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Masoul wasn’t just an uprising, it was the starting of a war. Harmony didn’t start on Masoul; they were using it as a testing ground.
Moretti has a lead on where Harmony might have come from. First they need to defeat Harmony’s forces in Osdal.
Nerva’s not going to throw his people at Harmony, this is not just a colonist uprising, this is a well-armed and backed military. They need more information. It comes down to the Triple-Two’s to find out that information.
Once again the Victor brothers and their platoon will be right at the heart of Harmony.
Nothing will be the same after Osdal.
Earth, Sol System
Nivad looked at the reports from Housapel and Fernix.
He was a simple looking man, black hair, light colored skin, and expensive suits. He did not look like Earth and Her Colonies’ power broker. He was the go-between for companies, he ruled the EMF and intelligence ministry. Information was his trade and money was his score-card.
Company takeovers and the latest scandal he could use to leverage shares from a prominent CEO were far from his mind.
His office was large, and furnished with an obsidian black desk, liquor cabinet, opulent chairs, couches beyond them and wall-length view screens that showed Mega City.
Everything was made to display both his power and personal wealth.
Dalia and Wallace sat in the chairs, their faces hard as Nivad held his chin and read reports on his surface.
Harmony had been hit almost overnight. They had removed the CEO’s from their systems and called for democracy.
It was a sham like Earth’s own presidential election. The mouthpieces of Harmony were selected; there were a number of them and they even made it look like a fight between them all.
Nivad wondered if Harmony might have had an actual election. With all of the options being Harmony’s anyway, whichever one got elected they would spout Harmony’s words.
They’d brought back religion, they’d raised the wages, and they’d asked for people to join their military.
Nivad felt his face tighten as he put the surface down.
There was a light buzzing in the air, telling Nivad and his company that no one would ever hear this conversation.
“It seems that they have finally shown their hands,” Nivad said looking from Dalia to Wallace. Any other person might have fidgeted or been scared. These two simply sighed and nodded.
Wallace pulled out a cigarette as Nivad sat back in his chair.
He offered them to Nivad and Dalia, and they both took one.
Nivad allowed the practice to center his mind as he thought.
“What are our recruiting numbers looking like?” Nivad asked.
“We have three thousand potentials going through every day,” Dalia said.
“Move all limbo carriers except four surrounding Earth. How is that contract for carriers coming along?” Nivad asked.
Dalia made a note as Wallace exhaled smoke.
“Now we have ‘The Yard’ working for us we should have twelve carriers produced in a year,” Wallace said.
“What about the new survey ships?” Nivad asked.
“The first is already in transit to Masoul to track down Harmony’s FTL communications. The second and third are moving through the uninhabited systems,” Wallace said, to make sure everyone was on track.
“What can we expect at the end of this?” Nivad said, looking at the other two.
“Masoul is still rebuilding, Mintran is firmly on our side, and Osdal is in opposition. The Chosen are still nothing but a large gang that intimidates people. While that works for individuals, for populations it makes them restless and angry. The civilians want them gone, but they’ve been around for so long that they’re used to them. Humans get used to new situations quickly.
They won’t help us but they won’t go against us. It will take new colonists and new CEOs to get the planet running.” She smoked her cigarette, bracing herself for the worst parts.
“Fernix and Housapel are doing something similar to Sacremon, they’re giving power to the people, they’re raising a military with a stake in their future. It looks like they want to create a professional military like the EMF. One that has tactics, weapons, and gear that are on a level with our troopers’, if not above,” she said. Others would have shied from this admission but she knew how Nivad needed the information. Holding it from him would only make him angrier when he found out, and he would find out.
Nivad smoked and looked to his view screen, staring down on Mega City.
“If we win what will happen to the systems?” he asked.
She hid her wince at his choice of words.
“There will be groups that will work for the new CEOs, but it will require a complete colonial reseeding to get the systems into production,” she said.
“Have the partnerships for Housapel and Fernix approached yet?” Nivad asked.
“Through unofficial channels. They want to know how much this will cost them. They understand it will be high,” Dalia said.
“They won’t have any profits until the new colonists and CEOs arrive. We should have them picked and transported to the systems, waiting to reseed the systems as soon as the troopers clear them. Still it will take at least thirty years of profits to pay off our fees, so we will have to run them on credit,” Nivad said, knowing the business side of these things was simplistic relative to everything else.
“What about the EMF?” Nivad asked.
“Losses are expected to be high. We don’t know all of the tech Harmony is building, but Fernix builds freighters and is where a number of carriers were made.
They know the ships, their armor, and armaments. Estimates put us at losing half of our forces to three quarters. We simply don’t know,” Dalia said.
“There’s something more than numbers we have to think on. What will the troopers be like after surviving the war against Harmony?” Wallace said.
“I guess it is a war now, and what do you think, Wallace?” Nivad said, throwing his cigarette into a disposal chute.
“We’re going to have heroes and that’s something I think that we should embellish. If we want people to get behind us and support our war? We want more people watching the feeds? We need heroes. Hell that group that infiltrated Masoul they’re already heroes. We need real leaders, none of the politicking CEOs in EMF uniforms. We’re going to have to remove most of that group and let trooper leaders, real leaders step into that space,” Wallace paused, “but we have to remember that these leaders will have their people’s loyalty. We have to make sure that we always have a way to control the situation; some kind of charges, medical release, retirement, and so on. We’re going to have to run a tight-rope, there will be hundreds of thousands of troopers working together. We need to make them as effective as possible as they face down millions. We also need to make sure they don’t turn that confidence against us,” Wallace said.
“So we balance the heroes with our strategies to remove them from the limelight, and we also have to deal with a disparity of forces and the fact that not many will be of use to us,” Nivad said.
“Essentially,” Wallace agreed.
“You said that they will be facing millions. On Osdal there are twelve million people, Housapel has fifty million, and Fernix has twenty-seven, how do we know that any troopers will survive?” Nivad asked.
“Look at EMFC Reclaimer, the carrier has gone through two bad systems, statistically those that survived Sacremon survived Masoul. Their overall survival rate compared to EMFC Fearless was higher other than in units primarily staffed by Reclaimer troopers that had been transferred,” Wallace said.
“It is the reason that they are going to be reinforced instead of reinforcing other units,” Dalia supplied, remembering the conversations they’d had on the subject.
“So if the troopers survive their first engagements then they should survive the later ones?” Nivad asked.
“It will get rid of the worst troopers, only increasing the effectiveness of the units left behind. Accidents happen and they will die, but they will have a greater impact,” Wallace said.
They had all needed to learn about the EMF and their troopers to combat the threat Harmony posed to their system. Wallace had studied the units tactics as Dalia dealt with the numerical side of the situation. Nivad trusted Wallace’s judgement.
“Status of our carriers headed to Osdal?” Nivad asked, as Dalia glanced to her surface.
“They are a year and a half away from the system. Five carriers are waiting,” Dalia said.
“The others?” Nivad asked.
“We need to make the decision to have them go to Osdal or hit Fernix and Housapel,” she said.
“Have forces move to Housapel and hide outside the system. We have limited intel coming from the ground, and having scans on the system will be of utmost importance. If we see a weakness, we’ll hit them and I want forces stopping any traffic leaving or entering the system. However, I want the full force of our EMF focused on taking Fernix. We cannot let them get carriers and start attacking colonies,” Nivad said, pressing his finger on the table to punctuate his point. He sat back in his chair as he continued.
“I want our carriers intercepting freighters to Fernix and sending them to Masoul. Once we control Osdal I want to shift all of our forces except those around Housapel to hit Fernix and then Housapel. We’re going to need freighters and carriers to revive the economy, we don’t need household goods and electronics,” Nivad said.
“Intercept all materials moving between the systems and have forces gathering intel as we move forces to hit them in force,” Wallace summarized.
“Exactly,” Nivad said.
“We’ve also shut down connection to the banking system. The leaders will probably figure another system out, but it now puts their funds at our disposal to use against them,” Dalia said, pushing something up on her surface, as it appeared on the impressive desk.
Nivad looked over the numbers, three systems-worth of wealth at his fingertips.
The thrill he usually felt looking over the sheet was dulled by the realisation that he would much rather have the systems back to the way they were instead of having all of that wealth at his disposal.