Author : Michael F. da Silva

“And that is how we will neutralise the Entente’s forward operating positions, my colleagues.”

The Georgian style meeting room was located on a human-built Orbital Cylinder over Mycenae. The size of the cylinder was large enough that the curvature of the room’s floor could only be measured by precision tools or enhanced sensory organs.

Several dozen sets of eyes of various shapes and arrangements looked back at the Admiral representing the Consortium of Human Territories. Some exchanged expressions of doubt and hoped that someone else would pose the difficult questions of fleet strength and logistics.

One of the assembled military officers, a giant head on eight golden armoured legs, shifted his frame toward the human. “Admiral Caetano, I pose a question. If we assemble our forces here, as you propose, and transit directly to Gliese we will allow our fleet to be surrounded on all sides by enemy-held systems. Also, the fleet numbers your plan requires for this expedition would seriously undermine the defences of our own colonial systems. How are we to prevent the Entente from taking advantage as soon as they see our fleet movements?”

“If we attempt to defend everything, we will defend nothing. We have no choice but to take the fight to the enemy, but we can choose where to strike. And what better objective than the enemy’s most important colony system?” Admiral Caetano rested his bio-armoured fists on the conference table. He continued, “If you evacuate your surface colonies to your homeworlds and Orbitals and limit colonial activities entirely to industries essential to the war effort, those mining and construction operations will be all the easier to defend.”

Many bristled at the prospect of relocating millions of citizens who had never been out of their home system. For those who represented democracies, it was not as simple a notion as the human made it sound.

“Within forty-eight hours after our forces depart from the objective rally point, we can completely negate the enemy’s ability to use the Gliese system as a staging point for fleet actions against our allies.”

A canine-headed centaur dressed like a warhorse bared her teeth in appreciation of that. The Capaill Madraí home system had been taking the brunt of enemy incursions for the last four decades. They had been pushing for aggressive action for almost as long but no longer had the economic clout to browbeat the other members or the military capacity to lead the way themselves.

Just then, a heretofore silent cephalopod reared up on its serpentine coils. “Barbarian bottomfeeder! Your progeny will all become slaves under the Entente! Devil of the Deep swallow you!” he cursed.

Caetano saw it too late to react. Inside the enraged alien, chemical processes that he had put to normal metabolism reached a fever pitch of activity. Fluids polymerised. Chemicals merged with each other creating new complex compounds.

The centre of the Orbital Cylinder flashed to eye-searing whiteness and what had been one majestic construct was rent into two Roman candles of dissolving metal and organo-ceramics falling to the planet below.

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