Chenosh sat in her office going over reports of all kinds on her monitor.
"The colonization experiments are going well: right now a single canister can terraform most of a hemisphere in a matter of days." Xander read from another report.
"Continue to improve on those results. I want an entire hemisphere in one fell swoop. How are the biological samples?" Chenosh asked noticing Xander making notes.
"The animals Mrs. Ja?" Xander asked smartly dressed in one of his well tailored dark colored business suits.
"Of course." Chenosh replied.
"All samples are being well cared for Mrs. Ja. Right now we have samples of most of the species on this planet; some from blood samples and others through detailed scans. All of them have been backed up in electronic files before growing the samples so we can add them to new canisters. " Xander said.
"Excellent." Chenosh said, though her face didn't show much enthusiasm.
"Still worried about your grandson Mrs. Ja?" Xander asked with concern.
"He hasn't reported in yet, and I can't send ships deep into enemy territory to look for him. We need our ships close to protect Earth. We are stretching our lines enough as it is to make sure we have no noticeable gaps." Chenosh explained.
"I'm surprised Liam has not made a move yet." Xander commented.
"He is merely bidding his time until he has gathered enough forces to ensure his victory." Chenosh replied.
"That doesn't sound comforting." Xander said.
"Time works for both of us. Each of the allies are building up our military forces. Only time will tell which side will win in the end. Still I can't shake the feeling that something else is happening..." Chenosh trails off, with her mind drifting elsewhere.
Coming back to the present Chenosh turns back to Xander, "Run a drill of our colonial fleet. Make it a sudden evacuation plan. I want to know how quickly we can build passenger-only ships."
"No armaments?" Xander asked.
"Armaments themselves take up space, never mind the fire control systems needed to operate and aim them." Chenosh replied.
"I suppose that makes sense. I'll send out the order. Do you want them to wait for you to send the commanders your authentication code?" Xander said.
"An excellent suggestion. Carry it out." Chenosh ordered.
"Of course Mrs. Ja. Will there be anything else?" Xander asked.
"No that will be enough for now Xander. Thank you I'll call you if I need you." Chenosh said.
Xander leaves the office, closing the door behind him. Chenosh continues reading her reports before she sets them aside and picks up a secure cell phone running off of a highly encrypted satellite for her embassy's exclusive use. A few government agencies had laughably tried to break the code and had their systems fried in return when the semi-intelligent satellite simply sent them a focused feedback signal after immediately registering the intrusion. Chenosh smiled at the thought of how much money her would-be rivals had lost trying to spy on her. Dialing a number she waited for the phone to ring.
"Hello." The voice on the other end said.
It wasn't a question: like Sebbun and the rest of her family Connor immediately recognized her, even without hearing a word from her lips, as if he could sense her through the phone line itself. In reality they could always sense each other, and it was that connection that both could feel now.
"Can you sense my fears?" Chenosh asked.
"Yes, I too fear there is something we are not seeing. I find it disconcerting to say the least. I am already making contingency plans." Connor said.
"Such as?" Chenosh asked.
"I have contacted Oak and took a family trip down to the national park he lives in, so my family knows how to get there. The Primal has agreed to be their protector if anything happens to me and they can't evacuate the planet." Connor said.
Chenosh smiles as she replies, "And I thought I was worried."
"What can I say? I'm careful." Connor said smiling back as he held the phone to his ear.
"Let us hope the backup plans we are preparing never have to be used." Chenosh said.
"Are you coming down to visit us this weekend?" Connor asked.
"I can't. There is simply too much to do." Chenosh said.
"I understand." Connor said.
"Kiss our loved ones for me." Chenosh said.
"I will. Take care of yourself." Connor said.
"You too." Chenosh said.
Chenosh made a similar call to Sebbun, not wanting to take anything for granted in the time they had left before the attack came. With the first drill Chenosh was able to see massive problems with the current setup of the evacuation process dealing with a sudden enemy attack.
"We need to cut down on the time it takes to load up our evacuation ships." Chenosh said to Elim.
"We could create ships with large bays and use Di'San transporters to load the ships. With these adaptions I estimate we could cut down on several hours loading up people on the ground. If used properly a ship wouldn't even have to sit still and could perform sweeps of populated making the ships harder to hit." Elim suggested.
"That's a start at least. Get on it. Keep the ships stripped down to life support, engines and shields. While the people inside may be uncomfortable at least they will be alive and we can move them around later once we are safely away." Chenosh said.
"Yes Nafi." Elim said, addressing her by her Harreden title before leaving to carry out her orders.
It was late before Chenosh got home that night and she fell asleep next to her two mates. The next morning she kissed her children and headed back to work trying to keep up with her busy schedule. She barely saw her loved ones anymore aside from her grandfather Diun who she closely worked with. New marine divisions had been attached to the Colonial fleet outfitted energy weapons and combat suits that worked in zero-gi and on a planet's surface. The energy weapons included Lances that fired a continuous beam of energy that sliced the metal and biological material like butter. Ideal for space combat the marines could land on the surface of a ship and begin cutting into the hull, until they created a hull breach. Working together a squad could even cut off pieces of a cruiser if they wanted to.
When asked by the Joint Chiefs why there were focusing on space combat and not surface warfare Chenosh replied, "Because short of using a weapon that would surely kill all our people in that area we have no weapons to kill a Harreden directly. Instead our focus should be killing them by suffocation either by destroy the life support systems of their ships or introducing the Harreden crews themselves to the vacuum of space. The new marines will be able to free up more Spartan troops to be able to act independently."
It was an assessment they could agree with and Chenosh left the meeting satisfied that they were all on the same page. Outside of the Situation Room the President was waiting for her.
"The Spartan project is going well. Four more ships will be up by week's end." He said.
"How are the other world leaders reacting to my new installation as Empress?" Chenosh asked.
"The reports are encouraging. I have received numerous visits and calls from foreign dignitaries that eager to speak with you." The President said.
"That's probably because I've been too busy to chit-chat." Chenosh said with an exasperated sigh.
"You seem strained." He noted.
"I've been forced to focus most of my attention on my duties. Everyday I get reports from hundreds of worlds, and I make decisions everyday that decides not only whether we will win this war, but simply whether things will fall apart. I have been able stabilize a few star systems, but the other economies are being held together by spit and paint. If it weren't for the war I would say it would be better to move the inhabitants from those worlds to new ones and just start over again." Chenosh replied.
"And I thought my job was hard." The President said.
"Did I mention how much I hate you voting me into my current job?" Chenosh said glaring at him.
The President flinched and gave her a painful grimace as he said, "Sorry."
"By the way stop having your CIA and NSA attempt to tap into my satellites." Chenosh said.
"I suppose that would explain the continued increase of our defense budget when it comes to Earth's orbiting satellites. I will have to have a chat with both of them." The President said, well aware that a number of foreign satellites had been destroyed when they tried to jack into Chenosh's satellite.
President Arnold couldn't help but be envious of a machine like that which could defend itself when it was attacked, and as he thought about it he had an idea.
"Back in the 1980s there was a space program President Reagan talked about called the "Star Wars" program. It was supposed to be able to blow up nuclear missiles launched at the U.S. by the U.S.S.R." The President said.
"Are you suggesting we adapt our satellites to serve a similar purpose?" Chenosh asked.
"More specifically your new satellite design. Ours would be inadequate to serve a defensive purpose. A semi-intelligent satellite could operate and react on its own and if we could add the right systems it would be able to defend and rearm itself, while ours would have to be armed manually for safety reasons." The President said.
"I agree: I wouldn't want to leave an armed satellite out there that was totally dependent on human control. Of course I would have to program it to recognize friend or foe before we arm it. This is a very good idea." Chenosh said.
"I have a good one everyone once in awhile." The President said.
Chenosh grinned and said, "I suppose you do Mr. President."
The new satellites were called "Titan Satellites". Equipped with a hardy collection of sensors, shields, and weapons, they could bloody the nose of even the hardiest cruiser in a pitched battle. Grouping dozens of them together the satellites could combine their resources for maximum effect. Shields could be melded together, allowing the satellites to take more hits, while they targeted the one or multiple hostiles, firing either all at once, or in intervals so some of them could rearm and recharge in between. A group was put in orbit of each planet in the solar system, and an extra one near Earth's moon as an extra line of defense.
The day the last group of Titans were armed and ready Chenosh felt the overwhelming urge to take a nap. Telling Xander to hold all her calls she laid down on the couch in her office and closed her eyes.
In her dream she was standing in a great void when she heard a familiar voice, "Hello grandmother."
"Spar?" Chenosh asked looking around.
The void changed into a myriad of stars and from a space in front of her Chenosh's grandson appeared still wearing his pilot suit, "I do not have much time."
"Where have you been?" Chenosh said realizing it wasn't a dream.
"I am speaking to you from a haven of sorts. I still am not ready for what is to come yet, but you must prepare. I have come to tell you to be ready at a moment's notice. Something is coming that you have not foreseen." Spar said.
"What is it? I don't understand." Chenosh asked.
"I cannot tell you that. I have already told you more than perhaps I should have, but I felt I couldn't do less. I will see as soon as my time here ends. Give my love to my parents and tell them that I am alright." Spar said with a smile, and then he was gone.
Chenosh awoke moments later and called Sabanet and Grace to tell them that Spartan was alright, and that he said he loved them. She couldn't tell them much more than that, for though she was sure the vision had been real, something or someone had dulled her powers so she had only had her most basic senses to work with. Her first worry was not Spartan; he was strong and capable, and she believed him when he said he was safe, at least for the moment. What worried her was the warning he had given her. She arranged a meeting with her grandfather later that day.
"Do you have any idea what he meant?" Diun asked.
"I thought I had considered all outside attacks, which leaves only the inside ones." Chenosh said.
"A traitor?" Diun asked.
"Perhaps more than one." Chenosh suggested.
"What do you propose?" Diun replied.
"Trust the humans and Artificial, and watch everyone else. I will send a secret order to the ships I feel we can trust, and arrange a signal that will tell them to jump away at a moment's notice. If worst comes to worst at least some of our people will get away." Chenosh said.
"Are you sure granddaughter? This is a hard decision for anyone to make. Would you leave the rest of our allies to their death?" Diun said.
"You misunderstand me grandfather. I have no intention of leaving any faithful ally to their death if I can help it. I would ask a favor if could." Chenosh said.
"Name it." Diun replied.
"If I should fall, get the rest of our people out here." Chenosh said.
Nodding Diun looked upon his descendant with great pride, "Of course."
Smiling at him Chenosh said, "Now that is out of the way. Let us continue to prepare for battle. I don't know about you but I this news gives me one more reason to bloody the enemy's nose."
Diun chuckled, "Well said. Into the breach we go."
Elim asked Chenosh to meet him on one of the Di'San ships in orbit where he said he had a surprise for her. Chenosh found him in one of the science ship's labs.
"What have you got?" Chenosh asked, already falling behind her busy schedule.
"I believe I can provide Earth with a planetary shield that the enemy will have to defeat before they can land assault troops." Elim answered.
"Interesting, go on." Chenosh said.
"Using a collection of strategically placed satellites we can extend and maintain an energy shield around and between each of them. Set in concert with planetary defenses they can create gaps to fire through if necessary." Elim said.
"If only we had weapons capable of firing beyond our atmosphere. Our resources right now are being stretched thin to provide us with enough ships in case we need to evacuate, and maintain our defensive fleets." Chenosh said.
Elim appeared to deflate in front of her and she said, "I'm sure we can stretch things a little more for your new shield."
Seeing him light up reminded her of giving a child their favorite present for Christmas, "Begin testing so I can insure our allies it is worth the trouble."
"Right away." Elim said.
Chenosh left him to it feeling a little more optimistic about their chances. During an evacuation the shield could provide much needed cover for ships trying to escape. Combined with the other allied efforts survival at the very least seemed like a real possibility. As usual the test went well and Elim's planetary shield was deployed on each allied planet, with Earth footing the bill as it came to resources for the poorer members of the alliance. The U.N. accepted her reasoning, especially since she made sure the first shield was deployed around Earth, giving it the priority to quiet any dissenters among the government officials there. Once it was deployed she put the poorer allies next on the list, since they needed the shields the most. These actions did not sit well with many of the Harreden allies who thought they should have received the shields first, and that these "lesser races" stood in the way of their survival. Still most of the Harreden feared their Nafi, and at that moment didn't have a leader who could possibly stand up to her. None of them had forgotten what had happened to the loyalists who had tried to betray her. The traitor Kirell bided his time and kept the fires of rebellion small enough to escape her notice. From the outsider it would have appeared as if he were quieting dissenters as well.
Though she did not trust most of her Harreden allies, Chenosh did trust Elim's family and arranged for them to move to Earth. She made up some excuse to cover it all in official circles, but those who knew her something strange was going on behind the scenes. The President of the United States, one of her closest friends was chosen as the voice of her trusted supporters to find out what was going on.
Stepping into the Oval Office she was greeted by the President and asked to sit.
"Allow me to be blunt Chenosh as I know you are busy." He said.
"Of course Mr. President." Chenosh replied.
"There is something you haven't been telling us. Your trusted supporters on Earth and elsewhere have been noticing an increase in security." He told her.
"I am merely worried about Liam's people discovering our preparations against him before I want them to. Surprise could be a powerful weapon in our arsenal." Chenosh lied.
"While I'm sure someone who didn't know you would have fallen from for that load of crap, I'm insulted that you think I would." The President said taking a hard line.
Sighing Chenosh replied, "I received information from a trusted source that warned something was coming."
"Something tells me you're not referring to Liam's invasion, so let's hear it." President Alexander said.