Admiral Makri Tzin, Human Ascendancy Flagship, Hideaway System
Admiral Makri cringed as the flagship’s alarms began to ring again, watching his screen as more ships came out of jump.
There shouldn’t be that many ships ready to jump into this system, he told himself.
Despite the inertial dampers, he still felt it as the flagship accelerated and turned along with the rest of the fleet, changing formation to protect the Xiniti fleet’s most likely targets.
The Ascendancy reinforcements and the Alliance fleet that had followed them had changed everything and nothing. It had looked good in the first few seconds when he’d seen Ascendancy carriers and battleships materialize. When the Alliance battleships followed them through, all of them Hrrnna designed and manufactured, he’d known it was about to become more complicated.
It had. It turned out that the Ascendancy fleet hadn’t been one fleet but two—the Third and Fourth Edge Fleets, both of them recalled from patrolling the edges of the Human Quarantine to fight here.
As for the Alliance fleet, it had similar numbers to the Ascendancy fleet, but he could only make guesses as to the organization. The Ascendancy often fought Alliance forces, but that was mostly Xiniti or the Alliance Quarantine fleet which was designed to face Ascendancy forces. He knew those ship designs.
This fleet had no consistency. It had all of the standard, rectangular Hrrnna designed Alliance ships, but also ships shaped like spheres, saucers, wedges, and ramshackle designs that could never survive any atmosphere.
What he’d wanted to believe is that the Alliance was low on ships and thrown together their emergency reserves to fight here. It took only seconds of fighting for him to abandon that theory. The ships fought well, coordinated with each other as if they’d trained for years, and kept in formation.
Seeing that, he knew what they were. Everyone knew that the Xiniti patrolled the Human Quarantine, keeping the Ascendancy from expanding beyond the borders the Alliance had set after defeating the Abominators. He’d always assumed that the Alliance was weak, letting the Xiniti handle their problems, but this put a lie to that statement.
If he’d been in the Alliance’s position and if the Alliance weren’t weak, he’d have set up a force ready to take up the slack in case of emergency. Say, in case the Ascendancy united the human states within the Quarantine and decided to expand.
That’s what the Alliance fleet was—a multi-species force designed to work with the Xiniti. Admiral Makri doubted this was anything more than a small part of it. If he survived, he’d have to make that clear to the Ascendancy leadership. They had plans for what to do when they united humanity, but if they weren’t planning for this. They needed to.
Between the Alliance fleet and the new Ascendancy fleets, he wasn’t in a much better position than before they’d come out of jump. Certainly, there was more potential for cooperation than before, but the reality of the situation was that they’d left him to fight the Xiniti in almost the same situation as he’d been before they came through.
In many ways, it was now harder because a skirmish from their battle could interfere with his.
Instead of the game changer he’d been hoping for when they’d come through, he was back in the same place, slowly losing ships to the Xiniti.
He needed to do something. He checked the screens to find out what had just come through—more Xiniti. The ships peeled off to assist the Alliance. He’d have felt relief at that except that it meant that the Xiniti ships facing his fleet needed no assistance.
He’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but he had a mission.
Using his implant, he queried the most recent reports from the surface. Kamia had organized an attack on Jadzen’s position. They’d taken the outer ring and were hoping to destroy the inner ring soon.
It wasn’t going as quickly as they’d hoped. The colonists and their Xiniti helpers were resisting. No one knew how long they’d be able to keep it up. He needed to be ready in case it failed.
He connected to his implant, telling the battle computer to start simulating the reactions to different versions of his orders. “The core of it all is this. We need to hold the space around the planet. We can’t let the colony survive if they defeat our ground forces. I need to know the different problems we might face if we try to burn the planet black when our forces down there lose.”