Aratar System (Federation of United Planets)—Aratar I Space Station
Grand Admiral Oskiol left his office and headed for the station’s control room.
This was the main logistical center for the resistance of what remained of the Federation. As a practical control room, it was a far cry from the majestic offices and gathering halls where Federation meetings had taken place back on Terra!
Oskiol approached one of the tired-looking operators, who immediately rose to his feet and saluted. “Grand Admiral! What are you doing here, Sir?”
Oskiol replied, “Put me in touch with all the commanders and admirals of the fleet immediately.”
The operator, surprised by this request, answered, “Uh… Well Sir, it will take some time to contact them… I will start at once.”
Oskiol didn’t respond. He sat in the nearby chair intended for the commanders of station operations and waited for his request to be fulfilled. After an impressively short five minutes, hundreds of faces of admirals and commanders were displayed on the huge console in front of him.
Oskiol stood once more, since he was giving a military speech. “Dear soldiers! I know that we have just suffered a difficult defeat on Terra, but I have vital information that the enemy is severely weakened and immobilized on Terra. We must move quickly. We must take advantage of this state of affairs and—”
An admiral cut him off. “Grand Admiral! With all due respect, Sir, it’s only been three days since we returned from Terra. Twenty percent of the fleet is still being inspected or repaired. I don’t see how we can perform another raid on Terra!”
Oskiol answered, “Precisely. it is not about Terra… We’re going to split the fleet in two, and launch an offensive on both Isirus and Okor.* The Battle of Terra showed us that we are outnumbered and outgunned by the Imperials, so we need to wage guerrilla warfare against them. We must hit them where it hurts the most, economically speaking!”
Another commander interrupted him. “Even if we take control of these two systems and plunder their resources, the Empire will not remain unmoved! They’ll just send their fleet to take them back. It’s not as though we can just load up entire planets’ worth of resources and fly away with them!”
A heavy silence fell over the whole call.
Then another admiral spoke up, sounding desperate to please. “This is a brilliant plan, Grand Admiral! Let’s hope it works. I will address my prayers to the Goddess Themis for the success of your plan!” There was another awkward silence, but then other voices began muttering their agreement, caving to the pressure of the Grand Admiral’s rank.
Oskiol replied, “Be ready as soon as possible. We can’t afford to have any spies on any of our staff leaking a single detail, considering how badly we’re outgunned! Prepare for battle at the earliest opportunity.”
Terra—South Industrial Zone
The coalition of players began to reorganize after their recent “strategic retreat,” but the huge size of the group made for an equally large challenge.
Over a million players needed to be involved in the plan, which made it a real logistical headache! Hundreds of thousands of sub-groups had to be divided up, each with at least one officer to manage these sub-groups.
For this purpose, the guild representatives were again reunited.
Lotus said, “The final preparations are done and the groups are finally reorganized. We can now finish with this damned planet! That is, once we’ve overcome one of the biggest weapons hangars on the planet, a hundred kilometers to the north.”
One big guild’s representative said, “We trust you, Commander! After all, your plan to evacuate us through the sewers of Terra is the reason we’re all safe.”
Lotus answered with a gracious smile. “It’s now time to counterattack and slit the throats of the enemy who wants to kill us! I know that many of you don’t like being led by me. Not only am I a woman, but I’m also the leader of a guild that is far less important than many of yours. Nonetheless, we’re all in the same boat! Either we triumph together… or we die together.”
Most of the guild representatives had been stuck on Terra for almost two weeks. Even if their being commanded by Lotus was painful, most were more than tired of not being able to actually play the game anymore. They longed to leave this planet and be able to earn EXP and GC again.
So most of them nodded their heads in approval of her plan. After all, the basic plan was one many of them agreed with. The subject of hitting the military warehouses had always been popular, one suggested by many of the guild representatives.
There was a dual interest in capturing it: first, to handicap the opponent. This vast military warehouse was not only an ammunition depot but also a storage unit for whole sets of weapons, armor, medical material, and military infrastructure tools that allowed the infantry to function normally.
But most importantly, it was a warehouse where particularly sensitive weapons were stored, such as tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. It was even quite likely that it held secret weapons, ones never before revealed on the battlefield.
All these factors made it a privileged potential target, but before now, the idea of attacking it had always been rejected. Everything that made it a strategic priority for the Eternals meant that it was equally well-defended!
But things were now different. The huge group, made up of several million players, were united as though they were truly one gigantic guild. These players who were, a week ago, still killing each other on Cronos I, were now all brothers in arms, ready to face adversity.
Apophis and Joker both stood at the front of the procession. Joker had been at the forefront of all the events—from the explosion of Cronos I to the assumption of command of Lotus to her total assertion of command