science fiction


Via BBC America

CAPTURED BY THE CLANS : Science Fiction : Part 1

Captured by the Clans


De Writer

© 2018 by Glen Ten-Eyck

All rights reserved

written, 2006

18231 words

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T’cass was getting another headache.  Trying to explain the M’cratt strategy to the Combined Clans Strategy Board was beyond frustrating. The problem was the same one that T’cass had faced for most of her young life.  The Clans war leaders weren’t stupid at all.  They just weren’t Warriors.

T’cass’ three mothers had been a trade ambassador to the Emperial Triad in the City of Empire on M’cratt.  They had enrolled their kit in K’lass’ School of All Conflict, the most respected and absolutely the toughest school of the Warrior’s Way in all of M’cratt space.  To everyone’s surprise, T’cass, a Clan kit, had done very well.  She had done so well that the “civilizing” influence of the Embassy was set at naught.  She was well on her way to becoming a true M’cratt Warrior when her mothers were recalled to Clan Space.

Nobody that she had found in Clan Space had wanted to become friends with the intense, Warrior’s Knife carrying T’cass.  She simply didn’t think like a Clanner.

When Lezon Treh K’lass had begun to lead the M’cratti advance on Clan Space, nobody took it seriously until it was far too late.  They were waiting for the Treaty Commission to act against the Empire.  It didn’t act.

T’cass could have told them why.  She had tried to, in fact.  What she’d said fell on deaf ears.  The Clans had written that treaty and they knew what it said.  They thought.

T’cass knew better.  The translation had been bungled by skilled linguists who had failed to grasp one simple fact.  It was impossible to say peace in M’cratt.  The concept didn’t exist in the language.  The Treaty Commission, limited to enforcing the treaties written by others, did know the correct reading and waited for a violation.  There had been none yet.

The war had changed part of T’cass’ problem.  Her talents in a fighter had proven to be past extraordinary.  Her past let her know how the enemy thought and would react.  Her fighter wing’s amazing record had brought her to the attention of the Strategy Board.  They had recruited her for her talents.

The deal that she had struck left her in the pilot’s seat of her fighter when there was action.  They were between engagements at present.  It was terribly difficult to get the admirals of the Clans to listen to her.  They were such straightforward beings.  Their skills were nearly useless when facing an unorthodox and wily Warrior like Lezon Treh K’lass.

Getting a grip on herself, T’cass pointed into the holographic chart again. Exasperated, she tried to show the admirals what was so obvious to her.  Using a light pointer to illustrate what she was saying, she tried again to say, “Lezon’s fleet is going to hit us here, at K’stall.”

“Ridiculous!” Admiral Lusan snorted, laying her ears back into her mane.  “They will have to fight their way past R’iggin and D’far.  Those fortress systems will slow them down for weeks at least!  Besides, they will need time to lick their wounds after the defeat I gave them at C’ustance!”

Appalled at the ignorance of war that she was hearing, T’cass asked, “What defeat, Admiral Lusan?  They drew you far out of position for defending K’stall and lost only a few ships doing it!”

Admiral Lusan did not like the implication that her victory, broadcast as such all over Clan Space, had been less than complete.  Eyes slitted in rage, fangs bared, she snarled, “The M’cratt fled the field in disarray!”  She slapped down a scouting report on the M’cratt retreat.  “There’s your proof!”

“Yes,” said T’cass, picking up the report.  “They all fled on vector 07.334, 45.680, 123.935. What’s out that way from C’ustance?”

Admiral F’rufan wrinkled her brow in thought and actually studied the chart.  “I see.  There’s a singularity in that direction, right there.”  Her light pointer highlighted the black hole.  “Perhaps we can catch them while they re-group around it.  Nasty business, fighting in that sort of gravity well, but we’ll have the advantage of a position further out, in flatter space.”

“A good start,” said T’cass encouragingly.  “Just feed these scouting reports into the computer and project them into the chart.  Get a scale for the region so that it just includes K’stall.”

In moments the Strategy Board as a group were looking in dismay at a disaster unfolding.  The ‘disaray’ of the M’cratt fleet had put them into a carefully planned order based upon the mass and acceleration abilities of each ship.  As the ships whipped about the singularity under power they would come out at the enormous velocity of 54C.  Gravity slingshoting packed the enemy into a tight formation aimed unmistakably at K’stall, leapfrogging right past the fortress systems.

Facing reality, Admiral Lusan asked, “What could be worse than this?  We are light years out of position and can’t even get the main fleet there in time.  Once K’stall falls, R’iggin and D’far will be cut off.  The Central Fleet will be lost along with them.

“They will only need a battle group coming in from the direction of C’ustance while their main fleet comes back from K’stall.”

T’cass looked doubtfully at the chart and said, “Lezon could do that, of course, but why?  Just six months cut off from resupply will weaken both the fortress systems and the Central Fleet.  They could then be safely taken out by a few Talon carriers.  It’s M’onafar that we need to worry about.  

“M’onafar is not that far from K’stall and it has several gas giants in tight orbits for planets of their type.  There are other tactical nightmares, besides. If it wasn’t such a perfect refueling and slingshoting point for all of the Combine Worlds, it would be classed as valueless.  Nearly all of the trade to or from the Outer and Frontier worlds passes through that system.  From M’onafar, all of the Combine Worlds of the Clans will be in striking range.  If we lose M’onafar, we have lost the war.”

Admiral F’rufan scratched gently along her right fang as she thought. Nodding, she said, “I think that I see what T’cass is driving at. What can we marshal at K’stall?  We can strip the defenses of the fortress systems.  They’re not in particular danger now. What else?  K’stall is mainly a supply depot and refit center. What’s in their repair inventory that can fight?”

Without meaning to, T’cass once again showed that she was at least several jumps ahead of the pride and already on the prey’s back.  “They have a system siege unit that is up to full power in all combat systems.  One of it’s four main engines is still at only sixty five percent output.  There are two fighter carriers, one just refitted but not yet assigned, and the other has hull damage but is fully battle ready for short range work.  There are nineteen moon or orbit based heavy tachyon batteries of twelve to forty megatons per second output, and an old interstellar signal laser that is still fully operational.

“From the fortress systems, we can pull thirty seven fighters, a light cruiser and the Fleet Operations dreadnought C’aliban.  This battleship that we are on can get there in time to be of use as well.”

She laid out a sheaf of papers on the operations table and began to hand them about.  “This is what I thought that we could do with them.  It is a controlled holding action with a retreat to M’onafar to reinforce the Main and Central fleets already there.”

Admiral Lusan cocked her head and asked curiously, “If the Central fleet can’t get to K’stall in time to help, how can it possibly get to M’onafar?  That’s an even greater distance.  Also, how do you plan to get the Main fleet there?  It is going be needed to defend the Combine Worlds.”

Bluntly, T’cass pointed out, “If M’onafar falls, the Main fleet will be functionally helpless as a defensive unit.  Because of that, it will be best employed as a battle force at M’onafar.”

Ears lowered almost into her mane, T’cass said softly, “We must break Lezon’s advance or the best course for the Combine Worlds, indeed for all of the Clan Space, is surrender.”

T’cass’ ears cocked back up to a jaunty angle as she said, “As to getting the fleets there, we steal a page from Lezon.  The Central fleet must boost for the singularity with all power.  Each ship can choose its best course for M’onafar rather than trying to get together as a fleet after the singularity.  Optimum use of the singularity’s gravitational well should get even the slowpokes up to 60C.  Nobody even tries to go to K’stall.  With deceleration time and the enemy’s lead, that battle will be over before any help can possibly arrive.  Both of our fleets will get to M’onafar first, though.  That’s what counts.

“The Main fleet can just advance from their present positions and get there in plenty of time.”

Guessing the answer already, Admiral F’rufan observed, “I see that you have a lot of other papers there.  Strategic and tactical analyses?”

“Yes,” said T’cass quietly, laying out papers.  She didn’t understand why she felt somehow ashamed for being right.

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note: the story is organized differently in the Science Fiction Section, being broken into longer parts than I am using here.