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Jack’s Company

Book 10 of the Fierce Girls at War Series

Michael Adams

Copyright 2018 by Michael Adams

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever including Internet usage, without written permission of the author.

This is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, or events used in this book are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, alive or deceased, events or locales is completely coincidental.

E-book formatting by Maureen Cutajar

Other Books by Mike Adams

Fierce Girls at War series

Book 1: Fierce Girls

Book 2: Threat on the Horizon

Book 3: Opening Shots

Book 4: First Contact

Book 5: Bad Day On The River

Book 6: The Fight For The Pass

Book 7: Deluge

Book 8: Enemy Found

Book 9: Recovery Mission

Book 10: Jack’s Company

Book 11: Death By Water Death By Fire


Chapter 1: Staff Sergeant Alicia Oliveira

Chapter 2: Rift Preparations

Chapter 3: Disposition

Chapter 4: Addressing Shortages

Chapter 5: A Defense for the Capital

Chapter 6: At the Residence

Chapter 7: Family Separations

Chapter 8: Fierce Girls

Chapter 9: More Challenges

Chapter 10: Coming Out of Jump

Chapter 11: Letters From Home

Chapter 12: Asia Closing In

Chapter 13: Shootout

Chapter 14: Freddie’s Explosives

Chapter 15: The Shuttles

Chapter 16: An Interesting Opportunity

Chapter 17: Luka

Chapter 18: Another Unwelcome Visit

Chapter 19: A Tempting Target

Chapter 20: Contact

Chapter 21: Arrival

Chapter 22: Going Ashore

Chapter 23: MacCaffrey

Chapter 24: Speculation

Chapter 25: “Who else should we send?”

Chapter 26: Send Ritchie Home

Chapter 27: Movie Night

Chapter 28: Ship To Ship Talk

Chapter 29: Australia

Chapter 30: Greetings

Chapter 31: Exploring the Town

Chapter 32: Ticking Down to Zero

Chapter 33: Farewells

Chapter 34: Rift on the Move

Chapter 35: We Have Incoming!

Chapter 36: Valley Invasion

Chapter 37: Weapons Free

Chapter 38: Making A Stand

Chapter 39: Death in the Valley

Chapter 40: Ready to go Hunting

Chapter 41: Armory Containers

Chapter 42: Jacks Company

Chapter 43: Cleaning Up

Cairo Valley Battle Site

Chapter 1

Staff Sergeant Alicia Oliveira

October 24, 2126
Day 40

New Hope Town

Brazilian Staff Sergeant Alicia Oliveira and her squad were still trying to get their bearings nine days after their rescue outside of New Cancun. She and her squad, Sergeant Daisy Fernandes, Sergeant Ana Branco, Corporal Mateus Bosque, Corporal Alberto Carrasco and Private First Class Gustavo Moreno, had been missing and presumed dead for over a month along with the crew of the shuttle they’d been on.

The six Brazilians were in relatively good condition and after ten days of debriefings and rest and recuperation they were headed to Winter Haven to join the rest of the Brazilians, now led by Lieutenant Carvalho, the detachment’s senior surviving officer after Vericiano and Lieutenant Lopes had been killed.

Oliveira and her squad were at the terminal in New Hope Town waiting to board the cargo transport lander Athens for the flight to Winter Haven to rejoin what was left of their detachment. Ana Branco said, “We’d better get something from the cafeteria before we board. It’s a long flight and all we’ll probably get are some field ration bars.”

Alicia replied, “That’s a good idea. We’ll have to get something we can take with us though. We’ll be boarding soon.”

“Let’s get going then,” said Sergeant Daisy Fernandes who like Alicia had been trained as a scout sniper. “I don’t want to hear the boys whining about being hungry for the next seven or eight hours.”

“You know us too well,” rejoined Mateus Bosque.

“I had to listen to you whining for a week after we ran out of food on our floating shuttle-boat!” Daisy said with a shake of the head,

“That’s because we were out of food Sergeant!” said Private Moreno.

“You do know they were talking about eating you if we didn’t catch any fish, don’t you?” said Branco.

What? Eat me? No, no, no. If you think I would have tasted better than that poor excuse for a fish you are crazy,” Moreno said with a laugh.

“That fish-thing tasted like it was marinated in motor oil. I don’t know how it made it to the approved to eat list,” said Alberto Carrasco. “You on the other hand probably taste like chicken!”

“Hey! Steak maybe; I’m a real beefcake don’t you think, Staff Sergeant?” Moreno stopped to pose and show off his muscular frame.

Alicia snorted, “Now I know why you asked to join my squad.” Oliveira’s was the only squad with three female in it. There had been just 25 females in the Brazilian detachment, half of them in Lieutenant Mendes’ vehicle platoon. The other 13 had been scattered among the other three platoons. Six of them had been killed at Southport and two wounded who had made it to the hospital in New Hope Town. Oliveira and her squad had visited all the Brazilians still in the hospital waiting for the Asia to take them home. That left just three from the field platoons besides her Daisy Fernandez, Ana Branco and Alicia Oliveira.

Their platoon leader Lieutenant Felix Carvalho had assigned them to accompany a recon shuttle flight two days before the alien invasion kicked off. The shuttle crew, Lieutenant Daniel Beaufort and his engineer Master Sergeant Mindy Taylor had picked them up at the terminal in Southport where Tiger Company was based and they’d flown 300 miles to the south to investigate some islands that were obscured for some reason from observation from orbit. They’d gotten too close and the aliens had shot them down. When they crashed into the sea they were inside a strange ‘fog bank’ that was really some kind of energy field the aliens were using to keep the humans from seeing the preparations they and their army of giant mercenaries were making for a sea invasion of the New Hope colony’s eastern settlements of Southport and New Cancun.

The Rangers who’d first seen them had dubbed the smaller but far more technologically advanced aliens ‘Jammies’ after the brown one-piece, footed coverall-like garment they wore that reminded them of toddlers pajamas. The Jammies had brought an army of thousands of 7-foot tall, 400+ pound, incredibly fast and inhumanly strong, semi-primitive beings the humans called the Raagaas after their war cry ‘RAAGAA!’ in three transports from some unknown part of the galaxy with the intention of not only conquering the planet but feeding the human colonists to the Raagaas.

The Raagaas used primitive weapons such as heavy spears, spiked–iron balls, war hammers, clubs and short swords. The aliens could throw them with uncanny accuracy while on the run and hit a target over 200 yards away, farther than the Rangers could shoot with their low-powered standard weapons the PR85 automatic rifle. The PR85 was really something designed for police forces that worked great at relatively short distances such as a police SWAT team might operate but without the punch of a military assault rifle. It would hit its target without coming out the other side and endangering innocent bystanders behind the target. When used properly it was an effective weapon against the colony planet Tau Ceti 4’s dangerous predators and allowed those who worried that some nation or group of nations might try to pull a military coup and take over the colony to sleep better. Unfortunately that meant the Rangers fighting the aliens were at a decided disadvantage against the Raagaas throwing weapons and even more so against the plasma rifles carried by their Jammie leaders that could kill or even destroy a vehicle from a half-mile away.

The sea-going ships the aliens had brought down to be assembled and sailed against the human settlements when the time was right carried much larger versions of these plasma guns. The energy ‘cannon’ had shot down their shuttle and on the morning of the invasion they had shot down the 850-foot long anti-grav cargo transport lander Cairo which had disappeared somewhere in the mountains north of Southport.

The Cairo had been carrying the colony’s Director of Logistics Commander Rick Cassidy and his deputy Gunnery Sergeant Molly Pickford along with a group of 50 students and interns from the New Hope Academy and their staff escorts. Nothing had been heard from them since they’d gone missing although many believed that the tough, armored transport that was built to keep its passengers alive in a crash might be safe somewhere in those mountains, unable to communicate with anyone with the satellites out of commission and its grav cells damaged so it couldn’t fly, since it had managed to escape the alien fleet they’d inadvertently flown over after getting out a brief warning. That warning had given the Rangers based in Southport and New Cancun time to prepare a defense while the thousands of civilians living there had been evacuated to safety in the western half of the Alpha continent.

The ‘strange fog bank’ had hidden the downed shuttle and its occupants while a number of the alien ships sailed by in the darkness that night. The shuttle’s airframe was water-tight and because Beaufort and Taylor had been able to get the aircraft’s nose up in time to avoid crashing nose first into the ocean which would have killed them all instead they’d all survived with only minor injuries. They spent the next 12 days lost at sea with little food, no way to call for help and far from rescue before their lookouts spotted land, the southern end of the Clinton Peninsula below New Cancun. The managed to get the shuttle aground on the shore 350 miles from New Cancun and spent the next couple of weeks making their way to there not knowing if it was safe to go there or not.

They’d almost missed having their last flare spotted by some Rangers on the last shuttle leaving New Cancun after the raid on the Ranger Base and the settlement hospital, among other targets. Fortunately those Rangers had alerted the officers in charge and a shuttle went back and found them. The elation of being rescued was short-lived however. The mission commander Colonel Farah Halim had asked the Brazilians to come up to the London’s conference room on the second deck. It was there that they learned from the Colonel and the Italian detachment’s Admin officer Lieutenant Giulianna Barbieri who had been there what had happened to Tiger Company when the aliens had invaded Southport. Half the Brazilian detachment had been killed or badly wounded including many of their friends during the battle including their commander Captain Andres Vericiano. The Chinese, Italians, and Russians from Tiger and Charlie Companies had also suffered terribly.

The one positive note was that the raiders had found another group of Rangers, three Italians and two Brazilians, who had escaped with some civilians. The two Brazilians were wounded and would be out of the fight for some time but they ha d survived. Upon arrival in New Hope they’d been greeted by Lieutenant Vida Kazumi, the Admin officer for the Brazilian detachment and General Jamison had personally welcomed them back from the dead.

Born in 2099 in Fortaleza, Brazil Alicia Oliveira had joined the Brazilian army at age 19 and after excellent evaluations and demonstrating superior skills with a rifle she had been sent for training as a scout sniper. She was part of the relief force sent to assist areas along Brazil’s northeastern coast that was devastated by Hurricane Monica in 2121 and she was selected to be part of the quick reaction team on the security force at the XLIII Pan American Games held in Sao Paolo in 2123. After that Oliveira applied for a slot with a new Brazilian detachment that would be joining the Colonial Rangers at the New Hope colony. The attractive dark-haired soldier had recently been promoted to Third Sergeant which was equivalent to staff sergeant in the Colonial Rangers, the rank she wore after she was accepted for that posting. Her detachment began its 3-month Ranger training in August of 2124. After saying goodbye to her parents, and her younger brother and sister she boarded the colony transport ship James Cook with her detachment in February 2125, arriving at the colony that September.

Things had seemed to be going well for the Brazilians until they were matched up with a more experienced Chinese detachment under Captain Eva Zhang. The Chinese captain had been at the colony for two and a half years by that time and she’d stayed when her original detachment of Chinese Rangers went home. She was a few months junior in rank to Vericiano though so the Brazilian became Tiger Company’s commander with Zhang as his number two.

Problems began to surface early on when the combat-experienced Chinese Ranger captain had to countermand some poorly thought-out, to put it mildly, orders the three male platoon leaders, Lieutenants Carvalho, Lopes and Henriques, and their commander Captain Vericiano made while the Brazilians were on their first deployment into the mountains of the Alpha continent, the main landmass being explored and colonized. The Colonial Rangers’ primary reason for existing was to protect the exploration and survey parties looking for valuable metals, minerals and other coveted resources from the planet’s fearsome predators. The inexperienced Brazilians made several decisions that put their troopers and the civilians they protected in unnecessary danger and Zhang, who was along to provide guidance and support, was forced to intervene.

Embarrassed and offended the resentful young lieutenants resisted and contested almost every decision Zhang made and Vericiano would side with his officers more often than not rather than create a rift between him and the platoon leaders. Lieutenant Sondra Mendes, the transportation platoon leader, was the only female Brazilian officer deployed with the rest of the detachment and she was firmly in Zhang’s corner as were most of the enlisted troopers who were well aware that she had pulled their asses out of the fire more than once. Staff Sergeant Oliveira, like Mendes, looked up to Zhang and the day before they were sent out on the recon mission she’d had enough and berated the three male platoon leaders when she heard them saying that the very attractive Chinese captain had probably slept with some high ranking officer to become a detachment commander. The next day Carvalho had retaliated by sending Alicia and her squad out on their scheduled weekend off. Unlike so many of those who had been in Southport when the aliens came though, everyone in her squad was alive and well despite the hardships they’d endured and for that she was very thankful.

Chapter 2

Rift Preparations

Rift Flagship

General Bysr Osmu’a, the Expeditionary Force Commander of the Rift fleet of three transport starships gathered his senior commanders in the command center of the Rift starship E’pinos’a. “Captain Ektor, what is the latest estimate on when the alien ship will arrive in orbit above the planet?” the Rift commander asked his flagship captain.

“Eighteen local days, General,” Hymay Ektor replied. The flag captain knew that the information was for the benefit of the Sub-Commanders rather than Osmu’a who was well aware of the enemy ship’s approach.

“And you are sure that we know what type of starship this one is?” the General inquired.

“It is smaller than the last one that stayed in orbit,” Ektor responded. “We believe that it is one of those that will land at the largest settlement on the western side of the continent. There was such a one in this system when we first arrived. It remained on the ground for thirty local days before it departed.”

“And you are sure that it has not seen us?”

“We cannot be absolutely sure but we moved our ships behind this moon before they had a direct sensor view of the planet. They have not altered their course in any way.”

General Osmu’a turned to his Ground Force Commander General Warsh and asked, “How soon will you be ready to proceed?”

“All of our Andoval will be on the ground within three days. They will want to eat as soon as the transport shuttles land. The aliens continue to make gathering food animals inconvenient but we have what we will need in hand and I expect the first groups of herd beasts to be ready for transport to the south for the winter months within seven days after that. I wish to complete that transfer before we proceed. Perhaps ten days more to finish the food beast transfer, for the Andoval to recover their strength after their long sleep and to organize the columns for movement. Then we will be ready to move north. From there I estimate it will take five to six days to reach positions to attack the northern settlement in force from the east, west and south.”

“Good. Twenty thousand Andoval with their Rift officers should be sufficient. Sub-Commander Aleri, you are ready to take the eastern Pass this time?” Osmu’a asked the Eastern Attack Force Sub-Commander.

“Yes, General. The attack that failed taught us much about how these aliens fight. We will not fail this time,” Aleri responded with confidence

“Yes, that failure was very illuminating. Even so do not be so confident in front of your troops. Overconfidence has killed many of our Rift officers fighting these aliens,” Osmu’a reminded him.

“I understand, General.”

“Good. And Sub-Commander Larca, you will be ready to launch an attack on the easternmost of the two peninsula settlements by sea from the east at the same time as the attack on the northern settlement?”

“Yes, General. We are ready now and only await the order to move,” replied Larca, the new Western Attack Force Sub-Commander who had replaced Sub-Commander Therba. Therba had replaced the Northern Attack force Sub-Commander Epral who had been killed during the first battle for the northern settlement.

Osmu’a turned to Sub-Commander Ocha, the Central Attack Force Sub-Commander, “Ocha, will you be ready to send a second diversionary force to the aliens’ central settlement on the plains in the west before the northern attack begins.”

“We too are ready and only await the order to move,” Ocha replied eagerly. The Sub-Force commander had commanded the central attack force that had shot down the huge alien ship but his troops had faced little resistance along the southern coast.

“See that you are all ready when the time comes,” Osmu’a said. He then turned to his Ground Force Commander and the three Sub-Commanders who would lead the attack on the northern settlement from the western and southern routes to the alien town. “Sub-Commanders Darb’na and Noensi, you have not faced these aliens yet but you have seen the reports of Sub-Commander Epral’s failed attempt and those of the successful conquests by Aleri and Therba in taking the three alien towns in the south. Do not make Epral’s mistake of trying to lead your force from the center of your column! He not only lost control of his force but was killed along with most of them.”

The two Sub-Commanders, who along with Therba would command the three columns attacking from the south and west, bowed in acknowledgement without speaking. Therba reminded them, “The aliens’ explosive weapons killed most of our Rift officers and killed or wounded more than two-thirds of our Andoval very quickly during Epral’s misguided attack. He wasn’t expecting the weapons they used. We shall be ready for them this time. We will not have our three columns simply run right to their deaths.”

“Would it have made a difference had we waited for more Andoval to be ready then as Sub-Commander Epral had wished?” Ocha asked drawing the Rift equivalent of a scowl from his superior, General Warsh.

General Warsh looked at the youngest of his Sub-Commanders sternly, “Ocha, if they were not expecting the weapons used against them, would the result have been any different? Perhaps so; or perhaps our losses would have been correspondingly greater with no better success. Had the number of warriors committed to the eastern hill route been doubled or tripled they might have taken the hill, at great cost, but then what? The aliens killed most of our Rift officers in that column early on. If the Andoval had taken the hill, would they have proceeded without them when the other two columns were already virtually annihilated? They are beasts but they are not stupid.”

Osmu’a told his Sub-Commanders, “Epral was young for his rank and eager to prove himself. He thought his battle plan would overcome the aliens’ defenses easily. He didn’t listen when told that he should not count on the reports of his scouts when they said there no resistance waiting along any of the three avenues of advance. It was a grievous mistake for him. And in truth, he should have been nowhere near the main force. How could he expect to monitor all three of his formations from the midst of his moving column? Do not make that mistake.”

“Each column has three times as many warriors this time,” Warsh said, “but not three times as many Rift officers for many have been killed by the aliens who target them for elimination. Regardless, we are better prepared now than before our last attempt to take their settlement.”

“Sub-Commander Aleri has gathered sufficient food for all his forces on the eastern coast,” Warsh said with a nod at the Eastern Attack Force commander. “There was more food available in the north along the coast than near the aliens’ coastal settlement in the south.”

“Very good, Aleri,” Osmu’a told him.

“Thank you, General. My assault force is no more than three days’ easy march from the northeastern pass at our new base near the coast. We will keep the aliens there busy while the main attack proceeds further west. Then when the main force has succeeded in taking the main settlement we can advance on the pass from both directions, if we do not breakthrough before that.”

“And your seagoing ships?” asked Osmu’a.

Aleri replied, “All but a handful of my ships are at the new base or near it. Some are keeping watch on the coast near the eastern settlement in the south in case of another intrusion.”

“And the southern town?” Osmu’a asked.

Warsh answered, “Sub-Commander Ocha has his headquarters in the southern coastal town. Our engineers are working to repair some of the damage to the town in order to house our forces during the coming winter. As you know, much of the town was destroyed during the battle unlike the other towns which were taken almost completely intact.”

“Very well. We must keep these aliens guessing what we will do next. I do not want the alien starship to see us so we will wait until it lands before we move back into orbit. And the transfer of the herd animals must be completed. Our attacks will start in twenty-five local days from now unless the alien ship remains in orbit. If so, then we will reconsider our options before moving forward.”

“We will be ready, General,” Warsh told him.

Chapter 3


New Hope Town

The Colonial Rangers’ commander General Gavin Jamison had gathered his senior commanders at Regimental headquarters onboard the converted starship Seeker to discuss what was to be done with the eight companies’ worth of civilian volunteers about to complete their training. “We’ve got nearly 1200 people who’ll be as ready to go into the field as they’re going to be completing their training over the next three weeks. Although we have discussed this before I would like your thoughts once again on how they should be deployed.”

“Twelve hundred more shooters are going to help a lot but they have no combat experience,” Kenji Takahashi, the Third Battalion commander observed. He had just arrived from Winter Haven that morning. “What about their officers?”

“We have about a dozen who were officers back on Earth and some more experienced NCOs who have been commissioned as lieutenants,” the recently promoted Major Zoey Bryant replied. Bryant’s Delta Company had provided the key training cadre for getting the volunteers ready to fight the aliens. “We also have four who were Ranger officers who came back as civilians. They’ve been reinstated to their former ranks but only two of them have combat experience. We also received a fair number of officers with the support personnel Colonel Fox sent back here. A number of them are experienced field Rangers.”

Colonel Colin Fox, Second Battalion’s commander had also come to New Hope Town from Winter Haven to confer with General Jamison. He asked the young major, “How are they organized? By nationality?”

Major Bryant nodded, “Mainly by nationality where there are large groups but there are others where there aren’t more than a handful from the same country. We also had more experienced former NCOs in some groups and we had to take some of them and use them wherever we needed them.”

“The largest groups?” the Third Battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Kenji Takahashi asked.

“We have the usual suspects; lots of native English speakers, about a third of them American. The rest of them are mostly Brits, Aussies, Canadians, Irish and Kiwis.

Colonel Angus McTeague, the First Battalion commander asked, “Are there enough weapons and ammunition for all of them?” Seeing as Bryant worked directly for him he already knew the answer to that question but they were for the enlightenment of the others attending the meeting who did not have all the information they needed.

Bryant replied, “Yes and no, Colonel. Thanks to the cache of weapons and ammunition stockpiled by Commander Cassidy and Gunnery Sergeant Pickford there were enough new PR85s to provide about 1000 of these volunteers a brand new rifle. The rest have been issued weapons from among those recovered from Ranger casualties. There were more than 500 weapons recovered although about half of them are in the armory in Winter Haven.”

“Do you want us to send them here?” Fox asked.

Bryant nodded, “Yes, Sir. We have another 800 volunteers who are about to start training once the current group, or most of them, vacates the barracks here. We don’t enough guns for all of them.”

“I will see that they are sent back right away. All our people are armed and they are not doing us any good locked up there,” Fox agreed.

“Thank you, Colonel. That will help quite a bit,” Bryant said thankfully.

“There are uniforms enough for everyone?” Takahashi asked.

Zoey nodded, “For this first group, yes, again mostly thanks to Rick and Molly’s stockpile. Added to that was all that we were able to clear out of the commissary and the supply warehouse in New Cancun. Almost a third of Cassidy’s stockpile went to the Rangers who had to leave all their gear and personal effects behind in New Cancun and Southport but the New Cancun raid took care of the rest. Most only have one set but everyone does have a uniform. I hate to say this but for the most recent volunteers we’ve had to resort to collecting the uniforms from the dead and the wounded who won’t be needing them anymore. We’ve had them all cleaned and they’ll be issued to the volunteers as we run out of the new stock.”

“You said yes and no to the enough weapons question, Major. Was there something else you need besides us shipping back the weapons in the armory in Winter Haven?” General Jamison asked rhetorically already knowing the answer.

Bryant grinned and said, “Well there is one thing. In part because we knew that there might be a shortage and because we had another option we have created some special teams among the volunteers. As you may have heard, Cassidy and Pickford had several hundred crossbows and thousands of bolts for them in one of their weapons containers.”

“Crossbows. What good will they be?” Fox asked in bemusement. “We might as well throw darts at the Raagaas. They’ll just pull them out and fling them back at us.”

Zoey Bryant shook her head, “Not with these they won’t, Colonel. Sir, before she was killed at New St Louis Captain Jing Woo from Alpha Company realized that they had been ordered by Cassidy and Pickford to be used against demon wolves but with the addition of a small explosive charge that would detonate on contact. They also had several thousand detonator caps of the kind that were meant to be fitted onto a narrow round stick used to place them inside the holes that miners would drill then fill with explosives. With a little adjustment these caps can be mounted on a crossbow bolt and made to explode on contact. The idea was to fire one at a demon wolf and blow a hole in its armor. They never got a chance to test them but we did and if you hit a Raagaa in the head or torso with one they will go down and not be getting back up again, I guarantee it.”

The three battalion commanders all grinned at the young major who had just offered them a new weapon in their war against the aliens. “The General asked me not to mention this to either of you until they were ready,” McTeague told his colleagues.

“Yes,” Gavin Jamison said, “when Major MacCaffrey brought this to my attention soon after the discovery of the cache of weapons, ammunition and other supplies those two rogues had accumulated the possibilities leapt out at me immediately. The problem of course was that hardly any of our Rangers could hit the veritable broad side of a barn at a hundred feet with one.”

“But there were archery clubs in every settlement,” McTeague added. “Another one of those Cassidy and Pickford ventures that they did on their own. Unfortunately almost all of the experienced crossbow shooters were occupied elsewhere so we had no one to train any of the recruit volunteers.”

Bryant took up the narrative, “Then not long before the mission to New Cancun I was talking to Lieutenant Colonel Gunderson about this and he mentioned that there was an archery team at the New Hope Academy that competed against the adult clubs in town.”

“Gunderson’s wife Liana is a teacher there, that’s why he knew about it,” Colonel Raj Gupta, the Regiment’s Operations Officer, Chief of Staff and second in command said from Jamison’s right.

“Yes,” Jamison said. “When he mentioned this to me I contacted Rodger Summerfield at the Academy and he offered up some people to help train some of our volunteers.”

“So you’ve had some of their staff teaching our people how to shoot the crossbow?” Colin Fox asked. “They went over to the base to do that?”

“Not exactly and no,” Bryant said with a chuckle. “Every afternoon we would send a group over to the school. They have their own archery range set up over there. And they only have one staff member who knows how to use the crossbow. But we did have seven experienced shooters from their varsity and junior varsity teams to help train them. Five boys and two girls aged fifteen to eighteen. We might have had more but unfortunately over half of their archery teams are with Commander Cassidy on Cairo.”

“And the result of this training was?” Fox asked with interest.

Bryant replied, “Well, now we’ve got more than fifty pretty competent crossbowmen and another fifty still in training who are getting there. We’re planning to run every one of the next bunch of recruits through the range there to find the best candidates. Interest soared when we had the kids demonstrate the bolts with the blasting caps on them. They had great fun blowing things up as you can imagine. We’ve greatly expanded the range at the school now and more of the students from the school’s archery club teams are helping train our people as well. Archery is one of their optional physical education classes so there are about sixty students on campus with crossbow experience.”

“These archers you’re training are learning to shoot the rifles too, right?” Takahashi asked.

“Of course, Colonel.”

Jamison cleared his throat to get the discussion back in track. “Back to the question of disposition of the volunteer companies, people.”

“General, perhaps we should present the question as to how do we divvy up 48 platoons of volunteers,” Colonel Gupta suggested. “They’ve already been organized into platoons and during the second half of their training they trained together with their officers and NCOs. It would be best, I think, to keep those platoons together.”

“You’re quite right, Raj,” Jamison agreed. “Colonels, we have 48 platoons that will be ready to deploy over the next two weeks. How shall we use them?”

Colin Fox, the senior-most of the three battalion commanders answered quickly, having considered this question during the discussion, “They must be integrated with existing companies with an experienced commander. We have a number of good experienced executive officers who should do nicely as company commanders. We also have veteran senior lieutenants to serve as their number twos. We won’t be able to have one of the top two officers in each company representing the two largest groups of troopers in those companies in all cases though.”

“Would you move an executive officer over to be company commander with or without their national detachment?” Jamison asked.

“Definitely with, General. That way every new company will have a detachment of veteran Rangers, most of whom have faced the aliens, to help out the new guys.”

“Once we’ve figured out who will be leading the new companies, where will they be based?” McTeague asked. “The western half of the colony is mostly unprotected. If the aliens figure that out, they could isolate Winter Haven and come at us here suddenly. We could be truly screwed then.”

“Agreed,” said Jamison emphatically. “So far we have taken the risk of sending most of the Regiment to Winter Haven based on the aliens’ apparent desire to take it before going after the western settlements. We can’t expect that to continue.”

“General, before we get into that I would like to remind everyone that there are over 400 trained field Rangers plus another 50 or so support personnel coming in on Asia in less than three weeks,” Raj Gupta said. “Assuming of course that they arrive as scheduled,” he added.

Jamison nodded, “Yes, assuming that they will arrive on time we must include them in our planning.”

“I think they may already be organized into two companies expecting to be deployed as a unit as were the two companies that came in with me on Amundsen. We need however to consider them as four national detachments rather than two companies. And none of their officers have a clue yet what’s been happening here,” Fox said. “I expect it will come as quite a jolt.”

“Very true,” the General agreed. “So we will proceed with the assumption that they will arrive and that each detachment’s commander will be the executive officer of the company they are assigned to.”

“The two who are arriving under the impression that they will be company commanders may have a hard time with that,” Gupta noted. “The Chilean and the Frenchman are both rather senior for executive officers. Whoever they’re assigned to be the number two for is liable to be quite junior to them. Perhaps by as much as two or three years.”

“I think I have a solution for that,” Fox said.

“What do you propose, Colonel?” Jamison asked.

“Remove them, at least temporarily from their companies and assign them to my staff. That way they won’t feel slighted and they will get a better picture of what they face before they lead anyone into battle. At this point we don’t need anyone making wrong decisions out of ignorance or arrogance. But I will let them stay with their detachments if after I speak with them if they are amenable to being number two and following their company commanders orders and if “

“Agreed,” Jamison replied. “The four detachments will be distributed among the existing Ranger companies as the junior detachments and the two senior officers from the Chilean and French detachments will be assigned to your staff upon arrival at your discretion, Colin. Let us proceed from there. We still have another three weeks to work these things out.”

“Very good, General,” Fox said and the others all voiced their agreement.

Chapter 4

Addressing Shortages

New Hope Town

Jamison nodded, “Good. Let’s move on then. I want to address Castillo and Novo Napoli first.”

“Gold Company is in Castillo now,” McTeague said. “I would recommend breaking it up and making Captain Van Rooyen commander of one of the new companies. We can fill out the two companies with volunteer platoons for now. I would send one of the new detachments from Asia there as well. Both the Argentine and the South African detachments are understrength.”

“Castillo is a very vulnerable area. I want three companies posted there,” Jamison said.

McTeague said, “I recommend that we send Major Picard and Jaguar Company there. That would give them a more senior commander to take overall command at that settlement.”

Jamison nodded agreement, “Very well. And Novo Napoli? I want at least one full company there. We know we can’t defend it so we’re not going to try. With just an hour’s warning we can have everyone loaded aboard the transport based there and on their way to a safer area but we can’t ignore the possibility that they will try something different such as an airborne landing close by the settlement. We would definitely want a full strength company there to cover the evacuation.”

“I think Diamond Company would be a good choice. Captain Kelly’s got almost a full company of veterans to keep an eye on things until we can spare another company,” Fox suggested. “They’ve seen action twice now.”

“How soon can you move them from Winter Haven?” Gupta asked the Winter Haven area commander.

“I’ll send them on right away as soon as I get back to Winter Haven. They’ll be glad to get into more comfortable quarters. There is a Ranger barracks there, isn’t there?” Fox asked belatedly.

“Yes, and it’s been kept vacant,” Gupta said. “There are perhaps a dozen Ranger personnel stationed there full time. There is a small logistics group and a communications section under an officer at the terminal. They also do caretaking at the compound when no other Rangers are there. There are living quarters for two full companies in Novo Napoli. The closest detachment is the one working out of Rocky Point across the bay from Novo Napoli; the Iranians from Echo Company under Captain Farhad. He rotates his platoons out to the observation base on the Norwegian Peninsula. It’s Barcelona right now.”

“Those settlements were the easy ones but we must also bolster our defenses here in the New Hope Town area,” the General told them. “We’ve been relying on the hundreds of volunteers in training to assist with the defense should trouble come our way but with most of them leaving soon we’ll need more trained people here on station. I want three additional companies assigned here to augment First battalion. I might mention that with the new fortifications being built to the north of here we have completed construction of barracks for the Rangers who will be manning them. Construction crews have been using them but they can be moved out quickly enough.”

“What about the other western settlements?” Fox asked.

Angus McTeague replied, “We’ve had half of Foxtrot Company in Villa de la Montana since before this began and the other half is in West Hills. West Hills is close enough that we can either reinforce it or evacuate it quickly if we had to and the work on the shelters inside the mountain is progressing nicely. At Canoe Bay the only Ranger personnel there are those with the comm section and the shuttle group. On Ryan’s Island we’ve been building up our logistics and comm sections at the terminal and we have a lookout post and comm unit up on the top of the mountain. There are also a couple of squads of Colonial Security people over there now.”

“The station at Canoe Bay has two shuttles based out of there patrolling the sea and the area around the bay and over to West Hills where we have a small maintenance unit supporting them,” Gupta told Fox and Takahashi. “There are only 300 people there and they are keeping the surveillance system up and running along the coast in both directions for two hundred miles. No one is going to sneak up on them from the sea and so far the aliens have not shown a willingness to land close to any of our settlements. In any event there is very little open ground near the station, it’s a heavily forested area so landing close by is not an option for the aliens unless they can land on the water the way our transports do, and we don’t believe that they can based on the recordings we have of their airships. Our people there have enough vehicles to run to one of the evacuation points inland. But perhaps it would be worth it to send small detachment, perhaps platoon strength to shepherd them out of danger and keep them calm. A mix of volunteers and some veterans to oversee them.”

“Might it not be better to remove everyone from there except a skeleton crew to keep the surveillance system running?” Takahashi asked. “If the aliens do decide to land somewhere near as they did north of New St Louis where they decimated Alpha Company they could be on Canoe Bay before anyone can get away. As you said, Colonel Gupta, they have been unwilling to risk their aircraft until now but that could change if they see the opportunity. They could land under cover of night, disembark a few hundred Raagaa warriors and a few Jammies miles away and be gone without us ever knowing they’d landed. They could make their way across the countryside without being seen and fall upon the settlement.”

Gupta answered, “We have considered that but the surveillance and warning system has been extended inland and the people running the system are quite confident that any group larger than just a few will not be able to get through undetected. Still there is a risk certainly but we believe it is not a very great one.”

“We could use some of the non-combat experienced support personnel we have in excess for that,” McTeague suggested. “There is still the problem of the vulnerability of the communications link between Canoe Bay and Villa de la Montana up north. There’s a set of comm relays that keep them linked but there’s been problems because of the weather which has knocked them off-line several times and a shuttle makes the flight between them daily as part of their patrol routine.”

“And if a shuttle is not there when the comm is off-line? What if they’re out on patrol and not close enough to help?” Takahashi asked.

“Sirs, perhaps there is a better alternative,” Zoey Bryant said.

Jamison grinned at the major who had been one of the planners and leaders of the mission to recover material from New Cancun right under the noses of the occupying aliens. “What do you have in mind, Major Bryant? Something you and your little band of conspirators have already decided to do?” The questions caused all of the colonels to laugh in amusement. They were all aware now of the group of female officers living at Commander Cassidy’s residence that had been dubbed Major Naomi MacCaffrey’s ‘Hot Tub Brain Trust’ among other appellations.

Bryant’s eyes opened wide in surprise. It had usually been Naomi MacCaffrey who brought the Hot Tub group’s ideas to the General and Zoey had not expected to hear Jamison refer to them so readily. She grinned, “Well, yes and no, General. We hadn’t really talked much about Canoe Bay at all but we have talked about what we’re doing at Chicken Island and there’s something we might take advantage of there.” Chicken Island was the nickname for Ryan’s Island fifty miles off the coast south of New Hope Town because of the chicken farm there.

Puzzled by Bryant’s comment Fox asked, “Are we talking about Canoe bay or Ryan’s Island, Major?”

Nodding Zoey replied, “Well, in a way both, Colonel.” Turning to Jamison she asked, “General, as Colonel Gupta just mentioned the surveillance system that runs up and down the coast from there also covers the area inland around Canoe Bay, correct?”

Jamison responded thoughtfully, “Yes, that’s correct. Up to fifteen miles in all directions, I believe. Isn’t that right, Angus?”

McTeague nodded, “Quite. Not everywhere that far out but at least ten miles for sure. It was originally installed in case any hungry predators should decide to visit the Bay.”

“Right. And your point is, Major Bryant?”

“Sir, the point is that even if the aliens were to land one of their airships somewhere inland and hoof it cross country eventually they would have to set off the surveillance net as they got close.”

“That’s true, Zoey, we believe so anyway, but they could still get to the settlement pretty quickly,” McTeague said.

Bryant agreed, “Yes, pretty quickly, but it’s not open country where they could run full out like we know they can. And they would have to go around the marsh that’s to the east of Canoe Bay. The people there would have some time to get away once the net alerted them.”

“Get away how?” Gupta asked with a grin knowing that Bryant would not have brought this up without a possible solution to present.

“There is a quay at Canoe Bay now for boats to tie up…,” the young major started to say.

Gavin Jamison, sounded slightly disappointed, broke in, “You’re not suggesting that they try to evacuate by small boats, are you?”

Zoey gave him a look that showed that she was disappointed that he would even think that she would suggest that. There were only a few boats at Canoe Bay and to get them loaded and moving would take far too long. She shook her head and replied, “No, sir. Not small boats. Just one big boat.”

“Big boat?” Fox asked.

Zoey nodded and grinned at him, “Yes, Sir. One big boat.”

“Ah!” said Jamison in understanding.

“Or more specifically one of the two ferries that ran sometimes from New Hope Town out to Ryan’s Island. They’re only run out there when the weather is good and one is now sitting at the dock at Ryan’s Island and the other is sitting here in New Hope Town, again just sitting at dock right now. Why not load one up in say London’s vehicle bay and take it up there with an augmented crew. Keep it ready to get underway on a moment’s notice. Everyone there at the settlement could be onboard in a few minutes. Send them up there with a vehicle ramp to fix up the quay so that they can drive right on. They could be loaded and underway out of range of Raagaa spears in just a few minutes. They could do drills to make sure everyone knows what to do. It’s one of the same contingencies we’ve put in over at Ryan’s Island. They can stay out of range until help arrives.”

Jamison chuckled, “Well, Major, I believe that is a very good and workable suggestion. Unless someone comes up with a good reason why we can’t then that is just what we will do.”

Fox asked in interest, “How many people can one of those ferries carry?”

“Several hundred although some of them would likely get a bit wet,” Takahashi replied. “I took the ferry over to Ryan’s Island with my wife once while we were both here in town at the same time. The weather was very nice that day. I don’t see how they would be able to run them all the way back here. That’s a very long way.”

“They wouldn’t have to,” Gupta put in. “They could rendezvous with a transport lander and transfer everyone from the ferry. Perhaps we can even recover the ferry itself and any vehicles it has it on it if the seas cooperate.”

“Good idea,” Fox said in appreciation. “And what are you doing about Ryan’s Island?”

“Potentially the island poses a bigger problem. It is a major source of food for us and there are about 500 people working the farms and orchards there now,” Gupta said. “Although they are only fifty miles or so from New Hope Town they could be overrun before we were aware that anything was happening although that’s less likely now. We’ve got radar coverage to the north, east and west; that’s one reason we’ve stationed the ferry over there as well as to serve as an evacuation platform. That was another suggestion that Major MacCaffrey came up with,” he said with a chuckle for Bryant who grinned back at him. The group at the residence had obviously been talking that over since then and coming up with creative ways to improve on it. “Construction crews are over there now building underground bunkers to give the people there shelter in case they can’t get out in time.”

“I’m beginning to think we should do the same at West Hills,” McTeague said. “Just in case.”

“That’s a good idea but can we spare the construction equipment we’d need to do that right now?” General Jamison asked.

“Unfortunately every bit of digging equipment we have here is being used for the network of trenches and canals to the north,” McTeague replied regretfully. “I don’t like the idea of diverting resources from that project any time soon. We don’t have enough as it is.”

Major Bryant cleared her throat and gave the General a bright smile. “Sir, I think I have a solution. There’s a small risk involved but nothing like the raids on New Cancun.”

“What do you have in mind, Zoey?” Jamison asked. “Is this something else that you and your friends have already been discussing?”

“Yes, in a way. Sir. The idea of digging hidden bunkers both below ground and into the mountain side at Ryan’s Island seems to be the best short-term alternative although getting people out of there could be a problem. So there are really two problems. How to build similar bunkers at West Hills and how to get people out of Ryan’s Island if the aliens take the island before they are discovered.”

“What do you have in mind?” Gupta asked curiously.

“Well Colonel, for problem number two I’ll have to get back to you but for problem number one we need the additional construction equipment to do it. However as Colonel McTeague has pointed out, every bit of it is dedicated to building up the defenses here and we really can’t afford to spare any for however long it takes to take care of West Hills. The solution perhaps is to get some additional construction vehicles and other heavy equipment for the job.”

“You mean when Asia arrives?” Colonel Fox asked. “They’re bound to be carrying some”

“That’s true enough, Sir, but that’s three weeks away, assuming they come at all. We do have a source we can make use of right away though that won’t take anything away from the work that’s being done now.” She paused and everyone looked at her expectantly wondering what the young American officer had in mind. “Sirs, there’s a construction equipment yard about one hundred fifty miles east of Southport that was being used by the crews building the coast road in that area. Two of our shuttles visited the place during the day between the two night raids on New Cancun. That’s where they killed a small group of Raagaas. There were at least thirty large vehicles there that we had to leave behind. We could be in and out of there in less than an hour if we send some shuttles full of Rangers in first to clear the place then land London or one of the other transports right next to it. We could probably get it done tonight or tomorrow night. There are other abandoned construction vehicles here and there along the coast road as well that we could recover if we want them enough. There are probably more equipment operators than equipment to operate with everything left behind at Southport and New Cancun. We could send some of them to West Hills once we have something for them to work with.”

Everyone agreed that is was a brilliant idea and General Jamison laughed, “Major, you may have just provided us with the solution we’ve needed. Raj, tell Colonel Martinez to get it organized as soon as possible. Unfortunately though Major Bryant, I don’t think you and Delta Company can be spared for this.”

She nodded resignedly, “I understand, Sir. Then I would suggest Captain Brubaker. His New Zealanders were on the raids with us and they know the area. The Kiwis were the ones who cleared the yard the first time.”

“Brubaker it is then,” McTeague agreed.

“Excellent,” Jamison said.

“I will get on that as soon as we’re done here,” McTeague said.

“And now that that has been settled, what about the rest?” Fox asked. “We’ve already moved Gold Company out of the Winter Haven area and now we’re going to move Diamond. We’re sending the equivalent of four new companies to Castillo or staying here with platoons going to Ryan’s Island and Canoe Bay.”

“I think we should send the remaining companies to the Winter Haven area to replace the ones we are moving out of there,” General Jamison replied. “Major, when will the first group of volunteers be ready to move?”

“The first eight platoons will be ready in three days,” Bryant replied. “Two of them are archery groups.”

“Let’s deal with Castillo first,” Jamison said. “We will inform Captain Van Rooyen and Captain Bugese as soon as possible and have one of them come here to take six new platoons in hand. The first two crossbow groups will go to Winter Haven to be used as you feel appropriate, Colonel Fox.”

Chapter 5

A Defense for the Capital

New Hope Town

The commanders’ conference had also discussed the state of the defenses for Winter Haven and the other settlements. Satisfied with the results of that meeting General Jamison had issued the appropriate orders and given leave for Fox and Takahashi to return to Winter Haven when the transport San Francisco departed the next morning. In the meantime he had them review the plans for the defense of New Hope Town and asked for their input.

It seemed that the aliens were be bent on conquering all of the Eastern settlements but General Jamison and his staff worried that an attack on the western settlements could occur at any time should they change their strategy. Jamison hoped that this would remain the case for as long as possible but he knew they couldn’t count on it.

The most vulnerable area was the open plain north of the colonial capital. Two major rivers ran south from the northeast and the northwest. The plain ran almost a hundred miles to the north from New Hope Town between these rivers in an inverted triangle, narrowing as the rivers get closer to the settlement. Another major waterway cut across the triangle east to west forty miles north of New Hope Town connecting the other two rivers. This river would block the advance of the aliens were they to attack from somewhere further north. A major portion of the efforts to build defensive emplacements was going on the area up to forty miles north of the settlement. Much of this area was dedicated to the agricultural complexes, orchards and greenhouses that supplied fresh fruit and vegetables to the colony. Rough hilly ground dominated the terrain on the far sides of the two rivers that bordered this area on the east and west.

Almost 6,000 colonists were now working in that area, including most of the colony’s construction crews, many of whom were evacuees from the East, busy preparing the defenses around New Hope Town. These work crews were feverishly digging a series of trenches that would run across the agro areas from one river to the other. Once completed each trench would connect the two large rivers that ran south but they were so far apart that Jamison and his officers had little hope that the trench system would be completed in time. Instead he had each segment of trench started close to one of the rivers and the construction crews were expanding them either east or west toward the center where they might eventually meet. Other crews were digging similar trenches at points in between that would eventually meet up with the eastern and western trenches.

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