Admiral Makri Tzin, Human Ascendancy Flagship, Hideaway System
Admiral Tzin knew that he’d won when he saw who’d taken control of the ground forces.
The report told him that Kamia of the Thuroni Defenders, an elite company within the Ascendant Guard, had assumed command as soon as the marines landed. Ordinarily Admiral Tzin disliked the fact that any member of the Guard could assume command of any Ascendancy force outside the Guard, but in this case, he knew Kamia’s record.
Any Guard member with her success against Xiniti could use his forces as necessary—so long as she didn’t take over his position.
If she did, he had some plans she wouldn’t appreciate.
And in any case, she appeared to be one of the polite ones. The smarter Guard members often were. She’d sent him a message saying what she intended to use the troops for and that she didn’t intend to keep using them any longer than was necessary to capture the council. She’d even asked him if he had any use for the human Xiniti trainees.
He didn’t and his return message had told her that she could do anything she wished with them. Reprogramming them for espionage against the Xiniti never worked out no matter how often they’d tried it. Better to kill the human traitors than to give the Xiniti more practice in deprogramming.
They were getting too good at it already.
As for the Xiniti themselves, he looked forward to finding out exactly what Kamia would do to them. He had enough of them up here. He could use some ideas. Laughing at that thought, he decided to check on the progress of the battle. Using his implant, he connected to the ship’s tactical computer and the ship’s sensors.
The tactical computer wasn’t sentient, of course. That was too much of a risk, but it did calculate the probability of success for the overall battle based on current actions, predicted the best way to reach specific objectives, and made predictions of enemy responses to specific actions.
Admiral Tzin opted to get back to the current situation, but with notations as to probable outcomes of his choices.
It did not go well.
Early on in the battle, he’d found that the fleet’s larger ships couldn’t maneuver quickly enough to be effective against the smaller Xiniti ships. Following fleet doctrine, he’d used smaller ships and personal fighters against Xiniti ships.
The standard fleet tactics against Xiniti needed some revision and the people he’d assigned to come up with effective tactics weren’t yet successful.
By a series of actions he’d only just begun to understand, the Xiniti had managed to separate the fleet’s different groups to a point that they couldn’t assist each other effectively.
While they still outnumbered the Xiniti, the tactical program showed that though the smaller craft were keeping the Xiniti busy for now, the Xiniti were destroying his fighters more quickly than his forces were destroying Xiniti ships.
Once they passed a certain point in numbers, the Xiniti would begin to target the battleships and cruisers. That would be the beginning of the end. The war on the ground might go well, but up here, he needed a game changer and he wasn’t finding one.
He tested the probable results of making the Xiniti aware of what was going on on the ground, forcing their ships back in the direction of the planet. The simulations didn’t go as he hoped. Instead of clustering as they tried to help the people on the ground, most simulations showed them beginning to cluster and then destroying his fleet as it began to get into formation for attack.
He tried other options including gathering the largest ships to bombard the planet. Even that didn’t work out as planned since the Xiniti in the simulation (or the ship on the planet) were watching for it.
The damned little ship had taken out a half a squadron before the commanding officer had the sense to withdraw. They still didn’t know where it had gone.
He screamed and would have punched something if he’d been outside of his own head.
Controlling himself, he commanded that Four Hands be found and given access to the tactical computer in case he could see anything the admiral had missed. The man’s people weren’t much use in a fight, but he’d heard Four Hands was a capable commander. It’d be a waste not to use him.
Even as that command went out, the tactical computer made him aware of a change. Ships were coming out of jump in the outer system, an Ascendancy fleet the size of his own.
He grinned as tactical predictions began to shift. If final calculations were anything like what he was beginning to see, the combined fleet would destroy the Xiniti fleet. He hoped the new admiral didn’t outrank him.
Then, before he got the new fleet’s identification, more jump points opened, at least as many as before. As soon as he saw their shapes, he could tell they weren’t from the Ascendancy. Most of these ships he’d only seen in his implant’s catalog. He never thought they’d enter the Human Quarantine.
This new fleet, a combination Alliance and Xiniti fleet, had followed the Ascendancy fleet through jump. If Admiral Tzin guessed right, they’d probably been fighting before the jump.
Dammit, the admiral thought.
Even worse, the tactical computer kicked him out as it recalculated probabilities for the entire battle.