew from experience that you shouldn’t be around when the sauce gets sizzling. The dish smelled like chilli, the scorpion peppers drowning out all other spices. If it wasn’t for the fact that his eyes had long since been replaced by augments he would have probably been crying right now.
 
Alia shot him an odd look and went back to reading the news. She had not been speaking much since she had arrived from Quazanta. Every channel was broadcasting the firestorm of events of the trial. The assassination of the Black Room’s lawyer, the planned annexation of the Earth governments, the dissolution of the Black Room. It would make any reporter very happy. The only notable exception was Leanus who was also kept under strict watch by the Council and had barely been able to talk to anyone.
 
‘You are making stir fry again.’ Alex said, lugging a heavy duffel bag into the kitchen from one of the living rooms.
 
‘Yeah, want some?’ Magnus said, as he turned down the heat. ‘I couldn’t get any chicken, but I did find something called “kinta” which seems to be the close enough.’
 
‘No.’ The Colonel sat on the couch opposite Alia and dropped her bag on the table between them. She pulled out long her rifle and began disassembling it, carefully arranging the parts in neat rows.
 
Magnus shrugged and shoveled his meal onto one of the plates lying around. ‘Suit yourself. Don’t see why you guys are so damn sad. We won! The Black Room is done for.’
 
‘I know at the time you were on a whole lot of drugs Magnus,’ Alia said, ‘but in case you already forgot, Francis died.’
 
‘A judge won’t take down the Black Room. They’re too slippery.’ Alex said, polishing one of the dozens of identical screws on the table.
 
‘What the hell is that supposed to mean Alia?’ Magnus shot at her, his food forgotten.
 
‘Take a wild guess. Do you even remember what happened in that factory through that haze?’ Alia threw her tablet aside, looking Magnus straight in the eyes.
 
‘Oh, I see it now! You blame Francis’s death on me, because I use combat stims.’ Magnus said, his voice raising. ‘You just can’t accept that sometimes shit happens on the battlefield and people die because of freak incidents. Did you blame the rest of your precinct when your brother got killed in that gang bust?’
 
Magnus ducked as Alia threw her tablet at him, the screen shattering as it hit the concrete wall behind him. ‘Asshole! His squad wasn’t on adrenal boosters!’
 
‘Both of you, shut up.’ Alex said, not looking at either of them.
 
‘No, I want to hear Alia out here.’ Magnus sneered at her. ‘She obviously thinks that because I enhance myself I have some sort of god-given responsibility to protect every single poor sap in a fight! News flash: I don’t.’
 
‘It’s your responsibility to make sure you don’t leave your allies unprotected if you go off on your own!’ Alia yelled.
 
‘Oh yeah? Where were you then?’
 
‘I was doing my job, watching Leanus’s back!’
 
‘Gee, what a tough job that must have been. You never know what dangers a newspaper office might have. What if a printer jams? Oh the horror!’
 
‘If you two keep yelling at each other I am tempted to just shoot you each myself.’ Alex said, cutting off Alia just as she was about to respond. ‘Shit happens in a fight, Alia. We all knew the risks going in. Should Magnus have done a better job providing overwatch while hunting for the agent’s drones? Yes. But if Magnus hadn’t taken those out neither of us would have been able to get a drop on the agent. Don’t blame him just because the agent turned out to be a bigger threat than anticipated.
 
‘As for you, Magnus, you have been reckless numerous times. Not just in this last job, but as far back as our first one. I knew you were an adrenaline junkie, hell, I hired you for it, but it has gone too far. You have been pushing too far ahead, taking unnecessary risks, using unnecessary force, and it is only by sheer luck you didn’t get killed sooner. Honestly, what the fuck were you thinking when you tried to fight off all of Planath Dome by yourself? Or trying to attack that Black Room agent with a sword? Why the fuck are you even trying to fight anyone with it? Don’t give me that look. You chose to try and fight the entire crowd by yourself. You chose to bring a knife to a tank battle.
 
‘Francis is gone. Accept it. The Black Room has lost in the public eye, but they will survive. Accept that. Every government of Earth and the Colonies will be catching the fallout. Accept that too. This is the world we created, we have to live in it now.’
 
The only sound was the quiet tinkling of Alex reassembling her rifle on the table. It was mesmerising how fast it came back together, as if she did not even have to look. Magnus shut off the burner on the alien equivalent of a stove, trying not to look at Alia. It was painful to admit, but Alex was right. He had been going too far.
 
‘I am sorry.’ Magnus said. ‘It uncalled for to bring your brother into this.’
 
Alia nodded. ‘Sorry for throwing the tablet at your head.’
 
‘Everything all better now?’ Alex asked, her voice as dry as the Sahara. ‘Are we a big happy family of hired guns again?’
 
‘Sure.’ Magnus said. ‘Maybe when this is all over we can take a nice big family vacation and go kill some Zo.’
 
‘Yeah.’ Alia said, smirking. ‘Sounds nice.’
 
Before Alex could continue there was a knock on the door. In less than a second three guns were pointed at the thin steel and wood door leading to the top floor of the apartment complex.
 
‘Who’s there?’ Alex called as she and Alia moved behind the heavy granite shelves on the sides of the room. Magnus stepped behind the large fridge, the only place in the kitchen where he could get a good angle on the door.
 
‘Room service!’ came the reply. Something was wrong. The voice did not belong to any of the guards and did not respond with the proper code words. Alia shook her head when Magnus looked over to her.
 
‘Now I know this isn’t the best first impression,’ the voice said, ‘but before you shoot you should know I am connected to a dead man’s switch and it will go kablooey the second my heart stops ticking. I just wanna have a good sit down talk, three soldiers to one unarmed fella. I will be bustin’ this door down if one of you aren’t gonna let me in. You should probably disable the little bomb you strapped to it before I do that.’
 
‘Hold on.’ Magnus called. ‘I’m coming.’
 
The large chef’s knife was still sitting where he left it. Magnus slid it into the back of his belt without a sound, one hand still holding his pistol pointing at the door. It was a UAS Cleaver, notorious for high punching power thanks to its explosive shells. At long range it would make a mockery of any armor. At close range it would make a mockery of any armor and everything nearby. The “bomb” connected to the door was a simple grenade attached to the doorknob with a string and easily disarmed. Slipping the string off the handle, Magnus looked through the peephole of the apartment door to see a large human taking up the entire field of view.
 
Magnus opened the door with his left hand, keeping his gun pointed at the visitor through the thin sheet of metal and wood. He stepped aside as the man entered, allowing Alex and Alia clear shots at the man who had his hands up, palms open and facing them.
 
‘Smells good in here, someone cookin’ something?’ the human’s accent had the characteristic lilt of a Martian. The hallway outside the door was littered with the bodies of the security guards who had been posted there. ‘Don’t worry bout your guards. They’re just takin’ a little nap.’
 
At roughly six and a half feet, he was certainly a tall person. Thick too, with arms like tree trunks and a chest like a bulkhead. His meaty hands looked like they could crush a skull just like a normal person pops a balloon. Long grey hair was slicked back and his face was clean shaven. The slight fluorescent green glow of his eyes marked him out as a Shaped Man.
 
‘Name’s Dumah. Rhymes with puma.’ The visitor announced as he pulled up a chair next to the still sizzling wok. He grabbed a fork and started shoveling a small mountain of food onto a plate. ‘Hope you don’t mind, but I’m famished.’
 
‘If the Black Room wanted us dead they shouldn’t have announced their arrival.’ Alex said, keeping her rifle trained on Dumah’s head. It was a large calibre weapon, and nothing short of several inches of hardened steel would stop it.
 
‘Good thing we don’t want you dead. Least I don’t. Can’t say much bout the other folks yet. This is excellent food by the way.’ Dumah said between mouthfuls. ‘Sure, yall did go and expose us to the galaxy and all that fun stuff but let’s let bygones be bygones, ya know? I mean, sure, you did accidentally screw over all of humanity along the way but accidents happen. Bound to happen anyways, someone would have uncovered the shit that happened on Terra Nova anyways, so yeah. We’re square. We understand revenge, so it don’t need to be anything more than that little scuffle.’
 
‘Then why are you here?’ Alex said. At this distance, from inside the kitchen, Magnus had the clearest shot. It was clear for his angle that Alia was trying to signal for backup with one hand while the other kept the rifle trained on Dumah.
 
‘Weeeell, there is that little accident of screwing over all of humanity.’ Duman said, scooping the last of the food into his mouth. ‘Now, I can’t predict the future but I have a good feelin’ that having the Council deport all those human refugees back to Earth along with the whole “annexation” thing is going to mean a whole lot of shit is gonna hit that fan at .5c soonish. Or maybe later. But anyways, seein’ as the majority of us here are humans, it stands to reason you like seein’ your species getting the short end of the stick about as much as I do. Sound bout right?’
 
‘I do like not watching humanity get the short end of the stick, yes.’ Magnus said before Alex could say something that would piss off the Black Room.
 
‘Cool. So, I am just here to let you fellows know that it could maybe possibly unlikely mean that we will be workin’ together in the near future. Not face-to-face or even side-to-side, but more like you work with some humans who work with some other guys who are with some other folk who once talked with me. Six degrees of fun, ya know? Anyways. This message is mostly directed to you Al-ex-an-dri-a.’ Dumah dragged out her name, each syllable like its own word.
 
‘I will kill any Black Room agent I see. Doesn’t matter whose side you are on.’ Alex said. It was true and everyone knew it.
 
‘Okay. We will try and stand behind you then. So long as you don’t try and screw us over by revealin’ our plans to the enemy we can forgive gettin’ shot a few times.’ Dumah said, standing up from the table. ‘Whoever cooked this stir fry has got to give me the recipe. Top stuff, top stuff.’
 
‘What about me Dumah?’ Alia said. Both of her hands were on the rifle, Magnus noticed. Help must be on the way.
 
‘I dunno. Do whatever you feel like.’ Dumah said with a shrug. ‘Real talk here, but I saw your sharpshootin’ scores. If you were a human the Black Room would have tried to recruit you for a permanent sniping position. Buuut since you’re not human that makes the whole thing a bit odd. Soooo here’s my card. Call me. I pay very well for good work.’ The Black Room agent winked and placed a small black circle on a shelf near the door as he made to leave.
 
‘Pleasure seeing you again Al-ex-an-dri-a. Take care people! Also, avoid public places for a bit cause it looks like there’s gonna be a few anti-human riots startin’ up soonish. Just a little heads up.’ With that the Dumah stepped over the unconscious forms of several guards as he opened the door to the stairwell and disappeared.
 
‘Target is going down North Stairwell,’ Alia said pressing her hand to her ear. ‘Be advised he has a dead man’s switch connected to an unknown bomb. Use extreme caution.’ She waited for a moment before nodding. ‘The security forces are on their way.’
 
‘Call them off,’ Alex said. ‘The stairwell is too cramped, they won’t stand a chance.’
 
‘Then we follow him, get a pincer going.’ Magnus suggested as he walked into the hallway, gun trained on the stairwell door.
 
‘Won’t work. If Dumah thinks he is going to get captured, he will just kill himself and detonate that bomb. It could be a nuke, or a bioweapon.’ Alex shot back. ‘It is what the Black Room does best. They never let themselves get captured. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t organize the assassination of their own lawyer just to keep him out of the Council’s hands.’
 
‘Stand down.’ Alia said into her comm-link. ‘Situation is too dangerous, collateral damage too high. Observe only.’
 
The three stood in silence, looking at the unconscious guards who Dumah had somehow managed to take down without a sound.
 
‘Hey Alex,’ Magnus began, ‘Dumah said you met before. How?’
 
‘I will be honest, getting shot was a bit unexpected. I would have liked a bit of heads up.’ Beelzebub said as he massaged his shoulders. ‘Feels good to be back in my normal body though.’
 
‘It was a rush job.’ Kushiel said, flicking through the channels on the TV built into the wall. ‘I just dragged the first security guard I saw into a bathroom so Psychopomp could do some quick and dirty thought implants.’
 
‘And I suppose the security cameras didn’t catch any of this.’ Beelzebub said.
 
‘They were at least three cameras that saw me. That is why the second guard I grabbed went and wiped the files from the servers.’ Kushiel said, stopping on a news show that was replaying Beelzebub’s death from earlier in the day. ‘You know that reporter, Jaxus or whatever? Psychopomp is already heading over to him to plant some ideas in his head. By this time tomorrow there will be a front page story about possible anti-human elements in the Council.’
 
The low sound of the TV filled the small temporary base that they had set up in a high rise near the city centre. From one side of the building they could see the courthouse still swarming with police and reporters, while from the other side they could just make out the main Council building rising high above the surrounding sprawl. A telescope was set up in one of the bedrooms with a somewhat decent view of the mercenaries’ building
 
Beelzebub laughed at the unnecessariness of it. ‘I think it is pretty obvious that the Council is anti-human with the punishments the Grand Judicator laid down.’
 
‘True, but this time it will seem more like a conspiracy. After all, why else would there be two hours of missing footage from the Court memory vaults and six unauthorized data withdrawals?’
 
‘What did you do down there? I thought we had already got all we needed out of the vaults.’
 
Kushiel shrugged. ‘We didn’t do anything. But it seems suspicious and that someone deleted the footage and accessed the vaults just as the Yossi Antanase was getting assassinated a few floors up.’
 
‘Ah.’
 
As far as plans go, it was a tame one. False flags and misdirection were the two most basic elements in a Black Room agent’s toolkit. The missing footage likely wouldn’t significantly hurt the Council or anyone important, but it did cast a shadow of doubt that could lead to something more.
 
‘Now that the trial is over what should we do now?’ Kushiel asked.
 
‘Rebrand ourselves.’ Beelzebub said. ‘Give up several decoys or unimportant and unconnected people to the Council to make them think they took down the Black Room while we start calling ourselves to something like Blackstar, or Osiris. Make the “Black Room” a subsidiary of another group called ColSec, which is in turn owned the United Human Association, whose board of shareholders is made up of Black Room plants. Then we buy a dry cleaner business out of our own personal bank accounts and that is our actual new association.’
 
‘Just for clarity, the dry cleaners isn’t actually connected to United Human Association or Osiris, right?’
 
‘Nope. There is an excellent dry cleaners on Ganymede that I use and they are going out of business so why not buy them? Just for paperwork purposes.’ Beelzebub thought for a moment. ‘Also, at some point we will have to deal with the mercenaries who started this whole mess.’
 
‘No problem there.’ Came the voice of someone new. Beelzebub and Kushiel spun around in a millisecond, guns pointing at the large human who had just arrived unheard into their apartment. ‘Can yall put the guns down? I’m on your side.’
 
There was the slight click of Kushiel holstering his pistol behind Beelzebub. The Black Room politician did not waver.
 
‘Names Dumah, anagram for “Ah, mud!”’ the giant man said offering his hand to Beelzebub. ‘I don’t think we’ve met, which is a shame. Everyone should have a chance to know me.’
 
Looking over his shoulder Kushiel nodded to confirm. ‘Dumah and I have worked together a few times. He does really sturdy work.’
 
‘Thanks man.’ Dumah said with a smile. Beelzebub shook the offered hand, the other agent’s grip crushing his hand like a vice. ‘As I was sayin’, I paid a little visit to those hired gun fellows and we have ourselves a little truce. So long as no one approachs Al-ex-an-dri-a directly there should be no problems. Also, they are pro-human too, so that is nice. Here’s a nice big file of all the fun stuff I did. By the way, do you remember your friend Julian Green, Beelzebub? He stands to lose his Council seat over this little trial so I’m gonna go see him. Maybe if I press on him like the bastard child of gravity and a mortal’s crushing fear of death he can do some work for us before he is thrown out.’
 
‘Anyways, got to go. I’m in a big rush. Just wanted to give ya guys a little heads up.’ Dumah said as he dropped a large file on the table and walked out the door, his feat making no sound.
 
‘That is another thing that would have been nice to have a heads up on.’ Beelzebub said. ‘How the hell did he know I met with Green?’
 
‘He may be a bit casual, but Dumah is the guy I turn to for any intel. He was the one who got all the data from the vaults, and he designed and runs the Filter back in Windjammer.’
 
The Filter was intimately familiar to Beelzebub, it was to every Black Room agent, but he never knew that there was actually a single person behind it. Not just controlling it, but designing it. The Filter intercepted every interplanetary message sent in the solar system, along with more than half of all data traffic on the Colonies.
 
‘Damn.’ Beelzebub said. ‘Does he have any partners?’
 
‘No, he just does his own thing most of the time.’ Kushiel said. ‘Truth be told, I don’t know anything about him except that maybe he is from Mars.’
 
‘Would Psychopomp know?’
 
‘They don’t talk to each other.’ Kushiel said, looking out the window at the twilight skyline. ‘Neither of them talk to many people at all, despite how much everyone depends on them.’
 
‘But they talk to you.’ No matter which who it was, either Azrael or Kushiel had a connection with them. Always.
 
‘Of course. I am the executioner.’ Kushiel said. ‘Dumah sees everything, and I see Dumah. You would never believe how much I know about our organization and how much you didn’t.’
 
Once again, Beelzebub was thankfully he was on good terms with the only two people in the galaxy who could kill a Black Room agent for good.
Next Chapter
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