Rebels' World by P.M. Griffin by P.M. Griffin - Read Online

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Stellar Patrol Colonel Brian Dowling is assigned to assist in the evacuation of a severely oppressed population from their original place on Terra and to accompany them to their new homeworld.

A heavily armed private army determined to annihilate the emigrants sweeps down on the spaceport. In the furious battle that ensues, only the raw courage and determination of the outnumbered rear guard, led by Dowling and Grace Forrest, admiral of their new planet’s navy, allows the final starships to escape the planned destruction.

Once on their new world, the colonists are welcomed by those who had arrived in earlier, secret waves and begin to settle in. It is a rich planet but one with its share of perils. Dowling, Forrest, and their associates encounter threats from deadly local life forms and from massive storms of almost inconceivable violence, but the worst danger they must face comes from the stars. A powerful battle fleet hurtles toward their solar system intent on obliterating the settlement.

Forrest prepares her navy to challenge it. Defeat is all-too-possible, and Dowling assists in organizing the on-world defense, grimly aware that it may have to become a resistance should their defenders fail to destroy the assailants.

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Science Fiction by P.M. Griffin

Stellar Patrol Colonel Brian Dowling is assigned to assist in the evacuation of a severely oppressed population from their original place on Terra and to accompany them to their new homeworld.

A heavily armed private army determined to annihilate the emigrants sweeps down on the spaceport. In the furious battle that ensues, only the raw courage and determination of the outnumbered rear guard, led by Dowling and Grace Forrest, admiral of their new planet’s navy, allows the final starships to escape the planned destruction.

Once on their new world, the colonists are welcomed by those who had arrived in earlier, secret waves and begin to settle in. It is a rich planet but one with its share of perils. Dowling, Forrest, and their associates encounter threats from deadly local life forms and from massive storms of almost inconceivable violence, but the worst danger they must face comes from the stars. A powerful battle fleet hurtles toward their solar system intent on obliterating the settlement.

Forrest prepares her navy to challenge it. Defeat is all-too-possible, and Dowling assists in organizing the on-world defense, grimly aware that it may have to become a resistance should their defenders fail to destroy the assailants.

Rebels’ World© 2017 by P.M. Griffin

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, or events, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

MuseItUp Publishing

https://museituppublishing.com

Cover Art © 2017 by Charlotte Volnek

Layout and Book Production by Lea Schizas

eBook ISBN: 978-1-77127-923-9

First eBook Edition *May 2017

To my good friends Ted and JoAnn Hoffman

REBELS’ WORLD

P.M. GRIFFIN

MuseItUp Publishing

www.museituppublishing.com

More from PM Griffin

Star Commandos Series

Star Commandos

Colony in Peril

Mission Underground

Death Planet

Mind Slaver

Return to War

Fire Planet

Jungle Assault

Call to Arms

Watchdogs of Space

Pariah

War Prince

Stand Alone Novels

Stand at Cornith

Survivor

Fell Conquest

The Purgarorio Virus

Colonists

Haunted World

Bad Neighbors

The Dark Days

The Elven King

Part One

Escape

Chapter One

Stellar Patrol Colonel Brian Dowling saluted the officer before whose desk he stood.

Commander Virgil Clay returned it. His eyes sparkled in amusement at the carefully constructed mask the other man had set over his features. Dowling had to be wondering about this sudden summons to Terra of Sol, the Federation’s capital and motherworld.

Sit down, Colonel, and relax. I’d like your opinion of a proposal, He smiled slightly. Don’t worry. It does not refer to you.

Of course, sir, Brian replied. He was more puzzled now than he had been when he had entered the office.

I’ll do both of us a favor and omit the legal jargon and the general rant. Clay cleared his throat and began reading from the document spread out on the desk in front of him. "—For centuries now, these people have been in a state of what amounts to passive rebellion. They must be compelled to abandoned their antiquated traditions and outmoded beliefs once and for all. In order to effect the change, the following statutes are to be ratified and implemented immediately:

"All public displays of the offensive symbols they cherish must be removed not only from communal sites but from private properties. Furthermore, all similar privately owned symbols, artwork, portraits, nanos, and documents contained inside their buildings must be discarded and destroyed within one week following the passing of this law and all dwellings and other properties in the region be thoroughly searched. Secreted contraband is to be seized and any minors living in the households of recalcitrant individuals will be taken into the custody of the government and situated where they can be properly educated and socialized.

Given names associated with their rebellious traditions will be changed immediately in all adults and minors and replaced by approved ones. A partial suggested list is attached.

Virgil glanced at Dowling. Well?

The colonel’s expression had hardened and darkened as Clay had continued reading. It’s bogus, he snapped. No Arcturian officer ever issued a decree like that. They demanded submission, obedience, when they invaded a planet. If a population proved too restive, it was punished, occasionally to the point of annihilation, but Redjackets didn’t give a port bum’s cuss about their captives’ traditions or beliefs.

Brian’s eyes narrowed. Is this an attempt to back alley one of them into an unmerited atrocity conviction? Hatred ran high against their recent enemies, but to his knowledge, none of them had been subject to gross injustice, not officially. Was that about to change?

I thought that would be your reaction, Virgil Clay told him grimly. The Empire’s soldiers are innocent. This debris is the creation of a duly elected member of a regional representative body, a state congress, right here on the western continent of Terra herself.

Representative? It’s the work of a complete mind case!

Congressman Horace Simpcoe is probably certifiably mad, but he has a large number of like-minded constituents who elected him on his promise to push through that precise program. He plans to present it to his legislative body in a couple of days.

Then why in all the Federation’s hells did billions of us battle and millions die fighting the Arcturian Empire for almost forty years? Simpcoe’s victims would have done as well under Redjacket control and maybe better.

President Brice and the rest of the ultrasystem’s senior government are in complete agreement with you. So is Terra’s surplanetary government.

How did they find out about the proposal before it was officially presented?

Obviously, this business has been discussed at considerable length for some time. Initially, most people viewed it as merely the tube scrapings it is. When it began to assume formal shape, several sane representatives and other officials of that region contacted both the president and the threatened parties. They sent on copies as soon as the first draft actually surfaced.

Simpcoe expects this travesty to become binding?

His hope is ill founded. It’s in total violation of basic Federation law and has no chance of passing, though it has garnered support from a surprising number of legislators eager to get their faces and names on the news media. It did, however, enable President Brice to rush through a culturally persecuted population rating for the intended victims.

That gives them first jump at colonizing the next suitable planet the Settlement Board makes available, whenever that will happen.

They don’t need one. Our so-called rebels found a nice world all by themselves just over the border in Korovan Association space and secured the rights to her prior to the War. They’ve been quietly and carefully exploring and transporting settlers there on a massive scale for the last fifty-plus years, to the tune of almost four million people already, I understand. Congressman Simpcoe is threatening far fewer people than he fondly imagines. A beatific smile lit his face. Still, I wish I could be present when Admiral Forrest drops that persecuted-population decree on his deserving head. His reaction should be worth watching. It’s been kept under security wraps until now for fear of reprisals against the population still here on Terra.

Admiral Forrest?

Grace Forrest. She’s here to oversee the final evacuation. I can’t imagine anyone better suited for the job. She’s more than capable of ripping out Horace Simpcoe’s tubes, tearing him a new set, and moving right on to rip those out as well.

Brian grinned. An old-time battleaxe by the sound of it.

A highly capable officer as well, the commander continued more seriously. Forrest had made admiral in the Federation Navy but retired at the War’s end in order to pick up that same rating in her own world’s navy. She brought a nice collection of commendations and a moon away with her.

Dowling’s brows raised at the last. Impressive. The Navy was not generous in distributing its major awards. A heroism citation, third-class, would not have been easily won.

You’ll be meeting the lady shortly. You’re to accompany her on her confrontation with the regional legislators and assist in whatever takes place afterward. That includes escorting the immigrant fleet to its destination to affirm the Federation’s continuing support of their effort.

I’m to be a bodyguard? he asked incredulously.

Her people are a designated culturally persecuted population, and they are citizens of a sovereign planet formally allied with another ultrasystem. A Federation presence of significant rank is required. President Brice feels a Stellar Patrol officer will be more appropriate than one from the Navy, which might be viewed as more blatantly threatening.

The other’s eyes twinkled. I’m only covertly threatening?

Precisely. That threat is real should it prove necessary.

Why me?

Admiral Forrest requested you. She believes you won’t be cowed by blustering surplanetary demagogs. –You can expect bluster and more, by the way. Simpcoe isn’t really a politician, just a rabble rouser who’s found himself a perfect niche. He knows how to whip up a lot of noise and trouble.

Violence?

Clay nodded. Hopefully not, but possible. I expect you to counter that if it happens. You can call on Patrol support in the form of two companies of agents and their officers. They’ll be waiting for you at the embarkation port.

Dowling shrugged. I can put up with reasonable noise. Anything more, I’ll handle. The offending parties won’t be happy if I have to do so.

That, Colonel, is exactly what is wanted.

Clay activated the intercom on his desk. Is she there?...Send her in. He came to his feet. Admiral Forrest has arrived.

Brian rose as well and snapped into a salute as soon as the woman entered the room.

Forrest’s uniform consisted of a high-necked tunic and slender-fitting trousers similar in design to those worn by both Federation Navy and the Stellar Patrol personnel save that it was light gray in color. Her shoulder patches featured her homeworld’s flag. On her breast were an admiral’s insignia and above it the moon, the third-class heroism citation, she had earned and four commendation bars.

She was almost as tall as himself, slim and well-made, and she carried herself in the manner of one long accustomed to life in space.

Grace’s features reflected the classical North Terran ideal. Her complexion was fair. The pale blonde hair was confined in a braid pinned to her head in a coronet, the style adopted by most female spacers who chose to keep theirs long. Her eyes were light as well, ice blue. Those gave him pause. They were bright at the moment, smiling, but he thought they could be twin glaciers when the need or provocation arose. He would not have wanted to have them focused on him under those circumstances.

Even as Forrest returned the man’s salute, she studied him in her turn. Dowling was taller than her by a forehead. His body was slender, fit-looking, and was carried with the grace and natural balance of a person not merely accustomed to life in space but born to it, as she knew him to be.

The man’s features were pleasant though unremarkable. His complexion was characteristic of the North Terran island from which his forebears had set forth in the distant past before Terra’s offspring had ever left Sol’s own solar system.

The hair was a nondescript dark brown. The eyes were gray. They gave her the impression of sharp intelligence, but his thoughts were carefully masked at the moment.

A good man, she decided, and she had long practice in gauging the ability of officers and soldiers. He would do well.

The military formalities ended, Grace smiled and extended her hand to each man in turn. She gestured to a couple of the chairs in the office. Why don’t we sit, gentlemen?

They complied, and Forrest turned her attention to Brian. Have you been briefed, Colonel Dowling?

In general, ma’am. His voice hardened. Your situation is a unique one, or I hope it is unique in our time and place.

To my knowledge, it is, though prespace Terran history presents many an example of tyranny as bad as this.

The admiral turned her attention to Virgil. The evacuation of our remaining population and their property has almost been completed, but what remains is still a massive undertaking, Commander. It has attracted local attention from people not of our party, as was inevitable given the magnitude of the operation and the speed with which it is being conducted. There haven’t been problems as yet, but I’m concerned that there may be active interference once I address those lawmakers and inform them of our intentions.

Armed interference?

She nodded. Perhaps. We’ll defend ourselves if we must, but it would be preferable if official Federation forces countered on-world opposition. Grace glanced at the younger officer. It’ll take more than a single symbolic Stellar Patrol representative to do that should the worst happen. Colonel Dowling can’t be in multiple locations simultaneously, nor can he be expected to stand off a serious assault singlehandedly.

As I’ve already told Colonel Dowling, I’ve ordered a couple of companies stationed near Port Davis. If they’re needed, Colonel Dowling has only to call on them. He’s free to use them however he sees fit.

Excellent, Commander Clay. You seem to have considered everything.

Virgil eyed her. The Navy is guarding your starships as well as assisting with the evacuation.

Guarding us and guarding against us, Grace Forrest translated.

Aye, he replied dryly. You brought a pretty significant fleet.

The woman shrugged delicately. I am an admiral, Commander. The rank isn’t nominal.

Grace turned her head slightly and smiled at Brian. If it’s not too inconvenient, Colonel, I’d like to leave for Port Davis immediately. I have several meetings and considerable last-minute detail to resolve before I face those representatives.

Chapter Two

Dowling carefully settled the two-man fighter in which he and the off-world admiral had journeyed on the Roger Davis Spaceport planeting field.

He gazed out the viewer panel and shook his head. His tiny Bluebird seemed like an asteroid surrounded by large moons. This was the portion of the port dedicated to meeting the requirements of the biggest vessels that physically visited a planet’s surface, the one hundreds and five hundreds. The true monsters, those of one thousand- and five thousand-class, remained in space and were serviced by means of shuttlecraft.

All about them were five hundred-class starships, graceful needle-noses bearing either the distinctive insignia of the world which had dispatched them or that of the Federation Navy. There were about thirty, he judged, but that number fluctuated. Even as he watched, two lifted almost simultaneously, and three more came down to replace them.

All the spacecraft were loading passengers and cargo. Long lines of people were waiting to board each one or were already ascending the ramps. Some were accompanied by livestock, and all had baggage and bulk cargo. Household companion animals of various sorts traveled along with most of them. Despite the numbers involved, everything seemed to be proceeding with perfect order.

Efficient, he commented.

Thank you, Colonel.

Has this been going on long?

For four months now. The evacuation began as soon as our fleet and its screen of Navy fighters arrived. All the large herds, flocks, and commercial waterlife stock have already been transferred to the colony ships. We can’t afford to have myriads of panicked animals stampeding about if trouble erupts later. At this stage, almost all the noncombatants are gone. Only the port workers and support staff and their families and some of the militia and police families are left. Those are the people boarding now.

What about the militia and cops themselves?

They stay until last. She sighed. I wish we could have begun our final exodus sooner.

Why didn’t you?

We needed that persecuted-population declaration before we dared bring our fleet into Sol’s solar system. As your commander intimated, it’s a large one, and its major components are unique. We also had to wait until your Navy’s fighters took up position. They’re keeping off the curious at the moment. They may have more to do than that later, though I hope not.

The Patrolman frowned. Why call in the Navy in the first place? I thought the Patrol was supposed to provide the support you need.

Here on-world, Grace reminded him, and I very much fear there are too few of you to manage the whole job in any event. Two companies don’t constitute an army. We might need one.

You’re obviously not just guarding against possible problems, he remarked thoughtfully. You expect trouble.

Aye. Her voice took on a grim note. You can lay credits down that difficulties will arise and that they will be serious once I rip out Horace Simpcoe’s throat tomorrow, metaphorically speaking.

You folks have had that decree for some time, for months, four of them at least, yet you’ve kept quiet about it. Why?

Forrest’s brows raised. An interrogation, Colonel?

Curiosity. Well founded, I may add. From what I’m hearing, my agents could be at some risk. Announcing that decree would have assured your settlers legal protection from the outset.

It would also have sparked active opposition before we were half ready to meet it. Her eyes held his. My assignment is to evacuate more than five million individuals from this planet, Colonel, plus all their animate and even vaguely portable inanimate property. It’s the largest migration of a single population departing from one location and bound for one destination in so short a span of time in all Federation history, and it must be accomplished now. Anyone left behind might be prevented from leaving altogether or be harassed unbearably before they do get to go.

You cannot have enough five thousands parked out there in near-space to take that many passengers even if they were all embarking with no more than the clothes on their backs!

Forrest smiled. Not five thousands. The settlers will travel on Korovan-designed converted cargo vessels, ten on loan from the Association to augment our own two. They’re huge. Each ship can comfortably accommodate half a million people plus most of their animals and other possessions.

I look forward to seeing them. He could not imagine a starship of that size.

They’re different, she agreed.

Grace drew a deep breath as if to steady herself. The scope of what she had to accomplish was terrifying. It was almost inconceivable. It’s a major challenge, Colonel, all of it. The Navy matched our fifty five hundreds with fifty of their own. That extra help has enabled us to shuttle almost everyone out to the fleet, but quite a number still remain as you can see from all the activity around here, and more are going to keep arriving for awhile. It was necessary to schedule the departures carefully to prevent chaos from developing. Those awaiting their turn are gathered in an ever-shrinking circle, currently about ten miles deep, around the spaceport, interspersed among the neutrals living in the area, of course. Some of them are almost certain to encounter opposition of some sort, perhaps even physical threat, as they try to make their way to the ships once I announce the full extent of our plans tomorrow. Her eyes were cold as glacier ice when they met his. The danger is real, Colonel Dowling. You’ll understand more then.

I’m beginning to agree that a couple of Stellar Patrol companies may not be sufficient, he told her. The off-worlder’s words had sent a chill thorough his heart. He had felt the same before, prior to facing battle.

With good reason, the woman agreed. I’d hoped for a stronger backup. Your assignment here is supposed to be honorary, at the most a subtle warning to our enemies. It is something quite different in reality. You’d do well to warn your lads that they may be facing all the Federation’s hells and that they’ll have to react fast once the debris starts flying.

* * * *

Brian pushed open the door of the Outward Bound Diner and went inside. The room was plain, but he had Forrest’s assurance that the food was excellent.

Nothing less was to be expected. Spaceport eateries the ultrasystem over depended on returning customers, primarily the workers in and around the facility, to remain in business and turn a profit. They served generous portions of good food, or their clients simply went elsewhere. It was obvious from the number of people present even this early in the evening that the place did not lack for patrons.

He smiled. He was looking forward to numbering himself among them. The off-world admiral had informed him the menu featured regional fare. That had settled it as far as he was concerned. Whenever possible, he made it a point to sample local dishes when he visited any planet, and this was his first time on the Federation’s motherworld.

The Patrolman selected a vacant booth in the rear where he could sit comfortably and observe the activity taking place in the room.

Scarcely had he done so than a large man opened the door. Stay put, he told someone outside as he strode inside himself.

The newcomer was about the off-worlder’s height, but he carried a lot more bulk. Dowling straightened slightly. What he had initially taken for lard and dismissed was in fact muscle, hard muscle. There was nothing of a spacer’s grace in the man’s walk,