For the first time since the Selangor offensive, several
members of Stave Gibson's corps were gathered in one place. They were deep
under Australian Command near the southeastern coast of Bali. Being an
interservice meeting, the commander for Australian Forces Northwest, General
Weldon Frazier, was there. Orbital forces and Mars Command were also
represented. Their people had come in from Darwin for this, including Commander
Williams who had been rescued by the Californians earlier in the week.
Intelligence was also there, so Gibson was feeling like the small fish as they
say in Bali. The meeting was kicked off by General Frazier:
and gentlemen, we will skip introductions and cut straight to the matter at
hand. We have called this meeting to help tie in the various highlights of the
last month. As you are all aware, the Selangor launched a major offensive
against our orbital forces, quickly followed by ground attacks on Mars and
Java. This was a big push which achieved a great deal of success. Aside from
the obvious, the following are our current prime concerns and
While the ground offensive on Java represented the greatest effort in resources
by Selangor, the opening of hostilities on Mars is what represents the greatest
threat. It is a provocative and destabilizing move that threatens the balance
of power in commodities control.
We have been informed through a backchannel discussion that the Japanese may
intervene if they feel the recent actions threaten their supply chain. I cannot
emphasize enough how we do not want them getting involved, because as you all
know they dont tend to take sides.
We suspect that the Java offensive not only helped to cover operations on Mars,
but a possible infiltration of Kalimantan. If so, this would be a violation of
the Cape Town agreement. Our only reason for suspecting this so far is that we
lost a reconnaissance team there, conveniently just before the Selangor
offensive started. As you all know, neither of our countries are allowed to
send any military forces there, but we both tell little white lies by sending
the occasional recon force. They dont typically disappear without a
trace, so obviously this is suspicious.
Now, he said, we are going to hear from Commander Ian
Williams, Orbital Forces. He was the first hit by the Selangor and only just
returned from his rescue by the Californians, Commander
Williams stood and briefly cleared his throat. Thank you General.
Turning to the rest of the group, he continued The reason I am here, is
because of a message that was given to me by a California State Department
diplomat, who unofficially warned me that the Japanese out at L5 will object to
these latest events. It is my impression that this message was meant to warn
Australia that the Japanese may take matters into their own hands, up to and
including military action. He paused, looking at his audience.
look through my account of the conversation, does any other message or intent
seem apparent? He paused again, looking around the room. Nobody spoke up,
there was precious little else to presume except a response in force, the
question was against whom? Major Gibson spoke up Is there any preparation
we might make against a Japanese attack that would not happen anyway?
question. replied General Frazier. The answer is that if the
Japanese are going to get involved, we need to develop a passive response to
the Selangor attacks. If the Japanese are going to sit on their hands, we can
go out and kick Singapores ass. He looked around defiantly at his
audience, as if to dare anyone to debate whether he could personally or
professionally achieve the later. The final decision will be made by the
Australian government, but our recommendation will influence their
decision. He finished, and looked at the attendees sitting around the
Operationally we have few options. spoke out Gibson. If the
Japanese are going to get involved, we need to make sure they target the
Selangor as much as possible. He looked around; everyone was thinking the
same thing. The normal reaction would have been counterattack, but even before
this warning, people were wondering the same thing; what about the
Japanese? The California warning merely confirmed fears already lurking
close beneath the surface.
Yes, replied General Frazier and what should that be?
He looked over at the two officers from Mars Command. What does Mars
Command think of this? We have few options on Java without risking the entire
island. Is there anything we can do on Mars that the Japanese will see as
passive on our part without risking our operations there?
Mars representative stood, showing her unusual height. Her ancestors came from
Madagascar, and she had that African-Sumatran look that was rare in the world.
She paced down the length of the room as she presented numerous threads to all
of the attendees displays. As you can see, our distribution
operations there still earn a great deal from the Japanese, it is a
considerable sum. Anything we back out on automatically affects them, so in
that regard the answer is yes. But we must be careful not to back out of
anything that might depress our longer term prospects.
eyed the room; she had their attention. Now the Selangor did make several
attacks in addition to their successful assault on Tars Peliti; because of
this, Mars Command feels that if we were to abandon those two positions
which are compromised anyway the appearance of further Selangor gains
would hopefully make them a bigger target, and by inference would make us a
could go along with that. replied Frazier.
nodded and added to the generals reply; I believe this message may
well have made its way to us on purpose. The Japanese are likely giving us a
few seconds of valuable time to duck before their fist sails over our head into
the Selangor. I recommend we duck just like they suggest. There was the
nodding of general agreement around the room.
about orbital assets over Mars? inquired Commander Williams.
were to de-orbit a noticeable percentage of the force, ostensibly for repairs,
we could appear to weaken our orbital position more than it really is. It would
certainly be a passive move, and with existing Selangor strength in Mars orbit
it would likely be a safe one. Keeping them dispersed on full alert would be
relatively easy at this point.
general nodding of agreement. Obviously a lot of background work remained to be
done, but the general outlook was pretty well set the Australians were
going to back down ever so slightly on Mars.
then? added the General. Alright. he looked at the two
diplomatic liaisons who had been remotely sitting in on the meeting. You
gentlemen know our recommendations. Please forward them to the
looked around again with his piercing eyes, The next half of our
discussion will relate to theater level intelligence, so I would like to excuse
our visitors from Darwin with thanks for making the trip up here.
Everyone stood while the various officers and liaisons quickly and quietly left
the room; they all had other business more than they cared for.
Williams cleared the conference room, one of the men from Darwin walked over
and politely pulled him aside by the elbow. Not again. Williams
Commander Williams. said the man, You find yourself in an
interesting situation. Williams tried to nod cryptically in imitation of
the Californian diplomat he had met.
Australian looked at him searchingly for a few seconds. How do you like
orbital service Commander? he asked bluntly.
test, Williams replied. You are getting at something Im sure sir,
what exactly is it?
Good. replied the diplomat. You will work splendidly. I would
like to invite you to transfer to Central Command, where you will serve as
military liaison. It will likely take you back to California, as implied by
your kind hosts when you visited there recently.
smirked at the sarcasm, Is this really an invitation sir?
Im afraid not, confirmation came through during this meeting, you
are returning to Darwin with us, but dont worry. he said, seeing
the look on Williams face, We are not leaving for several
days. The man smiled, slapped Williams on the shoulder and congratulated
him. Youll love it. he said and walked away.
down, Williams stared thoughtfully and softly tapped the floor with the tip of
in the meeting center was Colonel Frazier and his command staff, along with
Colonel Gustav Rusman who was commander of army level intelligence.
Rusmans responsibilities were complicated. In Australian armed forces
structure, theater level intelligence engaged freely in a wide variety of
activities ranging from counterespionage to industrial spying. It commonly
overlapped state intelligence operations, a leftover of earlier, more chaotic
Well, said General Frazier, What do you all think of
Kalimantan? Are we being double-crossed by the Selangor? he asked,
referring to the army recon team that went missing there.
Possibly. said Rusman as he precisely drummed his fingers on the
table top. Unfortunately the team disappeared so completely that we have
nothing to go on. The offensive started soon after, which diverted any
resources that might have launched a rescue mission. The trail is cold
up. If the Selangor were up to something big over there, we would know
that anyway, correct?
stared at Rusman for a few seconds and tilted his head in Gibsons
direction. They were up to something near Mars orbit and nobody caught
that. He wryly tilted his head back again and looked across the table;
Nix, any ideas? His other divisional commander shook his head. Nix
was one of the best operational planners in the theater, but he had little
experience running intelligence or issues above corps level.
thought for another moment and then continued. We should find out, maybe
the one recon team is gone, but we need to lay pipe for the next round. How are
you set for resources Colonel?
could use another good field officer who knows the area. Rusman replied.
Preferably someone who has been here a while, military experience is a
must, but whoever it is needs to be able to operate mostly with
tilted his head back over in Gibsons direction. Well Gibson?
he commented in a sly tone, That sounds like you. Had enough of getting
shot at by the Selangor?
wasnt surprised. He had been tinkering around the edges of intelligence
work for a while, and it was now advanced enough to be the next obvious
decision. The Colonel needed another man and Gibson was the best, closest fit.
With so few people available in the world, that fell cleanly into the
good enough category. Inside he smiled; this was the necessary next
Im sure Ill still have plenty of chances to get shot at
sir. replied Gibson. And yes, that does sound like me. He
looked over at Colonel Rusman. When do I report Colonel?
minutes ago. replied Rusman with an evil grin. Dont think
this will be easy. he added.
Bullcrap. replied Frazier. Thats exactly what it will
be, but someone has to do it, and I feel better knowing its not some
bonehead from Eastern Litchfield. he said, referring to one of the
trendier rich districts of the Australian capital.
looked more directly at Gibson. Alright Major , we will meet over the
coming days and you will be debriefed by officers running similar operations
elsewhere. Any ideas you might have now, start fleshing them out.
thought. If they only knew how close he was to just that. Gibson already had
his first operative lined up, purely by accident the perfect person to
dig around Singapore, sniffing for any stink of Kalimantan that might be
floating around the city. Yes, he knew just the person.