It was an Imperial month before the now-promoted Captain Major Major decided that his people had all that they were likely to get from the Soviets. Packing all the information and the analysis of that data into a tablet, he was ready for the Stagg meeting to decide what to do about the rest of the colonists.
The staff conference room was not as crowded, but it was still full. Elder sat at the head of the conference table and listened as the Captain Major gave a detailed briefing on the interrogations. He even showed some graphs extrapolating the data back into the history of the generation ship, whatever name it was to go by.
“So sir, in conclusion, I cannot prove that these people are aliens or are humans although the evidence leans towards the latter. If they are humans, then it is probable that the Soviets escaped from Earth in a generation ship about the time of the founding of the Federation, just before the discovery of the Jump Drive. That would explain the size of the ship and why it took so long for them to reach whatever colony they reached and probably kidnapped. From what indications still exist, this would have been during or just after the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification. There are several early colonies that were destroyed during that time; including several that the Federation planted as shipyards and or depots. With the information we have now, we cannot eliminate any possibilities among the destroyed colonies.
“If the are aliens, then all options are open. However, against the idea that these people are aliens, why do they speak Earth languages? The forms of Russian and English are what we might expect if the original languages were current about the time of the formation of the Federation or perhaps a century later in the case of the English language.
My cards are on these people being human and the result of a weird set of circumstances Captain.”
“Thank you Captain Major. Science, you are next.”
Lieutenant Lope stood, looked around and started his briefing. He focused on the scientific data that his people had gathered during the medical examinations and so forth. His briefing was more definitive than the Captain Major’s.
“So, I can state that these people, at least the Soviets, are human without doubt. The DNA is exactly what I would expect from an inbred population that started out from Earth about the time of the founding of the Federation. I have no information on the colonists yet, but I doubt that their DNA will be significantly different. The technology of the ship matches with the DNA findings. Early Federation or Late UN period. None of my people has found anything that indicates anything but human technology. I cannot explain the weird. I cannot explain the weird placement of the Jump Drive and Space Drive controls, but my guess is that the placement had some political purpose. My guess is that the colonists did not want the Soviets to learn anything about the Jump Drive. But, I could be wrong since I lack the necessary data. That is my report Captain.” The Lieutenant sat down.
Elder looked at the other staff, no one made a move to speak. “So, the interrogation and the medical exams strongly suggest that these people, at least the Soviets, are human and fled during the chaos that led to the founding of the Federation. Communications, send off a message torpedo to Section announcing that further information identifies this group of people as a Lost Colony, but with special circumstances. Include all of the information we have so that they can analyze it for themselves and understand why we came to that conclusion. The message torpedo that we sent a month ago, will it have reached its destination in time to stop anyone coming from Squadron Headquarters?”
“Yes sir. With all the changing of our opinion as to if these people are aliens or humans, I expect that any effort by Section Headquarters or any higher level of command will wait until we have something definitive. I would imagine that Senior Herald Parkin is sitting at either Section or Flotilla Headquarters waiting for us to say definitively that these are aliens before heading out. We may have wasted that message torpedo warning him not to come. However, we can swing around and pick it up later if need be. Message torpedoes are probably flying from Section all the way up to the Imperial Palace and anywhere in between Captain.”
“Very well. Get the message torpedo off Communications. Captain Major, what plans do you have to take the forward part of the ship?”
“Well Captain, we have every advantage that I know of. Our Combat Suits are proof against stunners, and the colonists probably will not use blasters or anything similar for fear of damaging the ship and even if they do, our Suits can take two hits in the same place before risking injury to the wearer unless they are using extremely high caliber weapons. Our stunners are slightly more powerful than theirs are, based upon what we learned from the Soviets, and combined with our Combat Suits, we can engage in combat with more security than they can. Our sensors can tell us where they are and while they know the layout of the ship better than we do, our sensors negate that advantage. I can use most of the battalion in the sweep, going from deck to deck and driving or capturing them until we have cleared the entire ship. Four days is my estimate for completion, just on the sheer size of the ship. Longer than it took with the Soviets but with them we were able to mix amongst them and capture masses of them whereas with the colonists, we are making an attack from outside their territory.”
“And where will you start this sweep Captain Major?”
“At the bottom, the deck furthest from the bridge. I want to take a lot of territory that they probably will abandon rather than fight for before it gets serious. I will have two companies guarding to prevent the colonists from sneaking around behind us from other decks and use seven to sweep . The last company is guarding the Soviets Captain.”
“That sounds good Captain Major, when will you start?” Elder knew better than to criticize the Captain Major’s plan, he was not a combat officer like the Marine but as Captain of the MACALPIN he needed to know.
“Captain, it will take a little time to get the remaining companies of my battalion here and set in place. I plan for two days from now.”
“Captain Major, remember that the colonists are descendants of people who from the Federation. They have never rebelled against nor fled the Empire or its predecessors. Prisoners rather than corpses are preferred.”
“Yes Captain, I understand. The orders to the troops are that this is a rescue operation. We are not crushing a rebellion. What is strange is that this is the first rescue operation I have ever heard of where the people being rescued are shooting back.”
“Yes, Captain Major, that does make it odd. You know what you are doing, get it done. Has anyone anything else? No? Dismissed.”
Elder checked out the training helmet situation while waiting for the Marines to secure the colony ship. Training helmets were nice, but they required a lot of computing power to operate. In addition, training helmets were great at installing facts but could not teach languages or other “soft” knowledges where interpretation was required. The planet below the colony ship would have to become the home for the colonists unless their original colony was unpopulated, a vain hope. Once there, Imperial bureaucrats would arrive to teach them how to be Imperial subjects.
In addition to these problems, there were nowhere near enough training helmets to do more than make a dent into the problem of training the new Imperial subjects. Training helmets are not portable and so each person that would use one would have to travel to the MACALPIN for training and return to the colony ship when they finished recovering. Elder was not sure he wanted people from the colony ship knowing just how few people were on his ship just yet, if ever.
Once the Captain Major had the exits blocked, he sent a small scouting party with orders to capture one or more of the colonists. AN hour later, he had five. One of the Marines who spoke English explained to the five colonists that the Federation that their ancestors had known no longer existed. He explained the Colonial Revolt and the War of Unification and the premise of the Empire. Once the colonists understood the basics of what had happened since the Soviets had kidnapped their ancestors, the Imperials released and sent them to start negotiations. Two days passed while waiting for an answer. None came.
The attack companies each sent their first five platoons through the bottom deck, a deck primarily of long-term storage spaces. There the sensors of the Marines found several colonists and a few guards. The guards quickly fell to the slightly longer range of the Imperial stunners, and even when the guards hit a Marine, the Combat Suit kept the hit from doing anything. The Marines finished that deck in just over an hour. The four stairs and three elevators had Marines placed to guard them, then the Marines who had been guarding the exits of the area simply joined with the sweeping platoons. The next deck was more of the same. It was on the third deck that the colonists were able to get the alarm out. One worker simply activated an intercom and shouted the single word “Attack” before falling to a stunner.
Given the generations upon generations of combat between the colonists and the Soviets, the Captain Major expected a swift response to the Marines intrusion. He was right. The colonists guarded the stairs to the next deck up and sent the elevators to the top deck and disabled; not that the Marines were going to use the elevators anyway since they had no control over them, so that didn’t bother them. The colonists did not stop the Marines for the next two decks. Combat Suits were just too good.