Read me the story
Strategic Briefing to the High Command
General-Hartmann Jamed Ursek
“The notion of planetary conquest may be a crazy one, but then, we may all qualify as madmen anyway. How else? With our homes destroyed, our families dead, our colony facing bankruptcy and repossession, ourselves facing forced debt-contracts for sale by the Hub Galactibanks that hold the colony’s notes, insanity seems the least of our concerns. Let’s concentrate on feasibility, instead.
There isn’t even anyone to blame, since whichever ham-handed idiot stumbled onto the catalytic reaction at Rayki Weapons Lab, was certainly the first to die. We can only pray that the death that engulfed half a billion of the Creator’s Faithful within hours was a swift and painless transition to Eternity.
The Church promises it was so. And they have presented us with a rationale for planetary conquest: The dissolution of the Klaros Colony would mean oblivion for the True Faith, scattering believers among the heretics and heathens of the Hub, and placing them under the influence of the corrupt anti-Church of the Old Colonies.
Therefore, they as well as the CivAdmin have proposed the remedy: Find another planet to become Klaros III. And since our about-to-be-bankrupt condition rules out the normal route of contracting with one of the big terraforming combines to transform a fresh planet into a human habitat, we’ll have to steal one. A planet already inhabited.
And it will have to be from someone who can’t put up much of a fight. We have plenty of military assets left, since most of them had been off-planet among the various Protectorates, mining facilities, or Insystem bases, but there is no longer a colonial infrastructure of population and resources to replenish personnel and supplies. We must be very careful about how we spend what remains.
The chosen planet will have to be situated so as to take us off the scanplots of those who would be eager to pick our colonial bones dry as soon as the news of the disaster percolates through the far-flung communications network of the Hub. Better than a thousand hours, by subspace transit, from the thickly settled clusters of the Central nexi. Someplace our remnant population of nearly a million can hole up for a couple of centuries and breed itself back into a respectable threat to Galactic peace and security.
Oh, yes—and someplace with plenty of women. With the exception of the population center around the Moonbase complex—Pykalt and its various exurbs, the Treasuredome recreational resort, and a couple of female monasteries of the escape-the-world variety, none of the surviving clusters of Klarosians has much in the way of female population. Men currently outnumber women by better than ten to one. Which leaves a most unfavorable ratio for the Divine mandate of propagation laid upon the Faithful. One way or another, we’ll need to get more women into the mix.
Although somewhat impeded by the necessity of maintaining sequestration from the standard datanets, my staff have identified three potential targets:
Target one is a Vynar mining base, colonized for its location in a system whose Kuiper Belt was assayed rich in transuranics. The planet still has a good hundred years or more left in its terraformed lifecycle, but the Vynar has been pulling their people out to work a new claim much nearer to the mother colony. Whether they’d devote substantial resources to defending and/or reclaiming the relatively minor remnant on Vynar-Nisk’ta is doubtful at best. However, it is a bit less than a thousand hours interstellar from the Pvronich Cluster, the nearest Hub commerce center and Mercantile Authority subsector.
The second target is a Rim daughter of Wen Amashi, colonized fairly recently, far enough off the main axis of Wen’shi population to make its defense problematic. The downside here is the Wen’shi reputation for ferocious tenacity. It is just possible that they’d mount a real defense—and if they do, they are a pretty even match for us. The other downside: The Wen’shi are heretics of the Neo-Tritemprian cult, which would expose the Faithful to a particularly pernicious form of spiritual contamination. The Church may find this target problematic.
The third target is called Veran, a thousand hours interstellar from Klaros and perhaps half again that from the nearest Hub commerce nexus. What little intelligence we had on it comes from a sketchy entry in Caslon’s All The Colonized Planets, a few Independent Trade Fleet references and old University League records. It’s well off Hub scanplots, its sole contacts with the rest of human-inhabited space being an occasional I-Fleet trader. It is reputed to have decent planetary defenses primarily of the orbital type, to discourage potential piracy, and a small contingent of modestly-equipped planetary forces. It was initially colonized by some fringe group of Anachronist fanatics to be a non-tech colony, so long ago that little information is available on its charter and terraforming. But non-tech colonies had much longer terraform lifecycles, and the few recent I-Fleet references indicated that its habitation resources remain substantial.”