- Too many fools assume victory is the result of perfect execution, perfect deployment, the flawless application of a predetermined plan...
Fleet Admiral - 995 ATA - Aboard Assembly Expedition Flagship, Classified Location, Contested Space
No plan survives contact with the enemy.
The Terran aphorism is an elegant understatement for the chaos of joining battle, Fleet Admiral Kohath reflects as he gazes out over the expanse of space that will soon become the site of yet another victory.
The possibility that he might lose does not even enter his thought processes. War is his way of life; since his inception he has known no other calling. For over five-hundred years he has practiced the disciplines of conflict, and the legend of his prowess has spread from system to system, empire to empire, the tally of his victories distilled into three awed words whispered in strategic summits the length, breadth, and depth of the galaxy.
The Iron Fist.
The moniker pleases him, though he would never admit it; the image suits his perception of his function. He is the instrument, the mechanism, the wielded weapon. He does not question the decisions that deploy him to this battle, that war; his purpose is simply to defeat the enemy.
He is not a warrior; he has never considered himself as such. He is a planner, a thinker, a tactician. A student of the discipline of applied confrontation. Combat, in and of itself, is chaos, a raw, visceral force, spanning a wide range of forms from the common bar brawl to the clash of civilisations. Left unchecked, it can become a raging inferno, destroying all in its path with the mindless, ferocious hunger of fire. To be truly effective, it must be broken to harness, yoked to one’s purpose, brought to heel by training, preparation and the chains of command.
Training, preparation, control. These are his tools, his watchwords, his creed. These are the attributes he brings to any force he is appointed to command. The terms of his employment are inflexible, as hard-wired as the coding that governs his synaptic processes and sensory perception subroutines. He requires complete authority, complete autonomy, and complete resourcing. But most of all, he requires time. Building an army, turning the poorly trained and poorly led into a force to be reckoned with, is not an overnight process. Victory in battles does not stem from the expertise of one man; it requires the drilled discipline of trained response, the calm authority of officers instructed in leadership, and the immediate, reflex response to orders imbued by total authority. Truth be told, he is far more a schoolmaster than a battlemaster, if one were to measure by time spent in training as opposed to actual combat, but it is in the training room that skills are learned and knowledge is acquired. It is in the training room, for the most part, that wars are lost and won, long before any physical confrontation begins. Chance plays a role, of course, and there is always the possibility of being outmatched by the environment or sheer, malign bad luck, but Kohath has centuries of empirical data to back up his theories, and sophisticated on-board software to analyse and optimize each engagement he undertakes.
He is tasked today with a simple exercise, one that should not be beyond this developing fleet’s skills. The enemy has acquired a synthesis platform, and with it the capacity to expand their armadas almost exponentially. The balance of power in the region would be critically altered should they succeed in doing so, and so Kohath’s force has been dispatched to eliminate the threat.
The Admiral looks out over the space that will shortly become a battleground. There is no detail he can discern, beyond the warm ochre glow of the distant Hourglass Nebula. The sheer immensity of space is such that the naked eye of any organic being, cybernetically enhanced or otherwise, is useless, but Kohath likes to see the ground, nonetheless. An old tradition, one that has stood him in good stead. Training, preparation, control, and perhaps a little superstition.
He relishes the intellectual challenge that the upcoming battle presents. Naval combat is the ultimate test of a strategist’s skill. Warfare in space is antiseptic, clinical, fought at one remove over a battlespace spanning hundreds of kilometres in every dimension. A missile here, a mass accelerator there, the key tactical imperative being never to be where the enemy expects. Crudely put, they cannot hit what is no longer there. Anticipation of an enemy’s position is a learned instinct, as is the understanding of opportunities; both are traits honed through the experience of many practical examples. Too many fools assume victory is the result of perfect execution, perfect deployment, the flawless application of a predetermined plan. But the reality of combat is that there are no perfect moments. Only probability and mathematics, presenting themselves as chance: fulcrum moments that can be taken or spurned.
All of these truths he has patiently imparted to those under his command selected for their potential as officers. Now he will find out if they have taken those lessons to heart.
“Admiral? We’re in range of our objective, sir.”
Kohath turns to regard his adjutant, his loyal right hand, painstakingly trained to be an extension of his will. The Admiral straightens to his full height, tucks his hands neatly into the small of his back, and nods permission. “Very well. Orders to the fleet. Target the platforms and destroy them.”
The adjutant braces to attention, a cool smile playing about his lips. “At your command.”
Where to find it?