Chapter 5: The Mathematics of Attrition……
22 May 2233
Fighter Command Building, Admiralty Complex, Sar Continent, Kryseth
The Admiral’s Aide De Camp, Lieutenant Marpap Po’ was not your typical Drengin: he only stood 6 foot tall for a start-very un-Drengin-like. He was also a thinker; turning weighty matters over and over in his mind before acting upon them: it drove his boss mad but he was highly attuned to the Admiral’s needs and thus was indispensable. He was also a Devout of The Secrets of The Way
and was able to provide some religious insights into the conduct of the tiny collection of Spacecraft, pilots and support staff that constituted the Krynn Consulate Star Navy.
As their entourage barged into the main situation room, Po’ hurried to relieve the Admiral of his Greatcoat (essential outdoor wear for a Kryseth summer and it’s sudden monsoons).
‘Where is Commander Miller?’ Tar barked in stentorian tones that had technicians and Junior Officers scurrying around in alarm: they hadn’t been warned of this visit (which was the idea, of course). A Human with Lieutenant’s bars on his shoulders approached, saluted smartly and stammered a greeting. Tar didn’t even look at the minion but turned to Po’ and growled
‘Get this human filth out of my sight Lieutenant-WHERE IS THE COMMANDER OF THIS BUILDING?’
Po’ ushered the stunned Lieutenant out of the way and then spotted Miller approaching from an upper level. Needless to say he looked harassed. Even as a Drengin Po’ could see that this particular human was exhausted and in need of a rest. Rest was not a commodity that any of them could afford right now, however-it had become evident that the Drengin (who made up about 40% of the fleet) were far better at absorbing the ravaging effects of days and nights without sleep than were the humans who populated the Navy in equal numbers.
‘Sir, apologies: I was going over the flight rosters upstairs. It-‘
‘Enough of excuses Miller-show me the sitmap!’ Po’ winced: he had told the Admiral time and time again that it was extremely bad form to address the more Senior Human Officers by their Surnames: not a problem in ancient Drengin culture (some parts of which The 1st Consul had decreed it alright to adhere to) but a definite no-no for the touchy and over-sensitive humans.
‘Yes Admiral Tar-please gather round’ this said stiffly by Miller
‘As you see gentleman we have almost completed our Scout Screen roughly along the line of the 00-19.5 Sectorling. The one straggler is the Mystery of The Way
-indicated after it’s Bait action with a pair of Yor Heavy Fighters.’
All were intently observing the Sitmap. Miller was warming to his theme:
‘Admiral you will also note that at this time there are no Yor Fighters to be seen. Whether this is a lull or a cessation of hostilities in our area it is hard to tell.’
Tar fixed a blood-red eye on his human subordinate-it was not kind. ‘How many Flights have you got left Miller?’ He rasped
Miller didn’t hesitate ‘Sir we need more fighters and we need more experienced pilots. The truth-well the truth is that even though our Flights are winning every engagement we are throwing in 5 of our fighters against 2 of theirs and we usually lose at least half that’
‘How many left Commander I said!’ Growled Tar banging his fist down on top of the Sitmap ‘A simple question deserves a simple answer no?’
‘Sir we have barely a Squadron-3 and a bit Flights-that’s it….’ His voice trailed off.
All were doing the calculations: at this rate all the Yor need do was throw up 3 more Heavy Fighter patrols and they were defenceless: the Recession that had hit barely a few months previously had come on the back of the Krynn leadership pawning away their reserves of cash to bring first the Iconian Refuge and then the Terran Alliance into the war on their side. It had cost more than 8000BC. More reserves had bled away forging alliances with the Altarians and the distant Thalans but it was the Terrans with their powerful fleet that the Krynn had set up in their minds and hearts as their more prosaic saviours. And then, with the reserves empty but the economy still growing slightly the galactic recession had struck and the Treasury was soon in serious deficit resulting in the shutting down of all research and production on every planet. It had prompted widespread soul-searching. People were asking how could The Way
have deserted them like this? Were they not the Galaxy’s chosen? It had taken a special pan-colony sermon by Misala to remind the faithful that though their Fighters were small in number so far they had taken everything the robots had thrown at them and returned it with interest.
This might work with the credulous masses, Po’ was thinking but it had certainly cut no ice with the professional Officer Corps of the Star Navy-they knew that this was a numbers game-and they were losing it.
The Admiral hauled his bulk away from the Sitmap and stared about the massive chamber taking in the frightened looks and the air of defeat.
‘You are all afraid! You fear what is coming?’ he bellowed and then he smiled. ‘And so you should sailors and so you should. Fear will keep you sharp-like the Drengin blade huh?’ He returned to the Officers around the sitmap and this time addressed his ADC:
‘Lieutenant where is our Flagship-where is KCS Divine Zeal
Po’ looked bemused ‘She is in sector 01-13 deep in Yor Space, Admiral, hunting around for anomalies on your orders-do you want her reassigned?’
‘Certainly not Lieutenant-HEAR ME FIGHTER COMMAND! OUR FlAGSHIP-THE DIVINE ZEAL
IS OUR SALVATION AND OUR DELIVERANCE! Have faith and The Way
will become clear! Keep the faith!’ And with these words the Great Admiral nodded to Commander Miller, turned swiftly and was on his way-his ADC and entourage hastening to keep up.
The Drengin’s address heartened the crews in the Command Building but none heard the Admiral whisper to the smaller Drengin as they left ‘and if that ship doesn’t find something worth selling soon Po’ we are all sunk’………