Outward: Chapter 10: Battle Plan

TSgt Abernathy saluted as the car door opened and Maj Raskin climbed out. He returned the salute with his free hand as his other one held a phone to his year.

“I’ve just arrived at the facility now, sir,” he said. “Yes, sir, I will keep this line open. Yes, sir.” He hung up and quickly shoved the phone into his pocket. “Report, Sergeant.”

“Sir,” TSgt Abernathy began, “evacuation of the building proceeded without incident. All personnel accounted for. With the exceptions of Messrs. Rubio, Wright, and Aaronson, they have all been sent home. Airmen Roberts and Grant are patrolling the perimeter to watch for anyone or anything attempting to enter or leave the facility.”

“Good work, Sergeant. And the two of you as well,” he said to the engineers. “If you hadn’t noticed the Mackinelly Device’s movement, the situation would have continued developing without our knowledge. As it is, we may be able to respond before we lose all control.”

“Mackinelly Device?”

Maj Raskin shrugged. “It’s what SECDEF wants to call it. I just got off the phone with him. Sergeant, have you started a file on lessons learned yet?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Here’s one to add, when we get the time: I need to have a way to contact SECDEF without the Pentagon’s switchboard giving me the run-around. That, or give me someone to report to who is allowed to call him.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Well.” Maj Raskin relaxed slightly. “Here’s the situation. Our mission is to prevent the Mackinelly Device from establishing a foothold, at any cost.”

“Excuse me, um, sir,” Luke said, limply raising a hand. “What’s a foothold?”

“An alien base of operations on Earth. Something it or they would be able to hold secure from us.”

“It would be the first step of a full-scale invasion of the planet,” TSgt Abernathy added. “A base they could use as a launching point for further attacks.”

“Exactly,” Maj Raskin continued. “An alien species capable of interstellar travel is clearly more technologically advanced than us. Our only hope to defend ourselves against them would be to defeat them before they’ve had an opportunity to get entrenched.”

“Assuming, of course, that this is an attempted invasion.”

“Yes, Sergeant, which leads into our mission objectives. Objective one: assess the intentions of the Mackinelly Device.”

“Of course it’s hostile!” Marcus interrupted. “It’s taking over the building! We barely got out of there in time!”

“The evacuation was orderly and uneventful,” TSgt Abernathy corrected. “The only alien activity we’ve observed so far are those robot spider things in two unoccupied and unused rooms. As far as we know it may not even be aware of our presence at all.”

“They’ve been walking around it for hours!” Marcus continued, pointing to his two engineers. “Doing all kinds of tests on it!”

“We have no idea whether it’s any more aware of people around it than your computer is.”

“Objective two,” Maj Raskin said, loud enough to get the briefing back on track, “is to assess the extent of the Mackinelly Device’s expansion into the facility, especially any signs that it has escaped the facility outright. Hopefully it’s still too early for that to have happened, but we need to know what we’re dealing with here.”

TSgt Abernathy nodded in agreement.

“Objective three, if the Mackinelly Device does prove to be hostile, or cannot be coerced somehow to cease its expansion: destroy it.”

“How do we do that, sir?”

“That information is on a strict need-to-know. Speaking of which, given that this is now a military operation, all civilians not serving in a law enforcement or first responder capacity are instructed to vacate the premises at once. That means you three, gentlemen.”

Marcus opened his mouth to protest, then quickly closed it again when he caught sight of the look TSgt Abernathy was giving him. “Come on guys, let’s get out of here,” he said as he started walking to the parking lot.

Once the civilians were out of earshot, TSgt Abernathy said, “I assume I have a need-to-know, sir?”

“As much as I do, at least,” Maj Raskin replied. “As we speak, the President is asking the Governor to mobilize the Army National Guard. They’ll be serving three functions. First, they’ll be taking over perimeter security from our two airmen. Second, they’ll be sending in a couple teams to help deal with Objective Two.”

“But sir,” TSgt Abernathy objected, “they’re not going to be trained to handle alien contact situations.”

“Which is why I’ll be sending them to check the upper floors, where they shouldn’t need to do anything but give an all-clear. But third, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll be evacuating everyone within a one-mile radius of the facility.”

“How come?”

“There may not be enough time to clear a two-mile radius.”

“That’s not what I meant, sir.”

“I don’t know all the details myself. Like I said, need-to-know. But from what SECDEF was willing to tell me, there are plans to destroy the entire facility as a precaution, if it comes down to it. We don’t want any civilian casualties if we go down that road.”

TSgt Abernathy noticed there was a conspicuous TSgt Abernathy-shaped hole in the plan. And she could hazard a guess how it was getting filled. “And you want to send me into the facility before it gets blown up.”

“In and out, of course,” Maj Raskin replied. “Along with Roberts and Grant. It’ll be up to your team to determine as best you can whether the Mackinelly Device is hostile and what its objectives might be. I want to know everything there is to know about it. This will likely be our only chance to do so.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And Sergeant, your team is not to engage the Mackinelly Device or whatever else may be in there now, unless it engages you first. If it’s not hostile, I don’t want to make it hostile. And if there’s going to be an interstellar war, we’re not going to be the side that starts it. Maybe it will fire the first shot, but we’ll be sure to fire shots two and onward. Besides, I don’t want to tip it off that SECDEF has some kind of all-out assault in the works. Let’s not encourage it to dig in any further than it already has.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And be sure to stay in radio contact while you’re in there. If we’re going to pull the trigger out here, I want you to be able to clear out first. Your mission begins once the National Guard gets here to take over perimeter defense.”

TSgt Abernathy finished briefing her team on the assignment.

“So it’s just like beaming over to a Borg cube,” SrA Grant said as she was checking her equipment. “Don’t do anything hostile, and they should ignore you.”

“You wish,” SrA Roberts replied. “Alien robot spiders? Those are clearly Replicators in there.”

“Replicators would be no problem. Those are always vulnerable to bullets, and we’ve got plenty of those.” SrA Grant patted one of her spare magazines.

“The Borg are even bigger pushovers. You can kill them with friggin’ holographic bullets.”

“Hey, holographic bullets are just as good as real bullets if the Holodeck safeties are off.”

TSgt Abernathy took a look around. The Guardsmen had already established a perimeter around the facility. They’d be able to do a better job at it than her two airmen, she had to admit, but only because they had about twenty times as many people on hand for the job. Nearby, two three-man teams of Guardsmen were preparing for their own incursions into the facility. She was guessing Maj Raskin hadn’t mentioned to them how they probably wouldn’t encounter anything on the floors they’d be on.

“Where are Replicators going to get their hands on an Asgard mothership after wiping them out to extinction?” SrA Grant protested.

“Like they weren’t going to still going to be flying them around,” SrA Roberts replied. “Come on.”

“It doesn’t matter anyway. A Borg cube would adapt to the frequency of the Asgard beam weapon after one, maybe two hits, if the Replicators are lucky.”

“They’re only going to need one shot.”

“A Borg cube is huge and has a highly distributed infrastructure. You’d need to destroy 78% of it to knock it out. I don’t care how powerful an Asgard beam weapon is, that would take more than two shots.”

The parking lot was choked with National Guard trucks, police vehicles, fire trucks, ambulances, and news vans. She could see Maj Raskin running around, no doubt ordering them to move out past the one-mile exclusion zone before he sicced the Guardsmen on them.

“The Borg are slow,” SrA Roberts pointed out, “and Replicators are drawn to advanced technology. Beaming a Borg over to the Asgard ship would be like throwing a fat kid wearing a meat vest into a shark tank. No Borg is going to be able to so much as touch a console before getting swarmed and dismantled by Replicators.”

“Do you have any idea how many drones are on a cube?” SrA Grant countered. “The Borg aren’t going to care what the body count is. Each one they beam over is a little bit more information they learn about Asgard and Replicator technology. They’ll eventually learn enough to gain control of the Asgard ship remotely and download Borg software into the Replicators. Bam, they just assimilated the Replicators.”

“You say this like the Replicators won’t be beaming themselves onto the cube all this time. The Borg won’t realize the threat the Replicators pose until they’re taking the cube apart from the inside out and building thousands of Replicators a minute!”

“All the Borg have to do is transwarp over to Dakara and use the Ancient superweapon there to wipe out all Replicators in the galaxy, just like SG-1 did in Season Eight. Problem solved. And yes, they’ll know about Dakara, because they’ll have assimilated a Goa’uld before they encounter any Replicators.”

“You can’t just assume the Borg cube is going to be in the Stargate universe, and not the other way around.”

“The Borg don’t care about universe boundaries! Just ask Species 8472!”

“Oh for crying out loud,” TSgt Abernathy muttered. Then, more loudly, “Knock if off, you two. An Asgard ship overrun with Replicators would win a fight against a Borg cube because the Borg aren’t going to know to use bullets to kill them. And before you start, if it were a Goa’uld ship overrun with Replicators, then the Borg would win since a Borg cube doesn’t have a ring platform, so the Replicators would have no way to beam themselves over, and the Borg could slowly but inexorably take over the Goa’uld ship at their leisure. Now that that’s settled, let’s get in there and see what we’re up against.”


Chapter word count: 1,816 (+149)
Total word count: 17,836 / 50,000 (35.672%)