General Romgaul slunk into his chair, fighting in vain against every urge to smile. Now was not the time to crack a stupid grin.

“What the hell is so damned funny about this?” President Churmkov barked at the three starred officer, who never was much for being stealthy.

“Nothing, sir.”

“So, why are you smiling?”

“I guess the significance of the moment got to me, sir.”

“Losing a huge portion of our combat ready in and out of atmosphere air force is a good thing to you?”

“No, sir.”

“So, you like seeing a colony successfully resist the republic’s rule, is that it?”

“No, sir.”

“So, tell me, general, why are you smiling? Why shouldn’t I take your resignation pending a treason investigation for smiling at the damned briefing about a rebel colony shooting down our entire occupying force in a few hours? With no air force of their own? Do you know how many other colonies are considering seceding? How the only thing keeping this interstellar republic together is the fear of the might of the Interstellar Space-Force? Do you know how monumental this moment is going to be for human history and how your… your incompetence and the incompetence of all these alleged military geniuses in this room are to blame? How I will be remembered, as the President who let the unified human society crumble and allowed humanity to revert to its old ways of warring nations, now on a galactic scale?”

“Sir, I was smiling because, you know, I’ve always been a student of military history. The motives for fighting well, I never much cared for politics, but growing up, my father would tell me of the great moments of military history where the game was changed. When the cannon ended the days of castles. When the machine gun ended the days of horse cavalry. When tanks broke the trenches, and airplanes killed the battleship, and finally, aircraft lasers did the unthinkable and ended the use of infantry. The unending quest to move firepower farther from the ground.”

“What are you saying, general?”

“My final paper, thirty years ago at the Olympus Mons military academy predicted today. As I recall, it got a C.”

“Well, General, will you please enlighten us with the barely passable hypothesis of young Cadet Romgaul?”

“What we just witnessed was the return of infantry to their ancient status as the most important troops on the battlefield.”

“I suppose we have, general. But could enlighten me as to how these dirt poor, back hills colonists, with no air force whatsoever, managed to clear the skies of the most elite military force ever created?”

“The rifled musket, sir.”

“Is this a joke to you, general?”

“No sir, it’s just a repeat of ancient history. As you may be aware, advanced quantum replication technology has recently become widely available to anyone with an upper middle-class income. This revolution in manufacturing technology has allowed for some remarkable advancements in homemade arms, and I think what we just saw here today was the brainchild of some genius and unrecognized engineer, with a connection to the rebel commanders. It is pretty clear to me that the odd-looking mortar tubes the rebels were repeatedly sighted carrying were some form of anti-air directed energy weapon, and the small antennas we thought were some form of encrypted radio relay were in fact, anti-stealth triangulating advanced radars. Infantry has again tipped the scales of war, sir.”

“So, what do you recommend I do, sir?”

“To be honest, Mr. President, I don’t see a good option.”

“What do you mean, general?”

“The only force that could retake the system would be an infantry based one. You could speak to your political advisors on this but, I do not believe we could pull together an invasion force of sufficient manpower that quickly. The only other option is one that I do not believe you would consider.”

“And which option is that, general?”

“An orbital bombing campaign, from above the ceiling of the rebel’s weaponry.”

“I do not see the public considering such an act justified.”

“I won’t attempt to advise you on politics sir, I will just tell you those are the only winning military strategies I see available.”

“Well, I don’t see a diplomatic solution viable either.” The president relented. “I doubt they’ll settle for a mere seat in the Senate now.”


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