The Krogg home system felt empty as Earth’s Naval ship Formidable floated silently over its red planet. Aboard that ship, Vice Admiral Chronos Claw released a long, deep sigh as the numbers scrolled across his screen again.
Omega seemed to be everywhere: he had Freetown on its knees, Earth’s defenses off balance, and the population of Genesis absorbed…
It seemed likely to Chronos that Krogg ‘A’ would be one of his next targets, and that, of course, was not good news.
The Earther squadron in Krogg space was composed of thirty-two ships, sixteen of them being ships of the line, and only half of those the massively powerful Venerable-class ships. That force had long been thought sufficient to control the Kroggs, but against Omega, it seemed terribly inadequate.
Somehow Chronos had to protect this system with those ships, because the Kroggs themselves were entirely disarmed. The living ships that had once formed the mighty Krogg Navy had been set free, and were now scattered throughout nearby space living as pack animals. The Krogg soldiers who’d once numbered in the millions were now living non-military lives, with only a handful serving as part of a small ‘security force’. Disarmament had been a condition of peace forty years ago, because back then, the Kroggs couldn’t be trusted.
These days, Chronos did trust his former enemies, but given the current climate, allowing them to rearm was simply too much of a risk. While Chronos’ instincts told him the aliens were friendly, Omega had proved that instincts could be fooled. The Kroggs would have to be passive during the fight for their world, lest they return to their old ways.
So the defense would fall to the Earthers. And it would not be easy.
Omega had ships in the Larosian galaxy, giving him access to abandoned Larosian vessels that he could seize and add to his fleet. He could also attack Krogg ‘A’ from the flank, through the hyperspace corridor. And he could have a massive fleet in Genesis space, that could come this way through Gibraltar. Protecting against either one would leave the planet open to defeat from the other, so the only defense against both was to move everything here, and fight both when they converged.
Chronos shook his head silently at that thought. Once Gibraltar was abandoned, all the strength from that base would move to this system. That meant four squadrons of older Chimera-class ships of the line under Chronos’ friend Fox Magnus, and two more squadrons of Venerables under Lang Sandpelt. A sizable infusion of strength, but enough?
Those numbers would be combined with all the packed ships – disassembled vessels that had fought the Krogg War and been stored in case they were ever needed again – that Fox had hauled out with him. Those would have to be assembled once they reached Krogg ‘A’, but they would pad the defense force’s numbers.
The Gibraltar stations would be moved out here as well, and together with all that mobile firepower, perhaps it would be enough to keep Krogg ‘A’ free of the plague.
But what if Omega hit with the same sort of tactics that he’d used against Earth… there’d be no stopping him with so few ships…
Chronos blinked at the noise and shifted his mind out of its pondering. He was sitting in the main briefing room in Formidable, and his guest was noticing his preoccupation…
Turning away from the holo screens he’d been studying, Chronos nodded to the second figure in the room, “Sorry Krag, lost in thought.”
Peacelord Kragran tilted his shiny, black alien head and smiled with some understanding, “Circumstances do seem to warrant deep thoughts, Chronos. I understand.”
Kragran, of course, was a Peacelord of the ‘reformed’ Krogg people, and his race’s official liaison to Chronos. Without their Queen to guide them, the Kroggs had begun to mimic the Earthers – as victors over the Queen in the last war, the Earthers were considered the strongest and most appropriate examples for the Krogg race to emulate.
But now, Kragran noticed with some interest, the Earthers were facing defeat on a scale previously unimagined… which, from the Krogg perspective, was a definite opportunity. There was a new force in the cosmos, one from whom they could learn…
“Thanks,” Chronos interrupted Kragran’s musings as he turned to the Krogg. “Anyway, the reason I brought you up was to show you what we have in mind for our defenses. We’re pretty sure that Omega will be coming after your planet… all your biomatter pools in particular… so First Space Lord Magnus is bringing a strong reinforcement force from Earth, and Admiral Jardaw is going to move the Gibraltar facilities here. It should become a powerful position.”
Kragran’s head tilted as he considered that statement. The Omega plague had already used a small sample of Krogg biomatter (provided to him by the Larosians in a misguided attempt to kill him) to augment both Larosians and humans, turning them into warriors. It was thus likely that the disease would seek to control Krogg ‘A’ itself, and the raw supplies of biomatter that lay in great breeding pools on the planet’s surface.
The Kroggs themselves were safe – Krag’s scientists had confirmed with the Earthers that the immune systems in living Kroggs could resist the plague – but raw or embryonic biomatter, of which there was so much on Krogg ‘A’, would provide Omega with unparalleled abilities to upgrade and design.
Decades before, the Queen had relied on those great lakes of biomatter to fashion her armies. Omega would wish to do the same…
Of course, the Earthers would not allow this, and Krag certainly would not. The future of the Krogg people as a power in this galaxy was not going to be turned over to another maniacal leader with poor reasoning. No, the Kroggs had learned much from the Earthers: when they next reached out of their home system, it would be with much more wisdom.
Thanks to the Earthers, we will exceed the Queen’s understanding of power…
“Did you get the scans of Omega biological characteristics I sent down?” again Chronos interrupted Kragran’s thoughts, but without pause the Peacelord offered an even nod.
“We believe our natural defenses make us immune to infection. Remember, my friend, that it is because of the natural defenses of Krogg immune systems that your drugs cannot simply crush Omega… the same defenses will be too much for him to overcome in our bodies. But should Omega gain a foothold it is still possible that he can use our raw, defenseless bio material, as he did in his infection of the Larosian Natosh and the Genesis humans. I imagine that is his goal…” Kragran spoke the words without the hiss that, forty years earlier, would have tainted all his verbal communications.
Chronos was already nodding, “Indeed. Now, we’ll be setting up a strong perimeter out here. I’ll need your security forces watching the planet and ready to respond in case of a landing. Is that possible?”
Kragran straightened slightly, wondering for a moment if Chronos was asking for Krogg military aid – a request that would have saved much of the secrecy behind which his military leaders were even now shrouding their rearmament efforts.
He decided to test his counterpart with the question, “If you need our support, I shall call forth the legions of old, Chronos. We may rejoin our ships, make ready our warriors.”
Staring at Krag in surprise, Chronos said nothing. The Peacelord had somehow seemed eager to make that offer… but no, the cat didn’t get a sense the Krogg leader had anything sinister in mind. He was probably just eager to help, which was awfully good of him.
“Sorry, Krag, but it’s not your time to get back into the fight yet. I’ll send down the Fourth Division from my squadron, and I know when Lang arrives here he’ll have the rest of Third Division with him. That’s 20,000 Earther marines we can put around the biomatter pools. And we’ll handle orbital defense ourselves.”
Kragran understood Chronos’ caution, and was quite alright with the Earther’s reluctance. It was perhaps very apt of them, as Kragran knew what his planners and military leaders were telling him at every secret meeting: the new Krogg Fleet, with its mighty Hyper Motherships and its newly-evolved philosophies and tactics, were easily equal to the might of the Earther Navy. Some dared suggest the Kroggs might even exceed their teachers, though Krag himself was not so optimistic… yet.
A bright future for the Krogg military, and the Earthers did not – and could not – be allowed to realize it was coming.
But with Omega on the way, Krag was beginning to see that the moment to reveal the new power of the Kroggs was close at hand. The arrival of the plague would undoubtedly overwhelm the weak Earther position here, and thus give the Kroggs their chance to step out from beneath the Earthers’ guidance. With Krag and his Peacelords at their head, they would reclaim and redefine the greatness the Queen had once sought, but had failed to find…
Kragran blinked his one eye in surprise – he’d become lost in thought yet again.
“We would be glad to host your divisions. I will consult with my Peacelords and we will begin deployment. You’ll keep me informed as word comes in about Omega’s successes?”
Claw cocked an eyebrow at the last part of Kragran’s question, “I hope he won’t have any more successes, my friend.”
Kragran paused, then offered a Larosian-style bow-nod, “True. Very well, I’ll return to the planet.”
Chronos came to his feet, “Have a good flight. I’ll get hold of someone in the marines to talk to you once we get things settled.”
Kragran nodded again, then turned and left Formidable’s briefing room.
As he traveled the Venerable-class ship’s long corridors on his way back to the flight deck, the Peacelord decided that he would soon again be a Warlord. The Earthers would learn just what sort of fighters they’d helped create – all that was needed now was time, and the arrival of Omega.