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Beam Down to Devastation

Posted on Mon Mar 15th, 2021 @ 8:36pm by Commander John Collins

Mission: On the Verge
Location: Emergency Operations Center, Colonial Government HQ, New Athens, Sokratis Colony
Timeline: MD 03, 1245

As John Collins materialized outside the Sokratis colony’s “Government House”, he looked around discreetly, taking in the scene before him. Beyond the militia members and cops on the streets, they were deserted, which might be explained by how the power was very visibly out, and the buildings nearby were largely in ruins.

Government House itself was intact, but that could be deceiving, the former intelligence officer knew; while United Earth insisted that colony government headquarters buildings be reinforced precisely in case of external attack, and there would be a bunker underneath for extra protection, it didn’t mean the reinforcement was perfect.

With that in mind, he stepped up to the nearest militia member. A brief conversation led to a comms call, which soon enough had the Starfleet officer led to the bunker entrance, where he was quickly admitted.

The bunker was, for all it was chaotic, controlled chaos. A quick look to the soldier at the entrance controls followed, then.

“Corporal, would you be able to locate Governor Jennings for me? I’m Commander Collins, XO for the Solaria, and I’m due to report in to him,” Collins asked.

“Yes sir. He’s in the ops center; end of the hallway and to your left, present your credentials to the door guard.”

Collins went where directed, then, and when the door opened he saw something reassuring: The EOC wasn’t chaotic. It was calm, a well-oiled machine by all appearances. He stood at the door until the governor’s attention was free, at which point he approached.

“Governor Jennings? Commander John Collins, Solaria’s XO. We spoke over text comms, I believe,” he introduced, to the governor’s nod.

“Bryan Jennings. Yes, Commander, we did; good to put a face to the name. If you’ll give us a few minutes, my militia commander Lieutenant Colonel Watson, and our police commander, Chief Dunwoody, will be joining us. Before we get started, though: You mentioned that they might not like your arrival. Why is that? My training with the UE Ministry of Colonization didn’t exactly cover civil-military relations in detail, something I will be demanding they correct when we’re in blue sky ops again.”

“Well met, sir. The reason your police chief and militia commander might be grumpy is because with Solaria’s arrival, more precisely with my beam down, the relevant Federation and Starfleet regulations for a declared state of emergency following enemy attack mean that, while I report to you operationally, they report to me with regards to all operational matters. It’s not quite martial law specifically, but it is a unification of chains of command. Where previously they had reported directly to you, now they report to me in my role as the Officer Commanding Starfleet Forces, and I delegate to them such authority and personnel as needed to accomplish the mission. This will last for a few weeks; at least until the Solaria is relieved by follow-on forces as may be required, which will probably take up to 3 or 4 weeks.”

“3 or 4 weeks? Yikes.”

“Not great, Governor, but believe me, with how thinly-stretched Starfleet is right now, it could be a lot worse.”

“I know that intellectually, but still.” Jennings let the sentence hang, which Collins understood. It unnerved colonists rather more than they’d admit to have Starfleet boots on the ground en masse, and even though he was appointed governor from the beginning of colonization six months prior and for another 3 and a half years, his successors would be elected, and even he had to pay heed to popular opinion. “I suppose it’s fortunate that, technically, the Legislative Council is suspended at the moment. They would probably be unnerved that more than an initial response will take a month to arrive.”

“Very true, and I can’t blame them,” Collins replied sympathetically. “We have a hospital ship en route, and the Federation Merchant Marine is sending a freighter full of supplies, both scheduled to arrive within 48 hours at the latest, but further *combat* forces will take a while to arrive.”

At that point, a woman in a United Earth Defense Forces combat uniform approached. She looked to be around 40; a human who, while still in decent shape, looked very, very tired. Which probably explained the coffee cup in her hand, actually a travel cup that looked like it held at least a pint.

“Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jocelyn Watson of the UEDF Ground Forces; she’s commanding officer of the militia and the small staff of full-time UEDF personnel in key roles in their units. Colonel, this is Commander John Collins, XO of the Solaria; as of when he beamed down, he is by Federation and Starfleet regulations the senior commissioned officer, and will be your and Chief Dunwoody’s operational commander until he is relieved by follow-on forces or until Starfleet orders them to stand down. Additionally, he commands the Solaria personnel deployed to the planet.” The UEDF officer and Collins didn’t exchange salutes, but nodded at each other after a few seconds where the UEDF officer seemed to be sizing up Collins. That was about when a human male wearing a navy blue uniform approached, looking like he’d normally be in great shape, if it weren’t for the sleeplessness that had brought massive fatigue to his facial expression and stance.

The Governor introduced him as Inspector James Dunwoody of the United Earth Colonial Police, the police chief for the colony, then. Handshakes were exchanged, before Collins spoke. “Let’s sit down, let me get a cup of coffee myself, and I’ll explain exactly what my arrival means before you both brief me as to the status of your organizations.”

The coffee was quickly retrieved, and so Collins explained: Nominally, he was now in operational command of all “uniformed and disciplined” personnel on the planet, reporting only to the governor and the Solaria’s CO (and through her to Starfleet Command). However?

“As a practical matter, I will delegate tactical control to you both, and will endeavor to follow your leads as to strategic matters. Where there is a disagreement between you both, then I will have the final call as to how to advise Governor Jennings. Security personnel from the Solaria will be attached to Chief Dunwoody’s command structure, while personnel assigned to focus on reinforcing defenses and restoring infrastructure and services will generally report alongside Colonel Watson’s staff officers,” Collins explained. “Right now, while everything is getting established down here in terms of our presence, we’re establishing a forward operating base to support Starfleet personnel and your personnel, situated a kilometer outside city limits to the west. It won’t be a massive base, nor will it be luxurious, but it’ll provide the storage and services we need for efficient operations, especially once Solaria leaves orbit to take up a defensive patrol.”

Lieutenant Colonel Watson looked as though she was running numbers in her head. “How long do your people estimate it’ll take for the FOB to be up and running, sir?” she asked.

“Another 3 hours. We’re using the buildings-in-a-box the Marines use to set up temporary bases, and all we really need to do is lay them out according to the standard arrangement, let them self-construct, install needed equipment and utilities connections, and put up perimeter fencing. Even most of that is automated,” Collins noted. “I’ll notify you both when it’s ready to go, and I will encourage you to use us to rotate your people off the line for at least 8 hours sleep.”

That got nods. “That introductory stuff explained, let me know the situation. What’s damage like? Where are the pressing needs?”

The three colonial officials had expected those two questions, and the Governor took over. “Basically the entirety of this city, New Athens, is destroyed in terms of structures. That’s 50,000 people homeless. The power grid throughout the city, and the transmission lines to outlying settlements, are destroyed, either from direct enemy attack or cascading failures. Water is out because power is out, same with replicators. Comms links between the settlements are present, but we don’t have replacement comsats up for the ones the Tzenkethi destroyed. Subspace relay is destroyed, as are facilities needed for the spaceport to conduct launches and landings,” he began, handing off to the police chief.

“We broke out the emergency supply caches after the attack, which gives us 5 days of food and water, but that goes quicker than you’d think. Medical supplies are near exhaustion except for basic wound care supplies. Popular feeling is restless, no rioting or looting yet but it’s a close run thing sometimes.”

Colonel Watson finished up. “We ordinarily have a small air detachment manned by aerospace corps reservists; The pilots are all fine, same with the ground crews, but the aircraft were destroyed on the ground in the attack. We’ve completed search and rescue operations, as regards both civilians and government personnel, however.”

Collins nodded, taking notes as he listened. “Comsats are easy. I seem to recall Solaria, like most of our larger ships, keeps a supply of satellites that can be programmed for comms use easily. I’ll get that up to Solaria, hopefully we can get basic coverage by observation and comsats within 12 hours. Once we have that done, we can do a fuller needs assessment on all fronts. So far as food, water, and medical supplies, we’ll have shuttles running continuously to bring down cargo, aided by our cargo transporters. I think we might need to ration until the freighter gets here, but they’ll be generous rations.

“Power and Water, I will have our Engineering and Operations teams contact those colonial officials who are overseeing those efforts. Otherwise, we can help with debris removal and infrastructure repairs, but fully replacing housing stock in particular takes skills we don’t have.

If there’s nothing else?”

There was not, so the group dispersed. A few minutes later, Collins was sitting with Governor Jennings.

“Question, Commander. I’m appointed, not elected. I’ve been hesitant to broadcast as a result. Some of my staff are being really pushy on it, though. Can you give any advice?” The governor asked. “I read your file, I know you come from a certain level of experience with restless places.”

Collins smiled. “You might say that.” Then he got serious. “My advice would be: Get rested, get cleaned up, then yes. Broadcasts, getting out and among the people, seeing how they’re living and what their concerns are? Those are requirements if you’re to maintain popular support for reconstruction. You might be a civil servant, not a politician. Right now, nobody cares. You’re their leader, and they really need you to reassure them and get them pointed in the right direction. The more they see you’re there, with them, running the colony but also seeing what they’re doing to recover, the more they’re reassured.”

Jennings nodded. “I’ll get to a staffer to work on a speech then.”
***
Orders Summary
Security: You’ll be deployed alongside UE Colonial Police, backing them up and taking over patrols while they rest and recover from the attack and the response to it.
Operations and Engineering: First task is restoring the main subspace transmitter array, plus rebuilding the power grid. After that comes restoring the water system and replicators.
Medical: You’ll be covering shifts at the fortunately undamaged hospital in New Athens, caring for a lot of ICU and trauma patients. They didn’t lose any staff, but the ones they have have been on duty for 96 hours continuously.
Counseling: A little like Medical. You’ll also be helping the Governor design media messages and PR campaigns to help sustain popular support in the reconstruction effort.
Intel: You’ll be working your sources to gather intel on Tzenkethi intentions; You’ll also be helping counseling with those PR campaigns, since the same skillsets used to topple governments also happen to be handy in keeping them from collapsing.

Any questions, talk to me or the CO.

 

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