Fort Kinzer military installation - Dindrezi space
Operations-Director Vogin Winterborn sat at the head of a classic, wood oval-shaped boardroom table, looking at his subordinate officers as one of them completed his report.
"... and with the latest resupply convoy, we are topped off at 100% of our basic combat load of munitions and fuel. Spares inventories are at 97%, and crew establishments are at 94% of authorized strength. We should be ready to resume operations as soon as BATCRURON 102 finishes topping off their torpedo bays from the tender."
"Thank you for that report, George," Vogrin smiled in approval. "Now, was there any final business before we get underway?"
"Just one minor report, Sir." A junior officer about 2/3rds of the way down the table stood up. "BioTech says they've finally got that interesting new gene cluster nailed down, the one adopted from the Soryllian warrior class lizards. They send their thanks for the last batches of prisoners - the increased sample size let them engage in some destructive testing that sped things up considerably. We've received several platoons of new cyborgs that incorporate the enhanced strength and reaction speed. Higher headquarters wants it well tested by the disposables before we begin adding it in to our Alpha or Beta genetic lines."
"Excellent. Have them assigned to CRURON 104 - Captain Marwin of the ZEUS has been complaining about the outdated troops assigned to them," Vogrin nodded to a highly-decorated officer close to the head of the table, "and the heavies are always in the thick of the fight - we'll get good testing results." The lieutenant nodded, and sat down. "Anything else?"
When there was no response, Vogrin stood up and looked over the room. "Very well, fellow officers. We get underway at 1500 - ENCHANTER and DOMINION should be done at the tender by then. Operation 'Majestic Diver' begins in 1 week."
As he sat down, the boardroom dissolved around him, leaving the reality of his stateroom aboard his flagship as the Virtual Reality construct shut down. He gave a satisfied sigh as he leaned back on a high-backed leather chair, his neural lace showing green status reports from his various staff members aboard the battleship. Taking a sip of a fluted glass of Terran brandy, he smiled as he thought of where he would be next week. Time for a bit of personal business, mixed with professional pleasure.
7 days later:
Dalton system, Fathom's Reach - Terran space
Vogrin smiled as he stood in space atop the Battlecruiser DOMINION, watching her beam batteries complete the destruction of a partially-completed Resolute-class cruiser, trapped helplessly in a construction bay of Hawker Industries' shipyard here at the shipyard they called "Avalon". This was one of that Terran corporation's subsidiary construction yards, but also a major center for their R&D programs that focused on what they called "opposition research" - reverse engineering the technology of their Zenian League opponents.
While a reasonably strong fleet was based here in Dalton, Avalon was in a more isolated position, orbiting the outermost Dwarf planet. It offered much improved security from Zenian agents, but it meant that the normal defenses were merely a strong picket force. One that could call for help quickly from the main fleet, but only if they realized they were under attack.
When a pair of damaged Soryllian Warwolf-class gunships had arrived, displaying correct IFF codes and using correct recognition codes (both stolen from captured ships just weeks before), the picket had not suspected any sort of foul play - not until DOMINION and ENCHANTER had stopped broadcasting their false IDs and opened fire on them, joined by several squadrons of Justice-class Heavy cruisers and Nemesis-class destroyers that had followed them under cloak. Now, while his Frigates and Corvettes launched a series of hit and run distraction raids on the inner system facilities, Vogrin's main force systematically destroyed the new construction in the yards at Avalon.
The loss of these ships would hurt Hawker, but the real treasure here was something else - something that, as a ping of his implants informed him, was about to be escorted onto his bridge.
Letting the VR display of the system fall away, Vogrin turned to face the door at the back of his bridge as it opened, letting an older, white-haired man escorted by a pair of heavily enhanced marines enter.
"Ah, Doctor Sebastian Nemo. A pleasure to meet you sir - I rarely get the chance to meet one of the Terran Alliance's foremost experts on Cloaking technology."
The older scientist nearly snarled in response, "Why am I here? Why didn't your abominations simply kill me with the rest of my team!"
"Well, Doctor, as far as the records here at Avalon will show, you DID die back on the station. You even left a body behind - after one of our agents acquired a bit of your DNA, our cloning technology was well up to the challenge of producing that. But since your colleagues saw you leaving with our marines - well, I'm sure you can understand that we couldn't have them telling a different story." Vogrin smiled ironically, as he continued. "You may think of this as a recruitment offer, if you will - welcome to the Melcon family!"
Nemo gaped in shock. "You- you killed all those men because you didn't want the Alliance to know you had kidnapped me? And that's all this is - a kidnapping! I have no intention of working with my captors."
Vogrin's smile became much tighter in reply, "Oh, Doctor, I think you will change your mind. For instance, what would you say if I told you that, down on the planet below us, the habitat of New Camelot was about to be obliterated by a stray torpedo fired during the battle here. Oh, look there on the monitor - I believe that mushroom cloud means that torpedo just hit."
"Oh, there's no need to worry about them, Doctor. Your wife and daughter are both quite safe, along with your daughter's fiancee - they are just disembarking now from the shuttle that carried them aboard this ship when our marines paid them a little visit. But you obviously care for them quite a bit," and Vogrin's smile now was that of a predator about to rend his prey, "so I think you will understand that working for us is the best decision to keep them in good health."
Seeing the doctor's shoulders sag and knowing he had won, Vogrin turned away, sending a silent signal to the marine escorts to have Doctor Nemo shown to his new quarters. It was always nice to see job interviews go well - or at least exactly as planned.
Tonight, though, he was looking forward to a celebratory bottle of Cognac - Avalon's commander was quite the bon vivant, and a short side trip by the boarding parties had liberated his entire stock. The man had been an annoying thorn in Vogrin's side - he had outbid Vogrin's agents on two shipments from Terra herself recently. Vogrin smiled quite brightly as the squadron spooled up their FoldSpace drives - he didn't have to worry about THAT happening again.