Excerpt from The End Of Childhood

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Look! Imtara pointed the rest of us back to the feed. Waterfront Blue arcology was starting to fall, slowly. Cutter bombs in the foundation, just like Blue Gold. That was decades before she was born, but a disaster that killed more than sixty to the fourth power who were almost all civilians didn't get forgotten even in an Empire with several times sixty to the thirteenth inhabitants.

I thought arcologies were supposed to move their gravity generators after that? Esteban asked.

They did, his grandmother replied, But they must have been separately destroyed.

Should we move? Imtara wanted to know.

No. All of us can teleport if it becomes necessary. We're still safer here than we would be at ground level. It would have been difficult for any of us to resist Anara taking charge; not only was she Asto's mother, she had over a square of experience as an Octus-in-fact as well as a Quadrant General, including fighting through the Restoration. I was the oldest of our little family at prime thirty-eight; I had a total of twenty years in the military, peaking at the exalted rank of Staff Private. Even Asto with thirtyseven years of service was only a First Corporal. She had a point, too. The nearly ten ithirds of potential above the surface we had here would give us a lot of options if we needed to teleport.

Asto's splinter was scoping out the corridor outside. Clear for the moment.

The feed for Waterfront Blue showed it more than half impacted. It was tilting out towards the Straits, which was good because it meant it wouldn't hit any of the other arcologies on the way down. None of us had any idea how many people were trapped inside; we hoped it was low but I couldn't see it being much under a fourth. That many human casualties meant that it would be hard to classify this battle as a victory no matter how many demons we killed.

Check the estimated casualty counts, Mom. The bottom range is twelve fourths for the demons.

Twelve fourths of manesi, terostes, and lemuure! 'Shake and bake' expendables! The people killed were mostly older than me, and each represented thirty years or more of training, thirty times that of expected economic output! They won't be doing that! Nor will they be having children or training replacements! Not to mention the investment lost, not just in Waterfront Blue, but all the rest of Sumabad!

I thought the body count...

There's an old maxim, Anara interjected, trainees talk tactics, grunts talk strategy, veterans discuss logistics. Wars are won by the side that can pay for them, young man!

Embarrassed, Ilras shut up. Asto's splinter took up his mother's line of instruction, Your grandmother uses 'pay' in the broadest possible sense. There's a reason defense may win battles, but it never wins wars. If they're being fought on your territory, it's your production and your people doing the paying and the dying! We just 'paid' with a fourth of expensive bodies that they 'bought' with twelve fourths of cheap ones! That doesn't consider the cost of the equipment - at least ten sixths! The big arcologies far outmassed - and out-cost - even the biggest military starships. We have to take the war to the demons in order to win. In order to do that, we had to know where they were and where to hit them to make it hurt them instead of us. The Empire has spent the last forty years or more learning precisely those things. He didn't need to mention there was no protecting the rear areas in this war; that was obvious. Both the Empire and the demons had the ability to strike anywhere they thought advantageous.

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This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on September 18, 2023 7:00 AM.

Excerpt from The Price Of Power was the previous entry in this blog.

First Draft Excerpt from Measure of Adulthood is the next entry in this blog.

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