Colonel Boris Johnson was not looking forward to this interview — he never did when he didn't believe the interviewee was going to be happy — and the news he was imparting was definitely not the sort of thing that this recipient wanted to hear, still it was all part of the job he mused.
"Svetlana," he greeted the young looking woman who entered his office after acknowledging her salute, "take a seat," he ordered waving at the conveniently positioned armchair.
Captain Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev, Confed Space Marines had originally been a Major in the Russian Naval Infantry and been attached to the US Marines in Hawaii when the CAP testing craze had hit America. She'd gone through the testing process — along with several of the American officers she was serving with — and had been amused more than anything when she'd come out with a CAP score of eight point four and been well ahead of majority of them. When the true purpose of CAP testing had been revealed she'd been ordered by Moscow to volunteer for the Confederacy Marines and await developments.
Developments had been almost immediate. She'd been picked up, along with the other Marines she'd tested with, three months after the event — that this broke all ties with Russia had been a surprise, as it had been for the Americans when they too realised that America no longer had any say in their destiny.
After conversion and advanced training in the Confed Space Marines Svetlana had spent eighteen months leading hit and run raids against the incoming Swarm, first as a platoon commander, then with a company and finally with a two company raiding force before being transferred to Persephone. There she found herself in a holding pattern awaiting developments in the war. She'd led half a dozen extraction missions — just to stop from going insane — and was hoping that this interview was her chance to get back to a combat unit to continue culling lizards.
Once the woman before him had settled into the armchair Boris began, "Lana, there is no easy way to say this so I'll just read out your orders and we'll take it from there." He tapped the paper on his desk, a foible that he hadn't been able to break, even to the point where he had to print things out rather than read them from a screen. "Umm, here it is — Is transferred to the planet Demeter, township of Celeus, to undertake the training of the volunteers as Space Marines and such other details as ordered by the commander of the township." He looked up to see the woman going pale, "To assist in this task Captain Lebedev is promoted to Major effective this order. Deployment is to be implemented on the first available transport to the new duty station."
Boris placed the copy of the orders back on his desk and waited for the explosion — which he expected to both vicious and probably incomprehensible given their different native languages. What he actually got was a simple question that knocked him off his stride completely.
The Russian looked across the room and simply asked him, "Why?"
Surprised he held up his ace card — a record chip — something he hadn't planned on doing until she'd calmed down enough to appreciate it. "This is a background brief on the Sa'arm war and an indication of future Marine Corps plans to counter the threat. It's something that every line commander has been saying we should have done a long time ago." He paused to gather his thoughts and then went into lecture mode.
"When the Darjee made contact it took awhile for us to realise that the AIs were actually running the war. Most of us, myself included, just saw it as a chance to get back to commanding combat troops." Boris Johnson had been a Brigadier General in the Australian Army who'd been attached to his country's UN mission in New York. "It has taken us this long to get our act together and start thinking rather than reacting." He looked Svetlana in the eyes, "We dropped the ball when we didn't have a long term plan, we have been throwing company and battalion battlegroups at isolated incursions with no real overall plan or objective, all under the direction of the AIs." He tapped the record chip, "This changes all of that."
"The field elements we already have will continue to harass the Swarm, reinforced as required by current extractions. Hopefully — now that there is human intervention with the AIs - this will start to have a strategic goal in mind. In addition it has been decided to form larger formations in three of the colony systems and recruit and train these from scratch. Poseidon is one of the systems that has been picked for this enlargement."
Again he tapped the record chip, "This details the Demeter part of the operation but basically they are creating a Marine Expeditionary Force in the system with a full Marine Division being based on the planet along with the Logistics group. The Air Wing will be based on Persephone but will be an integral part of the MEF and along with the First and Second MEF it will be the first step to destroying the Sa'arm instead of just slowing them down."
"According to this chip, each of the Regiments will be closely tied to one of the townships, as will the Logistics group and the Headquarters elements which means — doing the maths — that each township is going to have a population of somewhere between six and eight thousand volunteers. That'll give a total population per township of between thirty and forty thousand and even with the thousand pods ships they're using at the moment it's going to take at least a year to get each township fully manned, let alone trained and equipped."
"That isn't as bad as it seems as we don't have the ships to move these people around and it'll take at least that long to get them built." He noticed Svetlana raise an eyebrow, "They've designed a new class of ship, the Tarawa," he said with some relish. "It carries a full battalion of Marines with all their supports and it's going to have enough lift capacity to put them all on the deck in one hit. They are going to be used alongside another new class of ships, the Midway carriers, which will embark the Marine Air Wings and together they're going to provide the starting point for future assault operations.
Svetlana was still digesting the information on the Tarawa, "That's better than the Lancelots," she commented.
The Sir Lancelot class of landing ships was the current major type of troop transports that the Marines were using to get to battle. They were really modified passenger ferries with a limited capacity and very little in the way of support capabilities. The ship could transport a full company of Marines and, using the two Leopard class assault shuttles they carried, get them to the planet's surface in one wave. The ship had two beam weapons for ship defence but no direct fire capability to support the ground troops. Neither could they carry close support craft, which meant that a Navy carrier had to be available to support any ground operations.
"A lot better, and they're getting a new class of assault shuttles too. All this means that we're going to need more shuttle pilots and assault troops and to get those we need training personnel. Which is how we get back round to you."
Svetlana couldn't help it, her shoulders braced at the comment.
"You will be training the first take of future assault shuttle pilots as well as organising and eventually running the full training cadre for the planet. If nothing else Major it should ensure that you get your next promotion," he said with a smile. Promotion in the Space Marines, to date, had been of little importance, with everyone running around as independent battalions obtaining a higher rank had been irrelevant but that would not be so in the future.
"In addition you will be working with the local commander and that may create a few interesting situations." He paused to gaze at the wall, as though distracted. "Lana, because we've been grabbing people from all over and, as often as not, throwing them into combat it's left us in a bit of a mess. One of the things that has been happening, underhandedly if you like, is that people have been feeding back information to Earth. This information has been being used to train various people, usually in military academies, for future responsibilities out here. The," Boris smiled, mostly to himself, "I keep calling him boy but I should think of him as a man, you'll be working with is one of the recipients of this training. Although only sixteen he's been put through the equivalent of junior staff college with a few extras tacked on. Although he's only a lieutenant at the moment, he will become a Captain on completion of his basic training and — in all probability — a Major by the time the first of the Marine Regiments is ready for operations. He has some interesting ideas on what to do with the concubines and has pushed them through for his own township and, according to Dave Roberts, will probably force the whole planet to follow suit, simply because it's so effective."
Svetlana sat there trying to absorb what was being thrown at her, questions already bubbling about under her calm exterior. Without warning the chip flew through the air from the Colonel's hand, "For now take this and study it," he said, "Then come back and see me in a couple of days with any questions you have and I'll do my best to answer them."
He stood and Svetlana, recognising that the interview was at an end, did the same.
As he escorted the new Major to the door he said, "Your niece is currently going through the Malinovsky Academy." The door opened and Svetlana stepped through it as Boris continued, "She's receiving the same sort of training as Alex Flowers did. It wouldn't surprise me if she appears out here in a year or so."
Svetlana thought of little Nadia, who wasn't so little anymore and by the time she got her thoughts back to the here and now she'd been deposited outside the door with the minimum of fuss. Very smooth she thought as she turned away, the data chip covering her new assignment clutched firmly in her hand.
Alex stood on the highest point of his pod and gazed across his township. Although all of the pods were grounded now you couldn't see that many of them. The rolling hills and small copses of trees that were scattered about screened much of the human activity. Alex had managed to get the initial pods spread out over as much area as was possible. He'd explained that he didn't want cliques forming around first arrivals, second arrivals and so on and had, effectively, forced his thoughts onto the AI's original plans.
Basic power, communications and sanitation links had been made and the colonists had all been safely transferred to the planetary surface. The town, such as it was, was dirt side and ready to begin ironing out the kinks that four weeks travelling had created.
The major down side to his insistence that the pods be scattered was the increase in time it was going to take to get the interconnecting tunnels dug. In most cases the pods were only going to have one link and getting from one pod to another would require a very winding path if they weren't actually adjacent to one another.
The fact that Alex had managed to get this less than ideal pattern, along with his original idea that drones should receive military training, past the AIs had led him to the belief that the AIs were not actually in control but there just as advisors. A belief that in the short time he'd had to test it had not been changed. It made him nervous. If he insisted on something and the AIs couldn't convince him he was wrong, then they'd let him fuck up in a big way. Not a pleasant thought!
They still had nearly two months before the force domes could be dropped and he figured that the next batch of colonists wouldn't arrive until then at the earliest. It just wouldn't be worth the effort to try to connect the pods up before that.
Now they just had to wait, wait for the arrival of the training team, wait for the equipment and most importantly, wait for the atmosphere to become breathable.
"Alex," a soft voice behind him called.
Alex half turned, to confirm his recognition of the voice, "Yes Sister Melanie?" he asked, suppressing a groan.
"I know you're busy and I really shouldn't be bothering you but I feel..." she paused, what was it she really wanted to know? She wasn't too sure, even now, "I mean, uhmm..."
Alex waited patiently. Sister Melanie really should have been talking to Rebecca but in the confusion of getting aboard the Aurora Sister Melanie had ended up being allocated to one of the slots he had for concubines. Which made things a little difficult, as the major purpose of having concubines was to get and, as far as possible, keep them pregnant. Something that wasn't really acceptable for a nun who'd been effectively press-ganged into joining the colonists.
Looking up Sister Melanie tried again, "Have you made any plans for my use?" she asked.
Alex raised an eyebrow and was rewarded by the Sister blushing. When Alex had been laying down the law concerning the physical stature and abilities that the volunteers were to apply to their drones — during the augmentation process — he'd failed to allow for any exceptions. As a consequence Sister Melanie had gone from being a delicate, petite twenty eight year old woman with a pale complexion to someone who looked like a twenty two year old, two metre tall, hard bodied, pert breasted, fighting machine, a true amazon princess.
When Alex had thought about the issue, he'd believed that the hormone levels induced during the augmentation process to facilitate pregnancy would be creating all sorts of dilemmas for the chaste woman. Therefore — in the true spirit of man — he'd been doing his best to avoid her, without making it blatantly obvious. Now he'd been tracked down and would have to deal with the fallout.
Alex looked the woman in the eyes and answered honestly, "Sister Melanie, I've got no plans, or hidden agendas, for you. Rebecca asked you to join us and as far as I'm concerned that is how things stand. Why?" he asked as he watched her eyes cloud over.
"Because I'm losing my faith." she stated. When Alex started to open his mouth Sister Melanie continued, "Not my faith in God, which I believe is firm, but my belief in the vows I took and the life I've led so far."
Alex waved the Sister to a convenient low wall and sat down alongside her and waited to see what would happen.
"How much do you know about my religious order, Alex?"
"Nothing, really," said Alex, wondering where this was going.
"Well, let's start with one of the basics," she said. "Regardless of what I looked like — with the habit and everything — I wasn't a nun."
That surprised Alex on two counts, he'd always believed that the teachers at St. Genevieve's were nuns, and he hadn't realised that there were different sorts of nuns...
"It may not mean much to an outsider but I was a religious sister not a nun. A nun takes a series of solemn vows, where the religious sisters only take simple vows. The major difference for those outside the religious community is that they get to see the religious sisters but a nun is cloistered and not allowed contact with the outside world."
"I belonged to an Order called 'the Ursulines', we are a teaching Order with a long and distinguished history," she said proudly. "I'd taken the simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as befitted one of my standing." Sister Melanie raised her eyes, "When I joined the order I did so as a Postulant and was in that position for nine months. The Order then accepted me and I became a Novice, where for two more years I lived the life of a Sister without any real commitment. That was after I'd left college with my degrees and no real idea of what or where I was going with my life."
"The Order helped me find a reason for being in teaching young girls who'd gone off the rails, so to speak. For the last couple of years I've been a full religious sister, having taken the three vows temporarily," she paused as Alex looked puzzled, the continued. "After being a Novice you take your vows temporarily, for three years, then they are made perpetual."
Alex nodded his understanding.
"You see, Alex, I'd never made that final commitment and now, with all that is going on around us, I'm not sure if I can." Sister Melanie, sniffed, then a small sob escaped and before Alex could react she was in his arms blubbering away.
Alex didn't know what to do; he just held the crying woman and waited for her, hopefully, to calm down.
Svetlana had become separated from her concubines when she'd ended up in the Poseidon system and — following a chat with the Civil Service rep on her old planet — had handed them over to the pool. She hadn't been too bothered by this turn of events as the two concubines she'd picked at the time of her extraction had proved to be typical American teenagers and she'd grown bored with them very quickly. She'd been so busy since that she'd never bothered to replace them, or collect the other four slaves she was allowed — when she got sexually frustrated there was always a willing Marine around who she could take advantage of, in the nicest possible way.
Which is why she was able to settle back in the pod she'd been assigned and contemplate the screen before her, the big screen that was currently displaying the contents of the chip that Boris Johnson had so casually dropped on her in their interview.
He hadn't been joking when he'd said this was the future of the Marine Corps. It was a synopsis of the events so far along with an appreciation of the current status of the Corps and its assets and finally — the meat of the document — a detailed plan of how the future development of the Corps was expected to run. A lot of detail had been left out from this copy, Svetlana had noticed as she'd worked her way through it. Colonel Johnson had mentioned that larger formations were being established in three systems, the chip only detailed what was happening in the Poseidon system and on the planet Demeter — which was a lot when you got down to the nitty-gritty.
Demeter was getting a full Marine Division and a Logistics Group, and Persephone would be getting the Air Wing and the ships that went with the Marine Expeditionary Force. Colonel Johnson had mentioned the Tarawa and Midway classes but he'd failed to mention the new Landing Ship Logistics — which was positively huge — especially when you allowed for the fact that they were atmosphere capable craft.
The Air Wing was split into two groups, one of which was capable of supporting ground operations from space. The second group was deployed in the new LSLs — after a bridgehead had been established — and provided the transport and ground support elements for the Marine Division.
'And what a Division, ' thought Svetlana as she perused the contents of the chip. Three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, two recon battalions, a combat engineer battalion and the assault landing battalion, all of this adding up to thirty thousand men plus their equipment — truly awesome. Throw in three independent Brigade headquarters groups and you had a large but flexible all-arms force that really was going to give the lizards a hard time.
Svetlana paused to get a drink before returning to her contemplation of the information. The assault-landing battalion was to be her starting point in this new assignment, and getting to know all about it and its function was the first step she would be taking. It also looked like she was going to have to find someone to help develop a tactical appreciation for the unit because there wasn't one included on the data chip and as far as she was aware the Confederacy Space Marines had never tried to organise such a large landing force.
Svetlana had already spent hours studying the chip and making a list of questions and possible answers as she'd done so. She'd also spent a similar amount of time having the AIs dig around in historical records, both from Earth and amongst the member states of the Confederacy for any indications of how best to go about invading a planet, all of this information was stored away ready for her use.
She figured it would take a week or so after her initial interview before she was ready for her second interview with the good Colonel and by then he wouldn't be getting off so easily...
"Well we're here," said the newly promoted Tribune David ap Rhys standing in the hanger bay of the Colony ship Diaspora — a ship he'd almost hijacked a month before and had been stuck on ever since. Around him several of the five hundred or so displaced concubines who'd been put into his care were watching the same moon displayed on the same screen that he was and wondering what the future held for them — for David that future was sure to be a strain.
He was the first Civil Service officer having to deal with a major loss of life to a combat unit. C Company, 2nd Battalion of the Neptune Regiment had been wiped out when their transport ship had crossed paths with a Sa'arm hive ship. Under the system as it stood the concubines of the company — being property — had dropped into his tender clutches and, following various trials and tribulations now found themselves orbiting a strange moon numerous light years from their old homes.
David looked around at his immediate family, still dressed in their illegal Civil Service grey uniforms, and ushered them back to their own pod for a chat. "I've got to report to the S1 for this system, a Colonel Johnson, for a briefing and hopefully a clarification of the orders we received in Frik. While I'm doing that I want you to keep an eye on everyone, the last couple of months have been stressful for everyone and I'm worried about a few of our people. Remember, you know what the current plan for them is — they don't — let slip the fact that it looks like most of them are going to be dropped on a planet without sponsors and they'll flip. Only the belief that they are going to a new home has kept most of them from going over the top as it is."
He looked around, "I know I keep saying this but remember it, I don't want to have to replace you so take care," and with that he picked up his hat and headed for the transporter station and his date with destiny.
On Persephone, Svetlana was waiting patiently in the Personnel sections outer office for her interview with Colonel Johnson — either he was late or he was deliberately keeping her waiting — she hoped it was the former because the later did not promise good things for her future.
Svetlana had just started to consider doing something about the delay when a man in the uniform of the Civil Service entered the outer office, he looked around, nodded casually to Svetlana and then crossed to the only occupied desk in the office.
"Sergeant, I've an appointment with Colonel Johnson, can you let him know I'm here."
Svetlana scowled, she had an appointment as well and she didn't expect to be replaced by some jumped up housemaid. Fortunately before she could react the door to the Colonel's office opened and Colonel Johnson made an appearance.
"Major Lebedev, sorry for the delay," the Colonel said, "I've been waiting for Tribune ap Rhys to arrive so I can brief the two of you together."
The Colonel turned so that he was addressing both of the officers, "Please come inside and I'll let you know what's happening." He went back into his office and Svetlana and David followed.
"Take a seat, please," he smiled, "this is probably going to take awhile so we may as well be comfortable."
The three of them settled in around a small coffee table and the two junior officers waited to see what was coming.
"Svetlana, this is Tribune David ap Rhys of the Civil Service. He was based in the Neptune system and a short while ago ended up with five hundred concubines on his books. Since then he's had to leave the system because the Sa'arm turned up and now he — and they — are here." The Colonel turned to David, "This young lady is Major Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev of the Confed Space Marines and she is currently earmarked for a training slot on the planet Demeter, the very same planet to which you have been sent, Tribune."
Colonel Johnson sat back once he'd made the initial introductions and paused, allowing his guests time to absorb the information he'd just given them.
When they both looked back at him he continued, "Demeter is becoming one of the key colonies in what we hope is the future of the human race in this part of space. It is far enough away from the direct route of the Sa'arm invasion to allow us time to get settled and sort out how future colonies will develop as well as being a convenient place to site one of the largest military forces we've yet to raise."
"Major Lebedev has the plans for the military force that will eventually be calling this system home, she is tasked with training the initial force and then setting up the training establishment for the entire force. That force, Tribune will contain over thirty thousand volunteers, which means that we can expect to have at least another hundred thousand concubines on top of that number."
David went to say something but the Colonel held up his hand, "I know Tribune, you've heard all this before but this time it will happen, not overnight and," he turned to Svetlana, "not in the next couple of years, but it will happen."
There was a knock on the door and a Sergeant walked in carrying a tray, "Coffee Sir," he announced before crossing the room and placing the tray on the coffee table. While that was happening Svetlana and David glanced at one another and both grimaced slightly, this clearly wasn't what either of them where expecting and it didn't seem particularly relevant.
"So what does this mean for you two?" asked Boris Johnson as if reading their minds. "It's simple really, but probably one of the most difficult tasks either of you have ever faced. You are to ensure that the colony on Demeter is stable and capable of supporting the sort of operations that we expect it to carry out. Working with Alex Flowers, who is head of the colony you will make this happen and keep it happening until such time as the Sa'arm are defeated."
"Svetlana I know you have questions coming out of your ears but we haven't got time to deal with them now, so record them and I will get the staff to provide full answers and forward them to you on Demeter." The Colonel looked at the Tribune, "David I also know that you were expecting better things for the concubines you've dragged half way across the galaxy but that is something you will have to deal with when you get to Demeter. Your original orders still stand in that regards."
Boris stood and the two juniors did likewise, "David you will take Svetlana with you and cross over to Demeter and report to Alex Flowers and take it from there." He held out his hand, first to David and then to Svetlana, "and I wish you both the best of luck, I think we're all going to need it."
"OK, will someone give me a clue," asked Alex rhetorically as he read the message on the screen once more. 'Why would anyone change his title to planetary Governor — and having done so — what did it mean for him?' His mind was in turmoil as he tried to digest the information he'd just been given.
"AI," he called out, "define the duties of planetary Governor as per these new orders?"
"The planetary Governor is responsible for all actions of a civil nature that occur on the planet," the AI responded. "The Governor sets the rules which everyone on the planet abides by in all civil matters."
"The Governor is responsible directly to the Confederacy Council for his actions and those of his planetary population," the AI concluded.
"So," said Alex quietly, "while before these orders I was in charge of the Celeus township, I'm now responsible for the whole planet?"
"Yes Sir," the AI responded.
"How will this change when the rest of the Marines arrive?" he asked sharply.
"It will have no effect, the Governorship is a civil post not a military one," the AI stated.
"But I'm in the military," said Alex almost whining.
"It is as though you are two people, Lieutenant Flowers is a Marine and responsible for his actions to those placed over him and Governor Flowers is the head of this planet and responsible to the Confederacy Council for his actions. If there is a conflict of interest it will be up to Alex Flowers to sort it out and set the standards for future actions," the AI responded.
"Fuck," exclaimed Alex as he tried to get a grip on reality. "So what rules have other Governors established?"
"There are no other governors at this time," said the AI, sounding smug.
"Okay," said Alex, "and what other joys have the powers that be got in store for me?" he wondered out loud.
"A ship of refugees is on the way to the planet and should be here at zero nine hundred hours tomorrow," came the surprising answer.
"And what am I supposed to do with them?" Alex asked.
"Anything you like, they belong to this planet as soon as they arrive. They are accompanied by Tribune David ap Rhys of the Civil Service and Major Svetlana Sergeyevna Lebedev of the Confed Space Marines who will give further details regarding the future of the planet Demeter."
Suspicion flared in Alex, "These refugees, are they drones?"
"Yes Sir," the AI answered.
"Do they have sponsors?" Alex asked.
"No Sir, their sponsors have been declared missing after an encounter with a Sa'arm hive ship."
Alex shut his eyes and groaned, taking a deep breath he tried again, "How many volunteers and how many drones will there be on the planet once these people have landed."
"The figures are not available at this time as the make up of the Marine training contingent hasn't been specified," the AI hedged.
"OK, make an estimate of the figures." Alex demanded.
"These figures are estimates only and should be treated as such," stated the AI clearly, "there will be approximately fifty volunteers with approximately six hundred and fifty drones, of these approximately ninety are known to be pregnant. They are accompanied by approximately a hundred children."
"Oh fuck, we're going to have a slave revolt," muttered Alex. 'Unless I can come up with something between now and tomorrow morning, ' he thought.
"Governor, the colony ship Diaspora is now in orbit and requests permission to start landing passengers," announced the AI.
Alex looked around the practically empty pod he'd commandeered and smiled grimly at the hastily provided seating and occasional tables — lightly covered in refreshments — and stood. "Have the Tribune and the Major transported to this room, then lock all transporter activity between the planet's surface and the ship," he ordered.
The portable transporter terminus — the same as those used during extractions — glowed and a tall, dark complexioned man in the grey uniform of the Civil Service stepped out, his collar insignia that of a Lieutenant Colonel — or Tribune. He was followed immediately by an equally impressive woman in the uniform of the Space Marines. Alex — in the uniform of a Marine Lieutenant — came to attention and put up a salute and then waited to see what would happen.
What happened was a look of confusion between the two new arrivals and then both of them returned the salute.
"Welcome to Demeter," said Alex as he dropped is hand. "Shall we make ourselves comfortable," he looked from one to the other, "I think we could be here for some time."
The three of them sat down and Alex, feeling that he was the host, started in, "As I'm sure you've guessed I'm Alex Flowers. I'm supposed to be running this place but we've only been here for a month and there hasn't been a lot for me to do. Yesterday I was informed that I'm now the Governor for the whole planet and — before you ask — there are no rules or precedents for a Governor's duties. I understand that you have — is it information or instructions — for me?"
David looked at Svetlana — who just stared back — looking as confused as the Civil Service agent did.
"Do you want to go first?" David asked Svetlana, who declined the offer.
David grinned at her before turning back to Alex. "I'm David ap Rhys," he said, "and the first thing I'd suggest is that we dispense with ranks and titles, otherwise we'll just tie ourselves in knots." He got nodded agreement from the other two.
"Right, I've got five hundred plus concubines up in orbit with no one to look after them. I was told," he said with a cynical grin, "that you — Alex — would sort them out, how I'm not sure?"
David turned to the female Marine and indicated it was her turn.
"As I'm sure you already know Alex, I'm Svetlana Lebedev and I'm here as the training officer, initially for the volunteers that came with you but — in the future — it will be for all the Marines who are earmarked for this planet."
"I don't suppose you've any idea how many that will be?" Alex asked diffidently, he'd already had his expectations changed so many times that a new number wouldn't be that much of a surprise.
Svetlana fished a data chip out of a pocket and held it up, "The latest plan," she said with a knowing look. "This calls for thirty thousand troops here plus a full Air Wing on Persephone, that'll give you — call it — around a hundred and fifty thousand people all told on the planet."
"A hundred and twenty thousand concubines," said Alex quietly.
"And... ?" prompted David.
Alex looked at David, "Do you think that many slaves are going to stay as slaves when their masters are away?" Alex looked over at Svetlana, "How long do you think it would be before there was a slave revolt?"
Svetlana and David stared at Alex as though he'd suddenly grown two heads. He took note of their looks and continued, "Oh yes, I've given this a lot of thought and I'm not very impressed — which is pretty worrying — when you consider that we're out here fighting for our lives. I mean, have either of you thought about the rules we're operating under?"
His question was greeted with silence and more puzzled looks.
"I'll try to explain," Alex said. "When I asked the AI what the rules were I was told that they would be whatever I made them. I then asked who I was responsible to and the answer that came back was to the Confederacy council, not Earth or the military command or even the United Nations, just the council. I spent a large part of last night going round in circles with the AI and as I understand it the Confederacy is made up of member races - us - the Darjee - and so on. Each occupied planet is given a seat on the Confederacy Council though — in most cases — a race would elect one member to represent them on the Council. The Thring, for example have eight occupied planets but take up only one seat on the council, albeit with eight votes. Now we humans are going to end up with at least a dozen planets and each planet — unless it agrees otherwise — is a sovereign member of the Council and entitled to a seat there and a say in the decision making process."
Alex glanced up to see both that David and Svetlana seemed to be engrossed in what he was saying.
"Now I know," he continued, "that the Americans were the lead nation back on Earth, and that the Chinese have the largest number of bodies out here but no one seems to be leading us politically. Out here everyone is running around, obeying military orders and fighting the Sa'arm wherever we find them but who is looking after our new homes while we are doing that?"
"The concubines are going to be required to fight just like those who get left back on Earth — those haven't been extracted — but that will just give slaves weapons if we leave everything as it is now and — to add to the confusion — you arrive here bringing even more changes."
Alex paused for a moment, "And as if that wasn't enough it appears that I'm expected to be two people in one body — the Governor and the Lieutenant — and whatever I do sets the standards for any other Governor that comes along."
He slumped back in his chair, "So what do you think — are we up shit creek sans paddle or is there really a plan and I just can't find it?"
David actually smiled at the younger man, "Welcome to my world," he said, "the Civil Service is a prime example of what you're talking about though I hadn't given it that much thought. We weren't planned for and have no real authority — I believe the only reason we have a uniform is that as in Germany in World War Two, if you didn't have a uniform you were ignored. Everything any member of my Service has ever achieved has been by force of character, and that includes me dragging these concubines around with me. The fact that we've ended up here just goes to show how little planning is actually going on — concubines without sponsors has got to be a major fuck up. I don't know about Svetlana here but I'm willing to help you in anyway I can if it means that the people up there have a safe home to go to."
The two men turned towards the Marine Major and waited.
"I'm not sure what you intend to do and I won't go along with anything that stops us killing lizards, after all that is what we actually volunteered for," she said. "By the same token I was ordered to volunteer by the Kremlin and then found that they had no say in what I did or where I went — most of them haven't even been able to volunteer to get out here so I've pretty much forgotten about them. The Confederacy Armed Forces do seem to be getting their act together," she said holding up the data chip," but whether that's a general thing or just a few good men, as the saying goes is hard to decipher. What are you actually planning Alex?"
"Nothing at the moment," said Alex, "I've got a few ideas and a lot of hopes but an actual plan is noticeable by its absence." He took a breath, "the first thing — and that happens now — is to change the status of the drones. That may annoy a few of the volunteers, especially those who will be coming along later but I'm not prepared to have armed slaves running around when I'm not here to keep an eye on them. To do that I guess I'll have to form a second class citizen," he held up his hand as Svetlana moved forward, "who will have exactly the same rights as a volunteer with one exception - they will not be allowed to leave the planet."
"Why that limit?" asked David.
"Because the original purpose of CAP testing was to protect the Confederacy from the results of letting us in. Allowing failures — which is how the AIs see anyone with a low CAP score — to run around the galaxy willy-nilly isn't going to be allowed," replied Alex.