Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
Aurora, Part CXXVII: The Charge of DesRon12

This page Copyright © 2020, Karl Leffler

Continued from the previous excerpt
1 Thirdmonth 573JR
22 September 2367CE
Oskran system

In their acceleration couches in Aurora's bridge, husband and wife, captain and ship, held hands and watched their brother fight for millions of lives. All his brothers and sisters watched with them, as brother faced brother after a third of a century.
They saw their brother retreat from a ferocious attack. They saw the hate in the Emperor's face, and the calmness in their brother's.
Even those of his Family who were not warriors had learned much of the way of the sword. Prrg, Holly, Clancy, Aurora and Solomon could see more, could recognize a plan. Ship and captain squeezed each other's hands at the moment their brother's foot slipped, as his left hand let go of Aurora's sword, apparently for balance. Those of his Family who knew less of war gasped when Aurora's sword shattered.
Wife and husband bared their teeth in triumph as they saw what few others could in the moment:
The death of the Emperor of Space.

Aboard the worldship Suizei, High Admiral John Copeland stared in shock at the display. Then he remembered his thoughts at the destruction of Genc: his path was fixed and he could not leave it. He put his brain back in gear, and transmitting to all vessels of the Blood Rose, he announced: "John Copeland swears fealty to Kajima Juzo, Emperor of Space! Kajima-Tenno, banzai!"

Within the worldship Itoku, Kajima-Taisho was doubly shocked, first by his Emperor's defeat, then at the notion that he would succeed him... but he too had an active mind which quickly adjusted to new circumstances. Over the Marsten link to Jimmu and all the other worldships, he stated, "Kajima Juzo claims succession as Emperor of Space. All forces of the Blood Rose, swear fealty!"
Responses came: "Ishida-Chujo of Jimmu swears fealty to Kajima-Tenno!" "Murata-Shosho of Annei swears fealty! Kajima-Tenno, banzai!"
And then it went wrong, as another said: "Iie! Noguchi-Taisho of Kogen refuses! I claim the title of Emperor! Swear your fealty to me!"
After losing Inagami years ago, there were only two men Tozama Daiki trusted: John Copeland and Kajima Juzo. Though Tozama had refused to name a successor, it was not unreasonable to view one or both of these men as legitimate heirs, especially when one swore loyalty to the other.
To both men, Tozama had given secret override codes he had written himself, using the same computer skills which had launched his rise to power decades before. In holoconference by Marsten link between Suizei and Itoku, Copeland flashed a message to Kajima, showing what he intended and asking his new Emperor's approval.
Kajima nodded, Copeland pressed a key, and light-hours away across the system, the dozen mighty fusion engines throughout the spinning Balloon World warship Kogen released their star-hot plasma into the artificial environment. In seconds Kogen's thousands of inhabitants were ash, and the construct, four kilometers long and two in diameter, was a gutted, glowing shell.

Even as brother slew brother, light-hours away, the Republic and her allies were massing to retake the world. As each detachment arrived at the rendezvous they had been given, over the hours and days since the Allied retreat from Oskran, their sensor technicians located Yamato, and by secure Marsten transmissions, their commanders announced their presence. Some had never met before, but others were well known:

"Vice Admiral Takagi and Battle Group Musashi reporting with four dreadnoughts, eleven cruisers, and thirty-three destroyers. Maet, you old buzzard, it's my turn to rescue you."

"This is Admiral Caitlin Hutchens-MacFlandry of the Republic of Caledonia Stellar Guard. I've half the Scottish Navy behind me, where d'ye want us?"

"Commodore Rafael Jackson and Task Force Liberty reporting with ten cruisers and twenty-one destroyers. Request immediate refueling, we burned everything we had to get here."

"I am Chief-of-Ships Ja'Chut of the Eyani Defense Fleet. We have come to pay our debt!"

"This is Vice Admiral Dame Anastasia Fuentes-Simonova of the Russian Imperial Navy with nineteen ships of the wall plus support. By order of the Imperator, I request instructions from Jeffersonian Command."

"Commodore Ja'Mok with JRS Montana and Monticello, escort and support, requesting assignment."

"Bishop-Admiral Maxwell Greene of the Salvation Navy presents eleven capital ships and support to the Jeffersonian Commander."

"Gilda of Uppsala, High Queen of Asgard, commanding the Warhost, demands admission to this battle! Show us the enemy!"

"This is Admiral Sir Stanislaw Lipinski, commanding thirty-one ships of the Royal Illyrian Navy. By order of Her Majesty, Queen Agnieszka the Just, we place ourselves at the disposal of the Jeffersonian commander."

"Admiral Maet to all ships. By the First Egg and all the gods, welcome. Formation assignments are being transmitted now. Confirm all transponder codes. All vessels come to General Quarters.
"The Emperor of Space is dead. His final orders were for his forces to withdraw from this system in the event of his death, but they have not yet done so. We await developments. Place all sensor watches on high alert."

Queen Gilda had brought sixty-three ships, from frigates no larger than the Blood Rose's gunboats, to Asgard's famous villain-hunting battlecruisers; nearly a third of the Warhost. Aboard Sleipnir, she relayed the orders from Maet, accepting foreign command from a respected ally. She smiled brilliantly, ferally, at the thought of glory and loot and securing her place in Valhalla, as did her son, Crown Prince Eric, at her side. The ships of the Warhost dressed their formations, plotted various in-system Transits, and awaited the command to strike.
Aboard the Royal Asgardian Navy frigate Gnist, "Spark", a loytnant in the communications department secretly sent a message.

Light-hours away, aboard the heavy cruiser Brunhild, Ivar the Silver, leader of the Seven Axes, received that message and sent more of his own. One was to the new Emperor of Space, Kajima Juzo, aboard the worldship Itoku. Another was to his coreligionists throughout the ships of the Asgardian Warhost.
Aboard the battlecruiser Sleipnir, flagship of the Warhost, a staff officer slipped unnoticed out of the flag compartment. Moments later the poison gas he had planted was released, killing High Queen Gilda, Crown Prince Eric, three admirals, and their entire staffs, while leaving the computers and workstations intact and active.
Of the sixty-three ships Gilda had brought to Oskran, the scene was repeated in fifteen. In another eleven, Ivar's agents had been suspected and monitored, and now were captured or killed... but sixteen ships of the Warhost were now under the control of the Seven Axes. Asgardians began firing on each other, and some on their allies, with whom they had taken formation. More traitors in the engineering divisions having already begun the process, the turncoats charged the Initiators of their Marsten Drives and Transitioned away, to join Ivar, Kajima, and the Empire of Space.

Abel Bjornsson, formerly a count and captain of Gungnir, was now a markgreve and viseadmiral, second in command of the Asgardian Expeditionary Force. Queen Gilda was his cousin, despite their very different gengineered appearances; Prince Eric had been as a nephew to him. As word of their deaths arrived, horror gripped him, and then fury. Asgard too had learned how to track ships through hyperspace; his orders from Maet forgotten, he prepared to pursue the traitors, ordering his ships to raise Fields.
That was when the combined fleets of the Blood Rose and the Glautak/Flike Alliance appeared, a quarter-light-second from the Allied fleets and closing at one percent of lightspeed, their targets' location having been passed from the loytnant traitor to Ivar to Kajima.
The heaviest enemy Guns, Class Twenties, began firing.

The Allied ships were not completely defenseless. The relativistic interception protocols had been running, each ship had a Marsten Field at a low power level, which could be raised to fighting strength quicker than from none at all; these Fields protected crews from Marsten Radiation as the superluminal beams passed, and downshifted the particle weapons to lightspeed so they would do less damage; but it took time to build such a Field to the strength necessary to Transition to hyperspace. This time varied, depending on the ship's mass, the quality and power of its engines and reactors, and the skill of its Engineer in tuning the Drive, but the minimum was usually about a hundred seconds. The Imperial fleet was about a quarter of that much time away from intercepting the Allies, and they were firing rapidly, reducing the power available to rebuild their own Fields. For the next minute and a half at least, they would be trapped in realspace. So were the Allies; they wouldn't be able to Transition before the enemy's closest approach.
Maet was a four-star admiral in the Jeffersonian Republic Navy - the highest rank since the Republic-Empire War, and the third most senior to presently hold it. He had earned his position not through politics or connections but through competence - the Jeffersonian way. When Solomon Danner had joined his war council aboard Yamato, Maet had told Danner he had much need of him. Now, as Maet seemed trapped yet again, the plans he and Danner had made bore fruit.
The nubba was a small mammal native to Selm, homeworld of the avian-descended Siv people, Admiral Maet's race. It filled the same ecological niche as Terran rabbits. In the generations since Contact and Membership, cultural references had cross-pollinated. When Solomon Danner had arrived aboard Yamato, Maet had hoped the famously lucky captain could pull another nubba out of his figurative hat for the Allied cause.
He pulled three.

Tozama Daiki had sought kessen, decisive battle. So had Maet and Danner.
Years ago at Ude, Danner had sworn a blood oath to KommandÝrkaptein Hans Nilsson, Executive Officer of the Asgardian villain-hunting battlecruiser Valkyrie, over the body of Nilsson's captain and Danner's friend, Lorraine Harroldsdottir, to call him for vengeance upon the people who had caused her death.
Now Valkyrie Transitioned on the attacker's flank at five thousand kilometers, vector matched, broadside unmasked... and surrounded by another third of the Asgardian Warhost. There had been agents of the Seven Axes in this group too, but they had been... found.
Kontreadmiral Nilsson transmitted, "In Odin's name! For your place in Valhalla! STRIKE DOWN THE WICKED!"

The attackers began firing on this new formation, with weapons not being used against the main Allied fleet. This drained their energies still further, prolonging the time before they could Transition. Still trapped in realspace until their Initiators could be recharged, they had no choice but to stay their course.
Kajima Juzo, the new Emperor of Space, watched from his command center within the worldship Itoku. Data was provided to him through Nakata-Chusa, collated and filtered for clarity and efficiency. There was little Kajima could do, no meaningful orders he could give. He could only trust in his own forces' numerical superiority, and the competence of the attack's commander, Taisho Hayashi Masao. Hayashi sent a brief message: "I can still take them-"
Maet wasn't idle. Allied dreadnoughts Yamato, Musashi, Alabama, Kirishima, Oregon, Monticello, Montana, New Texas, the Illyrian Queen Maria, Caledonia's Great Michael and Alba, Eyan's Je'Kra'Nor, Russia's Kirov and Nikolai, and a dozen more, presented broadsides and fired Marsten Guns from Class Fourteen to Twenty. Even the dreadnoughts of the Flike Empire, the Consolidation, and the Blood Rose began to come apart under these relentless lashes of energy. Some ships attempted to evade; they were spaced too widely to collide, necessarily from their arriving Transition, but they began to mask each other's outgoing fire, and even risked striking each other. Hayashi-Taisho and his staff desperately issued orders to resume formation, maintain fire, destroy the Allies' primary fleet-
Then another formation appeared, on Hayashi's opposite flank, at three megameters. It was seventy-one former ships of the Glautak Consolidation Navy, from frigates to dreadnoughts, all now with Jeffersonian transponder codes, and in their center was the light cruiser JRS Vengeance.
Within the Alliance fleet, ships of the Glautak Consolidation received a message of their own: "I am Brevet-Commodore Brttlb of the Jeffersonian Republic Navy! We come to avenge the Martyr Trllbl, and to follow the Republic's banner to FREEDOM!"

Brttlb was still viewed as an admiral by the crews and commanders of the rebel Glaut ships. Reports of Brttlb's actions at Rntggld and Sidonia had spread, and inspired further rebellion. His seventy-one ships, including eleven battleships, began pouring fire into the invaders' combined fleet. Now they were in a three-way crossfire...
...and they still couldn't Transition...
...and thirteen ships of the Glautak Consolidation, who had not yet been in position to fire on the Republic and her Allies...
...mutinied, changed their transponder codes, and began firing on their former comrades from within their own formation.
That was when Solomon Danner pulled the third nubba out of his hat.

Quencher and Restorer, two tankers of the rebel Free Glaut Armada, had followed Danner and Aurora from Rntggld to Sidonia to Oskran. In rotation, one mining comets to gather Helium-3 and process water-ice into hydrogen, while the other fueled ships until its tanks were empty, they had been in constant operation - earning awards for Battle Efficiency, Pentamvirate Unit Citations as official units of the Republic Navy, and every member of their crews accepted as Provisional Citizens.
In yet another distant part of the system, the vessels of Destroyer Squadron Twelve had been burning fuel to keep their Fields fully charged, so they could Transition on the shortest possible notice. Now, their navigation plotted by Sarah Heusner with the help of the living computer Aurora, they made a Short Transit, returning to realspace in formation, behind the enemy fleet, at one thousand kilometers, coasting like the enemy, but with broadsides exposed.
Aurora was in the center of her Squadron as beams of faster-than-light energy flashed between the formations... and then she began to sing.
It was an Asgardian battle-hymn in Old Norse, roaring defiance and glory and victory's unparalleled joy. "At last!" Aurora cried over her own song. "I claim my birthright! I fulfill my destiny! I AM A SHIP OF WAR!"

Ships in realspace can't just turn around and change direction. They could in hyperspace, as accessed by the Marsten Drive, but none of the five formations could do that for another minute at least.
The attacking fleet had been coasting at one percent of lightspeed, not bothering to burn fuel with their fusion torches. Now the new Glaut rebels burned hard to escape, pouring out countermeasures and making desperate evasive maneuvers, while also emptying their magazines of missiles and kinetic weapons.
The Alliance formation began to unravel. Flike ships, crewed by beings insulted by their treatment from the haughty Glautak, fired on any Glaut ship, whether they had rebelled or not. Consolidation ships returned fire against those of the Flike Empire. Ships of the Blood Rose held their formation and course, until getting caught in the crossfire between their allies.
The five formations passed through their closest approach, and with the loss of unity, the invaders' combined fleet was torn apart. Beam after superluminal beam smashed into Glaut and Flike and Blood Rose warships, opening hulls, spilling atmosphere, burning crew. Ships tumbled and spun out of control, breaking up from the strain.
Tozama Daiki's kessen had come at last. Kajima Juzo watched in horror, through data edited and forwarded by Nakata-Chusa, as his inherited Empire of Space began to die.
Then, he lost that vision as well.

Hours had passed as Kajima established control over the Blood Rose, and over the Flike and Glautak forces in the Oskran system. Those hours did not pass uneventfully on the surface of Oskran.
Nakata-Chusa also struggled to overcome shock, as did all the Hatamoto. Their entire universe had ended, the promise of wealth and mastery. Daisuke Taniyama had escaped because it had seemed pointless to stop him.
Then Nakata's devices repeated to him Copeland's oath and Kajima's claim. Turning to the assembled Hatamoto he saw hope rekindle in their eyes, and transmitted, "Nakata-Chusa and the Hatamoto swear fealty to Kajima Juzo, Emperor of Space!" Gesturing, he sent several of the bannermen to pursue Taniyama.

Takeo Nakayama had not abandoned the men who accompanied his former shipmate, Triumvir Nalat Yonn. Even with the flooding emotions of having found, and executed, his brother, he was still thinking, and planning, clearly... as he had the night of their last meeting.
He had seized the moments of the enemy's own shock to escape. He could not know they were even now reorganizing, but he could guess he would shortly be pursued.
His sister Aurora had provided him with at least partial plans for the ziggurat which hosted the duel.

His father's katana was an unfamiliar weight at his side. He had wielded it before, in training, but that had been a lifetime ago. It was lighter than the traditional longsword he had acquired during his travels. He could learn its balance quickly, but it was better to use a weapon known to him. A cord had been bundled with the scabbard; he unwound this to sling the weapon across his back.
The wakizashi had been a part of him since that night, an extension of his body and his will. The shorter blade would suffice for this evening's work.
As the Hatamoto descended to the surface to block the ziggurat's exits, Takeo turned inward, making his way through the massive structure only one level below the rooftop park and dueling ground. He had removed his wrist-'puter and pocketed it during the duel, lest its weight interfere with his movements. Now, with its communication circuits disabled to not give away his position, he put it back on and read from it the architectural plans Aurora had found in Arriod's city computers.
Stairs- there. Ventilation- here. Takeo was taller and larger than Old Nipponese stock, but still smaller and slimmer than European. The duct was clean; a small maintenance robot awakened at his approach, but it was designed for silence, to not disturb residents. He let it pass. Shinobi existed in the galaxy; Takeo was not one, but some of their arts had been part of his father's training, and others he had learned in the passing decades. He could move silently as well. Some Japanese swords rattled with loose fittings; not his father's wakizashi, nor, he found, the katana stolen by his brother.
There were many cameras in the ziggurat's rooftop park, not all under the control of or even known to the invaders. Before the Blood Rose gunship had arrived to bring him to his brother, Takeo had seen where Yonn's companions had been taken: to a storeroom behind one of the rooftop restaurants. This one included a bar, on which the Executive Guard's seized weapons had been piled.
Arriving at the storeroom's ceiling, Takeo quietly opened the vent and lowered himself to the floor. Major Harat Konj, commander of the Guard and of the detachment which had left the Redoubt with Yonn, recognized him and raised a hand to halt his fellows from attacking - even unarmed, the Lii Confederation's Executive Guard were deadly.
The prisoners had been out of touch, and now forgotten in the shock of the Emperor's death. They had not witnessed Tozama's final duel. Over the years of their association, Yonn had told Konj of his journey from Republic space, and of the people he traveled with. The major asked, "Are you here to fight the Emperor?" Then he saw Tozama's Mitsuhira sword, the same used to kill his Councilor, slung over Taniyama's back. His eyes widened. "You've... already...?"
Takeo nodded. "The Emperor is dead by my hand. His followers likely pursue where I am not." Takeo switched his wrist-'puter to thermoscope, and used it to look through the simple wood-panel construction of the storeroom, into the restaurant. Nine of the Hatamoto were visible, two in powersuits, one of those just outside the storeroom door, which was lightly built and had no lock. "This will be difficult," Takeo observed. "Not even the Mitsuhira can defeat their armor." Presuming it was of a similar composition to his brother Prrg's and sister Holly's.
Yack Torin grunted and sneered. "Them Blood Rose fellas... they ain't so smart." From within his rumpled farmer's clothes he produced a small pistol and a larger knife.
Others of the Guard produced blades, or single-shot hideout pistols disguised as pens or flashlights. Major Konj grinned, showing Human-like teeth, and revealed a compact hand-petard.

Nakata Kazuhiro was vital to the operations of the Blood Rose. His staff, some on the planet, some aboard Jimmu and the other worldships, some in closer orbit to forward Marsten transmissions from deeper space, constantly fed him information on the progress of the war, here at Oskran and across the galaxy. Already he had received a message of welcome from his new Emperor.
Relief and hope were his thoughts, along with vengeance against the man - Nihonjin, like himself! Or at least nikkei - who had slain his Emperor. How, he wondered, could a man of their own race not see Tozama's plan, not recognize his greatness?
Such were Nakata's thoughts as a voice came from the storeroom where the prisoners were held, inquiring, in American with a Lii accent, what was happening outside. Those people, Nakata was reminded. Perhaps they will suffice for vengeance, until the other is found. "Open the door," he ordered the armored guard.
The door opened outward, into the restaurant. The Hatamoto's station outside it would have prevented a rush exit.
The armored man obeyed, turned, opened the door, raised his arm with a mounted plasma rifle.
Major Konj's petard had been fixed to a broomstick with packing tape, all found in the storeroom. He had set it to detonate on contact, unknowingly approaching the reinvention of the lunge mine, a suicidal anti-tank device designed for the defense of mainland Japan against the conventional American invasion which never came. This one was fixed at an angle to its shaft, so the wielder would not be in the direct path of the backblast, though there was still risk of injury. All in the room had plugged their ears, covered themselves in servers' smocks, taken cover behind boxes and shelves, as best they could.
A small but effective jet of flame and molten metal pierced the Hatamoto's suit, killing him instantly.
As the armor toppled, a farmer, a bookkeeper, and the Executive Guard charged.

Torin may have looked like a simple farmer, but he was a senior non-commissioned army officer who had seen combat before, against raids from bandit gangs decades before Contact. Also, his little pistol had been an anniversary present from his departed wife. Every time he used it, it was like she was holding his hand again. He used it often enough to be good with it. He worked his targets, making five consecutive headshots before the enemy could move too far in reaction, emptying the compact weapon.
The knife had been a birthday present from his first grandson, who for all Torin knew was now in a Flike's belly. In a feat Prrg would have been proud of, he hurled it into Nakata Kazuhiro's right eye, with enough force to reach the brain.
The rest of the Guard swarmed the remaining two Hatamoto, their knives and hideout guns making short work of the unarmored one. Takeo had come up with a plan to disable the armored trooper:
A sack of ordinary baking flour from the storeroom.
The substance covered the armored suit's sensors. Of course the suit could see in many wavelengths, but in the fractions of a second its occupant would need to react and switch, members of the Guard had reached the bar, and their weapons, including more shaped-charge hand grenades.
Hatamoto were well-trained. Anyone who operated powered armor had to be. The occupant did change viewing modes, acquired targets, and opened fire with his plasma rifle. Three of his attackers came apart in grisly explosions of flash-heated fluids, before the petard on his armored back killed him.
Master Sergeant Torin and Major Konj had not been among the casualties, nor had the the man known as Daisuke Taniyama. The Alran of the Lii Confederation were much like Humans from the Republic; Konj collected dog tags from the fallen, while a corporal with the Guard quickly recited prayers for the dead. A lieutenant gathered Nakata's devices, while all the corpses, friend and foe, were stripped of useful equipment. Then the group began descending the ziggurat, on the lookout for the remaining Hatamoto and other enemy troops.
As though the gods were watching, the rain stopped, and the clouds drifted away from the city of Arriod. Stars could be seen, and among them, flashes of light from ships at war.

Nakata's reports, so clear and efficient, abruptly stopped. Kajima Juzo began to panic. "No, no," he wailed. "I cannot see!"
Kajima had sent more than three hundred ships, forty of them dreadnoughts. As the Imperial Combined Fleet streaked past the Allies' main formation, dozens were destroyed, and dozens more suffered crippling damage.
Glaut mutineers continued to fire as they burned to diverge, several of them falling to return fire. The Glautak/Flike Alliance turned on itself, Flike ships firing on all others, their targets responding in kind, accelerating the damage. The Free Glaut Armada on one side, Nilsson's portion of the Asgardian Warhost on the other, Destroyer Squadron Twelve in their rear and the Allies' own dreadnoughts in front, inflicted ever more wounds.
Of three hundred warships in the invaders' strike force, seventeen Transitioned to hyperspace. The rest coasted, tumbling and twisting and leaking, at one percent of lightspeed, on a course out of the Oskran system. Some began to explode, either from the damage they had received, or by self-destruction in the Flike way, never to be taken prisoner.
Continued in the next excerpt....
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