From five hundred kilometers up, the planet looked peaceful, quite a pleasant place to live, its blue and green surface betraying an abundance of water and a temperate climate as it spun placidly around its orbit of the local star. From the command room inside of the RCS Cerebrum, though, a much different story was being told.
The room was illuminated by the flickering, shifting shadows from dozens and dozens of holographic screens, hovering in the air, displayed in neat lines and rows. They contained a staggering amount of information on them, most of them being live feeds, many shaky camera views from the ground showing the exact same sight every Squadron Commander was seeing in real-time, and more. Some of them were easier to look at, a smoother view coming from the air. The Rodent Navy had already done its job and established air superiority over most of the planet so many of the screens were filled with extremely tactically advantageous birds-eye views of the battlefield.
Several uniformed rats were seated on either side of the room, their desks facing outwards towards the walls, each of them concentrating carefully on their particular selection of live-feeds, their voices sounding out in quick bursts of clipped, efficient, precisely enunciated information.
At the head of the command centre on a raised dais one rodent faced forwards, surveying the room in general, as well as his own selection of holographic screens. A cap was set on top of his head, a strip of red running along it just above the brim, the icon of the Rodent Empire emblazoned on the front of it. A long coat, black with gleaming brass buttons held together with a white belt, and a smooth, well-ironed, pair of dress-trousers bringing the piece together.
His face was a picture of focus as his eyes glanced back and forth between the feeds, lingering for just long enough to take in the entire scene, then moving to the next one. As he concentrated on each of the screens accompanying noise came to his ears, sometimes the calm buzz of a drone, sometimes the tense silence of a defensively stationed squadron, scanning for hostiles, sometimes the screams and deafening sounds of combat, only to then fade out and make way for the next scene when his attention moved.
Most of the planet was already occupied. There was just their capital left, a huge sprawling city that took up almost an entire continent by itself. Even with a concentrated campaign of bombardment, knocking out massive swathes of their defensive infrastructure the fighting had been protracted and fierce. The enemy's back had been broken, their defensive armies routed and crushed in days of full-out, brutal combat. But many had withdrawn, retreated back to their capital, where they now waged a guerrilla war with the invading soldiers.
Despite their numerous advantages, the figure watching the screens didn’t let his attention waver for a moment. There were plenty of examples in history of a smaller force defeating a larger one, and if there was any territory for it to happen in, it was this, their home ground.
“Squad one-one-two, incoming ambush eight o’clock, confirm.”
“Squad three-zero, zone confirmed secure, advance to ACZ, hustle, confirm.”
“SCS eight, withdraw to Fort-twelve, re-supplies waiting, confirm.”
The urban battle had been protracted, the vast sprawling streets and buildings providing seemingly endless fortification and ambush opportunities for the defenders, arrays of giant and terrifyingly effective anti-air defenses leaving this the last bastion of air supremacy for their foes. One by one, though, they had been assaulted, stormed by determined waves of rodent soldiers in what was easily the fiercest ground engagements of the entire war, and as each battery fell, so did the surrounding land as the Great Navy swept in.
Now the end was in sight, the last fortress of their enemies, the felines, was being slowly but steadily surrounded, all of the rodent squads falling into position around it, staggered squad by squad as they all made their way from their previous engagements, set up their fortifications and camped, waiting for their fellows.
The sun was dipping down towards the horizon by the time the majority of soldiers were in position and in the Cerebrum there was a palpable sense of relief from the stationed officers, their job was just about over. The grand strategy had been executed, and from here it would be the officers on the ground that would carry the day, each one of them was well drilled on attack strategy, the fluid, confined, fast-paced battles of an enclosed, defended fortress environment better suited to them rather than the High Command.
At the head, the grey rodent leaned back on his chair, the first sign of relaxation and slack that he had shown for the entire day, a pleased smile over his face as he tapped in to the communal frequency for the ground forces.
“Well, the felines were our most advanced, most numerous enemies yet, and just like all of the rest, they’re ours now.” A wicked grin spread over his face as he spoke. “Fight hard, you lucky fuckers, and eat well.”
The High Command remained in place though, as the last assault of the war raged, but now some heads were rested on paws and some eyes wandered or stared lazily off into the distance. The concentration required to keep their wits sharp for hours and hours on end now taking its toll on their mental focus.
The Lord Commander himself kept his eyes sharp, roaming now not just over the displays, but the other officers in the room, a slight frown coming over his face he noticed the attention slip from some others. Although it was true their presence in the command room was more of a formality than anything else at this point, the rodent made a note to speak to the officers nonetheless.
Mostly his attention remained on the fighting, though. It was fierce, just like the other fortress assaults, but his soldiers fought well and gained ground steadily, and each time he saw the men breach a fortified position and fall eagerly upon the defenders, a pang of jealousy stabbed through the grey rodent.
Their forces were an unstoppable wave, and, as predicted, the last fortress of their enemy fell in short order. He received the report, though during it he had to ask the field officer giving it to leave to somewhere more quiet. It was done.
The celebration in the room was muted, now that the job was over exhaustion played at the eyes of all the officers and it wasn’t long before they were filtering out of the High Command, heading back to their quarters.
The Lord-Commander also felt sleep pulling at his mind and he reclined backwards in his padded chair and closed his eyes...