“This is a time to come together,
but coming together is much harder
when we have dishonest journalists,”
—Donald Trump, March 20, 2020, Press Conference
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
[Continued from Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Parts Nine, Ten, & Eleven, part Twelve, part Thirteen, part Fourteen, part Fifteen, part Sixteen &Seventeen, Title and Art Contest, part Eighteen, part Nineteen, part Twenty, part Twenty-one, part Twenty-two, part Twenty-three, part Twenty-four]
"But whether the Constitution really be one
thing, or another, this much is certain—that it has either authorised such
a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In
either case, it is unfit to exist."
—Lysander Spooner, No Treason
Sky Angels Niner and Ten
Sandra "Sandy" Hastings keyed her mic button. "Sky Angel Niner to Angels Control. We have visual on Battle Station Four. Targetting complete. Sky Angels Niner and Ten will commence simultaneous attacks in five seconds."
Carlos Perez keyed his mic. "Angels Control acknowledging Niner Ten."
Carlos looked at his overview map for the situation. Five of the teams assigned to the international space station were matching orbits with it now. Battle Stations Two and Three had already been disabled. Like Battle Station Four they were fully automated. In each case, the automated stations were overwhelmed by simultaneous attacks from two Sky Angel teams.
Meanwhile in orbit, Sky Angels Niner and Ten commenced firing. Electromagnetic mass drivers accelerated many hundreds of tiny slivers to thousands of feet per second. Automated systems in each space vehicle executed controlled burns of thrusters and engines to keep them in matching orbits. Rocket powered missiles were also deployed, again automatically. These made for a negligible change in orbital dynamics for their mother ships since they detached before firing their rocket engines.
Targetting systems focused the attacks on power systems. The key vulnerability in these battle stations was their solar power panels, which provided energy to the sundry weapons systems, targetting computer, guidance, control, and propulsion subsystems. Knocking out their solar panels put them on battery power.
On her control screen, a red attention light flashed. The screen immediately brought up a pop-up window to show a damage control report. The battle station had fired back with a missile, and Sky Angel Niner’s defence systems had automatically targeted it with slivers from the mass driver. However, shrapnel continued on the original trajectory more or less. Owing to the large number of missiles being used to return fire, there was considerable shifting in the exact position of each Sky Angel craft. Unfortunately, not every incoming object could be missed - shifting to avoid shrapnel from one object brought Niner into contact with shrapnel from another.
Almost immediately, the red light cleared to yellow as automated systems recovered from the impact, deployed secondary systems, and alerted Sandy’s crew for specific repairs. The affected systems were non-critical, so the repairs could wait.
After three minutes, Battle Station Four had lost power and expended all its defensive capability. Now the salvage operation began. Every system that could be removed would be. Sandy signalled for deployment of extra vehicular activity teams from both Niner and Ten to complete these tasks. By the time the rebellion’s own space station was in orbit, they would have a small treasure trove to bring in, including a considerable supply of propellants.
Carlos spoke, "Niner please leave salvage to Ten. Due to the destruction of Sky Angel Seven, I’ve reassigned Eight to reconnoitre that new battle station. I need your team there as well."
Sandy said, "What about Battle Station Five?"
Carlos said, "Angels Fourteen and Fifteen are re-tasked with that assignment. It’s a man-tended station, so we need a coordinated effort. This new station did not match the ballistic coefficient and other characteristics of either sort of battle station, which is why it was marked unknown after it launched two days ago. Whatever it is, it is very dense, and very massive. We need to know more about it before we engage it."
Sandy said, "Roger, control, we copy. Will comply. Send us our new orbital parameters, please."
The last of the five teams assigned with Juan to the capture of the International Space Station completed their rendezvous. Immediately that their arrival was announced with a green light on the command screens of all the team leaders, space walkers were deployed.
Using a cold gas system built into their suit systems, the space walkers went to the Utility Transfer Assembly units connecting the solar arrays to the space station electrical system. Power flows were interrupted. Doing so put the space station on its batteries, which were used to the load, given that about 35 minutes of every 90 minute orbit was spent in eclipse. Nevertheless, losing power was a significant issue for the space station teams.
Meanwhile, Ann Branson manoeuvred Sky Angel Nineteen to dock with the space station. In this matter, her team was assisted by a rebel alliance "mole" who was already aboard the station. American astronaut Candace Bankerson had completed two tasks as soon as she had received word of the Sky Angel launches.
First, Candace had drugged the space station commander with a benzo-laced beverage. He would be sleeping for the next three hours. Second, she had disabled communications with the ground by disconnecting antenna systems in different locations within the complex of modules. Doing so had reduced coordination with the outlying man-tended battle stations, and also interrupted communications with ground-based teams.
Now, Candace was at the docking module to provide entry to Ann’s team. Minutes later, Ann, Caroline Stephens, and Thomas Kelly joined her in the docking module. They began securing critical locations within the space station.
Due to the high level of activity in North America that day, with all the militias actively penetrating and opening slave camps on the coasts and elsewhere, all the man-tended battle stations were presently crewed. That fact reduced the crew complement aboard the international space station from six to three.
Candace, by drugging commander Oleg Leonov and being herself on the side of the rebellion, had reduced the "loyal" crew complement to one Toyohiro Akira. He was working in the Japanese Experiment Module when Ann and Carolyn entered with their sidearms drawn.
A few minutes later Candace was zip tying his wrists and ankles.
Toyo asked, "What is this? What’s going on, Candace? "
Candace smiled. "A change in management. For too many years, this space station has been used to suppress individual liberty on Earth. We’ll be changing all that now."
"What about my experiments? I can’t believe this! " Toyo exclaimed.
Again Candace smiled. "Please allow me to introduce Thomas Kelly," she said, as Thomas entered the module. "After I get you secured to the floor, he’ll take your instructions and keep your experiments going. It’s that or we can let you sleep through the next three hours."
Toyo stopped struggling. Four to one odds, with his wrists and ankles secured, were too much for him. He made one further half-hearted effort.
"Does Commander Oleg know about these events?" he asked.
Now Candace grinned widely. "No, he doesn’t. He is sound asleep, zip tied, and secured in his sleep restraint. But we’ll be sure to brief him when he awakens."
During this discussion, as soon as she was confident Toyo had been secured, Ann had returned to Sky Angel Nineteen to signal the other teams. The space walkers restored power from the solar arrays.
Gil Dartmouth was furious. His friends aboard Sky Angel Seven were dead.
Their teams had trained together because their primary target had been Battle Station Five. One of the man-tended battle stations, it was regarded as a critical target, and that had been re-assigned to Sky Angels Fourteen and Fifteen.
His own team aboard Sky Angel Eight were no longer going to their primary target. His protests had been heard and disregarded, as he felt. Grudgingly, he could see that it made sense to have two teams that had trained together work to capture the man-tended battle station. But Gil was still angry about the unknown satellite proving to be a battle station and killing his friends.
Sandy keyed her microphone. "Gil, I understand your anguish. Troy, Doug, and Jack deserved better. I’m sorry they were killed. But we cannot go in guns blazing without having more information. We’re the only teams available for this reconnaissance. If we’re wiped out, heaven forfend, things go from bad to worse."
Aboard Sky Angel Eight, Jerald Svenson spoke up. " She’s right, Gil. We all want revenge. But our first duty is to survive. The information we get from this look-see is mission critical. You remember what you said to me last Christmas? Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Gil turned his head sharply to the right hand seat where Jer was sitting. He closed his eyes momentarily, remembering the Christmas party. He nodded, then opened his eyes, and let out a long breath.
"Okay," Gil said. Then he keyed his microphone and said, "Okay, Sandy, I get it. We’ll follow your lead, okay?"
Sandy was much relieved to hear that Gil was calmer. She said, "Thanks, Gil. Let’s get our cameras on that new bogey, shall we? "
Monitoring their conversation from Angels Control, Carlos nodded and smiled. Things were progressing well. Battle Station One had proven to be in the midst of a servicing operation, with the astronaut tending it on Extra Vehicular Activity. Sky Angels One and Two had quickly taken her captive and taken control of their target. It was now re-designated Rebel Station One.
Since it was completely undamaged, it was now under control of the rebellion. That could prove to be important. Sky Angel Two was leaving one of their crew members to tend it, finish the servicing activities, and free up a berth for the captured astronaut who would be ferried back to the newly designated Rebel Space Station Two.
The thought of having a second space station in their control brought a smile to Carlos’s face. He was looking forward to Thursday when their team in Equatorial Africa would launch their primary space station.
Suddenly the main screen at the front of the Angels Control room switched to show a close-up view of a very strange object. The object they were designating Battle Station Seven could now be seen.
Sandy spoke, "Angels Control, we have the visual. You can see there are no solar panels. That doesn’t look like a normal radio isotope thermal electric generator, either. I think we’re looking at a nuclear reactor. Also, in addition to its sky rods, this thing has rail guns for defence. If I’m not mistaken, those are multiple independent re-entry vehicles. Looks like six of them. If those are nuclear warheads, we just levelled up."
Carlos pondered the news. "Copy you Niner. Get us some x-ray imagery, please. We need to know what’s hot and what’s not. Over."
The orbital conflict, which had looked well in hand, was now completely different. Even with all the other battle stations and the international space station under rebel control, this one new enemy battle station was big trouble. It had long term energy without solar panels, so it would be potentially difficult to disable. It had much more effective defence systems than the other battle stations. Worst of all, it had MIRV warheads, and whatever they were, could potentially be deployed against either space or ground targets.
It was time for a strategy session.
[End part twenty-five, continues in part twenty-six]
Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, actor, and director. He is the cfo of KanehCN3.com and the vision director of HoustonSpaceSociety.net You can find him on Twitter.com/planetaryjim as well as Pocket.app and Flote.app also as planetaryjim. He appreciates any support you can provide as times are very difficult. See the Paypal link on this page, or Flote.app for crypto options. Or email your humble author to offer other choices. Please visit Kaneh’s IndieGoGo and please help him get to Paradox Colorado with a small gift if you are able.
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