by Philip A Berry
Beynon, a little known Near Space historian, found himself thinking about Winston Churchill as he transferred into Jovian orbit. Churchill, ignoring his advisers, had flown 18 hours from a meeting with the U.S. president in Bermuda back to England during the height of the Second World War. Miraculously he evaded detection by the Luftwaffe.
Beynon was taking an equally large risk by taking an interplanetary flight during the 52nd year of the first Galaxial War. Not that there was a choice; he had been ordered to attend the off-world Academy of War following an unexpected reversal near the Procyon system.
A magnetic storm had descended on the quadrant without warning. A finger of radiation extended into the fleet, disrupting communications and crippling the first three attack lines. The skins of the terrestrial spacecraft came alive with sparks; waves of unwanted electricity flowed down their flanks, neutralized the protective mechanisms and melded the circuits. A massacre ensued. Nobody had seen it coming. No astrophysicist had predicted it.
In the high offices of the Academy, Beynon's eccentric and hitherto disregarded views suddenly became interesting. He was invited to give a presentation.
Beynon scanned the row of representatives before him. They were dressed in dark blue uniforms, only the small, silver symbols on their collars differing in detail. All of Earth's armies fought as one now. Each continent made contributions to the Combined Force, but to maximize morale each continental division retained their own, native general. There were seven generals here.
"You have five minutes," said the Chair. Once the Prime Minister of India, he was skilled in the art of consensus. The Generals were politicians rather than soldiers.