[TGG] The Devil to Pay - The Federation Civil War

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[TGG] The Devil to Pay - The Federation Civil War

Post by Steve » 2007-05-31 03:34am

Table of Contents

This Tragedy and what it brings
All the Devastation
(The Reaper has his way!)
Men will kill, blood will spill
To preserve the Nation
(There's the Devil to Pay!)

- Chorus to "The Devil to Pay; Gettysbug Day 1" by Iced Earth

Chapter 1A - Crestfallen

U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701-E, Near Rel'tesk Charter Colony
4 January 2166 AST
28 July 2380 ST-3 Calendar

Captain's Log, Stardate..... What is the Stardate? Ah yes, Stardate 57040.1.

*long pause, lasting several seconds, before a clear sigh is heard*

I cannot remember a single time in my career that I have forgotten a stardate for a log. Such is a sign of these chaotic times, I fear, as my mind is completely overwhelmed by it. There is tragedy everywhere. Everything I cherish is being torn apart in front of my eyes and I feel so utterly helpless to stop it.

These past weeks I have spent sleepless nights staring at the ceiling of my quarters, or upon the books I have collected on my nearby shelves, trying to think of how this can be ended before the bloodshed reaches the scale that, in civil war, it must inevitably come to.

Instead I find myself asking where it all went wrong. The Federation possessed such promise. As a boy I can remember feeling nothing but hope for my future and the future of all Humanity, and the Federation embodied it.

What happened to us? What happened to the Federation of hope? To Starfleet, the preserver of freedom? Now we are ordered to fire upon our own people while, on our homeworlds, the people are gripped by madness and tear into one another with unrivaled savagery. The peace of Earth and so many other worlds has been shattered after decades of peace and content, and not by alien invasion but by the very people who live upon them. The dream that I and so many others had of the Federation, of the future, is gone.

Was it all a lie, this dream? Has my life's work truly been for nothing? I fear this is so.

No, I don't fear it is so. I
know it is so. In my heart, in my mind, I see the truth, and it makes me recoil in horror. This was inevitable. The dream was an illusion, an illusion I followed willingly even when my mind should have known better. I could not help myself. All of my dreams for the future, all of my hope for the more noble and selfless Man, was embodied in the Federation. And long after I saw it as wrong, I refused to accept it, because I could not bear to admit my dreams were not coming true.

And now I see that I have truly lost everything. I wrapped myself up in my Starfleet career, convinced I was fulfilling my dream, and let my ties to my family be forsaken. Now I am old and childless, and Robert and Rene are dead. The Picard line that landed on Mars and pioneered science and exploration ends with me. And for what? For the Federation to split itself asunder under the weight of an unjust system I have ignored for decades. For the people on Earth to go mad and commit mass murder when told that some sacrifice on their parts was necessary.

All my hope is lost. The future is gone. My life has been for nothing. All I have left now are the tattered remnants of my career and my obligation to my crew and to my principles. This has left my soul is hollow and full of pain.

The Cuban patriot Jose Marti once said that to not support a necessary civil war was as criminal as supporting an unnecessary one. I find that knowledge true but uncomforting. I cannot stop the bloodshed, and I can only hope - Hope! That deceiver still lures me! - I can only hope that the killing and suffering will not be in vain, and that some happiness will arrive from it's outcome, whatever that may be.

If I die in the war to come, so be it. It is an end I am willing to meet, an end to pain, an end to obligation. I do not know if I wish to live to see whatever will come of this war, for my soul still longs for the past, with all of it's hidden evils.

If only I could turn back the clock. If only I could avoid what I have done, what I must do, now.

I have never been a religious man, but.... God, help me, and please forgive me, because I cannot forgive myself.

With a chirp the Enterprise's computer confirmed the log was fully recorded. Captain Jean-Luc Picard had never felt so weak, so drained, as he did when he slumped back into his chair. Outside the stars still shined at him as they always did, but they had lost all their wonder.
Instead his eyes soon focused on another sight, so close to his ship that he could see it through his office's trans-aluminum window. The shattered hulk of a Starfleet vessel, a vessel that the Enterprise had just engaged and destroyed. On it's primary hull, he could still make out the ship's name.
U.S.S. Titan.

As Picard sat and watched the wreckage, he let his thoughts slip away for a moment, trying not to think of the enormity of what had happened, but he was forced back into reality by the comm beep and a voice saying, "Rescue Team to Captain Picard."
"This is Picard, go ahead," he said in bland reply.
"We have found some survivors, sir..."
And again, the deceiving temptress Hope began to seduce Picard again. "Are they...?"
Before he could finish the question, the answer came. "I'm sorry, Captain. Captain Riker and Commander Troi were on the bridge when the torpedo hit. All we found were miniscule biological remains."
With his mouth dry and his heart shuddering in utter despair, Picard replied, "Thank you. Carry on your duties and recover all survivors. Picard out."

At that moment Picard forced himself to turn away from the window. He wanted to be somewhere, anywhere, but here. He looked to the corner and, of all things, found himself longing for annoying, insufferable Q to appear. A suitable punishment for what had just happened.
William Riker and Deanna Troi had been two of his closest friends and comrades in his Starfleet career. They had survived countless battles and ordeals, overcome so many odds, together.
And now he had killed them.

Emotionally destitute, full of the sorrow and loss and guilt of what had come to pass, Picard bowed his head and began crying.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-06-03 05:13am

Chapter 1B - Intentions

U.S.S. Defiant NX-74205, Samotian Nebula
7 January 2166 AST
31 July 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The squadron of Anglian and Antarean ships remained with Defiant at the edge of the nebula, their energy signatures hidden from long-range detection by their location. A swirl of green and blue and red color, the visual effect of the gases swirling in the vacuum, surrounded the lethal warships as they waited for their prey to come by.
Sitting in the middle of the quiet bridge of the small warship was Rear Admiral Benjamin Sisko, formerly commander of Starfleet's assets on the Bajoran border. His eyes focused intently on the viewscreen ahead of him, his face a mask to the rage boiling within him, a rage that even after three days had not burned itself out.

And soon it did. The Sovereign-class starship Resolute and her task force of five ships, including an Excelsior-class Flight III, moved by, hunting a force of ships from the revolting Human charter colony of New Dixie, ships that had already retreated to safety at the Colonial-held Starbase at Gamma Letman. "That's Captain Trenholm's ship," Commander Jadzia Dax remarked from the conn of the Defiant.
"David Trenholm," Sisko answered. "We went to the Academy together. Follow him closely, and prepare to decloak and fire."
Dax barely gave Sisko a slight glance. From the tactical station Worf rumbled, "Sir, should we not give Captain Trenholm a chance to come over to our side?"
"Three captains have tried this past week," Sisko replied. "Their crews are already on the way to New Zealand, I'm sure. No, I know David. He won't defect."

Worf did not reply to that, but after another moment of silence, a new voice spoke up from the station across the bridge from Worf. "This doesn't feel right," Lieutenant Nog remarked. "Firing on Starfleet ships without warning...."
"That's enough, Mister Nog," Sisko said in a dark voice.
Nog didn't speak aloud again, but he did mumble, "I wish Chief O'Brien were here."

"The Resolute is sending out an open broadcast on all frequencies," Dax reported. At Sisko's nod, she put them on the bridge speaker.
"This is Captain Trenholm. Ben, I know you're out there. You're in your little gut-puncher and you're waiting for the right moment to strike. Listen, this isn't going to work. The Colonials are going about this all wrong, and they're risking themselves and every world in the Federation on this. You've got to stop them and uphold your oath to Starfleet. Ben, please.... I'm sorry about your Dad. He was a swell guy. But we didn't kill him, Ben."

Sisko's jaw tensed and his finger hit the key on his chair's panel to reply. "No, David, you only defend the people who did. How many innocent people were murdered last week from their little temper tantrum?"

"Ben, this isn't the time to talk politics. The Federation is falling apart and the other races are licking their chops at the chance to tear up whatever is left. Stand down, for your sake and your crew's, and Starfleet will overlook this. You haven't actually done anything yet for the Colonials, so if you stand down we can pretend this never happened. But if you attack me, or you do anything other than come to your senses and back Starfleet, I will hunt you down and bring you in for court martial. You and your entire crew. Do you understand?"

"Crystal clear," Sisko replied, after which he nodded to Dax and Worf.
As the ship's alert klaxons blared, the Defiant and her force of eight warships emerged from the nebula, quantum torpedoes and phaser blasts flying toward Resolute and her force. The massive starship reacted with deceptive swiftness, managing to evade a couple of the torpedoes while taking the rest of the hits in stride on her shields.
The Defiant rocked as Resolute returned fire, her sister ships focusing their firepower on the Anglian and Antarean vessels joining Defiant in her attack.

Sisko gave orders and his crew followed them, and for a moment it was deceptively similar to the many battles they had fought against the Dominion. But it was different, and they all knew it; Starfleet officers firing on Starfleet officers, and not as part of some coup plot as it had been the last time Defiant traded shots with Lakota, but as only one battle in a growing civil war that was tearing the Federation apart.
The odds against them were even, for while they had superior numbers, nothing in their ad hoc squadron could stand up to a Sovereign-class starship.

Coming around, the Defiant shuddered under a pair of quantum torpedoes from a nearby Steamrunner-class ship before it fell to the particle cannons of an Alliance Dorsetshire-class light cruiser under Antarean command. The first hit had been their's, but the second was not, for that same light cruiser's power core SCRAMed and left it a cripple after the Excelsior and another Steamrunner finished pumping it with torpedoes and phaser fire.

Defiant's pulse phaser cannons raked along the primary hull shields of the Resolute with retorted with it's own turreted battery of pulse phasers on it's ventral hull. "Shields down to seventy percent," Worf reported. "The Resolute's shields are still holding."

"Sir, picking up another group of ships arriving. The lead vessel is Intrepid-class....." Dax looked up from her station. "It's Voyager."
"Who are they targeting?" Sisko asked.
After a moment, Nog looked up. "Sir, Voyager is targeting the Resolute!"

Voyager and the ships accompanying her joined the combat, quantum torpedoes lashing out and striking Resolute on her starboard arc. The large ship turned, leading her squadron away as Captain Trenholm realized the odds had turned against him. Sisko looked intently on as the vessel escaped to warp with two other survivors of her squadron, one vessel with a crippled warp drive surrendering to them.

Several hours later, Sisko and Dax strolled onto the bridge of the Voyager. Chakotay was not present, but most of the rest of the ship's crew were. Lieutenant Kim at sensors, Paris at the conn, and a couple other officers at weapons and engineer with Commander Torres still in the ship's bowels.
A blonde-haired Trill welcomed Sisko to the bridge. She was rather on the cute side, though getting up there in age, and wore a Commander's three gold rank pips on her burgundy red uniform neck. Dax seemed to recognize her more than Sisko, to whom she stood at attention. "Admiral Sisko, I'm Commander Jobrie Tevala, ship's First Officer. Captain Chakotay is waiting for you in the conference room."
"You're Maralo Tevala's daughter, aren't you?" Dax was looking at Jobrie, having fully recognized her as the daughter of the former Federation President, the last and only non-Party President since Hikaru Sulu left office in the early 2320s.
"Yes, Commander Dax. An honor to meet you too," Jobrie said happily before showing them to the conference room.

The trans-aluminum window showed the colors of the Samotian Nebula in their full, beautiful glory. A number of captains were arrayed at the table around Chakotay, all standing at attention at his entry, but one in particular caught Sisko's attention. "Cal?"
The former Maquis commander, Cal Hudson, allowed himself to smile at his old friend despite the circumstances of their last encounter. "Ben, good to see you. It's been a long time."
"It has."
"Admiral Sisko, Sir." Chakotay's voice won him the attention of everyone in the room. "Admiral, I and my fellow captains would like to extend our condolences for your father. He was a good man from what I heard. It's a shame what happened to him."
The fresh wound on Sisko's heart began to hurt again, as if someone had twisted the knife there.

Their talk was initially strategy. Chakotay had come to gain the aid of Sisko's forces in stopping an imminent attack by the Federation 4th Fleet on the Colonial federation of Nuniz, and he figured that Sisko's name might help them win more support from the Muscovite fleet as Novy Moskva mobilized for war and independence as well.
When the other captains were gone, with only Chakotay and Sisko left, Chakotay looked at him intently. "Admiral, I didn't want to ask this in front of the others, but I need to know for myself. Years ago, you were one of my most implacable adversaries. Your spearheaded many of the Federaiton's initiatives to fight the Maquis. Now, you stand with the Maquis' successors in war against the Federation. Was it just because of your father? Is your part in this civil war only so you can get revenge?"

At first Sisko was silent, staring out the window. "While I served on Deep Space Nine, I met people from across the Multiverse," Sisko began. "It was a humbling experience. All of these peoples, like us but not like us, with their own histories, traditions, and ways of thinking. Through them, I began to see the flaws in the Federation."
"And then, I found out about Section 31."
That history, of the abduction of Bashir and Bashir's failed attempts to court the black ops agency, was soon revealed to Chakotay. "The Federation was supposed to be a peaceful, honest entity. And yet I found that underneath that veneer was an organization with innocent blood on it's hands. At that point, I began to wonder what else the Federation might be capable of if it ever went that far. And now look at what has happened. Ovnork is a figurehead, a puppet without power, unable to resist the Association for Federation Unity. I have dealt with these people, Captain Chakotay. They are power-hungry, vicious, and willing to be brutal to achieve their visions. And now they control the Federation. I cannot serve such people, Captain. I will not serve."
"My father's death affected me, yes. It has sealed my resolve." His face a mask of sheer determination, Sisko came to the end of his answer. "The Federation has failed and it has left, in it's wake, broken dreams and a population driven mad by it's sense of entitlement, mad to the point that innocent people were murdered by these mobs. They must be opposed, even if it means breaking oathes we once cherished so strongly."

At that Chakotay nodded. He extended a hand. "Well then, Admiral, I'll be happy to serve under your command. It's good to have you on the side of right this time around."
Sisko didn't remark at that, but he did take Chakotay's hand.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-06-05 10:51am

Chapter 1C - Torchbearers

Near Atlanta, Earth
United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
20 January 2166 AST
13 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar

For all of the changes to Earth in the prior centuries, there were still some simple, solitary spots. One such spot was a simple cemetary outside of Atlanta, where the lights of the metropolis could be seen in the distance while the night sky was still clear and full of stars.
It was a fitting place for the gathering that took place. It was a gathering of memory, with only two living men present, but twice their number added in spirit.
One was a stout man, with gray hair and beard, with a bottle of Scotch in his hand, in a black jacket over a white turtleneck with matching black trousers; the other a robed man, thinner and more serene and calm, with studied contemplation on his face as the two men looked down upon the grave.
For it's solitary, well-kept location, it was a simple grave, with an elegant if simple tombstone, the kind the occupant had desired for himself. Their eyes fell upon the engraving, though it was too dark to actually see it, since both knew what was inscribed there.



JANUARY 20 2227 -
JANUARY 22 2379

"For you, Doctor McCoy, Happy Birthday. It's your favorite." Captain Montgomery Scott (Retired) shook his head in sadness and, for tradition's sake, took out a small bottle of mint julep and poured it out upon the grave. "He was happy to make it to 152, but I wish he'd made it to 153 today. Though....it was a good thing he passed on when he did, wasn't it? To see what's become of the Federation now..."
"I cannot imagine the good Doctor reacting well to what has happened," former Ambassador Spock responded from his comrade's side.
"I cannae believe people these days. If only the Captain were...." Scotty's sentence trailed off. He'd found himself making that same comment before, about wishing Captain Kirk was still around. The age-old faith he had, that "the Captain" could find a way out of any problem, refused to be shaken. "I'm sorry, Mister Spock. I just feel so helpless. Nobody in Starfleet listens to me these days, not since these bloody thugs started gettin' into ranks."
"I, too, have been most unsuccessful in my attempts to influence the Federation Council or the Vulcan government." Spock looked up toward the stars in the sky. "It would appear that there is nothing we can do to stop the current crisis."
"Is this what we fought for, Mister Spock? For our children to become selfish layabouts who murder innocent people in the streets when they don't get things their way?"

"It is not, Mister Scott. Our endeavors were for the good of their parents. That the current generation has not chosen wisely cannot be helped." Spock looked back at Scotty. "What is it you will do now, Mister Scott?"
"Well, I had given thought to retirin'," was the reply, but both knew it wasn't going to happen. "I can't serve Starfleet, not in this war. Not like it is now."
"Perhaps, then, there is a different avenue of employment you would be open to following?"
Scotty looked at Spock and a small grin crossed his face. "Aye, the Colonials. Good lot of lads, if you ask me. Even back in our days. But gettin' through the front lines, with everything as it is now..."
"I am pleased to inform you that I have acquired the means to get us to Colonial territory discreetly and safely," Spock said succinctly. "Unfortunately, the odds of us ever returning to Earth, or seeing Doctor McCoy, are not favorable. I do not believe the Colonial militaries have the strength to do more than fight the Federation to collapse, and they will not have the ability to actually take Earth."

"A damned shame. But, our place is out there anyway, isn't it Mister Spock? Just like in the old days. And Doctor McCoy, he'd want us to do the right thing. I think he'll understand."
"Indeed." At that moment, Spock reached into his robes and pulled out a small flask. It was, properly enough, filled with the same Tennessee whiskey as the bottle now in Scotty's hand. Spock brought the flask up, and realization brought Scotty to do the same thing. "To old friends."
"Aye. To old friends, and to the next generation, we'll raise the torch one last time."
The flask and the glass touched, and both men took a drink, after which the remaining contents were poured out upon Doctor McCoy's grave. When both were empty, Spock returned the flask to his robes and pulled out a Romulan communication device. "Spock to Theodore Weld, Captain t'Prinn, if you will be so kind as to beam us up."
After a moment, a green shimmer lit up the gravesite, and Doctor McCoy's grave was again alone in silent solitude, his last two surviving crewmates off to have one last adventure together, upholding the principles and ideals of the Federation they had served in yesteryear against the Federation that had come into being today.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-06-16 03:56pm

Chapter 1D - Loyalties

San Francisco, Earth
United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
22 January 2166 AST
15 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar

In the offices of Starfleet's Operations Department, the lights were on in the office of Vice Admiral Lawrence Kirsch, head of Starfleet's Mission Deployment office. He had a PADD in front of him that he was studying intently.
The door chirped and he called out for the person there to come in. The door swished open and a female figure walked in wearing an admiral's pips on her collar and cuffs. "I've been hoping to put this off," Kirsch admitted, "but Security pressed me hard to talk to you."
"I understand," his Chief of Staff, Rear Admiral Kathryn Janeway, answered. They both knew this talk was going to happen the instant it was confirmed that Voyager had been amongst the defectors. "There are questions about my loyalty."
"It can't be helped," Kirsch said. "I'm to take your statement on the matter. Starfleet Security will determine how to investigate further at their perogative."
"It's perfectly fine." Drawing in a breath, Janeway took the seat Kirsch motioned her towards. Her mind did not focus itself on her former crew, but upon the duty at hand, and what it had to do with her future. "I am a Starfleet officer. I swore an oath to protect and maintain the Federation and I will not abandon that oath."

Kirsch nodded at her. "Well, that's short and to the point. I'll pass that on. But first..." Looking at her in all seriousness, Kirsch asked, "If you received a fleet command, and Voyager was on the other side, could you fire on her? Could you possibly kill everyone you worked with for so long, in such tense situations?"
It would've been perfectly fine for Janeway to have thoughts about that, serious ones. Close comrades, people who had saved her life and trusted her for so long during that odyssey... But there were no thoughts. Janeway could see her duty clearly, and her choice was obvious and clear. "Without hesitation, Admiral."
"Very well. You are dismissed, Admiral."

Starbase 67, Reynolds System
Colonial Territory (New Gdansk-R'Toak Confederacy)
23 January 2166 AST
16 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar

As well as being captain of the Voyager, Chakotay had soon found himself being a rallying point for the old Maquis fighters to resurface and join the fight against the Federation. The extent of men and women asking to serve with him had necessitated taking a small office in Starbase 67, once held by an assistant to one of the local BNA bigwigs, which he occupied on most days while Voyager waited for refit and replenishment following recent skirmishes against non-defecting Starfleet forces.
That morning Chakotay had attended a briefing with Admirals Sisko and Ross, in which the situation on the front was still described as "chaotic". A number of charter colonies had successfully seceded, others, not so successfully, and much of it was dependent upon the strength of Starfleet in various regions and how many of them defected at the onset of the war and the brutal riots back in the Core. There was, in fact, no front at the moment, but rather a patchwork of sectors and individual systems where Loyalist or Colonial forces were in control. Eventually the situation would have to stablize, of course, and it was the cause of the Colonial forces, still bringing together their disparate commands within the chaos, to seize as much territory as possible to make their position unassailable.

Chakotay looked up from his desk at being informed of another applicant having arrived. A look of some surprise came over his face when he saw Tuvok standing at the door, hands behind his back as usual, wearing civilian clothing with an empty pistol holster on his belt. "Mister Tuvok? What can I do for you?"
"I have come here to enlist in the Colonial forces, Sir," was the stoic reply.
For a moment Chakotay remained silent before he replied, "Really? I was under the impression that most Vulcans were trying to stay neutral."
"Many are, yes, and the government of Vulcan and the colonies are seeking neutrality in the Civil War. Their actions, however, are most illogical. This is a conflict that will not permit for neutrals, and I desire to fight on the side which would do the most good upon victory."
After a moment, Chakotay grinned with amusement, walking up to Tuvok. "You know, Mister Tuvok, the last time I brought you on board something like this, you turned out to be a Starfleet spy."
"Indeed. But, as the saying goes, times change, Captain. I am no longer in Starfleet, and I owe no allegiance to the Federation at this time." Tuvok appraised his former commander with a quiet demeanor. "I leave the disposition of my service up to you, Sir."

After several moments of quiet, Chakotay extended his hand foward. As Tuvok took his hand, he said, "Welcome back, Mister Tuvok. It's good to have you again."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-06-19 09:40pm

Chapter 1E - Principles

Space Station Bravo, Sector 221-G
Disputed Territory
23 January 2166 AST
16 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The ground shook beneath Admiral Elizabeth Shelby's feet as her station reeled from the firepower directed at it. The aptly-named Cromwell, a new Flight II Sovereign-class starship, raked Space Station Bravo with another barrage of pulse phaser fire, seeming to ignore the firepower that Kat Mueller's Trident was pouring into her port side.
The combined Loyalist-Danteri force was swooping in irresistibly, outnumbering Shelby and Mueller's force of Starfleet defectors and Colonial ships two to one. Their commander's voice soon confronted Shelby over the comm system. "Stand down, Shelby, before you get more of your people killed," Edward Jellicoe, again an admiral in Starfleet, remarked over the comm. Shelby had heard that the old Cardassian fighter had gone over to the AFU, but she was still a little surprised to see he'd come after them. "Listen, the Danteri have given me more than enough firepower to take you and the other local bumpkins out. This sector is going to stay in Federation hands whether you like it or not."

"The hell it will," was Shelby's spat response, and even she was surprised at the vehemence in her voice. Not so long ago she had been a loyal patriot of the Federation as well, and even she didn't know how she'd turned. She did suspect who was responsible, though...
"Shelby, you're a good officer, but you've been listening to Calhoun too much. You can't win this war, the Colonials can't. Not in the long run. Now, I expect you to do your duty to Starfleet and the Federation and stand down."
"The same Federation that broke its word and invaded Pacifica? The same Federation that admitted the Danteri? Dammit, Admiral, they've got you fighting alongside the Danteri and we all know what they're really after. Every principle you swore to uphold when you put on that uniform, you're now betraying!"
"Protecting the Federation was what I swore to do, Admiral, and that's what I'm doing right now." The channel was promptly cut.
Cromwell and her force continued hitting hard. "Shields down to thirty percent," one of her officers said over another rocking of the station. "We'll be vulnerable to boarding parties soon."
"Trident just lost main power...."
Shelby began to consider surrender after all, even if she would later be unable to admit it, and was even about to call for her comm officer to hail Jellicoe again and get terms.

"Admiral, we have more contacts! Ships are bearing Colonial IFF codes.... Excalibur is with them!"
"He always has to make an entrance," Shelby said with an amused look on her face.

The reinforcing Colonial squadrons joined the battle with the large Excalibur at their head, two cruisers joining Mackenzie Calhoun's ship in pouring firepower into the Cromwell's port side. Her shields began to buckle under the onslaught, flickering blue in space while allowing torpedoes to get through and savage her hull. The other Colonial ships turned their attention to the Danteri, who reacted to the arrival of the warships by turning tail.
"Jellicoe, you should have known better than to trust the Danteri in anything more than a guaranteed fight," said the famed "Mac the Bastard" as his ship moved between crippled Trident and the Cromwell. "I believe terms of surrender are in order?"
Imagining the look on Jellicoe's face on the moment, Shelby couldn't help but laugh. "Good to have you back, Mac," she said on the open commline.
"I brought the Midwayers with me, the Swabians and the Andalusians are also going to be joining us shortly after their fleets secure DS5."
"Will it be enough to take on the Danteri and the Federation?"
"Well, it'll have to be, won't it?" was Calhoun's answer, and Shelby didn't know whether to laugh or groan.
And, at the very least, they'd win or lose together. Just like it always should be.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-07-14 05:34am

In July 1863, a nation torn in tragedy
A trick of fate, two great armies merge
Gods of War at Gettysburg
Devastation lies ahead
50,000 bodies litter the land.
Hell rages three full days, the Reaper sows
There's the Devil to pay!

"The Devil to Pay; Gettysburg Day 1" by Iced Earth

Chapter 2 - Torn Bonds

Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
1 February 2166 AST
25 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar

One month.
It was still getting used to, this mad state of war. For a month, the bonds that once held the Federation together had been torn asunder. It was not just any civil conflict, not a mere insurrection or rebellion. In many ways it was, in fact, outright war, a war that would either save or destroy the Federation.
Or so it seemed to some. To Ovnork Re'kwish, President of the Federation Council and Chairman of the Central Committee of the Party of the Federation's Ideals, the Federation was already dead; the war would decide who would possess part or all of the corpse and what would be done with it.
The Tellarite found himself spending more and more time in his office, delving himself into the rudimentary paperwork of his position, trying desperately to hide from the terrible, ugly reality on the streets outside. Out there, walls everywhere were covered in propaganda. The Association for Federation Unity was coming into primacy now; inside the Party it urged loyalty and ruthlessly purged corruption and incompetence, creating a climate of fear and terror as any found to be against it were stripped of their positions and imprisoned.

They were unopposed on this, in fact cheered for it, by the populace. The madness had not ended with the suppression of the riots at the outbreak of the war. Rather the lowest classes now accepted the AFU argument that only by sacrifice now could their benefits be guaranteed in the future. Ovnork himself never dared to give voice to the truth of what this meant; the AFU planned to go beyond the dues system and turn the colonists into literal helots in the Spartan sense, working for the benefit of other people under a regime of random terror and murder.
What tattered remnants there were of the middle class in the core worlds, as well as the non-Party upper class, also backed the AFU to various degrees. They saw the AFU, which had taken the lead in suppressing the riots, as their protector from the radicalism and bloodthirst of the deprived (and depraved!, some cried) welfare mob.
Horrible irony now came to play, the threat of having their benefits - to many of these people their very livelihoods - taken by the Colonial rebellion driving the Core Worlds to deny many of the things they once adhered to. No longer did one hear about the people working to better the sentient races of the Quadrant; the truth had been laid bare by events, and the people had revealed themselves as violently devoted to the benefits they considered their birthright, and indeed revelled in it.

It has all been for nothing, Ovnork thought bitterly as he listened to Milano and other Starfleet admirals lay out the strategic situation. The Federation had been reduced to a cul-de-sac by colony defections, with several homeworlds severed from the rest of the Federation and their governments, it was reported, negotiating with the triumphant rebel governments even now for neutrality in the civil war. If there was any benefit, it was to the Federation possessing superior interior lines for supply and deployment. The major rebel fleets and forces would have to travel a longer, circutious route around Federation-controlled space, lengthening their communications lines.
"We intend to wait for the Colonials to get cocky with their early successes against us," Milano informed him, breaking Ovnork out of his funk. "I've ordered Starfleet to secure a series of systems along these sectors..." Milano indicated the sectors on the holomap in the middle of the office. Ovnork listened to him list specific commands in a couple of cases and general dispositions, but as he was sometimes prone to do, didn't care much for the details.
"Once the Colonials exhaust themselves we'll launch counter-attacks aimed at isolating their fleets from supply, making them easy to pick off," Milano said to finish his briefing. "Politically this could be dangerous, Mister President, so that is why we want you to sign off on it."
Ovnork nodded stiffly. "You have my support." Looking at the chronometer on the desk, Ovnork added, "I'll be having a brief meeting with the consul of the Holy Roman Empire in a few minutes, gentlemen, so that will be all."
The various admirals and captains nodded and got up. As they gathered briefing materials, Milano looked to Ovnork and said, "I hope you make this good, Mister President. If we can bring the Empire on our side as well as the Talorans, we eliminate all risk of the Alliance intervening on behalf of the colonies. Without Alliance aid, this war will be our's to win."
Your's to win, Milano, my Federation has already lost, is what Ovnork wanted to say, but he merely replied, "I'll keep that in mind, Admiral. You are dismissed."
Milano nodded at that and followed his subordinates out.

Starbase 67, Reynolds System
Colonial Territory (New Gdansk-R'Toak Confederacy)
7 February 2166 AST
1 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The starmap showed the situation, with all of its promises and threats. The Colonial forces were on the attack, controlling space equal to half of the Federation's size and having already isolated a number of pro-Federation homeworlds now desperately negotiating for neutrality and transit rights for their ships to continue trade. Other homeworlds, notably Bolarus and Trill, had shown some inclinations of friendliness to their cause, and Sisko would soon be departing in the Defiant for Trill to negotiate with the Trill government.

The greatest problem, aside from the risk of overstretch from the ambitious colonial fleets, was a lack of centralized strategy. Almost all of the colonies on the Alpha Quadrant side of the Federation had sent representatives to Starbase 67, but that did not mean they agreed, and those on the Beta Quadrant side, led by Pacifica, New Hollandia, and Thu'tassk, were still en route taking the long way around the Colonial-held territory. To Sisko this was a grave situation; the Federation could be counted on, mostly to have a unified command and strategy, even with the infighting he was familiar with from the Dominion War. The charter colonies were in the far more dangerous position of possibly moving at cross-purposes to one another and of allowing Starfleet to isolate and destroy them sector by sector.
They had gathered now in Starbase 67's Strategic Command Center, which had been fitted with several rows of chairs to allow for a large-scale briefing by the Starbase's Starfleet defector personnel and then for the debate to come. It had the potential of being more like a legislative hearing than a military discussion, as there were well over three hundred men and women crowded into the room, and Admiral Ross was hard-pressed to keep order, accepted as a kind of provisional Speaker. The current argument was between the representatives of the Andorian colony government of Rulgussar and the Relgan Sector Association, a loose confederacy of about eighty Trill, Human, Vulcan, and Andorian worlds, which wanted to assume a strict defensive (in part because not all of their Vulcan worlds had signed on to the rebellion, taking their cue from Vulcan proper as Vulcan colonies were known to do) while Rulgussar wanted to keep advancing. It was a pair of sentiments held by almost all assembled. Sisko felt both positions were strategically incorrect, but he didn't want to raise his voice. Not yet. He had capital as one of the most publically known defectors from Starfleet and for personal success in the Dominion War, but that could only take him so far, and so he waited for the right moment in the debate to interject and propose his measures.

There was an interruption at the door, and an attendant noted that a planned participant in the session had just now arrived. Heads turned, and Sisko looked hard at the familiar sight coming through the door, the light glinting off a bare head that was perhaps the least-flattering feature on the face every Starfleet officer present knew.
"I apologize for my tardiness," Captain Jean-Luc Picard stated, looking over the attendees. "The Enterprise is a favored target and we were delayed by an ambush near Lugasor VII. Please, do go on."
Picard's arrival worked well for Sisko, as the drama of it deflated the heated Rulgussar-Relgan debate and allowed for a momentary silence as Picard found a seat. When this was done, Sisko looked to Ross, who noticed him and said, "Admiral Sisko, do you have something to say?"
Sisko stood promptly, gaining the attention of all present. "Before we discuss the matter of advancing or stopping, a more important issue is at stake. Right now our efforts are divided. Each government, each force, is operating on its own without more than rudimentary support and consultation with other colonies. I propose that we form a high command of some form, with its leaders appointed by the colonies, to oversee the war effort and work to keep our forces supplied and organized. And I further recommend that the colonies form a political alliance as a sign of the purpose we all aspire to; freedom from the Federation and independence for any world in it that desires to be free. In fact, let's be brutally honest here about where some of our inspiration is coming from, and use this." Sisko brought up his PADD and used it to transmit the text there-in to all of the other PADD devices in the room.

The delegate from a collection of Human and Centauran worlds, the Yulmani Consortium, looked up from his PADD and said, with some surprise, "This... this is the Constitution of the Alliance of Democratic Nations."
"And if you'll look further, it also includes the Declaration of Principles from the InterStellar Alliance of Universe EM-5," Sisko added. "Those are the models we are all aspiring to. A quadrant where our worlds are free, where our people can work toward their own prosperity and not so that people on a faraway world can live happily without doing any work themselves. A quadrant where we do not need to fear a corrupt central government coming to take everything we have from us, or disarming us so that we are helpless before their power or any other." Sisko's voice rose amongst the gathered, who did not speak or even remark for fear of interrupting him. "Gentlemen and ladies, we want to win this war. And to do so, we shall have to hang together. Or, I can assure you, the Federation will hang us seperately."

As Sisko went to sit down, applause broke out. Picard led them from the section of Starfleet officers, and the other delegates were soon joining it. They decided, for the moment, to encourage their governments to make Ross the Supreme Commander of the Colonial Fleets and to encourage their governments to establish a "Government of the Free and Allied Colonies" to oversee the political and domestic theaters of the war.

A couple hours later, Sisko was alone in his office on Starbase 67. It was adorned with pictures of his family, most prominently those of his late parents. The wound of his father's death was still so very fresh in his heart, even if duty required him to hide it most times (and indeed, if he had ever let it interfere with his duty he could hear his father's voice calling to him from beyond the grave, berating him for not doing what had to be done). That was the Sisko way; raised to be dutiful, proud, and hard-working. That was what set them apart from so many others, and in its own tragic way, it guaranteed that the very people who liked his father in better times would so callously and brutally beat him to death in the here and now. After all, people rarely liked being reminded that others were better than they were.

His attention had gone from a letter from Jake, coming from a home on Tharkad where his girlfriend Cordelia (whom Sisko had still not met, and who he very much wanted to) had been allowed to stay after returning from Earth, to a book that had been upon his desk, either here or on the Defiant, since the war began. It was an old-fashioned book, hardcover with a paper jacket cover, that felt good and heavy in his hands. He could see why some people continued to refuse PADDs or extrauniversal PDA devices in favor of books.
The door chime sounded and Sisko put the back on the table, slipping the bookmark in first. "Come in," he called out.
When it swished open, Picard stepped foot inside of the office. "Admiral Sisko, sir, it is good to see you," Picard replied. Sisko looked at him more closely now and thought he saw something new to the older officer's appearance. Picard didn't just seem older, but he seemed... weaker. As if a strong weight had come down on him and wasn't letting off.

"Captain Picard," Sisko said, feeling a great deal less ill toward Picard than he had when he'd first met the man, truly, when given his command at the Alliance-built station that became Deep Space Nine. "I heard about the Titan. You have my condolences."
"Thank you, sir," Picard replied wearily, finding a seat. "I wanted to give you my personal congratulations on unifying the delegates."
"I just said what so many of us were thinking," Sisko replied. "We all want to win this war, and it means working together."
"All the same, it takes a lot of courage to stand up before a few hundred self-important people and try to tell them what to do..."
"And it also takes a really loud voice," Sisko added with some humor, smiling slightly. It was a bittersweet smile, as it also made him think of his deceased father.
"Your father was a good man," Picard said to Sisko. "His death was a meaningful one, saving innocent lives."
"He was a sharp-tongued, good-hearted old man who got beaten to death by a selfish and bloodthirsty mob," Sisko replied bitterly. "His murderers were people you and I have defended for decades while wearing these uniforms."

Hearing the anger in Sisko's voice, Picard wisely chose to change the subject. He looked to Sisko's book and asked, "May I?"
Sisko nodded, and then suddenly asked, "What about you, Captain? You've always been the True Believer in the Federation, the New Humanity, striving only to better itself."
Picard had just finished pulling the book over, and Sisko's words were like a dagger twisting in his (throughly broken) heart. Looking down, tears came to Picard's eyes. Sisko didn't need to hear an answer to see what had happened, and to know how Picard now felt. "I believed a lot of things that turned out untrue," Picard replied in a hoarse, forced whisper. Sisko realized just how broken a man Picard was. A man living purely on his obligations and duty, deprived of all the deeper things that animated a man's soul. Sisko was thankful he had never wedded himself so strongly to the "New Mankind" beliefs of the Idealogues, seeing how badly Picard had suffered emotionally from the crisis they faced. To see the things he believed in proven wrong, his life's work made for naught...

Picard forced himself to look at the book. Reviewing the cover and the picture of a smiling, gray-haired and bearded man on the back, he said, "John Sheridan's memoirs, interesting choice. But understandable, I suppose, since we share so much in common with him now."
"I met him, you know," Sisko said. "It was about ten years ago, when he visited Deep Space Nine as part of his 2157 state visit to Bajor. He was on the station for about two days, we even took him on a ride on the Defiant through the wormhole and back."
"I remembered hearing something about that," Picard admitted, skimming the text but otherwise remaining quiet so that Sisko could finish his tale.
"After we got back, he had mentioned to me how much he liked oranges, so I went to my room and I made him roasted chicken with orange sauce, a recipe my father taught me. When I went to deliver it to his quarters, Sheridan asked if I wanted to go see 'the game' with him." Sisko was starting to smile, genuinely now, and continued. "I asked him 'what game', and he replied, 'Game 5 of the World Series', referring to his home universe's baseball leagues. An honest to God baseball game! So I said yes, and we rented one of the large holochambers that Quark had added to his bar so we could watch a holo-broadcast of the game."

"Sounds like you had quite a time," Picard replied, allowing himself a small grin at seeing the brightness in Sisko's expression as he recalled what was certainly a fond memory.
"It was wonderful. It was the New York Yankees versus the New Orleans Cajuns. The Cajuns won, 8 to 6, after Peter Le Croix's home run in the top of the ninth broke the tie." Sisko chuckled. "We sat there the entire time, eating hot dogs and cheering the Cajuns. Turned off our communicators and left two Narn Rangers at the door so we wouldn't be disturbed. And even better was when, a few months later, I got a parcel from Tuzanor, from Sheridan himself, and inside was a genuine Louisville slugger autographed by the Cajuns. It turns out that the second baseman for the Cajuns was the son of one of the men who served under Sheridan on Babylon-5. I have it back in storage on Bajor, I'll have to show it to you sometime."
"Indeed," Picard answered.
"You know, when I think about that, about how generous and friendly this man was toward me, a stranger who just happened to command a space station and like baseball, I can't imagine what he was like toward those he considered friends. Toward his closest subordinates and peers.... it's no wonder he commanded so much loyalty from so many people to the day he died. There are times I think I would have preferred being an officer under his command to being in Starfleet."
"I had heard that he disappeared," Picard said. "That the reports of his death were an error or simply a cover, and that his ship disappeared near Coriana 6."
Sisko shrugged. "I don't know. If he were still alive.... that would be something, wouldn't it? We could certainly use the help." Sisko pointed to the book. "I've been reading it since the war started, maybe in the hope his experience in civil war will help us shorten and win this one."

"It's not quite the same, but..." Picard didn't bother to go into how much he had studied the Earth Civil War from Universe EM-5, or on the slightly indecisive result from it. "I can understand the sentiment."
After a moment of silence, in which Sisko retrieved the book from Picard and closed it, he started speaking again. "So, how long until the Enterprise is ready to head back out? I believe there's a squadron command open in..."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-07-19 12:45pm

Hawleyville, Gregson III
Sector 61G Commonwealth, Colonial Territory
7 February 2166 AST
1 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The mid-populated world of Gregson III was one among many hundreds of similar worlds wherein many more dozens and hundreds of small towns the same scene was taking place.
First came the speakers. Prominent politicians and leaders, well known officers of the law and of the militia, or simply popularly-known men, standing upon a makeshift podium in the middle of town and speaking for ten minutes on the need for volunteers for the war effort. The images of a conquering Federation turning them into its slaves, working and starving them to death to feed the insatiable hunger for material from the lazy Core Worlders were used to terrify them; the promise of an end to the dues imposed upon their worlds, and the attendant high taxation and the extortionist tactics of Federation BNA Enforcement officials, as a further lure for their support.

Randy Kentworth was one of the young men in the crowd listening and nodding slowly. His father's business had been ruined by extortion from a corrupt BNA Enforcement official that later seized it, and now he and his siblings lived in near-poverty conditions, working twelve hour days with the taxes from the high Federation dues leaving their income so low they were living week to week just trying to keep a single roof over their heads and to support their worn out parents.
Hawleyville was not a wealthy town, and not many stepped forward to serve, but Randy was one of them. His younger brother Oswald (Ozzie for short) did so as well, clinched as much by the promise of pay that would allow their sister and younger brother to better support their parents and infant neice than the labor work they were doing at the moment.

As they walked up to sign the documents, a head of sandy blonde hair moved in front of Randy. His eyes widened a bit at seeing his girlfriend step in front of him. Mary Culling was a lovely girl his age (Twenty-two), the daughter of a town deputy who worked on the same farm as him. She had a sweet smile, an attractive figure, and a high, cute voice. "Mary?" he said. "You're... you're not going to war too, are you?"
"Of course I'm going," she replied. And, very rare for her, there was an angry edge to her voice. "I'm tired of workin' so that some fat slobs on Earth can have three square meals a day and a free house. They want that, they can work for it themselves. So we've gotta fight to make 'em, or they'll be makin' us work seventy hours a week so they can stay fat and happy."
At that, Randy could only nod in agreement. She was completely right. The Core Worlders were all fat, lazy slobs, willing to give up colonies to alien tyrants but not to their own people. Against hard-working people like Hawleyville's, they'd be mismatched.

They got up to the counter where an older man was accepting signatures. Randy briefly went over it, not really reading the fine print, and signed his name at the bottom. "Thanks, young man. You're going to win our freedom, y'know," the older man said. "You'll report to the marshalling camp in Clyde Bluff in four days for basic training."
Randy nodded at that, watching Mary and Ozzie sign up as well. Walking up to his brother and then his girlfriend, he put an arm on both of them. "I hear they're keeping us in regiments by town and region. Maybe we'll get to serve together."
"That'd be nice," Mary said, smiling back at him. "I don't want to die with a bunch of strangers," she added in a sad but cheerful voice, putting her head against his shoulder.
"Ah, we won't be dying now," Randy reassured her. "So, who wants to go over to Mr. Lewell's for lunch? I'm payin'!"

Reskel'rishk, Andor
Federation Core, United Federation of Planets

Reskel'rishk was a storied place in the history of the Andorian people. Where a number of great nations had met in battle, trying to control it's place on the strategic river of Salkrithk, and the site of one of the storied actions of the Andorian Imperial Guard in the early industrial age, when armored vehicle columns forced their way over the river in the final war to destroy the Andorian Socialist Federation.
Of course, that was typically not followed as much in the modern era, with the Idealogues being founded in the first place by the Andorian Communist Jirvshk la'Jart, who had striven all his life to have the memory of the Imperial Guard victory over the Socialists wiped from the memory of his people, and who as Federation President had nearly succeeded.
For young Ruhronn Shugorl, his hometown's martial history had long been a source of imagination for him. Growing up in his family's government-provided apartment, with his parents only working odd jobs at times to keep occupied and mostly being preoccupied with his schooling, he had ended up spending much time with his schoolfriends' parents. One grandparent, in particular, had captured his imagination with stories of the great Andorian warrior-kings of ancient history and the soldiers who fought and died on the land they called home, and for Ruhronn the prospect of martial glory had always been foremost in his mind.

He was standing along a street corner when the officials came. Men wearing Andorian militia uniforms announcing that the planetary government, in conjunction with the call to arms from the Federation's central government, had announced a general levy of all it's citizens. Every town and city and country region in Andorian territory was to provide a quarter of it's young men and women to be drafted into appropriate fields of service for the military, with all required to report for inspection within the next few days. At the time Ruhronn was still awaiting word on whether he would be accepted into the Imperial Guard Academy, and didn't think he would be picked.
After rushing home to see his parents and tell them the news, Ruhronn returned to the center of Reskel'rishk and stood in line to be inspected by the doctors, which thankfully didn't take so long since most seemed to be putting off the visit. They checked him for every sort of malady and disease, including a humiliating examination of his body cavities and genitals for venereal disease that Ruhronn had not expected at all (but could not be surprised at, as the nearby metropolis of Rulgo'rn was known for it's denizens wild lifestyle and a constant problem with diseases that had unflattering translation names (in English they'd mean things like "cuntpus" and "dickrot").

He was directed to meet with an older Andorian, a woman, who looked him over. "You're cleared for duty, young man," she informed him briskly. "Your name will be in the drawing to be held in four days."
"Ma'am, I would like to volunteer," he said frankly. "I have already applied for admission into the Imperial Guard Academy."
She grinned with amusement at him. "A young runt like you? In the Imperial Guard? I've seen crazier things.... but very well. We'll sign you up as a volunteer, and hold off your assignment until the Academy replies to your admission. No matter what, you'll be seeing action if that's what you want."
Already Ruhronn was looking forward to adding to the martial splendor of Andor's past. He envisaged himself as a great warrior, off to destroy treason and disunion. Andor, as well as all the other central worlds of the Federation, had raised those colonies. They'd fed them while they were new, defended them, worked hard to make them work. And now the colonies were repaying them with revolt? No, they would be defeated, and he, Ruhronn Shugorl of the great town of Reskel'rishk, would take part in the campaign to restore them to the Federation.
He couldn't wait for the glories that awaited him.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-01 12:49am

Rub'torak System, Rul'sakar Confederacy
Disputed Territory
21 February 2166 AST
15 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The Galaxy-class starship U.S.S. Juno hung in formation with the 15th Fleet, a collection of one hundred and eighty-eight Federation starships that were once responsible for the border region facing the Tsen'kethi. They had fallen back after early skirmishes with revolting Colonials and now held a position in Rul'sakar, which had already been secured for the Federation with its government under arrest, their presence freeing up the 8th Fleet to attempt a counter-attack on approaching Colonial forces in Sector 109.
On the bridge of the Juno was Admiral Samuel Milne, a man of borderline capabilities who would likely not advance much further in Starfleet. The favored nephew of Rebecca Luce Lark, a sitting member of the Federation Security Council, he owed much of his recent walk up the ladder to Party favor and not the favor of the review boards. He was no idiot, and in peacetime was a capable administrator at the fleet level, much an aid to his holding his position.
But, of course, it was no longer peacetime.

Still in his mind was the recent order from Starfleet Command: prevent Rul'sakar, and its valuable stores of dilithium and the number of precious orbital fabrication facilities around the Confederacy's worlds from falling into Colonial hands; counter-attack any failed strikes on his position to reduce the enemy fleet; provide any aid necessary to the counter-stroke of 8th Fleet in Sector 109. These orders were somewhat contradictory, but he intended to carry them out.
At around 14:10 on the 24 hour Earth day, a call came in from Admiral Rultaria, the Centauran commander of 8th Fleet. The text order requested assitance in the area of Pulmaris VII, where her fleet was falling back after being battered by a superior Colonial force.
At this point, Milne's choices all seemed bad. If he went in force to save 8th Fleet, he'd leave Rul'sakar vulnerable to the Colonial forces known to be operating in nearby sectors, or even allow for the locals to successfully rise up against the occupying Starfleet Security forces. If he stayed, 8th Fleet might be destroyed or otherwise rendered out of action; isolating 15th Fleet against a superior Colonial force. Either way, he'd be violating his orders.
A bolder man would have chosen either and allowed the chips to fall, but Milne tried to do both. He opened a comm channel to the Galaxy-class Bayern and his immediate subordinate, fleet vice-commander Admiral Georg Mainz, a stiff-necked German officer who was among those contemptful of Milne's position. "Detach Wings 2 and 5 and depart for Pulmaris immediately to aid 8th Fleet," Milne ordered.

"Admiral, pulling eighty ships out of the fleet will leave your position untenable," Mainz protested. "I don't think...."
"Starfleet didn't send us here to deliberate, it sent us here to follow orders. We're supposed to support 8th Fleet and to defend Rul'sakar. I'm sending you to do the former, I'll do the latter. That is all." With that, Milne cut the channel.
Moments later, the Bayern and seventy-nine other starships moved away from Milne's force and went to warp toward Pulmaris to aid 8th Fleet.

At a short distance away, the cloaked U.C.S. Defiant slipped out of the system, not broadcasting until it was safely guaranteed of non-detection.

U.C.S. Indefatigable, Interstellar Space
Sector 116, Colonial Territory

Sisko found that he missed the Defiant. It was far more personable a ship to command than the mammoth Indefatigable, one of the handful of Alliance Freedom-class superdreadnoughts that were actually sold after the Dominion War. Badly damaged at the great Battle of Alpha Paternis and initially set aside to be scrapped after going unrepaired during the war, her hull was instead repaired and the ship sold to the Mantsill colonies, which managed to restore most of her particle cannons by scrap buys but had to contend for replacing two turrets with phaser cannon emplacements. Nevertheless, Indefatigable was a powerful ship, still more powerful firepower wise than any ship in Starfleet, possibly only challenged by the Federation-class ships being built based on old Kirk-era hulls and designs.
Dax's face was on the screen, informing him that Milne had split his fleet in half to deal with Admiral Odak's attack on 8th Fleet in Sector 109. "Benjamin, it's now or never," she told him.
Sisko nodded. "I'm sending squadrons to reinforce you. Captain Picard will be in command. I want to see how Milne will react to a feint." He was aware of Samuel Milne's abilities, or rather lack thereof. Splitting his forces to accomplish two objectives thinly rather than accept any risk was just the thing Sisko would expect. Now he wanted to see how Milne would react if given a golden opportunity.

U.S.S. Juno

Milne returned to the command bridge the moment the call came of approaching enemy units. "Report?"
The Betazoid lieutenant at sensors remarked, "Sir, picking up roughly sixty starships approaching us. Most seem to be Starfleet make, and IFF codes we're receiving indicate defectors...." After a moment, the young man's head raised up. "One of them is Enterprise."
Milne settled into his chair. Hearing of the approach of Enterprise brought his spirits up a bit. To disable and take her... it would end the grumbling and complaining about his connections once and for all. The victory would be proof that he was a worthy admiral after all.
"All ships, prepare for action!" As alert klaxons filled Juno, Milne settled into his seat and waited for the distance to tick down.

U.S.S. Enterprise

Very few of the Starfleet defectors had resisted redesignation, but Picard had been one of them. The Enterprise was a symbol now, a torch representing the ideals and principles of the Federation even if those principles had been so vilely betrayed. And for all that Picard had, in his despair, accepted the death of his dream, he could not betray the memory of it. He could not bring himself to that final severence, and the Colonials had been reluctantly accepting of this principle (Sisko less-reluctant).
Picard technically commanded only one squadron heading to Rub'torak, with nineteen other starship captains and many hundreds of officers and crew who felt as he did. Men and women who still proudly bore the flag of the United Federation of Planets with them into battle, representing the Federation of enlightenment, the Federation devoted to the renouncing of material gain and dedicated to the betterment of all. This devotion to a Federation dead at its own hand had earned them ridicule so far. They were already being derisively called "The Deluded" by their Colonial allies. But even this would not dissuade Picard and his peers. If the Federation they dreamed about was dead, they would still yet fight for the memory of it and of that gilded, so innocent-looking age.
Riker's absence, now replaced by Commander Halaran Turis - a card-carrying Idealogue Betazod - and the similar absence of Troi was a painful vacuum in Picard's heart, one he endured every day, and it was only slowly starting to dull in the presence of so much new pain to be added. He could already see no less than four ships captained by officers he knew in the Academy or in his early career. More friends, more brother officers, he would have to kill in battle. But such was the madness of the times...

"Captains Zoma, Asmund, and Kiser report readiness," Data replied, referring to the commanders of the three Galaxy-class ships in their squadron. "Enemy ships are arming weapons."
"Aim us straight for Juno," Picard ordered. "All ships, fire when in range."

U.S.S. Juno

The Enterprise dropped out of warp, Kiser's Idaho and Asmund's Dauntless flanking her closely and firing on the ships covering Juno. Sixty ships against just over a hundred was not even, but the disparity was not large enough that it couldn't be a feint, an attempt to tie 15th Fleet down or some other Colonial maneuver. Milne considered it likely just that, an attempt to force him to remain in place and not aid 8th Fleet.
He responded by maneuvering his superior numbers to envelop the defector fleet. Juno sank from the fury of the Enterprise, but as a Flight III Galaxy-class she actually had superior firepower. Her bow-mounted pulse phaser cannons raked across Enterprise's shields and allowed for a spread of quantum torpedoes to batter at them, one torpedo attaining enough bleedthrough to damage the Enterprise's hull.
The Dauntless cut across their path, protecting Enterprise from another barrage as her phasers lashed out at Juno, her torpedoes targeting another of Milne's ships. Enterprise maneuvered in turn to start blasting Juno again as she briefly turned her attention to Dauntless.

Milne panicked slightly at seeing his ship taking a battering. The vigor and strength of Picard's attack astounded him, and it was strong enough that it threatened to break his formation, but he knew he couldn't break; it would simply prove all those assertions about him right. "Bring Wing 4 in above us," he ordered, and in doing so the ships immediately behind Juno yet to engage moved "over" the ship and toward Picard's force.
Naval battle in space was a complicated affair. Ships moved about more like aircraft, if one is thinking in a terrestrial frame, using all three planes of potential maneuver to protect weakened sides and present strong ones, while also trying to maintain formation with other ships in the fleet. It was a dangerous balancing act, an intense strain on captain and helm officer alike, and the wrong turn, spin, or maneuver could result in a ship's destruction.
Milne's flagship was not immune to this, and even as he manned the command bridge - the former "battle bridge" - Captain Lucien Tasker was commanding the Juno's actual maneuvers. Milne could order changes, but he didn't; he was too busy trying to command the fleet itself. Wing 1 was his wing, and was holding strong, but to his immediate "bottom" and right Wing 3 was starting to buckle and threaten to collapse.

"All Wing 1 ships, full impulse, break the enemy formation!" Milne ordered, trying to salvage his position while Wing 4 did the work of hammering Picard.

U.S.S. Enterprise

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Picard's lips only slightly moved as he whispered the stanza at a volume only Data could hear. He had already gone through the rest of Tennyson's great poem during the course of the battle, but now his voice returned as he gave an order to one of the accompanying squadrons of light Colonial ships to pull back from its bold thrust into the enemy formation. Milne was not a complete idiot, and he was using his superior numbers intelligently; it was time to go.
"All ships come about and prepare for warp," Picard ordered as Enterprise shuddered under another barrage of torpedoes from Juno, Milne sending his flagship after Picard personally. Torpedoes from Enterprise's aft launcher slammed into Juno, penetrating her shields and one torpedo savaging her saucer hull, blowing apart one of her pulse phaser cannons.

Not all of Picard's ships could make warp. Gilaad Ben Zoma's ship Hedderjin was trailing plasma from the port nacelle, and Eina Zeiss' San Francisco was completely disabled. Only forty-six ships remained intact enough to go to warp, testament to the hammering they'd taken in the intense minutes of the skirmish.
Hoping that those ships could be preserved by bringing Milne to battle with Sisko's main fleet, Picard asked, "Mister Data, status of the 15th Fleet?"
"Lingering back for a moment, sir...." Something brought Data's attention. "Reading warp signatures now. Sixty vessels have gone to warp in pursuit of us. Juno is among them."
"Then let's give him what he wants," Picard replied. "Prepare to come about and re-engage, and signal Indefatigable."

U.S.S. Juno

Milne hadn't been about to let Picard go, and as his orders allowed a pursuit of failed enemy attacks, he resolved to take three squadrons with him in chasing Picard as far as he dared before returning to Rub'torak, already successful in disabling 14 ships that could now be reclaimed by Starfleet for the war and their treacherous crews imprisoned.
So his fleet drove on, following Picard out of the system, intent on overtaking him... so intent that Milne began to overlook a gap in his fleet as ships with damaged warp drives, or simply not up to sprints at these speeds, began to fall back, spreading his fleet out.
Juno came out of warp near the front of Wing 1, bearing down on Enterprise with all of her firepower. Milne made sure that all shots were to disable, wishing to bring Enterprise back to Earth as a trophy, the Federation flagship reclaimed from the rebels. The rest he couldn't care much about - all he wanted was Enterprise and victory.

Enterprise and her force did not turn and fight, but began to evade, some ships even breaking off and making for Colonial bases in the sector, but Picard seemed determined to regroup and fight it out. Something occured to Milne, here in these moments.... why was Picard fighting so doggedly after running so quickly from his charge back at Rub'torak? It didn't seem right, and Picard was not an idiot. He had to have something up his sleeve....

And that's when the sensor man began screaming out the sudden surge of warp contacts approaching at point-blank range, coming out of warp in five.... four.... three....

U.C.S. Indefatigable

The massive superdreadnought shuddered a little when it dropped out of warp, showing some of the need for further maintainance that Sisko had been warned about. Sisko himself was somewhat stunned in just how well Milne had fallen for his trap. He'd expected Milne to detach an equal harrassing force to cause as much trouble as possible, not to lead most of his fleet in chase and only a small guard back in Rub'torak. He likely wouldn't have fallen for it if not for the effective jamming that Sisko's fleet's E-warfare destroyers hadn't been putting up, jamming that was thankfully prevalent enough in the local sector from the constant attempts at blocking sensor sweeps by both sides and thus easily hidden from detection until he was right on top of Milne.
Detaching two squadrons to Rub'torak to help the disabled vessels there, the rest of Sisko's two hundred ship force fell upon the sixty detached parts of the 15th Fleet like a hammer. They represented the three thousand or so ships purchased from the Alliance by the various Colonial governments, each of them superior to a Federation ship at the same tonnage when it came to defense and, usually, to raw firepower.

Juno came under fire from Indefatigable herself, two of her 310mm plasma cannon quad-turrets raking the Galaxy-class with beams of intense blue energy. Energy that sliced through Juno's shields and into her hull, only her upgraded armor saving her for the moment from being sliced apart. Atmosphere leaked from the hits, after which a terrific explosion ripped through the Juno's navigation dish, her torpedo magazine detonated by a phaser hit from the Enterprise. Further strikes furthered the crippling of Admiral Milne's flagship while the rest of the fleets struck at one another. Again came the chaotic ballet of space battle; maneuvering to protect wounded portions as phaser and particle beam flashed through space, accompanied by the strikes of torpedoes that terminally wounded ships and murdered crews within.
15th Fleet disintegrated under the attack from the heavy Colonial fleet elemetns at Sisko's command. Beams of ruby-orange phaser energy and glowing torpedoes retaliated, but not to the level of the slashing particle beams and pounding pulse phaser cannons of the Colonial Fleet. Ship after ship, already among the damaged from Picard's dash in Rub'torak, broke formation with intent to retreat, not up to taking on a fresh and unharmed fleet of Alliance-built heavy vessels. As Juno drifted helplessly after a photon torpedo ripped open her drive hull and forced the SCRAMing of her warp core, Milne's fleet left him behind and sought sanctuary in retreat.

Observing all of this almost dispassionately, and very somberly, Sisko finally shifted in his seat and turned to the comm officer. "Detach pursuit squadrons, but only to a light year beyond Rub'torak. As soon as 15th Fleet is cleared from Rub'torak we are bound for Pulmaris to support Admiral Johnston."

U.S.S. Juno

Milne was actually weeping in the darkened, ruined interior of the Juno as the first order to surrender came from Enterprise. He had fallen for such an easy trap that Milne began to believe the others were right about him, and he started cursing his aunt for putting him in this humiliating position.
He had ruined the Federation. 15th Fleet was divided, Mainz's squadrons heading off un-supported to beleaguered 8th Fleet, the rest of it shattered and falling back from Rub'torak. Rul'sakar itself would inevitably fall; only a handful of individually-operating picket starships could get to it before Colonial troops could get into orbit, and the Federation militia occupying the planet would likely retreat the instant news came of Milne's defeat. With Rul'sakar under rebel control all of the sector 110 block was prone to fall to the Rebellion, and this brought it one step closer to severing the Rimward Homeworlds from the bulk of the Federation in the Colonial drive to shorten the lines of communication between the Alpha and Beta Quadrant colonies. And with that success.... who knew what would become of the Federation?

U.S.S. Bayern, en route to Pulmaris VII

The emergency signals told Admiral Mainz all he needed to know. Admiral Milne had failed, and failed miserably; 15th Fleet was broken, and the eighty Starfleet vessels under his command were the only coherent, fresh part of it that could still be thrown at the enemy.
He now had to make a decision; join Admiral Rultaria at Pulmaris and risk annihilation when the two Colonial fleets in the area unified, as they inevitably would from such a strengthening of 8th Fleet and the loss of the 15th, or preserve his ships to re-group with the 15th at Starbase 294 in Sector 125, the one location within fifty light years that could possibly resist anything but the most determined Colonial assault.
Milne would have followed orders to the letter; Mainz, however, considered orders from Starfleet Command to preserve as many ships as possible to supercede all others, and he gave the order: withdraw to Starbase 294. He informed Admiral Rultaria of his decision by subspace and waited for a reply.

His decision was born out when Rultaria's reply came; 8th Fleet could not hold with the loss of 15th Fleet, and in light of the imminet fall of Rul'sakar, she was falling back on Starbase 294 and Mainz was to follow - which, of course, he already was.
As he did so, Mainz thought bitterly at the foolishness of his commander. He intended not to make those kinds of mistakes when his time came...
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-03 01:09am

Starbase 67, Reynolds System
Colonial Territory (New Gdansk-R'Toak Confederacy)
25 February 2166 AST
19 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The celebrations for the Colonial victory were still underway when the Theodore Weld slipped into dock. Spock and Scotty emerged from the airlock with handfuls of the Weld's interracial crew, going out for liberty to work off the frustrations of the tense, if ultimately uneventful, path through Federation space they'd taken.
At the airlock door, they were seen off by Captain t'Prinn. Asako t'Prinn had not lost her edge over the years, having worked a while doing oddjobs for contacts in what she was certain was Alliance Intelligence, including covert arms to the Maquis and other resistance groups and other courier ferrying. The Weld was one of the fruits of that job, the Denmark Vesey serving more legitimate business under her Edo recruit Larrisa. She would go back to other work undoubtedly; her cordial alliance with Colonial interests didn't extend to aiding them in destroying the Federation, though she did give Spock the necessary condition for her support: "No more race. Just mix us all up and call us people. If you can make the colonies recognize our equality you'll have done the greatest service possible to this universe." It was a statement that Spock found laudable, and hoped to fulfill in whatever capacity the Colonies desired him to serve.

But he hadn't expected on just what capacity that would be.
His arrival with Scotty at the delegates' chamber brought cheers. The Colonies may have long grown sour on the Federation of the present, but they often had a romantic view of its past, and considered James Kirk and his crew every bit as heroes as Core Worlders did. After the standing ovation, Spock and Scotty were granted seats of honor by the hastily-elected Speaker of the Congress, a Bolian named Huvo Durik, and allowed to sit on the political discussion.
Before Spock had arrived, the office of the President of the Allied Colonies had been up for debate. No Colonial figure of prominence had won necessary acceptance, and Admiral Ross had refused to accept a political office. Now with Spock and Scotty present, however, it took no time at all for a motion to be offered to offer the Presidency to him.
Spock watched stoically as the legal niceties were debated. He was officially a citizen of Vulcan, which remained loyal to the Federation; he was not a Colonial; how could these issues be reconciled? Inwardly it was not a position he desired to hold; he had satisfied all ambitions he might have had in his life. When it came to politics, Spock was experienced but uncertain. Frequently politics were too messy, too illogical, too populist, for him, too much unlike the orderly debate and decision-making of the Vulcan hierarchy. And, of course, it occurred to him that it was this very gap that led to Sirok's disasterous political movement, which brought them to this very situation.

But by the time the situation had been handled, by the time one of the interracial colony federations - the Stahlmann-Vurosk Confederacy - pronouced the willingness to accept Spock as a legal citizen, Spock's sense of duty had prevailed over his qualms, and when the vote came through and the delegates offered the Presidency to him, Spock stood and, in a firm, cool tone, stated, "In the interests of the principles I swore to uphold, as a Starfleet officer and as an Ambassador of the Federation and Vulcan, I accept the Congress' offer of the Office of Presidency of the Allied Colonies."
"That a boy, Mister Spock," Scotty murmured to him as the applause rang out.
"Do not be surprised, Mister Scott, if I should see you suffer as I am about to," Spock remarked in the kind of tone that, for all its stoic cold, a close acquaitance would know as mirthful.
And given the magnitude of the new duties at hand, a small bit of mirth was entirely worthwhile.

Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
27 February 2166 AST
21 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The defeat at Rub'torak and Pulmaris had struck home hard; it was the first major engagement between fleet-sized contingents of the Colonials and Starfleet, and the Colonials had won a major victory. Rul'sakar had already gone over to the Colonials. Jackson's World and Kul'vara had joined, and the Federation had lost its only remaining line of communication with the Danteri, undoubtedly making that empire likely to make a seperate agreement with the Colonials. A new "front" was being established along the Sector 80 block, a position strengthened by the presence of Starbases 39, 46, and 62; if Sectors 82, 80, and 84 fell, it could cut off one quarter of the loyal Federation from the rest and vastly shorten the lines of communication for the Beta and Alpha Quadrant Colonials.
So was the strategic situation outlined for Ovnork by Milano and Wilmington. Their proposed measures were strong; forced labor conscription of the unemployed on occupied charter colonies and a new initiative requiring every family unit in the Core Worlds to give one volunteer to either Starfleet, the Federation Militia, or the Federation Industrial Corps to maintain 100% of their BLN benefits. Such things were only possible under emergency war powers. They represented a violation of everything Ovnork believed in.
And yet still he signed.

He dropped the PADD stencil down as if he had just signed a document of surrender. Which it really was, just not the same kind of surrender. Looking at the AFU leaders, he handed the PADD to them. "There you go, gentlemen. What next?"
"We reform the defense line centering on Starbase 39," Milano replied. "We're moving reinforcements in from the interior, and rushing ships out of the scrapyards and shipyards as fast as we can. The Colonials have already taken a number of our scrapyards, but thankfully none of them with the last Defender hulls, which were now being filled out and prepared for service."

Ovnork grunted in reply. The mammoth ships, over a mile long, were relics from Kirk's day, when a handful had been built to serve as fleet support and command ships in conjunction with the Federation-class dreadnoughts now being reconceived; today they were being refurbished, a project starting from the Dominion War under Ovnork's predecessors, to be used as fleet flagships. Tonnage wise they were impressive, though their ancient hulls and structural difficulties in armoring them would likely leave them as glass cannons compared to thick-skinned extrauniversal warships, a defect only partially offset by multi-layered shielding.

"Nevertheless, Mister President, given our increasing difficulties due to losing shipyards and the industrial output and resources of so many of our colonies, I believe we should consider seeking... outside sources of aid."
Wilmington's suggestion made Ovnork look over. "What do you mean?"
"Well, Mister President, I took the initiative to begin speaking to a number of foreign embassies. I've already nearly finished an agreement with Governor-General Katherine Davion to exchange technology and latinum for new weapons for our army, and I've begun similar discussions with the Taloran and Habsbug diplomatic missions here. As well, there is the question of hiring foreign specialists to help train the militia faster, and to restore Starfleet's personnel levels given the number of defections and losses..."
"Yes, yes, do what you see fit," Ovnork replied. "Is that all gentlemen?"
"It is," replied Milano.

After excusing themselves from the office, WIlmington looked to Milano. "He certainly seems docile these days. He used to wiggle so much."
"He knows how things are now," replied Milano. "Ovnork's days are over. He's just too weak to actually resign like he wants. You and I control the Federation now, Jacob. It's up to us and the Association to save it from all of its enemies. The Alliance, the Colonies, PAPAL..."
"And not to be split from each other," Wilmington finished for Milano. "No turf wars?"
"None. The day will come when you are President, and I'll remain in charge of Starfleet. That's how it should be. We must be united if we want to win."
Wilmington nodded in acceptance. "Speaking of the advisors...."
Milano grinned slightly. "Oh, I already got the reply from Wayne Waco. Waco's Rangers are already en route to Rasalhague to make the jump to New Ivers. Waco thinks that he can get together what's left of Bronson's Horde and Smithson's Chinese Bandits to join him in the next few months."
"Oh, good news then. What about our feelers to..."
"Our people on Talora Prime have already sent messages to a number of retired or reserve Taloran officers, Army and Navy. We're offering top dollar. More than we probably should, but no use in crying about doling out latinum when the Federation is facing its worst hour." Milano paused for a moment. "I'm thinking of sending Janeway to command the Inaieu when they finish the refurbishment."

"The Denebians aren't going to like that. Inaieu was their's."
"It was. But they haven't been that cooperative with the AFU, I don't want to trust our future to one of them" Milano went quiet as they waited for their private aircar to take them to the transporter terminal. Wilmington was due in Trier for a Party Central Committee hearing, Milano in San Francisco for a Security Council meeting, where he was anticipating Rebecca Lark's resignation after her nephew's ignoble failure at Rub'torak. Within the secured vehicle, he continued. "Janeway has some intelligence, and she's steadfastly loyal. Passed Intel and Security's tests with flying colors. She'd blow her old crew's heads off, one by one, if she thought it was for the good of the Federation. Put her in command of 4th Fleet at Starbase 39 and let the Colonials hammer on her all they want, she won't budge. Should give us plenty of time to prep for a counter-attack."
"Hopefully she'll at least buy us time for some of our initiatives to beat fruit. So long as we keep other powers out of this war or only on our side, it's ours to win," Wilmington remarked happily, and the two men found themselvs chatting on less-weighty things for the duration of their trip.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-13 12:58am

First part by me, second by Marina and myself:

The pressure's on and the Reb's attack
The Yanks must hold, They can't fall back
Just two Brigades, 2,000 strong
Against 20,000 they can't hold long

General Reynolds makes his way
Expect no mercy from the Iron Brigade
Until he shows they're on their own
But Buford's men have a will of stone

Bayonets gleam in the morning sun
Smoke and Fire belching from their guns
Another Volley and again they strike
Thousands more comin' down the Chambersburg Pike!

"The Devil to Pay; Gettysburg Day 1" by Iced Earth

Chapter 3 - Ripples

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
3 March 2166 AST
25 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

There were one hundred and eight men and women assembled in the Alliance Council Chamber, the legislative body debating law and policy for a union of polities commanding about ten trillion souls; one of the three Great Powers of the known Multiverse. Standing at the head of the Council to direct its deliberations was Sir Kevin Maxwell-Fyfe, the newly-elected Chancellor of the Alliance Council. The older British statesman was a Federalist, and his election represented what political commentators were calling the "Federalist sweep" in the past two elections, with the Federalists completely controlling for the first time in their sixteen year existance the White House, the Chancellory, and the Alliance Council, where they now enjoyed fifty-four seats compared to the Democrats' forty-eight; two seats were held by the LFPD and three by the Alliance Unionists, the Freedom Party absent for the first time in its history due to the splintering of the party down pro-Taloran and anti-Taloran lines the previous election cycle and its fall precipitating Federalist gains in several key nations.
The "Federalist Sweep" had been made in part possible by the rise of war-weariness, a desire for stability, and an end to the "military adventurism" of the Mamatmas Administration, whom some blamed for the Great War that had claimed billions of Alliance citizens' lives. This situation would, from the place of an observer from the dawn of the 21st Century, be most ironic; the left-wing parties - the Democrats and LFPD - were seen as more prone to unilateralist policies and conflict than the right-wing parties now that the Freedom Party was broken and the unilateralist arm of the Allied Nations' political Right was splintered over the issue of the new treaty with the Taloran Empire (while the unilateralist Left tended to dislike the treaty, or at least other policies of restraint in regards to the Talorans).

The new Council had its own plans on its early weeks, but events had overtaken them much as had happened to the incoming Council in 2160; that council had been faced with the outbreak of the Dominion War, this one, the Federation Civil War. It had convened with the Civil War in full swing, the lines starting to stabilize, and the effects reverberating across the Alpha Quadrant and the Multiverse as a whole.
On the table now was a law supported in part by Dale, and proposed by Rep. Juan de Silva (Chilè SE-1/Fed.), that would restrict and even halt the flow of a great many materials to the Colonies that had now begun to hit a full stride. Military goods were the primary concern, but there was more considered; every form of good, material, or resource that had military value would be closely monitored and even stopped as well. Paramount was the concern in the government that the Federation would use this as justification to seek foreign involvement in the war, and that other powers might carve out spheres of influence in the former Federation; also concerned was the worry that this apparent support for a rebellion would "prove" that the Alliance and its citizenry did not respect the sovereignty of other states but rather really was a pack of "revolutionaries" seeking to overthrow other governments in favor of those fitting its apparent ideological mold.

Running contrary to this current was the popular sympathy for the Colonies and a long-running, deep-seated distrust and contempt for the Federation. The Federation had been the Alliance's implacable foe for years, long infuriating the people of the Allied Nations with their sympathy for undeserving races and polities in ST-3. The brief detente was now mostly forgotten, and the alliance during the Dominion War had turned to bitter recrimination when the Federation had refused to participate in or even support the Gamma Quadrant campaign, instead at one point banning exports of fuel and goods from their colonies to the war stocks as a result of the resurgence of PAPAL. For many Alliance citizens, the Federation Civil War was a clear case of a moral cause versus an immoral one. The Colonies were in the right, the Federation was in the wrong. Some of their representatives in the Council felt the same way; others not so much as they knew their constituents did.
The Federalist government had planned to put their ducks in a row on the matter. De Silva would propose the measure in an open session. Another Federalist, Johann Suckel, would then second it, and after one dissenter spoke it would come to a vote either for passage, or first to respond to a motion to lay the resolution on the table and then a vote; with 54 seats the Federalists controlled an actual majority of the Council and could win both purely on their own votes, both Maxwell-Fyfe and Dale were expected to ratify, Dale doing so over long-range comms as his ship approached Talora Prime, and that would be that.
And so the plan went off. De Silva made his proposal. Maxwell-Fyfe called Suckel, who spoke on the need for the measure and seconded it. By the protocols of the Council that allowed someone to stand in opposition.

And that woman did. She stood, resplendent in physical beauty, indeed one of the most beautiful women in the room. Her's was a Mediterrenean complexion, with eyes of hazel and dark brown hair kept in respectful buns at the back of her head, a modest business suit only hinting at the gracious, attractive curves of her body. She was almost impossibly young for her position - only forty - her famous mother's youngest daughter and one of the few to embrace politics after a military career that had seen her survive the most hellish fighting of the past decade, when she had advanced up Sutherland's Ridge at Gallitep on Bajor as a Marine private before going into the officer corps and rising to a Major's rank before leaving the Corps following the Great War, her last action being - irony of ironies - in the Marine brigade that accompanied the international relief expedition to the city of Kalunda on Gilead, where for a short time she stood on the same planet as a distant relative who had achieved great fame on that planet: Danielle Verdes, Duchess of Henley on Gilead, second wife of the noted Humanophile and very controversial Taloran aristocrat Princess Jhayka of the Lesser Intuit.
Now Alexandria Verdes, voted for the first time to office in this past election by the United States of America Universe SE-1 - one of the few elections where a Democrat defeated a Federalist - and the daughter of the Alliance's second and most tragically lost President, Jennifer Verdes, stood before the Alliance Council. Attention was given to her not just from her beauty, but also her commanding voice; it had once barked orders to Marines in deadly combat, and now it would speak forcefully on the subject at hand.

Even good men are prone to do seemingly unfair and unethical things in pursuit of what they think is right. Sir Kevin Maxwell-Fyfe was not a bad man; he was a patriot, a decently learned man and capable statesman who was well-respected. But he still was prone to the petty apparent abuses of protocol that any leader might follow in order to get something deemed necessary done quickly and with minimal fuss. So he had picked the pretty young Miss Verdes, a neophyte politician who had mostly her mother's name and her Marine service record going for her.
And now it promptly blew up in his face.

"Mister Chancellor," began Alexandria, as protocol held that all remarks on the Council floor were addressed to the Chancellor and not to the other representatives, "first of all, I protest the manner in which this Council has been abused. A measure like this, regarding trade and the rights of our companies and producers and merchants, should not be rushed through the Council as it has been today! This is nothing more than an attempt to impose by force of majority a measure that will undoubtedly prove unpopular and costly even to Federalist voters but which is popular among the Party leadership!"
"You say you are for the rights of the Nations and their representatives, but you seek to deny us the right to discuss this matter! You say you favor free trade, but you would ban trade to other worlds on the matter of their decision to revolt from an unscrupulous, imperious government like the Federation's! You say you are for stability, but you would willingly stand aside and allow the Federation Civil War to disrupt the entire Alpha Quadrant out of your fear of Taloran disapproval for our policies? The Alliance has the power, it has the responsibility, to bring peace as quickly as it can. Nor does it have the right to forbid the shipment of legitimate goods to populations disrupted, or soon to be disrupted, by warfare."
"Representative de Silva's resolution does not simply ban the selling of military goods and hardware, Mister Chancelor. Through its enforcement even foodstuffs might be legitimately banned from shipment! Men and women who give their time and sweat to serve charities could end up in jail or worse, all because their charity work has gone to send these goods to Colonial worlds. How will this government look to other peoples, to its own citizens, if it allows the starvation or depravation of innocent people because their government is involved in a rebellion that is, frankly, legitimate in the eyes of most of the peoples of the Multiverse. What will we tell the farmers and workers of Nova Savona, of Algrossa, of Nippon, when they have no work because our law has severed their long-standing trade links with the Colonial worlds around them, even more severely than the most mean-spirited tariffs placed on them by the Federation after their independence was granted and their petitions for Alliance membership granted? Are we prepared to ship the grains needed by the people of New Fukosawa because they can no longer reliably trade with Pacifica? Because Pacificans cannot buy their goods from the law we consider here?"

"Representative Suckel tells us that it is important that we assert our neutrality in this war and guarantee the Federation and other governments of the Alpha Quadrant that we do not want to dismember the Federation or subject it to unprovoked aggression. But we are not talking about a choice of intervention or aggression with this resolution. There is no text here proclaiming that a failure to vote for the resolution will authorize military action against the Federation, or the provision of military equipment to the Colonials. We are talking about the rights of Alliance citizens to give and to bring goods to other peoples, and so long as they are doing that work peacefully, what right do we have to refuse them? If you wish to ban military equipment from export, I'll gladly vote for it. But this measure, it has been badly written, and I must move that if Representative de Silva does not modify it, that it be put on the table!"

And so she finished speaking, Maxwell-Fyfe gave de Silva the option of withdrawing. The Chilèan Representiative replied, "I believe that Representative Verdes overstates these matters. Our authorities will use common sense in determining intent of charities and companies in shipping goods to the revolting worlds, and if there is some hardship, it is inevitable for an upheaval such as this. The Alliance's position in the Multiverse demands that we take proactive measures to prevent ideologically-driven citizens from aiding a rebellion against a lawful government. So no, I do not intend to modify the resolution, but desire it be passed as I wrote it."
With this challenge so apparently rebuked, the vote to lay on the table went on - Alexandria made it and Anastase Marconnet (France LRC-19-Dem.) seconded - and was defeated by a vote of 63 to 44, even some Democrats voting to get the mess over with. Then it came time for the resolution vote itself. The votes soon tallied....

Maxwell-Fyfe had seen Council votes end up unexpectedly before, but he didn't quite anticipate this one: by a vote of 59-48, de Silva's resolution was defeated. The Alliance, for the moment, would not forbid any exports to the revolting colonies save the halt on government-regulated military goods by the President's Executive Order.
A breakdown of the vote soon showed that Alexandria had swayed the crucial votes. For one thing, Maxwell-Fyfe had been hoping that the anti-interventionist nature of the Alliance Unionists would lead them to vote in favor, but Alexandria had reminded them of the free trade issue involved, and the Unionists were staunch free trade partisans - all three voted in opposition where Maxwell-Fyfe had expected support. More expected was the pro-interventionist LFPD, which generally regarded the Federation these days as a failed socialist experiment damaging to its own democratic-socialist goals, and which was leery of the AFU's growing fascism.
Maxwell-Fyfe, also seeking to avoid flaunting his partisan advantage too much, had also hoped that at least some of the Democrats would vote in favor as a means of showing their agreement against interventionism, but they had voted as an absolute bloc, rallied to the stunning daughter of their party's matriarch.

But even despite all of this, the Federalists controlled fifty-four out of one hundred and seven seats. Had they voted en-bloc they would have passed de Silva's measure heartily. But they didn't. Six of their representatives had crossed the aisle, metaphorically, voting against their Party and its leadership. To no surprise, four of them were from ST-3. The representatives of Algrossa, Nova Savona, and Nippon were perhaps not too surprising in the long run - Maxwell-Fyfe had hoped that they would stand fast with their party, and that defections from the other side and from the Alliance-Unionists would nullify them. Added to this was the vote from the Republic of New Liberty, which led half of the Alliance Colonial Zone in ST-3, the other half remaining under British SE-1 and Iranian FHI-8 sovereignty. And then came two more votes, from the Federalists from Germany DN-9 and Russia HE-1, that had clinched it. It was a political setback of some severity, and with President Dale far away, soon to arrive on Talora Prime, there was no leadership other than Maxwell-Fyfe's to rally the Federalists to a recovery.
For the time being, the Alliance would allow companies and charities to continue shipping various goods and materials to the Colonials. Of course, it was already widely known that the Federation was finding it's own sources of aid and succor in the rest of the Multiverse....

Palace of the Savaranesi Dukes, South Ina District (On the shore of the Taliya Sea), Talora Prime
Taloran Star Empire
Taloran Home Universe
5 March 2166 AST
27 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The mansion was like many Taloran country mansions, a sprawling edifice very ancient with numerous parts of different ages and purposes tacked onto it. It seemed downright primitive, though inside it was thoroughly modern. The guest would have a view of the vast freshwater sea, larger than the saltwater Caspian Sea of Earth by nearly a factor of two, sprawling out like an ocean to the far beyond. The two rivers that flowed out of in different directions plunged into two separate oceans, while those that fed it were tremendous in number; and the locks which had been built on the upper courses of the rivers where their raw power forced their way in tremendous tumults downward, each supported by dams similar in scale to the Yangtze Dam of many Chinas on many Earths, save larger besides, allowed for continuous navigation by seagoing ships of these vast water-courses from the ocean to the freshwater. And it was near the headwaters of the Ta'ert, beyond the low line of mountains through which the river had smashed in aeons past, that the duchy--a component of the Kingdom of Grenya Colenta, so that the Savaranesi Dukes had far, far less power than the likes of a fully sovereign feudatory under the Empress, but still considerable influence--had its nominal capitol, and this manor was situated just inland of it. The visitor today was certainly expected, and the guest she was seeking was notorious, and had rarely been seen out of the house for the past thirty-five Taloran years: More than a human century.

Commander T'Ral was in her eighties, barely approaching middle age for a Vulcanoid, even without anti-aging treatments, a spry-enough looking Vulcan with a strong reserved posture and a stoic demeanor. Her dark hair was cut short, her blue eyes always calm and direct in their movements, even the occasional blink seeming to be completely intended. She carried a Taloran-make digital device instead of a slim Federation PADD, so that she might better speak with her host.

Technically it was the mother of the woman she sought who ruled the house. But she did not receive the guest, specifically for her daughter. The elderly male Majorodomo did that, instead. "Ahh, Commander T'Ral, welcome," he offered, bowing, green hair now just remnants amongst the bright silver that Taloran hair went to in old age. "Would you please come with me? Her Ladyship Slyperia, the Countess Ughamir, is in her suites as usual. She left instructions with me that she'd meet with you attended only by her dhrima and otherwise alone." With that word, he invoked something very obscure in Taloran culture. It meant bodyguard and servant at the same time, and also eunuch. Though the practice had long before been banned in the nobility, those who by accident or defect had developed with the traits of a dhrima naturally still found service among some of the nobility who were quite traditionalist in their old roles. Including, it appeared, Slyperia ghi Ughamir, Vice Admiral of the Red, who was now sought in the Federation service based on the quiet recommendation of the naval attache in Paris who proposed that there might be one Taloran officer of high rank willing to take work with the Federation.

"Thank you, Sir," T'Ral said, following the man through the household. When they arrived at the Countess Ughamir's suites and she was formally presented, T'Ral raised her hand in traditional Vulcan greeting and remarked, "Greetings, Your Ladyship. Live Long and Prosper."

A tall woman with purple hair--well, it must be the dhrima--in the background was preparing water, as Slyperia was uncertain of her guest's requirements. She smiled, though, at the greeting, and nodded somewhat gravely. Slyperia had an interesting brilliant mauve colour to her hair, which showed bits of silver here and there: She was, after all, around 500 years old by the Terran calendar, and the past 135 of those years had been lived in seclusion. Her amber eyes were deeply capable of following the Vulcan, however, studying her carefully. "I have water for you to drink, Commander, as a gift, and can get other things--I presume you're acquainted with our sundry beverages after your time on surface--if you please. But for the moment, welcome, and sit;" she gestured to two chairs set facing each other, with a table between them, murmuring, as she did, "Thank you, Khalis," to the third figure in the room, before settling down and tapping a few keys inset onto the surface of the table, which was a holo-projector for a map of the Federation and nearby space. The gesture could immediately inform that Slyperia had been taking the situation, and the offer, seriously.

"I am thankful for your gift," replied T'Ral as she sat and placed her device on the table. She sipped at the water, appreciating its taste and clarity. "I take it you have been surveying the situation as best as possible here on Talora Prime?"

"With what information has been released from all the sources I can glean it from, assuming the usual bias from the Alliance and so on," Slyperia said, and then added, a bit softer, "Of course, I have some contacts in our Starfleet's Intelligence division who have been sending me our own estimates. You have a serious problem on your hands, Commander, though by all accounts you hold the interior lines of communication. That is what you'll need to win. I suppose that is the gist of what I know right now. And, of course, the rumours. I'm not sure how much you're authorized to tell me." What was clear was that her service record prior to her sacking by Intalasha II under mysterious circumstances had been added by a canny and quick intelligence. Despite being out of the service for longer than T'Ral had been alive, she spoke on the issues at hand with a comfortable familiarity, and this woman had been the operational chief for fleet actions more than two centuries prior, when Vinara IV was still Empress, that exceeded the scope of any the Federation had fought, and in doing so had studied directly under the aged Taloran legend, Jeryllyn Lictor, when she had still been alive, a warrior from a time when the Talorans fought with ships not dissimilar to those used in the first Earth - Romulan War. The accumulated knowledge of operational art in her head was incalculable.

"I anticipate then that you have decided to pursue our offer?", T'Ral replied.

"Absolutely. I'm quite prepared to sign the appropriate contracts and head out immediately, or otherwise wait here for a while to supervise any endeavours you have in our territory. My prospects have been rather bleak for a while, and I'm pleased that you're giving me the chance to serve your government." Slyperia, at least, was quick and to the point.

"My government would prefer you to come to the Federation," T'Ral replied. "Many of our best leading officers of admiral rank are among the defectors, and other competent admirals were among the first to be captured or lost in the opening weeks of the war. While we have not lost all of our better admirals, a number do not have experience in wartime command, while our enemy has several."

"Very well. I suppose your commander situation is... Delicate at the moment." She sipped a bit of water. "I can still put together the recommendations enroute, of course. What's the appointment you have planned for me, Commander?"

"My government would grant you the rank of Admiral and, for the beginning, make you Commanding Officer of the Federation's 1st Fleet, and if you choose to accept the additional responsibility, Chief of the Foreign Advisor Recruitment Staff, in which you would have the primary say and advisory role in recommending contracts to other advisors such as yourself. If this is too much, either position is open to you, or if you prefer another, I am empowered to negotiate the matter with you if you desire, or if not, Admiral Milano himself will take it up with you when you arrive in the Alpha Quadrant."

"Command of the First Fleet? I'm up to that, Commander, and pleased at the honour. It is a challenge that can be handled, at any rate, even with ancillary duties, which are accepted as well. I trust that once I've signed the relevant documents and I'm headed for the Federation you'll release all your information to me to a suitable level of classification so that I can be prepared on my arrival?" She smiled very faintly, her ears stiffly erect to show a certain anticipation of being back in the saddle again after so long. After being unfairly sacked on the word of a madwoman for an act which saved the Empire.

"Of course, though transmission must be done before you leave this universe. Our government is concerned that transmission in CON-5 or our own home universe will find critical details intercepted by foreign sources that could be sympathetic to the rebelling colonies." T'Ral was diplomatically referring, of course, to the ongoing conviction in large portions of Starfleet that the Alliance was responsible for the accelerating influence and power of the colonial secession parties that had, after fourteen years, led them to this point, and furthermore that the Alliance government would likely furnish covert aid to the Colonials, including the provision of intelligence.

"Understood, Commander," Slyperia glanced to the side for a moment, toward Khalis, and then back. "I wish to bring along two individuals. My dhrima and a personal confessor. I can be ready to leave with them in two days, quite reasonably."

"That would be most acceptable," replied T'Ral. She might have been much younger than the woman before her, but T'Ral was still up to the task of seeing her emotional joy at the command to be offered.

"Excellent. Then... Shall we get the formalities over with, Commander?"

"I would be most pleased to do so, Your Ladyship." T'Ral pressed some keys on the digital device and brought up a document, in proper Taloran, of the contract and the official document by which Slyperia would be oath-bound to serve as an Admiral in Starfleet. "If you would make sure the financial restitution and contract terms are to your liking, I am willing to wait. You may then sign both."

"The terms offered are quite acceptable, Commander," Slyperia said after the most brief of glances through the document's financial sections, but a very long and careful look at the loyalty clauses. "This... Is about more than money to me." And with no further words she signed the documents via the digital stylus, and returned it to T'Ral. "To your government I give all my loyalty, save should my Empress command me otherwise. You have my word and my signature."

"Then we shall hope your Empress sees no problem with you serving to protect the Federation from those who seek to renounce her rights and duties," replied T'Ral. "Starfleet is made better by your place in it."

"The Empire's interests are in law and stability, Commander. And now my interests are in putting back together our fleet after such grievous defections, and seeing through the suppression of all rebellion against our duly constituted authorities." Slyperia smiled grimly. "Send me the embarkation information, Commander, and I'll be seeing you the day after tomorrow."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-19 05:06am

Camp Bullard, Nouveaux Gascony, France
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate AR-12
9 March 2166 AST
1 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

Not far from the major farming community of Triep Camp Bullard had been erected, kept in partial commission by the charity and monies of those who had once served in its halls, and some of which were now back to continue the work of before. Where once the landing fields had been empty and grown over, they were now restored to their full pristine black-as-tar appearance with white running stripes, and along the airfields were a collection of older Rafales and American-build TF-19 Aerospace Fighter-Trainers. The work on restoration had lasted two months and cost tens of thousands of francs; the fighters and the base upkeep in general set the wealthy backers of the facility back by a million Alliance dollars weekly, a financial cost only sustainable by the number of contributors and the size of their contributions.
From several buses came crowds of men and women, all of them having endured an eight hour bus drive through the night from the Thierryville Spaceport. They were in civilian clothes, but that would not last, and each of them lined up to receive a set of uniform clothes and provided booths for changing.

Douglas Klavon was a cleanshaven young American straight from Earth, Wisconsin, who gone through his final years of school watching news programs and reading online reports of the Great War. It had ended before he could join the military, and as it was his attempts to join the United States Air Force and the Allied Nations Aerospace Force for pilot training had failed due to a lack of spots, and serving as an enlisted man wasn't quite what he wanted. His intention, his dream, was to fly an actual aerospace fighter. And not just as another carrier jock like in the Navy, but someone who landed on firm soil and got to fly in both the sky and the vacuum.
It was his turn in line, and having planned on trying to impress the officers with his long-practiced French greetings, he was disappointed to see an older American woman complete with gray hair and a wrinkling face. "Here, son, better luck next time," she'd teased him after taking down his name and handing him his uniform in plastic wrapping. He took it into the first booth that became available, noting that a timer popped up to tell him how long he was expected to take in getting changed. He managed it within ten seconds of the limit, placing his civilian clothing in a bag and emerging in uniform.
As a uniform it was somewhat archaic. It wasn't deep blue like most nations' air forces, but a lighter shade of blue that approached gray, and a red beret for a hat. The beret and the uniform patch both possessed the same insignia, the side profile of a Sioux warrior with feathered headdress.
The insiginia of Escadrille Lafayette. The Lafayette Flying Corps.

Klavon joined a host of men and women in Camp Bullard's courtyard. They stood and directed their attention to a podium, behind which the insignia of the Flying Corps was placed between the Stars and Stripes and the Tricolor. A group of officers in the archaic blue uniform that Klavon now wore called for the assembled to stand at attention. "Attention! The Marshal of the Corps is now present!" came the shout in both English and French.
The Marshal was a bicentenarian, and for someone of that era to be a bicentenarian of Universe AR-12 meant that he was effectively the equivalent of a centenarian in the late 20th Century due to the less-advanced anti-aging techniques of his youth. The withered old man, his hair mostly gone with some wisps of gray, was helped to stand at the podium by two uniformed men, wearing a uniform of his own. Klavon and others recognized him from some holo-images: former United States Senator and Governor of Missouri Roger Algeron Willers, co-founder of the Leigh-Willers Trans-Stellar Liner Company, a major corporation in these days that flew literally dozens, hundreds, of space routes. That this old and withered man of wealth was present today, wearing that uniform, was something of a shock, since he'd long been associated with wealth and power, and not the kind to volunteer and risk his life.
"You may all be at ease," the old man said, his voice sounding only slightly firmer than his frail figure. "You young people, French and American, remind me very much of my friends when I was young. And that is good. Times may change, new jets and fighters and weapons might come into place, and we might even salute a new flag now, but that the spirit is the same, that's reassuring to an old geezer like me." He allowed himself a chuckle, signaling the enlistees to do the same, though it stopped in respect and concern when the old man was racked by coughs. "I remember being here once, when I was young, even the Squadron was young then... I made good friends that are passed on now, and you kids.... you've made me remember their faces far more clearly than my rotting brain has permitted me for decades."

Tears were starting to form in the old man's eyes, old ghosts coming back to him. "You've al volunteered to do the right thing. You've volunteered to uphold the principles of liberty and freedom, of the brotherhood of free nations, and the basic equality of men and women of all races, of all nations. And you've said that no matter how much we value an individual, as a person as well as a contributor to society, you recognize that sometimes you have to let them die to serve higher causes, and that you're willing to take that risk, that burden, on your shoulders to fight the good fight." Willers sighed, slumping a little against one of his aides, and with what looked to be a tremendous source of will. "God knows we need people like you alive and that this isn't always possible. In my day, I fought desperate battles, and some good friends I had, some good squadmates, French and American, didn't make it. A bunch of them took turns saving my life. And I thank God for them every day, and I sometimes wish that for all the things I've done since my days in the Squadron, I could give it all up to have them back, and to still be flying with them. To be down there, with you, instead of up here as a useless old man."
Willers was nearly weeping now, and it was clear he'd not been fully prepared for the emotions of this experience, that his aged mind had left his psyche to shattered, perhaps plagued with the guilt of the wealth and power he'd enjoyed and that his friends had not; certainly Klavo figured the old man was disappointed in some of his offspring, especially his ditzy great-grandchildren, about the only members of the Willers family who got any press due to their hijinks. "God be with you all. God bless you all. You're doing great and wonderful things, and I'd give everything to be going with you. Everything. You are the finest of our nations' young people, the hope of France and America, our France and America, to keep our greatness and stand out in the rest of the known Universes." Using what was clearly the last bit of his energy, he stood straight and saluted at them. "Vive la France. God Bless America. Long Live Liberty."
What came next was a custom Klavon had been warned of and told to go with. After they all answered the Marshal's salute, the Americans in the audience proclaimed, "Viva la France!" as a chorus of French-accented English shouted, "God Bless America!", after which all the assembled shouted either "Long Live Liberty!" or "Vive la Liberté!"

Marshal Willers was aided in returning to his seat, and a gruff-looking man stepped up, tan-skinned and looking thick if not stout in figure. In a French accent, he growled, "You will be divided as custom into flights of four, two Americans and two French. You will live together, fly together, fight together, you will become brothers and sisters! Each flight will be assigned a trainer, an officer of the Flying Corps! You will obey his or her instructions!" Picking up a digital assistant, he began reading names.
Klavon's name came about midway; his new "brothers and sisters", he learned, were one Michel Velacroix, Megan Saltzmann, and Ésmée Trebert. Called to leave, he found himself walking with them to their new dorm room, where a bunk bed on either side of the room allowed for four occupants to share the room and four small nightstands. "I call bottom," Klavon said a moment before Velacroix could, while Megan, clearly the American of the two women, called the top bunk for some odd reason.

Michel Velacroix, a native of Nouveaux Gascony, was skinnier than Klavon, possessing brown hair and blue eyes, and a strong masculine jaw. He didn't seem much of a ladies' man, however, and rather humbly introduced himself formally to them.
Ésmée Trebert was a lovely young woman, with long dark hair, bright blue eyes, and a lusciously-curved body. She was from Earth itself, a native of Marseilles, with the dusky tan on her skin to prove it. Her French accent was less pronounce than Michel, and she smiled flirtingly at Klavon and laughed delightfully at his greeting to her in French. "We must work on it," she replied in English, "but it will do for now."
"How did you learn French?" whispered the American girl, to which Klavon replied, "Practice, and the Internet." In replying he turned to her and was able to get a better look at her. Megan Saltzmann was from Carlsbad, a mid-range world closer to the frontier than Earth, but not quite in the frontier. Her hair was a sandy blonde in color, her roundish cheeks freckled and her body slimmer and less-curvy than Trebert's. Brown eyes sparkled mischievously, and she certainly seemed more rough-and-tumble tomboyish than Trebert.

After they were given a couple minutes to put up their bags in the room, they were led out to the airfield, and there divided into squadrons and granted flight names. Their flight name was somewhat uninspiring, being the Greek letter Gamma; the squadron they were assigned to was named the Thenault Squadron, after Georges Thenault, the French Captain who commandeded the original Escadrille Lafayette in the First World War.
Each flight divided up and found its trainer. Klavon and the others soon found themselves facing a woman who had a pleasing figure flattered partly by the LFC blue uniform, though she was rather short. But her voice, tinted with a Scandanavian accent, carried well.
"My name is Hecate Maxwell," she said to them pointedly. "I am a Captain on leave from the Allied Nations Marine Corps and will be serving as your flight trainer. I've flown combat missions in the Great War and participated in the Gilean Expedition, where I was one of the first IEF pilots to launch airstrikes on the neo-barbs besieging Kalunda. I've been given six weeks to drill into you my six years of combat flying experience, and the clock is ticking. We'll be training long and hard, and it'll be a week or two before I even let you kids take a flight stick, probably three weeks before I even let you hit vacuum. You'll be training all the way until you face the enemy, and if you want to come home intact you'll do your damned best. So I don't want to hear any damned whining. The fact is, you kids are lucky that the Marshal and a bunch of other old fliers are spending what savings they have to be able to afford the hands-on training you're about to get, because I sure as hell didn't get to share a flight instructor with just three other Marines. Now, first order of business..."
And so Douglas Klavon's career in the Escadrille Lafayette began; in two months, he and his new "family" would be on the front lines fighting the Federation on behalf of the Colonies.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-22 01:16am

Kurlon, Trill
Trill Space
Universe Designate ST-3
13 March 2166 AST
5 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The city of Kurlon had once been a gleaming center of industry and commerce for the planet Trill, dominating the economy of the Greater Dul'va Bay Area and possessing a population numbered at one and a half million. Some of the finest goods and crafts that the Trill people had to offer were manufactured in her buildings.
But that was no longer so. Smoke rose from the bombed out shells of arcologies and office structures, factories lay in ruins, and across the town the city's occupants fought ferociously and bitterly against their enemies, flying high the flag of the Federation which had granted them luxury and promised them even more under the Idealogue Party platform. Their opponents represented the majority of the Trill population, an alliance of the anti-Idealogue politicians and the rural and middle class Trill who, while not avidly anti-Federation or even anti-Idealogue, had not been persuaded by the crisis to go the same way as the urbanites.

A scandalous truth had recently been thrust upon the Trill populace. A report in the Trill press, soon verified by other sources, that the Trill Symbiosis Commission had for at least a century covered up data indicating that up to half the planet's population was compatible with symbiotes, as opposed to the fraction of a percent claimed before. The government and the Commission, usually partners, split; the Government demanded that the Commission submit to an investigation, and the Commission resisted and hid behind the constitutional laws placing them in sole custody of the helpless symbiotes - a crisis magnified by the onset of the Federation Civil War as the first news came out.
In the urban areas, Idealogues pounced on the Commission and the Government, proclaiming them as elitist controlled institutions that had "denied" the chance to become hosts to the masses to propagate their own circle; when the Trill Government was finally forced by Colonial military success to recognize them as independent and refuse to participate in the Federation's response efforts, the Idealogues launched attacks with armed cadres that resulted in the deaths of a number of cabinent ministers, proclaiming the Trill government had been taken over by "reactionaries and Alliance spies". The Idealogue attack saw the fall of the capital and, even more crucially, of the Caves of Mak'ala; the home of the unjoined symbiotes awaiting hosts.
There the Guardians had fought ferociously with what few weapons they could acquire before the attack came, and many of them died; the survivors were the ones they trusted to slip through the labyrinth of caverns to safety in the countryside with as many symbiotes as could be carried, where the symbiotes were loved and their Guardians respected. In the Trill countryside news of the scandal had an opposite reaction; enough non-urban Trill had become hosts due to the Commission's policies of equal portions of applicants that the cover-up was seen as protecting the rights of the non-urban Trill to become hosts, as knowledge of wider compatibility would surely, in their opinion, had led to the urbanites using bribery, government influence, and other means to hoard the symbiotes to themselves. Any risk of a further split in the countryside between Commission and Government was ended by an agreement between the two bodies to work together to save themselves, and so the militias and law enforcement bodies of Trill went into action.

Now Kurlon was one of many Trill cities were the Idealogues fought fanatically to hold their own. They were growing hungry, cut off from all supply, with only the occasional friendly ship beaming down supplies to them, but young men like Turo Sal'va were not about to give in. They believed fervently in the Enlightened Society, and saw the rebellion against the Federation, and the Trill government's betrayal of it, as the act of spies and reactionaries working on behalf of masters in the Allied Nations, the bastion of oppression and social elitism in the Multiverse. If only they could hold on, the Colonial dupes would start fighting amongst themselves and the Federation could prevail yet, and the Alliance dare not strike lest its own oppressed workers rise up with a slackening of its military power to fighting instead of oppression of the workers.
Turo was a brown-haired young Trill of 19, carrying a Phaser rifle in his hands with only a few charges left. He and a group of eighteen Idealogue militants were cut off from the others, holding an apartment block that they had already fully scoured for clothes, food, and drink. The city's replicator systems were down due to bombing and they were rapidly running out of water. Turo's clothes were ragged and torn, burnt in one portion where a phaser beam had glanced beside him and killed a friend.
Kem, a friend of his, had stripped down to shorts, being from more northern climes and not used to the warmth of Kurlon in summer. He was not as physically impressive as the others, having been out of a job for a time due the slackening economy. The sweating young Trill looked over at one of the older men in their unit and frowned. "Redel's talking to himself again."
"Yeah, he's never been right since they took Mak'ala," Turo agreed. "Hold it...." Turo raised his rifle to a nearby window, a few of the others doing the same, and they all fired at a number of opponent Trill moving around the house. The figures, whom Turo couldn't even fully make out, dived for cover, one being struck twice and falling dead on the ground.

A piercing cry came from Redel. He was not much older than Turo, being only twenty-five. As ragged looking as the rest of them, he was glaring at his stomach screaming, "Shut up! SHUT UP! I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO YOU! SHUT UP!!!!["
"Guess the symbiote's bothering him again," Kem muttered. "Redel, knock it off!"
"It won't shut up!" Redel shouted back. "It keeps prattling on and on.... it thinks it's better than me, I know it does! WELL YOU KNOW WHAT YOU FUCKIN' THING?! I'M YOUR FUCKIN' HOST SO I TELL YOU TO SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!!" Frantically Redel picked up a knife from the kitchen, and before anyone could stop him, he plunged it into his stomach. As he kept plunging it in and in, sending blood gushing everywhere, everyone raced to stop him, but he'd already stabbed himself multiple times before they managed to cross the distance and hold him down. Suddenly calmed, he smiled grimly. "That fuckin' thing," he murmured. "I shut it up.... I finally shut it up..... thinks it's so smart.... so much smarter than me..... they all think we're a bunch of stupid fuckers...."

"You fuckin' idiot," Kem muttered, kicking the bleeding man as another of their number tried to patch up his gored stomach. "They gave you a fucking symbiont and you kill it?! That thing would've made you powerful man, all that fuckin' scientific knowledge and secrets to get you to the top? And you fucking kill it?!"
"Fuck the symbiotes...." Redel muttered. "Wish I'd never had the thing... fuck 'em all and let 'em die...."
As Redel slipped into unconsciousness, Kem kicked him in the head in pure anger. "Fucking ingrate!"
Turo pulled Kem back. "Hey, hey, no need to. He's gonna die now anyway. Can't survive without a symbiote once you have it."
"What about us?! That thing was a fucking genius, he could've used it to get us out of here, now we're stuck here until we fucking starve or they kill us, and if we give up, fuck that man, they'll just send us to camps and work us to death so some merchant somewhere can make a few more strips of GPL. I ain't gonna work to get some rich fucks a bit more money!"

"I.... I'll think of somethin', man, I'll...."
There was a roar overhead. Everyone looked out the window in time to see a massive shape settled high in the sky. Much longer and larger than any Starfleet ship, the vessel bristled with weapons. A voice boomed overhead in Trill, though clearly Human. "This is Admiral Benjamin Sisko of the United Colonies Starfleet. On behalf of the legitimate government of Trill, I demand the surrender of all forces loyal to the Idealogue rebellion or I will commence a bombardment of your positions. You have thirty minutes to lay down your arms and surrender."
"That fuckin' scumbag," Kem muttered. "I say screw Sisko and his masters, we'll never abandon the Federation! We're the fucking future!" Looking back to the others, Kem added, "He doesn't have it in him to attack us! Starfleet officers like him would never bombard a city...."

"Kem, this is fucking Ben Sisko," hissed Turo. "This guy poisoned an entire world to catch a Maquis leader! He'll do it, man, he'll do it! And I'm not gonna die here, not like this! I say we surrender."
"Fucking pussy," Kem muttered at him, but he saw the others weren't with him on continued resistance. His moment of bravado collapsed, he dropped his weapon as well, and they went to work assembling a white flag.

U.C.S. Defiant, In Orbit over Trill
Colonial Space

Worf returned to the cramped boardroom he shared with Jadzia and, to his astonishment, heard her weeping while seated at the room's console. He moved up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. "Jadzia?"
"They're all dead," she sobbed. "Duzen, Kelo, Tr'za, Sintza, Bul'ta, Kahn... They're all dead."
Worf recognized enough of those names to know she was referring to symbiotes. "What happened?"
"Those idiots! Those damned idiots!" she growled in rage, pounding her fists on the panel. "The rebels took the Caves of Mak'ala, Worf. They killed the Guardians who opposed them. The only ones who escaped were the ones who got out the older and helpless symbiotes. They tried to open the waterways for the others to get into the underground lakes, but it was too late..." Dax rested an arm on the panel and used it to cradle her face. Worf reached for the other chair in the room as she wept for a moment more. "Those... those fucking idiot militants!" The use of English curse, and such strong cursing at that, actually made Worf stare in wonderment for a moment. "They drew lots! They cast dice! They PLAYED GAMES to decide who would get to be a host! Then they took the other symbiotes against their will and put them into these fools.... They... they had no chance... they had no testing, no way to make sure they were compatible.... they weren't ready to be hosts!"

Worf remained silent. He knew just enough about the process of Joining to understand what had gone wrong.
"Over half of them died within the first week. They weren't compatible, their bodies weren't ready... their minds weren't ready. The new hosts went right back into fighting with no post-Joining training or therapy. Some died from incompatibility, the other hosts didn't know how to handle the joining and went mad and killed themselves, or got themselves killed..."
At that moment Worf went over to her, and took Jadzia into his arms, allowing her to cry in his embrace. "It must have been horrible. Forced into those unprepared hosts, having to deal with their minds breaking, feeling the host's memories jumble with their own, the hosts starting to fight to maintain their own identity, resist the joining... the pain..."
"How many?"
"Two hundred," Jadzia murmured. "Including some of the oldest and wisest, and some of the most promising young ones.... they're all dead, Worf. So many memories, so much knowledge and experience, and we've lost it. We can never get it back. How could they? How could they hurt our people like that...."
Worf spoke no more, but allowed Jadzia Dax to weep in grief at the deaths of so many acquaitances and friends, victims of an act of arrogance that was now rocking Trill society to its very foundations; as it was, the Rape of Mak'ala was just another ripple of the civil war that was tearing the Federation apart and sending ripples across the Alpha Quadrant... and the Multiverse.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-08-30 09:45pm

Capital City, Ferenginar
Ferengi Alliance
13 March 2166 AST
5 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The downpour of rain coating the Capital was just another misery to strike the inhabitants of the planet, as the lower class workers and alien laborers continued another day of vicious demonstrations and striking. The assorted DaiMons had called out their security troops to fight back, and for three weeks running battles had stricken Ferenginar and several outlaying systems. Lower-status Ferengi, including clothed women (scandalous in of itself!), began openly defying not just their government but their very society. They threw open the pens of the "indentured servants", they ransacked banks, and in the streets they manned barricades and fought off the mercenaries of the DaiMons.
It was in the midst of this mad chaos that Quark was mumbling and regretting the bitter chill from the rain, his brother Rom at his side. Ahead of them was the Tower of Commerce, surrounded by revolutionaries, and inside of it... former Grand Nagus Zek, declared deposed by the FCA two days before, and their mother Ishka.

As they moved across the streets, avoiding a burned-out franchise store where a gang of vagrants were trying to find shelter from the rain, Quark had a chance to see what he'd long-feared about the Ferengi. They had prided themselves at being the ultimate cutthroat businessmen, and it was the kind of business model he liked, but they had not adapted to the new circumstances. When the Alliance had provided a beautiful opportunity for the Ferengi economically, the DaiMons, even Zek himself, had squandered it in petty diplomatic disputes. They had rigidly stuck to GPL, ignoring the convenience of paper money (Even Quark had soon found himself installing tills and using Alliance dollars when the new space station had been built to replace Terok Nor), and the FCA's Liquidators had soon wrecked Ferengi relations with most of the Multiverse by harrassing Ferengi entrepreneurs who operated outside of Ferengi territory (including Quark himself). Ferengi corporations didn't help themselves either, failing to compete with their Alliance rivals or even to work with them honestly; with some notable exceptions, they clinged to dogmatic "profit now" schemes and attitudes, to the extent that only some of the finest Ferengi goods were able to compete in the interstellar market against the new competition. Combined with the misogynism of Ferengi society riling up the extrauniversals, and Ferengi markets and profit from the slave trade, it was a recipe for disaster.
Boycotts were first, then the loss of their trade partners to the Alliance's capitalists and merchants, then the blows to business from the fall of Orion and the liquidating of the Orion Southern Kingdoms' debts to Ferengi banks. The only bright spots for the Ferengi was that many key DaiMons still enjoyed business relations with Federation officials and bureaucrats, who bought raw foodstuffs from them instead of Alliance sources, in part due to the sheer hunger of the Federation for materials surpassing the available Alliance export market and in part because of corrupt deals between the DaiMons and various Idealogue Party officials in state positions; additionally, the Ferengi had partially bankrolled the Cardassian recovery from the Winter War, and Ferengi shipping concerns had made a killing off of Cardassian orders in the years after the war when the Cardassian merchant marine was still being rebuilt. These sources of wealth, coupled by the handful of Ferengi like Quark who had successfully (if reluctantly in Quark's case) adapted, had kept the Ferengi economy alive.

But no longer. The occupation of Cardassian had severed what few links remained between the Ferengi and Cardassians economically: Damar's Cardassian Republic was an de facto Alliance client state and did its business with Alliance or other sources. The Ferengi economy had barely survived that; now the Federation Civil War had dealt a killing blow. The buyers in the Federation Core Worlds were out of reach, their remaining gold-pressed latinum diverted to paying for the new war costs, and what deliveries could be possible were endangered by the fact that the Colonials had cut off Ferengi territory from the Federation.
The crash of the Ferengi economy began as a deceptively gentle slide, but enough prescient DaiMons and other Ferengi entrepreneurs saw the writing on the wall and left Ferenginar, and they took their GPL with them; the Ferengi economy went from recession to depression and now to crash, with ordinary workers feeling the pinch as they always did until the remaining DaiMons and the always-dogmatic FCA finally pinched too hard, and set off an explosion that their arrogance had long led them to believe impossible.

The singing in the streets made Quark blanch. From the Multiverse had come a host of provocateurs and "reformist" elements who had inspired the Ferengi lower class despite the FCA's totalitarian attempts to block such ideas as "labor rights" and "unionization". The rot went far and it went deep, extending beyond lower-rung Ferengi employees to corrupt the very foundations of Ferengi society, as was clear by the sudden appearance of women in the growing revolt. Though not all of the Ferengi men were willing to countenance it, still stuck in their ways of thinking in a number of parts, most of the rebels grudgingly allowed participation from the small group of clothed females who now held weapons as the men did, gathered at one end of the pouring Marketplace. More radical Ferengi activists sided whole-heartedly with them, and glowingly talked about a "new Ferenginar"; Quark could hear them ranting as he and Rom slipped by, trying to go unnoticed in the tumult.
They got all the way to the side entrance of the Tower of Commerce before their luck ran out. There were at least seven Ferengi, all of them armed, and one Orion girl in a tattered halter top and stolen male trousers, a coat over her shoulders; she looked especially murderous with the blaster rifle in her hands. "Who are you?" one of them demanded.
Quark felt panic come to his stomach, and he forced a laugh. "Oh, uh, we were just coming to see the Tower on the inside, see how it looks and all, my brother and I have been offworld for a while..."
His bluff failed miserably.
That much became clear, at least, when the Ferengi bunched up a bit more and the Orion woman leveled her rifle straight at Quark's head. "For someone who hasn't seen the inside of the Tower before, you seem to know a lot about its private entrances," one of the militants said. "Forgot a pouch of GPL strips in there, did you? Maybe thought you could pull a fast one over us poor, dumb workers? Well, you can tell us where your stash is and maybe we'll..."

And them Rom stepped forward, looking rather sure of himself, and Quark put a hand on his shoulder to hold him back for fear Rom would get them both killed. "You're right. We're not here to sight-see! We're here to get our Mother!"
"Your mother?! What kind of bald-faced lie is that?!" the Orion woman shouted in surprisingly fluent Ferengese.
"It's not a lie," Rom replied defiantly. "Our Mother is in there with the Grand Nagus."
Quark's stomach twisted painfully. As far as he was certain, Rom had just gotten them both killed.

"She must be rather lonely," one of the Ferengi guffawed. "The Grand Nagus is dead," he said, lifting his weapon to point it at the two brothers as he spoke, "and now so are you."
Quark let out a squeal of terror as he saw the weapon center on him.

Another pair of Ferengi stormed up, soaked raincoats splattering water everywhere. One of them, a commanding Ferengi of some height, grabbed the militant's gun and lifted it. "Don't you know who that is?!"
"What?" the militant said, looking bewildered at his compatriot.
"It's him!" the newcomer replied, a hand stretched out toward Rom. "It's Rom, son of Keldar! Founder of the Deep Space Nine Guild of Restaurant and Casino Employees!"
"Him?!" One of the militants looked to Rom and back to the newcomer. "Are you sure, Krol?"
"I'm positive! I saw his image in the FCA files!" "Krol" stepped forward and took Rom's hand. "It's an honor to meet you!" Briefly turning back, he shouted to the others, "Put your guns down, put them down! This man is the first Ferengi labor organizer in history!"

"Wait." The Orion woman kept her weapon up for a moment, focusing her gaze on Rom and Quark. "Then your mother must be Ishka, am I correct? The mistress of the Grand Nagus?"
"Moogie and the Grand Nagus are very close!", Rom proclaimed proudly, much to Quark's displeasure, as he was convinced the Orion woman would shoot them dead even if the Ferengi didn't.

But instead she moved forward and almost fell on her knee before Rom, as Quark watched on in complete shock and a little disgust. "Then I'll take you to her," the woman promised. "Ishka, she is the one who saved me. Come."
As they moved through the Tower, the Orion woman and Krol were enough to cause the other militants to stand down. The Tower had fallen just hours before they arrived, the mercenaries who held it for the remaining FCA officials having beamed out when they found out that the FCA's financial reserves were exhausted; the FCA's remaining leadership had not long survived the fall of the Tower, some lucky enough to be shot in the head before their bodies were flung to the Marketplace below. Quark only now learned, to his horror and disgust, that his single-minded attention to the Tower on the way in had caused him to miss what bits and pieces of the slaughtered Liquidators the rain hadn't washed away.

The private offices and quarters of the Grand Nagus were empty, the property within stripped and seized by the militants for themselves. The Grand Nagus' body remained still on his bed, and at the side of it Ishka was still on her knees, in clothes of course. Maihar'du was still faithfully at the fallen Nagus' side, seated beside Ishka.
In all his years Quark had never expected to actually see Zek dead. It was sobering and terrifying all at once, a definitive image of the Ferengi civilization coming undone. To think he would never have to hear that nasally, shrieky voice again...

"Moogie!" Rom rushed forward and embraced his mother, who looked back to him and accepted the embrace. "Moogie, are you okay?"
Quark looked back and saw, thankfully, that the militants were giving them a private moment. He walked up to Rom and Ishka and kneeled over, whispering, "There's a freighter in orbit waiting to beam us up, we have to get out of here."
"I'm not leaving without Zekkie," Ishka replied defiantly.
"Mother, every day you stay here is another day someone might shoot you!" Quark responded.
"We could take him with us, Brother," Rom remarked.
"Ooh, excellent idea Rom. We'll smuggle the Grand Nagus' remains past who knows how many mercenaries and pirates and crazed employees who'd love to have it themselves!"
"Quark, it's our only chance to get Moogie out of here!" Rom shot back.
"Mother, listen to sense!" Quark leaned over beside her. "Do you know how many people have found out about you and Zek? Those crazed gun-carrying workers out there just slaughtered the entire Ferengi Commerce Authority, Mother. The only reason they haven't touched you yet is because the Humanists out there like you. What do you think will happen when those radicals aren't around to protect you anymore? And to make it all worse, the remaining DaiMons - and even worse, the Liquidators - think you're to blame for all this! They won't hesitate to have you killed if they can. Your only hope is to get to DS9, where I can protect you. And we can't slip back to safety if everyone finds out we're carrying Zek's body! Every pirate from here to Rymorta will be looking for us."

"Brother!" Rom looked up. "That gives me an idea!"
"We take the Nagus' private shuttle and we launch it, then beam over to the ship after we're done! That way everyone thinks the Nagus' body is on the shuttle while we actually have it on our ship! With all the wreckage and ships in orbit... they'll never realize we made the transport!"
Quark scowled. Hissing, he finally nodded. "Sure, we'll do it that way then." Of all the.... We're going to get killed, I just know it...
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-09-25 01:39pm

Capital City, Quo'noS
Klingon Star Empire
15 March 2166 AST
7 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The Capital City of the Klingon Empire was perhaps the least-liked of any capital in all the Alpha Quadrant. As hot as the Cardassian Capital, as hostile as Ra'tleihfi on ch'Rihan (or for certain ambassadors, as San Francisco on Earth ST-3), and as odorous and impoverished as any assorted number of chaotic minor worlds along the fringes of the empires that, through their sovereignty, warranted at least a consul.
For the Klingons, however, the capital city represented the glories of the Empire and the martial accomplishments of their race. Alien laborers from worlds conquered into the Empire worked for a pittance on the streets, living in usually squalid quarters of the city and treated to a rigid system of apartheid that forbade them a number of interactions with Klingons, the harshest such policies being enacted by Gowron upon his rise to power.

Gowron's power base was heavily composed of traditionalists. Traditionalists who had little love for the Federation but even less for the Romulans and Cardassians, who viewed the Klingons as haivng an imperial destiny and a right to assume a leading role in the Quadrant, all generally favorable to expansionism. They had caused the collapse of the Khitomer Accords and pushed for the invasion of Cardassia, as well as the later war with the Federation over Arkanis. Because so many of the more liberal elements of the Empire had sided with the Duras, either out of alliances between Houses he most extreme of these also rejected outside influences on Klingon culture or even Klingon military doctrine. Religiously devoted to the warrior codes set down by Kah'ess, who's clone now sat upon the ceremonial throne, they refused outsider weapons and technologies, insisted on Klingon officers being "classically educated", and various other things; their critics usually complained that they were more concerned with making Klingon officers good students of Klingon opera than intelligent leaders in combat.
It was not that Gowron himself was a believer in these things. Gowron was a man who loved power and he possessed a cunning cynicism that let him use the power base of the traditionalists to his own benefit, while simulatenously acting against them subtley or otherwise if he desired it or felt it necessary. He had done so when backing the Alliance move into the Triangle, or when he had disappointed them by restoring the Khitomer Accords upon the eve of the Dominion War.

The situation in the Federation had opened many opportunities for the Klingon Empire. The long-unsettled question of Arkanis could be decided in Klingon favor, and alternatively the Klingons could win further economic and territorial concessions from the Federation in exchange for not aiding the Colonies in any way and cracking down on any Colonial sympathizers and agents within the Empire. The main restraint for the moment was an uncertainty; how would the Alliance react?
The Klingons had a special love-hate feeling for the Alliance. They utterly hated the lack of a "true warrior" pathos among the Alliance's military, the cowardly nature of long-range weapons and other devices that the Alliance used to such great effect.... but if they hated that, they nevertheless feared those same weapons (though they'd never admit it), and had a deep abidiing respect for the martial prowess and strength of the Alliance. The Klingon Empire and the Alliance therefore never found themselves with truly divergent interests, and Gowron had played his cards carefully to reduce any chance of friction, and to allow the Alliance to feel free to deal with more traditional enemies of the Klingon Empire.

Such considerations had stopped any plan to take advantage of the Federation Civil War. Even the thought of acting while Dale was on Talora Prime, presenting his government with a fait accompli, had been dismissed by Gowron, and to deal with the inevitable grumbling he had already decided on a replacement for the expansionist passions of the Klingon people.
The Ferengi Alliance was collapsing. The Grand Nagus was dead, the FCA divided - individual members isolated - and their rank and file gutted by desertion or the gratuitous slaughter of the radicals. The military power of the Ferengi, always dubious, had effectively ceased to exist thanks to the workers seizing so many Marauders and other craft and then losing them in bloody combat with the remaining fleet of the DaiMons. Most of the living DaiMons, the surviving cartels, were already transferring their liquid assets and headquarters out of Ferengi territory. The entire region was now a big vacuum, power-wise, destined to draw in other powers.

"Our sources have made clear that the Romulan buildup is already underway," Kusaq remarked from his chair at the Chancellor's table. "They will be ready to enter the region in a matter of days."
"Do we have time to build up ourselves?" Gowron asked.
"To the extent necessary? No, Chancellor, not if we are to pre-empt or meet the Romulan advance," was General Martok's reply. Martok, who had been the most capable Klingon commander, had become Gowron's personal military advisor, which was also Gowron's way of keeping his eye on the popular general lest he become too ambitious.
"The Empire cannot allow the Romulan dogs to get any kind of foothold in Ferengi territory unchallenged," Kusaq raged. "We must strike first!"
"If we strike first, we give the Romulans an advantage," Martok retorted. "Diplomatically and militarily....."
Before he could continue, the traditionalists on the Chancellor's cabinent roared with derision. "Martok, you sound like a coward!" one roared. "It does not matter what the Romulans do, but I stand with Kusaq, we cannot let those to'pah to strike first! If any Empire is to claim the Ferengi, it will be the Klingon Empire!"

A roar of approval came over the table. Martok, however, was not one to back down when he thought he was right. "Tell me, Rotarg son of Kurpeg, has your love of bloodwine so dimmed your wits? We are not merely talking about who will conquer the Ferengi! We have been rebuilding for over three years and yet we have not yet recovered from the Dominion War. We chose to honor our commitment to the Alliance and were the only power of the Alpha or Beta Quadrants to aid them in the Gamma Quadrant, and now we must face that price; the need to tend to our wounds even if opportunity seems to beckon. Ask yourselves.... how many of your Houses, or those of your friends or allies, are emptier than they have been in decades, centuries? How many of your sons, grandsons, honored nephews, went to the Gamma Quadrant and never returned? The Klingon Empire's honor was upheld at the cost of our strength, which will take years to restore; the prize we earned was the respect and admiration of the most powerful government in all the Alpha Quadrant, who would never permit another to fall upon us in our weakened state. But that does not mean it will aid us if we are the first to strike. Let the Romulans stir the rage of the Alliance, then we can move in, and be assured that they will stand with us in the war." Martok swept them all into his gaze. "Otherwise, if you send the fleet to Ferengi territory unprepared, and the Romulans overwhelm it, the Klingon Empire will be left with little defense against the second most powerful state in the quadrant, a state which stayed out of the war and has not suffered the losses we endured."
Martok's sobering wisdom contrasted strongly with Kusaq and Rotarg's impassioned plea. It seemed to sway some of the others. But in the end, there was only one voice Martok needed to sway, and that was Gowron's.
Gowron looked to Kusaq, then Rotarg, and finally Martok. His eyes, kept wide as always, drilled into Martok. Martok saw the jealousy in them and knew he had lost. If Gowron's decision to attack was not to appease the families and leaders that Kusaq and Rotarg represented, it would be to purposely spit in Martok's eye.
"We cannot allow the Romulans to gain a foothold. We must strike first!" Gowron looked to Rotarg. "Send the orders!"
This was another calculated slight, as Rotarg was only in charge of the military bureaucracy while Martok commanded the Klingon military in day-to-day operations, and Rotarg gleefully agreed, eager as always to demean and insult Martok. Martok bristled at this, but his duty was to the Empire, not his ego. If the decision was made to attack.... he would support it as best as he could.

Ra'tleihfi, ch'Rihan (Romulus)
Romulan Star Empire
17 March 2166 AST
9 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The city of Ra'tleihfi bustled as always, the population going about their business under the watchful eye of the Tal'Shiar, while the Senate debated the issue of the Ferengi collapse. The new discovery by the Tal'Shiar of the Klingons moving ships in was being digested at the moment in an informal meeting of the Praetor and his top advisors, known in Federation and thus Alliance circles as the Proconsuls.
Once there had been no such thing as a Proconsul. The Tricameron had been led by the Praetors, who numbered twelve, all of theoretically equal standing though three had usually ended up dominant. But then had come the short Civil War of the past century, when popular uprisings around the person of Ael t'Rllallieu, a famous Warbird commander who had been one of the few to ever fight the legendary James Kirk of that era to a draw, had overthrown the tyrannical Three of that era and their allies in the intelligence and military. Such has begun the Rule of the Empress, with Ael taking the new throne. The Tricameron had been reorganized afterward, the number of Praetors reduced to three and then one, with Ael's reforms introducing instead the Proconsul (or rather what the Humans, ever eager to pursue Rihannsu-Roman allegory, had called it).
To this day, even as most Romulans lived under a regime more severe than the one Ael rose against, a regime Ael would have fought and died to prevent, they venerated her. Even when the Tal'Shiar sowed distrust among them, tore the bonds of family and friendship asunder to ensure docility and distrust, they revered her for restoring their honor, their sense of that passionate, emotional, and eminently unquantifiable "mnhei'sahe", which was once again trampled afoot by the power of the Romulan State. Only out on the frontiers, where those closest to Ael's rule - the Ship-Clans, the ch'Havrannsu - had long moved to, was the Tal'Shiar weak enough to allow for some semblance of the old ways (and recognition for the perversity of the standing government in honoring her and spitting on her at the same time), and of course those worlds were always teetering on the edge of revolt in one way or another, always under the guns of the local Warbird squadrons, keeping them in line and assuring that never again would the Ship-Clans amass a fortune (and a fleet) under the noses of ch'Rihan.

But here in the halls of power, the successors of those Ael had overthrown looked to the here and now. Praetor tr'Neural was at one seat, Proconsuls t'Gurllieh and t'Sahal in the others. Neural smiled quaintly at the two women as one of them finished the report she had just gotten from the Tal'Shiar. "So the Klingons are seeking to strike before us?"
"Yes." T'Gurllieh smiled. "Gowron is, as always, amazingly predictable. He does not see the trap we have laid for him."
"Control of the Ferengi Alliance.... and a chance to re-arrange the border into something more to our liking. And, in the process, shatter the relationship between the Alliance and the Klingon Empire, weakening the Klingons further and leaving the Alliance position in the Beta Quadrant far more vulnerable." Neural put his hands together in his chair. "And while we do so, the Federation rips itself apart, as we inevitably knew it would. What news do we have from that front, t'Gurllieh?"
"The Colonial Fleet consolidated the region of Bolarus as of yesterday. Janeway seems content to gather her ships at Starbase 39 and await the arrival of Sisko's main fleet."
"Sisko is no fool. Undoubtedly Janeway and her superiors expect him to doggedly assault that position," Neural replied. "I highly doubt he will oblige in a fashion they desire. And how go our operations?"
"We have, as requested, funneled another large cash payment to the Colonies through the usual irregular channels, allowing them to buy the materials to repair the Starfleet vessels they've captured so far," t'Sahal answered. "A number of the smaller colonies closest to us are already becoming incredibly reliant on our agents' donations, and as they do not seem to be the wiser, I suspect they presume their pool of private financial resources is far greater than imagined.." Unspoken, of course, was the fact that such reliance meant that when the Romulan Empire was ready, they could yank the funding, causing a terrible shortage of cash for the Colonies, an act that at the right moment could either cause them to lose the war, or simply prevent them from winning it. After all, it was not in the Romulan Star Empire's interest that the Federation Civil War end too early.
"They will be rather rudely abused of that when the time comes," Neural remarked. "But for now, I think I will savor these developments. Unlike the Dominion or the Cardassians, we shall not fall prey to misjudgement or arrogance in our dealings with the Alliance. We will simply sit back and reap the benefits of the chaos they have helped to unleash."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-09-26 04:46am

Co-written with Ed Korrina aka Sunhawk (the Hecate scenes primarily).

Camp Bullard, Nouveaux Gascony, France
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate AR-12
27 March 2166 AST
19 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The morning bugle music for reveille awakened Klavon as it did everyone, and within minutes their daily routine began anew. Get dressed, be present on time and in place for morning reveille, breakfast, then flight school and flight training interspersed only with physical training and meals. Then off to bed that night and another six hours of sleep, as the trainers scrambled to cram as much training as they could into the short time span available before something happened, whether it be the Colonials suffering a devastating defeat or the Council's anti-interventionists finally smashing through the De Silva Resolution.
But today was to be a big day for Klavon and his flight mates: Ésmée, Michel, and Megan. Thenault Squadron had been the first to be permitted to fly the new craft being given to the Flying Corps, and they would for the first time be making orbital flight, though in-space maneuver training was still three days away.

If the recruits thought that they were getting little sleep, the trainers were getting far less, six hours a night would seem like a vacation by now. As always, as her four trainee's lined up outside for morning reveille with the rest of the squadron, Hecate was already waiting for them, immaculately uniformed, looking like she had slept like a baby and had had all the time in the world to prepare herself for the new day.

"Atten-HUT!" she barked out as soon as the last of the Thenault Squadron was in line, eyes sweeping over them as they stiffened to attention. She waited a few moments.

"Today you will be PRIVILEGED to begin the next phase of your training. Today is the day that all the chickenshit will begin to pay off for you." she began, words crisp and incisive in the predawn darkness. "Following breakfast you shall be introduced and begin getting to know the Zohan-Bofors ASF-X Sleipnr Aerospace StrikeFighter. You will be assigned your craft, undergo familiarization, and once you have done so will be permitted to make your first flight. The aerospace craft you are assigned here today shall be the one that you will pilot in combat, so get to know her and all of her quirks, for that knowledge will save your life someday."

She paused, hard eyes sweeping the small formation. "FORMATION! Right FACE!"

The line of trainees snapped to the right like a precision instrument, the harsh drill hammered into them by their instructor, herself a Marine, showing.

"Forward... MARCH" she barked, as she took the formation to the messhall for breakfast.

Breakfast was the usual fare. Toast, eggs, a piece of beef or pork meat, and if anyone wanted them, pancakes instead of toast. Klavon saw with the others, remaining mostly quiet for the morning as he wondered what the Zohan craft would be like. Ésmée did little to try and talk him up, and both tended to watch Michel and Megan chat amiably, talking about their lives and their families, and generally showing an interest in each other that Klavon thought might be going a bit past the "brother-sister" thing that the Corps was encouraging.
"So, anyone looking forward to today?" Klavon finally asked. "We're getting to fly real craft now, not those old trainers.
"I think I liked the trainers, actually," Michel answered. "They remind me of the planes my grandfather taught me to fly in."
Megan made a face. "You'd think with all the money they're spending they'd get us state-of-the-art craft that the Marines and Navy use, not cheaper planes like the Zohan build."
"Are you kidding, Megan?" Klavon chuckled. "Didn't you read that Popular Mechanics article on the Zohan? They're engineering wizards. I bet you the Sleipnr is just as good as anything the Aerospace Force is flying."

"Then why don't we just let them design everything? My dad's with the Department of Defense. He says the Zohan never test as good as their reputations claim," Megan replied sardonically. "They overengineer stuff and don't build to good specs like our builders do."

The argument might have continued, but at that time the announcement was made that breakfast was over. Klavon, thankfully, had finished all but a bite of his pork piece, which he quickly wolfed down as they went to work arranging their used silverware on their plates and taking it all to the counter before dispersing from the mess.

By now the sun was rising, as the cadet squadron formed back into ranks facing the trainers, who had rotated through the messhall so smoothly that the cadets had barely noticed. Minutes later they were marched to the airfield itself.

The early morning sun glinted off of the twenty five pristine fighters parked precisely on the tarmac, each spotlessly clean, while formed up in front of each of them was the small maintenance crews which had been training intensively, the maintenance trainers a mix of Zohan and Bofors representatives. Twenty of the aerospace fighters were parked together, with five more off to one side. The only markings currently on each was the Escadrille badge on the twin tailfins and a buzz number on the forward fuselage below the cockpit.

The fighters were, in many ways, ominous to look at, sleek and streamlined. There were no umbilicals attached, each was apparantly in alert status, ready, seemingly eager, to fly. The external pylons beneath the wings were empty at the moment, and small caps covered the business ends of the direct-fire armament, a sextet of Bofors coilguns and a quartet of what the trainee's recognized from their instruction as light PPACs.

After several minutes of simply letting the trainee's look at the fighters, Hecate swiveled around to face them, the movement causing the formation to almost immediately stiffen back up from the mild case of gawking that had been going on.

"At rest." she barked, eyes sweeping over them as they went to a parade ground perfect Parade Rest. "Twenty ASF-X Sleipnr Aerospace StrikeFighters. Together they total one hundred and twenty 30 millimeter coilguns. Eighty 30 millimeter Variable Pulse Phased Particle Acceleration Cannons. And they're capable of carrying three-hundred and twenty Scorpion Anti-Fighter Missiles or one hundred and sixty Harpoon IVAP anti-ship missiles." she smiled slightly as she looked over the formation. "These fighters are better armed than any current Aerospace Fighters in the ADN inventory, while matching any of them in manueverability, speed, acceleration, endurance, range and protection. You have only experienced the Sleipnr in the sims, and your instructors have told all of you, over and over, that no sim, no matter how detailed, can prepare you for the reality. Ladies and gentlemen, behind me is the reality. Behind me are the Aerospace Fighters which you will pilot in the cause of freedom and liberty."

She paused, then smiled. "You have all been aware that you have been tested constantly so far during your training. There are many reasons, of course, but one of the minor ones is for what is going to happen now. Based upon your total performance you have been rated and scored. All of you have passed every evaluation, or else you would not be here today. No specific fighter has yet been assigned to any of you, ladies and gentlemen. That will change shortly." she swiveled on her heal to face another of the trainers. "Lieutenant Atkinson, preoare to call the roll!"

She then turned back to the cadets. "When your name is called, you will step forward and indicate your preference in your assigned fighter. At which time you will meet your ground crew and they shall appropriately stencil your name on your fighter." a slight smile, eyes twinkling just slightly. "Nose art has been authorized, and your crew chief will be prepared to discuss your options. Lieutenant? Call the roll."

The roll was so called: Beta Flight won the first four craft, having the best average scores. Klavon was happy to hear his name called next, though he wondered if Ésmée deserved it more, seeming the most natural pilot.
He was brought to his ASF-X, where a waiting crew was standing in LFC uniform, save for the Zohan and Bofors representatives that were finishing the training of the crew team. Dark-skinned Sergeant Ray Cullins spoke with a drawl that reminded Klavon of recordings he'd heard of the legendary musician Ray Charles, his team consisting of one woman, a Frenchwoman named Anna, and two more Americans, Josh and Calvin. The Bofors man was a trained technician who helped in the nuts-and-bolts level of the design, Gustav Haakonssen, and the Zohan female was a three and a half foot tall bundle of energy named Adi'tal.

As he watched they painted his name via stencil onto the craft, Cullins putting on the final, proud touch. For nose art it came down to a shark mouth or eagle head, and he chose the eagle. As the crew began applying it under Cullins' skilled, watchful eye, Lt. Atkinson's voice called everyone back to formation.

They marched off to the classrooms, peeling off by sections as the days groundschool work began, intense training on procedures and operational details. Time seemed to drag, but finally Hecate marched them back to the flightline. Each of the Sleipnr's now sported it's new noseart, along with the stencilled names of the pilots. The flight peeled off into the ready room, changing into freshly issued flight suits, each with their name and the squadron emblem neatly embroidered on the breast. Then back outside to the fighters.

The Sleipnr's had been moved somewhat, now they were clustered in groups of five, the four trainee's and the trainer's own bird. Hecate's sported her kill markers underneath her stencilled name, and had a garishly painted tiger's mouth snarling around the nose. Tiny licks of flame curled around the muzzles of each of the coilguns. Otherwise, her fighter was painted a pitch black. Hers had by far the most detailed paintjob on the flightline, but then again she was not only the seniormost pilot present, she was also the highest rated ace of them all. Unlike the mixed flight crews of the other squadrons fighters, hers, like the other trainers, had full Bofors/Zohan crews and no trainee's at all.

"Gather up, people" she said waving for the four trainee's to gather around her. "Remember how I told you about callsigns? Well, it's time for you to pick 'em, usually I would bestow it on you, but I'm going to let you do it, in a normal training cycle I'd have a couple months to come up with something suitable, and you kids are going straight into the fire out of training." her voice was serious as she caught each of the four trainee's eyes for a moment. "I told you to think hard on it, you know my callsign is Hellcat, so none of you can have that one" a brief smile, eyes dancing for a moment.

Most of them chuckled, and a couple had not yet made full decisions. Klavon, however, had, and was the first to speak. "Hunter".
"Esprit," Ésmée said. "Spirit."
"Bronco," Megan said with a wide grin. She looked to Michel, who still seemed uncertain. "Well, pick something farmboy. Something to do with the ground, I'd say." Giving him a playful elbow to the ribs, she added, "Given how you're built, I'd say 'Rock', but I'm not sure that'd fit with however your French mind thinks."
At that, Michel merely shrugged, and looking at Hecate said, "I'll take Rock, then."

"Very well." Hecate replied, smiling. "Remember, once you put your hand on the bird, you are known by your callsign." she straightened up, smile fading. "This will just be a basic familiarization flight, up, around the circuit, and back down. This afternoon we will go exo-atmospheric for the first time, and begin manuever training."

She turned and headed towards her fighter, the trainee's heading towards theirs as well. "Hunter, Esprit, Bronco, Rock... fair winds" she called out as they reached the ladders leading to the cockpits.

Several minutes later, following the preflight, the Sleipnr's taxied out to the active runway behind Bravo Flight, and minutes later were in the air.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-02 08:39pm

Space Station Deep Space Nine, Near the Bajoran Wormhole
Bajoran Home System, Republic of Bajor
Universe Designate ST-3
30 March 2166 AST
22 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The sight of the majestic space station shining the light of Bajor's moon off of it's light gray and white armor exterior was a welcome sight to Quark as their privately-chartered freighter pulled up toward the station. Built by Alliance companies as the Bajor Orbital Station after the Winter War, the Orbital Station had been redesignated Deep Space Nine by the Federation following their assignment to command the station under the terms of the Oakland Treaty a year after the war, and it was here, on the frontlines of the future war with the Dominion, that Starfleet officer Benjamin Sisko had made his name.
Even after twelve years Quark often found himself compared Deep Space Nine to the Cardassian Terok Nor. Terok Nor had been dark and ugly, with razor-sharp edges in the design, and of course, the outer docking ring including those six massive pylons for large ships, three pointing "up" and three pointing "down", the pylons dwarfing in height the inner hull of the station and the Habitat Ring. Deep Space Nine resembled this superficially: there was an inner hull that possessed the station's power reactors and other equipment, lockers for station equipment, the hydroponics chamber, and the newer, larger, four level Promenade, with an observation deck further up for the station's military command and a CIC deeper in the core for military commands (Quark had seen this "CIC" before, being such an esteemed civilian of the station, and he remembered how different it seemed from the Cardassian Ops). There was also the habitat ring, but this one was larger, "thicker", than Terok Nor's, with larger suites and recreational facilities such as tennis and basketball courts.
But there the similarities ended. Deep Space Nine didn't have a docking ring with pylons, but rather four "docking arms" extending out from the habitat ring along which ships could either dock directly or with extendable airlock tubes Landing pads that retracted into internal bays were available along the top of the arms for smaller vessels, such as the Federation runabouts that used to be assigned to the station. At the end of the arms, each of which extending out a kilometer from the station core, were docking pylons that extended upward for large vessels to dock in; either multiple smaller ones or, in some situations, a superdreadnought-sized ship occupying a single pylon.

Quark watched a pair of sleek Bajoran starfighters zip by on peacetime patrol, coming from the "underside" of the central core, as the freighter approached Docking Bay 1-34 on Docking Arm 1. A thump through the ship confirmed that the modular airlock on the station had fitted itself to the freighter's bow airlock and had latched tightly on. At that moment, he breathed a sigh of relief.
Over two weeks of tension, of zig-zagging across the Ferengi Alliance and non-aligned space, had brought them here. Five close calls, each seemingly closer than the earlier ones, had nearly brought their doom. Rom's distraction plan had bought them the hours they needed; they had in fact been tracking no less than eight Ferengi Marauders or other clearly piratical vessels pursuing them hotly as they crossed into Cardassian space; only four of those dared to enter afterward, and challenges from the patrolling ships of the fledgling Cardassian Republican Navy and the Alliance Stellar Navy had sent the others scurrying.

"It's nice to be home," Quark muttered as he left the freighter bridge and headed to the cargo bay, where Rom, Ishka, and Maihar'du waited with him to arrange the transfer of the Grand Nagus' body to the station. As he went, Quark allowed himself a small smile. Hoo-mans were always suckers for good adventure stories, and he wondered how long it'd be until he could sell this one to some intrepid Human holovid producer to adapt into a movie or some other of merchandisable media.... media that granted royalties.
The smile grew. Perhaps some profit would come from this adventure after all....

Another old denizen of DS9 who had just made his return was standing at the Promenade's fourth level, looking out a window at the milling traffic around the station and heading toward the wormhole. The wormhole flashed to life in front of his eyes and swallowed a Taloran freighter whole, the ship on its way to the other side of the galaxy.
"It's beautiful," Cordelia Muller said in awe, a hint of German in otherwise flawless English. "Even more than you said it'd be."
The reply from Jake Sisko was to squeeze her hand a bit tighter. "I thought you'd say that."
"This place, Jake, to think you grew up here...! It's just, so much different from Tharkad. So much energy, so many aliens and different kinds of people!" Cordelia looked back to the Promenade, and the four levels of residents and guests bustling about on their daily routines. "I wish I could have been here with you."

"You are now," he answered. Cordelia saw that he was acting a little nervous, though she didn't know why. And she certainly didn't see his knees start to wobble. "I... I had thought a lot about this, but after everything that happened on Earth and the war and everything, I... wanted to bring you here."
"Why?" She looked at him quizzically. A smile crossed her face.
And as she expected, Jake went to one knee and presented a ring.

The resulting question was mostly unnoticed by the passers-by, and Jake barely managed to get them out, but Cordelia happily proclaimed, "Yes!" and embraced him tightly. She took the ring and slipped it on her hand before kissing him.
It was about that time that they heard the clapping behind them. The sight of the uniformed red-headed Bajoran woman and, beside her, a man with a strange appearance to his face - his nose and mouth non-descript and his eyes in hollows on his head - made Cordelia look bewildered for a moment, until Jake got back up and said, "Um, Colonel Kira, Constable Odo, it's... um... hello."
"We didn't want to interrupt the moment," Kira said with a pleased grin on her face. She extended a hand and added, "Congratulations, Jake. Who's the lucky girl?"
"This is Cordelia, Cordelia Muller," Jake added. "Her father works with the Lyran government's press relations office, I met her on Tharkad while I was a correspondent there. Cordelia, this is..."
"Colonel Kira Nerys and Constable Odo," Cordelia answered. "Jake's told me about all of the people here on DS9."
"I'm sure he has," Kira remarked. "It's nice to meet you, Cordelia. I hope I can make it to the wedding."
"We still have to plan that, obviously, but if New Orleans isn't available, I hope to be hosting you at my uncle's estate on Tharkad. It is beautiful...."

The conversation lasted long enough, but duty finally called Kira and Odo away, though they took to sharing a turbolift ride to the station's observation deck. "I think Sisko will like her, don't you Odo?" Kira finally asked.
"Oh, I suppose," he replied. "Human marriage proposal traditions just don't make much sense to me. They do them on the Promenade, in Quark's or their favorite restaurant, in some secluded corner of the habitat rang.... even in the holosuites. There's no regularity to them, no defined order. I prefer the Bajoran tradition.... even if the Cardassian way of courting is probably the most honest."
Kira chuckled at that.

They arrived on the observation deck. Bajoran crewmen and women and an officer sat at various places and conducted the station's traffic. Kira walked off to the side and her office as Station Commander, which was furnished spartanly; Odo approved of that, of course. It wasn't entirely empty, of course, and her desk had a couple pictures and images of her and Shakaar, and one of Sisko when she went with him to attend what for Sisko had been a happy, momentous day: the day he'd been asked to throw the ceremonial first pitch of the very first season game of the Bajoran Baseball League. It was here, while Kira settled into her seat, that Odo finally asked the question, "Have you heard from Sisko lately?"
Kira shook her head. "My channels to him aren't saying anything. He can't be reached by standard commlines at all, and technically even talking to him might not sit well with the government. They're still on the fence about the whole thing."
"It've noticed that a lot of governments find dealing with revolts distasteful, no matter what they think of who's being revolted from," Odo answered. "Though I think you'd be safe on the matter. Most Bajorans, including those in the government, have made their leanings pretty clear."
"I know, which is why I wasn't afraid of talking to him about the time he got to Trill. But now? I don't even think Jake can reach him."
"And what this means should be obvious."
"Yes, it is," Kira said. Taking in a breath and leaning forward in her chair, Kira added a confession. "And there are times, Odo, that I wish I was out there with him."
At that, Odo nodded in understanding. Every long-time member of the Deep Space Nine crew had that loyalty for Sisko, even if he hadn't set foot on the station in four years. "If it makes you feel any better, Nerys, I sometimes feel the same way."
"I suppose all we can do is pray, then..." Kira let the sentence trail off, and swiveled her chair to look out at the stars, wondering which one, if visible, would be the one that Sisko fought the coming battle at.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-06 09:08pm

South of town down the Emmitsburg Road
The First Corps are starting to show
For Buford's men, they're here just in time
The desperate need to strengthen the line

Bodies dropping, the Blue and the Gray
Muskets fire and the cannon blaze
The Union fights defending the town
But they're outnumbered and losing ground

From the north and the west more Rebels arrive
Thousands more and the fight multiplies
McPherson's Ridge and the Black Hats strike
A Rebel sharpshooter takes Reynold's life!

"The Devil to Pay; Gettysburg Day 1" by Iced Earth

Chapter 4 - The Field of Titans

U.C.S. Indefatigable, En Route to Gamma Skelis
Colonial Space
1 April 2166 AST
24 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

Over the course of his time on the Indefatigable, Sisko had gotten used to the environment of the ship. The halls were narrower than on Starfleet ships, the equipment better organized, the bunkings at times making even the Defiant seem luxurious.
And, of course, the fact that the bridge was hardly the nerve center of the ship, but rather simply a navigation aid; the real nerve center on the Indefatigable was the CIC buried in her armored inner keel, where the ship's commander and his immediate subordinates guided the operation of the ship. Even then the operation of the ship was far more diverse, with independent stations not just for engineers but for the gunnery crew as well, who aided in the control and use of the mammoth 310mm particle cannons that served as the primary armament of the ship.
As it was, Sisko typically commanded from a second chamber within the command keel, a special wardroom made capable of supporting fleet command. Communication stations independent of the ship proper allowed real-time automated and non-automated communication with the entire fleet while a large holotank and subsidary displays permitted constant updating on fleet positions, orientations, and status. Replicators provided coffee or tea in abundance for Sisko and his officers and assistants, as well as the occasional light snack.

"I'm not liking this position," Sisko said. He used his control to focus the main holotank on Sector 89 and the 4th Colonial Fleet, under Admiral Bethany Poul. The mixed force of sixty Alliance-built ships and four hundred twenty "indigenious" vessels (Starfleet vessels or original Colonial designs of the past couple of years, which tended to mix Starfleet and non-Starfleet paradigms) was faced by the Federation 19th Fleet; qualitively the two forces were equal, but Sisko's information showed that the 19th was commanded by Vice Admiral T'Rela, and he was quite aware of the Vulcan admiral's tactical capability. "The 19th Fleet is not as bad as it looks on paper and their commander is one of the best to not defect to our side. I want Admiral Poul to re-station her fleet at Stru'par, so that the 5th Fleet can support her from Antares if T'Rela acts."
"Sir, that would effectively surrender Sector 89," one of his subordinates, Commander Rachel Smythe of the Royal Anglian Navy, complained. "The Anglian Fleet would be put at risk."
"T'Rela's not the aggressive type," Sisko replied. "She knows that the main hammer blow is going to come down on Janeway and that if she sends her fleet forward and Janeway loses her fleet bases and supply routes will be in jeopardy. She's going to conserve and await either instructions from Starfleet Command or for our attack to fail. Nevertheless, have Admiral Poul maintain as well as patrol pattern in Sector 89 as she can from Stru'par. If T'Rela acts, those pickets could warn her in time to call the Anglian fleet and 5th Fleet to her aid."
The orders went out, though it would be hours before they were confirmed as being enacted and thus reflected on the holotank. Though Sisko had briefly looked away from his immediate environs for the task of making sure the strategic plan he had crafted with Ross was kept, he now turned his attention to the subject at hand.

Gamma Skelis was the forward base from which Sisko and his Battle Fleet would launch itself at the Federation 4th Fleet at Starbase 39. From this position Sisko could threaten both Starbase 39 and 62, forcing Janeway to stay alert and position herself to face either threat.
But the true key to the battle was nowhere near Gamma Skelis. Sisko would attack, and would land hard at Starbase 39.... but only after Ross had sent the other fleets into action. The main holotank showed their current positions. 1st Fleet, comprised of the Alpha Quadrant side's best available ships beyond Sisko's own elite Battle Fleet, was set to make a sudden movement from the current fleet base at Starbase 51 toward Starbase 46, threatening all of Sector 82, which at the moment was only guaranted by a portion of Milne's shattered 15th Fleet, now under Admiral Mainz according to their intelligence; beyond then, the shattered remnants of 8th Fleet and the partially assembled 6th Fleet were confronted by 3rd Fleet under Admiral Dularis, a citizen of the richest Centauran charter colony government and a Christopher Pike Medal of Honor recepient from the Dominion War. Sisko did not envy the Federation forces in Sector 85.
On the other side of the quadrant lay the 7th Fleet. The best ships from New Hollandia, Pacifica, Thu'tasskia, and Gol'rutor were assembled to strike toward the heart of the Federation itself, starting with Starbase 19 and the 10th Fleet that had already been bested once by the Beta-side Colonial forces. They served the linchpin to Sisko's plan; if they fell on Starbase 19 just as Sisko launched his attack, he was banking that the implied threat to the Core Worlds, and perhaps Earth itself, would provoke Milano and the others to hold 1st and 3rd Fleet in reserve and not release them to aid Janeway. By the time the Federation realized that the Beta side attack was a true diversion, Sisko would be triumphant, a quarter of Loyalist territory would be severed from the rest of the Federation, and the Colonials on the Alpha side would have time to consolidate their gains and improve their defensive positions before overstretch kicked in. At that point, it would become a waiting game, with the Colonials firmly gripping the Federation's throat.
Or so was the plan, but as the saying went, plans never survived contact with the enemy. And Sisko and his subordinates (and superiors) would inevitably have to change things. He just hoped that even if the details changed, the result would be the same; the Colonials in the dominant position while the Federation choked to death without the resources to fuel the domestic system. Inevitably, the Idealogues would make peace and allow the worlds independence even if it meant the long-term destruction of their system, as they were typically only concerned with the short-term.
Staring at the holotank, Sisko affixed his eyes to the marker for Starbase 39, and wondered what Kathryn Janeway would be planning for their coming battle.

U.S.S. Inaieu, Near Starbase 39, New Myrtle System
Federation Space

"Admiral on deck!" the youthful voice called out from the sensor station, and all the spines on the bridge of the mammoth Defender-class became straight and erect when the newly-minted Vice Admiral Kathryn Janeway made her way onto the bridge. Her brown hair, colored with a tinge of red, was done up in a bun so as to remain regulation length. Her movements were stiff and disciplined; Janeway's reputation as a by-the-book commander had preceded her, and all of the female officers present had ensured their hair was also cut or bunned to regulation.
The Iniaeu's arrival had reassured Admiral Keller on Starbase 39 and the other officers and crew of 4th Fleet. The behemoth looked powerful even when her appearance was still like that of a ship from Kirk's era - and indeed, it was that which helped her seem so powerful. Quantum torpedo launchers and phaser cannons bristled upon her hull, and she looked for all intents and purposes just as mighty as any of the Alliance's superdreadnoughts, even if her mass was barely that of a small battleship for other universes.
Now Janeway, after finishing deliberations with Admiral Keller and arranging for her staff to move off of the Magellan-class Challenger to the new flagship, had herself come over. Behind her was Captain Julia Treila, a woman of Betazoid and Human heritage, who would serve as the ship's CO. "At ease," Janeway said upon reaching the rear of the bridge. Every officer and hand on deck turned to her, seeing it was her intent to speak.

"I'm going to make this short, since we have a lot of work ahead of us. Some of you are fresh out of the Academy. Some of you are transfers from other ships. You've never worked together before. But now you're going to have to. Especially against this enemy."
Janeway kept her eyes on all of them before continued. "We're not fighting the Romulans or the Dominion or any other great threat that the Federation has dealt with in these past years. We're fighting ourselves. Some of you may even have old comrades on the other side, comrades you still consider friends or acquaintances, maybe even as close as brothers or sisters. Those of you who are veterans of the service may even feel you owe your life to someone over there." There was an edge to her voice as she said these things. "I am in that same boat. And I know the feelings you're having. 'Is this right?' 'Can I help kill my friends?' I know all too well."
"We all swore our oathes to Starfleet, to the Federation. Your friends have either left Starfleet or have abandoned it, betrayed it, without regard for the oath they made to it and to you. I'm sure they think they're doing the right thing, even if they're not. But in doing so they've made themselves the enemy. You are not to blame for what's coming; they are. All of this blood is on their hands, not your's. You need to remember that as you go about doing your duty and fulfilling the oath you've made."
"I'm not asking you to hate them. Hate is, after all, beneath a Starfleet officer. I'm not asking you to be angry with them or to think negatively of them in any way. They are the enemy, it is as simple as that. And you have your duties to perform even if it means their death. Do those duties, and it is more likely you'll be the ones going home to your families, not dying in space or being sent off to a penal facility."
"We are all loyal sons and daughters of the Federation. We believe in the promise it holds and have not lost faith in that. And very soon, we will be required to defend the Federation from the enemy, and the Federation only asks of you that your faith be kept. After all, if we don't have our faith in the ideals of the Federation.... what have we become but just another society, another government, kept together by force of arms or anachronistic nationalism? Centuries of progress are at risk here, and it is up to you to take up that fight, even though it means going up against old comrades and friends. Honor them by keeping the faith that they lost, and hoping for the day when they will see the error of their ways and re-embrace the Federation."
"That is all. You may now return to your duties."

The bridge crew returned to their work immediately, as if she had never come. Janeway observed this and left silently. She had needed to say this not just for their benefit but for her's, to hear once again the sweet voice of reason that tore at her. After all, was Voyager still not her ship? Her crew, which she had guided back on that long journey from the other side of the galaxy? Their defection had wounded her, and over the months since she had literally gone through the stages of grief until she came to acceptance of that fact; they had made their decision, and they bore that responsibility. It hurt to think that the people she'd lived and worked beside in so many crises could die at her command, but that was simply a possibility that had to be lived with.
Whatever came, Janeway knew she could never turn on the Federation. And she never would.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-10-15 03:10am

U.S.S. Tyrhennian, In Deep Space, Sector 78
Federation Space
5 April 2166 AST
28 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The Tyrhennian trudged along at Warp 8, the maximum speed that the Freedom-class cruisers could sustain. On the bridge, Captain Johnathan Samuels stared blanky at the viewscreen. "Any word from the Tallis VI station, Lieutenant?"
The Benzite male at operations - a Lieutenant Kornel - shook his head. "None sir."
"I don't like this," Samuels muttered to his Vulcan XO, Lt. Commander Supek, who looked non-plussed as ever. "We're far enough from the front that the patrols should've picked up anyone coming over in more than enough time to warn Tallis VI."
"Perhaps the attacker is cloaked," Supek suggested calmly.
"The Tallis VI facility was subterrenean and shielded, they'd have gotten a message out before any attacker could penetrate the protective field and surface."
At that Supek went silent, and Samuels remained figidity and concerned for the duration of the trip.

The Tyrhennian emerged from warp almost into orbit of the rocky, desolate planet; under the volcanic surface was a Starfleet sector communications facility build during the Dominion War when, for a brief time, the Dominion advance threatened the area. "Sir, the cavern complex is showing only some life signs and no power output," the Tellarite at sensors - Lieutenant Rutork - replied. "The facility has effectively been destroyed."
"Any sign of the attackers?"
"No.... wait a minute... I'm detecting some form of interference coming up through the planet's atmosphere, on a direct intercept course."
"On screen."

The viewscreen of the Tyrhennian's bridge switched to a close view of orbit, and streaks of red coming up from the atmosphere. At Samuels' command the view was magnified, and everyone stared.
They weren't aerospace fighters, runabouts, or shuttles; the contacts were actually humanoid in appearance, large and clearly metallic flight suits of some form with rounded shapes and yellow dotted single eyes, save for three contacts; two were definitely sleaker, with a pair of green eyes instead, and one was a red figure with a single green eye on its metallic head.
"Those can't be MWB-32 model BattleMechs adapted for aerospace flight, can they?" Samuels asked.
"Highly implausible," Supek replied. "Base technology in MWB-32 is too primitive to accomplish such a feat, and most non-indigenious technological upgrades to their BattleMechs have been in the form of weaponry and protection. Their aerospace fighters render such devices as these moot... as they would anyway, because I am unconvinced of the feasibility of such craft."
"Well, they look mighty feasible to me right now, Supek," Samuels replied sarcastically, watching the humanoid forms finish leaving Tallis VI's atmosphere. "Mr. kornel, check the registry, there's got to be something.... and Mister Fisher, lock weapons."
There was an affirmation. A few moments later Lieutenant Fisher, the young man at tactical, reported, "Sir, I'm having trouble locking on. There's some form of interference with the conventional tactical sensors..."
"Switch to other sensors," Samuels ordered.
"Aye sir..... subspace sensors are penetrating the interference. Locking phasers and preparing photon torpedoes..."
"Sir, the registry has come up with a match..." Kornel looked at it closely, and hs huffed in a way that blew a puff of smoke-like air from his breathing apparatus. "I've never heard of Universe GA-18."

"Contacts are in the registry as devices from Universe GA-18, but we only have basic statistics on them. Something called a 'Mobile Suit', with various model numbers and designations...."
"Sir, they're firing!"
The ten targets on their screen split up and came at the [i}Tyrhennian[/i] at different angles. Each brought up a large weapon - literally a gun equivalent for their humanoid forms - and opened fire. Energy blasts from different angles struck the Tyrhennian's shields, feedback making the ship rumble. "Shields holding, 96%," Fisher reported.
"Evasive Pattern Gamma 5, Mr. Selek," Samuels ordered, and the young Vulcan man at the helm began the evasive maneuver pattern immediately.

Tyrhennian pulled away from orbit partially, twisted, and changed it's orientation relative to Tallis VI. The foes facing it kept maneuvering around, avoiding the phaser blasts lashing out at them and twisting around the photon torpedoes. "Mr. Fisher, problems?"
"I don't know, sir," Fisher replied, sweat on his brow as he kept up his firing. "I'm... I'm getting hard locks, but they're maneuvering too sharply.... sometimes after I fire on the lock. It's almost like they know where I'm shooting..."
"Keep firing, Mister Fisher..." Suddenly the ship shook hard. "Report!"
"Shields down to 60%! One of those things has some form of missile pack carrying anti-matter missiles," Fisher reported, his nervousness now clearly getting the better of him. His fingers flew over his console rapidly as he frantically tried to shoot down the attacking enemies. A couple of times hits succeeded, but energy shielding on the strange humanoid craft protected them.

As Samuels made the order to escape at warp, a violent rocking nearly tossed him out of his chair. "What the....?"
A look at a status display showed a particular streak of red on the ship's hull integrity reading, but Samuels didn't have time to mentally digest this before Kornel confirmed it. "Shield failure in port aft quadrant! One of the enemy contacts slipped into the shield gap and has used some form of weapon on our nacelle py...." A second, even more vicious rocking sent sparks flying from consoles due to feedback and actually threw bridge crew out of their chairs. "Hit on the port nacelle! The warp coils are out, plasma leekage.... we have no warp!"

Samuels forced himself back into his seat. "Impulse?!"
"We have taken damage to the impulse drives, Captain, we don't have enough power to escape Tallis VI's gravitational field," was Selek's answer. The ship shook again, but not as violently this time. "I will endeavor to put us into orbit, but unless impulse power is restored within four hours our orbit will begin to decay."
By then Samuels noticed the shaking had stopped, and Fisher gave the report, "Enemy withdrawing.... I think I've managed to hit one of them!"
Fisher brought it up on screen. One of the less-sleek looking suits, with a curved, bulbous head and a single yellow "eye", was indeed missing a leg and an arm and looked badly damaged, and two of the others had latched onto it and were retreating with it. Samuels could probably have had all three destroyed, but the speed and strength of the onslaught had rattled him thoroughly, and he imagined that killing those three would just bring the other seven back for blood and lead to his ship being completely destroyed. And his crew was not worth that meager success. "Let them go," he muttered. "Mister Kornel, send out a distress signal and get me engineering...."
"Sir, subspace is being jammed," Kornel replied.
Yes, and it probably will be until they get out of range Samuels thought in irritated reply. "See if you can find the source, maybe we can at least find out if they have a mother ship and what kind of vessel it is."

One Night Stand, Tallis System

The One Night Stand spent the battle hiding on the other side of Tallis VI under cloak, and was now in the midst of recovering the ten mobile suits that had been sent from their complement of thirty. The ship was an older Earth-built cargo carrier from Universe EM-5 with a black market Klingon cloaking device slapped on for stealth and, even better, its own hyperspace jump engine, added to it by the Proxima 3 underground that had used the ship to smuggle goods to Babylon-5 back in the days of the Earth Civil War. Its name was as new as its current purpose, the product of the forty-something year old man standing on a catwalk over the large cargo bay converted into the mobile suit hanger, his wiry figure silhouetted in shadow behind him. Adam Pournelle, the commander and owner of the vessel (and the one who named it, obviously) brushed a lock of wild, unkept dark blond hair out of his blue eyes. He was in jeans and a dirty blue shirt with a brown jacket over it bearing an Earthforce patch, reminiscent of his old Earthforce days from just after the Earth Civil War until he left following the curing of the Drakh plague and, after that, the opening of the Multiverse.
"It went well, I see," a slightly accented voice said from behind him. Adam turned his head in time to see Ventri, a young Centauri who compensated for his middling birth with a defiantly-high crest of hair. Ventri looked down at them. "You know, how you act toward them reminds me a bit of how you once acted around me. They're not telepaths, Adam."
"I know, Vent, I know. It's just that.... don't you ever get the feeling that they're reading your mind? That they know what you're going to do before you do?"
"Well, sometimes," Vent replied. "They have that aura to them, I can't place it. They're not telepaths, but I don't think they're baseline either.... and I can use the word 'mundane' if it'll make you feel better," he added with a chuckle.
"Cute." Adam looked back down. Vent followed his gaze to a red-suited pilot who'd just jumped down from one of the unique "mobile suits", the one painted all-red. The pilot was wearing shades that hid his eyes, but his locks of blonde hair were more easily visible. He walked up to some of the other pilots, a few looking almost adolescent in age, and began speaking to them. "That one especially creeps me out. I tell ya, Vent, there are times I wish I hadn't accepted the contract."

Vent smirked. "I told you anyone willing to pay you in untracable and easily-laundered Centauri ducats was offering a nasty job, but you wouldn't listen to me."
"Eh, at the time I was just thinking of getting my own ship," Adam confessed. "And when this mess is over and I haul these people back home to GA-18, we've got an entire multiverse to ourselves." He heard a beep from the wall and walked over to the intercom.
A female voice from the bridge said, "Captain Adam, we've recovered all the mobile suits. We've locked onto the interphasic beacon system and are ready to return to hyperspace."
"Then let's get back to base and the hell out of here," Adam answered. He felt the old ship turn with her maneuvering engines and a thrum fill the deckplates and catwalk. The jump engine came alive, and ahead of them a swirling blue vortex opened in the fabric of space. The Centauri helmsman, one of Vent's old friends, fired the main engines and accelerated the One Night Stand back into hyperspace, on a beacon course back to Colonial territory and, probably soon afterward, their next attack.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-11-11 10:45pm

Trischi Palace, Valera, Talora Prime
Taloran Star Empire
Taloran Home Universe
5 April 2166 AST
28 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

Two members of the secret service detail, only, were allowed into the room itself. The others were left uncomfortably staring across at their counterparts. The room was very large, and normally intended for banquets, but it was not entirely empty, now. There was a band of youths playing soft music in the far corner, and numerous attendants and servants. Only one small round table was set, however, and entering from the far side of the room was the Empress, leading in a figure who had no doubt become very familiar to Dale, lurking in the shadows, but to whom he had never had a chance to speak or interact much, her position being very limited in the formal ceremonies before. Jhastimia Rulandh was present nominally simply to serve as a 'second' across the table from Julia, a hostess as it were, to make up for the Empress being unmarried.

The room itself was stone with a high column-supported and arched roof, with the columns being more delicate than usual, and inscribed in pictograms in something vaguely resembling Egyptian fashion. The walls were covered in paintings rather than tapestries, and there was one wall which was done up in the style of a fresco but was instead an immense mural, which attracted immediate and tremendous attention.

It was surrounded by a single line of studded rubies, apparently to accentuate the title of the piece, which was 'The Wine of Violence' and marked prominently below it in Taloran, and, surprisingly, an English placard had been added. It showed a great gathering, the blue haired and blue eyed figure of an average-sized Taloran male at the head of the table, regal in his bearing and dressed in armour even while eating, with a red cape. To his right hand was a tall woman dressed in yellow and blue robes, red hair, lavender eyes. The two were pointing in cool contemplation at the severed head of a Taloran male, ears savagely cut off to disfigure the visage even in death, held on a platter by a tall, feminine-like figure, dressed in a red and, to Talorans, black uniform, strangely ugly, hair stiffly pulled back and Dalamarian in ethnic appearance; darker skin for a Taloran, more pasty than translucent in its white, while a more normal feminine figure with pink hair in the same dress presented the head with a crisp and slight smile of sheer malice, a crazed look in her eyes. To the left side of the great male figure, two perfectly identical women, half-naked and wrapped with their arms about each other, hair green and eyes orange, raised a boisterous toast to the main figure, and he, in relaxed conversation with the female to his right, clearly ignored them, and the toast.

But the rest of the room did not. Even as a nude girl of some considerable youth gyrated in the background to the assembly of a flute band, and the servants came and went, there were nine more figures at the table. Eight were male, and of these, seven of them faced their sovereign with gleeful and boisterous expressions, their glasses raised, sloshing the alcohol in them, something like wine enough to translate it as such but not quite, more a liqueur, one of them with another of the female-like figures tangled around him on the broad couches at the table they set, also raising a toast, and quite naked enough to reveal that they were not women but eunuchs who had developed the height and features from a youthful castration. The eighth raised his glass, but absent-mindedly, his eyes appraisingly on one of the serving girls, more concerned with his libido than the bloody toast to their sovereign's having obtained the severed head of one of his foes. The Ninth figure, however, served to be the focus of the piece. She did not raise her glass in toast like the others, but stared into it with a dreadful expression, half fury and half resignation, drumming the fingers of her left hand on the table while her right was clenched in her lap, head turned away from the disgusting spectacle. She was tall, and she was Dalamarian.

The arriving Empress and Jhastimia themselves turned to gaze at the excellently done, fully realistic and lifelike mural for a long while, seeming to invite Dale and Julia to do the same, though it was given with a certain long and considerate look by Saverana, before she stepped over to Dale directly rather than sitting. "President Dale, do you know about what this painting portends?"

"I've seen some of the figures, or rather ones like them, on other works of Taloran art I've seen, but I'm afraid I don't know the specifics," he replied to her.

"The Wine of Violence was commissioned by the First Empress to show the moment where the severed head of Valera's prior husband was delivered to the Tyrant Moloyr. The principle figure is of course the Marshal Taliya, reacting, with her morality, in disgust, while the other eight Marshals of the Tyrant celebrate, only Retgari not completely given over to the moment, the incestuous twins of the Tralvian family, one the favoured wife of the Tyrant and the other his Exchequer, egging them on, while the pagan philosopher Bylyhka and the Tyrant amuse themselves with the finer features of the dead man, coolly ignoring the toast. It is a contrast between different forms of evil and wrong, from minor to hideous, with the disgust of the moral amongst them. And it was thought a suitable piece for a banquet hall, to contrast between the reserved and moral customs of Our own dynasty, and that of what preceded us."

"It does its work well," Dale remarked. "Moloyr is often compared, in Human terms, to Alexander the Great. Of course, Alexander's death was far less dramatic than Moloyr's, and today has little religious connotation."
"I think the closest comparison, at least for Christians, would be Nero," Julia added for him, showing that she was hardly worse off than her husband when it came to learning.

"The one Roman Emperor," Jhastimia observed abruptly, lavender hair done up only lightly to contrast with the severe Imperial Style of Saverana II. "Quite possibly. Moloyr, however, remains a unique figure. Would you like to sit? Dinner will be served shortly."

"Certainly," was the reply, and they all went to sit down. This was, surprisingly for those unexpecting Taloran protocol and formality, the first time in Dale's month-long stay on the Taloran homeworld that he and the Empress had met in a completely informal, business manner like he was long accustomed to with other heads of state. After a week of almost non-stop parades and formal reviews and inspections and gift exchanges, followed by weeks of speeches and tours and dinners leading up to a formal address to the Convocate of Nobles and the formal "signing" of the general agreement with the Talorans (divided as it was, legally, among several treaties known collectively as the "Intuit-Wells Concordat", reflecting the leaders of the two negotiating teams, Princess Jhayka itl dhin Intuit and Alliance Foreign Minister Peter Wells) where Dale penned his name and the Empress placed her seal upon it. It had been exhausting at times, demanding great patience and accordance with strict protocol, leading up to the treaty signings and a formal exchange of awards which had necessitated by Taloran custom, Robert and Julia receiving a Taloran award referred to as the Order of the Shattered Crown, and in turn the Empress being formally presented with the Medal of Freedom (to justify it under the terms of the Medal's requirements, Dale's staff had used the Gilean Crisis and the Taloran government's role in insisting upon relief of Kalunda being given priority and in their following support against efforts to be harsh to the Gilean native populations by the other states).

The Empress and Jhastimia were dressed in full dress uniform, which to them was a considerable step down from ceremonial court dress, which frequently featured heavy quantities of medieval body armour. They set, arranged in such a way that Julia was to Dale's right and Jhastimia to Saverana's; the two rulers faced each other across the table, and it certainly gave the impression of the rumours which all the trying in the world could not prove or deny, that they were lovers, yet the relationship seemed a wholly unnecessary one in that case; they could quite legally be married, and were of a perfectly suitable match for each other. It was heightened by the way that Jhastimia introduced all of the dishes to the Dales, and in Taloran custom, the conversation, with the Empress almost entirely silent, was simply over works of art and how the Dales had enjoyed the city so far, light bordering on inane. It was only when main course was finished and dessert was served that Saverana began to speak in a cool and deliberate way, dropping, however, her use of formal plural pronouns which for Talorans was only done in formal situations. "Did you know, President Dale, that your late book on naval strategy and interstellar operations has a Taloran edition which was published a year ago?"

"I had heard something to that effect from the Naval Institute Press, who hold the primary publishing rights to it," Dale replied while Julia gently enjoyed the dessert. "I admit I'm surprised at how widely it sold. And just when it seemed it'd sold enough, I was elected and an entire new edition was printed."

"I composed the preface for the Taloran language edition," Saverana explained after a moment. "Under a pseudonym, of course. It is broadly recommended for all officers of the Imperial Starfleet and the Navies of Grenya, the Concordat, Jikar, and Dalamar and the new colonies, that I have authority over. I take the work with considerable regard, and I am surprised that you yourself were surprised at its success. It is an immediate classic of modern operations, and we regarded it as such from the start. You must remember that, now that we are together here, the treaties have been signed, and as per the agreements with the IUCEC, all of the bulk data has already been exchanged with the central institutes, the first teams of scientists for cross-training have been dispatched... I can confide to you that we were terrified of the Alliance. To us, no position of strength or equality was possible between a nation which did not have interuniversal drive technology and one that did. Working out these treaties has allowed us to function as equals and friends, very important considering that we regarded the strategic operations your nation, with you at its helm and interuniversal drive on your ships, were capable of, as being a basic threat to the fabric of the Empire. It was my decision that the appropriate response to this was engagement with your State, despite all the fears and doubts this entailed. I consider that act, with its result now at hand, to be the most important of the decisions I have made for the sake of my crownlands and vassals."

Dale was admittedly surprised at the revelation of the Empress' interest in his work, though her commentary on the pre-treaty situation was not far from what he figured. "We're familiar with the concerns of great powers suddenly thrust into the Multiversal era. Not all have handled it as well as the Empire, and I'd like to say I feel the same relief at the treaty as you do. You feared us for our IU drive, while my own security advisors had nightmares about your empire and the Habsburgs combining against us out of fear of our more idealistic citizens. The important thing, of course, is that the Empire and the Alliance are firmly dedicated to peace and prosperity, and the interstellar trade that fuels that."
"As for the book.... when I wrote it, I wasn't just an admiral articulating strategic theory and the base of interstellar naval power through modern and historical example." He put his utensil down into the dessert he'd been working. "I was also a concerned father afraid of losing his daughter because the people in charge, and the public in general, had little idea of the folly they were pursuing in naval policy, and the very real consequences they'd have for us all."

Saverana seemed very curious at that, her ears flexing intently as she looked across to Dale. "Could you elaborate on that, President Dale? I'd like to know the specific circumstances, rather than the general bad examples of the work, which brought it to fruition in the first place."

After finishing a bite of dessert, the fruit taste rather welcome and enjoyable, Dale went into some of the specifics of the naval policies of the Plotinikov Administration and the member nations of the Alliance, who had at the time failed to make up for that weakness. Bad force strength, a lack of strong adherence to naval tradition created for the 'Alliance Space Force', a foolish attempt to concentrate on lighter vessels that, while capable of protecting the spacelanes from piracy or other such threats, left them woefully unready to deal with an enemy with heavy fleet elements if such a war should happen.
Julia sat and listened patiently, seeing that Jhastimia was listening though possibly not as intently as the Empress, who seemed genuinely thrilled at a chance to discuss naval policy with Dale.
"My allusion to the errors of fascist Italy in Universe AR-12, during the Franco-Italian War, were of particular use given that the Plotinikov Administration was pursuing a generally effective policy on Army forces; the Italians had the better army, overran half of France, and almost took Paris.... but the French Marine Militare, being the superior force, tore apart their space empire and the Italian war machine faltered on land from a lack of funds and resources from colonial sources," Dale said as conclusion to his list. "Nations get wealthy from interstellar trade, and acquiring resources from asteroids and other planets that aren't always in abundance on Earth or in the Sol System, but without a powerful navy to protect their trade routes and to ensure the flow of these resources, that strength is hollow. All star nations are, by their very nature, the equivalent of a thalassocratic state, that is, a state that commands only maritime territories, their very existence reliant upon sea power. In our case, space naval power. Only by having such power can a star nation, or a star empire, actually exist and thrive."

"Then what is your opinion on the fundamental failure of the United Federation of Planets, which at one point possessed in active duty and reserve or mothballs a fleet of almost eighteen thousand ships and whose power could arguably be compared favourably to the British of our shared CON-5? They now face a long and uncertain contest with a dedicated group of rebels who have stripped them of a significant portion of their most economically productive colonies, and the war, being an ideological one, will certainly last to the bitter end." No, the Empress wasn't stupid, and Jhastimia was now very interested, for this touched on current policy and events.

Dale smiled thinly at that. So far the Federation Civil War had managed to stay firmly in the background, despite the failure of the De Silva Resolution in the Council. "The Federation's difficulties are not simply linked to naval policies or defense policies as a whole, though they certainly played a part, but rather also to domestic policies that have been going on for the past seventy years, and as one of the few universes to not practice anti-aging medicine, that's a couple of generations easy for most of their races. Given my knowledge of the Federation, and my dealings with them as a policy maker and advisor... their failure stems from domestic problems, the onset of a socialist welfare state in their core worlds, and the inequity of political representation among their worlds. Productivity in their Core Worlds has declined dramatically in the past seventy years while their welfare system's demands for material and funds has grown much larger. Their only recourse was to tax, in increasingly heavy amounts, the semi-autonomous states in the Federation known as charter colonies who have no representation in the Federation Council, an arrangement those worlds only accepted because the alternative, cutting the size of Starfleet, would have left them unprotected from attack."

"Unfortunately, years after this set in, newer political ideologies in the Federation's leadership led to Starfleet being cut anyway, and being further undermined by fanatical pacifism, which rendered this deal null and void. So now the charter colonies, having become the wealthiest and most productive worlds in the Federation, have to deal with up to half of their production being diverted to the Federation Core Worlds to maintain welfare benefits they are not permitted to enjoy and even their defense is not guaranteed, in their eyes, due to the pacifism of elements of the Federation ruling party, which has already, in the past, abandoned charter colonies to attack and outright conquest."

"Now, Majesty, imagine the situation. To the people of these charter colonies, they have to pay exhorbitant taxation for benefits they will never enjoy and to people who, having promised to defend them, have made it adamantly clear they probably will not do so or will cede those worlds to the alien threats that they fear in the first place. Since the Dominion War the only major change, aside from a resurgence in the pacifist numbers after the Borg Scare temporarily diminished them, has been a group of militarists who want to go even further and turn the entire Federation into a fascistic, corporatist state where individuality is discouraged and everyone has to work for the sole benefit of the State. They might want to get rid of the welfare state that has led to this problem in the first place, but to the average citizen of a charter colony, who I think is little different in outlook or desire from any of my citizens or your subjects, the cure that the Association for Federation Unity represents is worse than the disease."

"Now, that this civil war has happened now has surprised many of my policy-makers as well as other experts. We thought the Federation might sputter along for another few decades before the charter colonies declared enough is enough. But given the situation that developed on Pacifica, and the Federation's reaction to it, I can't be in the least surprised that we've come to this point."

"The decline and danger to the Federation now seen is due primarily to their domestic policies, and their failed attempt to create a widespread welfare state. Everything that has followed since - the rise of the fanatical pacifism espoused by Deborah Miller, their wars with their neighbors that demonstrated the weakness of their naval and foreign policies, the rise of Virshk and the AFU - can be blamed on that one fundamental mistake. The Federation's idealists in the post-Khitomer Accords era overlooked the sad fact that a lot of people, if they didn't have to work to survive, would not work, or at least not as well or as productively, without some kind of social or cultural pressure to do so, and the Federation never adequately developed such pressure. Virshk is the first to propose the development of such pressure, but using the force of the State to create it and maintain it, which is far more dangerous than a long-standing social tradition against idleness. And those policies lead us to where we are today."

"Your people seem particularly against the Federation, President Dale," Jhastimia said softly, blue eyes alert. "Will you intervene? This is a serious consideration, as the Federation seems to be going through a natural and inevitable period at the terminal point of decay in such a society. We do not object to Virshk and his political faction, insomuch as we maintain relations with the United Federation of Planets, from a governmental standpoint... Sometimes a harsh purging is required to cure an ill body, President Dale. He does seem to offer that, and war provides innumerable excuses for the regimentation and repair of a society through harsh measures which would otherwise be impossible to implement."

"Personally, though my dear Kavrila is correct, I do not find Virshk to be anything other than a second-rate demagogue, and his means of obtaining power are irregular. However there is the real issue at hand of your response to the conflict, which I suppose it is suitable to discuss."

"The only way I can see the Alliance intervening in this conflict, Majesty, Your Grace, is if the Federation commits an act of war against the Alliance, or if it does something so perverse, so odious, and so shocking as to invite the outrage of all civilized nations and governments of the Multiverse, and in such a condition I don't think any state would be in opposition to intervention," Dale answers tactfully. "As for my people being against the Federation, that's a matter of history. The Federation has treated us rather unfairly in their propaganda over the years, and even when it seemed we had finally became close and were moving on to a better relationship, they stabbed us in the back and attempted to undermine our war effort against the Dominion when they were overruled by the coalition that we led in that war. When President Mamatmas died, the Federation slighted us by not even sending their Ambassador to his memorial service, the only major state not to do so. And during the Dominion War, many of our people got to know some of the people who are now fighting the Federation, and close bonds were formed. Aside from that.... as I said before, one side wishes to force the other to work as helots for their own pleasure, the other simply wishes to have the freedom to enjoy the fruits of their own labors, and nevertheless for years attempted to make their relationship with the Federation work, to show faith in it. That many of my citizens show sympathy with the Colonials and against the Federation is not surprising."

"Of course," Saverana answered, "the law remains on the side of the Federation. I will outright now say, however, that the decision of a certain individual named Slyperia, lately an Admiral in the Imperial Starfleet responsible for the outrageous Istegard Incident, was not sanctioned by this government in taking up Federation employment, and we do not regard her behaviour as acceptable. It never has been, for all that she is a good Admiral and student of the Countess of Kriesdihl."

"Your Serene Majesty, the Istegard Incident?" Jhastimia seemed alarmed.

"I believe it is time for us to explain that in the same way that the Alliance has been very open about the threat from the Borg," Saverana answered. "Especially since Slyperia, Countess of Ughamir, has now taken up Federation service and therefore made herself an interesting person to the Alliance, whose intelligence services," Saverana had an amused look, "Will probably find out much better about her regardless. Istegard is an open secret at best."

"Your Serene Majesty," Jhastimia acceded, falling silent.

Having observed the interplay, Dale already suspected that Bronson knew fully whatever this "Istegard Incident" was, given that even after leaving AID for the Security Advisor post Bronson still remained close to Intelligence with White Eagle being his chief of staff, in military parlance. That said, he found it interesting that Jhastimia was so concerned about talking about it, and that it was considered of such gravity as to equal the Alliance sharing its intel on the Borg with the Taloran Empire.

"President Dale, consider this confidential, though communicate it to your advisors as you wish," Saverana began very levelly, on what was clearly a serious issue. "But several hundred years ago by the human count, when my grandmother was still fairly new to the Imperial throne, a minor colony world on the outer fringe named Istegard was invaded by an alien species, or force of species, calling themselves the Oh-han-kha-lee. In those days, to protect the Empire, we had a policy of the leaders of minor colonies saying, in such a circumstance, that they were the last survivors of a species decimated by internecine warfare, while trying to do everything possible to contact the Empire. This would give us advanced warning before having a new enemy come down on our heads, and give us time to prepare a response which would be overwhelming and unexpected, if the story was bought. With this race, however, it led them to conclude that the survivors were of a mad species, and sought to engage, we posit, in genetic tinkering to 'fix' us. Minor colonies can be founded by innumerable people. Control over them is rare, and they are easily lost. So for a considerable number of years, this colony simply vanished.

"This species.. Systematically modified the population, modifying their gene-pool and manipulating them with a large number of abilities using a sort of advanced, inherent bio-crafting of an order of magnitude unfathomable to us. They forced them to breed with each other in programmes to increase their numbers, and bring their genetic mix into that of the broader genetic knowledge bank of the Oh-han-kha-lee. Resistance was extensive, particularly from the ruler of the colony, the Baroness of Istegard, who was never once broken to their programme while nonetheless maintaining her story. In the meantime, the entire surface of the world was re-ordered on Oh-han-kha-lee principles so that all life-forms were absorbed into their genetic knowledge base, and the resources of the world used to create a series of living world-ships out of the surface of the planet, which ultimately would have lifted off, containing the modified Talorans and the original inhabitants, to spread on slower-than-light courses throughout the galaxy.

"Now, of the whole species, this has happened thousands and thousands of times over tens of thousands of thousands of years, and it was argued by the Baroness of Istegard in Slyperia's presence that most of the time these 'trades' had been mutual; she felt much remorse, even though she refused to bow to them, to misleading them to take this tack. For, by now, Slyperia was the commander of that expansion sector, a major new government formation, and the strange developments had been uncovered and documented. Her response was to completely cleanse the surface of the world, burning it down to the bedrock, and destroying or contaminating with long-term nuclear particles every single habitable system. She destroyed the organic ships of the Oh-han-kha-lee and she completely exterminated such of our subjects which survived among them, perhaps curable of their mutations and perhaps not, but nonetheless worthy of the attempt. And she did this all immediately, without permission or consultation. She likewise sent out sweeps and scouts which accounted for twenty-six of their worldships in deep space and irradiated and destroyed another system that they were found present in, in the area. Around the same time three nearby worlds suffered attacks of spores from orbit which caused strange and progressive mutations in the plant and animal life. Significant areas of valuable land were irradiated on these planets and some thousands of people in the affected areas killed outright. It was believed that this was a counterattack by the Oh-han-kha-lee, but the connection was never made precisely sure. The Admiral of Ughamir was sacked for the extremity of her measures due to the protestations of the Baroness of Istegard, who committed suicide after these actions... A very grave thing, so sinful a way to die, which influenced my grandmother to believe her story to some extent. Slyperia, however, she has...

"A vocal following in the Starfleet of those who say that as the pupil of the Countess of Kriesdihl she acted with speed and decision to save the Empire from an impossible plague which is, as we speak, spreading throughout the Empire by slower than light ships, almost undetectable in deep space, as they are made up of organic compounds. Their adherents have secured such large expenditures in civil defence as you may notice, particularly in the colonies. I have always attempted to remain balanced between both sides, for there are also those who assert that, as the Oh-han-kha-lee ships never once returned fire and their actions, according to their own claims, were in the best interests of the colonists as they believed them to be, that Slyperia waged war on a completely pacifistic species incapable of violence, or, according to their own claims to Slyperia before she destroyed their ships, even of lying."

The Dales listened to Saverana explain the entire thing. "I will, of course, only share this with the Alliance Security Committee under secrecy, under what we refer to as Silver Level classification - the highest, I assure you. We may even see what we can do about scanning for such vessels in deep space, and share that technology or process with the Empire to aid you in locating any of these 'Oankali' and ascertaining their motives. As much as it would mean to destroy Admiral Slyperia's reputation, I sincerely hope that they are not aggressive as she feared. A war with such a capable species would certainly be devastating."
Inwardly, Dale found himself with another fear. Would such an aggressive woman, capable of widespread killing like that (even if under circumstances she thought necessary), merge well with the AFU's newfound militarism? Would she do the kind of thing that would enflame the Alliance citizenry, make them even more virulently anti-Federation, and perhaps drag the Alliance into the war? It was a very... uncomfortable thought, given how aware Dale was of the cost of Alliance intervention in the Civil War in foreign relations with other powers.

"Certainly," Saverana agreed. "Though in her performance with the Federation I am quite sure her particular organizational genius will show itself in good stead. Speaking of which, President Dale, I must warn you that my disapproval does not extend to minor officers on half-pay who wish to risk their lives for the sake of glory and combat experience. My issue with Slyperia is because she has both, and this is simply her desire to be back into the saddle, rather than the understandable and traditional practicing of half-paid officers seconding themselves to foreign powers. I trust this will not be an issue? It is an internal conflict, and customary law does not forbid this."

Dale had already heard of this, and remembered hearing comments from Princess Jhayka's entourage to a similar effect. "I understand this practice occurs often in the Taloran Empire," Dale answered, "and so I have no immediate complaint. My only concern, Majesty, is that among the Alliance it may be misconstrued as your government privately supporting the Federation, and given the anti-Federation sentiment that is in the majority, it would have a negative effect on our relations. We generally do not have such a thing as placing officers on half-pay reserve for long periods of time, so your practice is not as widely known. At the very least, I suspect it may only intensify efforts in recruiting Alliance citizens, including war veterans, for the Colonial war effort."
"I don't see why our governments need to let that interfere with average business, though," Julia added, wanting to get into the conversation. "Though I am curious, Your Majesty, as to how your allowance would extend to any Taloran officers who find the Federation odious and would instead support the Colonials?"

"No, though of course it would be impossible to stop them," Saverana answered. "but the Federation is a recognized state; the Colonials are not. For what it is worth, we will extend no lines of credit or other aspects of formal support to the Federation. They shall obtain from this country, as has always been our policy, only what they can pay for from our private individuals and business in hard currency. We have no interest in the war which would bring us to prevent this trade... Or, most importantly, to facilitate it."

"Such measures should, at least, reassure our people as to your general neutrality," Dale answered, not remarking on the Empress' expression of a likely unenforcable ban on Talorans aiding the Colonials. He had not said so, not directly, but he supported them just as heartily as most of his citizens, having had ten years of time spent in the upper echelons of the Alliance Government to understand the debasement and foolishness of their system, as well as the education and beliefs to abhor the AFU's proposed 'alternative'. "I have, of course, signed an Executive Order forbidding military equipment from being sold to the Colonials, as had been done up to the point of the Pacifican Crisis exploding, and while I have not explicitly banned exports to the Federation, they have not bought military equipment and it has not been offered. I do not think they are fools, and they know most of our military equipment providers will not sell if it results in popular outrage being reflected in the Council."

"Then what will you do if the Federation orders trade with the rebellious colonies to cease? They have it in their power to make such a formal request, as they remain the legal controllers of the territory. That could spark a crisis in your relations with other powers. I will not be bothered by your ignoring such an order, for generally speaking in the Taloran tradition, trade decrees must be enforceable to be binding, and that is certainly not enforceable. However, others do not impose such a standard.."

"My advisors are already preparing various routes to take," Dale responded, not hiding anything but also not quite sure there was anything more to share. "It's quite clear, to be frank, that my people would never permit it, not just out of sympathy for the Colonials, but because our ST-3 holdings especially trade heavily with the worlds that have joined the Colonial cause and to cut off their trade would be economically painful, perhaps disasterous in a few cases. The Federation has not done so, not yet, I think because they know it's unenforcable at current and that it would only hurt them with a number of powers."

"States have gone to war to protect their economic interests on innumerable occasions, President Dale," Jhastimia spoke. "What will you do if the central government crushes the opposition to it? You will surely lose your trade ties with an autarkist regime such as the AFU at that point, and your economy will suffer accordingly."

"Yes, I am aware of that, and I wouldn't be truthful if I said some of my advisors have argued for more active measures to be taken because of it," Dale answered, "But on the other hand, even if the AFU wins the war, they will only do so by devastating the most productive worlds in the Federation. Even if they successfully get the Core Worlds to start working, I doubt they'll have the production means to satisfy the lingering welfare demands - which will not go away overnight and which they must meet to keep their support from evaporating - and to rebuild and restore the production of the conquered worlds, especially when you consider the likelihood that Colonial defeat would mean millions of refugees fleeing to avoid persecution or trial, refugees that would include the skilled workers and managers needed to rebuild. In such a situation, they need someone to trade with, and given the policies of the Romulan Empire, the Klingons' lack of an export surplus in many kinds of goods, and the collapse of the Ferengi Alliance.... that leaves extra-universal sources, and we happen to already have long-standing trade links. Yes, in the future there could be trouble with with the AFU, victorious in this scenario, but for now, there won't be, and it would grant time for our member nations and worlds with trade ties to diversify and protect themselves from the impact. Provided, of course, that the AFU doesn't give in to its revanchist elements and attempt, at an interval where we seem preoccupied, to try to nullify the Treaty of Saint-Germain or demand the reintegration of Nova Savona into the Federation."

"Certainly we would see the movement of major elements of your fleet there at the appropriate juncture in the conflict to obviously not indicate any desire to intervene," Saverana answered. "As for the present, I would suggest that you use some care in the situation. Allowing your citizenry to be inflamed will certainly bring you on a course that it does not appear you wish to go down, and the better for it, for of late there have already been numerous wars and dissensions in that universe which are a detriment and distraction to all of international commerce, though we certainly understand that the very decayed state of most of the polities in ST-3 demands a disproportionate focus from your government, and, often, responses which in other parts of the multiverse are completely unnecessary. We do not consider the survival or death, prosperity or humiliation, of any state in that universe to be in our interest. However, the forms of international law.. Should certainly be maintained in your dealings thereof."

"The Alliance is committed to upholding international law, Your Majesty, and short of the proposed circumstances I mentioned before, my administration will not intervene and will work to ensure the citizenry of the Alliance do not go too far in their support for the Colonials." It was easy to say, of course, but not so easy to do. For years the Federation had sowed itself badly into the minds of the Alliance populace, and what that reaped could be dangerous for everyone. He had already heard of the failure of the De Silva Resolution and that the Democrats, aligned with the ST-3 Federalists and other parties, were resolutely blocking any attempt to limit or stop wider trade to the Colonials (Though not charity, Dale agreed with Alexandria Verdes that de Silva had erred in writing his proposal too generally). When he returned to Washington he intended to take immediate charge of the situation.
Of course, he also had to agree with her about ST-3. It was a terrible mess of a place, with governments run by everything from lunatics to ideological extremists to religious fanatics, with a very peculiar concept of diplomacy and a very backward approach to war, at least until the Alliance arrived on the scene.

"We appreciate the effort, President Dale. Circumstances sometimes force the hand of peoples, but in this case principled neutrality in the internal conflicts of others remains the most rational course. We will, of course, use our diplomatic influence with the Federation government, which for various reasons is not inconsiderable, to encourage them by all means to treat the population of the revolted Colonies, including their military personnel, by the same standards as those of foreign powers, even though they are entitled to do otherwise. We will exert pressure in this direction, in an affair that we otherwise have no interest in, for the sake of making your government's task easier by avoiding any developments which could cause popular outrage among your people."

"The aid of the Taloran Empire in trying to keep that situation stable is welcomed," Dale added. "Perhaps, if the two sides get tired of the fighting, they might even be convinced to accept Taloran mediation, as I doubt that Alliance mediation will be acceptable, and given their discontent with the Saint-Germain Treaty, Minbari mediation may also not be deemed acceptable."

"We would of course be pleased at providing such an arrangement, given the opportunity," Saverana answered. "For the moment, however, the drums of war have sounded, the guns have been arranged, and blood will decide the issue, as it usually does. I believe, however, that as far as the relations of our governments and how this issue affects them are concerned, we have settled things quite amicably, and made our positions clear in a positive manner."

"I believe so as well, Your Majesty," Dale replied, and for the brief time left in the private meal, the conversation turned to other, lighter matters.

They were on the ride back to the Harbor Palace, where Saverana had arranged for them to stay while on Talora Prime, when Julia looked to Dale and asked, "Well, it could have gone much worse. Seems to me that she's saying she's okay if we intervene as long as we do it for a good reason."
"While warning about her desire for neutrality," Dale added. "Yes, it was altogether a good evening. With the treaty signed, relations with the Talorans should improve steadily, barring any problems related to this Admiral Slyperia acting up while in a Starfleet command."
"What are you going to do about the volunteers on our side?" Julia asked.
"Try to get the public to remain calm and not interventionist," Dale answered. "The war has dampened enthusiasm for that kind of intervention, but unfortunately this isn't just any state we're talking about; it's the Federation. They're so hated now that if not for the War having given everyone their fill of 'I regret to inform' letters I think I'd be dealing with a demand to intervene, not simply refusal to forbid trade with the breakaway colonies. As for the volunteers, there are laws to stop them, not that I expect it to work. I don't know if I have the strength, politically, to stop them. De Silva proved that." Looking out at the brilliant night skyline and towering apartment buildings of Valeria, he added, "Just have to hope the Colonials win big, I guess, win big enough that the Federation has to give in, and this whole mess can get over with." And with that said, he went silent for the rest of the trip.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-11-12 04:16am

U.C.S. Indefatigable, Gamma Selkis
Colonial Space
6 April 2166 AST
29 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The day began as most did for Ben Sisko. The ship clock awoke him at 0530 and presented him with the fleet communications sent over the night. The San Francisco reported a delay in replacing a needed part after the Rub'torak battle and would thus remain in drydock for longer, the McKinley had returned to the fleet, Captain Phillips' task force reported a successful skirmish against the Loyalist 4th Fleet in space near the Phi Sierra System, Captain Keller's squadron being less successful and losing a ship in a similar skirmish in interstellar space near Zeta Sierra.
Sisko finished reading these reports over some much-needed coffee. He went to the shower next, emerging just a few minutes later to put on his uniform. It was now 0600.
Checking for more messages, he found no more fleet communiquès, but there was a private letter from Jake. Unfortunately, the time would not allow Sisko to read it.
He headed to his fleet command immediately. Commander Smythe, always the prim-looking Anglian brunette, greeted him in her surprisingly cheery-sounding English accent as he entered. The first thing he asked, of course, was what had been on his mind since he went to sleep. "How are Kurtz and Durlaris doing?"

Over the time Sisko had slept, at precisely 0130 hours 29 October, the two Colonial fleets on his "flank" had advanced, crashing into what were incomplete and depleted Loyalist formations. This was the first phase of their operation, a blow to further reduce Janeway's position and ensure that her 4th Fleet had nowhere to run when Sisko came for her in another thirty or so hours. Next, of course, would be the advance of 7th Fleet from Pacifican space, scheduled for 1000 hours. Then time to watch the whole thing develop before Sisko decided where to commit the Battle Fleet and the reserve 9th Fleet.
"What are we having for breakfast?" Sisko asked.
"Mess is sending up steak and eggs, Admiral," a yeoman in the room said.
"Hrm... pity....I wanted blueberry waffles again," he said with a slight smile. "If we're not active by dinner time, I think I'll go visit the kitchen and make some crawfish and jambalaya...."

U.S.S. Inaieu, Near Starbase 39, New Myrtle System
Federation Space

The bridge chronometer read 1000 when Admiral Janeway finished getting the latest reports from Starfleet Command. The enemy offensive had started just about eight hours before and already Starbase 46 was capitulating, Admiral Mainz's 15th Fleet caught out of position, while Sector 85 saw the 6th and 8th Fleets, neither at full strength, having lost thirty ships already to a vigorous enemy assault led by Admiral Dularis, whom Janeway knew to be one of the most capable admirals among the defectors.

Her personal display, a newer holotank installed into the bridge, showed the worsening positions, but she was not yet ready to move. She knew Sisko would be coming for her, and she also knew that 1st and 3rd Fleets were still in a position to prevent the fall of further sectors behind the battered fleets on her flanks, not to mention the other Federation fleets, better off, facing off against what were certainly weaker Colonial forces. The situation seemed dangerous, but it was not.
And yet.... why wait? Janeway, if she stayed where she was, could be forced to give battle unfavorably, with Sisko's main fleet prepped and ready for combat and with who knows how much reinforcement available? "Has Starfleet Command reported on the deployment of reserves?" she asked Treila, seated in the bridge command chair.
"Checking now, Admiral," Treila answered. She looked over the list of reports. "Yes, apparently at 0900 Admiral Lopez ordered the 3rd Fleet in our direction."

That clinched it for Janeway. "We're not waiting for the enemy to hit us here," Janeway said abruptly. "Order all ships to move into formation and prepare for warp. Set course for Gamma Selkis, best possible course."
"Admiral?" Treila looked at her. "Our orders are for a strict defense."
"Our orders are to hold Starbase 39 by any means necessary. If we wait until Sisko moves against us, it might only be after the other Colonial forces are moving into this sector as well, and we're grossly outnumbered. We have to hit Sisko now and do maximum damage to his fleet so that by the time 3rd Fleet gets here, the Colonials won't have the strength to attack in this area." Janeway eased into a seat. "And we can always fall back to Starbase 39 if necessary."

"Admiral, all ships report ready," the Inaieu's comm officer reported.
The colossal Inaieu went to warp, surrounded by Federation starships, directed like a arrow at the cream of the Colonial fleet.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-11-28 10:56pm

U.C.S. Indefatigable, Gamma Selkis
Colonial Space

Sisko had been about to fulfill his intention to leave the fleet command room and go make dinner when the fleet's pickets confirmed that Janeway was coming into range. It was not entirely unexpected, though Sisko was still a little surprised that she'd come so soon; he'd expected a desperation attack only after she knew more of the situation in the nearby sectors.
The Colonial Main Battle Fleet was quickly arranged into formation. It was a mixed formation due to the mix of Starfleet and Alliance-designed vessels, with the Alliance ships taking up a wall of battle formation in the center while the Starfleet vessels, under the commands of Admiral Hastings and Uzuki, formed on the "flanks" with their bow arcs pointed forward, allowing the more maneuverable Starfleet ships to use that maneuverability to full advantage while the less-agile but heavier-armed and armored Alliance ships could pour it on.

From his tactical view Sisko could see Janeway's force in combat formation. She was widely-spread, all ships aimed straight at his center. Her target was clear.
"Give the order to fire when ready," Sisko said to his staff. Sitting in his chair, hands put together under his chin, he waited for Janeway to move into range and begin the battle.

U.S.S. Inaieu

"Approaching weapons range, Admiral," the Lieutenant at tactical said. "Colonial fleet is locking weapons."
"Lock weapons and fire, concentrate on their Alliance-built vessels," Janeway answered, sitting calmly at the chair as her massive flagship moved forward at full impulse, her ancient frame straining slightly to keep up with the newer vessels in Starfleet.

A hail of missiles came first, from the Alliance ships that carried light-second range missile cells, and Janeway's fleet responded with a flurry of phaser fire that wreaked a terrible attrition on an already-small salvo. Only a handful of missiles got through, some missing and a few hitting at the cost of just one smaller cruiser.
Just as they entered optimum torpedo and phaser range the Colonial fleet opened up with particle cannon fire and soon thereafter both fleets were firing everything on each other. Otherwise empty space lit up with the deadly light show of space combat; photon and quantum torpedoes, extrauniversal M/AM torpedoes, phasers and particle beams. Janeway felt Inaieu shake from the hits she took, though she certainly took better than other ships of the fleet, which was now starting to suffer loss as ships fell back in formation, damaged or crippled. Out of the corner of her eye Janeway noticed, out of irritation and out of dread, as the helmsman of an Ambassador-class failed to respond quickly enough to the sudden loss of engine power to another ship, causing the two ships to collide with a cataclysmic effect of warp core failure, creating a small bright star within her fleet for a brief few moments.

Ahead of them the Colonial Fleet was enduring what she was throwing. But not shrugging off. There were too many ships for Janeway to personally track, but she focused on what caught her eye in these early minutes of the engagement; a warp nacelle rupture an a Missouri-class, a magazine explosion that gutted a Juneau....
Her primary target remained ahead. Indefatigable's deflectors were still holding and had not yet allowed hits to bleed through, but Janeway intended to change that. "Target the Indefatigable," she ordered her weapons officer, noting the nonplussed appearance of Captain Treila; technically Treila was supposed to control Inaieu in the combat with Janeway focusing on the main battle. Not, of course, that her fleet needed it; her plan was brutal in its simplicity of straight-forward attack.

U.C.S Indefatigable

The ship's rocking was low and subtle; courtesy of the very sturdy moorings of the deflector generators that absorbed reactive force. Sisko found that he somewhat missed the hard rocking of the Defiant in a hard-fought battle, but it was not something that would interfere with him for the moment.
What concerned him was that if this were a game of chicken, Janeway was clearly not bluffing. Her fleet was still rushing on at full impulse and still maneuvering as if to blast straight through him, at ranges where their weapons might actually be slightly more effective in accuracy given the "strip versus turret" characteristics. Sisko knew this plan well; it was a standard topic in any discussions by Starfleet on a hypothetical conflict with the Alliance.

Would Janeway blink? Would the pure volume of firepower that Sisko's fleet could inflict cause her to turn away and consider the run un-doable? Probably not, Sisko admitted to himself as he watched the distance inevitably tick down. "Send to Uzuki. Prepare to turn to port on my mark and cut through the head of the enemy fleet," Sisko ordered, hoping to break up Janeway's forward momentum by breaking up her formation, given his battle wall could certainly not outmaneuver or easily out-run the lighter, more maneuverable Federation fleet.

U.S.S. Chukap

The Excelsior-class cruiser was one of the lead ships in Janeway's fleet, and while her captain struggled to keep his ship alive in the battle, Dr. Sun Jian-Ye was in sickbay moving from cot to cot as medical teams from across the ships brought in wounded and dying. With surgical instruments in hand he looked over the triage unit, tending to a Tellarite man, a veteran, who had suffered severe radiation burns from one of the missile strikes on the Chukap. A shot of painkillers turned a porcine-like squealing into soft moaning and grunting, and after ten seconds of examination Dr. Sun put a red tag on the man and moved on, declaring him too far gone to save. The next stop, a Human or Betazoid by the look of him, had lost an arm when a damage control team snapped shut a corridor bulkhead as he tried to get through it. Despite his howling, it was clear he would live, and Sun put a green marker on him.
"Doctor!" The shout from one of his nurses forced Sun to turn his attention from the triage work to one of the crew he'd cleared, an Andorian woman who'd suffered severe head trauma when thrown to a bulkhead by a direct hit and then radiation burns when the shielding had failed in that area. "We're losing her!"
"Push AndEpi, Stat!" Sun went to work mentally calling up Andorian anatomy as he joined the team of one doctor and four nurses tending to the young ensign. A shrill tone from the biobed told them her cardiovascular system had ceased to function, and only after twenty tense seconds did he stablize her sufficiently, now thinking maybe he'd made a bad judgement in green-tagging her.

Suddenly there was a sound like a train whistle, which grew into a roar as parts of the bulkhead were blasted away. Sun was thrown to the ground immediately and felt himself being pulled toward the port side of sick bay. He grabbed a biobed and looked, in horror, as a gap had literally been torn through the ship by a blast of some kind so that space was visible about fifty, sixty meters away, one bulkhead in sickbay having been damaged and pulled out to space by the blast. The patients he'd just treated were pulled off their biobeds and drawn straight toward the vacuum, as were orderlies and other doctors that frantically attempted to grab something or to hold patients. He felt a strain on his lungs from the violent decompression and wondered where the fields were.
Suddenly it stopped. Several sections away, an intrepid damage control team rerouted power to the emergency containment fields with portable generators, and with this done they went to work putting physical patches up

Dr. Sun turned back to look at his surviving staff and patients. Even if not all had been sucked into space, patients that were blown into other sections would likely die now before help could get to them; even so, he authorized an enlisted man who'd brought an injured crewmate to sickbay to go find as many as he could.
Sun returned to the Andorian woman, who'd been saved by a big Human orderly holding her to the bed with his strength, and was giving new orders to save her life when another catastrophe happened, but this one was even worse and far more instant. A torpedo struck the hull near the damaged patch, but this time there was no need to worry about being sucked into space again, as the radiation surge, no longer blocked by bulkheads, filled sickbay and killed everyone present.

U.C.S. Collinsworth

Uzuki stared at the orders with some uncertainty. "Are you sure this is it?" he asked his comms officer, seated in the command bridge at the heart of the Sovereign-class ship.
"As sure as I can be, Sir," the woman replied.
Glancing at the orders again, Uzuki muttered, "Sisko, I sure hope you know what you're doing" before giving the order, "All ships, come about, port side, and move at battle speed."

U.C.S. Indefatigable

"Sir, starboard wing is turning to port and moving to cut in front of the enemy fleet!" an aide shouted.
"What?!" Sisko looked to his staff. "He's not supposed to move yet!"
"Sir.... I..." At this point one of the officers spoke up, rather ashen-faced. "When we transmitted, the Monmouth lost main power, and that was a ship in the narrow-beam comm-line we had to the Collinsworth. I... I think our message got cut off and we didn't...."
"Dammit!" Sisko pounded a fist on the table. "Order Hastings, hard to starboard! Prepare to maneuver, bearing zero four five mark two eight four."

U.C.S. Hadrian

The Hadrian was an Akira-class ship, under Capt. Lucien Packwood, that had gone over to the Colonials early in the war given the preponderence of Colonial citizens in its crew. Capt. Packwood was himself a son of Pacifica, though he'd ended up on the wrong side of the Federation to directly defend his home.
Assigned to Uzuki's wing, the Hadrian had been in the middle of the formation, and was now cutting just behind the front tenth or so of the Federation fleet. Phaser and torpedo fire was everywhere and the ship was getting constantly hit by glancing and full blows.

"What idiot ordered that maneuver?!" Packwood muttered as the ship shook again. He couldn't conceive of Sisko doing it, not like that; clearly someone had screwed up, and now he had to keep them all alive. "Maintain evasives, fire on targets of opportunity as maneuvers warrant."

Soon those maneuvers promised them just such a target, a Galaxy-class ship, Flight III clearly, that loomed large on their viewscreen and sensors. Packwood's tactical officer fired a full barrage of quantum torpedoes that battered at the ship's port and ventral shields. As they raced by at full impulse, they strafed the ship with phaser fire, just as another Akira behind them let loose another string of torpedoes that blasted through shields and sent explosions flowering over the other ship's hull.
Their next target was a Galaxy, and as they came up upon it a string of phaser fire lashed out at them, and another Akira that was protecting that ship came at them, phasers and torpedoes blazing. Packwood kept his fire on the Galaxy and endured the bruising, feeling his ship rock violently even as explosions flowered along the Galaxy's hull. There was a sudden violently lurching and a shout from operations. "We've lost the port nacelle! Plasma explosion has damaged the rear sections, evacuations are beginning!"
"Down to sixty percent!"
They'd been slowed, but werent' dead yet, and Packwood gritted his teeth and continued barking maneuver orders as he strived to keep his crew alive through this mess.

U.S.S. Inaieu

Janeway observed the maneuver and wondered what precisely Sisko was doing as his wing flew right in front of her. The front portions of her fleet were forced to maneuver to get around the opposing ships as they ended up at knife range, where every shot was guaranteed to hit someone. Inaieu's fury was still held back, as Janeway wanted to use her first available salvo against one of Sisko's large ships.
Sisko soon obliged her, his maneuver turning his ships a bit toward her's and moving to a lower relative angle. At Janeway's order Inaieu and her nearest ships dipped away from the former course, carrying a hundred or so ships behind her by weight of pure momentum. As they came within 100,000 kilometers, the distance seemed right, and Janeway gave the order to fire.
The result was a literal storm of quantum torpedoes joined by endless streams of phaser fire. At the center of that storm was Inaieu, which unleashed a fury that seemed awesome even by the new standards that the Multiverse had established for the Alpha Quadrant, with dozens of quantum torpedoes rushing out and slamming through the point-defense and shields of the Indefatigable.
The kick was provided by something completely unexpected, though, at least to the Colonials. Janeway's order for full firing had included a new weapon on the Inaieu, a powerful energy blast projected through the navigational deflector. Once an on-the-fly attempt to destroy a Borg Cube by the crew of the Enterprise-D, Starfleet had used the decade since to carefully perfect the method, and this blast alone would not burn out the dish.
Janeway watched the destructive blast slam into the Indefatigable as the quantum torpedoes began striking it, the point-defense of the superdreadnought having only partially attrited the torpedo strike. The shields of the superdreadnought collapsed and explosions of debris erupted from the hull from successful torpedo strikes. Two cruiser-level weapon turrets built into the side of the ship erupted, their crews killed but the protective doors preventing any risk of the blast getting into the Indefatigable's magazine as had happened so famously to her namesake lying on the bottom of the North Sea.

The hit was a good one, and Inaieu was already charging up for another when a few new contacts moved into Janeway's attention. Smaller Starfleet ships under Colonial control, they darted toward her vessel, pelting it with torpedoes and phaser fire. Janeway's eyes went to her display and the automatic ship names for the contacts that popped up.
Her mouth when dry. [i}Voyager[/i] was there, boldly in the lead of the formation of Intrepid and Defiant and Saber-class ships, striking at her massive ship like a bee defiantly flying to sting a monstrous kodiak bear. She knew from reports that the crew was still on it, that even Tuvok was on the crew once more. All of her old acquaintainces, friends, she'd made on that long voyage. Men and women she'd trusted with her life.
To Janeway's mind, it seem as if the order, "Lock on attackers and fire" had been spoken by another person.

U.C.S. Voyager

Chakotay had been focused on keeping his ship and the squadron attached to him alive when he noticed the tremendous outpouring of firepower from the Inaieu. It was far more powerful than he'd anticipated, that any of them had, and Chakotay took the initiative to change targets and focus on Janeway's command ship.
"Shields are down to sixty percent," was the calm emotionless report made by Tuvok from tactical. The Vulcan's aim was always good, always precise, the phaser strips and torpedoes of Voyager lashing out with pinpoint accuracy at her targets. "Slight damage to Deck 3."

"Mister Paris, keep us on target for the Inaieu, Mister Tuvok, lock weapons." Chakotay looked over to the science station. "Mister Kim, give us a quick check on that ship's records and feed the information to tactical, let's give Tuvok the best shot he can get."
A string of confirmations answered him. This was a good crew, a fine crew, and Chakotay enjoyed having it back together again.
The viewscreen showed the vicious battle raging around them as Paris expertly piloted them through the formation toward Inaieu, which soon loomed in Chakotay's view with all of the deadly grace and power that the Kirk-era behemoth held. He saw Tuvok's pinpoint strikes try to focus on shield generators and torpedo turrets, but nothing got through; the shields of the Inaieu were simply too powerful for that single salvo.
"Weapons lock from the [i}Inaieu[/i]!" Kim shouted. "She's targeting us and firing!"
Chakotay saw that storm of torpedoes come out, and saw Paris trying to maneuver around them, but knew it was too late.

U.C.S. Indefatigable

"They kept it classified for a reason," Sisko had mused when his flagship had been battered by Janeway's, as if she were challenging him to a personal fight. He ordered a twisting of the ship to present his undamaged arc to her - an act that turned out unnecessary as the ship's crew was already starting one - when he saw Voyager move into range. He watched Chakotay's ships pound on the behemoth and do no damage.
Then the Inaieu retorted.
Years ago, in Starfleet Academy, Sisko had once watched newly-declassified combat footage from the logs of Kirk's Enterprise showing the Inaieu in action during the Levaeri V Incident. The massive ship had been confronted by a Klingon-built D7 in Romulan service, the Battlequeen. The conflict lasted mere seconds, in which Inaieu reduced the smaller ship to a cloud of plasma and debris.

That was precisely the fate of the Voyager. A mass of quantum torpedoes smashed into her from all sides, overwhelming her shields in an instant and blasting her apart, detonating her own torpedo stores and fuel bunkerages to add to the devastation. One moment the storied Intrepid-class ship was there, the next moment, she was a cloud of gas. Over one hundred crew and officers gone forever, without even bodies or ashes for loved ones to bury.
"Send to ships, concentrate fire on Inaieu, I want our entire division focusing on her," Sisko barked. "Fire when ready!"

U.S.S. Inaieu

The image of Voyager exploding became etched in Janeway's mind immediately. There was a flutter in her heart, a twisting in her stomach, as she fulfilled her earlier promise of loyalty to Kirschbaum and the others in far more extreme fashion than she'd ever thought she would.
The battle blurred around the edges of her consciousness as her mind dealt with the stark consequences of what she'd done. At her order, close comrades had died. Friends, men and women who had saved her life directly and indirectly.
Gone. All gone.

And then it came. Indefatigable and the ships near her unleashed a furious cannonade that focused on Inaieu. Thick particle beams battered at the ship's shielding, the combined firepower of a superdreadnought, a dreadnought, and three battleships at a range that did not lend itself to missing. Blue beams almost seemed to coalesce against the Inaieu's shields for a moment before the onslaught simply battered them down.
And here is where the ship failed. Her hull was old, only barely reinforced due to the restrictions of upgrading a new design. The firepower directed against Inaieu literally began cutting through her, and only her old-style internal design, with balanced division to protect compartments from damage to neighboring ones, kept her together in a way that a Galaxy would not have.
The saucer section of the ship, being the prominent target from the angle of Sisko's ships, took the battering directly. It was literally cut to ribbons, and the blasts from the Colonials set off the torpedo magazines in that section, blowing massive gouges out of the hull. The pain Janeway felt was soon gone, vanished in a haze of white as she and the bridge crew of the ship were atomized by one of the large detonations. When the flashes of explosions were clear the result was the remnants of the saucer looking like an inverted funnel, bent violently outward by the force of the blasts, and all that remained reduced to a blackened, charred skeletal frame in which no life remained.

The drive section fared better; designed long ago to allow saucer seperation in an emergency, the bulkheads that seperated it from the saucer were just thick enough to absorb most of the explosion. Plasma from the saucer destruction had still inflicted significant hull damage, and the drives were barely operable. Within the bowels of the drive section the ship's Chief Engineer, Commander Paula Cameron, did her best to simply keep the ship running, and in defiance of any attempted orders to remain in the battle, she directed the brutally wounded ship to break formation and attempt to flee. Her intent was to get clear of the battle and go to warp, and as the battle raged around her she almost completely ignored that danger, concentrating on simply keeping the ship running.

As Commander Cameron tried to get her ship clear of the fracas, the Federation 4th Fleet finally seemed to contemplate the bind that Janeway's blunt and simple attack had gotten them in. They had inflicted severe damage on the wing that had accidentally turned too early, but Hastings' ships had in turn broken the fleet into three sections, further aggravated by Janeway's sudden maneuver splintering the fleet further. In disarray, with Admirals T'Rya and Fruike contending for seniority, the 4th Fleet seemed to disintegrate, and the Colonials pressed their advantage hard under Sisko's steady, if not graceful, guidance. As it was, the communications error that had prompted Uzuki to attack at the wrong moment had left Sisko unwilling to attempt further timed orders, and he simply issued directives and allowed his subordinates to carry the battle. At this stage, nothing more was needed.

Inaieu had seemingly gotten away, lost in the flotsam of savage battle, when quantum torpedoes from one of [i}Voyager[/i]'s squad-mate ships smashed a warp nacelle and forced the SCRAMming of the warp core. Now unable to make warp, Cameron did the only thing she could given the condition of her ship, and ordered that as soon as they cleared the shooting that the ship be abandoned.
By the time she was getting into an escape pod, the Federation 4th Fleet was in full, unconditional retreat, half of its strength shattered and the survivors demoralized and flying half-functioning ships. The Battle of Gamma Selkis had ended in defeat for the Federation.

Starfleet Command, Earth
United Federation of Planets

Milano could barely believe Admiral Keller as he recounted to his chief Janeway's decision to pre-empt Sisko's attack and the clear failure of that, with the battered remnants of 4th Fleet coming in still. He'd wanted her to remain put, not go haring off for a fight. "I have 3rd Fleet en route, Admiral," Milano said assuringly.
"I hope so, the only reason Sisko isn't here yet is because he's probably busy licking his wounds for a bit."
At that moment another comm was coming in, and Milano said, "Excuse me, Admiral, I have another call."

When Keller disappeared, he was replaced by the ashen, panic-stricken image of Admiral Chester on Starbase 19. "We can't stop them!" he shouted. "The Colonial fleet's everywhere! 10th Fleet is gone, I think Admiral Masters is dead..." A burst of static clouded the image. "....help! They're breaking through!"
"Who is?!" Milano shouted. "Our intel indicated that the Pacificans and their allies wouldn't be attacking for another month!"
"They're he...." Another burst of static. "We're.... power..... jamming..... rrender dema....." He suddenly disappeared.

A young officer at communications looked up. "Sorry, sir, we're being jammed."
Milano slammed a fist on the console and leaned his head against his arm for a moment. "Third Fleet? What is their location?"
"They reported from Starbase 25 an hour ago, sir, they're still on course for Starbase 39."
Milano shook his head at that. "No. Send them new orders, priority, to head for Starbase 12. With 10th Fleet gone we need them to block the Beta Quadrant colonies."
"But...." An aide raised her voice here. "Without 3rd Fleet.... sir, we'll lose so many key systems.... threatened systems include a full quarter of our current war material output and one key drydock facility! We can't...."
"We're going to lose those anyway!" Milano thundered. "The 3rd Fleet can't stop Sisko. And if I send them to try, they'll just get hammered while those Pacificans will have nothing between them and Earth but 1st Fleet. No, recall 3rd Fleet." He reached down and brought Keller back. "Bad news for you, Admiral. Evacuate Starbase 39 immediately. Strip it of all valuable equipment, I don't want the rebels getting anything useful. Do the same for every starbase in the region all the way to Sector 50."
"We can't send 3rd Fleet to you, Keller, and we have nobody else. I'm pulling us back to a defensive frontier at the 50 block. If you don't want to end up in some brig of the Colonies for God knows how long, I suggest you evacuate as well. Starfleet Command out."
Keller disappeared before he could protest. Sighing, Milano slumped into a chair and remained silent for several moments, pondering this bad turn of events. But even as he looked at that holomap, he could still see opportunity. There were still good, standing fleet elements of Starfleet to be used, and now their supply difficulties would be non-existant while his orders would strip many of those lost systems of any logistics use for the Colonies. Let them come forward.... if they advanced too far, there'd be overstretch, and with that came opportunity.
Now he just needed the admirals to exploit that opportunity.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-11-30 05:22pm

Attack! Attack! General Lee gives command
They're overwhelmed, the situation demands
The Federals retreat and rush out of town
But they have fortified and saved the high ground

The day ends, victory for the South!
Lee's as convinced as God's Will is profound!
They are invincible and their cause is Just!
But Longstreet is cautious
and lacking in trust

Across the way, the Union digs in
The Round Tops, Cemetary Ridge
And out to Culp's Hill
Their lines are strong, no denying they'll stay!
When the Confederates strike
there'll be the DEVIL TO PAY!

"The Devil to Pay; Gettysburg Day 1" by Iced Earth


Paris, Earth
United Federation of Planets
7 April 2166 AST
30 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

Ovnork was silent as Milano finishing briefing him and Wilmington on the situation. Starbase 39 was under the final stages of abandonment and was already coming under attack by Sisko's fleet. Across the entire Sector 80 block the Federation position was crumbling, and Colonial ship movements on both Alpha and Beta sides had forced a redeployment of assets out of what had become known as the "Sector 95 Salient", a broad mushroom-shaped area of space that the Federation was now having to abandon as Colonial forces threatened to cut across the "stem".

Given losses of ships and material, Milano was falling back further, so far that if he stablized where he wanted, only one third of Federation space would be secure. It could very well be a fatal maneuver, though there seemed to be little choice.
"All starbases outside the zone I've established are being stripped of useful material," Milano said. "I'm having Starfleet and the Federation Militia gather up anyone of skill in ship construction, weapons development, anything that we don't want falling into rebel hands. Things that are too valuable to leave behind but can't be taken will be destroyed or otherwise made unusable."
"That's a lot of devastation you're going to cause," Ovnork remarked.
"We have no choice, Mister President," Milano remarked. He haded Ovnork a PADD. "I've drawn up the Emergency Order for you to authorize."
Ovnork picked it up and looked at it, but didn't fully read it. In the end, it truly mattered little to him. He signed it mostly to get it out of his face.
"I'll keep you gentlemen appraised," Milano promised. "May I go?"
"Of course, Admiral," Ovnork remarked, and Milano left. He looked to Wilmington, who remained silent so far. "I see you want me to make General Virshk the new Commissioner of Starfleet Operations."
"He was a Starfleet officer, and he's willing to resign his post in the Andorian Army if it means serving the Federation as a whole," Wilmington said. "Having Virshk in the senior civilian post of the Security Council would be reassuring to the voters..."
"You mean reassuring to the AFU rank and file that they're not being sold out," Ovnork replied wistfully. "I'll... present his name to the Council in a few days."

"Have you signed off on the Taloran admiral? Countess Slyperia? Her expertise could..."
"The current crop of admirals aren't good enough? What happened to all of those skilled admirals that won the Dominion War? Oh, that's right... They sided with the Colonials." Ovnork's sarcasm was biting as he saw Wilmington's face turn a little red. "Yes, I signed the official order granting her a Starfleet commission, don't worry."
"Thank you, Mister President, now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going...."

As soon as Wilmington was gone, Ovnork sighed and returned to his work, pondering just what he could do.

Starbase 67, Reynolds System
Colonial Territory (New Gdansk-R'Toak Confederacy)
8 April 2166 AST
31 October 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The image of Sisko was clear and solid on the viewscreen, with Spock, Scotty, and Ross standing among the Colonial Congress members that were attending. "The Federation has withdrawl from Sector 95 and they appear to be falling back upon the Core," Ross said to all present. "You did good, Ben."
"It's not over yet." Sisko had his hands together. "Starfleet still has the necessary force to strike back if giveni the chance. And reports show that they're stripping the sectors they pull out of, removing or destroying anything of value to us. I'm not sure we should do more than place a light presence in those areas. Anything more and we risk overextending our fleet."
"There are dozens of charter colony worlds in those regions where the Federation has imposed forced labor, property confiscation, where there are populations that are living in camps now that the Federation has seized their homes. Ready recruits for the Colonial cause." The voice of dissension was coming from Don Valman, the Representative of the Plegman Worlds who had been appointed to head the Colonial Congress' war committee. "Admiral Sisko, I understand your concerns on military grounds, but it could do us harm if we don't help these people."
"Liberating worlds will be useless if we open them up to being retaken by the Federation," Sisko countered. "I'd suggest a slower advance while we continue the fleet buildup."
"A slower advance gives the Federation more time to remove assets from those systems," Ross remarked. "As it is, if we move fast we can get the shipyards at Doxalis, and before the Federation could sabotage them."

For most of the meeting, Spock had remained quiet. His powers as President were not as wide as some might believe; the Allied Colonies didn't want to commit to a strong central government, politically, so soon after throwing off one. He believed this an error, but there was nothing he could do for the moment about it or about the Congress' overwhelming desire to strike as fast and as hard as possible to "shock" the Federation into submission. It was a widely-held belief that with the war having such a course the anti-war movement in the Core, and the general behavior of the homeworlders, would place enormous political pressure on the Federation to throw the towel in.
Such hopes were illogical, but Spock needed more time to persuade more Colony Representatives of this. Therefore, at the moment, he needed a compromise. "Admiral Ross, Admiral Sisko, perhaps we could advance part of the way, and then we will decide later on whether to maintain the pace or perhaps stop and consolidate? Light elements of the Colonial Starfleet supported by small troop units can easily claim charter colonies that Starfleet is not actively protecting, and only homeworlds or Idealogue-majority worlds would require any heavy troop presence."

"That is doable, Mister President," Ross said, looking to Valman. "Representative Valman?"
The diehard secessionist, a hotheaded man of middle age who had already seen four out of five of his children join the war effort on the Colonial side with one injured on his ship during the earlier Rub'torak fight, nodded firmly. "Yes, Admiral Ross. I will support such a plan."
"Ben, advance ten sectors in as fast as you can, then we'll re-evaluate at that time," Ross replied.
"Very well. Sisko out."

Souchon Falls, Pawtley
United Federation of Planets

The people of the small town of Souchon Falls were in quieted celebration as rumors spread of the approaching Colonial fleet and the pullout of Starfleet security and their AFU paramilitary support. Nobody was willing to actually celebrate openly yet and end up being dragged offworld to a labor camp or what have you, and it was known that the Cornell Public Service Facility - the euphemism for the forced labor camps being set up on charter colonies by the Federation - was being evacuated and the laborers shipped offworld to other facilities. Some, in fact, did not celebrate, but nervously waited to hear if their loved ones had been released from the facility or were being taken off-world.

Clark Sharp was nervous for a loved one, the loved one of his life, but for an entirely different purpose. He was seated at the bed of his beloved Emma, his wife for forty-one years, who was in the final stages of Iverson's Disease. This was literally her deathbed, as the attending physician, Doctor Caldwell, didn't expect her to live longer than the next day. The Sharp family was entirely present; Clark's brother, Emma's two siblings and their spouses, the three children of the Sharp family, the oldest with her husband and their ten year old grandson present, weeping in the corner as he saw his Nana Emma stare blindly upward, the motor functions of her body long shot. A catheter and a diaper allowed her to relieve herself and she was dressed in what some would call "Sunday best". She couldn't move any of her limbs, and barely her neck, and couldn't even feel as her husband tenderly held her hand, tears around his eyes as he waited for the end.
There was a sharp rapping at the door. Clark's brother, Joshua, went to it. Everyone's attention went to the raised voices.
When Joshua returned, he was joined by a man in a Starfleet Security uniform and two men in Federation Militia uniforms, with the blue insignia of the AFU prominent on their chests. The Starfleet officer, a Lieutenant by his rank pips, asked, "Sir, are you Clark Sharp?"
Clark nodded gingerly. "I am," he said gruffly. "What's this about?"
"To confirm, Mister Sharp, did you work for thirty years at the Antares shipyard as a team manager and then dockmaster?" the Lieutenant asked matter-of-factly.
"I did," Clark replied. "I don't see the point in this, my wife is dying."

"Sir, by order of the office of the President of the Federation Council, you are to report immediately to assignment to a Starfleet construction yard. I am empowered, due to the imminent arrival of rebel forces, to take you immediately and without delay."
"You're not taking me from my wife," Clark said defiantly. "I know my rights."
"Under the Emergency War Powers of the President, the Federation Charter is considered suspended on suspect worlds like Pawtley," the Lieutenant answered. "If you don't come I am authorized to remove you by force."

"My sister is dying, for God's sake!" Clark's sister-in-law, Bethany, cried out. "Clark's in his sixties, he's...."
"Mister Sharp is physically incapable of manual labor," Doctor Caldwell told them. "I don't know why you want him, but he can't work in spaceyards, space suit oxygen would be too damaging to his lungs and he's showing the onset of a nerve disorder that prevents hard labor."
"He's still subject to the order and he's still coming," the Lieutenant replied matter-of-factly.
"Go to Hell," Clark muttered. "I'm not leaving my wife!"

The two men with the Lieutenant stepped forward and went to grab Clark. His brother and his two sons got between them and began wrestling with the two men. Caldwell and the others present began shouting for the fighting to stop. Clark was forced to catch his fifteen year old son William as the larger AFU man tossed him to the floor.
Then that same man pulled a phaser pistol from his pocket and fired, striking William square in the chest. He turned and fired it again, point-blank, striking down Clark's brother and other son Zachary in quick succession.
"She's seizing!" Caldwell shouted, and tried to move toward the bed, where Emma was convulsing violently. Unfortunately, as the AFU men stood between him and the bed, the man with the drawn phaser seemed to mistake the movement as an attack, and fired a phaser blast point-blank into the doctor's chest. He collapsed in front of them, the point-blank stun blast a mortal wound almost as deadly as the three already dealt.
"Cease fire! Cease fire!" The frantic shouts of the Starfleet Lieutenant were now finally getting over the cacophony of screaming, crying, and shouting while Emma's grandson and family tried to hold her still. "What did you think you were..."
Before he completed the demand to the AFU men, one of them put a strong hand on Clark's shoulder, grasping so hard it made him cry out, while the other pulled away his unconscious son. "Emergency beamout!" one cried into a comm, and the poor young Lieutenant was unable to get control of the situation before being whisked away from the scene.

Emma's sister went to the comm-unit to call for emergency medical aid. But it would come too late. Emma Sharp died as had been expected, but she did not go alone. Doctor Caldwell had died almost immediately from the damage to his heart and lungs from the point-blank phaser blast. By the end of the day, Joshua Sharp was also dead from the similar wounding he'd taken, and the two sons of the Sharp family were fighting for their lives.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

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Post by Steve » 2007-12-01 12:07am

New York City, Earth
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate SE-1
9 April 2166 AST
1 November 2380 ST-3 Calendar

The bar in Queens was one of the usual neighborhood kind, akin to the stereotypical bar in the "Cheers" sitcom. Paul Greeley was the owner and operator, a 120 year old man who was well into middle-age and on the stout side. The usuals were present. A taxi driver named Sam, a couple of cops from the nearby precinct, other locals.... and of course a pretty nurse from a nearby dentist's office who always got phone numbers and long looks from married and unmarried men alike.
Over the centuries Queens, and New York City, had seen the usual rotation of population. In the early 21st Century it was Hispanics, West Asians, some Africans and East Asians.... then more Hispanics, Chinese, Indonesians, Dutch, Russians again... and now more recently a "recurrence" of Irish in Queens especially, mostly people moving back from the grown-up colonies near Earth looking for better opportunities on the human homeworld. In recent years, with the opening of the Multiverse, Russians and anti-Royalist New Englanders from FHI-8 had starting coming in, and SE-1 Earth tended to be the favored spot for a lot of immigrants due to the economy of the area and the plentiful, cheap travel thanks to the closer IU gate - Lunar orbit instead of Io or Mars or Europa like other Earths. And when one moves into the mainland United States.... one often thinks of New York. New York City was one of the most visible cities in the United States, culturally and economically, after all.
The communities of Queens were especially diverse, a small pocket of Andorians here, some Narn there, and a thriving Bajoran community that dated back to the first Bajoran refugees moving into Alliance territory. Sometimes a couple Bajorans would swing in and most of the locals took well to them; they looked Human enough, after all, and they weren't quite so alien in manners either.

There was a sound at the door and the denizens looked up to see Paul Greeley's son Max enter. The short, stocky thirty-two year old was hoisting a duffel-bag over his shoulder, but instead of wearing his old Army uniform he had on one that was a bit more brown and which had an outline of a man's profile as the main insignia, as well as a flag of red, white, blue, and orange horizontal stripes - the insignia of the International Volunteers Corps that had been established by Colonial sympathizers to organize volunteers going to fight for the Colonies trying to break from the Federation.
The bar patrons applauded at the uniform, and Paul stepped around the bar to embrace his son. "Going so soon, Max?" he asked. "Thought you had enough of the war?"

"I did, Pa, but hey, it's for a good enough cause." Max went to the bar. "Mind if I get a drink?" He offered a greenback on the table; the Greeleys accepted Alliance paper money as much as anyone, but most people liked to deal in good old fashioned American green.
"Hey, this kid ain't payin' for his drink," one of the cops blurted out, still wearing his NYPD blue. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Lincoln of his own. "I'm payin'."
"Sure about that, George? You lost a lotta money on last night's game."
"Hey, he's goin' to beat on the Feddies, they need it," the man replied. He looked to Max. "You were in the 18th New York, right? Durin' the war? Put in the 287th Division, CIII Corps?"
"Yeah, I was, then I nearly got crippled by a Jemmie midway through '61. After I got better I was transferred to the 20th Infantry, 74th Division. Cardie occupation duty, not nearly as excitin'. But I met some nice Colonial folk, so now I've figured they deserved me helpin' 'em out."
George took a clear interest in that. "You were in that company from 64th Battalion that the Jemmies pounded on Bloody Nose Ridge? On Alpha Culowhateva?"

"Well, holy shit man." George nudged his partner, an older man with graying hair. "Hey, Lou, this kid was in some of the hardest fightin' in the Gamma Quad. His company? They wiped out...'" He looked back to Max. "What was it, kid, a whole division almost of Jemmies? I mean, you were outnumbered what, seventy to one?" When Max nodded he added, "I was in the 18th too. 34th Battalion, we had it easy on Alpha Cu. Bitch of a time on Kul, though."
"So I heard, Kul was tough. Wish I'd have made it," Max answered.
"Where've you been all this time, kid?" George asked. "Your dad never said his son was a vet."
"Dad don't like relivin' some things," Max admitted. "I've been livin' out on the Island, doin' landscapin'. Had a girl for awhile, but she headed off. And then this war began and I headed Upstate to the trainin' camp for the Volunteers. They're callin' the New York volunteers the Theodore Roosevelt Battalion. They're gonna make me a Sergeant, maybe even give me bars if I do good enough."

"That's great kid. Those rat bastard Feddies need a good whoppin'. Hope you get a piece of 'em before they cave in like pussies now that they've gotten beaten."
"Hey, Max." Paul extended his arm and put his hand on his son's shoulder. "I'm proud of ya, but.... come back alive, okay? Your mom... she couldn't take it if you died."
"Don't worry, Pa, I'll be fine. Reggie an' Tom, they're signin' up too. They'll look out for me." Finishing his drink, Max found another bar patron offering him another, and he accepted it without a word, spending the rest of the night talking with his dad's patrons and watching the news with them.

Starfleet Command, Earth
United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
10 April 2166 AST
2 November 2380 ST-3 Calendar

In the days since Gamma Selkis, Ovnork had remained mostly to himself, pining in private even as he continued to rubber stamp anything Wilmington and Milano handed to him. At times he didn't want to lose the war, at others he did or simply didn't care either way, but to hear about all of the people dying in battle was a tremendous drain on him emotionally. When he was asked to come to Starfleet Command, he - as always - meekly acquiesced.
At Starfleet Command he was joined by Wilmington - as usual - and the two were escorted to Hector Milano's office. The Starfleet C-in-C looked tired, as he had taken a personal hand in the past days prodding commanders of drydocks to get ships ready and commanders of abandoned systems to destroy anything of value they couldn't take with them. He stood for the arrival of Ovnork and Wilmington and said, "Mister President, thank you for coming. I have someone for you to meet."
He indicated to a chair nearby, in which the Taloran Slyperia was seated.

"Your Excellency, Admiral," Slyperia rose, though she didn't bow. She was dressed in a rather archaic uniform style, a red wraparound tunic of centuries old design with the Starfleet badge set at off-angle, a gold high collar, pinstripes, and central button line, reminiscent of the Kirk era dress uniform, and a green sash, with dark navy blue pants. The style had been designed from old Starfleet regulation manuals by her dhrima rather seamlessly, taking advantage of explicit starfleet regulations which allowed variation in uniforms based on 'alien racial cultural dictates'. She wore very high black boots, her legs having been comfortably crossed until the moment she stood to tower over them all, however respectfully. With her knee-length brilliant mauve hair starting to show hints of turning bright silver and deep, attentive amber eyes balanced against translucent, nauseatingly gray-green skin, and high, prehensile ears flicking downward in respect, she was a very good representative of the Taloran species. But more importantly she was a combat-experienced Vice Admiral who had trained under, and served as the Chief of Staff for, the most brilliant naval commander her species had likely ever produced.

"This is Admiral Slyperia Mhanahkiu, Mister President," Milano replied. "As I may have told you before, she was recruited by our embassy on Talora Prime for service in Starfleet. I'm granting her command of the 1st Fleet."
"Ah." Ovnork extended a hand out of formality. "Admiral, hello."

Slyperia took the President's hand, surprised with the informality, but only her ears would reveal that. "I'm pleased to serve your nation in its hour of need, Your Excellency. I fear that Admiral Milano was just explaining the urgency of the situation to me, so I am not fully up to date on operational matters."

"I see. If I may, this is Jacob Wilmington, Clerk of the Party Central Committee," Ovnork said, introducing the other man. "Mister Wilmington and Admiral Milano handle the day-to-day affairs of the government in the domestic and military areas, so you'll mostly be working with them."
"Admiral, a pleasure," Wilmington said with some not-completely-genuine hospitality. Though Milano had long convinced him on this necessity, Wilmington was aware of the damage it could do to the prestige of the AFU if their victory was clearly reliant upon foreign aid and so he disliked having to give such a prestigious posting to an outsider.

"The pleasure is mine, Mister Wilmington," Slyperia answered with formal politeness. She did not, of course, expect the Federation's government to much like her; but she was here to fight their war, and that was enough. As for her own reaction, that was impossible to tell. Absent the movement of her ears, it was very easy for her as a Taloran to keep her face stoic enough to tempt a Vulcan to envy.

"In addition to commanding 1st Fleet, Admiral Mhanahkiu has agreed to overseeing the advisor-hiring process in regards to other Taloran officers seeking employment by the Federation," Milano informed them. "I hope to put her expertise in both that and the field to use."
"I see. Admiral, if I may," Ovnork looked at her. "Why did you accept our offer? Given your background I don't think money was the issue, and you do seem to have had your share of experience."

"Internal politics in the Empire have sidelined me from any sort of posting for a considerable length of time, and I'm a naval officer to the bone. There's really... Nothing else for me to do, Your Excellency. So I decided to head somewhere that my talents would be better employed," she concluded rather nonchalantly: "It is a bit rare for someone of rank, but I had no expectation of ever being returned to an active duty posting. Under those circumstances, I simply couldn't refuse."

"I see, I am sorry to hear that and grateful you chose us to serve with," Ovnork replied diplomatically.
"Mister President..." Milano cut in here and prompted the turning of Ovnork's attention. The C-in-C sat at his desk, hands on a PADD that he had been looking over. "Admiral Mhanahkiu is key to our turning this war around. I also hope that through her advice we can keep the Alliance out of this. They're neutral now...."

"Let us hope they remain that way. Their covert hostility we can handle..." Slyperia glanced around at the two other Admirals. "Though not holding classified material, I am, from time to time, privy to what friends in the Starfleet tell me about the current wargames and so on. I warn you that short of a major war in CON-5 to distract them, where the regional powers have the strongest fleets of most of the secondary powers in the multiverse, our Starfleet holds little prospect of more than futilely dying should the Alliance intervene. A consideration in the management of the suppression of the rebels must be to avoid attracting the ire of the uncertain political processes in the Alliance, which are prone to sudden and irrational bursts of violence. We should, I respectfully submit, always keep in mind that we must win the propaganda war in the Alliance to suppress the rebellion as much as we must materially defeat it on the field."

"That's easier said than done, Admiral," Wilmington said. "The Alliance has had unremitting hostility toward the Federation from almost its first entry into this universe. It's been our belief that only President Dale's desire to ensure the signing of the new treaty with your people has kept the Alliance from being more supportive of the rebels. Now that he has his treaty, I admit that we're quite worried. Do you have any connections in the Taloran government that could help us restrain the Alliance?"

"Half the Starfleet thinks I saved the Empire from total destruction at the very incident which saw me sacked from the service," Slyperia answered. "So I can influence internal Starfleet politics, to some extent. The first thing you must do, however, is close the rebel ports. You need to draft, and get His Excellency the President to sign, an order instructing that every single commercial shipping port in the rebel territories be immediately shut down 'due to safety concerns' for all cargo. This is a powerful legal argument which, though it will have the downside of being not enforceable, will attract the attention not merely of my government but of a government you seem less inclined to think a friend against the Alliance, and yet I will freely advise to you is more likely to be involved, because unlike us, they have their own interuniversal technology, even though they deny it. I am, of course, referring to the Habsburg Empire."

"We have had some connections with them broaden during the war," Wilmington admitted, looking at Ovnork, who had attained some personal, amicable business relations with the Japanese businessman who served as consul for the Habsburg Empire.

"Then that will suffice for the moment, I suppose," Slyperia answered. "Unfortunately for you in regard to staffing, my situation is a rather rare one among high Taloran officers, but among junior officers, the desire for personal achievement in military service is quite considerable, and my government sees nothing wrong with them going off for a while to achieve it elsewhere when we are at peace as a nation, as we have thankfully been for quite some time. This means that for all branches of your military service I can certainly recruit tens of thousands of trained officers who can, in turn, train your military units and lead them into battle. I would estimate some twenty or thirty thousand in all might ultimately serve in your ranks, and the first could arrive in numbers in as little as seven weeks."

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Admiral," Ovnork said, cutting in, "but my time is short and I'm due for a Council meeting."
"Mister President, before you go, a final matter..." Wilmington nodded to Milano, who handed him a PADD. "Admiral Milano and I have discussed the leadership of Starfleet in the field, and with the apporoval of the Central Committee we've found a good candidate. We need you to sign for him."
Ovnork accepted the PADD as Milano called for his aide to bring in the person in question. Ovnork's eyes moved along the digital readout and prompted an annoyed, almost disgusted grunt. "You want him?"
"Yes, sir."
At that moment, the door swished open and a male human entered, wearing an immaculately pressed Starfleet uniform with Admiral rank pips on the collar and wristcuffs with gray hair and beard well-cut and well-kept. Ovnork could not restrain his distaste at the man, and his name came out rather roughly.
"Admiral Leyton?"
"Mister President." Admiral James Leyton - the man who had once come so close to overthrowing the Federation government on Earth and imposing a Starfleet-led dictatorship - stepped forward, extending a hand. "I look forward to serving the Federation again."

End Segment 1

To be Continued in Segment 2 of the Federation Civil War, "Hold At All Costs"....
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia

American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.

Admin of SFD, Moderator of SDN, Former Spacebattles Super-Mod, Veteran Chatnik

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