Chapter 22: Fourth Wave
Copyright© 2018 by Duncan7
Ship made it out past the nano-bots probes and deployed a dozen cloaked data port probes in roughly a grid pattern. As we were almost out of time, we turned right and moved a safe distance away from the area before cutting our engines. We were out in the open, but we were cloaked. It was a risk, but I was fairly confident that the foe vessels could not detect our presence. Also, the foe vessels were likely to arrive and proceed towards Baglogi-4. If our plans went awry we were out here behind the enemy and could come in and catch them from behind. Ship assured us everything was ready.
Within a few hours Ship alerted us to the arrival of three foe vessels just as before. Wave four was here, and it was time to see if the new data port probes would be successful.
“Koluna, we will try and capture them alive but we may have to fall back on the nano-bots. You can remain here to watch or we can let you know when it is over,” said Jem.
“I’ll stay this time,” replied Koluna. We sat and watched the tactical display as the three dots moved towards Baglogi-4.
“Attention, a communication was sent to foe vessels. Lead vessel has responded affirmative,” said Ship. Just like before they continued on course. They did not have their shields up, nor were they looking back in our direction. They were on course to rendezvous with the other foe vessels.
While cloaked the probes did not send out any signals that could give away their positions, but Ship knew where they were and could predict where they would go. As the vessels passed by, the closest three data port probes quietly drifted in and attached themselves to the vessels. We waited for what seemed like ages for a sign that our plan had worked or not.
Then the three vessels shut down their engines. Fortunately for them it was before they reached the nano-bots probes.
“Attention, communications from the data port probes report that all three vessels are now under our control. The crews have been informed that any attempt to restore control will lead to termination of life support,” said Ship.
“Ship, you may have to convince them you are serious,” I said.
“The good part is that the vessels are still functional,” said Jem.
“And we have complete remote control, using the data port probes as a proxy. It seems ironic, since that was what they did to the Baglogi in the past,” I said.
“It seems fitting. Ship, please power up their engines and move them to the far side of Baglogi-4,” said Jem.
“Confirmed,” said Ship. The three dots on the display moved again on their way out of sight.
“Ship, the crews will be OK?” asked Koluna.
“Confirmed,” said Ship, “full life support is operating. If they do not attempt to restore control they will survive.”
“Ship, find some footage of one of the previous waves, especially the explosive decompression part. Send it to the three vessels and put it up on their display. For their survival, we need to make sure they are convinced that we are serious,” I said.
“Confirmed,” said Ship. Koluna nodded at me.
“We have done all I can think of to not kill the crews. If they do something stupid to bring about their own deaths, that is their own fault,” I said.
Ship deployed some additional data port probes, and then we followed the three vessels on a course to the far side of Baglogi-4. The vessels had become prisoner transports.
“I was thinking,” I said, “If the foe had sent all 12 vessels at once, we would not have been able to survive their attack. Their strategy is flawed.”
“It could have worked,” replied Jem, “but your defence was superior.”
“If a single vessel had got past the nano-bots, we would not be here now,” I said.
“It nearly happened on the second wave of foe vessels. Your quick thinking got the probe to distract them and lure them back into the nano-bots.”
“Yes, that was scary. I was lucky there was a probe working on the derelict vessels,” I said. We have been very lucky so far.
“I was also thinking,” said Koluna.
“Yes?” asked Jem.
“Brian was numbering days, like wave one arrived on day four. We sent the message to the foe system on day eight. Now it is day ten, correct?” asked Koluna.
“That is correct,” I said.
“So I was thinking we could define a new calendar system. We could call it the New Baglogi Calendar or NBC. It reflects that this is once again Baglogi territory. I guess one year is a full rotation of Baglogi-4 around the star, and we need to work out how many months in a year. So we are day 10, month 1 of year 1 NBC. What do you think?” said Koluna.
“I like it,” smiled Jem, “Ship, please work out the months and create this new calendar. Update displays to show the date according to NBC.”
“Confirmed,” said Ship.
“So, on a different topic, the probe we launched on day six should arrive in the foe system today. Depending on how long it needs to gather data, it should return in another few days,” I said.
“Then we will know more about the foe,” said Jem.
“Have you thought more about what you plan to do then? Are you intending to go there?” asked Koluna.
“I don’t know yet,” said Jem.
“From a logistical point of view, an invasion is beyond our capability. It is taking all our creativity and effort to hold on to this system,” I said.
“I understand that now. At first I was upset and angry about what the foe did to my people. I wanted to make them pay. But we don’t have enough resources, and as Koluna has said, we would be as bad as they were,” Jem admitted. I was surprised.
“Jem, you told us how the Baglogi were a race of peacekeepers. I feel like we rushed into a situation where we are not headed for peace. What would your ancestors or your parents want you to do? As your new family, I really don’t want to go to war. If we were rescuing beings or even dealing with pirates, I am ok with that,” Koluna said.
“Captain, could we hold off on any decisions about going to the foe system until the probe returns with some intel? It should be in a few days. We can focus on defending this system until then,” I said.
“Agreed,” Jem replied.
Just then Ship interrupted, “Attention, the crew aboard a vessel tried to restore control, and would not respond to warnings. Explosive decompression has resulted in termination of the crew.”
“Crap! And this was unavoidable Ship?” I asked.
“Confirmed, they would not respond to warnings. If their attempt had been successful, their vessel could have destroyed us,” Ship replied. I suppose we still had their vessel intact.
“Ship, continue to monitor the other two crews carefully,” said Jem. We looked at the tactical display for a few minutes.
“What is our exit strategy?” I asked Jem.
“What do you mean?” Jem responded.
“If the probe returns with intel that makes it clear we cannot or should not go to the foe system, then what do we do? Do you intend us to remain in this system forever, or until the foe arrive in even larger numbers and finally destroy us?” I asked.
“Do you have a suggestion?” Jem asked me.
“Captain, we could complete the automated defences and then leave. We could go elsewhere and live a happy life doing peacekeeping missions. If another Baglogi vessel arrives here, the automated system could update them on what’s happened. It is unclear if there are any more remaining though,” I said.