A second Chimopteran - one of only three technicians allowed in the cockpit - hurried to take the place of its unfortunate comrade. Its gaze flicked nervously to the twitching body on the floor as the arms man responsible for ending its life dragged it out into the corridor.

"Ahhhh…Ah…Admiral Regel, my Lord." The Chimopteran bowed dramatically and nearly dropped its bulky headset on the floor.

"What is it?" Regel replied with agitation, mopping at the tea seeping quickly into the linkages of his armored greaves.

"Sensor sweeps have detected multiple surface launches. We are tracking incoming vessels."

Regel abruptly took the situation seriously. He was not about to underestimate the humans like that pompous idiot Maximillian.

In three long strides he covered the distance to the circular holographic display of the fleet, reentry trajectories into the atmosphere of the human planet glowing green lines. Blooms of bright red indicators were appearing within the atmosphere and moving, with slightly unnerving accuracy, towards the assault fleet.

"They have calculated our reentry courses." One of Admiral Regel's Imperatrixian advisors commented, gesturing towards the gray projected paths of the human craft and how they intersected the trajectory lines.

"That makes things more difficult. These are not AI slaved warheads, they are plotted dumb fires. Most of our jamming systems will not work." Remarked another of Regel's aides, a stone skinned Vesuvian in a ridiculous red robe.

"Boarding launches?" Asked the first hulking Imperatrixian.

"No." Admiral Regel stated with finality. "These are missiles, torpedoes of some sort. Look at their launch clusters. Those are tube launches and we have no evidence of human space forces on this scale."

"If this is a plotted salvo could we not simply route the assault force to a different reentry vector?" The question came in the high pitched and smooth voice of the fleet's Loriak infantry advisor. The creature stared at the others with four huge black eyes that rotated and gazed independently of one another. Not even the Imperatrixians behind their impassive helmets could hold that gaze for more than a moment.

"It is," the Chimopteran risked its life by interjecting, "I regret to say…impossible at this stage. A sudden reroute would cause severe heat damage to all of the landing barges and most of the drop ships. Losses could be catastrophic."

Regel stared at the Chimopteran for a few seconds, calculating his options. He waved the creature back to its console and returned his eyes to the holographic display.

"We will join our ships in the atmosphere." Regel spoke and a few of the advisors whispered quietly in surprise. "The number of inbound launches is too great; we have to create a screen for our ships to slip through."

"My Lord, the capital ships are not-" The Vesuvian began to speak with concern.

"I know the precise tolerances of every ship in this fleet. Even your brethren's oafish boulder-shaped garbage scow. We can screen them for most of their reentry and we can hopefully dispatch all or most of these gnats in the process."

The Vesuvian nodded uncertainly. Admiral Regel activated the address system.

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