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Role Reversal Chapter 1: The Confrontation
Posted By: Mark Nelson<elmo124@ic24.net>
Date: 30 September 2000, 1:23 pm

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2241: Humans have spread throughout the galaxy settling countless numbers of worlds in an attempt to create a galactic empire that will sustain the infinite wants of those who occupy it. Our fleets have destroyed any and every hostile race we have come across and any guerrilla resistance has been crushed. We have colonised every world that has any valuable resource, exhausted every asteroid in every solar system in the galaxy, and no race discovered had ever matched our empire, until now that is.

It was a forward recognisance unit, one of the thousands that the Commonwealth of Human Planets sends out in search of new resources, that discovered the first Covenant planet. Some say the unit handled the first contact situation badly, others say that the Covenant is an overly aggressive conglomerate of races and that it was hopeless to negotiate with them. Whatever the reason the result was the same. After two months of less than peaceful coexistence, a message was transmitted on every sub-space channel across the entire galaxy, "You humans disgust us, you have spread through the galaxy like a satanic virus, infecting everything you touch, destroying worlds and creating chaos. We are the messengers of the Gods and we will rid the galaxy of your filth. Your destruction is the will of the Gods and we are their instrument." The famous last sentence is delivered to every human planet seconds before it is destroyed by an armada of covenant ships.

Every ship factory in the galaxy began production but it wasn't long before the two races met in battle. The first confrontation between the Covenant and the CHP was 10 AU from the Nox spur, a ring of planets that produced the bulk of the human ships. Military Intelligence expected that the Covenant would strike there first and had sent 60% of the fleet, over 3000 ships, to that location. For once MI didn't screw up; at 03:42 a massive Covenant fleet decloaked and began charging their weapons. The general alarm was sounded and within minutes every ship was at battle-ready status. MI had estimated the Covenant fleet was around 2000 in number but was far superior in weapons technology.

We had expected to win the battle despite their superior technology, because we outnumbered them by almost 1500 ships. This time brute force and sheer numbers was not enough. The general retreat was sounded at 08:11 after 4 _ hours of intense combat. We managed to inflict 55% casualties but we escaped with only 600 ships. The Nox spur worlds were destroyed by 11:00 and along with it 30% of the CHP's ship producing power.

The remaining 600 ships and a detachment of 2500 ships were sent to stop the Covenant fleet, leaving only 300 ships to protect Earth, a risky move, but one that MI thought would work. They engaged the Covenant near the Orion Arm 5 days after the first confrontation. The 800 Covenant ships that remained from the first battle were easily destroyed by the 3100 CHP ships, including a battalion of XH4-Savior corvettes. The XH4-Savior was the latest design, using cutting edge cloaking technology, an incredibly powerful Hyperspatial Microleap star drive, and enhanced AI, nicknamed Cortana, it was the most powerful ship ever built by the hand of man. It was 25 miles long and over 5 miles wide; it had a crew compliment of over 15000 and could accommodate another 25000 marines. It had the ability to occupy an entire planet in less than a day.

Every human planet across the galaxy was celebrating, they had seen off the Covenant threat and would soon vanquish the Covenant and occupy their planets. The celebrations were cut short as another Covenant fleet 15 times bigger than the one that attacked the Nox spur, decloaked near the Ryeland system. They utterly decimated the system almost 15 billion people lost their lives. The Covenant threat was far from over.

Two weeks later MI estimated that the Covenant fleet was almost 24000 ships, they had screwed up in standard Military Intelligence fashion. Except this time it wouldn't just be a few thousand marine grunts that would lose their lives, the entire CHP was at risk. All remaining ships were assembled and they were quickly dispatched to defend the last big space factory at the Kannan system. It was not long before a Covenant fleet attacked them. This battle didn't fare so well. All but one ship survived the confrontation; a brand new XH4-Savior called the Pillar of Autumn. It's captain, James Bowman was a wise strategist and plotted a course for a random world outside charted space. The star drive on the Pillar of Autumn was faster than the Covenant ships and it was able to arrive at its destination with a 4-day headstart over the covenant.

Bowman had expected to be able to draw maybe 50 ships after it. He knew how zealous the Covenant was but he didn't realise that their entire fleet would follow him. He ordered the marines to disassemble the ship and strip it of anything they could use in combat. He was hoping to find an M-class planet that he could land on. After the 3 week journey the ship was nothing but an outer hull with engines. They arrived at the system to find a strange ring shaped object orbiting a gas giant.

"Does it have an atmosphere, private?" asked the Bowman.

"Yes sir, breathable atmosphere, no toxic gasses, continents, sea, its almost like Earth." Replied Private Cooke.

"How big is it?"

"10000 miles in diameter, plenty big enough."

"Let's hope the Covenant aren't as good troops as they are at building ships. Lieutenant Jones, order the marines to evacuate to the surface and set up bunkers in the mountains. There are caves on this range of mountains that should be impervious to the Covenant scanners, set up five bases and have them send out scout parties to survey the terrain." said Bowman.

"Sir, yes sir!" Jones turned and walked off the bridge.

The marines drilled all day and all night for three days, by the end of day three they had drilled almost 3km into the mountains at five points, they were given the codenames Omaha, Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah. On the fourth day each base would send out 15 scout units to survey the land and look for potential ambush points and good defensive positions from which they could launch guerrilla attacks on the Covenant landing force that would inevitably accompany the Covenant fleet. The scout teams were to be back in base by 15:00 as the Covenant fleet was expected to arrive around 16:00, and anyone not in the caves would give away the human position.

Field Marshall Wilkins was a battle hardened commander, probably the best the Mobile Infantry could offer, if anyone could save the crew he was the man to do it. He had set up defences inside the mountain bases, and had plans to use underground tunnels to spread throughout the continent. A tactic he had learned from the Sagoo inhabs in the battle for their homeworld. It was a strategy that worked well against the marines because they were never able to engage in a full-scale confrontation. He called a meeting in his makeshift briefing room.

"Gentleman, we have a difficult fight ahead of us. It won't be easy and we will not be able to engage the enemy head-on. We are going to have to fight a guerrilla war, this will be the flip side of the coin for most marines, this means small unit action, hit and runs, and commando missions to steal Covenant technology and turn it against them. The first order of business will be to set up bases underground outside the mountains, scout teams have been sent out to locate prime locations and after the Covenant have landed we will move out to the best locations."

"Sir," added Major Pearce, "I have early indications from my scout teams that there are buildings on this construct, they have found what seems to be technological schematics. I would suggest that we send science teams to investigate."

"OK," agreed Wilkins, " But not till the Covenant fleet arrives. Until then we sit tight and reinforce these bases. Well, you have your orders, what are you waiting for, get going."