The E.D.F. Drawing Board

Defending Tunisia... A hopeless Cause?

Armed escorts meet bitter end.

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Below, The "New York" as she looked after being rebuilt at Tunisia.  (Image by Don Gaiser)


  September 19th (E.S.C.)  The docking lines were dropped, and the clamps opened... Power was fed to the giant Wave Motion Engine, once more... E.D.F. "New York" lifted from the docking platform, gleaming in the morning sunrise. The ship looked much different, than when she had arrived...She was now in a class of her own. In light of the offensive to come, Lord had christened her, his Dectran"Welcome Wagon." ( This title would stick with the ship, for years to come.)
   As the giant Earth ship lifted, other vessels began to ascend from docks around the city...This would be a send off, with every bit of "pop and circumstance." Several large ships took a formation just behind "New York"...These were the new Tunisian Defense Force vessels. They were simple ( by E.D.F. standards ) but should be effective enough.
   The fleet of 21 ships continued toward the stars. Lord was worried that the number of Tunisian ships wouldn't be enough. He had mentioned (in no uncertain terms) that more would be needed, as soon as possible. The High Council was doing everything to step up completion of  another 20...But they would not be ready for two weeks. (Tunisian time) Lord sat nervously at the helm. "Well Captain... Here we go. I hope we're ready." He said to Ossyrus. "Aye, sir..." The captian quietly replyed.    
   Earth had been told the situation at Tunisia, right after "New York" had docked...That was about two months ago, E.S.C. Which is why, it was a shock to hear from the "California."

  "Sir...Incomming message...From the California!" The com. officer exclaimed. Lord was just as confused as everyone else. "What?" He asked. "Confirming messege...It's Captain Venture, sir!" The officer said with excitement. Lord laughed to himself. "How the Hell'd, he get here so quick?!" Ossyrus asked under his breath. Hearing this, Lord answered. "...By Damn near, burning the engines out, I'm guessing!" Both men laughed. "Put him on ship-wide, son!" Lord ordered. "Aye, Sir!"
  Across the ship, Captain Marcus Venture was heared.  "Good day, Admiral...I'm glad we made the show, sir!" He said. "...You do realize, you set a new Galactic Speed record?" Lord replyed. "Yes sir...We were on standby, when your message came through. We put out shortly thereafter. We've done 20 warps aday, sense." Venture Explained. "Well Captain, it's good to see we have some help...Welcome to Tunisia!" Lord said, pleased with this new turn of events. "We have plenty of help, sir..." Venture added. Lord looked to the bridge view-screen. On it, there was a massive group of ships. The bridge crew cheered. Lord sat back, jaw dropped. "When I called for some help...I didn't mean, the whole damned fleet!" He muttered. "This changes our entire offensive." Ossyrus added.

21 ships became 56... The Earth Defense Force had sent 35 ships... (15 Battleships, 3 Carriers, and several destroyers as escorts.) A new plan was quicky formulated. The Tunisian supply convoys would have an escort of two fighting ships. A defense force of 8 battleships would remain in orbit of Tunisia at all times. A second group of 8 would patrol space close to the planet, ready to back the others. With the defense plan in place, A convoy set out for the 10th planet of the Tunisian system...Echarr.
  The convoy would bring badly needed supplys, to a Tunisian Science outpost, locatd on Echarr's moon. Six bulk freighters would be escorted by the Tunisian Defense vessel "Vaxarr" and the E.D.F. Battlecarrier "Hood." The warships, should make Dectra think twice.

  The convoy was three days out (E.S.C.) when things started going wrong. There were "ghost" readings from the sensors, every now and again...Keeping eveyone tense. It was as if, the convoy was being followed...By something that wasn't really "there."
  Then, on day five...Came the attack. The massive white "ghost" jumped into normal space, just ahead of the convoy...But this time, would be different. The warships were at alert...As the "Hood" opened fire. Her shock cannons where getting range of the giant ship, but the Dectran vessel seemed to back off abit...As if trying to out-range this gunfire.
  Both Defense ships were now fireing at the retreating vessel. And, it looked as if a hit was scored below the Dectran ship's midline... That's when the ship vanished again.
  There was a sense of victory felt arond the group of ships...Crews cheered franticly with the Dectran retreat. This was a proud moment for the new Tunisian Defense Force. But, it was to be short lived.
  Aboard the "Hood," there was another glitch in sensor readings,.. Another "ghost." "Are these readings comming from the Dectran ship?" Asked her captain, franticly. "Unknown, sir!" came the response. "Send out a rec-log of everything we've gone through, to now!"Ordered the captain. "Aye sir, Recorded Log, away." The officer confirmed. Even as he did so, The giant ghost of Dectra was back... This time, the ship phased in behind the convoy. "Defenders, hard about!" Ordered the captain.
  But there was simply not enough time to bring the guns to bear...The big ship let lose with it's globe weapons. Right away, the Tunisian Defense ship was devistated.
   Suddenly, a new ship flashed in from nothing... The crew aboard "Hood" were trying to make sense of everything. "Sir, new contact!  Another dimension jumper, off our starboard!" screamed the radar officer. "Another Dectran ship?! We need to complete this turn...Now!!" Fired the captian. "No sir...It's not Dectran... It's...Ours?!?" Came the utterly confused response.
  That was the last thing heared from the convoy... Long range sensors picked up an extensive dabris field...This was all that was left.

"Damn!" Exclaimed Lord as he listed to the "Hood's" Audio recordings. To say he was angery, would be an understatement. "I want you to round up Specter's people, and bring 'em here...As in yesterday!" he yelled over the com. link. "Yes, sir!"
  Not long after, Daarell and Shareena were brought to the orbiting battleship, and ended up in Lord's conference room. "I want you people to hear this..." Lord said with a scowl. He played them the recording from the "Hood's" last moments. There was a silence after the recording stopped... Maxx collected himself. "Now...I don't know what your Mr. Specter's doing...But it dosen't sound good from here!" Daarell, ever the Patriot, spoke up first. "I'm surez, that Cappy waz just tryin' to help...He just showd upz, too late!" Lord sat back for a moment. "Do you agree, Miss Shareena?" "Yes, I do... With all confidence." The woman answered, looking Maxx straight in the eye. "...Then, there's no chance of him, playing both sides?" He pushed. "With all respecz and that, Are youz nutz?!" Daarell shot...Taking Maxx by surprise. Shareena gave a heavy sigh, then put her two cents in. "If you knew Mr. Specter's history... You'd realize, that was a stupid question! In fact, this entire inquisition, shouldn't even be taking place!" She snarled. "Well then, by all means! Explain it to me, I'm all ears!" Lord shot out, frustrated over the mystery surrounding this man. This frazzled comment actually seemed to dissarm the room. "Maxx...I know that Mr. Specter's ethics, may seem questionable to you. But, he's lost his entire family to the Dectrans...His wives, and children!' Lord felt belittled by this. "...I see." he said, standing to pace the room. "...Sorry... I just need to know, how to beat them!" He said, mostly to himself. "With help, Maxx... From the Tunisians, from Mr. Specter and the rest of us." Shareena said warmly. Maxx turned to face the woman again, a look of confusion hit him suddenly. "Wait a minute...Wives...?" Daarell again spoke up. "Of course, Tunisians have many...I havz two meself!" Lord looked at the disheveled man in amazement, then over to Shareena. "Then...You two..." Maxx started. " Oh, no....I'm by myself, at present" Shareena explained, smileing at the Admiral. Lord looked at the woman, just now realizing how pretty she was. "...Really?"

After meeting with Specter's people, the Admiral sent word to the High Council that Dectra had indeed, been responsable for the loss of this convoy. The Council now believed that Mr. Specter was helping the Dectrans... Giving them information about ship movement, and the defense plan. President Mal-Hallex went as far as to call Specter a "slaughterer." After hearing this dark news, Lord asked Daarell and Shareena to stay aboard the "New York." It would be safer for them. ( Maxx also figured if the two remain onboard, it would be easy to keep a finger on Mr. Specter's pulse.) The two agreed, and were shown to their staterooms. Lord was off to his...He needed to think. And there was so much to think about.
  Maxx felt stuck in the middle of a situation, that was quickly going bad. He hated this. If he continued to "allow" Mr. Specter free movement, he'd be putting a terrible strain on Tunisian relations.
   The Tunisian Defense Force had already put a "bulls-eye" on Mr. Specter and his ship...They were told to shoot on sight. Lord figured this would be harder than it sounds, if the ship was truely a dimension-jumper. Another question...How exactly was it, that an old Earth ship, could jump dimensions?? All our experiments in U.D. drives, failed spectacularly...Maxx had a hunch, but needed to see some proof.
  There were two options for the E.D.F... Agree to destroy Mr. Specter, for interplanetary relations... Or ignore him, and hope that Shareena and Daarell are telling the truth. Lord thought about all of this, as he sat in his stateroom. Two options open....
   "Sir... Sensor report. Scans of local Tunisian space are clean, at this time." His train of thought, interrupted by the intercom, Lord barked at the officer on the other end. "Thank you, for that important update!..Did you miss that part where I said, I didn't want to be disturbed?!" Lord sat back...Now totally off track and frustrated..."...Sensor sweep... yeah? sweep this, you..." Muttered Lord...But then, in the back of his head...An idea sparked.
  Lord jumped back to the intercom. "Forget what I just said! you're a genius, son! Now...Round up all department heads, and the sonsor records from the "Hood," and bring them to the conference room. I'll be there in ten!" He exclaimed. "...Ah, Yes sir, Thank you, sir." Came the confused officer's response. "Um, Get me Mr. Venture, as well...And Specter's people!" Lord added, in after thought. "That will take alittle longer,..Captian Venture's still on the "California," sir." Said the officer. "Very well...Then, send for him, and have him meet the rest of us in conference. We'll hold up, 'till he get's here. One more thing...Tell Daarell, I want to bring the ship back to Mr. Specter's base...And set a course." The admiral arranged.

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