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Subject: Headlines: September 19-25, 2421
Date: 25 Sep 2421 00:01:39 +0000
Date-Local: 11 Apr 2419 03:25:39 +0000
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HEADLINES FOR SEPTEMBER 19 - SEPTEMBER 25, 2421

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⦿ "I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT": EARTH SHIPS SMASHED AT MARS

September 25 (UT): In a shockingly effective blitzkrieg attack,
Belter ships, led by the captured Earth cruiser ENS Brooklyn,
smashed the Earth Navy flotilla recently engaged in attempting to
suppress the labor riots on Mars.

A Universe Today ship in Mars orbit, equipped with military-surplus
sensing gear, obtained visual and long-wave infrared imagery
detailing the entirety of the short and decisive combat. Based on
that imagery, retired wing general and military analyst Nathan
Coopersmith, recently arrived in Mars orbit at the time of the
battle, described the tactics of the attack as "absolutely
textbook."

"They came in at maximum thrust on a shortest-time vector from
Ceres, and didn't even slow down before opening fire at maximum
reload rate. We would have set up that attack exactly the same
way," Coopersmith said. "That's absolutely critical, and very
telling. That velocity advantage gave them the ability to launch
their missiles far outside the range of the ships they were
targeting, and they made those shots count. I don't know where
they're getting their training, but one thing is absolutely clear:
this was not just a bunch of wild rock hoppers. Maybe they were the
ones who stole Brooklyn, but I'm not even sure of that. Whoever's
crewing her now, though - they know exactly what they're doing."

Those initial launches from the stolen ENS Brooklyn, leading the
Belter ships, appear to have caught the Earth units in Mars orbit
completely off guard, despite over twenty-four hours' warning of
the incoming attack. Three ships - the cruiser ENS Pittsburgh, and
the frigates San Juan and Caguas - were immediately
destroyed. Based on imagery gathered by Universe Today during the
attack, it appears no other ships were targeted in this initial
assault, including ENS Chicago, flagship of flotilla commander Wing
General Hall.

"Again, that's absolutely textbook," Coopersmith said. "It's how
you make the most of the advantage. Instead of spreading out your
fire, you concentrate, go for knockouts you know you can get
instead of shooting at everyone and hoping for luck. It's textbook,
and it's smart - if you find yourself counting on luck to win a
fight, you already made a mistake somewhere. But I'd been counting,
and Brooklyn had used up all her shipkillers to get those
knockouts. It was a good shot, but I didn't see what they thought
they could do to follow it up."

Following the initial attack, the Belter ships turned over and
began hard deceleration burns which would end with entry into Mars
orbit. The remaining four Earth Navy units brought up their engines
and began to maneuver, apparently attempting to form up around ENS
Chicago.

For several minutes, no further attack occurred from either
side. "The remaining Earth Navy ships were clearly preparing to
sortie out and meet their attackers, and it looked like the Belters
were trying to come in and slug it out in high orbit," Coopersmith
said, asked to describe these events. "It didn't make sense,
especially with how effective they'd already been - sure, they were
out of missiles, but at close range they'd lose in a hurry and they
had to know it. I couldn't imagine what else they might be doing,
though."

The purpose behind the Belters' actions became clear minutes later,
as long-range radar aboard the orbiting Universe Today ship
resolved several dozen small objects separating from the group of
decelerating ships. Evidently released prior to the deceleration
burn, these unidentified objects continued to accelerate in toward
Mars orbit.

The events which followed occurred so quickly that no one aboard
Universe Today's ship in orbit was able to tell what had
happened. Coopersmith and other analysts were later able to
reconstruct the sequence of events based on imagery gathered during
the attack.

"When I saw the radar returns scatter and fade, I realized what
they had to be," Coopersmith said. "Rocks. Small Belt objects,
maybe a couple thousand tons each, rigged with engines and some
kind of shaped charges to shatter them into fragments. We think
they must have had some kind of targeting system, too, God knows
how. They knew they didn't have enough missiles for every ship in
Mars orbit, so they used what they did have, and it worked better
than I could have imagined. I've never seen anything like it."

Seconds after the unknown radar returns disappeared, ENS Chicago
exploded, killing Wing General Hall and his entire command
staff. The two frigates nearest the explosion collided in orbit,
destroying ENS Phoenix and rendering ENS Ann Arbor unable to
maneuver, and leaving the frigate ENS Appleton as the only
remaining Earth Navy unit still functional.

"I knew Steve Hall pretty well," Coopersmith said. "He was the kind
of officer we used to call a killer. Bold, aggressive,
hard-charging, always ready to bring the fight to the
enemy. Officers like that tend to pick their subordinates for the
same qualities, and clearly Steve had done that here. I don't see
any other reason why Appleton would've kept going out. Maybe her
captain thought the rock hoppers really were done, maybe he thought
he'd surprise Brooklyn with a knockout and clean up the small fry
after. I don't know, and of course we can't ask now. At least he
got a few shots off."

ENS Appleton, still building thrust toward escape velocity,
succeeded in launching nine of her twelve shipkiller missiles at
Brooklyn. However, the stolen Earth cruiser's point-defense weapons
proved to be capably crewed, shooting down all of Appleton's
weapons well outside their attack range. Less than a minute later,
Appleton was hit and destroyed by another of the Belters' asteroid
weapons.

In the aftermath of the battle, the stolen Brooklyn and the other
Belter ships entered orbit, accepted the surrender of ENS Ann
Arbor, and instructed the Earth marines still on the surface of
Mars to surrender at once. Liana de Buys of the Red Rock Guild
echoed the instruction, adding that the Martian miners would accept
these surrenders if given. "Your mission here has failed," de Buys
said, in a general broadcast from a Mars NewsNet transmitter. "Your
ships are destroyed or crippled. Your resupply, your
reinforcements, your air support, are all gone, and you know you
can't hold out forever. Surrender now! We will treat you as
prisoners of war, and send you home as soon as we can. If you try
to hold out instead, on your own head be it."

At press time, most of the marine formations on Mars were confirmed
to have surrendered and been taken into custody by their erstwhile
enemies, with only a few holdouts at Endeavour Crater still
fighting. It is thought that ENS Ann Arbor, the only surviving
Earth ship at Mars, may serve after repairs to ferry home the
surrendered marines. Governor Ritter could not be reached for
comment, and Universe Today has unconfirmed reports that he may
have been killed in the fighting, or captured and executed by Red
Rock Guild miners. Universe Today will bring you further bulletins
on these events as new information develops.

⦿ PUBLIC INFORMATION CLAIMS COLLUSION IN BATTLE OF MARS

September 25 (UPI) - Shortly following the explosive news of the
Battle of Mars, Earthgov's Office of Public Information claimed
"credible evidence" suggesting that one or both of the Luna-Titan
Alliance partners had "colluded with Belt-based criminals" in the
attack on Earth's ships.

"In recent days, Earth's deep-system intelligence platforms have
observed highly suspicious movements on the part of ships known to
engage in criminal trade with Titan," a spokesman for Public
Information said in a press conference. "While we continue to
develop and evaluate new information, we expect at this time to be
able to report very soon that Titan, presumably in conspiracy with
parties as yet unknown on Earth's moon, provided material aid in
weapons and personnel to the Belter criminals who went on to commit
their atrocities in Mars orbit.

"Earth's government wishes to reassure the populace of the Solar
System that these criminals will not escape justice for their
terrible actions today. Our fellow citizens, our way of life, our
very freedom have come under attack in these deliberate and deadly
acts. We will bring justice to the terrorists responsible, and we
will make no distinction between them and those who aid and harbor
them. Earth has stood down enemies before, and we will do so again
this time."

The spokesman did not ask for questions.

⦿ EARTHGOV DECRIES DESTRUCTION OF KEARSARGE BY TITAN

September 19 (UPI) - Following the destruction of an Earth frigate
in an attempt to intercept a Lunar passenger ferry four days ago,
Earthgov's Public Information Office stated that the incident was
an unprovoked attack by a new alliance actively attempting to
instigate warfare with Earth.

"ENS Kearsarge was engaged in an internal police action with regard
to a single passenger aboard the Moon ferry Quetelet," a Public
Information spokeswoman said. "Kearsarge's Captain Whitlow
requested that Quetelet permit civilian police officers aboard
Kearsarge aboard, so that they could arrest a citizen of Earth who
was suspected, with probable cause, of engaging in treason and
espionage against Earth.

"Instead of assenting to this peaceable request, Quetelet attempted
to flee the scene, necessitating a pursuit by Kearsarge in defense
of Earth's security interests. Just prior to Kearsarge's successful
overhaul and boarding of Quetelet, Titan's faster-than-light ship
appeared and opened fire without warning on Kearsarge, destroying
the ship and murdering our naval officers and crew before they had
any chance to defend themselves or even attempt to surrender.

"Earth's government cannot accept such treatment of her brave
defenders. Earth's people will not allow it. The actions of Titan,
and of the regime currently in power on Earths' moon, constitute a
direct attack against the national security of Earth, and our
longstanding policy in such cases has been to respond as firmly and
assertively as our adversaries should choose to require of us."

⦿ LUNA FOREIGN MINISTRY DEPLORES EARTH ACTION AGAINST FERRY

September 20 (UPI) - A spokesman for Luna's Foreign Ministry in a
press conference today issued a strong statement regarding the
recent interception of an Luna Passenger Lines ferry Quetelet by
the Earth Navy frigate Kearsarge.

"We are aware that Earth claims this unprovoked attack on an
unarmed passenger vessel to have been an internal police matter,
threatening none except her own wayward citizen," Li Yen-au
said. "These claims fall short of reality in several respects. When
the captain of our passenger ferry correctly declined to halt and
be boarded, Kearsarge responded by opening fire with weapons
designed to destroy other military ships.

"It is only thanks to the timely intervention of our new treaty
partner, Titan, that no innocents were killed as a result of this
crime. We understand that Earth claims the destruction of Kearsarge
to be itself an unprovoked attack on a vessel operating peacefully
within the bounds of accepted interstellar custom. This, too, is a
lie.

"Kearsarge had already struck the ferry Quetelet with one missile
and fired a second, clearly intending to make good on her earlier
threats to destroy the unarmed ship, when the Titan ship And Yet It
Moves arrived upon the scene. And Yet It Moves' captain, having
been made aware of the situation by a report bravely transmitted by
Quetelet's own Captain Crozer, judged that Kearsarge would not
accept a demand to cease fire, and acted as she felt necessary to
defend the innocent lives aboard Quetelet.

"We of Luna wish now to express our deepest gratitude to our
Titanian allies and friends for their swift and decisive action in
defense of our citizens," Li said in concluding her remarks. "We
wish also to advise any and all who would so attack us that they
would be wise to consider carefully the fate of Kearsarge before
embarking on such a rash course of action."

⦿ SILO SHIPS SEEN SHIFTING ORBITS IN "MAINTENANCE TASK"

September 21 (UPI) - Following confirmed reports of Earth's "silo
ships" adjusting their orbits, questions to Earthgov's Military
Information Office were met with the response that the ships'
movements are related to ongoing maintenance required to keep the
giant vessels ready for action, and are not in any way associated
with political events in the system.

"This is an ordinary maintenance task that's performed from time to
time," said Major Willem van Dort, in response to a UPI
correspondent's question. "We have to make sure those ships are
ready when we need them, and that includes their engines and
navigational systems. Having them change orbits is just a way to
make sure that they're fully functional and ready to defend Earth
if they're needed." Asked whether he thought the ships might be
needed to defend Earth in the near future, Major van Dort said that
he had no further comment, and ended the call.

The six "silo ships", each large enough to be distinctly visible in
the night sky, are the backbone of Earth's deterrent forces, and
thought to carry between two and four hundred nuclear warheads
apiece. Retired wing general and military analyst Nathan
Coopersmith, when asked about the ships' movements, agreed with
Major Van Dort's comments about maintenance, and also noted that he
does not recall the last time he heard of the ships being moved.

⦿ SPY HANGED FOR TREASON ON GANYMEDE

September 23 (GNI) - Alexander Anders Seifert, a former worker in
Earth's military shipyard on Ganymede, was publicly executed today
for treason and espionage in the courtyard of the Ganymede
Garrison's headquarters and administration building.

"Alexander Seifert was convicted of passing crucial military
secrets to known members of a Titan spy ring operating on
Ganymede," said General William Tasker, after descending from the
gallows. "While his Titan accomplices have for now escaped capture
and military justice for their crimes, Seifert himself was not so
fortunate, and he has now answered for having endangered the safety
and security of Earth by his actions."

Tasker, thought to be in charge of a secret naval project on
Ganymede, went on to say, "Some may ask whether it is appropriate
for a military tribunal to pass judgment on a civilian. To them I
say: Look around. Look at what's happening in the system. Earth's
enemies surround her on every side, and she must be defended at all
costs. At a time like this, we soldiers must step to the fore,
stand our posts, and do what must be done. If you find our actions
distasteful, remember that the blame for them lies not with we
ourselves, your sworn protectors, but rather with our enemies,
internal and external, who force us to take such actions in defense
of us all."

While the law mandating capital punishment in cases of treason
remains on Earth's books, Seifert's is the first such execution
actually carried out in almost sixty-five years. The last, of the
infamous "Tycho Seven", occurred in 2357, shortly after Luna's
secession from Earth.

⦿ CARAVAN FORMING IN ARIVADA, HEADED FOR WYOMING CAMP

September 23 (NAB) - In the wake of riots at the Wyoming New
Prospects Facility, a caravan reportedly consisting of hundreds of
individuals has begun to form in southern Arivada, with its members
claiming they intend to "close down" the facility.

"They're enslaving people in there," said one woman, who claimed to
be a caravan member but otherwise declined to identify
herself. "They say it's a chance at a new life, but it's really a -
a prison, they're forcing them to work, starving them." Asked what
they would do upon reaching the camp, the caravan member said,
"We'll figure that out when we get there, I guess. But we've got
lots of trucks."

A spokeswoman for the Population Administration, reached shortly
before press time, said only, "We are aware of the assembly in
Arivada, and we are prepared to take necessary measures to ensure
it does not interfere with the smooth running of the New Prospects
Facility."

⦿ YOUR THOUGHTS ON MARS AND THE BELT

In last week's update, we asked for our readers' opinions on the
recent news of events on Mars and in the Asteroid Belt. Here's what
you had to say.

"I hope those Martian malcontents finally get what's coming to
them. Ever since they started up with this pointless unrest,
materials futures have been plummeting with no end in
sight. People's retirements are on the line here! Can't they
understand that?"

- JAMES ST. JAMES, Investment Analyst, Lake Shore Drive

"Are they even still human out in the Belt? I hear they can barely
even have kids with normal people any more. In another generation
or two, they'll be a different species, won't they? So why do they
even care what happens anywhere else?"

- PAMELA CHRISTIAN, Proud Mom of Four, Lenox Park

"It's about time they took it to the rich [unprintable] who've been
exploiting them! Those [unprintable] have had it too easy for too
long. They don't like gettng a taste of the just consequences for
what they've done? Well, [unprintable] them! They really won't like
it when the same thing starts up here at home."

- "X", [unprintable], Lakeview Towers

"If it's true about how those miners and their families have been
treated, I don't like it. Who would? But to think that violence
will bring any kind of improvement - as much as I understand the
impulse, a cursory reading of history shows that it's clearly
misguided. Only civil engagement among all stakeholders equally can
create lasting change."

- [withheld by request], Government Major, Cornell University

"Where does the Belt get off interfering with inner system affairs?
They've made it very clear they don't want anything to do with us,
except when it comes to marking up the raw materials we need to
rebuild Earth's infrastructure. That's probably the only reason
they're throwing in on the side of the miners who keep complaining
about their contracts - they don't like the competition."

- ANDREW CHO, Purchasing Manager, Casper

"Honestly, at a time like this, Mars is nothing but a distraction
from the real problem - this new alliance between the Moon and
Titan. Their crazy rhetoric about the menace from Earth isn't new,
but they've really heated it up lately, and I'm starting to worry
that they'll use it as an excuse for some kind of sneak attack on
our interests. We need to face them down now, instead of worrying
about a bunch of rioting rock-grubbers who don't know a good deal
when they see one."

- [withheld by request], Loving Earth, Friendship Heights

"The whole thing is madness. Look at history and you can see
arrangements like this are never stable long-term, and the ill will
they generate is a long-term liability that always outweighs the
short-term profit. This was always coming, and as long as we keep
trying to hold down Mars, it's only going to get uglier. We can't
do anything about the past, but we can change the future, and it's
time we treated fairly with them instead."

- JOSEPH MUELLER, Freelance Historian, Roland Park Recovery Zone

⦿ QUOTE FOR THE WEEK

"The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery
and despair into hope and progress." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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