07 April, 2011

[SFAP] Chapter 2:9

This is the ninth section of the second chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.


“You’re second generation since the exodus aren’t you?” asked Gwen
“Yes, my parents refused to abandon Earth”
“I still think the Habitat did a good job persuading most humans to sod off.” At Malka’s reaction to this Gwen continued “Humans were doing terrible damage to the Earth even after trying for over a century not to. Well some of them anyway, the point was there were too many people for one planet and now there aren’t. Will you let me continue?”
“Sorry Sir”
“Well anyway it sounds like your upbringing will have tainted your opinions on this but let’s just say that when evidence of alien life like that turns up on your doorstep. When alien life not only turns up just out of reach but practically begs humans to come visit, to come live there, how do you think the military reacted?”
“Fear, posturing, attacks?”
“Pretty much. Some wanted to nuke it, some wanted to set up bases there, pretty much everyone wanted more investment right at the time most of the workforce was leaving in droves. Economies collapsed, and yet here we were. All the time until then the biggest threat to any of these generals had been other generals in their country or even if they were overrun from abroad at least it was humans who were overrunning. Not that it mattered at the time, but the realisation that if we were invaded they would have no use for us then losing had a higher cost than ever before right at the time when everyone was leaving to go and join the enemy.”
“People were struggling to survive though, I remember my parents telling me about that, the bots hadn’t been developed properly at that point.”
“Quite yet there was genuine fear that we could be invaded at any moment. Cults sprang up to all sorts of purposes and beliefs but the overwhelming fear was that here was an invader who would kill us not out of fear, not out of greed, but out of simple species survival. There would be no breeding with the natives, no raping and pillaging the only sensible thing for an invader to do would be extermination. The best we could hope for was short term slavery followed by long term eradication. Yet it didn’t happen. Maybe they’re playing the long game, we just don’t know. But what did we actually know about these potential invaders?”
“They were more advanced than us, they were more powerful than us. They can build massive structures very quickly.”
“Right. A Crusader in the middle ages would say the same about Napolionic era military too. It doesn’t mean they were better but if you are to win against your enemy you must first understand him and what does he know about us and what do we know about them?”
“There are billions of people on the Habitat, have been for...”
Gwen interrupted “Exactly. Also if there’s one alien out there, chances are there could be more so how do we win against someone who is undoubtedly superior to us and how we don’t understand?”
“Right so we know we’re doomed.”
“Not doomed just needing a rethink. Come on then let’s see how well that brain of yours works, what do you think they did?”
“Well planned for standard guerrilla tactics I would guess”
“Good start, make sure we’re not worth capturing; what else?”
“Scorched Earth”
“Elaborate”
“Hide a number of nukes around the planet as a doomsday option in case guerrilla fails.”
“Keep going.”
“You’d need some defense options before that, orbital weapons platforms as soon as you could afford them. Maybe spread your assets around as well, bases at other planets. Important orbital positions, various lagrange points.”
“That would be good thinking except the Jupiter base and the orbital observation stations are hardly a secret so that’s not thinking up anything new. Anything else?”
“Not that I can think of.”
“You’ve just told me about how you would defend against a known enemy. Let me ask you something, an enemy is charging down a corridor towards you. Where do you shoot.”
“The chest.”
“Why?”
“It’s the biggest target” Malka saw the look on Gwen’s face implying she should carry on, she thought for a second and realised “And there are vital organs there.”
“What if you were snipering a target”
“Aim for the head”
“Why?”
“It’s a one shot kill”
“Ok, what if your enemy was for example a squid.”
“Sir?”
“Let’s say about three metres high in a suit charging down the corridor towards you”
“Aim for the head”
“Are you sure that’s where it keeps all its vital organs? Perhaps the squid creature in question has a large body like appendage on its space suit because that’s where its appendix is located?”
“No, that’s unlikely, no creature well enough evolved to beat the competition on its own planet would have such a large useless investment of body, if it’s large it must be useful.”
“Unless it’s a gas bag for living in a Gas giant environment and therefore useless while in its space suit. Never mind, moving on, so where else do you aim? What if it was more like an elephant? How about a Caterpillar? A Wasp?
“And this is supposed to explain your sloppy discipline?”
“It would be so much easier to show you, but I’m not a cruel woman.” Gwen seemed to sigh “A commander orders his troops into battle. Their normal attack method doesn’t work. He orders them to carry on. One trooper notices that when grenades go off, for a second they are disorientated, they don’t quite walk straight. Your normal trooper would report this up the command chain and maybe just maybe something would be investigated in a few months time, possibly longer if things are going badly. One of our people would ignore orders and hopefully try experimenting with his music player and discovering the frequency the enemy troops use to communicate on. What’s so odd about a species that behaves as a group mind using high frequency sound to communicate?”
“Everything.”
“None-sense one of the oldest ideas in the book. Just because we haven’t actually met a species yet that does it. Look I’m not saying a platoon raised here is going to take on the enemy single handed. Think of us as a seeder unit who for the moment hang together to feed off each others eccentricities.”
“You really think it can work?”
“Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Besides we have one or two other tricks up our sleeves.”
“Are you going to tell me?”
“Sure, you may well end up commanding one of the Physicists yourself. How can I not tell you about them.”
“The Physicists?”
“I would show you one, but we don’t keep them near population centres, the further the better in fact, but we have a training mock up.”
“Should I be so confused at this point?”
“Yes. Would you spoil me my fun? Come, follow me.”

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