Bush Fires (a Core-verse story)

The first spin-off from The Terra Core (see http://www.movellas.com/en/book/read/201310281154034479-the-terra-core for the details), this story will take a look at the wider universe the Core stories inhabit- and take us into the world of the United Western Alliance military, as they deal with terrorists, insurgents and crumbling regimes.

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3. Getting Ready

The Oval Office was a somewhat tense place right now. Vice-President Lemaire, not noted for being a fan of the military, was red-faced and looked like a dog that had swallowed a wasp as General Walters explained to him- rather bluntly- that they required at least ten million soldiers to patrol the world of Free Sirius 3.

President Bazzoli had for a moment looked confused by the scale of Walters' request, but he'd masked his worries with the well-rehearsed efforts that politicians perfected over the years.

Mrs Vincent, Defence Secretary, had so far said nothing.

Bazzoli at least, had a question that seemed intelligent. It was borne out of ignorance, but at least he was asking the right question.

"How much of a threat can USP or ODM forces pose to our own?" He asked.

"At this point Mr President, we enjoy a number of advantages. When it comes to the USP military, they do have training and they do have proper military equipment- their soldiers have powered armour, decent communications and sensors, and reasonable weapons. However, none of them can match our own for performance. I would also be willing to bet my reputation that our troops are better-trained- considerably better-trained." Walters said confidently.

"The ODM are completely outmatched. They have some military gear, thanks to defecting armed forces personnel, but nowhere near as much. They are relying on untrained rebels who have scavanged whatever equipment they could find. They are less of a direct threat, though they are less likely to think things through and more like to try something stupid."

"So it sounds like you're proposing overkill with our numbers if we are that much better anyway." Lemaire sneered.

Cooke resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Walters made no such effort.

"My reasons for our numbers remain unchanged. I'm not going to explain them again." He didn't even glance at the Vice President. Lemaire didn't like that.

"What you are both suggesting as far as numbers is concerned will be hugely expensive! Not to mention we will look like invaders! The Russian Federation and the MEA will have a field day with this!"

"Mr Vice President, what we are suggesting is a pragmatic means of preventing a world of 700 million people on our border from descending into complete anarchy. If Free Sirius 3 goes down the crapper, millions of people, many of whom may have hostile interests to each other and possible to the UWA (especially given our strained relationship with the FWS) will come flooding into our territory. I won't waste my breath on the financial implications of this, though there will be financial implications. I will instead point out that we will have allowed a humanitarian crisis of unimaginable scale to erupt on our doorstep, that we will have placed our under-strength forces into harm's way, and that our worlds- our worlds- will be left to pick up the pieces. The RF and MEA will most certainly have a field day with that." Walters did not try and hide his irritation with Lemaire, who bristled,and looked ready to say more, but Bazzoli raised a hand.

"Enough, both of you. I will address your points in a moment General. Admiral Cooke..." The President turned his attention to the Chief Naval Officer. "What is the comparison between our navy and theirs?"

Cooke stood. "The advantage is definitely with us Mr President. Our intelligence suggests they are at least thirty years behind us in the fields of sublight propulsion, armour, shields, ECM, missile range, missile firepower, and ion cannon range and power. I would also add that the training of our crews is second to none."

Mr Bazzoli appeared satisfied with that.

"Is there anything you would like to add Mrs Vincent?" The President asked.

"No thank you Mr President, except to say I have complete confidence in Admiral Cooke and General Walters. I trust their evaluation of the situation and if they say these are the best plans then they are the best plans."

"Very good." Replied Bazzoli. "Gentlemen, thank you for your presentations. I know I haven't given you much time to make your cases, but time is not on our side. I will briefly discuss them with Mrs Vincent and Mr Lemaire, but, as regrettable as it may be to send in so many of our forces, I fear it necessary."

Both Cooke and Walters wanted to roll their eyes at all the waffle.

"You are dismissed. Unless you hear otherwise, begin preparing your people."

****

"Well I have to say I'm glad that's over with." Walters muttered as he and Admiral Cooke stepped into Walters' office.

The spartan look of Walters' office within the Pentagon was in contrast to the elegant and somewhat exuberant look within Cooke's. A plain desk that might have come from the nearest office supplies store held a computer and a couple of pictures and the filing cabinet was an old-fashioned metal one. It was very simple- rather like Walters' tastes.

Only the chairs were a concession to comfort. Big, plump, leather-faced numbers that the two men sank into, before Walters reached under the desk, opening up the bottle of fine aged bourbon that he kept there, and took out two glasses.

"Drink?" He asked with a smile.

"Oh yes please." Replied Cooke.

Walters grinned as he poured out two drinks. "I think our dear Vice President hates me even more now."

"Is that possible?" Cooke asked with a twinkle in his eyes.

"I didn't think it was, but those looks he kept giving me... well, I don't think I'll be on his Christmas card list this year."

"One day, your cocky attitude toward the establishment will end up costing you your job." Cooke sipped on his bourbon. "Damn that's good."

"Not a chance. Bazzoli isn't going to sack me, he knows my ideas are good, even if he doesn't always want to admit it. Lemaire can hate my guts for all I care."

Cooke took another sip. "So, ten million soldiers, minimum. How many do you really plan to send?"

"I was thinking fifteen million. If you're willing, I'd like 750,000 Marines deployed as special forces."

"Don't want much do you?" Cooke laughed. "I think I can rustle up the Marines. Four sector fleets... I know it may look like overkill, but I can imagine both the USP and ODM will try to get weapons into Free Sirius 3 by any and every means possible."

Walters nodded. "That they most certainly will. I think, first thing in the morning, I'll send word out to the Army to prepare for a long, drawn-out mission. It's bound to end up that way."

 

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