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 [02Α] XE-52 'Oscar'

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Alien



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PostSubject: [02Α] XE-52 'Oscar'   Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:34 pm

Enterprise Raptor 182, Carrier Air Wing 3
Pilot: Captain Joshua 'Racer' Osbourne, USAF
Maritime Orbital Sweep



<"Racer, Enterprise. We are getting more interference, please report on the status of your UCAVs.">

For the tenth time in the hour, 'Racer' threw a sideways glance towards the eight drones flying in formation with him and his wingman, and for the tenth time the status request his flight computer distributed to the UCAVs came back in the green. It had been almost two decades since the Coalition had fully incorporated unmanned vehicles in its ranks, but in the highly disruptive magnetic field of Lower Oscar Orbit, the people sitting comfortably inside the CIC of the supercarrier on orbital defense rotation got a bit uncomfortable with the thought of the drones going amok.

Of course, that was not a real threat. In the past twenty years, the prophets of doom and gloom had been disproven many times over. The machines had not staged an uprising, and not once had an unmanned combat unit turned against its creators. How could it? They were machines, and they were intelligent machines, perhaps smarter than humans, but they were still machines. Like all machines, they could be controlled, they could he harnessed. The quality control process was so demanding that only one drone was predicted to be produced defective in the next century, and even then, there were safeguards to keep them under control.

And for the tenth time, he spoke with annoyance into his communications set. "Enterprise, Racer, I copy you on that request. Roboraptors are dull, soulless and one hundred percent effective as usual."

The comment was enough to break one of the UCAVs out of its on-rails trance, and the machine swiftly waggled its wings at the manned aircraft flying beside it; Racer rolled his eyes in response, giving the drone a thumbs-up.

<"Racer, Enterprise. Acknowledged, anything to report?">

"Enterprise, Racer. I would like to report that Ralph over here is waggling his wings to me again, it looks like that last comment offended him. I take the dull comment back. The soulless stays though."

<"Uhh, Racer, Enterprise here, please clarify. Which one's 'Ralph'? I am starting to lose count over here, do you really have to name all of the UCAVs like they are dogs?">

"That would be UCAV-5, Enterprise."

<"Copy. UCAV-5, don't listen to that guy. We all love you over here in flight control. He's just being a me-">

The sudden interruption was enough to get the pilot's attention, and he quickly became alarmed: something had spooked the operator on the other end. "Enterprise, Racer, what's going on?"

<"Uh, Racer, I need you and your flight to RTB, new orders just came in. No non-essential flight operations, it doesn't say why. Gather your things and head home.">

It was to be expected, really: Command hadn't given a reason for the recall, but everybody knew that fuel was running low again. The Coalition had managed to survive on the fuel produced by some smaller Helium-3 mining facilities on Europa and deuterium, an alternate energy source that was much less efficient, but even then, demand was far bigger than supply. Thus far, military needs had taken priority, but the industrial sector was trying to cut through the red tape and get their hands on something better than deuterium and hydrogen fusion, or even burning hydrocarbons again like it was the 20th century all over.

"Copy that, terminating orbital sweep and heading home."

The ten fighters rotated in unison, activated their engines again and pushed the throttle; it was time to return to the carrier.


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PostSubject: Re: [02Α] XE-52 'Oscar'   Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:22 pm

USS Enterprise, CVN-91
Commanding: Rear Admiral Renate Van Laren, Commanding Officer, Carrier Strike Group 3
Day 96 of Maritime Orbital Defense Rotation



"-ne three, you are cleared for landing approach on landing bay seven, corridor three, reduce speed to-"

"Reactor Control, CIC, reduce Helium/Hydrogen ratio to point zero one, fuel conservation protocols have been elevated to-"

"-that, we are trying to clean through the interference, but the drone downlinks keep crashing. As soon as they are aboard, dow-"

"Admiral. Admiral!"


Snapping out of her trance, a state of confusion brought on by days of insomnia and the chaos of the Combat Information Center, Rear Admiral Renate Van Laren finally opened her eyes to meet the gaze of the ship's Operations Officer. Major Drake Anders was a very promising officer, one the Admiral held great respect for: despite his young age, the Major had already been awarded several distinctions from both the Navy itself and the Navy Intelligence Service, had attended six months of training with the CIA Strategic Combat Analysis Division, and had served aboard a battleship as the Deputy Operations Officer prior to his reassignment to the Enterprise. If there was one thing the Major was not, it was a slacker; that much was obvious from how he dressed himself, with his uniform kept perfectly pressed and his chocolate brown hair maintained at a buzzcut most Drill Instructors would be proud of.

"Yes, sorry Major, got distracted for a moment."

"Admiral, with all due respect, you have been overworking yourself for the past week. Perhaps it would be best if you took a break, or-"

A shake of Renate's head was enough to silence the younger officer, who only nodded in acknowledgement before sliding his hand across the touch display on the table to bring forth the next part of his briefing. Command had sent every group commander and regional commanding officer a data package revealing new details about the fuel crisis, and it was not looking good: the Admiral had requested a private briefing before the 3rd CSG's highest ranking officers convened after noon to discuss the issue, and so far the prospect of explaining why they would have to suspend most of their maritime operations to a bunch of blood-thirsty veterans did not sound very appealing.

"Very well. As you can see in these figures, our estimates about Europa's helium production capacity had been disappointingly optimistic. Although the discovery of the New Austin deposit almost doubled peak production rate of refined Helium-3 isotope, the aggressive exploitation of said deposit has almost drained it clean. With such a reduced fuel production, Command has chosen to prioritize the Talarin Operational Group's needs over those of XE-52, while the Europa Operational Group has remained mostly unaffected by the changes. Even then, at this rate, our emergency fuel reserves risk running out within the next eight to ten weeks, depending on how the internal inventory check turns out. Command has ordered us to suspend all flight operations, save for emergencies. Only combustion-powered spacecraft is to be flown until further notice."

Once more, the Admiral shut her eyes; it was hard to focus on the topic at hand when her ears and eyes were being assaulted by the background noise and constant activity of the Combat Information Center. But the desire to sleep was too strong, and so she forced her lids to slide open, taking another look on the graphs projected on the screen. Renate Van Laren was a short woman, standing almost six inches below the 6'1 Major on the other end of the command table, but she did not need to be able to look directly at her subordinate to know what his expression was: uncertain.

"I see. Thank you, Major... Please prepare a detailed briefing for the officers at fifteen hundred hours. Dismissed."
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PostSubject: Re: [02Α] XE-52 'Oscar'   Wed Feb 25, 2015 11:31 am

Area 38, Deep Beneath the Ocean Floor
Latitude: CLASSIFIED
Longitude: CLASSIFIED
Emergency CSC Session



"THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!"

Field Marshal Howard was a man with infinite patience: his plans usually spanned not months, nor years, but decades. He knew not to expect immediate results to problems that had taken time to root. Normally, the Marshal was a calm, collected man, a man who understood the complexities of command and who preferred to let actions, not words, define his reign. He had taken a Coalition in shambles and rebuilt it from the ground-up into a modern, efficient military power, a military power with only a lack of fuel locking it out of its true potential.

But after reviewing the surveillance data sent back from the stealth bomber on Philadelphia, he found himself growing increasingly angrier, and all sense of calm abandoned his mind. Questions floated around the Marshal's brain like insects, biting and gnawing at his rapidly decreasing respect for his officers: how had this been allowed to happen? Why had the alien invasion force been detected so late, and why had no measures been taken to protect the planet, or at least claim it so no force would dare to? Why had a preemptive strike not been performed to prevent the alien acquisition of the world?

And there he was, standing up and yelling obscenities at his command staff: they were the most competent men and women he could have chosen for their positions, and yet, they had failed to predict the rampant Nakar expansionism.

"THIS IS THE VERY THREAT THIS COUNCIL WAS FORMED TO PROTECT THE COALITION FROM! WHAT HAVE YOU IDIOTS BEEN DOING ALL MORNING? WHY ISN'T THE AVENGER BLASTING A HOLE IN THOSE ALIEN FACILITIES RIGHT NOW? WHY ARE WE STILL AT DEFCON 4?"

The Coalition Security Council had replaced the United Systems Congress as the primary governing body. The Chiefs of Staff for all Armed Forces, several commanding officers from key units such as the Strategic Warfare and Strategic Defense divisions and some of the most prestigious scientists, intelligence analysts and engineers were all members of the Council, which convened at least daily either in person at the Area 38 Bunker or through teleconference. The emergency session had been called only minutes after the Nakar invasion force had been detected on Philadelphia, although it had taken hours to reach some officers due to communications problems.

The last of the council members had just connected when the Marshal begun his rant, and even though they could answer his questions, nobody dared to. Some of the officers uncomfortably straightened out their uniforms or tugged on their collars, watching the man on the seat of the table list all of their mistakes in handling the situation.

"THEY ARE ANIMALS! A PESTILENCE! AND YOU ARE LETTING XENOS STEP ON OUR TOES, TAKE OVER OUR RESOURCES! HAVE YOU LEARNT NOTHING FROM THE WARS? HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN WHAT INDECISIVENESS LEAD OUR GREAT NATION TO? DO YOU FORGET THE SUFFERING OF OUR PEOPLE?"

One man, a Coast Guard General, dared to speak out, only for the Marshal to point at him accusingly with his finger.

"SHUT UP! I AM NOT DONE! ANOTHER WORD AND I'LL HAVE YOU DIGGING URANIUM IN THE MINES OF EUROPA!"

An aide quickly moved over to whisper something in the Marshal's ear, and after a short pause, the man resumed.

"WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME WE RECEIVED A KAL'BAVAKORIAN TRANSMISSION? ARE YOU ALL INEPT?"

Eventually, the Marshal collapsed on his chair, supporting his head with his hand to stave off the approaching headache; the already bad morning had taken a turn for the catastrophic. But he could not let himself go down the road of despair; he had to be strong for the nation, for his people, for the brave soldiers serving the Coalition. He was quiet for several minutes before he finally spoke, his voice finally regaining its firm, commanding tone.

"Go to DEFCON 2 and mobilize all forces. I doubt that this is the prelude to an attack, but in any case, we can't let the xenos have that system. Is the stealth bomber still in place?"

General Sommer, the head of the Strategic Warfare Command, was the one to answer that question: he moved a bit closer to the microphone so the entire room could hear him, cleared his throat, wiped the sweat from his forehead and finally spoke.

"Yes sir, Surveillance Flight 'Reaper' is still in place. As of the last communication, the xenos were throwing everything they have to find it, but it's like searching for an invisible needle in a haystack due to its electronic warfare package. The data is, however, concerning. They are like locusts, they swarmed on that planet and are mining dry of resources. Their technology is not as... refined as ours, but they seem to be doing a good, if inefficient, job at draining the planet's deposits. They have also installed defense systems, and it will take far more warheads than the bomber has available to destroy those facilities."

So that ruled out a stealth nuclear attack, if any nuclear attack could be called stealthy. The Marshal nodded, although the disappointment in his eyes was clear: he was hoping for a swift, clean solution.

"Any excuses we can find to attack that planet, or at the very least slow the Nakar down?"

Now it was the turn of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to speak, although Director Liesel Metzger sounded far more smug than any woman facing a catastrophe should be.

"Marshal, there are no indigenous human or Nasari populations on that planet, so we can not pull the 'protecting minorities' card to stop drilling. And I assure you, you do not want to waste the fuel in an assault. No, no. There is a very simple, easy, obvious way to deal with this issue."

"Which is, Director?"

"We mine."


Confusion took over as the rest of the participants in the Council session tried to figure out what the Director meant, but she did not give them much time to think it over: she had to explain her plan.

"Legally speaking, they can't claim that entire planet for themselves, not this quickly, not without going through months of bureaucracy. It's just outside of our territory, and there is a record of surveys by Coalition corporations to exploit that planet. According to this data, they also haven't finished moving in their drilling gear. A planet is a huge thing, and although they have taken over several key deposits, most of the planet's surface is still unexploited. Thus, we are within our rights to commence drilling operations."

That still didn't solve the issue of the Nakar claiming the rich metal deposits though: the Coalition could still gain a lot by taking over the rest, but it was not what they had in mind.

"Now, remember, we'll be drilling in deposits with poor resource composition. Thus, we are perfectly justified to employ any and all drilling methods, which include nuclear fucking mining. Send in Planetary Resources, they are experts with this. We use surface detonations to get to the rich ores beneath, and we make sure we use the cheaper, more contaminating models. Even with those fancy shields of theirs, the area will be contaminated with enough radiation to kill after seconds of exposure if we do it in sufficient quantities. The water they seem to be draining will be useless, because it'll be so horribly irradiated. It's the perfect, legal crime.

"And what if they try to intercept the mining ships?"

"They really don't have a choice in the matter, at least not according to international law. If they let us land, we drill using nukes, their precious water is contaminated and who knows how expensive it gets for them to mine in the radiation. If they shoot at the mining ships, it's casus belli and we are perfectly within our rights to nuke that planet into oblivion anyway. And here's the kicker: they haven't reached the hydrocarbon layer, and I doubt that they are interested in it anyway."


It was, indeed, a near perfect plan; it just needed some tweaking. That, the Marshal could manage.
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PostSubject: Re: [02Α] XE-52 'Oscar'   Fri Mar 13, 2015 7:32 pm

Area 38, Deep Beneath the Ocean Floor
Latitude: CLASSIFIED
Longitude: CLASSIFIED
Emergency CSC Session


"We need a decision, sir."

The deadline was almost over, and although the Nakar had made some effort to withdraw from the contested system, there was something fishy about the entire deal: according to the stealth bomber watching the situation unfold, not all units had pulled away, and the Nakar seemed to be continuing critical operations instead of just taking off and running. Adding the fact that they had established a defensive perimeter around the planet, it seemed as if the Coalition was going to have to fire the missiles after all, much to the Marshal's disappointment.

There was another pressing issue: an unidentified invasion fleet had been detected in extremely close proximity to Europa, forcing fleet command to tighten its defensive perimeter around the ice world. The various installation commanders in Strategic Missile Command were pretty unanimous in their requests: they wanted permission to fire the ISBMs if a fleet jumped into the Europa system, even if that fleet wasn't Nakar, because it was very likely it was a Nakar ally. And the Marshal was one step away from authorizing that, or even ordering the preemptive strike on both the planet and the Nakar colonies: the USC could not afford a full scale war, not against an enemy that did not suffer great losses during the Second War. No, it would have to strike right at the heart of the Nakar's industrial capability if it got to that.

The next five minutes would determine the fate of two races.

"Colonel Weatherford, the football please."

Almost instantly, the muscular Air Force officer standing near the Marshal stood forward and deposited the large metal briefcase he was holding, which was attached to his arm via a pair of handcuffs, on the wooden table before him. The 'nuclear football', as it was known to most people, was one of the primary means through which the commander in chief of the Armed Forces could issue commands to strategic missile and bomber units: it contained the entire communications, encryption, security and information suit that would be required by a commander to make an informed decision about a nuclear strike, and to initiate that strike even if the Coalition's communication network had been knocked out.

Without wasting any time, the Marshal reached to retrieve the cylindrical key-like device handing from his neck, while the Colonel followed suit. The two men slid their keys on each side of the machine, which let out a loud mechanical hum as the powerful hydraulics holding it shut released and allowed the cover to slide away, revealing a very compact, complicated array of electronics integrated into the armored device, all with a singular purpose: authorizing nuclear launches. The Colonel typed a command into the Football and then stepped aside so the Marshal could take his place. "Marshal, please insert your personal authentication code."

The other people in the room watched intently as the Marshal entered his hourly authentication code, and in response, the machine beeped loudly before several green lights inside it turned yellow, only for a high-energy scanning beam to be fired from a port at its top, confirming the Marshal's identity. At last, another beep and the switch of the yellow lights to red signified that the Football had been activated.

"Thank you sir. Please select the attack plan you wish to initiate from the list on the left monitor, and press your finger against your option, then enter your Scenario Selection Authorization Code as confirmation." Of course, the Marshal did not need to be told what to do, and he had already finished choosing the relevant attack scenarios.

The first Strategic Strike Scenario was known as 'Scenario Backyard Cleaning', which called for a complete nuclear bombardment of a system adjacent to Coalition territory in order to prevent the installation of alien facilities there. Less than 1% of the Coalition's nuclear arsenal would be required for the attack, which was almost ten thousand nuclear missiles, all of them ISBMs, enough to push the Philadelphia system's habitable world into a radioactive crater.

The second scenario was named 'Scenario Dead Man's Hand': it distributed missile attack codes to the computers of all strategic missile silos and issued the order for them to go on hot stand-by, with the AIs of each silo being permitted to launch if it felt a threat to the silo's ability to strike, or if a complex set of conditions was met.

The last scenario was far more sinister: 'Scenario Smackdown' had been in design since the USC had first encountered the Nakar, and included the sequential nuclear bombardments of Nakar colonies until the latter would surrender unconditionally. Worlds would be attacked at intervals of ten minutes, and thus in half an hour after the plan's activation, the Nakar homeworld would have nuclear fire raining down upon it, a staggering 3% of the Coalition's available strategic arms (without including biological, chemical or radiological weaponry).

Within a few seconds the computer had communicated the Marshal's choices to Strategic Missile Command, distributing the relevant coordinates to each missile site. The Marshal also authorized Scenario 2 using a relatively simple process, since it did not constitute final authorization to launch.

It was time to authorize the first scenario, however. The Marshal retrieved a set of peculiar binoculars from within the case, and the Colonel activated the communications link to Strategic Missile Command. A deep male voice resonated from within.

<"Marshal, this is General Mallory, Strategic Missile Command. All assets have been moved to Condition 1SQ and are standing by for attack scenario authorization. If you wish to proceed, please verbally state your order for the record.">

In as cold a voice as a robot, the Marshal mechanically stated the command: "As per Article 7 of the United Systems Charter regarding the use of strategic nuclear weapons to protect the Coalition's citizens and interests, I am ordering the activation of Strategic Strike Scenario 'Backyard Cleaning' for the third planet of the Philadelphia system, sector oh two charlie."

<"You are ordering the release of gigaton-yield antimatter-catalyzed nuclear, jump-capable interstellar ballistic missiles on Philadelphia III, Sector Two Charlie. The attack parameters have been automatically entered for you in the authorization terminal. Please look through your personal authentication code generator. You should see a ten-character alphanumeric sequence.">

"I see it."

<"Please state it to me. This will constitute your final launch authorization.">

"Alpha Romeo Charlie Five Six X-ray Juliet Seven Seven Niner."

<"Alpha Romeo Charlie Five Six X-ray Juliet Seven Seven Niner. You have now authorized the release of strategic nuclear arms. Your authentication codes are being electronically distributed to the launch sites now. Launch procedures will begin shortly. You may give the order to abort within the next half hour, at which point the warheads will be put on their final attack path.">
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