ES Store ES Gaming ES Stories About the Eylau Sequence Go to ES Home Page


the eylau sequence.war

For once Stave Gibson was actually in his office at Australian Army Command in Darwin. He had several intelligence appreciations of new Selangor defenses being built in the aftermath of the last offensive. They were obviously digging in deep and intended to keep what they had captured… always a bad sign.

He was suddenly aware of being watched, looking up he saw someone standing in the doorway who had been on his mind a lot. “Nengghi!” he shouted, “Are you okay?” he asked in sudden concern, her extraction date was weeks away.

“Yes.” she responded. “But I am afraid I failed, they discovered me and sent me back.”

“Sent you back!?” replied Gibson incredulously, he held her at arm’s length, grasping her lightly by the shoulders and glancing for any signs of physical trauma. She seemed in good health. The Selangor usually liquidated spies, and typically did so with great alacrity.

“How did that happen?” he asked.

“I don’t know.” she replied, “But the man who told me to leave said I should give you this.” Nengghi reached out and set an overripe blueberry in the palm of Gibson’s hand, she looked at him in confusion. Seeing the blueberry he felt as if struck by lightning.

“Look at that…” he muttered out loud. Smiling broadly, he glanced up and down the hallway in a sort of knee-jerk reaction. He thought for a moment, and then managed to compose himself.

“Have you been debriefed by anyone, or did you come straight to me?”

“I came straight to you.” she said. “In fact after going through decontamination at the main entrance I was escorted to your office by one of the security teams. They didn’t wait; they just left me at the door here.”

“Hmph.” he replied, wondering to himself what that meant and how it was they didn’t take the piece of fruit she was carrying. Those questions would have to come later. Apparently it was not an exploding blueberry so hopefully no harm done.

“How did you get here? You obviously didn’t contact our people in Singapore for extraction.”

“No,” she said. “The Selangor man had me sent to South Africa and back to Darwin with enough money to come here. He even advised me not to contact anyone. Stave... what does this mean? Did I fail?”

Gibson looked at her, her eyes earnest and serious. She had been in doubt for days and needed an explanation. First things first; “No, you did not fail.” he said in earnest. “This.” he said, holding up the increasingly smashed blueberry. “This is important, and you did it. Okay, so you did great!” With that, he wrapped his arms around her and gave her a long, strong hug. He could feel her head rest lightly on his shoulder, yes, they both missed each other. He was having doubts about letting her go into the field again, but he also knew that it was no longer his decision, it was hers now.

“Alright.” he said, bringing her back to eye level, “Are you hungry?” She nodded her head. “Let’s go then, we’ll have some food brought to a debriefing room and you can tell me what happened.”


|||||   |||||


The next afternoon Gibson was at a theater level meeting, part of which related to new plans being formulated for an Australian counteroffensive against Selangor positions on Java. Opinions were split on whether that was a wise course of action given Japan’s strikes against the Selangor.

“The Japanese are against the Selangor, and fighting on Java has no impact on Japanese resources.” said a Colonel Duncan, senior operational planner for the Java front and proponent of a Javanese counteroffensive. “This is doable, and the Japanese will not get involved. It will restore the strategic balance to the pre-offensive status, why would anyone hold that from us?” he asked defensively. Gibson smelled the gritty odor of demagoguery in the air.

“Because, it could easily spread to other theaters – at the very least low Earth orbit – and that would attract Japanese attention.” responded Colonel Rusman, Gibson’s commander and head of theater level intelligence. General Frazier remained silent on the issue, although Gibson suspected the true impetus for a counterattack was political more than military. If true, the idea needed to be viewed with suspicion.

“Even so.” replied Duncan. “What the Japanese did to the Selangor up on Mars was trivial, and they would be even less likely to intervene directly on Earth, they don’t even care about Earth anymore.”

“Oh they care Colonel Duncan.” replied a familiar voice. Gibson turned to see Commander Williams, the orbital forces officer he had meet a few months previously. Williams had just returned from a visit to San Diego – at the request of the Californians. Everyone was deeply curious what that was about.

He continued; “What they did on Mars was not trivial, and do not mistake Japan’s relative lack of interest in Australia as a general carelessness for the entire planet. Also remember that somewhere on Earth lives an unknown number of Japanese who are their lifeblood for contact with the rest of humanity. Their centuries-long history of attention to California’s welfare is no small matter either. No Colonel, they care, and I agree with Colonel Rusman, the repercussions would not be worth what gains might be achieved in central Java. A counteroffensive at this stage would be purely for national pride and not for tangible gain.”

“And what is wrong with national pride?” responded Duncan.

“Nothing.” interjected Gibson; “So long as it is not used as a crowbar to force something that should be leveraged in some other way. National pride helps us to fight and win, but it is not an arbiter of operational planning.” Gibson was starting to wonder how this army colonel got his position.

Duncan defiantly looked at the three officers arrayed against him. They had seniority on him, and they were better placed than him, so he was backing down for now. But he was obviously working to convince other people of his point, and it was equally obvious he was not going to give up. Gibson made a mental note to pay closer attention to Duncan’s activities.

“Alright.” Duncan replied grudgingly. “We can shelve it for now, but we need to keep a closer eye on the Japanese and Selangor. We have been attacked once; we could be attacked again, by either of them.”

Gibson looked at Rusman. They both knew this Duncan character was after something.

General Frazier finally stepped into the conversation. “Alright gentlemen, I think our main points are covered. Operational planners in Darwin are free to make plans for a prospective counteroffensive, but such an offensive is not currently on the table.” He shot Duncan a cold stare – Duncan may have friends in Darwin, but he was still technically assigned to Frazier’s Java Front Command. And Frazier was a powerful man – for good reason.

“Regarding our other meeting points, we will continue with construction on the new defense lines and work more closely with strategic and orbital forces for a better tie-in during major operations. This last offensive revealed some weaknesses we need to clean-up before anything else happens. Also, we should consider assignment of assets for an investigation of the metallic corrosive appearing in-theater. This may be another Selangor action against us.” With that the general stood and everyone else in the room followed suit. “Dismissed gentlemen, I would like Colonel Rusman and his people to stay, along with Commander Williams.”

Commander Williams looked down the length of the sleek, long meeting table and spoke up; “General, if we could also have officers divisional level and above remain, including those from Northeast command, I would appreciate it.” General Frazier nodded and panned across the room at the several men for whom that invitation applied. They all stopped and sat back down again. To the rest the general gave a brief thank you as they filed out of the room.

“Alright gentlemen.” continued the general. “For the intelligence portion of our meeting, we will retain our chronological order on priorities and hear first from Major Gibson, Major:”

“Thank you General.” replied Gibson. “As some of you already know, we have received what may be a backchannel contact from Selangor intelligence.” To this Commander Williams looked up in surprise, this was news to him. “Yes.” continued Gibson. “We are not going to divulge much more than that, but I would like you to be aware that this situation exists, just in case something comes your way. The reference frame code for operators on this project is NZBLUE, if any of my people end up in your area of command, they may have been forced far afield by events and probably need your assistance, which should be rendered as highest priority. This is of course classified and should not be shared with subordinates. That is all for now.” With that, Gibson sat down.

General Frazier raised his arm again; “Commander Williams:”

“Thank you General.” replied Williams. “My visit to California may prove to be a surprise for several reasons. I know many of you may have hoped that California – possibly with Japanese acquiescence – was approaching us regarding military cooperation. That is definitely not thecase, we have not received even a hint of such interest.”

After a few murmured comments from around the table he continued; “Some here will probably be disappointed with the reason for my invitation. I need to point out a few items in advance; a) The Californians have long been isolationists and they consider our current level of contact to be adequate, b) They know what they are doing – just in case any of you were wondering, and c) They have only contacted us after deciding that their discoveries are not something to be kept gratuitously secret.”

A combination of confused looks and intelligent nodding made the rounds about the meeting table. Williams kept up his outline. “So here it is gentlemen, I’m forwarding to you the general outline of our conversations and the conclusions I have arrived at. But the basic premise is simple: The Californians have been encountering invasive life that may present a long term environmental threat. And put simply, they are asking if we are seeing the same thing. Unfortunately I had to tell them no. The only match came when I was asked if we had experienced any unexplained missing personnel. I told them we had a reconnaissance team go missing somewhere in Asia, I did not tell them it was a trained intelligence gathering group operating in Kalimantan. Nevertheless, they found even that interesting and asked us to revisit the incident – and any other related events – in light of their particular concerns.”

Williams stopped and looked around the table. He was glad that most of the officers present did not act overly surprised. The way the world had gone the last few centuries, people were willing to believe anything.

“So gentlemen.” he continued. “Anything that fits the profiles listed; disappearances of individuals or teams, encounters with previously unknown and especially dangerous wild animals and unexpected disruptions to local ecosystems. Regarding any regional academics who might come to your attention, politely query them on recent events and let them talk, see if they reveal anything of interest. This has apparently been a successful formula. Do not however, share this information yet until we have a chance to assess its impact.”

On that note, Williams paused and looked around the room. It was one of the divisional officers from the Northeast Theater who spoke up first; “Commander, some things that came up over the last few months in our area along the northern coast of Papua might be of interest. Until now I had not associated the two.” The officer looked around the room in slight hesitation as he composed his thoughts. “Sir, we have had problems with locals, mostly complaining about leopards attacking their animals, quite a few people have disappeared also. One of our men claimed to have seen a panther at long range, but he is known to have an active imagination and he has been to places where they really have panthers. As you most of you may know, neither panthers nor leopards are endemic to Papua.”

Williams looked at him soberly.“And the other thing?”

“Farmers living along the coast have been suffering mass crop failures inside their remote growing centers.” The officer was talking about the protected crop growing modules kept scattered along the coast. They took advantage of local rainfall and the general benefits of dispersion. Such unmanned crop growing modules were common around the equator, where the weather was not quite so viciously intemperate as further north.

“Interesting.” replied Williams. “Did they happen to report how the crops failed?”

“Vaguely.” replied the officer. “Most failures happened near the ocean, and in all cases the crops inside and as well as plant growth in the immediate area were shredded, as if they had been chewed apart – finely shredded was the most common description I heard. They were mystified as to how anything could get inside the modules to do such a thing, but the general belief is that some sort of mass migrating insect caused it, like locusts. However we have not seen locusts in the area, so again, it has been a mystery. Until now we did not consider it to be a concern to us.”

“Time to make it a concern Major.” replied General Frazier. He looked over at Commander Williams. “We will pay closer attention to this and see what we come up with... anyone else?” he asked, looking about the room.

At that, the general stood and punched his index finger in the air, a sure sign that he was already sliding through data threads in preparation for his next meeting. He disengaged from that long enough to dismiss the meeting and thank the participants. Everyone stood and began to clear the room. Major Gibson walked over to Commander Williams.

“Commander,” Gibson said. “I am very interested in this if you don’t mind. I can tell you now that this metallic corrosive everyone is blaming on the Selangor – well, that could easily be part and parcel of this invasive thing going on in California. I will keep a closer eye on that part of the investigation and let you know what I find out.”

“Good, thank you Major.” replied Williams. “It is very likely they are on to something.”

“Well.” replied Gibson. “We will certainly pay closer attention from now on eh?” he asked rhetorically with a glint in his eye. The two men saluted each other and headed out of the room.


Colonel Rusman called out to Gibson “Oh Major, could you stay for a few moments.” Gibson stopped and allowed the rest of the crowd to filter out of the room. Returning to his seat, Rusman said “No, you can sit over here, this is not entirely official.”

Gibson walked around the large table and sat down in the chair Rusman had pulled aside.

“Do you mind if I call you ‘Gib,’ seems like a few people can take that liberty.”

“Sure.” replied Gibson.

“Good, I have a lot of respect for you, given your service record it is no surprise that your hunches have a way of playing themselves out just right.” The colonel paused and then went on. “You know Gib, working in intelligence there are a number of husband-wife teams, or ones that are nearly so. In all of those cases, both parties are highly trained professionals. Yours is the only case where two such different operational levels are involved… so-to-speak.” He paused again. Gibson wisely remained silent but attentive. “No false steps now.” he told himself.

The Colonel continued; “I trust you Major ; and I trust your sense of judgment in people. But you should know that if for some reason this apparently enthusiastic young woman does not work out, if she somehow gets turned or ends up becoming a witless puppet in some Selangor scheme… well, it will land almost entirely on your shoulders. I know you know this, and I just wanted to make sure you have every chance to change your mind if you are not one-hundred percent about it.”

“Otherwise.” he said. “You have my complete confidence and I encourage you to keep up the great work. I hear she is a quick study by the way.” The Colonel paused to give Gibson the opportunity to speak.

“Thank you Sir.” Gibson replied, “I have considered all the things you mentioned and I continue to have the highest confidence. I’ll be the first one to tell you if I start to have any doubts, trust me sir.”

“I do.” replied Rusman. Both men smiled and Rusman rose. With a knowing nod he walked out of the room.

Gibson stood and reviewed the last hour of conversations. Satisfied that his business for the day was finished, he brought up his display and pinged the name at the top of his contacts. Within a few moments, Nengghi’s face appeared in the air before the Major. She had just gotten out of the shower in Gibson’s spacious quarters and he could suddenly smell the soap she liked to use.

“Hi.” Gibson said. “Guess what?” he asked with an impish grin.


Next: 20. One Plus One

  Copyright © 2012 by WTJ. All rights reserved.