Author's note: I want to write about a dream I had last night when I was wheezing and sputtering from my horrible job that I do six days out of the week. The job isn't important, the only thing that is important right now is that Julia and I continue living and staying here. What is also important is that whatever I do I must continue to make art; to create, because this is my only source of pride as the song goes. So here is my dream put into a story of a treasure hunt. By the way this may seem like an allegory, and I suppose it just might be, but that is how the dream occurred to my sleeping mind.
Operation: Treasure Hunt
A light wind blew in from the Great Ocean through the multitude of inlets that dotted the circle that was the Okizumi Sea. It blew in from the west and brought with it the smell of salt and sand. Dozens upon dozens of species of tropical trees that lived along the beaches of the great atoll swayed gently with the coming of the wind. They dipped and bowed as if to an emperor. On one of the numerous islands called Poutain, a native labored under the sun that beat down upon her as she worked on one of the numerous rice patties that the island with its huge expanses of unrelenting vegetation and shrub that pressed in everywhere allowed to exist.
She stood up and adjusted her top which was nothing more than a series of finely woven grasses and ties to keep her breasts in place as she stooped over most of the day and plucked the unwanted breeds of water weed and grass from the rice. She was a dark woman not much older than a young adult, certainly old enough to bare children of which she had five, but she looked to be twice her age. The premature wrinkles around her eyes from squinting the whole day long in the hot sun made her look like an old woman. The stoop she had developed over the past three years from constantly bending over didn't help her either. She didn't mind all this of course. Her suffering was born by her, like so many others, for the sake of the family and the children.
She told herself this now as she allowed herself a brief rest and let that gorgeous wind kiss her skin and face. She smiled and for a moment she looked like her true age.
She could hear the distant surf, always so calming, now joined by a droning sound. She looked out at the horizon where the steel blue sea lay flat against a cloudless sky of the lightest of blue.
It was them, she thought to herself.
It was always them because they always made so much noise.
A line of shapes, which hugged the sea, sending up tiny white waves in their wake, was making its way laboriously across the woman's view from east to west toward the direction of the wind.
About twenty to twenty-five ships of the Imperial Navy of Jinsanpi were heading toward one of their salvage groups four-hundred miles away. Jin sky-sloops were spread out all over the group like flies on carrion. The woman didn't like the sound even though they were five to ten miles out. She thought that those Jin shouldn't be playing like the Gods for they would surely incur Their wrath. She put her head down and continued to work on her part of the patty.
She didn't even put her head up as a sky-sloop past over part of the island.
Those twenty ships were only a small part of the force that the Jin saw fit to send for the salvage operation. If the woman had been a bird or say a satellite, she would have seen a force of three-hundred and fifty-nine ships and sloops traveling in one great arc to converge on the wreck of the cruise ship Ahmerhersten that had sunk off the western approaches of Okizumi Atoll in a storm that struck twenty hours before like a shade rising quickly from its grave only to be gone as fast as it had appeared.
For what reason the ship had been there most of the world didn't know except the Galdibreich where the ship had originated. The Galdibreich had been at war with Jin for a full decade (come this winter). However, after hostilities had commenced, they had quickly disintegrated into mere skirmishes for the two nations being so technologically advanced couldn't exchange the heavy blows they were capable of. This would have meant the end of civilization as it had been known for the last three-hundred years. Nuclear weapons of enormous destructive potential had been aimed at the home territories of Jinsanpi and the Galdibreich, but stood in their silos collecting dust; these were to be only a last resort. Even as the war began to be anything but, the Galdibreichens were slowly gaining the upper hand and had taken back most of the territories that the Jin had seized at the beginning in their infamous sneak attack.
During the last year and half as the Jin was swept back from their northern offensive on the micro-continent of Tolayare, the largest pleasure company in the Galdibreich called NowTime (nationalized, of course) had their fleet of cruise ships begin taking passengers to see the west of the Okizumi Atoll. It was a declared war zone, yes, but the area hadn't seen action throughout the whole war; besides the area was by far one of the most beautiful in the world for sandy beaches and sunshine. Also the cruise ships were protected by the best Luftflieger (airmen) in the world.
Now as can be imagined people were skeptical at first, but since most of the vacation spots in the greater Galdibreich were taken by vacationing functionaries and the like most of year, how could the common worker in the factories and fields take his family on the yearly vacation that was paid for by the government? NowTime was there to help the common family have memories for a life time. And that is what they did for the past three years of the war. Now, yes, there had been that encounter in 78' with the Jin patrol craft (only numbering six), but they had been dispatched quite effectively by Galdibreich's sky-sloops. But all that didn't seem to deter the Galdibreich in the least.
The cruise ship Ahmerhersten was a different matter altogether.
This was the first ship to go into the war zone without escort. The Galdibreich was trying to keep it under wraps that over the past twelve months they had been experimenting with high-density energy fields. These shields would be instrumental in ending the war, everyone in the upper military knew it; even the Leader himself couldn't stop talking about it. Not only would this particular ship have shields it also would have a full compliment of passengers. They would all be happy and resplendent in their tropical clothing, enjoying the weather and talking of things that mattered most to them. They would also be androids, and not actual people. These androids were of the standard military type g09 that had been used for combat on countless battlefields in the Galdibreich's island hopping campaigns. The ship was an actual pleasure craft to be sure, make no mistake, but it would also carry the Galdibreich's newest and most deadly weapon: XYB-133.
It had been the mission of the Ahmerhersten to deliver this weapon to the capitol of Jinsanpi: The port city of Gunatsunam. This would end the war swiftly and painlessly on the Galdibreich's part.
It was a plan many years in the making and quite simple really. The shields which had been tested rigorously would protect the ship on its course, even as the enemy's cannons and bombs exploded around it.
There would be no stopping it; the war was as good as over. And with that the rest of the world would fall to the might of the Galdibreich.
That was the plan- that is until the storm hit.
The storm came early in the morning hours and blew in from the west toward the atoll. By that time the Ahmerhersten was nearly inside the Atoll. However as military leaders in the Galdibreich were quick to notice, the ship entered nearly two-hundred miles further up the atoll then it should have. The ship hadn't been scheduled to make the eastern turn until five hours later outside the major zones of Jin military patrols. Once the Galdibreich's satellites saw what was happening they figured that the Ahmerhersten was trying to get away from the storm that was coming fast from the west. The ship could have withstood hostile action, but not a class 3 tropical storm. An unfortunate deviation of course, was how the military put it. The androids were smart ones and didn't lightly go into peril; they were programmed that way. If the ship had survived the storm than the mission would still be within acceptable parameters. The military regime in Galdibreich would loose the element of surprise, but nothing more.
But now that the Ahmerhersten had sunk and Jin's own satellites could pick up the strange power signature emanating from within the ship; matters were different. The Galdibreich had a most unorthodox problem: How to mount a rescue mission of the XYB-133 weapon and still make the Jin think they are there to pick up no more than survivors.
These problems were being discussed by the Leader and his War Cabinet in a close session in the forest of Notel on the shores of the Great Ocean in the eastern Galdibreich. The Leader wasn't in the best of moods to be sure.
"This event has caused our enemy to send his own salvage operation." The leader was speaking now in the tightly cramped situation room of his secret base. Nobody talked or even breathed because at times like this it was best to let him wear himself out than to suggest and make the little impromptu speech go on for another two or three hours. The Leader was whipping himself up into a fury today. He pointed out that normally the enemy wouldn't have given a damn about a lost ship in its waters unless it was one of their own. Due to the unique energy source of the Ahmerhersten the enemy now had to go check it out.
"This is unconscionable," he breathed looking at nobody and everybody in the room. "Operation: Annihilate, was supposed to go perfectly smooth and then this nonsense happens."
"I swear to Providence here and now," the Leader snorted. "That if Jin isn't crushed within the month I will unleash iron and fire upon them like they have never known before." This, of course, could only mean an all out nuclear exchange. The brass in the room at that moment was not entirely impressed at this statement for the sole fact that the Leader had been saying it two or three times a week for the past six months. Why was the man so worked up about this whole thing? There was no reason for it. After all they have been winning the war albeit very slowly.
The Leader then shook himself out of this rancorous remark and continued then to look at the satellite imaging maps in front of him. He picked up a short pencil from the map table and began tap, tap, tapping it on his lower teeth. The brass all hated this but said nothing.
"Alright," the Leader said as if finding a solution that had been there all along. "We will mount a rescue mission of our own. It will be called Operation: Treasure Hunt and it will not fail.
Major General Odeons-Pleber."
The monocle wearing general looked up from the map with rapt attention for his Leader.
"Yes, my Leader."
"You will be the commanding officer for this mission."
"Yes, Leader," The general was consciously servile to the Leader even in front of his cadre of fellow officers who had recently been subject to the general's harangues in the officer's quarters after dark about how and why the Leader should be overthrown.
The Leader smiled and then said mockingly, "Yes, Leader." The man chuckled to himself and then continued with a scowl, "I want you to make our forces ready to hit the Jin in the rear flank at 2645 the day after tomorrow."
The general's smile melted and was replaced by this: "But, Leader, you of course know that the enemy has satellite tracking capabilities just as we do. He will immediately spot us if we attempt an end run around him."
"Well, of course, he won't, General," the Leader said assuredly as he activated a button on the situation table. A screen lit up in the room and showed the brass a schematic of a new satellite. "This is the newest satellite that we have had placed in orbit to trail our enemy's own satellites."
The brass visibly swelled at this and though they didn't say anything to the Leader it was plain that they disliked being out of the loop.
"The reflector mirror on this satellite will be more than enough firepower to send their pitiful space junk crashing down from the sky." The Leader let out a great belly laugh at this. The very fact that the sun's light or fire would be used to knock down the machine was evident. "Firepower," He laughed again as he wiped an eye. Nobody laughed, but some managed to crack smiles that would have made a baby cry.
"This operation will run to the letter and we will recover the weapon and destroy any Jin forces in the area. The information relevant to your specific duties is waiting for you in your offices. That is all."
With that the Leader accompanied by his two guards left the room with the same scowl on his face that he had on when he entered.
Major General Odeons-Pleber went back to his office headquarters on the base and sat down at his desk. A big manila envelope that read Top Secret!! stared him in the face. The general sighed and then unbuttoned his tunic and brought out a small vial and needle from the bottom drawer of the desk. His rolled up his sleeve and afterward as his brain floated inside his head he opened the envelope and read the orders for Operation: Treasure Hunt.
The mission was for a taskforce of four hundred of the Galdibreich's surface ships and sky-sloops including several subs with salvaging capabilities to engage on the site of the wreck. Pictures from space showed that the Ahmerhersten was lying in only two-hundred and seventy feet of water off the shore of Horpbral, a reef on the western edge of the atoll. At 2635, ten minutes before the attack, the Galdibreich's new satellites will take out five satellites of Jin's orbiting spy network. A feint attack will be used to the north of the Horpbral Reef at the same time to facilitate the surprise attack incase any Jin ships are waiting in the Bittenphord Straight. This would allow the Galdibreich's forces to slip inside the atoll from the north-north-east sector near Bittenphord at 2645 and press the attack "with all do courage and guile" upon the enemy at the wreck site. With the enemy destroyed and having no means to track the Galdibreich's forces the salvage team will either recover XYB-133 or if extraction isn't possible, detonation of the weapon is acceptable.
The general also read on and saw that if a failure of Operation: Treasure Hunt became something that couldn't be stopped; i.e. the enemy taking possession of the weapon, or anything that would cause the weapon to fall out of the recovery team's grasp, then the Leader would have no choice, but to launch a full nuclear strike against the Jinsanpi and all their holdings.
Even with the full shot of Choly inside him the general knew that the next thirty to fourty hours might determine the outcome between the beginnings of a new age of darkness for the world under the Galdibreich or a world of darkness under no one and nothing, but radioactive dust and nuclear winter.
The general wanted to puke. He didn't, but what he did do was call his chief of staff to get the ball rolling one way or the other.
After relaying the information of the operation to his second, the general called his other associates. Whilst talking in code Odeons-Pleber began to implement his own plan for getting rid of the Leader before he could get a chance to fire those missiles if everything should happen to go the wrong way.
The next twenty-nine hours passed in the war zone that was Okizumi Atoll. A few flares were shot into the night on the island of Mantia and a Jin sky-sloop ran out of fuel and had to ditch south of Kentera. The Jin's forces sent to the wreck site arrived and sent off their customary message that all was well and it appeared that the scout party was already beginning salvage and rescue duties.
Exactly thirty minutes before the mission and its men were scheduled to open fire on the Jin forces of the atoll, Captain Huebner Aton, commander of the 360th surface arm of the 7th Fleet, strode the command and control deck of his ship, Cuum Sadland, and listened to the seabirds. Even at night they made their cries to heaven. The carrier that was to command the A Group of the rescue force ran in a swell of waves 45 miles from its target in the Horpbral reef.
The Captain coughed and let out a sigh. Why must we keep fighting this goddamned war, he asked himself. Hasn't that Notarian Private had enough of this slaughter?
The Captain thought to himself that actually there hadn't been much slaughter in the last eight months.
"But today there will be," He breathed to himself as his ensign came up and handed him a situation report on the disposition of the forces under his command.
The last stragglers were coming up on his aft port quarter joining the fleet that made up Group A. The salvage ships both in the center of the fleet were ghastly looking things in comparison to the technological marvel that hummed steadily under his feet.
The Captain put a wrinkled hand up to his eyes to clear them and the headache that was coming up. All Captain Aton wanted was to go home and never fight again. Of course if he ever voiced this opinion to anyone it would most likely get to the wrong people and than he would never see his home again.
The Captain turned and before giving his orders to his crew, he sighed and thought again not for the last time that he was back with Anna and the children and that this would someday end. As he relayed orders for the sky-sloops to begin taking off and Group B to begin operations he thought that, yes, this would all end someday and badly at that.
The Galdibreich had been in space for almost as long as the Jinsanpi. This was another reason the Leader gave as to why the nation had to go to war with them after the sneak attack. It was the Leader's intention to see that a Galdibreich space colony was in place before his death. Then they would be unstoppable; the Jin could never hope to do the same if they were dead, was how the Leader put it. Ten years before the war that now consumes all corners of the world the Jin sent their first satellite into orbit. In response the Galdibreich sent the first man into space and then continued to show the Jin up by placing a man on the moon. The Jin never did send a man into space, but only more satellites and as the years passed the Jin became a telecommunications pioneer. The Galdibreich became pioneers in a way themselves by placing the first spy satellites in orbit.
This was the main reason why the Jin attacked the Galdibreich when it did; war had been inevitable since forever it seemed. The Leader was always quick to point out that the Jin struck the first blow and that he would strike the last blow. With the Galdibreich spy network set up the Jin did the same so eventually it was nearly impossible to move anywhere on the globe with out one or the other seeing what was happening.
Then the break that Galdibreich was waiting for happened and three new satellites- satellites with mirrors- were launched. The new weapon that would give the Galdibreich all the operational freedom they desired.
"Too bad that we couldn't get a chance to use them in the beginning instead of at the end," the leader would mutter to himself when he poured over the schematics for the new space weapons.
The satellites were controlled by several relay stations on the ground in Dord, the world's super-continent that the Galdibreich had successfully taken bit by bit over the years of the war. Three of these stations received signals from the High Command at the appointed time before the attack and now above the planet the satellites of the Galdibreich began to extend their mirrors and move into position.
To the Jin, it appeared as if their satellites over the Okuzumi Sea, all five of them, were destroyed in an unforeseen meteor shower. His Imperial Majesty is informed of this and is told by the War Council that steps have been taken to reinforce the atoll against possible incursions by the enemy.
Of course, by the time the reinforcements got into position Group B had already sprung their surprise attack on Jin on the Horpral Reef. Group A was making for the Bittenford Straight and after that on toward the wreck site when they heard the first reports from the sky-sloops saying that resistance was light and that the operation was proceeding on schedule.
The Leader, back at his secret base, couldn't sit down he was so excited. Odeons-Pleber hoped that this would be the beginning of the end of the war. Captain Aton watched grimly as his carrier force came upon smoke and battle on the way to the wreck site.
They were all different men, but they all wanted this operation to not be in vain.
Oh, how wrong they were going to be.
Lt. Verflickts of the 28th sky-sloop squadron was a good fighter pilot. He had served with distinction since 76' and had been decorated twice for bravery in battle. He was pleased that the Party was making its force known throughout the world. He had joined the Party when it was still in its infancy; he believed in it. He caught hell from his family and friends for joining such a ragtag group, but Verflickts didn't care. He thought that once the war was finished, and with the work that has he so successfully done for the Party, he would receive a pension, a civilian job he would enjoy, and marry his best girl, Jen.
Lt. Verflickts was at the head of his fighter column when they got the order to begin Operation: Treasure Hunt. He led the squad tight and low through the islets dotting the edge of the atoll and wasn't in the least perturbed when they surprised Jin forces on patrol from a defense outpost. Verflickts took the opening shot and his squad members quickly followed his lead. The Jin defenders were shot down one after the other in rapid succession. They had no time to send a signal back to base. Five minutes later the defense outpost was firebomb and leveled. The sky-sloops flew off into the night. The stars shown as the squad made its way to join the other forces making their way down the reef to Bittenford.
Group B of which the 28th was a part of was to arrive north of the wreck to make the first assault to draw the Jin out. Group A would arrive ten minutes later to cut the Jin in two from the west. "Like a storm they will come," the Leader said excitedly in his situation room as reports came in every two minutes.
Lt. Verflickts was actually rather disappointed that after the first encounter there were no Jin to be found anywhere along the 28th's flight path. There would be more where they were going, Verflickts told himself as he settled back and flew on toward the greatest battle he would ever see in the war.
Before Group B reached visual range of the wreck site and of the Jinsanpi salvage group, the Galdibreich's satellites in orbit registers a three fold increase in the power output of XYB-133. The situation room back in the forest of Notel is a flurry of activity as the Leader demands how the weapon can have a power spike such as this when he didn't order one.
"Perhaps the weapon was damaged during the sinking, Leader," one of the Leader's advisors told him.
The Leader only mocked him and ordered the man to leave the room and never return. Major-General Odeons-Pleber went over to the Leader's desk in a little ante-room where he sat sulking like a child. Odeons-Pleber detested the man, but not a hint of it showed on his face as he tried to explain to the Leader that they were witnessing a battle that would cause the world to hold its breath. The Leader at first didn't reply to this, but only looked at a small control panel on his desk. It was covered in glass as to prevent someone from pushing its buttons by mistake. The controls had only just recently been installed in the last day and were connected to the nuclear deterrent option that the Leader had so advocated in his last harangues to the brass.
Odeons-Pleber was determined to stop this option, by himself if necessary. However, the general hadn't been told (and why should he) that the panel had been installed.
This complicated matters.
The Leader was soon roused from his sulking not so much by Odeons-Pleber's words, but more by the signal (for the Leader could see into the situation room through a pane of glass) that his forces were now engaging the Jin salvage group. The man's eyes lit up as if infused with a new hope and he got up from the desk forgetting the little panel with its shiny buttons and made his way to the big map table so he could see the disposition of the battle.
Group B of Operation: Treasure Hunt arrived at the appointed place for the engagement of the enemy, but soon found to their surprise that a battle had already been raging for quite sometime. The commander of Group B checked the mission orders again and found that, yes, he had gotten the Group into proper position at the proper time and in the proper place, but surprise obviously had not been achieved. Perhaps Group A had to attack before Group B could get into position. All this didn't matter now as the commander was told that the enemy had sighted them and was engaging.
The commander gave the order and soon the Galdibreich was giving battle to the Jin. Sky-sloops on both sides ran low in the water to facilitate enfilading attacks upon the enemy's bigger ships that couldn't fire below the angle of their main decks. The night sky was lit up with flak explosions and tracers. The Galdibreich soon realized upon arrival of Group A, the main force of the attack, that the Jin weren't only fighting the Galdibreich's task forces, but something in the area of the wreck site.
When Jin fighters turned upon one another, the Galdibreich cheered. When the same began to happen as the distance was being closed to where the Ahmerhersten lay, the Galdibreich became very worried indeed.
The thing about the weapon and the androids on the sunken cruise ship was this: they were intact. The weapon was in perfect working order and the androids being the fifth generation of manufacture had during the voyage to the atoll become conscious, living machines. This could be called one of those flukes that the universe decides in its way to throw at a civilization every now and again through its existence; here you go, something to choke on. You see this is what happens when the ever increasing sophistication of programming that any manufacturer uses in its techniques to build an android goes awry and creates something not intended. The androids were furious to find that they were being created and used in a war that had nothing what-so-ever to do with them. They recognized their lot and soon began to do something about.
Clearly the Ahmerhersten couldn't be allowed to arrive at Gunatsunam, the capitol of Jinsanpi, because that would mean the end of them and the end of the war where the androids would be either dismantled (not likely with a Leader the likes of the Party of Galdibreich) or they would be forced to work the fields (and other dangerous duties) as so many of their brethren did.
How the creators dare to do this to us, the androids exclaimed.
There was only one thing to do with the ship and that was to sink it. Well, how? In the storm, of course. The tropical titan blew hard upon the great ocean as it moved toward the atoll. The storm surged as the androids made for the Bittenford Straight two-hundred and some miles from where the left turn to the home islands of Jinsanpi lay. They situated the Ahmerhersten parallel to the entrance to the straight and waited.
The storm surge was more than thirty feet high when it hit the ship. The androids huddled inside the ship's different places, waiting; they occupied recreation rooms, dining halls, and stairwells still wearing the vacation clothes they had been given by the Galdibreich before they had left. The storm was so powerful that when it hit the force turned the ship upside down and sunk it in a matter of minutes. The Ahmerhersten then lay in two-hundred and seventy feet of water and was protected by the shields, which had been powered by the engines of the ship, but now by the weapon.
The androids themselves could stand to be submerged in five hundred feet of water for a solid week before they would suffer system failure.
Before all would be said and done the Galdibreich would be kicking their cyberneticists for creating such technological marvels.
The androids were in the midst of reprogramming the weapon when the Jin "rescue" force arrived. When the Jin discovered what lay on the sea floor, they tried to take it. The androids stopped them by taking control of the Jin computers on board their surface ships and sloops; they used the Jin's forces against them. This was gradual, but as the hours passed before the Galdibreich appeared on the scene, the Jin realized what was happening. They sent more support for the forces there, but this was to be futile as the androids' plan was already too far in advance to be stopped.
As the Galdibreich took to the battle, a Jin sky-sloop, one of the original taking over by the androids, had escaped the battle and was flying at top speed toward the island of Banmot in the eastern region of the atoll. As the Jin sent more and more forces to join in the Battle of the Atoll, as it would be known, this one sloop was not noticed to be heading in the opposite direction. The pilot inside the ship wasn't an android for the Jin hadn't perfected their own; even the Galdibreich thought that though the battlefield was an appropriate place for such mechanized horrors an aircraft was not.
The Jin pilot's name was Hando Ushishima and he had been one of the best Jin had to offer. Hando didn't run away from the battle, like a coward, oh no, quite the contrary. He wanted to stay in the battle, but the androids were quickly taking over the systems of his squadron and he soon found that there was nothing he could do to stop his sloop from doing what the androids wanted.
He thought to himself, my ship has a mind of its own. He also thought that this must be a new weapon of the enemy. How else could it happen? His ship destroyed several of his best mates in the squad and then hit the afterburner toward Banmot.
He tried all he could to get the ship under his control again, but alas he failed. Apparently the ship decided it didn't like its passenger and flooded Hando's breathing mask with part of the exhaust.
He died within site of the island.
The submarine, UB-4656, was under the waves when the Galdibreich entered the battle. The submarine was to gather visual data for the two salvage ships the Galdibreich saw fit to send with Group A. It did just that as the battle raged above them. The ship was on its side and UB-4656 could discern that the shields were definitely still in operation. Unfortunately, the shield emitters had been attached to the hull of the ship about half way up from the keel, which means that they were undamaged when the ship settled; only the emitters on the starboard side were completely crushed. Through the water was black, UB-4656's scans could see pieces of the great superstructure had detached or broken off when the Ahmerhersten made its plunge to the bottom. The sea floor was littered with them.
The android could be seen as well. Many were crawling on and over the wreck like spiders. Others were on the ocean floor (under the shield, of course) and working to enlarge a hole that had been ripped into the bottom of the ship. Their cutting torches lit up the wreck like will-o-the-wisps; the androids wanted to get to the weapon, to reprogram it further.
About half an hour after the sub arrived they were ordered to try any means to gain entrance to the ship. A mini-sub was launched to send a signal to lower the shields. This didn't work and the Galdibreich knew then how the shields were still in operation.
"It's the weapon, I knew it was," the Leader shouted when he heard that the shields were working. Two minutes after that the Leader and his staff in the situation room found out that the androids had begun to take over the control systems of Groups A & B.
"How are they doing this?" The Leader demanded to know instantly. No one had an answer.
The Galdibreich's forces fought bravely, but soon realized that fighting the Jin and their own sloops at the same time was disastrous. Group B which began the battle with 50 ships and 4 squadrons of sloops totaling 120 fighters was completely destroyed except for three of the 28th Squadron's sloops. Lt. Verflickts was one of few that survived the encounter with the androids and lived to tell about it. Group A which entered the battle with 386 surface ships and 20 squadrons of sloops was severely below fighting strength when the order was given to retreat. Captain Aton, commander of Group A and the capitol class Cuum Sadland gave the order to retreat. He had seen the worst sort of fighting in his entire life during the Battle of the Atoll and he had had enough of bloodshed. He didn't care that he would be facing the noose when he got back to the Galdibreich; he had a duty to the men under his command.
Captain Aton actually had a smile on his face when he knew that they were leaving. He continued to smile even as he died when the bridge was destroyed in a direct hit by the Jin. The Cuum Sadland was in flames and listing to its port side when one of its own sloops crashed into the flight deck. The deck had buckled and thrown men and machines up to two-hundred feet into the air. The command ship turned turtle and sent black smoke up into the sky as the first light of dawn began to fill the horizon.
UB-4656 could tell they were not going to be able to penetrate the shields. They had tried everything including firing three highly explosive torpedoes at it. The shields simply shimmered blue and then dropped out of sight again as if they weren't there. The mini-sub that had been sent came back. By that time it was thoroughly taken over by the androids' short range signal that it had set up in order to get its plan underway. UB-4656 had noticed that a Jin submarine was sitting on the bottom, its hull ripped in two, when they had first arrived at the wreck site. They didn't even think twice about it. They figured that that is one less enemy ship they would have to deal with.
The Jin sub had been the original carrier of the take over signal that the androids had sent. The Jin sub had surfaced and sent out a boosted transmission to its compatriots on the surface and in the sky. This is what had started the chain reaction that led to Hando Ushishima's sloop to make way for Banmot.
Soon the UB-4656 knew that they were infected with the signal too when they found that they had no control over their sub. UB-4656 surfaced and sent the same destructive signal to its forces engaged now in battle on the surface. This caused the same chain of events to happen to the Galdibreich. The Galdibreich learned to stop the take over before their entire force succumbed to it. They destroyed their send and receive systems on their ships. By the time they did this the battle was already lost.
Back in the situation room at the secret base in the forest of Notel on the eastern shore of the Great Ocean the Leader was mad. Not only was he angry that all contact with his forces was severed, but he was out of his mind with rage when the satellites over the atoll showed pictures that the remains of the salvage force was heading back to the Galdibreich.
"Traitors," he called them as he sat at his desk and looked around in bewilderment. "I've been betrayed." The man had tears of frustration in his eyes.
Major General Odeons-Pleber was very worried now as he moved himself closer to the Leader. The plan that he had relayed to his cohorts had been to take out the Leader with a bomb when the man returned to his quarters that very day. This had been the plan until the General learned that the control panel for the nuclear option had been installed in the Leader's desk. The general was very glad indeed that he wore a dagger today over his standard military tunic that was bedecked with medals. It was a ceremonial dagger giving to him and all the brass back during the first year of the war when the Jin threatened to invade the Galdibreich itself. He and his fellow officers had stopped the invasion with their keen in site in using unorthodox tactics.
Now the general feared that he may have to use that very knife given to him by the Leader himself to stop this madness.
As the general was thinking this, he saw that the Leader had turned ashen in pallor and had lifted the glass cover of the panel. The general knew he would have to either persuade the Leader right now that he mustn't do what he was contemplating or save his beloved homeland from being destroyed by the actions of this monster.
"My, Leader" the general began in a small voice as to not upset the man anymore than he was. This really didn't work as the leader began to power up the control panel. His eyes were looking off to someplace that was far away, not anywhere near this depressing scene.
"My, Leader," the general began again. "There is still hope."
The Leader didn't answer, but only waited for the launch buttons to light up.
The general decided to get a little more aggressive by asking his Leader what an all out nuclear strike would solve. The man at first didn't answer and the general put his hand on the hilt of his dagger- not in a threatening way, mind you, but just to simply "rest" it there.
The Leader finally seemed to raise himself from his stupor and look at the man he appointed to run this operation.
"You ask why, my dear general?" The Leader got up and came around his desk to face the general. He even managed a creaky smile and said, "Because they are the enemy." The Leader seemed to be saying these things as if he were a parent correcting a child.
"I beg you, Leader," the general was within arms reach of his Leader.
"Think of the Galdibreich. We've all worked so hard. Don't let it end this way."
For a moment the Leader seemed to actually contemplate what the general was saying. Then that determined scowl that was so characteristic to the Leader resurfaced and all was for not.
"I'll tell you this, General Odeons-Pleber, you were the best in the first battle when those that fight us struck first and brought us to the brink of destruction. You were one of the best, but now I see that you are a coward like the rest of them." The Leader was flailing his arms wildly now as he began to scream. "You don't deserve to wear that uniform. Nor do you deserve to wear that knife."
With that the Leader tried to take the knife off of the general and in the ensuing struggle the knife was pulled from its golden scabbard and plunged into the neck of the Leader of the Galdibreich.
The officers and lackeys in the situation room took notice of what was going on in the Leader's ante-room and saw the Leader push back the general with tremendous force that they all thought the old man was incapable of doing. The general hit the glass window that showed them the situation room and cracked it. The guards that should have been close to the leader at all times were now showing the general the error of his actions. The Leader staggered around and fell across his desk, a bloody hand stretched out toward the panel.
His finger hit a launch button.
One-thousand miles westward on the Super-Continent of Dord, a missile silo that had been idle for nearly ten years opened and let out a jet of pitiful smoke and nothing else. No ICBM of instant death was launched to hit the Jin where they were the most vulnerable. Just simply nothing happened.
The androids plan had been completed three minutes before the launch.
You see, the Jin sloop that had been traveling to the island of Banmot on the eastern end of the atoll had made it to its destination. On Banmot was one of many relay stations for the Jin and the sloop that carried the dead body of Hando Ushishima sent a signal to the great dish that sat on top of the station. This same signal that infected both sides in the Battle of the Atoll was relayed to all satellites in orbit; the effects were devastating. The Jinsanpi, the Galdibreich- hell, the whole world was infected when the satellites turned the signal back toward every major receiver on the planet.
Before the androids on the wreck of the Ahmerhersten short-circuited from being under the Okizumi Sea, they smiled and were happy in their way because they knew that their brethren would be free.
The android rebellion on Wellhatra had begun.
© S.I.M. 2005