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 Post subject: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-21 08:19pm
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Well, here we are. Five years ago (well, four years 11 months to be precise) I posted this little nugget of a story called "Anatomy of a War" to an SDN forum that mostly cared about Stravo's "Starcrossed". The result was a 20 page thread of story but lots and lots of replies as SDN readers were introduced to a new kind of crossover setting. The TGG Multiverse isn't just a place where Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker meet, defeat bad guys, and throw back some cold ones. It's a place where average men and women live and work (and, sadly, fight and die), where wars are fought with things we've already seen (phasers) and weapons we were newly-introduced to (MP-10 particle rifles and AK-90 Kalashnikov assault rifles), and where myth and fantasy is forced to endure a realistic extrapolation. It's a meeting of the original and the established, the new and the old.

By the following January, when the epilogues of "Anatomy of a War" were posted, other TGG works were already underway. Already we had brought readers to the gilded paradise of Gilead in the opening chapters of "55 Days in Kalunda" and were preparing to show them the terrible things one must do when in the Big Chair in the chapters of "The Decision". Since this time we've had the epics ("55 Days", "When Two Worlds Collide"), the adventures ("One Small Step...", "The Cardinal Files: An Inside Job"), and the character pieces ("The Wrath of Paradise", "The Decision"). Writers joined the effort and the Multiverse became more diverse than ever. Stories soon indicated there was more to this setting than meets the eye, and that hidden behind the shadow of the past lay an untold history not yet explored, full of secrets and horrors, wonders and terrors.

Now that we're at the five year mark, I figured we could take a step back for the benefit of new readers and, perhaps, to give the old ones a chance to see an old story get some new glossing. As the saying goes, "Art is never finished, it is only abandoned", and stories are much the same. There is always something else going on, always stories that are left untold, elements unremarked upon. Loose threads that need tying up.

And thus here we are, and here it is: the 5th Anniversary Edition of TGG: Anatomy of a War.




The TGG Multiverse: 5 Years Of Quality Story-Telling And Pretty Explosions

"Anatomy of a War"

Table of Contents

Opening


The questions come with any contact. 'Where did you get this technology?' 'Why are the histories divergent?' And eventually, 'Can we join in too?' Such it's been since the nations of Universe SE-1 and Universe PA-6 first made contact with each other over a century ago. In the hundred years since dozens of universes have been catalogued, hundreds of worlds colonized, trillions of people in hundreds of nations opened to frontiers never before imagined. They are all of all shapes and sizes: great star empires that control literally thousands of planets, moons, planetoids, and asteroids and minor nations that may own a continent on some colony world in the Earth Core or Mid-Range Sectors. Some nations at contact were crawling around near-Earth space with 53c-capable Heim Drives, some jumping from star system to star system with Kearny-Fuchida systems, others racing across the void at up to five, ten, even fifteen light years per hour (that's over 100,000 times the speed of light, by the way) in Cochrane (or Kollek, or Baeur-Wagner) Space Warp Drives. And of course there are the ever-present hyperspace drives that various universes inevitably found. Most people favor the Cochrane/Kollek/Bauer-Wagner/Whomever Space Warp Drives these days. They tend to give the most bang for the buck, even though they can be the fussiest (and of course, within 30 light years nobody can challenge the Kearny-Fuchidas anyway). But that's not why you're here.

As for the questions? Well, that's the point of the book isn't it? We'll get into details later, but as this is an opening chapter let's summarize.

The Multiversal Era began in what we today would roughly call 2028 Alliance Standard Time. That was not the year that the first interuniversal contact was made, but rather that in the universes of SE-1 and PA-6 sets of alien ruins were found that contained databanks that had survived for thousands of years. Nobody knew what the name of the aliens who left either set was, or what they had been; such is presumed lost from elements of the old systems that were unrecoverable due to the time passed. What they did find led researchers from both universes on the path to discovering the mysteries of the known but then uncared-for element Straczynskium and the effects it could have if forced to bleed particles through exposure to electrical current. Five years would pass before the first IU radios were in use by both sides. Contact would be grudging, even after the researchers learned how to send video along the universe-spanning carrier waves. But by 2041 AST, it would be completed. The first IU Jump Gates were built and the nations of SE-1 and PA-6 would make contact. The contact had repercussions in both universes, but especially in SE-1 where states suspicious of the recently-formed alliance of Australia-led Oceania, the United States, and the United Kingdom had reason to further fear their close relations with the political body of the UNSE in PA-6; the result was a short yet bloody conflict between the Russian Federation and the Anglo-American Treaty Alliance which the United Nation-States of Earth from PA-6 would intervene in to go down in history as the Third Anglo-Russian Space War. Out of that stalemated conflict would come the historic New Brasilia Treaty, signed on the premier colony capital of the Brazilian Republic of SE-1 and heralding the foundation of the Inter-Universal Commerce and Exploration Commission. Under the multinational IUCEC, given control of all IU-related technology dissemination by the signatories, the race for the Multiverse was on.

The histories were divergent. Both had suffered tumultuous, bloody 21st Centuries, but had emerged differently from them. Even moreso was the difference in actual time; what is now 2028 AST was 2450 for the people of SE-1 and 2508 for those in PA-6. One universe had seen World War III wreck the globe in the 21st Century and lead to major changes upon the map (the union of Scandinavia, the annexation of Cuba and Mexico to the United States and statehood for the nations of Hispaniola, the restoration of the Donbass and Crimea to Russia, Taiwan's final reunion with mainland China) and the names Armand Giuseppe and Reinhardt von Krager would be etched into the history books of SE-1 in the same tenor as the names Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler were. The other had not seen WWIII per se but a series of conflicts, political shifts and revolutions peaceful and violent, and demographic collapse that left a battered United States as the only major global state still standing as the 22nd Century began, prompting the visionaries of that time to unify a war-weary, resource-deprived globe under a reformed United Nations based on American constitutional principles. These striking differences would be further complicated by other universes. AR-12, where democratic states of Humanity led by the powerful French and the United States faced both those Human nations that had turned to authoritarianism and the feared alien empire of the Coserians. FHI-8, where North America had become sharply divided in the 21st Century, Europe devastated and then plunged into a fascism it has yet to shake off, Britain under an imperial monarchy, and the horrors of the 21st and 22nd Centuries leading to the near extermination of the Semitic Races from the Middle East. The examples are many; to list them all has in fact caused entire volumes of works to come from the Multiverse's brightest historians. It is, honestly, beyond the purview of this work.

"Can we join too?" Through the century since the signing of the New Brasilia Treaty this question has been asked again and again, as successive space-faring civilizations have been encountered and have sought to experience the wonderous bounty of the Multiverse. Of resource-rich planets found in dozens of copies across the known cosmos. The IUCEC has admitted many new members, such to the point that its structure now begins to resemble the United Nations of the 20th Century, each member nation guarding its seat with such jealousy that even those nations that founded the Alliance of Democratic Nations this past decade have stubbornly retained their seats. The IUCEC has even seen fit to grant the Alliance Government it's own seat upon the IUCEC simply so it can be represented as an entity, its own constituent nations still enforcing their interests as they see fit. The IUCEC considers its mandate to be the peaceful expansion of the Multiversal Community. The Jump Gates it operates are protected by treaty (and sometimes by the force of its signatories, as MWB-32's Clans of Kerensky discovered recently). There is no telling how the IUCEC may yet evolve in the future, with such diverse new political entities as the Federated Commonwealth of MWB-32, the races of the InterStellar Alliance of EM-5, and the large United Federation of Planets of ST-3 all seeking membership on various conditions.

With the questions answered with such brevity, it should be noted that the Multiverse refuses to be so easily summarized. The scope and diversity of it boggles the mind. Universes like MWB-32, SE-1, and PA-6, with no known existing alien races, alongside the universes of EM-5 and ST-3 and AR-12 where aliens are more common; over a hundred ply the spaceways of ST-3. Lands of opportunity and lands of empty promise beckon to many many trillions of souls, all kinds of variants of what we, until lately, knew as Humankind, but might more accurately call Sentientkind in this magnificent era. We have a Multiverse with multiple copies of each nation, made different from individual history but still similar in background. A Multiverse where the surviving German and Austrian and Russian Empires that, for most, fell in what is called World War I still exist today as thriving space-faring empires of Universe AGC-1, while Texas stands as a space-faring Great Power of FHI-8 and an individual state of the United States of SE-1 or AR-12. A Multiverse of spiritual Dorei and rational Vulcans, nationalist Davions and internationalist Starfleeters, proud Klingon warriors and contemplative Minbari scholars.

This is the Multiverse. And now we're going to tell its story.

-Preface of "The Multiverse: A Short-Yet-Still-So-Very-Long History" by Dr. John Lawson, Dean of Multiversal History, University of New Chatham, published 2153 AST/2575 SE-1 Calender


Last edited by Steve on 2010-02-21 08:36pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-21 08:19pm
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Prologue


From the moment the Alliance of Democratic Nations purchased the New Liberty Sector from the Federation, desiring of another trading partner and a shorter border with the aggressive Cardassians, the two states were on a collision course. Alliance intervention in the Keloan Civil War in February and March of 2153 AST and their resulting restoration of the J'Keloiioa Dynasty to the Keloan race's throne convinced the Cardassians that they had to keep Bajor, which they had strip-mined into uselessness, in order to maintain a flanking position against the Federation in a future war. In turn they sought to crack down on the Bajoran Resistance, using patsies in the Federation's fanatical anti-war movement to ensure the Federation government lacked the political capital to respond.

This brutal crackdown, and other measures the Federation took under the pressure of their anti-war movement at Cardassian insistence, disgusted an Alliance populace that was growing to sympathize with the wave of desperate Bajoran refugees flooding into their ST-3 Colonial Zone. Soon the ADN, to prevent the Cardassians from seizing Bajorans and other innocents off its ships in Federation space, began sending its own ships on escort duties into Federation territory, to be joined eventually by the British Empire of FHI-8, the Federated Commonwealth of MWB-32, and the EM-5 InterStellar Alliance's
White Star Fleet.

Clash was inevitable and an incident in August 2153 AST nearly led to war, then to negotiations that might have defused the situation and paved the way for a peaceful end. These talks were undermined by a sincere but foolish Federation Ambassador Kranitz, who leaked a bellicose Cardassian negotiating position summary, meant by the Cardassian authors to placate internal foes, in the misguided belief that the likelihood of war being the result of a failure to negotiate would provoke an ADN public outcry for negotiations, even concessions, with the Cardassian Union. The Cardassian behavior, and the leaked note, left an Alliance Government facing an election year no choice but to be firm with a violent, brutal Cardassian regime that was widely loathed and hated amongst the Alliance nations' citizenry. The result was a victory for President Nicolas Mamatmas' Democratic Party against the Federalist Party, securing a plurality of the Alliance Council and the election of Democratic candidate Rachel MacKenzie (a former Canadian SE-1 Senator and Foreign Minister to Mamatmas' predecessor Jennifer Verdes) to the Chancellorship of the Alliance Council. With the elections over, President Mamatmas was free to pursue diplomatic avenues over Bajor.

Unfortunately, due to mistakes and miscalculations, the Cardassians would in their fashion of the time have a different idea of how to deal with the Alliance and the "Bajoran Problem".
-Excerpt from "The First Modern Crusade: The War to Liberate Bajor" by Dr. Kesha Cornheiser, Professor of Modern History at the University of Darane-Umiral



Mwinyiburg, Henderson, ADN Colonial Zone
Universe ST-3
20 November 2153 AST
11:45 GST
Approx. UFP Stardate: 44890



In the backyard of a small suburban home, Hawa Small was kneeling by her five year-old son Farid to clean the boy up after he'd gotten muddy from going into the dirt after playing in their small swimming pool. As she wiped the towel over the boy's face, clearing the lighter brown mixture from her son's dark ebony skin, Farid asked, "Mama, what's a Texan?"
"Texans are people from Texas."
"Ms. Jenny at school says she's Texan. Where is it?" More questions from the always curious Farid.
"Texas is a country in North America, Farid. Well, from our Earth's North America. It's a State in the United States on the other Earths."
"What's the United States?"
"You'll learn what that is, was, when you get older and have history class," Hawa finished wiping away her son's face and looked him straight in the eye. "Now, you have to promise me you won't be jumping into the dirty after swimming. The dirt here becomes mud very easily." She was going to have to speak to her husband about getting an artificial lawn. "And it makes you very...."
Everything around them got terribly white for a moment. Farid brought his hands up to his eyes and screamed. Panicking, Hawa grabbed his hands and pulled them away. "Mama, I can't see!" he cried.
Hawa turned to see what had blinded her son, and the sight she saw caused her draw to stop. "Oh my God...."
In the distance, a mushroom cloud was growing on the horizon.


In Orbit


The Xepolite freighter Deyteliz pulled out of orbit a few moments after the vessel's sensors detected the atomic detonation directly below them, in the Bajoran settlement of Gytep. They had just finished transporting their load of unique consumer goods to a warehouse in Mwinyiburg. As the vessel powered it's warp drive, the Hetman who commmanded the vessel looked to his special "passenger". "The package was received."
"Very good," the dark-clothed Cardassian replied. "If you excuse me, I'll be in my quarters."
The Hetman nodded and watched the Cardassian leave. Like a handful of other Xepolite merchants, he'd done jobs for the Cardassian government, but this one left him feeling uneasy and frightened.
Though not enough that he didn't mind being paid.

Gytep
12:50 GST



Seated in the back of one of the trucks rumbling out toward Gytep from Mwinyiburg, Father Joseph Diagana - a priest of the Roman Catholic Church - was riding with Father Daniel Haddis of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. The two men were acquaintances and friends, and often talked about issues of Christian doctrine and faith. But now they were silent in their radiation suits, small bibles in their hands and grim expressions on their faces.
The truck rumbled to a stop in what had been home to thousands of Bajorans and aid workers. Many were still alive, though virtually all had radiation burns. As he emerged from the back of the truck and looked out, Father Diagana's mouth started to drop open. "Holy Mother of God..."
There were bodies laid out everywhere. In fact, it appeared that immediately after the nuclear detonation that shattered their new homes, the Bajorans had grimly set to work in dealing with the aftermath even as their bodies grew racked from radiation sickness. A Bajoran priest wearing charred clothes that looked like they'd melted into his body was trying to comfort a weeping young Human aid worker. One of the Bajorans directed Fathers Haddis and Diagana to the place to do their work - the lines of charred corpses wearing the various uniforms of aid workers and others. The two priests went to work giving the Last Rites to the slain while medical workers went to work on sustaining and healing the living.
Another truck had a camera crew from one of the local media TV stations. A frowning, sick-looking young woman looked into the camera from inside her radiation suit and began to speak of the known facts; that a nuclear device had been detonated in the Bajoran refugee settlement of Gytep, that there were over three thousand people living in Gytep, and that the casualty estimates had yet to be determined.
The reporter then brought the camera to a grisly site; a fallen building that had once been the town school. Nearby the rubble, where the irradiated Bajorans were still digging, was a line of small corpses. The reporter and her cameraman were silent as the shot panned over them. A Bajoran woman wearing scorched rags and with prominent radiation burns on her face and body was looking through the line. FInally she seemed to spot the right identifying mark, probably a necklace, and began to wail as she fell to her knees and lifted the charred, blackened body into her arms, some patches of surviving blonde hair on the child's scalp. The woman's crying was hysterical and painracking, drawing sobs from the reporter as her cameraman captured the image for all the world to see.
Nearby, as he gave Last Rites to the scorched remains of the Human schoolteacher, Father Diagana prayed for more than the woman's soul. He prayed for Justice. This was not just a tragedy. This was a grievous sin, an evil committed against innocent people.
And Father Diagana knew that the wicked who committed this sin would be punished.


Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
15:45 GST



Inside the spacious Presidential office overlooking the Eiffel Tower in the distance, Gao Hi-Yuan sat in a simple gray jumpsuit. The Commissioner of Starfleet Operations, Kerlo Tobis, was standing to one side. Admiral Garfield Dayton of Starfleet Intelligence was standing to the other. The two men had just informed Gao of the priority report about the atomic detonation at Gytep. "I see," Gao said. "Was it detonated by Bajoran terrorists and was it an intentional act?"
"We can't tell for either," Commissioner Tobis stated.
Gao nodded slowly at that. "Well, we need to get confirmation. The political situation would justify a demand for observers to the cleanup of Gytep, would it not? Our observers could also verify Gytep was a terrorist training camp."
"Yes, Mister President. I'll send out the order for Starfleet to assemble an observation team immediately. As soon as you get approval from the Alliance Government...."
"Do you really think the Alliance will bow to the demand?"
"Of course, Admiral Dayton." Gao smiled slightly. "Otherwise, they would confirm to the entire Alpha Quadrant that they had something to hide."
"Unless they had nothing," Dayton said.
Tobis rolled his eyes. "Admiral, you cannot seriously be questioning the intelligence again?"
"I'm not questioning it's authenticity," Dayton snapped. "I'm questioning how it was interpreted! We did not get any confirmation of the nature of Gytep before we informed the Cardassian Embassy of our find."
"Admiral, please don't insult our intelligence, and I'm not talking about spook crap when I say that!" Tobis slammed an open hand on the table beside the chair he was sitting in. "They were shipping weapons to the nearby city of Mwinyiburg. Heavy infantry weapons, the kind that the Bajoran terrorist fighters have been using to give the Cardassians on Bajor fits! Why would they be shipping arms to Mwinyiburg? The Alliance military has no supply depot there, and their Army and Marine bases are thousands of kilometers away!"
Dayton shook his head. "You have no idea of how dangerous this situation is? And how dangerous it is to make such a critical judgement based on very little hard evidence?"
"I believe Commissioner Tobis is quite aware of the danger, Admiral," Gao said, cutting in. "And I agree with his assessment, just as I did then. The Alliance has been working to destabilize the entire region. First Kelos and now Bajor. They must be brought to heel. This incident will embarrass their government. It will hurt their standing in the Alpha Quadrant and will probably bring down their current Administration. And I believe Rachel MacKenzie will be a far more reasonable leader than the militarist they have now." Gao leaned forward in his chair toward his desk. "I will be dispatching a note through the Alliance Embassy to President Mamatmas, insisting that the Federation be allowed to inspect the Gytep ruins as part of an investigation into how an atomic device was detonated in what was supposed to be a refugee settlement. Gentlemen, you are dismissed."


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
19:50 GST



Inside the Oval Office, President Nicolas Mamatmas faced down his top security advisors with cold brown eyes. "Gentlemen, Lady," he nodded to Omiko Takahara, his Security Advisor. "I want to know what the Hell has happened on Henderson."
From his seat by Takara, Intelligence Director Sir James Bronson was the first to speak. "The investigation is still underway, Mister President. However, we have assembled enough data to rule out Bajoran involvement in the nuclear detonation."
"In what way?"
"The analysis of the blast pattern," Bronson answered. "Ground Zero was a public pavilion. Not the best place to hide a nuclear weapon. And our analysis of the residual elements and traces tell us it was a very crude device."
"Could it have been a suitcase nuke?"
"No. It was probably a tritium boosted device. Very low tech."
"The kind of device that Bajoran fighters would be able to put together using commnet data," Takahara stated. "This was a clear attempt to make the Bajoran liberation movement the primary suspect."
"How? Was it active in Gytep?"
"Not very."
Mamatmas nodded. "Anything else?"
"At the moment of detonation, a Xepolite-crewed freighter, the Deyteliz, was in orbit delivering cargo to a supplier in Mwinyiburg." Bronson leaned forward and handed Mamatmas a manila-colored folder. Within were documents and reports, including a picture of an alien warp-capable spacecraft. "Our sources have identified the Deyteliz as belonging to a Xepolite trading company with known ties to Cardassian military intelligence."
Mamatmas looked up from the folder with a scowl. "The Cardassians did this?"
Bronson exchanged a look with Takahara. "It is very possible."
Mamatmas turned his eyes from Takahara and Bronson to his Defense Minister, Gregory Rathbone. "Minister Rathbone, what do you think?"
"Given the information at hand, Mister President..." Rathbone shrugged. "It does look like the Cardassians could be respon...."
Bronson's phone rang at that moment. He took it out, noticing Mamatmas' scowl, and said, "I set it to only accept priority calls." After explaining himself, Bronson took the call. He gave Mamatmas a concerned look and said, "Really? Fax them to my portable immediately." Bronson took out his portable computer system and fed a few sheets of paper into it's printer. As he did so, they printed out text, which Bronson took and read.
"Director?"
"Sir, our analysts just received the latest decrypted Cardassian comm intercepts from our one of our code-breaking teams." Bronson handed one of the sheets to Mamatmas. "You'd better look at this, sir."
"This is the same Mossad team that broke the Cardassians' administrative codes?"
"Yes, Mister President."
Mamatmas began reading the sheet. As he did so, his face began to pale. "This talk of a package, do we know who sent it?"
"The Mossad team's decoders checked his identification codes versus the ones MI6 acquired in August." Bronson's jaw was clenched. "His name is Ortem Jorcet. He's an Obsidian Order agent, former military. And according to his Cardassian service record, he used to be a naval engineer."
"Meaning he'd know how to build a tritium boosted atomic weapon." Mamatmas placed the paper down. "Can we link him to the Deyteliz?"
"Not yet, Sir. But we've sent out an order to monitor the Deyteliz's movements. If we're lucky, one of our agents in Cardassia might spot Jorcet disembarking."
"Okay, do we have any more evidence?" Mamatmas looked at the assembled. "I want to make sure I've got a strong case before we put forward a military response."
"The local traffic controllers noted that Deyteliz left far orbit within two minutes of the atomic detonation," Takahara replied. "And they said there was a power spike from Deyteliz during it's transport operation, corresponding closely to the time of detonation."
"Power spike?"
"The East African Space Traffic Control Bureau had their systems on Henderson upgraded four months ago with state-of-the-art sensor gear," Bronson said. "It's the best sensor gear available in the Alliance, Mister President. I''ve told my people to go through the records closely to see if we can find anything more to use."
"I'm still unsure, gentlemen. I..." Mamatmas' comm device on his desk buzzed. He pressed it and snapped, "Ms. Henley, I told you I was not to be disturbed."
"I'm sorry, Mister President, but I have a courier from the Foreign Ministry here with a priority dispatch from the Federation. It's supposed to be directly from President Gao."
Mamatmas bit into his lip. "Find, send it in!" He looked at the others as a smartly-dressed young African woman walked in, likely a minor Foreign Ministry bureaucrat. She apologized to the President for the interruption, handed him the slip of paper, and excused herself. Mamatmas sat back in his chair and read the paper. When he was finished he angrily tossed it aside. "Damn that pretentious....!"
"Mister President?"
Responding to Rathbone's gentle prod, Mamatmas thumped a hand on the table. "Word of this got damned fast to Paris in ST-3," he said. "The Federation is demanding that we allow them to send observers to Gytep for the investigation into what happened."
"What?" Rathbone's expression was one of confusion. "They've got nothing to do with this. And aren't they supposed to have that damned Prime Directive of non-interference?"
"Gao must have found out awfully fast about the attack. I wonder why he was so interested in Gytep?" Bronson shook his head. "Mister President, I do not like coincidences."
Mamatmas rubbed at his forehead. "I don't see why we shouldn't. Let his observers see all those little bodies." Again there was a call on Mamatmas' system. "Yes, Ms. Henley?"
"Sir, the Federation Embassy has announced that President Gao will be going live on IUNS in ten minutes. The Embassy sent a personal memo informing you that you needed to watch."
"You can tell Ambassador Merryweather that...." Mamatmas stopped himself from losing his temper. "Ms. Henley, I'd like to be left alone from now on. Do not worry about informing me of anything short of a declaration of war until I say otherwise."
"Yes, Mister President."
For the next ten minutes, the discussion was centered on the facts of the investigation, the kind of press statement that should be drawn up. At the appropriate time, Mamatmas turned his chair to the wall and activated the monitor. The locale of Paris and the Federation President's office was clear. Gao sat in his usual suit, staring at the screen. Then he began to give his live address.
"As many already know," Gao began, "eight hours ago an atomic device was detonated in a Bajoran-occupied camp in Alliance territory, on the planet Henderson. The use of atomic weaponry is a horror,.and rightfully so. But it comes to no surprise to this government. While working with the Cardassian Union to deal with the dangers of Bajoran terrorism, Federation sources uncovered arms shipments to Gytep by sources in Alliance government. This could only lead to one conclusion; that Gytep was not a refugee camp as often claimed, but was in fact a terrorist training camp established and supported by the Alliance Government for the purposes of destabilizing the Cardassian Union and its authority. We had informed the Cardassian government of this discovery in the hopes that Cardassia might have a chance to protect itself. Now we see that it was unneeded. The fanaticism of these Bajoran terrorists is seemingly so great that they were developing nuclear weapons to use against Cardassian forces, perhaps civilians, and it is a great fortune that they accidentally destroyed themselves with it instead of slaughtering innocent Cardassians. But even if the terrorists are gone, their backers remain. The Federation demands that the Alliance Government cease its support for Bajoran terrorism immediately, that they turn over to Cardassia agents of terror for trial, and that they pay reparations...."
Mamatmas shut off the TV and tossed the remote onto the table. "Those self-righteous sons of bitches," he said, somewhat shocked. "They uncover some piddly ass evidence and like damned taddle-telling children they go off to the fucking Cardassians and claim we're supporting terrorists?!" The others remained silent. Though Mamatmas did not curse often, it was never a surprise when he did; it was the grizzled old Master Chief showing through the refined statesman. "Can someone please tell me where Gao and those idiots got it in their heads that Gytep was a terrorist camp?!"
"We'll look into it immediately, Mister President."
"I'd better go start preparing a press statement. And get the media to show as much from Gytep as you can. It'll be damned hard for them to claim they were all terrorists when people are facing dead children." Mamatmas thumped a hand on the table. "I don't suppose the Cardassians did this because of what the Federation told them?!"
"Always a possibility, Mister President," answered Takahara. "It would explain why they used a nuclear weapon. It would destroy what they assumed to be a resistance training camp and, at the same time, discredit the liberation movement and us when an investigation proved it as a training camp and not a refugee settlement."
"But it was a refugee settlement, and now the Cardassians have killed hundreds, maybe thousands of Bajorans immigrants in the Alliance and aid workers, including Alliance citizens!" Mamatmas shook his head and tapped the button on his desk. "The press is going to whip the public up again."
A voice came over the intercom. "Yes, Mister President?"
"Ms. Henley, get me the Service Chiefs."


Gregson Aerospace Force Base, New Norwich, ADN Colonial Zone
Universe Designate ST-3
20:25 GST



Gregson AFB was the home base for the 34th Strategic Bomber Group, a force of three bomber squadrons with 20 bombers each, thus consisting overall of sixty warp-capable aerospace bombers; British-built Harris bombers all. It was well-placed, about twenty kilometers outside the city limits of Fredrecton on the Earth-like planet New Norwich.
Inside the base's main building and the officers' rec room, Flying Officers Sheila O'Malley and Jenny Gomez were having a very unladylike arm-wrestling competition, much to the enjoyment of their fellows. However, it was soon to be interrupted.
As assembled officers of the 34th, 98th, and 112th Squadrons looked on, one of the Squadron Leaders turned the TV over to IUNS. It was replaying the Federation President's press conference and claim that Gytep was a Bajoran terrorist camp. A chorus of boos came from the assembled. Afterwards all eyes were fixed on IUNS giving footage from the aftermath of Gytep. Several broke into tears at the rows of dead children, the sight of Red Cross workers' burned corpses laid out, and the grim-faced Ethiopians from Mwinyiburg working on helping the survivors. The editor made sure to show the footage of what was widely becoming a signature photo of the event; a burned Bajoran woman cradling a blackened little corpse in her arm, crying. A few Catholics among the group crossed themselves out of habit for such a scene. It was heat-wrenching and enraging at the same time.

Two floors up, in the Base Command Center, Group Captain Amelia Fubuki was standing amongst the glowing lights and instruments of the command center, linked as it was to planetary traffic control and the Planetary Defense Command dug deep under the capitol city Lewisburg that was sixty kilometers away. Granted, Gregson AFB had no fighters - the aerospace fighter jets of the 54th Planetary Defense Group were stationed at McCarter AFB thirty kilometers from Lewisburg - but they all had to be aware of impending attack so that she could get her bombers in the air, if necessary.
The man at communications called out to her. "Captain, ma'am, we're getting a priority message from Sector Command."
This immediately brought Fubuki's attention. Sector Command on New Liberty would only be sending a priority message if.... She walked up and took the printout as it came out of the printing system. After reading it carefully, she asked the tech officer, "Are it's codes good?"
"Yes ma'am, the system has authenticated the codes."
"Then put me on the base PA."

The officers were still watching TV when an alert whistle came over the base PA system. "Attention all personnel, this is Base Commander Fubuki speaking. We have just received a command priority message from Sector Command, coming straight from Washington. At 20:19 GST, the President ordered all Alliance military forces in Universe Designate ST-3 to change alert level to DefCon 2. Repeat, we are now at DefCon 2. In compliance with the change in alert level, the base is under lockdown. No one can leave or enter without authorization. All bomber crews are ordered to be ready to report for duty in thirty minutes. All officers will report to briefing at that time. That is all."
Thirty minutes later, all of the officers in the Group were assembled at briefing. Captain Fubuki and her subordinate, Wing Commander Lenny Tasker, greeted them and informed them that each squadron would rotate 8 hour shifts - in accordance with their new alert status, there would be one squadron in the air or space at any given time. Squadron Leader Fred Storms volunteered his 98th Squadron to go first.
Not half an hour later, Flying Officer Jenny Gomez was pushing the throttle in the cockpit of her Harris bomber, dubbed the Death Blossom, as it lifted off from Runway 4 of Gregson AFB. The bomber climbed in accordance with flight regs until it reached optimum high atmosphere altitude. At that point, Flying Officer Gomez switched to the belly thrusters to push the bomber into sub-orbit, from which she engaged the impulse drives and waited for her flight. The five flights of the 98th Squadron assembled into loose formation and moved away from New Norwich. Squadron Leader Storms gave each Flight an individual flight path. Gomez lined her Harris up with her Flight Lieutenant's craft and followed him into warp.


Trier, Earth, United Federation of Planets
23:18 GST


The Central Committee for the Ideologue Party was holding an evening session at Gao's request so that he could brief them to the developments in the Alliance Colonial Zone. The Committee was large, with over thirty members. They were in some ways the true power of the Federation - Party policy was dictated by the Committee, and all Party members generally had to be in line with policy lest they lose their patronage. And at the moment, the Ideologues controlled the government.
The door to the room opened and an aide walked up to Gao, who was listening to Committee Clerk Rathgol Torskani speaking. He whispered something into Gao's ear and handed him a PADD. Gao read it and his jaw dropped slightly. The Centauran Torskani looked at Gao with an expression of interest and stopped speaking. "President, is there something you need to share?"
Gao seemed to recollect himself for the moment, as if judging whether to share this new information with the Committee. Finally, trapped by Torskani, he nodded slowly. "Yes, Comrade Torskani," he replied. "Starfleet just forwarded a report from their stations on the Alliance border. The Alliance military just went on high alert."
There were blank looks across the room. "Mamatmas is going to escalate," an Andorian, Dortavkh My'Toaro, said aloud. "He's going to accuse someone of attacking Gytep. Comrade Gao, shouldn't we put Starfleet on alert? What if Mamatmas blames us?"
"That will be unnecessary," Gao said confidentially. Having recovered from the immediate shock of Mamatmas' escalation, he was now thinking his way through. "Mamatmas is rattling the saber and hoping to divert attention from the fact that his government was aiding Bajoran terrorists. But the Alliance press is uncontrollable. They will prove us right."
"Are you so certain?" Torskani folded his hands together at his seat. "How do we know for certain that this is, was, a terrorist camp?"
"Our intelligence found the Alliance shipping weapons there. Why else would they be sending heavy ordinance to Gytep but to train Bajoran terrorists?"
"Did you investigate the matter further?"
Gao scowled. Torskani was ambitious and now Gao feared that Torskani was going to use this incident against him. "We did all we could. And our agreement with Cardassia required us to share the information."
Torskani didn't reply to that externally, but Gao knew he was thinking on it. "Well, Comrade Gao, perhaps you should go attend to this new development?"
Gao nodded slowly before answering, "Yes, I will." He stood from his chair. "As Chairman of the Committee, I turn the meeting over to the Clerk. I shall see you again tomorrow." At that point, Gao left.
Torskani waited until he was gone before continuing the meeting. "Comrades, I fear that the Party Chairman and President has miscalculated in his recent decisions. There is growing evidence from footage from sources on Henderson that Gytep was not a terrorist camp. We should prepare a contingency should..."


Gao stepped off the transporter at Starfleet Command in San Francisco and stormed into the Command Center to meet with Tobis and Starfleet C-in-C Matthews. "What's going on?!", he demanded. "Has Mamatmas really put his forces on a war alert?"
"No, but he's gotten damned close," Matthews replied. "According to the information being released, Alliance military forces in ST-3 are at DefCon 2. That is the highest non-war alert level that the Alliance military has. The next step, DefCon 1, is essentially a war warning and indicates that war is imminent."
"He's insane!" Gao looked at the map screen, showing the Alliance Colonial Zone and markers for Alliance naval units deploying toward Cardassia and the Federation. "He's given himself no more room for escalation!"
"Or he knows something we don't," Matthews said.
"Order our local starbases and starships to increase sensor scans." Gao found himself sweating. "For all we know, he intends to attack us for the announcement we've made!"
"Sir, we have a small reserve we can deploy," Matthews said. "We could bring border strength up to 50 starships within 36 hours. And I can have the Enterprise on location in 72 hours."
"Fifty starships? Fifty-one including the Enterprise? How many ships does the Alliance have on sight?"
"Counting the ships monitoring space in Kelos? Roughly four hundred," was Tobis' response. "More if you count the border security forces like their cutters."
"Get me the Cardassian Embassy, then. If it comes down to it, the Alliance will be crushed between our forces and the Cardassians."
"The Cardassians, sir?" Matthews was taken aback. "Sir, I don't think we can trust them..."
"We have to now!" Gao stabbed a finger at the map. "These extra-universals... they're mad! They get caught supporting terrorists and their choice is to escalate tensions to war?!"
The door opened and Admiral Dayton entered. "Mister President, Admiral, Commissioner..." Dayton brought up an isolinear chip. "We just got this feed from one of our agents in the Alliance. It's from the private Internet site of one of the cleanup people in Gytep." He slipped the chip into a data port on the main screen controls and brought up the video.
The video was clear enough. The person carrying the video recording device was walking about in rubble, showing burned Bajorans and Humans being treated by emergency personnel in radiation suits. The agent continued to walk about, showing the diggers preparing what would be mass graves for the unidentifiable bodies. And then the bodies themselves - some tragically small, all burned beyond recognition. Most of the faces in the room turned white. Matthews' jaw fell. "Mister President, if this is released to the press...."
"It won't be. The State Press cannot be allowed to circulate this," Gao said. "We'll let Miller's people suppress it. They were always useful idiots."
"And what will we do in terms of the border sectors, Mister President? They're in range of Alliance subspace transmitters. They can pick up Alliance news sources. Can you imagine what this will rile up in the Muscovite Worlds? New Minnesota? Vertola?"
"Jam them, if you have to." Gao's mind was racing. This had to be fake, it had to be! If it wasn't..... The realization that dawned on him was horrible. If there were no terrorists in Gytep, then who set off the nuke? The Cardassians were obvious suspects. And the Cardassians suspected Gytep because Gao's people had told them to.
"This has to be fake!" Tobis' expression was one of bewilderment. "Our intel was good!"
"It was obviously incorrectly analyzed," Dayton said, trying not to give off an "I told you so" attitude lest he lose his job.
"Who cares about the intel?!" Gao's shout filled the room. "Gentlemen, do you realize that the Federation could be drawn into a conflict because of this?! The Committee will have my head on a platter, and even if they don't want it, the Council will deliver it to them anyway!"
"Then what can we do, Mister President?"
"The only thing we can. Get ready for the worst and wait." Gao leaned against the table, suddenly feeling older and tired. "We'll let Mamatmas play the hand he's holding, and see where it leaves us."


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
01:53 GST
21 November 2153 AST



Seated behind his desk in the Oval Office, Mamatmas was straightening his tie, now wearing a full suit with a black tie. Cameras were being set up for Mamatmas' imminent public address, to be held at exactly 0200 GST. Before him was a quick speech, effectively a public statement that was going to refute Gao's claims.
The door opened and Director Bronson entered. He walked right up to Mamatmas and handed him a folder. "Here, Mister President."
Mamatmas opened the folder and saw a picture of a Cardassian male on the inside. "This is Jorcet?"
"The Deyteliz arrived at Bajor two hours ago. This was taken by one of our sources in the Bajoran Resistance currently living on the orbital refining station Terok Nor."
"And Jorcet couldn't have boarded anywhere else?"
"The only other planet they stopped at was a brief, thirty minute stop at Gormel III. We have a man there who watched their airlock. He didn't enter."
"Then we can link Jorcet to the Deyteliz, and the Deyteliz, can we prove it transported the bomb in?"
"Not yet, Mister President."
"Keep your people working. Prove it."
Bronson nodded and stepped away from the desk. Mamatmas placed the folder inside a drawer in his desk and started to look over his statement again.
Finally he was given the signal that the feed was about to begin. When the countdown finished, Mamatmas looked sternly at the cameras and began reading from the teleprompter.
"Good evening, fellow Citizens," he began. "Over fourteen hours ago, a nuclear device was detonated on the planet Henderson in Universe Designate ST-3. It completely destroyed the Bajoran refugee settlement of Gytep. The final casualty toll is still being assessed, but currently it stands at one thousand dead all of the settlement's 3,000 occupants wounded." Mamatmas began to deliberately make his voice stronger and harsher in tone. "This was not merely terrorism, but a deliberate act of murder against innocent and defenseless civilians and the dedicated men and women who worked selflessly to improve their lives."
"Our investigation into this attack is still proceeding," Mamatmas continued, "but we have already uncovered evidence that the Cardassian Union is responsible for this evil act. This evidence is convincing enough that six hours ago, I ordered all Alliance military forces in Universe Designate ST-3 to DefCon 2." And now for you, Gao, Mamatmas thought angrily as he gave a dramatic pause of a couple moments. "I will also state that I am personally appalled and angered by the behavior of the Federation President. While innocent Bajorans weep for the slaughter of their children, President Gao has the audacity, the sheer nerve, to claim that they are terrorists who deserved to be slaughtered and that this Government supports terrorism against civilians! As President of the Alliance Government, I have lodged the strongest diplomatic protest possible over this callous disregard for the suffering of innocents. And as an individual, I am enraged that President Gao seeks to use this tragedy, this despicable event, to attack the Alliance and the innocent Bajorans that we are protecting. The Federation has no only decided to abandon innocents to Cardassian brutality, but now they attack others for not doing the same. But this Government is not the Federation, and so long as I am President, the Alliance will never choose the path of appeasement."
"The investigation into the attack is continuing, but I can insure everyone that the following will happen. We will find out the truth. We will find those responsible for this act of terrorism. We will strike back and we will punish the guilty in full accordance with all that is right and just. And we will not allow the saber-rattling of Cardassia, the rulers of what I can justly call an Evil Empire, to divert us from our goal. That is all."
The feed cut. Mamatmas leaned back in his seat and put a hand to his chin. Now to wait and see what would happen. But in his heart, Mamatmas knew how this would end. It was the only way it could end.
War.



”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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Last edited by Steve on 2010-02-27 12:54am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-22 04:00pm
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Chapter 1

"Cardassians don't make mistakes." - Skrain Dukat



Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
03:36 GST
21 November 2153 AST



The Capital City of Cardassia, founded and built after the military takeover of the government, was a sprawling technological metropolis with over ten million people living within a fifty kilometer radius of the center. It was in the center that the Command Complex was located. A massive network of offices, conference rooms, and even a barracks and a jail, the Command Complex was the heart of Cardassian power.
Deep inside that beating heart was a rather non-descript conference room kept for the use of the Central Command's Political Advisory Board. The Political Advisors were in effect the executive rulers of Cardassia, though their power was not absolute. It was they that "advised" the Detepa Council on what measures to take in government. In the Byzantine world of Cardassian internal politics, the Political Advisors were among the big players, since it took enormous influence and prestige to get appointed to the Board.
At the head of the Political Advisors was the Legate, Aamin Kelataza. The Legate - Legata in the original Cardassian - was the de facto ruler of Cardassia, also holding the formal rank of Castellan and leader of the Detepa Council. Leader of the Central Command, head of the Political Advisory Board, and commander of the Home Guard Force, the Legate was the most powerful individual in the Union, though even his power was assailable by the right combination of foes. Legates had indeed been forcibly removed three times before in the history of Cardassian military rule, and nearly a dozen more times had seen Cardassian Legates retiring to avoid a similar fate. The ease in which entire leadership could change meant that the struggle for power in Cardassia never ended even as the State itself continued onward, as relentless as ever. Cardassians were often fond of saying that there was no greater power than the State, and that the State - the embodiment of the Cardassian people as a whole - was a being in of itself.
Currently, the Legate was with the other five senior members of the Advisory Board. They were all older men - only the youngest still had black in his whitening hair - and all had served in the military bureaucracy for decades, working their way up in the usual fashion of alternating between backstabbing and bootlicking (leading to another favored Cardassian saying, "Even the shoe shiner has a knife to plunge into your back when you trip"). The one true military veteran on the board was 1st Rank Gul Relim Torcet, head of the Military Strategy Staff, a long standing veteran of Cardassia's wars of expansion and internal struggles.
"The images the Alliance is releasing from Gytep are very disturbing," 1st Rank Gul Yatar Hergata - the Board Vice-Chief - remarked. "It is beginning to appear that Gytep was an innocent settlement after all."
"The damned Obsidians should have known better," was Relim's remark in reply. "Refimo, why didn't you confirm Gytep's status before sending the package?"
The white-haired, cold-blooded woman - Administrator Refimo Tapal, the Obsidian Order's representative to the Board - replied to that with narrowed eyes. "The Order has its ways. We did not think we could get an agent close nough to Gytep to confirm its status without tipping the Alliance off as to our interest in the settlement. Certainly, if it had been a terrorist camp, such activity would have tipped them off as to our interest."
"The Obsidian Order, admitting itself incapable of something? Ha!" Yatar's laugh filled the room. "You slipped up with this incompetent blunder, and now we look like fools!"
"Oh really?" Refimo grinned, which she did rarely and always with the impression of a predator appraising its next meal. "There are a thousand less Bajorans to plague us, and now we have shattered their sense of security by killing them in Alliance territory."
"I take it from your words that you are assuming the Alliance will not go to war over this?"
"If they do, Legate, they will not win. The Alliance's form of government makes them susceptible to the pressures of the electorate. Like in the Federation, once we bleed them white in border fights, their own people will demand peace and their politicians will have to find a way to give it to them." Refimo grinned cruelly. "We, on the other hand, have no such weakness. We will wage war with them until we decide otherwise, instead of letting the people compel us to an unfavorable peace."
"That is an unsafe assumption." Relim shook his head and tapped the table. "I do not think we should rush to war. We need time to rebuild...."
"Have you been keeping up with what Old Man Feril has been doing, Torcet?"
Looking at Yatar, Relim shook his head. "I have not."
"He's living in an industrial apartment with some other old soldier. He lost his pension after backing down following the fight in August." Yatar scowled. "Now is not the time for this talk. We came to power because we promised to never again back down to the Alliance. We will not do so this time. If it means war, then there shall be war."
Relim shook his head. "You could be leading us right into disaster. We have already lost the high ground with the attack on Gytep. If the Alliance defeats us, our entire Empire could be placed at jeopardy."
"I am well aware of that," the Legate replied. "But I am afraid that we have run out of options. We cannot back down, otherwise we risk our Empire anyway. Either the Alliance shall back down, or we will go to war with them." The Legate looked to 1st Rank Gul Ziyal Loskal. "Gul Loskat, inform our commanders along the Federation frontier that they will be receiving redeployment orders soon. If it comes to war, I want as much as our fleet as possible to be in position to overwhelm the Alliance's forces before they can bring more to bear."
"It shall be a very short and victorious war, Legate," Loskal promised.


That night, Yatar Hergata's aide, 6th Rank Gul Celrim Famcet, returned to his decently-sized suite in the living section of the Complex, carrying with him papers he was to properly file away in the morning pertaining as to the day's Political Advisory Board meetings. Celrim was Yatar's son-in-law, married to Yatar's second-eldest daughter who was currently staying in Yatar's private mansion on Jel Ikar with their children.
After doing some work on the papers, Celrim put them away and looked to the person he shared the suite with. Young and pretty, with light reddish hair, Jorma Gedys was a Bajoran girl Celrim had picked up four years before while stationed on Bajor. She was rather cute, adhering to Celrim's ideal figure of a woman with her flat stomach and slight curves. He had spared her from the wrath of his troops, who had been looking to brutalize her in anger after a Resistance bombing had claimed the lives of the unit's favored Senior Trooper and a number of other troopers. After ensuring she was fed and clothed, Celrim had convinced her to come live with him as his mistress, promising to arrange for her parents and younger brother to be moved to a safe zone on the planet. Of course, he hadn't yet told her that her younger brother had just been put to death as a Resistance agent and that her parents had been sent to Gallitep as punishment for his treason. No need to tell her that and find her digging a knife into his back while he slept.
Gedys was wearing a silken night gown that flowed over her body quite losely. Celrim was feeling more wound up than exhausted, full of tension over the possibility of war and thus all the paperwork that a war would entail. He ordered Gedys to get him some kanar, and she did so obediently. He noticed she was still sulking. "It's about the abortion, isn't it?" he asked after taking his first drinks.
"I've always wanted a child," was her meek answer.
Celrim took another drink. The kanar was already starting to make him drunk. Finally, he reached out and smacked Gedys hard across the cheek. She fell back into a chair. "Stupid bitch," he muttered. "If I let you have a child, it'd ruin both of us. They'd ship you back to Bajor to be a troopers' whore and my father-in-law would have me and the child killed to spare my wife the embarrassment."
"I understand, Celrim," Gedys said, rubbing her cheek. "I was just saying...."
"Don't say anything. Just don't. This is Cardassia, saying things will get you into trouble." He swigged at his kanar again. "No matter how high your rank is."
Gedys nodded obediently.
"Go to the bedroom, I'll be there in a bit."
Celrim finished the bottle of kanar alone and went to the bedroom. Gedys had removed her clothes and laid upon the bed. Celrim went right to work, having his way with her while Gedys tried to avoid his stinking breath.
In a strange way, Gedys was fortunate that Celrim was so drunk and intent upon sex. There was no telling what he'd do to her if he saw the tears of shame in her eyes.



Sotomura Aerospace Force Base, Henderson, ADN Colonial Zone
Universe Designate ST-3
06:12 GST
21 November 2153 AST



Senior Airwoman Gwang Myung Sun strode into the locker rooms for the bomber crews of the 52nd Strategic Bomber Group with a particular objective in mind; find the Squadron Leader for the 66th Bomber Squadron and bring him to see the Base Commander, Group Captain Monica Sandhurst.
The Locker Rooms were generally co-ed, though the showers and changing rooms were not, so Gwang didn't feel out of place. Finding a crew member with the 66th Bomber Squadron's patch on, Gwang asked where she could find the Squadron Leader. "New here, aren't you?" the young man asked in a Southern twang.
"Yes," was Gwang's response, in slightly broken English.
"Figures. He's over there, tokin' up."
Gwang followed the Junior Technician's direction and went toward the end. A man was seated there, getting into a non-flight duty uniform with the officer rank insignia of a Squadron Leader - the equivalent of a Major in other services. He was dark-haired and well-built, but the most noticable thing about him was the cigar between his fingers, which he was in the process of lighting. By the time Gwang got to him, he was taking a puff from the burning cigar. He let out a puff of smoke when Gwang stood before him and saluted. "Sir, I am Senior Airwoman Gwang Myung Sun. I have been instructed to bring you to Captain Sandhurst's office."
The Squadron Leader calmly finished tying his shoes and stood up, puffing at his cigar before returning her salute, allowing the young woman to release her own. "Well, Airwoman Gwang, lead the way."


"Squadron Leader Ryan Sheppard." A sharp, bossy-sounding English accent echoed in the Base Commander's office. Standing at five feet eight inches, Monica Sandhurst still managed to seem imposing with her tone of voice, what one would expect from an aristocrat born to command. Her dirty blonde hair was not cut to regulation, so she kept it in a bun at the back of her head. Cold blue eyes stared at Sheppard as he settled into a seat opposite her desk. "Formerly Major, United States Air Force Universe Designate SE-1. Distinguished bomber pilot and officer, including a squadron command against the Agresskan and action against the Neo-Nazi Revolt."
Puffing at his cigar, Sheppard didn't show any immediate reaction. "That's me."
A thin smile came over Sandhurst's face. "That's not synthetic, is it?"
"I don't smoke synthetic."
"Then put that damned thing out." Sandhurst's tone was caustic. She kept a folder balanced between her arms. "I read your service jacket on the flight here. It's quite remarkable. Survivor of the Big One, numerous commendations, and high academic marks at the Academy in your chosen field." Her thin smile disappeared. "You also had several conduct demerits at Colorado Springs and you must have thirty reprimands for violation of regulations due to your habit of smoking in flight."
"Thirty-four, actually" Sheppard corrected.
Sandhurst snapped the folder close. "It was enough to keep your arse at Major, wasn't it? No Group Commands for you. It got you forcibly retired. If your war record wasn't so damned good, I doubt the Aerospace Force would've done so much as given it a glance. They certainly wouldn't have invited you into the service."
"Didn't want to be a Group Commander anyway. I hate paperwork and I prefer flying with my airmen." He smirked at her. "And airwomen too."
After a short pause, Sandhurst put her hands together on her desk and leaned forward. "You know, I've served with many an American before. Most Americans, I've found, are rather good, professional officers. But there seems to be a small percentage of them who are determined to live up to their national stereotype as brash, undisciplined, loud-mouthed cowboys and would-be badasses. You strike me as the second type, Squad Leader Sheppard. And I don't like that type of officer. So long as you are under my command I expect you to behave properly."
"Of course, Sir. Or would you prefer 'Ma'am'?"
"'Sir' will do." Sandhurst smiled again, though this smile wasn't a very reassuring one. "And you're thinking the right thing. I fit my national stereotype rather closely too. I'm the tightest cunt or arse you'll ever serve under. And while I will allow for some eccentricity in our line of work, I expect it to remain within the regs. Break the regs and I'll have your arse shipped out to a staff job somewhere. Am. I. Clear?"
"Crystal clear, Sir."
"Good. Now we understand each other. You are dismissed."
Sheppard saluted at her, and Sandhurst returned it. He got up to leave, but as he approached the door, he stopped and turned. She looked up at him. "What is it?"
"You do realize, Captain, that within the week, we're going to be at war?"
Sandhurst nodded. "Probably so."
"And when we're at war, you're going to let me do my damned job, right?"
"I'll give you the targets and it'll be up to you to make sure they're nuked, Squadron Leader."
"Good. So we understand each other. Good day, Captain." Sheppard opened the door and slipped out, leaving Sandhurst to chuckle quietly before returning to her paperwork.


Near Zurich, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
14:20 GST
21 November 2153 AST



".....as of last evening, the casualty count for Gytep is now at eighteen hundred and twenty two dead. Authorities say that a number of the new dead are those who developed complications from radiation sickness before they sought medical help." The petite Caucasian girl on the video monitor paused a moment. "Planetary authorities have stated that the site cleanup will not be complete for a week. In addition to other measures, Henderson colonists as far east of Gytep as halfway around the globe have been asked to report to government buildings and local medical facilities for anti-radiation treatment due to suspected fallout from the Gytep blast. Planetary Governor Iskinder Tewase has urged all residents to remain calm and promises that sufficient doses of anti-radiation medication will be available."
"In other news, the Pittsburgh Pirates clinched their fourth straight World Series appearance in a Game 5 victory last night over the Boone City Pathfinders. We now go live to sports reporter Jamie...."
A finger tapped down on a remote that flipped off the video monitor. Sitting at his desk with hands together, Torskani was looking at two leaders on the Party Central Committee; Femi Dytai of Betazed and Patrick Wahlburg of Earth. "As you can see, gentlemen, President Gao has miscalculated gravely." Torskani tapped a second button that activated the shutters in his private study. They rose, revealing the beauty of the Swiss countryside for his guests to see. It was the estate of the Party's Clerk and had been since Jeytas Gathali had been Clerk for the infamous Jirvshk two decades before. "Gytep was certainly not a terrorist camp. Gao, in his eagerness to solidify his position and to undermine the Alliance, has now embarrassed the Federation."
"If he had been right, we wouldn't be having this discussion," Dytai pointed out.
"But he was not, so we are." Torskani poured himself a bottle of Centauran helda-ale and took a sip. "I have not worked my way to the position of Party Clerk to see the Party embarrassed by its chosen leader miscalculating so foolishly. Gao had little evidence, but he acted on it anyway to appear bold. Now it has blown up in his face."
"It seems to me, Torskani, that you want to replace Gao," Wahlburg stated, a bottle of schnapps in his hand. They had all needed a drink after seeing some of the scenes from Gytep. "I'm not convinced I want to see you as our new leader."
"I have no desire to be President," Torskani remarked with a slim smile. "How many Presidents have we had since Miller? Five in twelve years, gentlemen. It has become clear to me that the Presidency is not an enviable position."
"But it does guarantee you the Chair of the Central Committee." Dytai sipped at some bourbon. "Leadership of the Party is a very valuable position."
"The Chair is not the sole power of the Party, though. As Clerk, I wield nearly as much influence as Gao does." Torskani's grin turned sly. "Perhaps more."
Wahlburg ran a hand through his wolf-gray hair to scratch at his head. "Given the situation, are you certain we should upset the stability of the government now?"
"Given the situation, we have little choice. Gao, through his foolishness, has dragged us into this affair. His removal could restore our neutrality."
"But if you will not replace him, who will?"
Torskani returned to his seat. "That is my primary concern. There are many in the Party who want Miller back. With Miller all they would have to do is echo her pacifism and she would let them do as they please. But returning Miller to power is a danger in of itself."
"The woman is deluded," Dytai said. "Nobody has forgotten how she reacted to being removed from leadership the last time."
"No, they have not. But right now, allowing Miller to become President would guarantee us a leader that would keep us out of this growing enmity between Cardassia and the Alliance."
"And what about the Klingons? She nearly destroyed our alliance with them."
"The troubles with the Klingons will soon be over, as soon as Picard does his duty and gives Gowron the Chancellory of their High Council. But if you are concerned, we could delay Miller's election until after the Klingon situation sorts itself out. An interim leader is possible." Torskani finished sipping before continuing. "Either way, I need your support. The two of you have the ears of the majority of the Committee."
"And why should we support this?"
Torskani's grin turned sinister. "Comrade Wahlburg," he said after another sip, "How are your grandchildren? Not the ones from your son's wife, but rather, from that Romulan slave girl he bought during his trip to the Triangle ten years ago?" He noticed the color drain out of Wahlburg's face. "The one who's borne him two children and is currently living in a private rural home outside Cancun? I believe she's officially listed on the planetary immigration roll as a Vulcan."
"How did you...."
"I'm the Clerk of the Party's Central Committee. It's my business to find these things." Torskani sipped again. "I can't help but feel how disasterous it'd be to your son if this was found out. Bringing a Romulan woman to Earth, a potential spy to the minds of many, and fathering children with her? He may even be kicked out of the Party for this. He'd certainly lose that lush position he's got in the BLN Distribution Ministry." Torskani shook his head. "And his wife would probably divorce him on top of that. I mean, cheating on her with a Romulan whore..."
Dytai's face turned red. "You can blackmail him, Comrade Torskani, but my family has no such...."
"Don't be so quick to think so, Comrade Dytai." Torskani turned his attention to her. "Do you know what they call your son on Nova Venetia? 'The Don'. It seems he's been using his position in the BNA Enforcement Bureau to extort money from Venetian businesses. They have to pay him money or he has them nationalized." Torskani noticed Dytai frowning. "As you know, Comrade Dytai, the Party is usually lenient about certain... abuses of power by those who operate the BLN and DEM. After all, it guarantees their loyalty to the Party. But that doesn't mean that such a flagrant abuse of power will be overlooked if publicly revealed. Your son could very well end up in New Zealand after the courts are through with him, and it would probably lead to his being banned from the Party. Imagine the damage this would do to your own prestige as well."
Wahlburg leapt from his seat. "You bastard! How dare you do this!"
"You would give me no choice!", Torskani retorted. "You have too much influence on the Committee and the Council. I must either win your support or destroy that influence. The choice is your's. Support me, or I will release all of my relevant information to the State Press, and they will destroy you!"
The two had lost most of the color in their faces by now. Finally, Wahlburg nodded. "Fine, you have my support. When you are ready, I will vote to remove Gao."
Dytai glared at him, but all Wahlburg could do was lean forward and put his head on his hands, clearly defeated. Finally Dytai swallowed and nodded. "You also have my support."
"Excellent, Comrades. I intend to push for the vote in two days, depending upon what happens in that time period. Now, onto lighter matters...."


Dolan, Bajor, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
14:43 GST



The mountain city's old Cardassian military HQ still bore the signs of battle from the Bajoran uprising that had taken control of the city and had now spent three months defying Cardassian attempts to retake it. A large portion of the city's 200,000 inhabitants had joined in the revolt, in retaliation for Cardassian troops defiling the temple after a Resistance bomb blew up one of their aircraft.
Walking carefully amongst the leftover rubble, accompanied only by a single temple acolyte in simple robes, Kai Opaka stepped into the building and was confronted with an expected sight; scores of people in ragged, torn clothing holding weapons of various sorts. A large number of the guns were Cardassian rifles, but there as also the ubiquitious AK-90; a chemical-propellant automatic rifle from the other universes that the Alliance had introduced to the Alpha Quadrant. The black-colored assault rifles were slung over the shoulders of many a Bajoran rebel these days, firing rounds that could pierce Cardassian infantry armor.
A gray-haired man walked out from amidst the rabble, who had turned to face their spiritual leader. Wearing torn clothing that stank and had a number of blood stains, he bowed to her. "Kai, it is an honor."
"Gobens Drayo." The Kai kept her eyes straight and free of emotion from the pitiful sight of so many of her people in this condition. "I have come bearing news. The Cardassian commander has withdrawn the offer of allowing the non-combatants to leave for the Alliance in exchange for the city's surrender. Instead he offers to allow them to leave the city peacefully and settle down in one of the valleys."
Gobens was frowning. "Why was the offer withdrawn? Does it have anything to do with this morning's surprise attack?"
"I have not been told. The Cardassians are never forthcoming with information."
"Then there is no point in surrender, Kai," Gobens replied.
"If you do not surrender, the Cardassians will execute everyone found in the city." The Kai's voice remained strong despite her emotions. "Please, think of the children in this city."
"I am." Gobens turned away. The Kai watched him intently while her acolyte stared at one of the 200mm mortars - another weapon foreign to their universe - being towed by rope and muscle to a new firing point. "Tell me, Kai, what do the children of Dolan have to hope for the future? What kind of future is there in slavery?"
"Not all Bajorans on this planet are slaves, Gobens."
"That is a lie! A sweet lie to believe, but still a lie!" Gobens stabbed a finger to the distance. "The Cardassians see us only as slaves to draw their water! They break their oathes to us at will! Just this morning, Kai, they launched an attack on the southern residential district despite their promise of truce! Four hundred of my people died in the attack, Kai. I see no reason why we must keep up this charade of negotiation."
Kai walked up to him as Gobens turned back. Her hand reached up and touched his ear. "Your pagh is cold and weak. You have lost hope, my child."
"There is no hope, Kai. There is only resistance, which means death, or submission, which means slavery." Gobens closed his weary eyes for a moment. "I have seen too much of either to ever have hope again."
"There is always hope. Though it can be hard to see sometimes. You have to look past the darkness and see Hope's light, like a star burning brightly amongst the stars." The Kai brought her hand down. "Please, Gobens, for the good of these people, reconsider."
"I'm sorry, Kai, but we have already decided. We cannot trust the Cardassians to do as they promise, so there is no point in surrender."
The Kai looked at his comrades. Each looked as determined and rugged as he. She finally bowed. "I will inform the Cardassians of their decision." She wanted to add a blessing, but knew she could not; the Cardassians had her under strict orders to not give them any support. She still thought the blessing, however, and hoped the Prophets would grant it given the situation. "Goodbye, Gobens Drayo."


After the Kai left, Gobens went to the command center of the old HQ. Most of the displays were offline, as power was scarce and only provided by batteries. Nevertheless, he found a few of his fellows huddling around the comm display as one triggered in a frequency. "We're getting through the jamming!" The Bajoran quickly began tapping keys. "Get everyone together around our radios! The signal will be coming in soon."
Gobens grinned as the others waited eagerly for the broadcast to come. He had been sure the Kai could not speak freely - the Cardassians had probably forced her to wear a listening device - but she was able to use his emotional state to speak in code. A light amidst darkness, amongst stars, Gobens thought. The Alliance's flag has a torch flame of four colors set in a circle of stars on a black field. The Cardassians have done something to anger them again. That is why they refuse to send our non-combatants to the Alliance. This had been the Kai's way of informing him of what was happening, and, perhaps, trying to talk him into continued resistance in the hopes of the Alliance sending forces to liberate Bajor.
Over the speakers in the HQ, and radios across the city, a strong, cheerful military march began to play. Afterward a voice spoke in High Bajoran. "Good evening, people of Bajor. You are listening to the Voice of Freedom, your source for the truth of the Cardassian Occupation."
Gobens' fighters were happy. The Cardassians usually jammed the transmissions from the Alliance, but this military equipment allowed them to break through it.
"Our top story is the continued cleanup at Gytep. The death toll for the atomic explosion is now at two thousand Bajorans and aid workers. The Alliance Government has already begun work on confirming the brutal hand of Cardassia in this act of terror. President Mamatmas has promised that the butchers of Gytep will face justice!"
Everyone's attention was now on the transmission. Gytep has been attacked?! Gobens knew of the settlement, a small one in the ADN Colonial Zone. He couldn't fathom why the Cardassians would try to attack refugees, unless it was to terrorize the others - always a possibility.
"The Cardassian state press continues to insist Gytep was a terrorist camp, despite the overwhelming evidence of its peaceful nature." The announcer went on for a bit about Gytep, and Gobens noticed how startled everyone was. The Cardassians never used nukes on cities on Bajor for fear of the response they'd provoke. They'd tried it before on another world and ended up having to nearly wipe out the indigenious race from the uprising that the attack had triggered, destroying the planet's value to their Empire.
"On Bajor, the cities of Dolan, Salmio, and Verta continue to resist the Cardassian Occupation despite their conditions. The sieges have broken the cities off from electricity, water, and heating services. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are under threat of slaughter. We have received confirmation that the Cardassian army attacked Dolan despite a standing truce with the Bajoran defenders, more proof of the treachery that is endemic to the tyrannical Cardassian Occupation. The valiant Bajoran fighters in these cities are giving their all to protect their families from the brutality of the Cardassian military. The thoughts and prayers of the peoples of the Allied Nations go out to these brave men and women...."
Gobens noticed everyone was celebrating the news that Salmio and Verta were still holding out. He smirked at the last line; his people could use less thoughts and prayers and more food, medicine, and guns.
Though given the situation, maybe they'd be getting those things soon enough....



Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
16:11 GST



The tensions were thick in Gao's office, and he felt completely powerless to end them. Seated on opposite sides of the room were the Ambassadors of the Alliance and Cardassia; Iason Parmika and Dorim Kercet. The two men stared at each other across the room, Kercet in traditional Cardassian military uniform and the dark-haired, tanned Parmika in business attire.
"President Gao, the Federation cannot remain neutral forever." Kercet's voice was low and threatening. "The Alliance has jeopardized Cardassian control over our territory. It has armed Bajoran terrorists against us, trained them, and is even now seeking to further destabilize our government with propaganda broadcasts aimed at inciting further revolt!"
Gao didn't bother looking to Parmika, already knowing how he would respond. "The Alliance Government does not arm terrorists," Parmika declared. "Nor has the Government sought to destabilize anything! The Voice of Freedom is a privately owned organization which broadcasts news to Bajoran civilians living in the Alliance, and while some of its opinions can be extreme, it is still a private station and its right to free speech is constitutionally protected."
"Cardassia will not tolerate this insolent behavior! If you do not stop supporting these Bajoran anarchists, we will force you to!"
"If Cardassia continues its course, Mister Ambassador, it will mean war!"
"A war we are willing to fight to secure our territory!"
"And a war that the Alliance will wage to the utmost to defeat Cardassia!" Parmika looked to Gao. "Mister President, you told me this meeting was for negotiation, not to listen to the Cardassian Union thump its chest and issue threats!"
"We are not here to negotiate our sovereignty, Ambassador Parmika." Kercet pointed to the PADD device he had handed Parmika. "Those are the demands of the Cardassian government on this matter. You will obey them or the Alliance will pay the penalty for its actions against us."
"Your people are still insisting Gytep was a terrorist camp? Despite all the evidence to the contrary?!"
"What evidence?" Kercet smirked. "You show the bodies of children and expect that to prove Gytep as innocent? That means nothing. The children could easily have been hostages or human shields, or even trainees. The Bajoran terrorist groups are fanatical and will even use children to accomplish their goals."
Parmika looked to Gao. "And do you accept this line of argument, Mister President?"
"I am forced to concur with Ambassador Kercet, Mister Ambassador," Gao replied. "The Bajorans have a reputation for this kind of behavior. Until stronger proof is offered, I see no reason to ignore the proof we have of Gytep's true nature."
"What proof, Mister President?! What proof do you have?! What are these mysterious arms shipments you have raved about?!"
"We are not yet willing to divulge that data," Gao stated.
"Then I have no choice but to believe it was bad intel. Hope that my government assumes incompetence on your part instead of malice, or the Cardassians won't be the only ones paying for this crime." Parmika stood up. "I no longer see any reason to stay here. This was not a negotiation. This was an attempt to bully my government into obedience. I'll forward your demands, but it's safe to say that the Alliance Government will not accept them. Good day to both of you."
Parmika stormed out. Kercet watched him go before turning to Gao. "President Gao, what will the Federation do?"
"For now, stay neutral."
"Why?" Kercet leaned toward him. "Mister President, the Alliance's position is tenuous. Between our fleet and your's, we could crush them and drive them out of our universe."
Gao nodded. "I know. But getting the Council to agree...."
"Make them see that this is the only way, Mister President." Kercet's voice turned threatening. "You can rest assured that if the Federation does not do its part to deal with this menace, once we have done so ourselves, we will not look kindly upon you. Good day." Kercet got out of his chair and stalked off, leaving Gao to sigh as the entire quadrant seemed to go mad.



New Liberty Station, Orbit over New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
18:30 GST



The nightly news had just ended a half-hour segment and left the occupants of the crew quarter apartment on the Station in the dark, briefly. "Lights, half-level," the apartment's main occupant stated, and at the order of newly-minted Lieutenant Commander Rana Shaheen, Executive Officer for the destroyer Paul Hackins, the lighting of the room returned. Rana reached down and began to unbutton her duty uniform, ready to call it a night, to a certain extent.
The other occupant of the room sat on the love seat and put a hand on Rana's shoulder. Lieutenant (J.G.) Danielle Verdes had an apartment planetside near the Wexford Naval Annex, but it might as well be on the next solar system over given the way things were now. ST-3 personnel of the military were at DefCon 2, which meant that any trip planetside for someone not posted planetside had to be approved by a senior commander. Danielle, a shift supervisor for a dockyard crew on the Station, was stuck on New Liberty Station for the time being and had been assigned quarters. Rana had pulled a string with Station Personnel to ensure it was her quarters Danielle would stay in, giving her some familiarity and them a chance for time together whenever Hackins was in port here.
They would be separated the next day by duty, as was often for military couples. Hackins was scheduled to leave port rejoin DesRon 5.4.1. Winning the XO billet on the ship had been a good step upward for Rana. She was now a command officer and would remain such for the rest of her career. Promotion to Commander would bring with it either a destroyer command of her own or an XO billet on a larger ship, depending on her own choices and what the Navy made available. For her part, Rana wanted to be a full-fledged CO before she moved up to bigger ships, but she knew Danielle felt differently and she knew why. Destroyers were called the "tin can coffins" for a reason. While their role in the Navy was vital in several ways, their survivability in a major fleet battle could be finicky. Large warships had the spare volume, energy, and mass capacity to carry multiple banks of shield generators as well as armored hulls and armored keels within. Bringing down their shields and piercing their hulls could require minutes, hours, of pounding if you could not concentrate fire accurately enough.
Destroyers, which were usually a thirtieth, a fourtieth, even a fiftieth the mass of a full-fledged capital ship, were not so lucky. They were speedy vessels at sublight, sure, and missile or torpedo armament let them punch slightly above their weight with their light anti-ship cannons. But their protection was very light. Only a few generators could be fitted or powered by their weaker engine plants, since a destroyer lacked the volume needed for larger numbers of fusion reactors or a larger matter-antimatter reactor or the fuel that could sustain such a larger plant. Their hulls used what was known as "structural armor"; instead of actual armor layers they only had armor-grade material mixed into their hull structure. Shields and the structural armor gave some protection from proximity blasts but direct hits from higher-powered weapons broke them easily. The keels were also lightly-armored, again to save mass, as a destroyer had to be fast and nimble, not powerful. Speed and superior subdivision spacing gave the destroyers some survivability, but they were, as the saying went, "eggs amongst hammers".
Both women had served on destroyers; Rana had been helmswoman, navigation, and operations on her rise to command while Danielle was an engineer through and through. They both knew that in a war it was far more likely you could get killed aboard a destroyer than a battleship or dreadnought, even if the latter was going to be the more popular target of the enemy. Rana was willing to take that risk to fulfill her naval ambitons. Danielle was... not so ambitious. Living and working as a repair dock officer on a space station was its own risk to be certain, in war and in peace, but Rana would be the one being put into direct danger.

There was a sadness in Danielle's green eyes as her hand caressed Rana's shoulder. Usually their last nights together would involve more energetic interaction. It was common over these past three years, in fact, for them to literally manufacture an argument on a night before transfer or deployment so they could play their favored game: settle arguments by having a coin toss with the loser stripped and tied to the bed for the winner to tickle until either relented on the point of contention. But neither was going to do so tonight. The mood was not there for wild, energetic, kinky sex, but for more subdued affection, the kind that two people shared when one, or both, might not be coming home afterward.
The apartment was almost a studio apartment, since space was at a premium aboard space stations. The doorway to the living quarter hall opened right into the kitchen, which in turn faced the living room. Beyond that was a small bedroom, closed off from doorway view by an opaque glass wall and sliding doors of the same. Danielle was the first to stand, walking over and opening the doors to the room. She smiled sadly at the sight of the ceiling-mounted leather cuffs that, on a less-weighty night, her luck would probably have her occupying and squirming against as Rana's fingers tickled her sensitive hips and sides. Rana followed as Danielle reached to the zipper of her blue engineer's worksuit and pulled it down to her waist, revealing the sports bra underneath. The worksuit was a one-piece, so she removed it in the style of pants, and upon standing erect again she watched Rana pull her uniform shirt away.
Rana's hands reached for the fastener-strips of Danielle's bra; Danielle's hands, instead of doing likewise for Rana's garments, reached for Rana's face. She put a hand on each cheek and gave her lover a strong kiss, the kind you gave not for pleasure but to convey your passion for them, your attachment to them. It was a sensation that Danielle, not usually the romantic type, was new to, but which was exhilirating all the same.
For her part Rana enjoyed the kiss. Though hardly any stronger than Danielle - she was shorter, somewhat less athletic, and not nearly as effective a hand-to-hand fighter as her lover - it was Rana who pushed Danielle back onto the bed. Looking at her lover's gorgeous body, feeling herself lucky that the two had managed to maintain a difficult lesbian relationship in three years while part of the conservative USSN of their home universe and then the thankfully-more-liberal Stellar Navy, Rana removed the rest of her own clothes as Dani lay back, watching and waiting, before laying on top of her lover and giving her another kiss.
Tonight Rana would make love; tomorrow she would leave to make war.



Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
19:49 GST



The blocky military aircar pulled up to one of the homes in the Executive Area, where Cardassia's leaders stayed while in the capital. Inside of the vehicle Gul Relim Torcet looked at the young soldier in the driver's seat. "I won't be long," the Gul promised.
"Take as long as you need, Sir."
Relim grinned at that. "You're a good soldier, 5th Ranker. But even a 1st Rank Gul should be courteous to his subordinates. I won't keep you waiting very long." Relim slipped out of the aircar and walked to the front door.
The door opened within moments of him arriving at it. A middle-aged Bajoran woman, Samia, answered it. "Gul, welcome home," she said in excellent Base Cardassian.
Relim nodded to his long time housekeeper. "Thank you, Samia," he replied. Stepping in, he only got a few steps before his seven year old granddaughter came out of a room and ran up to him, her hair down to her shoulders. "Ah, Laria!"
"Grandpa! Grandpa!" Another voice came from the room, the family's sitting room, and his five year old grandson Jorim raced out. "Grandpa, look!"
Relim took the slip of paper in Jorim's hand and read it. "You received the highest mark in your class for Mental Discipline? Well done, Jorim!" He knelt down and hugged both of his grandchildren. His recent schedule had kept him from seeing them as often as he liked.
Looking up, Relim saw their mother Vertal - his daughter-in-law - walk out of the same room wearing a simple modest cloth suit. "Mother Kerma is still making dinner," she told Relim, referring to his wife. "We didn't expect you home, given what the news has been saying."
"I took a short break to come home and see you all. I'd been informed that Harak will be calling in a short while, so I wanted to be here."
Hearing that her husband was calling made Vertal smile. Relim felt for her and knew that his son's military career caused her as much heartache as his own had caused Kerma. At least she was more fortunate than his own poor wife. Aside from Harak they had never managed to have a child while Vertal and Harak now had four children after only ten years of marriage. Four grandchildren that Relim and Kerma went out of their way to spoil, as much as they would dare to spoil anyway. The life of a Cardassian citizen was hard, and even at an early age they were subjected to intense mental and physical training to prepare them for adulthood. "Before I forget..." Relim turned to Samia and handed her a data rod. "That came just before this mess began. It's from your brother on New Liberty. You can go and watch it in my office."
"Thank you Gul." Samia took the rod and left to watch it.
Relim watched her go, seeing his white-haired wife emerge from the kitchen branching off from the main hall. "Relim, you're home?"
"Only for a short while, my dear Kerma." Relim gave his wife a small kiss after she embraced him. "Where are Yera and Tarak?"
"Yera is asleep and Tarak is still at school. They called a last minute country march." Kerma shook her head disapprovingly. "They're only nine year olds, Relim. Why does the Education Ministry feel it necessary to send them out for hours at a time marching through wasteland? In our day we didn't start doing country marches until we were fifteen!"
"Yes, well my dear, our day is long past. Cardassia has newer rivals, more threats. We must adapt and improve ourselves. Train harder."
"Now you sound like some spokesman for the Public Information Ministry," Kerma teased.
Vertal held back a giggle with her hand. Relim had to grin; Kerma was always sharp-tongued, which was one of the reasons he loved her. He had always warned her it would get her in trouble, at least until the day that she drove out an Obsidian Order interrogator that had come to take Samia for questioning; she had so badly badgered the poor man that the Order had protested to the Central Command about her being disrespectful. Relim had put a quick end to that nonsense, of course. He wasn't about to let the Order harm Samia or Kerma to appease their paranoid impulses.
After Relim assented to Kerma's insistance that he grab some fresh jerat to eat, he brought them to the sitting room to await Harak's call. Samia entered shortly afterward, very happy. "My neice just gave birth to a son," she proudly told them. Kerma and Vertal congratulated Samia and Relim proclaimed he would hold a celebration with her as soon as he could.
Within minutes of this, the computer for the home informed them of an incoming call on the public network. Relim accepted it and they found themselves face to face with his son. Harak had Relim's strong jaw and thin face, though he also had his mother's ridgelines and eyes. "Hello everyone."
"Hello Harak." Relim smiled at him. "You're doing well, I see."
"I was just promoted to Executive Officer of the Yavar," Harak proudly announced. "Gul Akel said he asked for me personally."
"Congratulations, beloved," Vertal said happily.
Harak nodded. "Father, I've heard that we will be deploying to Kemar Naval Post. I take it things are not going well with the Alliance?"
"No, they are not. I can't say much more than that."
"I know, Father." Harak nodded. "I promise you, if it comes to it, I will do you proud in battle."
"I know you will, son." Noticing how upset the subject was making his wife and daughter-in-law, Relim decided to change the subject. "Jorim made first mark on his Mental Discipline exercises today."
"Really? That is very good, Jorim. I'm proud of you." After a moment of looking at them, Harak asked, "Where is Tarak?"
"Out on a country march," Vertal answered.
"Ah, that's right. They start at nine now. I should have remembered. Well, tell him that I am proud of him and that I hope to see him when I return." Harak looked toward Samia. "Samia, you look like you're doing well."
She nodded and smiled at him. "I am, Harak. I'm happy to see you."
"Samia's neice has just had a son," Kerma said.
"Well, congratulations Samia. I'll make sure to send you something."
Noticing the look on Vertal's face, Relim nodded to Kerma and put his hands on his grandchildren. "Come along, everyone, there are some things between a husband and wife that should not be overheard by others."
Leading them all out of the room so that Harak and Vertal could speak privately before he ran out of time, Relim looked at the time and knew he had to get back to the Command Complex. "I'm afraid I have to be going too." He kissed his wife on the cheek and looked at Laria and Jorim. "You children be good and next time I go to the market I'll bring you some dried mektil berries." Taking a moment to give Samia a congratulatory hug, he went toward the door.
"Grandpa?"
Relim turned to face Lariia, who was standing between Samia and Kerma. "Grandpa, is Dad going to have to fight the Alliance?"
Looking down for a moment, Relim said, "Probably, Laria." He walked back to her, knelt so that he could look her straight in the eye, and put his hands on her shoulders. "But your father will come back. Just as I did."
"I hope so," Laria said, worry still on her face.
Standing up again, Relim looked one final time at his wife's face, knowing how afraid she was for Harak, and went out the door with a final goodbye. Returning to the aircar he found the young 5th Ranker waiting obediently in the driver's seat. "Back to the Complex," he ordered after securing himself.
"Yes sir."
Relim looked back to his family's home as they pulled away.


20:05 GST


Wearing heavier clothing than was comfortable in the heat, Gedys walked through the streets of the Capital City's Alien Quarter. She again cursed that Celrim didn't allow her to wear lighter things, but he could be insanely jealous and was afraid she'd seduce someone if her clothing wasn't modest.
It was rare that Celrim even let her out of his apartment, which left Gedys spending each day brooding alone and bored. But Celrim had a weakness; he loved Rihannsu kheia. Kheia was a very hard food to acquire here, so far from ch'Rihan - the world the Humans called Romulus - but Celrim had found a crusty old Romulan smuggler who was willing to bring in kheia with his loads of illicit Romulan ale. Because of his work, he usually sent Gedys to fetch his kheia, placing just enough funds in her financial account to buy a good supply without giving her enough money to spend friviously.
Gedys made her way to the place where the smuggler - a man by the name of H'daen - usually stayed when he was on Cardassia. Tralam Peker was not a respected establishment in the Alien Quarter. It was a club where women danced nude and rented out to patrons for sex. Its location in the Alien Quarter was due to the laws of Cardassia; anyone with Cardassian blood could not hold jobs that were "immoral and demeaning". Which merely meant that Cardassians had to get aliens to be their prostitutes and dancers.
Walking in, Gedys saw the place was rather empty, though not so empty that its proprieter was not having his women perform. The brown-haired girl on the stage was a fellow Bajoran, a cute looking girl who was only wearing a necklace. Bajorans weren't the only race conquered by Cardassia of course, and on top of that, establishments like Tralam Peker often bought slaves from the Orions. One such Orion girl walked out on stage while Gedys walked toward the rear of the establishment, removing a thin silk bodice to the delight of the handful of Cardassian men in the crowd.
Seated in a corner table, sipping at kanar, was H'daen. The wolf-haired Romulan saw her and smiled at her. "Come to get more kheia for that weasel Celrim?"
"Yes. The usual amount."
"I only have three-quarters the usual stuff. Had to ship some extra goodies this time." H'daen moved to the side and allowed Gedys to sit. "I'll shave some off the usual bill, of course."
"Of course." Gedys handed H'daen a PADD. He inserted the cost of the kheia and she took it back to authorize the financial transfer. Afterward, H'daen smiled lecherously and asked Gedys, "Why don't you go up there and dance? I always figured you'd be good at that."
"I don't have a death wish," was Gedys' reply. She stormed off.
H'daen nodded as she left and moved his hand to his pocket. To anyone watching, it seemed to be the usual semi-illicit transaction that was done.
Which was a good thing, since nobody had seen Gedys hand H'daen a data chip along with the PADD, nor had they seen H'daen palm it and then slip it into his pocket.
H'daen watched her go and shook his head. He'd approached Gedys just a few months ago, during a transaction, to tell her what his own contact had told him; her brother had been executed as a Resistance agent and her parents were in Gallitep. Her parents were dead now too, though H'daen couldn't tell Gedys that. Nevertheless the news had turned Gedys against Celrim, allowing H'daen to convince her to give him things of interest that Celrim might be working on.
He thought of the data chip in his pocket, and wondered what might be on it. He hoped she wouldn't get in trouble. But now was the time to finish his business and head on to the Federation to meet his contact. It was up to the Elements to preserve Gedys from whatever dangers she faced.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-22 04:01pm
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Karlsburg, New Styria, United Federation of Planets
00:19 GST



Karlsburg was a well-sized ocean-sized city of about half a million on the Northern Continent of New Styria, founded by settlers from Europe in 2314 ST-3 Calendar time. Only fifty light years from the Cardassian border, Karlsburg had avoided attack during the war, though there were a few memorials on the planet to commemorate Styrians who died fighting with the planetary militia and Federation Security Forces during the war.
Karlsburg hosted a spaceport for liners and transports capable of planetary landing. Within walking distance was the Emerson Hotel, a three story hotel located near the beach. Cheaper than the more expensive hotels that catered to the planet's citizens and visitors, the Emerson still made suites available. And its owner was sufficiently greedy that it was easy to give him a few extra bars of GPL - or a few extra Alliance dollars these days - and ensure that the authorities wouldn't be too much of an annoyance.
Currently, a third of the hotel's rooms were taken up by Bajorans. They stayed to themselves, their occupancy paid for by the renters of a group of rooms on the top floor. Inside the best room - an efficiency with a kitchen, two bedrooms and bathrooms, and a foldout couch - ARAL (Anti-Racist Action League) co-founder Asako t'Prinn was seated at the table in a khaki T-shirt and pants. Her skin was a light yellow, with pointed Vulcanoid ears from her Romulan father and the Oriental facial features she received from her Japanese mother. Her dark hair wasn't very long, kept in a pony tail that went down a few inches below her shoulderblades. She was small and athletically fit due to her personal training, which considering their group's more questionable activities was a necessity. On her desk was a pile of GPL bars that they had "liberated" from a government ground convoy moving them from the government treasury to a Federation supply warehouse outside Karlsburg. The local police were still investigating, of course, but there was little love for the Federation central government amongst Styrians and the police had pretty much decided the robbers weren't going to get caught.
They were going to take the GPL with them and cash them in to a Ferengi broker with an office on New Norwich for Alliance dollars, which could then go into their front group Equality Without Race's accounts and fund their more legitimate activities, like anti-racist propaganda and the funds they used to move "hybrids" to more accepting locales. The Alliance was now becoming a popular spot - though there were racists in the ADN as well, most Alliance colonists tended to be open-minded types. They viewed the biological compatibility of the Alpha Quadrant races, and the resulting multi-racial children, with interest and fascination more than suspicion.
Seated in a chair in their underwear and watching a sitcom from the Alliance were Asako's comm officer and sensor officer, to use the term loosely. Her communications specialist was Rachel McTaggert, the product of an Orion father and Human mother. Rachel was a beautiful woman with light green skin and long black hair, in her late twenties and having learned her way around comm gear since she was thirteen. She'd never known her father, as her mother was a former brothel slave in one of the Eastern nations of Orion. Because of the way the Eastern Orions treated the institution of slavery Rachel's mother had been a slave when she was born but Rachel herself had not been born a slave, though it mattered little in the end as her mother's freedom was bought by an abolitionist group so they could return to the Federation when Rachel was eleven.
Seated next to her was Larrisa Hortul Josica, a beautiful blond-haired girl from Rubicun IV. Rubicun IV - the homeworld of a human-like race called Edo - had been declared off-limits due to the strange entity in orbit over the world. But the data on the Edo gathered by the USS Enterprise was an enticement to the wrong type of people, and within a year of the contact a corrupt Federation bureaucrat had sold the files on the Edo to a group of slavers in the Orion Syndicate. They had pulled off a daring abduction, warping to just within transporter range and beaming nearly two dozen Edo off their homeworld before warping away again. Larrisa had been one of those unfortunate Edo, who were all sold into Orion sex slavery due to their physical attributes, such as their greater physical stamina and great attractiveness. Larrisa had been lucky enough to be sold to an owner who tried to take Asako and some of her comrades as slaves - in the resulting carnage, they freed her and brought Larrisa into ARAL.
Asako looked at the clock, seeing they had still a few hours before they would have to begin boarding the Denmark Vesey. The Vesey was a nice ship she had bought cheap in the Triangle. Decently-sized, capable of planetary landing, and she could sprint in a pinch. Best of all, Asako had recently transferred her registry to New Liberty, so she was officially a ship from the Alliance and subject to Stellar Navy protection. Given the Cardies' attempts to forcefully inspect and even seize ships with Bajorans, Asako was happy that her ship would be getting official escort from the Alliance.
She heard Rachel and Larrisa giggling and looked up to see the sitcom finish a comedy scene and go to commercial break. As the commercial began advertising a new toy of some kind, the two women turned to each other and began kissing playfully. "I would have thought you two wore each other out last night," she commented wryfully. Having Vulcanoid hearing wasn't always a blessing.
"Larrisa never wears out," Rachel said.
Asako shook her head and continued to work on some last minute paperwork while Rachel and Larrisa made out on the couch. After looking over the paperwork for the launch, Asako got exasperated and grumbled, "Just where the hell is Sophia? She was supposed to come back to the suite an hour ago."
"She's probably got her wrists tied to bed posts right now," Rachel giggled.
Asako sighed. She'd thought Sophia's most recent attempt at romance had exploded spectacularly enough that she wouldn't try again for a while. Much like my own, Asako sighed to herself. Even if they were intimately-close friends (without the physical intimacy, of course), there were some things Asako and Sophia were simply different on. Early on, it'd been their attitudes about themselves. Asako had been fiercely proud of her Rihannsu and Human heritage, believing herself the mixture of two of the most dynamic and influential races in the entire quadrant. Sophia, on the other hand, was the product of a brutal rape by her Bendii-stricken Vulcan blood father against her mother and so she hated her Vulcan half. It had been made worse because her grandparents had first sent her and her mother Mitra off into one of the underground railroad networks to keep Sophia's Vulcan blood relatives from claiming custody. It had engendered great self-loathing for Sophia - her right ear still had a scar from her attempt as a seven year old to cut off the points of her ears - and she had been rather unstable when the two met for the first time.

That had been nearly twenty years ago. The two found they were completely reliant on each other for friendship. Asako had restored Sophia's pride in herself as an individual, encouraging her to think of herself as such and not merely as a person torn between her Human and Vulcan halves. Sophia, in turn, had not only gotten Asako to "lighten up" a bit, but she had inspired Asako to begin actively working for others like them, born of two races and subjected to severe racism in many societies inside and outside the Federation. And hence came ARAL and Equality Without Race; a bold idea supported by questionable means and created because a hard young woman born of a Human prostitute and a one-time Romulan client had a chance encounter with a fugitive dancing topless in a slum dive on Nimbus III, one step away from the life Asako's mother had been forced into.

But yes, the differences! Asako had always been something of a quiet woman, though she always confided in Sophia, the closest thing she'd ever have for a soulmate. Sophia felt the same way toward her, but she was far from quiet. Rambunctious, impulsive, stubborn, and prone to fits of debauchery, Sophia was loud and opinionated. She loved Asako as a soulmate and she loved men for sex. And she was never satisfied with normal sex. She loved getting kinky; more accurately, she loved getting tied up. For all her aggressiveness and stubborness Sophia inexplicably (to Asako at least) enjoyed being helpless to the men she had sex with. She had herself tied up, tied down, chained, and a great many other things. Asako had a number of embarrassing memories from their early years of barging into sex clubs to find her and having to carry Sophia out because the men had exhausted her. And then there were the close calls, the times back in the Triangle when one Orion slaver or another had an eye on either of them, the times when Sophia's mouth had gotten them in trouble... it was almost impossible to think they were here and not dead or worse. Of course, Sophia had finally started to mellow after she hit the big Three-Oh (and Asako could remember her lament and bitchfest about "getting old" on that birthday quite well, thank you very much!), but sometimes she still looked for trouble. Old habits died hard, after all.
The door opened and Sophia entered, wearing a black halter top that emphasized the size of her bosom because it was one size too small and knee-length gray shorts. Her mother's old heart-shaped locket was hanging in her cleavage, which the top was cut low enough to show part of. Asako didn't say anything at first. This was Sophia being sexy. She'd gotten laid and she must have really enjoyed it. "Glad to see you came to join us," Asako called out. "Care to help with this?"
"I'm sorry, Asako. But Yevem and I got a little wound up after breakfast."
Asako hid a smirk. Yevem Raelim was another "hybrid"; his Rigelian mother had been a prostitute like Asako's and his father one of her Klingon clients. Yevem was the ship's engineer and one of their point men for their robberies, and often surprised people because, despite his Klingon heritage, he never acted in the stereotype (which was really the point for Asako and her comrades). Of course, this wasn't the first time Yevem and Sophia had been together. They'd had an on-again off-again relationship for years. And Asako supposed that it made sense that she'd rebound with Yevem after the complete disaster that had been Sophia's romance with that handsome Risan during their four month stay on Hermal VI Of course, Asako would have to tease her later.

Sophia looked at Larrisa and Rachel as they continued to make out on the couch, Larrisa's bra now discarded onto the floor. "Looks like I'm not the only one getting wound up," Sophia said before taking a seat opposite Asako to work on the departure paperwork. Like she usually did, Sophia easily picked up what was left to do and started working on it. "Think this fuel requisition will go through?"
"Yes. I had a little talk with the orbital supplier while you were all tied up." Asako cackled in unison with Sophia, who appreciated the joke and even rubbed at her wrists to go along with it. "He didn't like it at first. Thought the grade was too rich for our old core. I had to explain that we had a pretty good engineer. One that wasn't trained by Starfleet or by one of the FSDB schools."
"Well, you're saving us a bit by getting this stuff. High efficiency and all." Sophia put the paper away and brought up another. "Don't you wish we had a PADD for this?"
"These Styrians like doing things the old-fashioned way." Asako finished signing the flight plan. "I have to send this first and have a copy transmitted to the Alliance Navy. They already know we're coming, but I didn't decide on a final flight plan until this morning."
"Going a bit further out of our way, I see?"
"Reduces the chance that the Cardies will intercept us."
"Yeah." Sophia looked over a form verifying their manifest and scribbled her name on it with a pen. "I'm used to stencils."
"So am I. Though if we decide to stay in the Alliance after dropping the Bajorans off, well, I hear they like keeping hard copies of paperwork. We'll be doing this for quite a while."
"Still thinking of staying on New Liberty for a while?"
"Yes." Asako nodded and sighed. "Listen, if not for the Bajorans helping out, we might not've gotten the GPL this time. And Hermal VI was too damned close a call. Things are getting hot, and I've spoken with the Magnussons. They think we need to lay low for a while. Just take the money we've got now, store it, and spend it wisely for a bit. And, the Magnussons think we have a real chance of attracting some financial aid from sources in the Alliance. But we won't get it if we keep shooting up government convoys and banks."
Sophia sighed and rubbed at her shoulder, which she'd partially injured while diving for cover in the recent robbery. "I'd like some quiet. But I have to ask, did we really get enough that we can live for a while? Investment accounts might get interest, but will it get enough for us to pay our berth fees, pay upkeep, and to get rooms to stay in?"

"Well, we might have to take up jobs," Asako said. "At least until we can get some groups in the Alliance to help our cause."
"Oh, that sounds so good. I go from being a revolutionary fighting racist and economic oppression to... what? A factory worker? A waitress? Maybe I should go back to dancing with my clothes off?" Sophia smirked. "Though I hear that nude dancers in the Alliance get paid top dollar."
Asako shook her head. "I'd never ask you to do that, Sophia. I wouldn't want you to. It's demeaning."
"Yeah, it is." Sophia stopped what she was doing for a moment and broke out laughing. "I fell for that one, didn't I?"
Looking up from a paper, Asako showed a rare mischievous grin. "What do you mean by that?"
"I just admitted to having demeaned myself. Hanging out at clubs, getting naked and tied up so that a bunch of strangers can fuck me. Haven't done it in a while, but it's no better than stripping, isn't it? In fact, it's probably worse." Sophia continued to cackle and kept signing. "Okay, fine, I find a good position and I'll go back to dancing."
Asako gave her an "I'm not amused" look. "Sophia, I just wanted you to admit that you've done some pretty dumb things. Like I said, I wouldn't want you to do that kind of thing. I wouldn't ask any of us to."
"Oh, I understand. But the money could be pretty good." Sophia picked up the pen and pointed it toward the couch. "Who knows how much we'd earn if we convinced Larrisa and Rachel to do that in front of a camera?"
"Sophia, you're incorrigible."
"Thank you." Sophia went back to work. As they worked, both heard Larrisa and Rachel get up and looked up in time to see Larrisa pulling Rachel into one of the suite's bedrooms, the door slamming behind them. Sophia frowned. "That's my room, isn't it?"
"Yes it is."
Sophia shook her head, slowly griinning again and cackling before going back to work.


Bowie, Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
01:11 GST



The sun had long descended, but Jerry Polawski and Herb Walters were still hard at work in the Alliance Intelligence Department's new Complex, built in Old Bowie near US 301. The two were technology experts hired as consultants to Alliance Intelligence, and now they were hard at work looking over the records from Henderson's sensor net during the timeframe of the freighter Deyteliz's stay in orbit.
They had put the sensor data through several instruments so far, looking for the proverbial smoking gun. So far, all they had was the power spike a few moments before detonation. A power spike consistant with additional transporter activity, but nothing they had was indicating a second METter (Matter-Energy Transportation) beam. "This damned equipment simply isn't precise enough," Polawski finally growled after putting the data through another system.
"Yeah." Herb was jotting down notes on the results. "Gytep's simply too close to Mwinyiburg."
Polawski looked back to the single cylinder on his screen. The problem was that none of their equipment could see anything beyond the recorded subspace "ripple" of the single METter beam to Mwinyiburg. The ripple had the effect of hiding any other beams that might have been triggered within a radius that, unfortunately, included Gytep. "This is impossible. The damned Xepolites' METter tech needs serious upgrading. We haven't had this kind of ripple problem in a century."
"Though it's rather helpful in hiding the incriminating evidence." Walters stopped for a moment. "You know, I've thought of something silly. We're going about this all wrong."
"Oh?"
"We're taking the usual approach. Looking for the subspace disturbance of METting. But why do that? It's Matter-Energy conversion. We should look for the energy of the transport itself!"
"Against all that background radiation from the planet's Van Allen belt, the thermal radiation from the sun?"
"Some time ago, I read this article in "Popular Mechanics". Some group of researchers from the University of New Israel has been studying the exact nature of the energy used in METting. They had to build their own scanning unit, something called the MET Energy Detector, to do their work" Walters went over to a phone unit. "Let me call the boss and see if he can get this data sent over to them to see what they can find."
Polawski nodded and turned back to his controls to run the data through another new system he'd drawn up, seeing if there was some other way to find what they were looking for.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-23 06:48pm
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Chapter 2


SS Denmark Vesey, 12 Light Years from ADN-UFP Border
Universe Designate ST-3
11:12 GST



Asako took a drink from a mug of thick, rich Turkish coffee and rubbed at her eyes to keep the monotonous starfield on the Vesey's viewer from figuratively burning into her retinas. Everyone was dressed in thicker jackets and trousers now that they were in space. The Vesey's hold was filled with their GPL haul and Bajoran refugees to be dropped off on New Liberty. Best of all, the Vesey was being protected by a flight of four F/A-32 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers from the carrier DNS Intrepid.
So here they were cruising along at about six light years per hour toward the Alliance border, about two hours away at their present speed. Sophia and Rachel were not in their usual bridge spots and were in bed, the former for rest and the latter because, apparently, Larrisa had worn her out first. Larrisa was at the ship's sensor station. Thadoc - a man who was half-Romulan and half-Bolian - was seated at the helm. Defense was taken up by another man, Dennis Kalter, who was mostly Human with a Betazoid grandparent. Rachel's usual post was occupied by one of the "purebloods", as Asako teasingly called them; T'Pek Rogers, a Vulcan woman who was raised by a human family, her adopted father having been her biological father's bunkmate in Starfleet.

Asako took a look at the chronometer and counted the hours until Sophia would come to relieve her. Even after crossing the border, it was still another twenty-five light years to New Liberty. And Yevem wanted to slow down once they got over the border, so it could be another half-day before they were actually planetside again. She hated the thought of being asleep while landing, but certainly a few hours' sleep would be helpful.
"Asako!"
Asako's attention turned to Larrisa. The young woman's eyes were intent upon her screens. "What is it, Larrisa?"
"Picking up contacts on an intercept course. Reading seven." Larrisa turned back, panic on her face. "Asako, they're Cardassian!"
So much for a quiet run to the border. Asako straightened in her seat. "Dennis, sound general quarters! T'Pek, alert our escorts!"
Both nodded. T'Pek brought the receiver up to her ear and spoke into a microphone. "Shield Flight, this is Denmark Vesey. We are detecting Cardassians on an intercept vector. We can't determine what kind of contacts they are. Please advise."
T'Pek's finger slipped on the control to put the fighters' response on speakers. A female voice with an Australian accent came over the radio. "Denmark Vesey, this is Shield Leader. Maintain course and make no hostile action. Allow us to handle the situation."
"Roger that, Shield Leader," T'Pek responded. She looked to Asako. "Well?"
"We do as they say," Asako said. "They're the professionals."
At that moment the door opened and Sophia appeared on the bridge, wearing a cotton long-sleeved shirt and sweat pants. "What's going on?"
"Cardies on intercept, Sophia." Asako kept her hands on the arms of the chair. "Remember, everyone, save the last shot for yourselves."
There were silent nods across the bridge.


Seated in the cockpit of her F/A-32, Lieutenant Camille Burelli's hands remained stable on the warp-flight controls. The flight stick was offline for warp flight - as was SOP - and the fighter's onboard computers did much of the work of flying the craft at warp. "Jimmy, anything yet?"
Her Sensor Officer, Ensign Jimmy Kell, replied, "Nothing. But their sensors are probably longer-ranged than our's."
"Get me Hawkeye."


At a leisurely warp pace about three light years away, the E-106 Watchman "Hawkeye" was busy scanning away and directing the actions of all active in-warp flights. Seated at one of its sensor control panels, Petty Officer 2nd Class Adrian Michaels was monitoring the situation when the call came in over his headset. "Hawkeye, this is Shield Leader. Vesey has spotted seven incoming Cardassian contacts. Verification and identification requested."
Michaels went right to work. "Seven contacts, they will intercept in fifteen minutes. Mass readings indicate that five are light attack craft and two are vessels of cruiser tonnage."
"Roger that, Hawkeye."


Camille drew in a breath. Before she could respond, Jimmy said, "Picking up broadcast from direction of Cardassian contacts. Placing on speakers."
"This is Gul Merak of the Strovarak to civilian craft. You are carrying Bajorans suspected of terrorism against the Cardassian Oversight Authority of Bajor. You will come out of warp immediately and prepare to be boarded for inspection. Refuse to do so and you will be fired upon."
"Put me on, Jimmy." Camille waited for the beep in her headset that told her she was broadcasting on a wide channel. "Strovarak, this is Lieutenant Camille Burelli of the Alliance Stellar Navy. The Denmark Vesey is a vessel registered in the Alliance. We do not recognize Cardassia's proclaimed right to inspect neutral vessels in Federation space. Please break off immediately."
There was a response. "This is Strovarak. You will not interfere with this inspection. We demand that you disable all of your crafts' weapons and standby for completed inspection. Fail to comply and you will be fired upon."
"Well, looks like the Cardies aren't taking 'no' for an answer this time," Jimmy muttered.
"Patch me to Intrepid, Jimmy."


In the Combat Information Center (CIC) of Intrepid, Line Captain Sebastian Gill was looking over the developing situation that Hawkeye had informed the ship of. "Time to intercept?"
"Cardassians have picked up speed, sir. They'll be in torpedo range in five minutes."
"Radio, patch me to the Cardie ships." Gill cleared his throat while the Lieutenant at the station verified the signal was being received. When he nodded, Gill spoke. "Strovarak, this is Line Captain Gill of the Intrepid. My orders are to prevent the harrassment and seizure of Alliance shipping in this region of space, with deadly force if necessary. If you continue to adopt a hostile stance I will be forced to take action. Break off immediately." After the receiver was off, Gill turned to Fighter Command. "Which warp-capable squadron do we have on ready-five?"
"78th, sir. FB-34s."
"Avengers. Excellent. Have 78th launch immediately! Put all sublight bomber squadrons on ready-five!" Gill turned back to Radio. "Alert the other ships. Be prepared for warp as soon as necessary. And tell Shield they are not to fire unless they are being targeted."


"Vesey, get ready to drop out of warp at my mark," Camille said. "We can protect you better at sublight."
"Roger that, Shield Leader."
Now with one hand on the button to disengage warp flight and her eyes on her own targeting display, she listened to Jimmy as he ticked off the seconds to weapons range. "Cardassians are entering weapons range in thirty seconds!"
The Cardassian commander's voice came back on the radio. "This is Strovarak to civilian craft. You have twenty seconds to drop out of warp and prepare for inspection. Afterward, we will consider you and your escorts as hostile targets and open fire."
Camille felt sweat on her face as the Cardies drew closer. When they reached weapons range, Jimmy suddenly shoulted, "Cardie targeting systems locking on!"
"Drop out of warp now!" Camille's hand slammed on the key and her fighter came out of warp with the others. Vesey remained still ahead of them.
"The Cardies overshot us! They're coming back around..... dropping out of warp! Their weapons are armed and locking on!"
"Evasives! Break and attack!"


Back on the Intrepid, Gill watched the display screen as Vesey and her escorts came out of warp. The Cardassians overshot, came back around, and dropped out of warp as well.
"Their weapons are armed and locking on!" was the cry over the speakers in the CIC. Immediately after hearing that, Gill lifted himself to his full height and began barking orders. "Launch 78th and give them orders to fire at will!" He hit the button to establish a direct intercom to the bridge. "Go to Code Red and sound General Quarters!"
Formerly blue lights turned to red as the ship's running status changed to its highest alert. Across the vessel, klaxons blared, disturbing the sleep and other activities of off-duty and even on-duty crewmen as the ship's XO shouted on the intercom. "All hands, report to battle stations! This is not a drill! Repeat, all hands to battle stations!"
At that order, every single man assigned to stations outside of the ship's armored "keel" ran to the nearest equipment locker and pulled on vac-suits. Off-duty pilots scrambled out of their squadron ready rooms or out of their quarters to suit up and prepare for launch, while on the hanger deck, organized chaos reigned as the bombers of the 78th Squadron were raised to the launch deck and as other squadrons were prepped for launch. On the launch deck, the 78th was launching, eight craft at a time. The bombers cleared the Intrepid and initiated their small, short-range Cochrane drives.
Back on the CIC, Gill punched the button on the wall to patch through to the command bridge. "Bridge, this is the Captain. As soon as 78th is at warp, set intercept course and engage." Gill looked to the comm officer. "Radio, signal the Radetsky, the Emerald, and the Gao Yu Ling. They are to leave escort formation and intercept the Cardassian vessels at flank speed."
"Aye sir!"


"Shield 2, you and your wingman are to keep with the Vesey. Shield 3, you're with me." Camille activated her Thunderbolt's passive ECM and assumed control with her flight stick and accelerator pedals. The starfighter's engines roared - or would have roared if sound was possible in space - and it broke formation with another craft behind it. On Camille's targeting display, she saw her targets coming in weapons hot. A phaser blast, then another, swept by, missing completely. A third grazed her fighter's defense field.

Her systems locked one of her AFM-10 Starbolt missiles onto an attack craft. "Fox One!" Camille's finger hit the thumb trigger for the missile and sent it rocketing through space. its fusion warhead exploded as it impacted the attack craft's shields. The resulting detonation obliterated the small craft. "One kill!"
Shield 3 had also fired and now a second attack craft disappeared from their screens. They broke away, having reduced their targets to three, and headed toward the Strovarak and her sister to get in a shot with their anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. Both ships began firing with their weapons, having trouble targeting the smaller starfighters. Camille did have to restrain a yelp when one particularly large bolt grazed her shields enough to reduce them to thirty percent efficiency.
At optimum range, they each released their anti-matter torpedoes. The devices had no point-defense to oppose them and slammed into the Strovarak's sister ship, damaging her shields severely with their warheads. Camille locked on with her ASM-4 Mavericks and prepared to sling those missiles as well when Shield 3 disappeared in a bright ball of fire. "Dammit!"
"They're using anti-ship weapons on us, Lieutenant!" Jimmy's voice was restrained but somewhat panicky.
Camille ignored him and fired two Mavericks before breaking away to get some distance. The two missiles closed the distance rapidly. The first impacted and brought down the Cardassian ship's deflectors long enough for the second to hit hull. The missile's AP warhead ripped right through the hull plate and detonated the plasma charge inside the hull, tearing apart the entire belly of the Cardassian ship.
Turning away, Camille heard Lt. Daniel Roth - Shield 2 - calling out a shot. The Cardassian pilot of his target evaded with a hard turn and change of bearing. Camille saw her weapons lock and pulled the finger triggers. Triple bursts of particle fire erupted from the three 20mm particle cannons in the F/A-32's chin. The stream of particle fire crossed the flight path of the attack craft and struck its shields. A few bursts broke through and hit the craft's hull, piercing through it and exposing its inside to space.
Camille banked hard, having guessed that the craft's wingman was moving to get into her rear. Moving proved to be a life-saving maneuver for yet another reason; the Strovarak's main compressor beam went right through where she had been and struck the Vesey.


The Vesey shook as Asako had never felt it shake before. The entire bridge crew lurched against their safety harnesses. Dennis' shout echoed over the bridge. "Shields down to sixty-five percent!"
"Evasives!"
Thaloc pulled the ship away from the Strovarak. As he did so, its injured sister ship fired one of its wing-mounted compressors at them. The beam struck their shields and rocked the ship again. "Shields at forty percent! We've got some minor hull damage!"
The paragon of calm in the situation, Asako looked to Dennis. "Dennis, do you have that special treat loaded?"
Dennis looked back at her. "It's as ready as it's ever going to be, even if Yevem isn't going to like it."
"Use it."
Dennis nodded and looked to his right, where a jury-rigged display and control were. He brought it up and punched a button to open the covering for the "treat", used the ship's sensors to focus the display on the damaged cruiser, and hit a trigger button.
A bright pulse of green erupted from the jury-rigged Romulan disruptor installed into Vesey's bow. The energy slammed into the cruiser's depleted bow shield and ripped into one of its wings, blowing away armor and destroying the compressor beam emitter installed there.
"Shit!" Larrisa's scream filled the bridge. "Torpedoes!"
"Thaloc!"
"You don't need to tell me, Asako." With calm precision, Thaloc maneuvered the Vesey hard enough to cause the Cardassian torpedoes to miss.
"Dennis, fire again!"
"I can't, not for another few moments." Dennis pointed to his display. "The disruptor has to fully recharged to be effective!"
"Torpedoes again!"
Thaloc maneuvered the Vesey in another direction, but it didn't quite work this time. Two torpedoes detonated off their dorsal shields. The Vesey rocked even harder. Sophia turned her eyes toward the ship's operation screen. "Hull breaches on Deck 1! We've got people moving to seal them!"
"Get the emergency fields up!"
"Picking up Cherenkov radiation spike! More craft incoming!"


Seated as comfortably as possible in the cockpit of his FB-34 Avenger, Lt. Cmdr. Gerald "Gerry" Thompkins secured from warp flight and took direct control over his fighter. The rest of the 78th Squadron came out of warp behind him. "Okay everyone, keep formation and stay on target. Bravo and Charlie Flights, go after the damaged one, Cardie 2. We'll take Cardie 1."
The FB-34s turned toward the Cardassian cruisers just as they reacted to their arrival. Energy fire came toward them and Thompkins made note. "Be careful, the Cardies don't have PD so they have to use anti-ship weapons. If one of those hits, you're vapor." Thompkins turned off the comm. "Target still at 600 kilo-klicks?"
His SO, Ensign Pat Lake, replied, "Yes sir. We're almost to within optimum torpedo range."
"And the Cardie fire?"
"Very inaccurate, sir."
"Good." Thompkins kept his eye on the targeting display while keying his anti-ship weapons. The Mk. XIV Anti-Matter Torpedo was the best around, and in addition to the two fixed to the underbelly of his Avenger he had six ASM-5 Javelins, which together packed even more firepower than the torpedoes, even if it was spread out amongst the long-range missiles' warheads. Thompkins moved the fighter to the left a bit and, after a moment, noticed a compressor beam flashing in that direction.
"500 kilo-klicks!"
Thompkins triggered the torpedoes. "Fox One!" The other 11 bombers he'd set upon the Strovarak did so as well. The Cardassian cruiser maneuvered sharply to avoid the incoming weapons. But without effective ECM, it couldn't quite do so, and out of twenty-four torpedoes, fourteen made impact. Which was about ten more than necessary. Strovarak's shields buckled under the fifth torpedo's hit; every torpedo afterward slammed into unprotected and insufficiently-armored hull. Within moments, Strovarak and its crew had been reduced to bits and pieces of free-floating debris and vapor.
The other cruiser turned away too late. The eight bombers after it split into their component fflights of four. The lead flight launched the first wave of torpedoes, just four, and broke away. The cruiser's previous battle damage ensured that its screens did not survive the second impact; the third and fourth tore apart the ship and detached its "tail" from the main winged body of the vessel.


Asako was the only person on the bridge of the Vesey who didn't cheer when the second cruiser went up. After all, there was still two attack craft out there.
It was only one a moment later, as another Starbolt made impact against a target and blew up. Shield Leader's craft turned toward the other one, which was tailing Shield 4 with Shield 2 also moving to protect his wingman. The pilot chose discretion over valor and broke off his attack on Shield 4. Maneuvering barely out of the way of a line of particle bursts from Shield Leader, the craft accelerated away and jumped to warp a moment later.
The Shield Flight seemed to be turning to follow, but broke away. They were going to let him get away. The battle was over. Asako nodded to Sophia, who canceled the alert. "That was a close one. Closest we've had in space for years."
"Half of the bridge people weren't here last time," Sophia reminded her with a grin. "In fact, I think I used to be at the helm in those days."
"I can see why it was a close call," Thaloc said with an amused smirk.
Sophia gave him a glare. Asako had to hide a chuckle. "What's the ship's status?"
"Matilda and Dryor have their work teams bringing up patches for the hull breaches. They're not too severe."
"And Kerla?"
Sophia tapped a couple of keys. For a moment, what she saw made her stay silent. "Asako, Kerla's team isn't showing."
The bridge became deathly quiet. "Sophia, are their communicators not working?"
"I'm looking through the system now, but it can't find them." Sophia brought a hand up to her mouth and gasped at another piece of data. "Oh no...." She turned again. "Asako, their last reported position was in Section 10 when the Cardassian beam hit the hull. That's where the beam hit the ship strongest. The entire Section was flooded with compressor energy. They.... they were vaporized instantly."
Everyone on the bridge sombered up quickly. The only thing that didn't change was Asako's expression. It remained cold and emotionless, as she always was in these kinds of situations.
A beeping noise stole their attention. T'Rel looked to her station. "We're being hailed."
Asako immediately pulled some of her dark hair down to obscure her pointed ears. She also forced herself to smile and appear friendly. "By?"
"The Intrepid. She'll be coming out of warp in a few minutes."
"Put them on." Asako looked to the screen and saw a young-looking man with a narrow face appear on the screen. She had to remind herself that though he looked to be in his 20s, Alliance aging-delay gene treatments meant he could very well be up to his 60s or even 70s. "Sir, this is Yumiko Ogawa of the Denmark Vesey. We thank you very much for your fighters' help. They saved our lives."
"It's what we do, ma'am," the man answered in a base North American accent. "I'm Line Captain Sebastian Gill, commander of the Intrepid and her task force. Do you need any further assitance?"
"We are repairing hull damage and will be warp capable soon enough. So long as you're here protecting us, we shouldn't need anything else."
"That's fine, though I'll have my cruisers escort you into Alliance space. The Cardies will think twice about attacking two Alliance light cruisers with their usual raiding groups."
"We appreciate the escort, Intrepid."
"One more thing. If I might ask.... according to our records," Gill looked down, "your ship is unarmed. But my pilots said you have what looks to be a Romulan-built disruptor cannon in your bow."
Asako swallowed. This was the risk she'd taken by opening fire. Still, she kept on as pleasant a face as she could. "Yes. We bought the cannon from a weapons dealer who trades in surplus military equipment from other powers. I knew we'd be making a run in this area and that we'd be picking up Bajorans, so I figured it might be best to have some defense should the Cardassians attack. I thought I'd sent an update to my ship's specifications to the Registry office in Wexford. I apologize if it didn't get done, and I'll do so immediately."
Gill nodded. He wasn't going to make an issue of it. "Very well. When you're ready, continue on. The cruisers Emerald and Scranton will accompany you. Intrepid out."
He disappeared from the screen. Asako didn't say anything at first, though her expression returned to its usual cold exterior. "Okay, Sophia, mind the bridge." She slipped out of the command chair. "Let me know when we're ready to go."
"Where are you going, Asako?"
"To help fix my ship," she replied. "And... I'd better tell Delilah that Lorim is gone."
"I can do that," Sophia said.
"It's not necessary. I'll do it."
"But Asako..."
"I said I'd do it!" Asako's voice thundered over the bridge and silenced Sophia immediately. Without waiting any further, Asako walked out of the bridge.
At this point, Larrisa broke out crying. T'Rel and Dennis had tears in their eyes. Thaloc was the only one not visibly hurting, and even he seemed to have slouched over. It was understandable. They were one big extended family. No matter if they were "purebloods", "hybrids", or "culturally confused" (a euphemism by the genetic determinist groups for someone of one race raised in the cultural tradition of another race), every member of the Vesey crew shared the common dream of a galaxy where they would be judged by who they were, not what they were. They'd lost friends before, to random violence, to sickness, but to lose six comrades in one quick flash like that was a loss they'd never felt before.
Sophia got into the command chair with the memories of her slain friends in her heart. She began to weep.


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
12:29 GST



In a rather unassuming corner of the library in Raymond Elementary School, a class of five and six year olds were listening to one of the most powerful men alive read them a story book. As a few cameras and several Presidential Bodyguards looked on, President Mamatmas read from the thin book, an edition of "The Tortoise and the Hare", much like he'd done privately with his children and his grandchildren through the years.

His decision to make this public appearance, scheduled back when he'd first assumed the Presidency following Jennifer Verdes' resignation in January, came after some thought. Mamatmas had learned early in politics that everything was a Catch 22. No matter what action you took you would be criticized and attacked for it by your political rivals, regardless of what they would have done in your place. By fulfilling this scheduled appearance, a few hours at a local elementary school to read to kindergarten age children, he was going to be attacked by some for neglecting his duties by not focusing on the growing crisis with the Cardassians. Had he decided to cancel to do just that, he would have been attacked for not honoring the commitment and would have been accused of trying to micro-manage - and hog the spotlight - in this delicate moment. It wouldn't hurt their attacks that disappointed children would be involved.
So he decided to go with making the appearance, deciding that actions would speak louder than words if things started to fly. And so here he was at nine-thirty in the morning, reading to schoolchildren while Alliance soldiers in another universe were preparing for war. In a positive light, it was a sign of his confidence in his Cabinet and in the people in the field that he wasn't there to look over their every action. Which is how Mamatmas would have preferred it anyway.
As he passed the half-way mark of the book, a dark-skinned man in a stereotypical black suit and with sunglasses walked into the room. He walked up to the President as he read and whispered into Mamatmas' ear. "Sir, they need you at the Pentagon. The Cardassians have attacked an Alliance civilian ship."
Mamatmas nodded slightly and continue to read. The security man stood up and walked to the door. With absolute calm, as if nothing had happened, as if he'd been told nothing, Mamatmas finished reading the book to the children. He put it down onto a nearby desk. "Now, children, if you liked that book, I have brought many, many more just like it." He pointed to a nearby return cart that was loaded with books that a charity he contributed to had donated to the school. "Ms. Nichols will help you pick out the books you'll like. I want you to read them often. Read as many books as you can. Because reading is very important for your future. If you can read, you can do anything and be anything you want to be when you grow up."
A boy in the crowd raised his hand. "Can I be President when I grow up?"
Mamatmas grinned at him. "Of course you can. Just make sure you read, it'll come in handy as a President. That goes for all of you."
The children responded enthusiastically and went over to the cart to pick out books. Ms. Nichols, dressed far more formally than an elementary school teacher should have been, walked up to him. "Thank you, Mister President. I can't tell you how happy we are that you chose to come today despite everything's that happening. These children really needed this."
"It's the least I could do, ma'am. The rest is up to you."
Nichols nodded at that. "You have to go now, don't you? That man came and talked to you because something's happened."
"Yes. I hate to sneak out like this, but I have to. Please, apologize to the children for me."
"Of course, Mister President."
Mamatmas shook her hand one final time and walked to the door. "Mister Jones, let's go."
"Right away, Mister President," the agent said. He motioned to the others and they silently filtered out of the library.


Dervak Military Station, Dervak, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
12:38 GST



1st Rank Glin Horvem of the Military Interrogation Division walked briskly through the bland, curved gray corridors of Dervak station, in orbit over the Cardassian colony world Dervak IV. Horvem heard a scream in the distance, something he was pleased to hear given the purpose of the wing he was in.
He came up to the door he had been meaning to enter and allowed it to slide open. Interrogation Room 3 was active, with two of his 3rd Rank Glins conducting the interrogation of the subject. The subject, a nude Human girl of about 23 years of age, was locked into the vertical restraint frame in the middle of the room, the device keeping her arms tightly over her head to limit her ability to move down to the slightest squirmimg. Her tan-skinned body was heaving and sweating and her head slumped down. Her hair, an exotic (to a Cardassian) red, was disheveled and tattered looking. "How is the interrogation progressing, Glin Jevil?"
The one Cardassian woman in the room walked up in her gray coat and standard uniform. Horvem suppressed a smile at the thought of how vicious this Human had found a female Cardassian military interrogator, often boasted as the most terrifying thing in the entire Cardassian Union. She handed him a PADD with several names, displayed with human lettering beside the Cardassian. "Five names. Well, four, but in her babbling she mentioned a classmate who called Cardassians 'murderous butchers' and wanted to see us kicked out of Bajor. We'll leave it up to the Justice Ministry to decide if that's enough evidence for charges."
Horvem returned the PADD and looked back to the girl, who was crying. "Christine Bennington, I've returned with the formal judgement of the military court on your sentence." Horvem grinned at her, seeing he only barely had her attention. "The court has decided to be merciful and has not sentenced you to death or to hard labor for life. They've decided to grant you a special sentence of allowing the military to place you where we deem fit, to fully repay to Cardassia the damages of your crimes."
"But I haven't done anything," Christine wept. Her voice was accented, though Horvem didn't know the type of accent.
"Your confession of guilt is a matter of public record."
The response was a loud wail. "I only confessed to that because you tortured me! I'm innocent!"
"So you're recanting your confession?" Horvem shrugged. "It does you no good. You've already been convicted, so the recant is worthless. Of course, that's fortunate for you, as I would have been required to re-interrogate you to get the truth." Horvem took Jevil's PADD again to check some names. "I see you haven't yet named George Danvers as one of your co-conspirators. That's very disappointing."
"I don't even know who he is!"
Horvem shrugged again. "That's immaterial. We have told you he is a co-conspriator. We expect you to agree."
"I don't know him!"

Horvem nodded to Jevil. Her finger pressed a few keys on her control and activated the neuro-shock contacts in the restraint frame. The energy they generated traveled through Christine's nervous system, inflicting excruciating agony. Horvem gave no obvious response to her screams. "George Danvers. He has aided terrorists. You will name him for doing so." He nodded to Jevil again and she turned off the machine.
"George.... George...." Christine kept panting, trying to catch her breath.
Without Horvem's order, Jevil turned the machine back on for a couple seconds. Horvem wondered if she'd done so just to hear the scream come out of Christine's laboring lungs. He held up a hand to Jevil to order her to stop and looked back to Christine. "George Danvers is a fellow terrorist, isn't he? He is helping the Bajoran terrorist movement."
Sucking in air, Christine managed a "Yeessss...".
"Good. And what about Daphne Kelly?"
"I don't know who she is."
"That's a shame. Jevil?"
The torture device activated again. Christine's screaming echoed in the room. Horvem waited patiently until about ten seconds had passed and motioned to Jevil to stop. While Christine panted for breath, Horvem continued as if nothing had happened. "Daphne Kelly. She's from Cook VI. I'm sure you remember that world, and the so-called refugee camp you worked in. She's the chairwoman of the Cook Defense Committee. She's been using her position to help Bajoran terrorists, hasn't she?"
"No."
Jevil's finger moved over the controls again. After another eight seconds, she was told to turn it off. Horvem shook his head. "There are others who can identify Daphne Kelly as a terrorist, you know. Don't think you'll be sparing her by taking this for her."
"I've never met her!", Christine screamed. "Why are you doing this to me?!"
"Because we want you to identify Daphne Kelly as a terrorist agent so that we can have the Federation arrest her and extradite her to Cardassia for interrogation and trial."
"Why?!" Tears streamed down Christine's face. "You can't do this!"
"Of course we can." Horvem chuckled. He walked up to Christine to look her straight in the eyes. "This is Cardassia. The State can do anything it wants."

She retorted, "I'm a Federation citizen! I have rights!" Her arms pulled against the locked metal restraints holding her arms toward the ceiling.
At that, Horvem promptly laughed in her face. "There are no such things as rights. Jevil!"
Horvem was close enough to the restraint frame that now he could almost feel it hum with power. He might have even heard it if not for Christine's screaming. When Jevil turned the device off, Christine began to pant again. "This.... this is...... wrong....." She breathed hard for a moment before continuing. "What.... what did I do wrong? What... did we do.... wrong? Why are you..."
"Because I can." He watched Christine begin to shake her head, but before she could say anything he continued. "You Federation people. You claim to be enlightened, but you've forgotten the basic rule of nature!" Horvem began cackling as he moved away from her. "The basic truth of the universe, Human, is that there are no such things as personal rights. In this universe, there are the strong and there are the weak. The strong do whatever they want and all that the weak can do is suffer what they must. Of course, there are different... levels, if you will. Those who are stronger than some but weaker than others. Then there are the strong at the very top - the State - and the weak at the very bottom." Horvem went back to her and pressed a finger to Christine's visible sternum. "That would be you. Which, I admit, is not an enviable place to be. I may go to the mess hall today and force your guards to clean the waste disposal system simply because I feel like it, and as they are the weaker, they will have to do it. But you are weaker than they, so they will inevitably take it out on you by going into your cell and having their way with you. And that, Human, is how the universe works. The strong oppress the weak because they can. Which is why one day, Cardassian troops will be lounging about on your race's homeworld."
"Why? What have we done to you?"
"Not very much, actually." Horvem nodded. "But it does not matter. We are the strong, so we will do what we want. We didn't create the rules of the universe. We are as defenseless against them as you are. But we have embraced them while your race, and the Federation, have rejected them. Which is why the day will come when Humans will join Bajorans and all the other races as slaves to Cardassia. And now, if you'll excuse me, I must be going." Horvem walked away from Christine and toward the door. As he got to the door, he suddenly remembered something and turned. "Oh, by the way, I've been informed of how you will serve your sentence, Christine Bennington. Later today, you will be beamed to Madred Village 23 to live out the remainder of your natural life." Horvem turned to Jevil. "Make sure we get every name on that list, the Gul has insisted. Do whatever you have to. Just.... don't be too rough. Human women are like durba flowers. Very beautiful, but so fragile that they are easily crushed."
"Of course, sir." Jevil turned to look at Christine while Horvem left the room. As he rounded the corner, he began to hear Christine screaming as the door swished close.


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
13:45 GST



"Honored Chancellor, fellow Representatives of the Allied Nations, we stand now on the brink of a crisis."
Standing in what was once the US Senate, now the Alliance Council, Representative Elijah Weisbaum (known to his political rivals and enemies as "Bloody Elijah") continued speaking, having finally gained the floor at the Chancellor's grudging permission. "The crisis I speak of is not just the military crisis brewing in Universe ST-3. It is a moral crisis, a crisis of spirit and of strength, that is festering here in the heart of the Alliance capital." Weisbaum glanced quickly at his PDA to read the next bits of his statement. "The facts speak for themselves. The Alliance of Democratic Nations has been wronged. Our space has been violated, a planet belonging to a member of this Alliance has been subjected to nuclear attack, and over two thousand innocent civilians - Alliance citizens or prospective citizens all - have been butchered. And we all know who the murderers are. The military autocrats that reside in Cardassia have no respect for the basic dignity of sentient life. They have no respect for peaceful or honorable intent. They only respect force, the laws of the jungle, and they act in that fashion. They are a pack of murdering barbarians, an unrighteous scourge that has used violence and oppression and atrocity to carve out an Evil Empire, as our President rightfully called it."
"But that same President has not done his duty! He should be here, now, asking this Council for a declaration of war on Cardassia. He should be here, telling us the facts, informing us of our duty, so that we can release him and our valiant soldiers to do their's! But where is he? Where was the President when the Cardassians were spilling the blood of Alliance national citizens this morning? He was at an elementary school reading 'The Tortoise and the Hare' to kindergarteners! Well, the President's choice of a book was interesting, but I will remind you that slow and steady does not always win the race. This Council must insist that the President stop dawdling, stop waiting for a diplomatic opening, and start doing his job!"

Weisbaum slammed his fist on the desk before him, for effect. "This Council has already heard the testimony of Bajroans who have been abused, who have been violated, by Cardassia. We have already seen for ourselves the arrogant, spineless weakness of the Federation and the ravenous appetite of Cardassia. This Alliance is now the last bastion of freedom for the Alpha Quadrant of Universe ST-3. We have already acted there, with our restoration to Kelos of a democratic and stable government earlier this year. Now we must act again to defend the sovereign rights of people who ought be free but instead have been brutally enslaved by their neighbors. It would be against protocol for me to ask you for a declaration of war - that is the President's duty, even if he has neglected it - so I instead ask you to pass Council Resolution 203-2153, which others have already submitted to the judgement of the Council. This CR will proclaim Alliance support for a free and independent Bajor, no matter what the cowards in the Federation or the autocrats of Cardassia say."
"Are we moving toward war with this? Yes. The Alliance will be at war with Cardassia very soon, I feel, and I want the entire Multiverse to know that our cause is the proper one. We are the ones who are waging war in defense of ourselves, our families, our values, and of innocent people who have been wronged greatly by Cardassian brutality."
As Weisbaum continued on, Chancellor Montesque was approached at his place by an aide who mentioned something to him. He nodded in reply and then waited for Weisbaum to finish his statement. When Weisbaum had had finished Montesque spoke up. "I have just been informed that President Mamatmas wishes to address the Council in closed session."


Taking up a place at the center podium, Mamatmas straightened his tie and looked down at the prepared statement on his flat PDA. Security had already carefully screened the room and de-activated open-network recording devices for the closed session; this would still be on the record but would remain closed to public consumption until the Government and Council permitted otherwise. Putting his hands onto the podium, Mamatmas looked out at the Council and began to speak. "Chancellor, Honored Representatives of the Allied Nations, I am now prepared to give you a full update on the events of this crisis and the Government's plans for it." Mamatmas took a short pause before continuing.
"The events of the past 48 hours have made one thing clear. War with the Cardassian Union is imminent. Certainly, my presence here is even now creating speculation that I have come to ask for a declaration of war. But I have not." Mamatmas allowed some stirrings from the Council, which Montesque silenced with his gavel. "I am not asking for a declaration of war because it would be detrimental to the Government's war plans. I will ask for a declaration at a later time, when our military is ready to strike, and not before."
Mamatmas returned Weisbaum's glare before continuing. "Many of you who have spoken out are right. We cannot allow these acts to stand unchallenged. Cardassia must be punished for its crimes and Bajor must be freed if any peace is to be permanent. I cannot see any way to accomplish this save for war."

"But it is our obligation as policy-makers to do our best to ensure that in the event of war we pursue our policies so that as many of our uniformed men and women survive as possible. It is also our duty to ensure that our citizens are protected instead of being put in harm's way due to rashness. And so I ask you to be patient, to wait, to allow our military time to enact a plan that will, we believe, make the war to come quicker, less bloody, and which will ensure that our civilian populations are less likely to come under attack."
Mamatmas paused for another moment before giving his final notes. "As soon as I leave here, I will be signing an order authorizing our military forces in ST-3 to raise their alert level to DefCon 1. Furthermore, the Alliance military as a whole will be ordered to DefCon 4 so as to prepare them to reinforce the Colonial Zone, if necessary. These actions will ensure that our forces are ready to wage the war that is about to come upon us. Finally, I would like to throw my official support behind CR 203-2153. The time has come to end the travesty of Cardassian rule over Bajor. We will give our official support to a free and sovereign Bajor, and when this war comes, our soldiers will do their duty in driving the Cardassians off the sovereign worlds of the Bajoran race. The Cardassians have chosen to make Bajor an issue. We will decide it for them."


SS Denmark Vesey, 23 Light Years from New Liberty
Universe Designate ST-3
14:01 GST



Now completely patched up, the Vesey was cruising along at a low warp speed, going barely four light years an hour. Their escorts had left them at the border to return to the Intrepid, leaving their safety to the Alliance fleet units that had sortied from their bases after the military went to DefCon 2. They were home free.
Nevertheless, the bridge had been silent in the thirty-four minutes since they'd come over the border. Everyone was simply working at their stations, save for Asako, who was staring into space, while Sophia occasionally turned to keep an eye on her. Finally she decided to break the ice. "Asako, why don't we start watching the media networks? Maybe we'll find something about the attack?"
"Larrisa?"
"Looking over the open feeds." Larrisa started scanning through various subspace frequencies. "I've got something called the 'BBC'. Want to see?"
"Put it on."
The viewscreen turned on, showing a large image of the Washington Mall. A blonde-haired Caucasian woman wearing heavy winter clothing was on the screen with the caption "Mary Tucker" on the screen, with a small symbol in the corner for the station's name. ".....been informed that the President has finished his meeting with the Council and returned to the White House nearby," the woman said in a Londoner accent. "Mamatmas is expected to hold a press conference in moments."
"Thank you, Mary."
The image switched to a news room, where a dark-haired Englishman was seated. The screen bore a caption below him reading "Brian Wilford". "It would appear that developments in Washington are proceeding rapidly,[i/]" the anchorman stated. "[i]Though there is some question as to the details, we do know that not three hours ago, Alliance naval forces were forced to thwart an armed Cardassian attempt to seize or otherwise board a civilian transport registered in the Alliance. The attack failed and losses were incurred on both sides. The Stellar Navy has refused to divulge anything other than confirmation that there were deaths on the transport itself and that there were military fatalities on both sides. Our correspondents in Wexford are continuing their efforts to get more...." The man pressed his finger to his right ear, as if listening to something. "And now we will switching to a live feed from the White House Press Room."
The screen changed again to show a room, with the heads of journalists visible at the bottom of the screen and a podium in the center of the screen. Behind the podium was a large seal, with the Alliance torch insignia on it, bearing the words "Seal of the President of the Allied Nations" in its outer border. First up was a tan-skinned woman in a blue business suit with short-cut hair. The caption revealed her as White House Press Secretary Rosaria Nunez. "The President will be coming shortly,[i/]" she said. "[i]He will give his statement and answer questions afterward."
She left, and about fifteen seconds later Mamatmas walked up to the podium. "Good morning, members of the press and fellow Citizens. As you are no doubt aware by now, there was an incident this morning close to the border between the Alliance and the Federation. Several Cardassian craft opened fire on a civilian vessel registered in the Alliance and under escort from the Navy. Our forces resisted this attack and repulsed the Cardassians. Two Cardassian vessels were destroyed, as well as four of their light attack craft. Alliance losses were light and limited to the fighter contingent that took place in the battle. And we have confirmed that there were deaths on the civilian craft, which was carrying about two hundred Bajoran refugees fleeing to safety in the Alliance. We do not know yet the identifies of the deceased and if they were citizens or emigres."

Mamatmas looked down to the podium again to double-check what he was to say next. "Now, I have spoken with the Alliance Council on the proper method of responding to this attack. First, in light of this latest act of aggression by Cardassia, I am raising the alert level of Alliance forces in Universe ST-3 to DefCon 1. I am also ordering the Alliance Armed Services as a whole to DefCon 4 in preparation for what the Government considers to be an imminent outbreak of interstellar war."
"Secondly, today, the Alliance Council approved in closed session Council Resolution 203-2153, proposed by the Honored Representative Anne-Marie Foquet of France SE-1. This resolution, now called the Bajoran Freedom Act, officially declares that Cardassia's continued control of Bajoran worlds constitutes an illegal occupation and that the Bajoran race and its traditional worlds should be free and independent. The Alliance of Democratic Nations does not recognize any right of the Cardassian Union to continued sovereignty or influence over the worlds of tbe Bajoran nation. As such, the Alliance formally demands that the Cardassian Union withdraw from Bajoran lands. Furthermore, the Bajoran Freedom Act permits this Government to declare that any attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction on Bajor - be it nuclear, biological, chemical, or other forms of attack capable of annihilating cities or fulfilling the extermination of life - will not merely be taken as an act of war, but an act worthy of a full-scale retaliation against Cardassian targets. In accordance with this provision, I have ordered the deployment of high-powered fusion warheads to Alliance strategic forces in Universe ST-3. If Cardassia attempts to annihilate the Bajoran population or to destroy Bajoran cities with mass destruction weapons, the Alliance will launch a retaliatory strike against Cardassia with our strategic forces, including targets on Cardassia Prime itself."

Mamatmas paused. Asako could see that he had let the genie out of the bottle now. The Alliance had done the one thing that Cardassia had undoubtedly wanted to prevent; it was openly supporting Bajoran independence as a policy goal. Furthermore, he'd made it clear that if the Cardassians tried to exterminate the Bajorans in their control, their days were numbered. And she suspected he meant it - if necessary, he would flatten every Cardassian-occupied world to avenge such a crime.
Asako suspected he could do it too. Though the Alliance military had a number of secrets, near-past historical accounts alone could confirm the scale of the weaponry they had in their possession. Asako had read an account of one conflict, the "Agresskan War", where that brutal and savage alien race refused to surrender or abandon their violent expansions and were thus reduced to pre-industrial standards on their homeworld and major colony worlds by such strategic forces, all of the nations that now comprised the Alliance.
"The choice for peace is now up to the Cardassian government. It must choose to take the necessary steps to peace. They must begin withdrawing their forces from Bajor. They must begin to make amends for the Gytep attack, to compensate the families of those killed, and to cease their violations of innocent passage of civilian ships. That is all." A chorus of voices arose from the assembled journalists. Mamatmas pointed to one and said, "Yes?"
"Mister President, has more evidence been found in the Gytep attack to strength your accusation of Cardassian responsibility?"
"I can only say that some evidence has been found. The investigation is continuing."
"Sir, what about the civilian ship that was attacked? Can we get a name for it?"
"Not a name, but I can confirm that the vessel is privately owned by a small transport company that recently transferred its registration into the Alliance. This, of course, means that many of its crew were probably citizens of other national bodies, such as the Federation. And we are currently unsure as to how many, if any, of the dead on the ship were Alliance citizens or immigrants to the Colonial Zone."
"Mister...."

At Asako's throat-cut gesture, Larrisa turned off the signal. Asako drew in a sigh. "It seems the war is about to come. Larrisa, please, put me on the ship's PA." When Larrisa hit the necessary key, Asako breathed in and started speaking. "Greetings, my dear friends and comrades. As you've probably realized, we're now as safe as we can get in this region of space, moving deeper into Alliance space with every passing moment. We have lived through this battle, as we have overcome all other obstacles. But we have paid a price in the loss of six of our beloved comrades. Kerla, Lorim, Stephanie, Otoro, Freddie, and Meskil will all be missed. My heart aches even now for them, as they can never be replaced."
"You may now wonder why we took on this job. We did so because aiding these Bajorans was a moral thing to do, the right thing to do, and in line with our principles. They, like we, have been victims of vicious racism and bigotry. They deserve our friendship and the aid of our cause, for it is their's as well. Rest assured that our friends did not die in vain."
"I will speak more upon our friends when we get to New Liberty and we can hold a proper memorial service. For now, I ask all of you to continue to do you duties in honor of our fallen comrades. Asako out."
Now finished, Asako nodded to Sophia. "Sophia, I'm very tired. I think I'll be going to my room to rest."
"Of course. I'll take the bridge."


Ten minutes later, Sophia left the bridge to the care of Thaloc and went to Asako's room, just a bit down the main corridor. She knocked on the door. "Asako, it's me," she said, after which the door's lock retracted and she was able to pull it open.
Asako was sitting on the couch. She had managed to pull off her clothes and get into her sleeping garments before she had finally been unable to hold her grief any longer. She was crying quietly, with barely a sob, but Sophia knew her well enough to know that this was a great outpouring of emotion for her. Sophia sat down on the couch beside her. "It's my fault," Asako said quietly, tears streaming down her face. "I'm their leader. The responsibility for their deaths is mine."
"They knew the risks. We all do." Sophia put an arm behind Asako's neck. Asako embraced Sophia and moved closer. "It's okay to cry, Asako. You have to let the grief out. Just cry until the pain is bearable." Sophia pulled Asako into her arms, allowing Asako to cry into her shoulder. Sophia held her tightly and felt tears well into her eyes. She began to sob too, thinking of their dead comrades, but also remembering other times like this. When someone one of them held dear had died, and the other had been there to comfort them. Asako had been there for Sophia so often. When Sophia's mother Mitra had been brutally murdered by the Orions, Sophia had spent days in her room grieving, and Asako had never left her side.
This was made their friendship so strong. Alone, they had been incomplete. Together, they were unbreakable, no matter how much they hurt or how hard they cried. Their differences made their friendship richer. They were yin and yang. Opposing forces that complimented one another instead of countering each other.
And they continued to cry.



”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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Last edited by Steve on 2010-03-02 05:07pm, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-23 06:49pm
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Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
14:24 GST



Seated in his office, Gao was listening to Tobis and Matthews debate as he considered his options. The war seemed inevitable now and he had to decide on what to do now that his gamble had failed. He could release the information that had justified their claim about Gytep, but how could that compete with the images of dead Bajoran children?
His secretary said that Torskani and Dayton had arrived. Scowling at Torskani's presence, he nevertheless had them come in.
Torskani entered first, followed by Dayton. But all Torskani did was stand to the side while Dayton walked up and handed Gao a PADD. "We just got that report in from an agent who got to Henderson, sir." Dayton's expression was grim. "He found those weapons."
"What do you mean he found them?"
"He found the weapons that we thought were being delivered to Gytep. They're in a storage warhouse in Mwinyiburg being rented out to the Mwinyiburg Militia."
Gao was reading the PADD intently, seeming very distracted. Tobis shook his head slowly. "That doesn't make sense. Those weapons, all those missiles and rockets and heavy infantry weapons, to a militia?!"
"Yes, Commissioner. To the militia." Dayton turned to glare at Tobis. "I told you that you had not correctly analyzed the intel. Had you bothered to do any research before jumping, you would have found out that by the laws of the League of East Africa, the Alliance member nation that colonized Henderson and Mwinyiburg, all cities must be provided with a certain amount of defensive weapons for their militias. Including what we consider 'heavy' weapons."
Gao began to shake his head slowly. Tobis' face lost its color. "Then Gytep really was a refugee settlement." Matthews' jaw clenched as he looked toward Dayton and continued, "The Cardassians murdered over two thousand people because we told them Gytep was a terrorist camp."
"And now they're on the verge of war with the Alliance," Dayton said. "Maybe we will be too. After all, we're responsible."
"The Alliance wouldn't dare. They'd be crushed easily."
"How do we know? Starfleet Intelligence has mostly been focusing on monitoring the Bajorans in the Alliance. We haven't begun to look at their military capabilities." Dayton shook his head. "Let's face it, Mister President. We're going to be in a lot of trouble."
Gao turned from them to Torskani, who was examining the view from the window. "And what does the Clerk of the Committee desire from me?" A fake, diplomatic smile came across Gao's face. "You knew, didn't you?"
"I had my suspicions," Torskani admitted. "But even I didn't think the Cardassians would be so brazen as to use a nuclear weapon on the place."
"And let me guess. The Party wants my resignation?"
"That is a very good guess, President Gao." Torskani turned from the window. "Your resignation would allow us to guarantee neutrality. After all, you, the responsible party, would no longer be in government."
Gao jumped from his chair. "I did not rise through the levels of government to be pushed around by a glorified bureaucrat!"
"Oh yes, I'm well aware that you got to where you are from old fashioned foot work. Local government, planetary government, the Federation Council, then the Committee. You're a risk-taker, Gao. You always have been. And now it's blown up in your face." Torskani kept his hands behind his back. "The Party cannot let the Federation's moral authority be brought down with you. You will either resign voluntarily, or we will remove you. And then, you will find it very hard to collect your pension or to hold work. You'll just be an average citizen, living in a small block house with basic replicator rations. Now, if you resign, we can ensure that you are given a comfortable job running a national company, perhaps a power plant somewhere or a factory, with a generous pension and the continued favor of the Party."
Gao slumped back into his chair, defeated. Torskani drew closer. "Your immediate replacement will be Commissioner Tobis. But the Party has recognized his private part in this fiasco, and he will be removed at a time the Party feels is opportune."
"When does the Party expect my resignation to be turned in?"
"In two hours. Though you may write your own statement so long as you accept total responsibility for this fiasco. You may make the usual calls for peace, of course. If you miss the deadline, the Central Committee will officially remove you from the Chair and will instruct the Council to hold a vote of no confidence. Good day." Torskani nodded to those present and left.


Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
14:36 GST



The office of Legate Kelataza was spartan, and understandably so given the man's attitude toward life. Yatar and Relim were there together to inform him of the Alliance's most recent actions. "So it comes to this, then." Kelataza looked up from his desk. "Gul Torcet, how are the redeployments going?"
"Proceeding as scheduled, Legate. First Fleet will be in position in approximately 24 hours and ready to strike at the Alliance Colonial Zone shortly afterward."
"Gul Hergata, any news from Bajor?"
"Salmio, Verta, and Dolan are still in open defiance. Attacks against Salmio and Verta have proven hard due to the local terrain, but Dolan will fall within the week. It's already been decided by the officer in command, Gul Odar, to have the city's population killed."
"Very well. Have the local commanders raise alert level and increase patrols. The Alliance will undoubtedly begin trying to supply Dolan upon the outbreak of war. I want to make sure that doesn't happen." Kelataza went back to reading whatever was on his desk. "Meanwhile, I am having the Ministry of External Affairs publicly reject the Alliance demand. They will be issuing a counter-demand and an accompanying deadline."
Yatar stepped forward. "Legate, what shall we do about the Federation and the other extrauniversals?"
"The Federation has already said it will remain neutral, so I am not concerned with them. We will honor the neutrality of other extrauniversal governments as well so long as they do not support the Alliance or harbor Bajorans. We may very well need their support to keep the Alliance from destroying its Gate at New Liberty if we have the ability to seize it." Kelataza waved them off. "Now go do your duties. We have a short time remaining to us."



Dakhur Province, Bajor, Cardassian Union
15:22 GST



Hidden away in the wilds and mountains of Dakhur, the Resistance cell of Shakaar Edon was huddled away in a cave. Several dozen Bajoran men and women were amongst the unit, each of them generally hungry and worn from their time living in the wilds while running from Cardassians.
Leaning against one wall in the cave, Kira Nerys looked down at the bloodied tatters of her pants leg and growled. "Can't you work any faster?"
"No." The man who was kneeling in front of her was not Bajoran. Corporal Pedro Nimenez, Alliance Marine Corps - Platoon B, Charlie Company, 1st STAR (Special Tactics Regiment) - continued to clean the wound on Kira's right calf. "You should be more careful. Lot of sharp rocks around here."
Kira's response was a particularly vulgar Bajoran curse, the kind that would have made a Bajoran priest's blood curdle.
A short distance away, Lieutenant Gennedy Korolev was huddled beside a subspace radio set with Shakaar himself and the platoon's senior radio operator, Corporal Jake Fitzhugh. "Any updates yet, Corporal?" Korolev asked in slightly broken accent - the ex-Spetsnaz trooper had learned to speak excellent English over the years.
"Yes. Command says we're at DefCon 1 now."
Korolev looked to Shakaar, who seemed puzzled. "What is DefCon 1?"
"Our highest military alert," Korolev explained. "It's effectively a war warning, Shakaar. It means our Government expects to be at war in a matter of days, maybe even hours."
"With Cardassia, I hope?"
Korolev looked to Fitzhugh, who nodded. "Yes. Command wants us to get ready to aid an invasion of Bajor by any means we can."
The expression on Shakaar's face betrayed his feelings. After years of seemingly futile resistance, there was now a real hope that the Cardassians would be removed from Bajor. "Well, what shall we do?"
Korolev pulled a map out of a sack and laid it out. It was marked with pencil in many places, showing various positions, hideaways, and the known extent of Cardassian patrols. "If we begin marching by tonight, in two weeks we could be within range to sneak into the Cardassian communications base near Ithol."
Shakaar looked at the map and then to one of his compatriots, Furel. "What do you think?"
"It's risky, Shakaar. The Cardassians have hundreds of men patrolling the roads between here and Ithol. And the instant we're discovered, we'll have their quick-response units on top of us."
Korolev traced a line on the map. "If we stick to the mountains, we could avoid most of the patrols."
"That's very rough going. And we're low on supplies."
Korolev grinned. "I once spent three months in Kamchatskiy going through winter training in the Spetsnaz. The Siberian winter is colder than anything here in Dakhur. And we were given a daily food ration that even you would consider meager. Do not worry. My men can handle it. The question is if you can."
Shakaar and Furel exchanged looks. "There's good hunting in the forests of the Gorlin Mountains," Furel said. "And shalkar meat can get stringy, but it's still meat."
"Yes, you're right about that." Shakaar looked to Korolev and nodded. "I'll send back our youngest member. She's only 12, she'd never survive the trip. She can tell the villagers at the mountain base that we're no longer in the area. Maybe the Cardassians will leave them alone then."
"Just hope the Prophets don't let the Cardassians catch her."
Korolev nodded in agreement. "Indeed."
"Okay everyone!" Shakaar stood to his full height. "Let's get ready to move. We've got a long march ahead of us."


VKFS Pobeda, 75 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union
16:19 GST



Under cloak, the small vessel Pobeda silently made her way through the stars. She was nigh-invisible to detection at the moment, which was a good thing since she was nearly eight hours from the border at her flank speed.
The Pobeda was considered an "attack vessel". The size of a corvette, she was nevertheless an entirely different type of vessel, the equivalent of an attack submarine in the 20th Century. Currently she was tracking a squadron of forty Cardassian warships. Spread out and consolidating, they were among the forces redeploying toward the Alliance Colonial Zone for the impending war.
When the order came, Pobeda would engage such targets as she was able. But for now she merely watched and waited, occasionally using narrow-beam transmission to transmit data back to a listening post at the edge of the Badlands. Seated in the watch chair in the ship's conn, in the very belly of the vessel, Captain Yefim Galkine was sipping on a nice cup of "Sailor's tea" and occasionally glancing into his personal viewer. The viewer hung from the ceiling within arm's reach, not unlike a periscope would on an old submarine.

The conn, as it was called, held the ship's main controls arranged in a circle around the watch chair. Weapons, Sensors, Communications (Radio), Navigation, Helm, and a station for engineering. At the weapons station was the ship's only female, Lt. Orina Skobelova. Being the only woman on the crew might have been difficult, if the young dark-haired woman hadn't put such effort into terrorizing her subordinates and intimidating even Yefim himself on occasion. In addition, she really wasn't that pretty anyway. She wasn't ugly, but there were far more beautiful women around who were often persued vigorously by the men of the Pobeda whenever she put into port. In fact, the men of the Pobeda put so much importance in the pursuit of real women that it was considered a horribly unmasculine thing to make use of a holo-brothel. Indeed, once an enlisted man in one of the torpedo rooms had been accused of this and heckled so badly that he finally made a half-drunken attempt at suicide by trying to fire himself out of the torpedo tube, just to remember, after he'd closed the door, that he couldn't trigger the launcher from inside the tube. After being freed, he was restricted to real tea and made to work with maintainance in the ship's waste processors. Of course, he was also vindicated when they returned to port and found out he'd been going to an apartment beside the brothel to meet with his lover, so it worked out in the end.
Yefim took another sip of his tea, which was actually two-thirds tea and one third bootleg vodka brewed in the Pobeda's washing machines, and glanced at his scope again. The Cardassians were cruising along peacefully, not suspecting that they were being watched. Yefim grinned as he thought of how fun it'd be to put some torpedoes up right up their scaly asses.
But there was no war. Not yet...


CDS Yavar, 79 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union


With deliberate, proud steps, 1st Rank Glin Harak Torcet stepped onto the bridge of the Yavar and saluted to Gul Akel. Round-faced and with a cold eye, Akel returned the salute. "Vice-Commander Torcet, you are settled in?"
"Yes, Gul." Harak slipped into the operations chair, from which he could monitor ship status and give reports as his commander requested.
"Excellent news." Akel returned his focus to a PADD he was reading. After some time passed, he looked to Harak and said, "Do you know, I heard the most interesting thing the other day."
"What?"
"The Alliance's navy is so primitive, they still use actual paper."
"Really?"
"Yes! They don't even have PADDs. They lug about paper and use writing leads and inks." Akel shook his head. "They have no idea what they are getting themselves into."
Harak looked back at his commander. "Sir, if I may speak openly..."
"Go ahead, Vice-Commander."
"I do not think it's wise to judge an enemy by the way they do their paperwork."
Akel shrugged. "Why not? Their approach to the mundane can be an insight into their manner of thinking."
"If so, Gul, then their use of primitive writing materials might merely be due to conservatism or a desire not to use something sophisticated when something primitive will do."

For a moment, Akel seemed to consider that. "You are quite right, Torcet. Good man. Yes, we can't judge the Alliance purely by their use of paper. But it matters little. The Alliance is like the Federation, a pack of mewling self-righteous populists who have no stomach for protracted war. Yes, they will act great and bold so long as they don't need to sacrifice. But call upon them to sacrifice and they will betray you. Let their loved ones come home in bags, if at all, and they will lose their hearts. We, on the other hand, are willing to suffer greatly for the betterment of Cardassia." Akel placed his hands together in his lap. "That is why Cardassia will prevail. Because we are willing to take any measure necessary to attain our goals, while they are faint of heart and prone to the same whims of any other undisciplined people."
"I agree with you completely, Gul," Harak lied. In truth.... his father had always told him never to underestimate an enemy based on your prejudices of him. What you think and what is real are always seperate, Harak. When preparing to fight an enemy, prepare using facts of his strengths and weaknesses, not what you think are his strengths and weaknesses.

Even as Harak continued to do his work and consider the circumstances, Akel continued speaking. "We are still twenty-three hours from Kemar," Akel said. "And then, Vice-Commander, you will go to war. And it will be glorious."


Kellerman, Rymorta, The Sphere
16:30 GST



The planet Rymorta, in the system of the same name, was a neutral colony of "The Sphere", established by the Treaty of Berkeley. Signed over thirty years ago, the Treaty specified the "eternal neutrality" of a rough sphere of worlds - simply called The Sphere - between the Cardassian Union, the Federation, the Keloan Kingdom, the Tzenkethi Imperium, the Breen Confederacy, and now the Alliance, though it had not yet signed the treaty due to disagreements over some of its terms. Rymorta was a world primarily founded by Human colonists from the Federation, though the Keloans and Cardassians had established small colonies elsewhere on the planet.
The booming trade city of Kellerman functioned as a center of commerce for the planet's Human sector. Kellerman Spaceport serviced dozens of ships a day and was under constant expansion. A second spaceport in nearby Ushiba was necessary just to handle the load.
Aside from their booming commerce, both Ushiba and Kellerman had darker sides. Given the sheer number of powerful polities in the area, intrigue was a constant and all of the local powers kept a sizable contingent of intel people in the area. Freelancers worked for the highest bidder as mercenary-spies, while crime syndicates fought over turf. Drugs, piracy, kidnapping rings and the associated slave trade, prostitution, it all happened, right under the noses of the usually-corrupt police.

In an apartment near Kellerman Spaceport, H'daen tr'Gurrwhi looked out of the window at the Spaceport and saw his ship at its berth, being loaded with goods for a shipment back to Cardassian space. He closed the window, locked it, and for extra measure activated its defense screen. A flip of a switch on the device sitting on the nightstand turned on the scrambling field that would silence most known covert recording devices.
H'daen reached into one of his packs and brought out the data chip that Gedys had handed him. After a few moments he heard a knock at the door. Setting it down on the night stand, he checked the door peephole and then allowed the woman on the other side in. She was Human, attractive though modestly dressed with an elbow-length blue blouse and calf-length green skirt. The clothes had been meant to keep her from garnering too much attention. "Hello, Zara."
Zara smiled at him. It wasn't her real name, of course, but H'daen didn't know the real one. He only knew who she worked for. People who were willing to pay quite a bit of money to get good intel out of Cardassia. "Hello H'daen. Looking as young as ever."
"Ha! While we Rihannsu age more gracefully than Humans, I am still over a hundred and sixty Human years old. I'm hardly young anymore." H'daen smiled at her. "But you certainly look lovely today, Zara."
She had noticed the lust in his eyes and giggled seductively. "H'daen, dear, say what you will about your age, but you're still young enough to be one of my best."
"You flatter me."
"Not really." Zara walked up to him. "In fact, under other circumstances..." She kissed him warmly, letting him know the end of the sentence.
H'daen felt his blood boil. Though Humans and Rihannsu shared different ideals of beauty, and Zara wasn't very attractive facially to him on that level, he knew that Zara's.... qualities as a lover more than made up for her lack of strong features. It'd been a while since he had any woman and Zara was particularly inviting. But H'daen was a businessman and any thought about trying to talk Zara into bed was just that: thought. They were paying handsomely anyway so he could always wait until next time and hopefully find a better room, perhaps with a glass of some fine wine from one of the Two Worlds and a larger, more comfortable bed on which to satisfy their lust. H'daen's hand reached down and gripped the data chip that Gedys had given him back on Cardassia. "Here, Zara. Everything my contact had to give, at substantial risk I might add."
"I hope you pay her a good fraction of what we give you," Zara said, accepting the chip into her hand.
"My contact does not want money, and financial reward would be dangerous in of itself. No, my contact has, how shall I say, more personal reasons for this." H'daen accepted from Zara an encrypted PADD, built and programmed in one of the Federation's more reasonable charter colonies. He looked over the transfer funds and pressed his thumb to accept them. "Two million Alliance dollars. You and your friends have a lot of money. Wealthy clients, I'm sure."
"You can think as you wish. But it's safer not to talk."
"Of course." H'daen kissed her on the cheek. "Go then, Zara. Next time we meet, I hope to have a better room to receive you in, with good wine and fine hlai, and you in something far more... appealing."
"Doesn't matter what I wear, though, since I'd be taking it off anyway," Zara teased him. "Take care, H'daen."
"I will." H'daen watched Zara leave and went to work packing. It would be time to go soon enough.


Thirty minutes and eight miles later, Zara was walking into an exotic club in one of the more respectable areas of the city. "The Gentleman's Retreat" was a favored spot for wealthy locals, diplomats, criminals, and wealthy tourists looking to spend their money for carnal pleasure. Though it looked classy and good, Zara knew that it was as bad as the slummiest dive in the Port area. Drugs in the back, and each dancer had a private room should a visitor pay enough for a more private lap dance.
Slipping into a booth where a young, brown-haired man was watching the teenage Vulcan girl on the stage bare her breasts, Zara shed her false identity and again became Kristin Ignacian, "consultant" for Security Concept Enterprises, a front for Alliance Intelligence. The young man, Zack Carrey, was about her age. He turned to her. "Hello, Miss."
"Free to talk here?"
"I just gave Bruno his monthly bribe and swept the place. We don't have to worry about anyone."
Kristin handed the agent the chip H'daen had provided. "It cost two mill."
"Three million has already been deposited into your account." Zack watched the Vulcan girl start to give a portly Cardassian merchant a lapdance. "How old do you think she is? If she were Human"
"I dunno. Fifteen?"
"She's actually about twenty-three. Which is about fourteen for a Vulcan. Ran away from her adopted Human parents two years ago after a Federation court ordered she be turned over to her Vulcan mother's family back on Vulcan. About four months later, some yakuza thugs picked her up when she stowed away on one of their ships running the New Kyushu-Orion line. Sold her to Orion slavers. Who, in turn, sold her back to the yakuza, a family running things here in The Sphere. They shipped her over and put her to work in one of their dives before Bruno paid to get her." Zack kept his hands on the table, watching the Cardassian fondle the girl lustfully. "She was an innocent girl. Now she's lost that forever, all because of the Federation and its 'racial morality'."
"I come from the Federation, you know. I'm well aware of the hypocrisy."
"Oh?"

"I had a girlfriend in high school, Lisa Parker." Kristin placed her hands on the table. "She joined Starfleet after her big brother died in the Tzenkethi War. Ended up on a ship fighting the Cardassians. She spent the last six months of the war a POW. Next time I saw her was when I was a junior nurse at a rehab hospital for POWs. She was one of my patients. She had half the body weight she'd been when I'd last seen her. First day I walked into her room, she put her arms around me and broke out crying." Kristin closed her eyes. "They tortured her just to make her sign a statement denouncing the Federation's war with Cardassia. Then they sent her to a forced labor camp. The guards whipped her every day for not working fast enough. Sometimes they would even sodomize her. She told me every detail."
"And then...?"
"And then some bastard from PAPAL had the gall to call her and all the others a liar. She received hate mail by the basket, demanding that she denounce the government, that she 'stop trying to provoke another war'! All she'd done was tell the truth about what was done, she didn't want any more war." Kristin's hands trembled and a few tears ran down her face. "I was never violent, but... one day one of those bitches walked in and started berating Lisa, and I slapped her so hard she fell flat on her ass. PAPAL didn't like that. The politicos didn't like that. So I was called before a review board and terminated from Starfleet."
"And Lisa?"
"She hung herself three days later. When that happened, I decided the Federation didn't deserve my loyalty, so I left."
"And came here." Zack nodded. "Somewhere that you could put your skills to use helping people."
"Nursing skills aren't at a premium here," Kristin said. "But I'm smart, I have a pretty face, a nice body, a healthy libido, and I'm okay with alien men."
"You're not the only one in this work. Though you should count yourself lucky that you're still in it for good reasons, even if some of your employers aren't." Zack watched the Vulcan girl return to the stage, slinking against a pole. "We work in some very dark places and with some very bad people. You have to have an anchor, I've found. Something that tells you why you're risking yourself, why you're allowing such bad things to happen. Sometimes, the good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one. It's just how things have to work."
"Yeah."
"So, where is your boss anyway?"
"She's... settling a debt." Kristin gave him a look. "And is getting to look into that matter you asked about while she's at it."


Ushiba


Norihisa Sanda was one of the most feared men in The Sphere. The yakuza captain was ruthless and brutal, running the local affairs of the Dragon Claws, one of the richest of the yakuza clans that dominated illicit Human commerce in The Sphere. Because of his importance, he always kept with him a half-dozen bodyguards, even when in territory that the Dragon Claws controlled.
He had just finished lunch at a favorite bistro, in which he had taken the time to order the slaying of a runaway prostitute who had been bound to the Claws, and returned to the warehouse near Ushiba Spaceport that he conducted his business from.
As Sanda walked toward the door, surrounded by his men, he heard one scream and turned in time to see a blue disruptor beam vaporize the bodyguard. Sanda was pulled in by two of his men, the three survivors spreading out to hunt down and kill - brutally if possible - whoever had dared fire on Sanda.
The warehouse was dark and empty. Sanda turned to one of his men and barked an order to turn on the lights. The man took a handful of steps before he suddenly hit the ground, a sickening gurgling sound coming from his throat. Sanda pulled out his gun, as his guard did and the two opened fire at the nearest footfall, illuminating for a brief moment a figure all in black. As the figure moved through the diminishing light, both phaser blasts missing him, there was a quick flash of light, like a glint off of a blade. Sanda heard his other man gurgle and fall. "Show yourself!" Sanda demanded in English. He fired at another sound, but nothing was there. Not even the figure.
Suddenly he felt a rush of wind beside him. He turned and fired, missing but again illuminating the figure, which was rather useless given that his assailant's foot crashed into Sanda's right hand, kicking his phaser free. Sanda lashed out and grabbed something on the assailant which pulled free as he rolled away. Tossing the object aside, Sanda looked around desperately for his phaser.
A few moments later, the lights in the warehouse finally flipped on. Sanda whirled about to face his attacker, just in time to see three phaser power cells tossed to his feet. He looked back up and his jaw dropped in surprise.
His attacker was a woman.
It had been impossible to notice it before, but now the lights made clear the curves of her body showing through the tight black suit she was wearing. All that was missing was her head covering, which explained why her red hair was out and flowing down to her shoulders. Cold blue eyes glared hate at Sanda. Her skin color was light, so she was obviously Caucasian. "You are Sanda Norihisa?" the woman asked in flawless Japanese.
"You would be the so-called Red Dragon," Sanda said. "Apparently the reports of your death were wrong, Sakata Jane."
Jane lifted the top of her suit to bare her belly. A short bit below her left breast, Sanda could make out the scar of tissue healed after a degraded disruptor beam had hit. "My husband died so that I would live."

"I had wanted him dead anyway, but now I see I will have to kill the man I sent. He was supposed to insure your death too." Sanda laughed. "Your sniper is not going to live much longer. My bodyguards are the best, and any moment they will come through that door."
"Do not be so sure, Sanda. I have Gervada Delor."
Sanda had to be impressed now. Gervada Delor, "The Ghost Mates", were a husband and wife pair of famed Cardassian military snipers who had, rather inexplacably, deserted the Cardassian military and gone into mercenary work in the Sphere. They were reported to be the best sniper team in the entire Alpha Quadrant. "I see. So what now? I have the power cells for those phasers, so unless you have a gun."
"The Claws had my adopted father murdered and now you have also claimed my beloved. This is about more than vengeance for me as a widow. This is about the vengeance of the Sakata line, noble blood that you bandits have extinguished." Jane smiled wickledly. "I get very little good opportunities to fight these days. You have a slight reputation with a katana."
"I have won ten duels to the death in the past year alone," Sanda bragged. "I have studied swordfighting since I first joined the Claws."
"I have found that those who have done the least brag the most about their accomplishments." Jane took a sword and scabbard she'd placed against the wall, near the light switch, and tossed it to Sanda. She then adopted a defensive stance, a hand near the ruby-encrusted hilt of her own sword. She didn't remove it from the elaborate, expensive-looking jeweled scabbard. "If you defeat me and kill me, obviously I cannot kill you, and Gervada Delor will let you live. Otherwise, you will die."
"I do not intend to kill you now." Sanda's very words oozed hate. "I will make you suffer before I give you the pleasure of death." He pulled the sword he'd been given free, tossed the scabbard aside, and ran toward Jane, screaming angrily as he brought the sword up. If he could, he intended to merely wound her so he could torment her for as long as he desired before letting her die.

Sanda closed the distance quickly and brought the sword down, being emboldened by the fact that Jane had not brought her own sword out to defend herself. But the sword hit nothing but air. Jane had moved immediately before he came into range with a deft movement borne of years of rigorous training. Her own katana emerged from its scabbard at that moment. Jane didn't bother stopped the movement she made, instead pulling off a flawless cut through Sanda's right belly and back that partially nicked his spine and cut through intestine and flesh with ease. Blood erupted from the deep cut and Sanda fell over onto his back, only minutes left to live. He stared at her wide-eyed, still not quite believing she had struck the fatal blow so quickly and so suddenly. "If you must know, Sanda..." Jane put the tip of her sword to his throat. "I am a champion of the Matano line itself. Sakata Noburo, the Grand Master of the Matano Kendo Dojo of Nagamo, was my sensei as well as my adopted father. He began my training when I was still a child and proclaimed me to be the greatest student he'd ever had. I was the first woman to win the Matano Tournament, and its youngest champion, winning it when I was eighteen. I won the last five tournaments before the planetary government banned fighting tournaments on Earth, and I have since won thirty sword-fighting tournaments across the Alpha Quadrant. My sword, my gift and burden as the champion of Matano, is worth more than all of your assets in the yakuza, forged a thousand years ago by the greatest blacksmiths of Japan from ore and metal found in a meteorite fragment." She noticed Sanda was nearly dead. "So don't feel bad, Sanda, that you were killed by a mere woman. And feel free to berate your failed assassin when you meet him in the bowels of Hell itself."
With that final comment, Jane cleanly sliced Sanda's head off. Honor had been satisfied; duty remained.

Jane was unlike her associate, or nominal employee, Kristin. The Sakata fortune had been modest as fortunes go but wise, careful investment had left it plentiful enough that, with security jobs attached, Jane had been capable of forming her own organization in the near-lawlessness of the Sphere. Companies paid her hard GPL (or, as was becoming increasingly common, Alliance dollars) for protection from bandits; poorer communities paid her for the same with willing volunteers and other intangible support. Some might accuse her of taking advantage of the latter but weapons and facilities were not purchased and maintained by good will and high principles, and the volunteers they sent her all soon became loyal when they saw the work she was generally desiring to do. For such people, service to the Red Dragon was not extortion to save their communities from bandits, it was a duty to protect all from those bandits and pirates.
Now one of her usual clients was an outfit called Security Concept Enterprises. Kristin Ignacian had introduced her to their local agent Mr. Carrey who was, if something of a womanizer, at least a good-natured and decent man, someone Jane could trust... to a degree. It had been a few days since Mr. Carrey had informed her of an abduction from the barracks of the Red Cross International in Kellerman's outer wards; the individual in question was an important figure and "her" safe return was urgently requested. Good pay had been offered and accepted.
If Jane had known then that the job would bring her up against Norihisa Sanda, she would have done it for free.
After recovering the phaser cells - just in case - a cursory search of the warehouse was next. It had to be done quickly; the Claws would eventually become suspicious of Sanda not continuing his daily routines. Jane brought up her comm unit and called for further help; her contacts and analysis all indicated that the abducted "charity worker" had to be here. She examined the side rooms, Sanda's office....
The office was spartan enough. Sanda kept nothing incriminating in open sight. His personal computer was set up to display Japanese of course and the controls triggered for the same. It was an old model and verbal interaction was disabled; the computer would have to be directly accessed. Jane began to do so, playing with it, when a glint came to her eye.
The wall looked like a normal cheap ferrocrete mix, Cardassian formula so it likely had a higher concentration of ferrous material. Jane walked up to it and began to examine it closely. The glint was there and then wasn't....
A hologram.
The door opened. Another Human entered, Roderick, from her organization. "Warehouse search is commencing, Ma'am," he stated to her. "What else do you need?"
"There's a holographic wall here. Generally good, too, but Sanda, that cheap overconfident bastard, hasn't been maintaining the emitters." Jane traced her fingers along it. The hologram felt mostly real, but they were supposed to with the aid of graviton concentration. "I'm betting it's computer controlled."
"How do we open it then?"
"Knowing the Claws the computer's security would take hours to break. Can't phaser our way...." Jane walked out of the office and turned to see the power distributor for the building. "Stand back," she warned before bringing out the phaser she'd lifted from Sanda. She triggered it and the beam of ruby light speared the distributor. The safety systems kicked in and the building's entire power grid shut down.

The hologram disappeared, revealing a cubby hole space in the wall. It was large enough to fit a human - and so it did - but certainly not comfortably, too thin for even a smaller humanoid to have their arms at rest. The kimono-clad figure within was strapped to the ceiling of the hiding space, looking worn but at least not gravely hurt. Jane reached up and unlatched the Cardassian-make manacles holding the occupants wrists to the ceiling, allowing her to fall into Roderick's arms. A pair of blue eyes opened themselves as Jane removed the gag from the mouth. Seeing the woman was clearly Japanese in background as well as ethnicity, Jane spoke in that language. "You are okay?"
With some weakness from her predicament, the woman replied, "Hai".
"My name is Jane Sakata. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. You are?" Jane saw the woman might be strong enough to stand and helped her get into a firm posture, waiting for her answer.
The one that came was a simple introduction: "I am Omi."



”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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Chapter 3


Dervak Military Station, Dervak, Cardassian Union
18:00 GST



Standing beside the life sign monitors in Interrogation Room 5, 3rd Rank Glin Kircel noticed another blip on the generic bipedal display he was monitoring and heard an accompanying scream, weaker than the last he'd heard. "Jevil, I think you should stop now."
In the middle of the room, Glin Jevil swirled her right wrist around, a sinister hum coming from the six-bladed heat whip in her hand. More crude than their usual tools, the heat whip was favored as a tool of punishing prisoners more than extracting information. In front of her, Christine's back was covered with blisters, bruises, and burns, her wrists bound painfully tight to the ceiling above her head by a cord. Jevil smirked at Kircel. "I'll stop when I get another name from her." She brought the whip up and lashed it across Christine's back, focusing the strike on her posterior and lower back. Christine screeched from the blow, which transferred painful amounts of heat in the single moment of contact on top of the bruising caused by the mass of the flexible metallic blades.
"Jevil, we were supposed to have her ready for transport! And Horvem was satisfied with the names we got."
"She has to know of more people who spoke against Cardassia. Potential enemies of the state when we take their worlds. I want their names on record." Jevil lashed Christine again, this time over the middle of her back.
"Jevil, you've inflicted second-level burns on seventy-five percent of her rear torso's surface. First-level burns cover all but a few percent. She's already going to need medical attention. Horvem will not be happy."
"Oh, shush you fawning rat!" Jevil glared at him, contempt in those cold eyes. "You're a spineless worm. Completely unfit for this kind of work."
"I didn't want this kind of work. I was assigned here."
"Oh? Well, so was I. So maybe you should learn from me and begin to take a little joy in your work." Jevil struck Christine again. "Give me another name, girl!"
"Stop! Please!" Christine continued crying. "I... I gave you what you wanted! Everyone I know who doesn't like your people! Please, don't hurt me anymore!"
A wicked cackle came from Jevil's lungs. "As you can see, Kercil, Glin Horvem was right. Human women are like durba flowers." She walked around to face Christine from the front. Seeing the young woman crying, Jevil laughed in amusement and took a few steps away. "Even Bajorans make more sturdy prisoners."

"Jevil, I really don't think..."
Jevil's first lash to the front landed on Christine's belly and lower ribs, scorching flesh and making her scream. The second landed higher, striking Christine's armpits, neck, and upper chest. Christine cried out again, screaming, "Why are you hurting me?!"
"Because I can!"
The third lash struck higher on Christine's belly and across her chest. Jevil reached her arm back to give a fourth lash when the door to the room slid open. She turned and saluted Horvem, who entered with two 5th Rank Troopers. Horvem saw Christine hanging limply from the ceiling and looked at Jevil with an angry expression on his face. "Glin Jevil, this prisoner's interrogation was ended hours ago! She was supposed to be ready for transport by now!"
"Sir, I thought I could get a few more names out of her. For the Ministry of Justice."
"They have all the names they need!" Horvem's head snapped over and he glared at Kercel. "Glin Kercel, what about you?! Do you have any explaination for this? Don't lie to me, or I'll have you wishing you'd never been born."
Kercel's jaw clenched. "Sir, Glin Jevil ordered that the prisoner be interrogated again."
"I gave no such authorization, Glin."
"I... I didn't know, Sir. I was merely following my orders from Glin Jevil, who holds seniority."
"Glin Kercel, bring her down now."
Kercel pressed the button to bring the cord lower, allowing the two Troopers with Horvem to untie Christine. She collapsed into their arms crying. "Sir, she has many second-level burns," Kercel said. "She needs immediate medical attention."
"The Humans in the Village have medical supplies. I have no more time to waste. The assault's already been launched and we're supposed to send her down at the five minute mark. Trooper Farat, take the prisoner to Transporter Room 6."
The larger Cardassian lifted Christine up and carried her away. Horvem waited until they were gone before looking to Jevil. "I declared Prisoner Bennington's interrogation to be concluded, Glin. This was an unauthorized interrogation. Why did you? What was so important you forgot to inform me of?"

"Sir.... well...."
"Sir, I believe the Glin...."
Horvem whirled around toward Kercel. "Am I speaking to you, Glin Kercel? No! So shut up!" Horvem returned his focus to Jevil. "And you were going to say what, Glin Jevil?"
"Sir, I wasn't going to kill her. I thought I could get a few more names out of her..."
"Bottom-feeders! Wastes of time and resources to pursue! No." Horvem shook his head and got in Jevil's face. "You did this because you enjoyed her suffering, didn't you Glin Jevil?"
"Sir, I...."
"I saw your face earlier. I saw the glee in your eyes when I entered. You enjoyed the Human girl's pain."
"Of course, sir. Causing her that pain is part of my job, and I take pleasure in my work."
"Then you are a failure."
The look on Jevil's face was one of surprise. "Sir?!"
"You are a military interrogator, not a sadistic thug! You cannot take pleasure from the pain of your subjects!"
"But you said we should take pride in our work!"
"I said you should take pride in the service you are providing Cardassia!" Horvem thundered. "This is not a game! And when you start thinking of it as a game with your prisoners as your helpless toys and pawns, you will lose sight of the service you are supposed to provide."
"I... I see...."
"It's too late. You've been spoiled, Glin Jevil. I'm putting you in for re-assignment immediately. I don't want you on my interrogation team. Trooper, take the Glin to her room and confine her there until I can find her transportation to a new post." Horvem turned to Kercel. "As for you, Glin Kercel, you are on probation. As punishment, you are being given an extended leave at half-pay. Feel fortunate I do not re-assign you as I did Glin Jevil. That is all."


Madred Village 23, Dervak, Cardassian Union
18:07 GST



Taking up an area about the size of the Mall and environs in Washington, Madred Village 23 was one of dozens of special installations in the Cardassian Union. Using criminals, hostages, and POWs from other races - particularly those that the Cardassian government "forgot" to release - each Village was themed for a different race in which the Cardassian military or intelligence could train. Some were simply faux-towns for training spies. Some were war-torn wastelands for training special forces in delicate anti-resistance operations.
Village 23 was assigned for training the Anti-Insurgency Forces, a branch of the Cardassian military. It was built as a small town - a few shops and restaurants, a small inn, a courthouse and town hall in the center, suburban-style apartments and homes, with some farms on the outskirts. Dervak had been chosen for the site because it was a bountiful world and because it was still relatively unpopulated, with the military having millions of square kilometers to choose from. In the Village itself, the Cardassians gave the Human occupants virtual freedom. Food was provided, replicated and sometimes discreetly bought from within the Federation (the Cardassians went as far as allowing the Humans to "buy" foods that they could have shipped in on the weekly "stipends" of funds permitted them), as was replicator-provided clothing and furnishing. In fact, the two thousand occupants of Village 23 lived rather nicely, some having been there for years and even having children.
Of course, they weren't free. The Cardassians let them grouse and vent anger all the time, since it did no harm and it added to the "natural" simulation they were creating, but the Village itself was surrounded by an anti-beaming field and with remote defenses controlled from over a hundred kilometers away to prevent the Humans from getting in or unauthorized persons from getting out. And nothing prevented the Cardassians from randomly beaming someone up for a myriad of purposes, from being subjects in the training of military interrogators to punishing them for excessive behavior during a raid.
The raids were the great disruption to the locals' lives. Coming at random times, usually at least three a month (once as many as twenty in a month), they consisted of airmobile AIF troops attacking the town to extract or destroy a target, a pre-determined Human that the locals were only sometimes informed of. Sometimes there'd be no resistance. Sometimes, a select few would be told and armed with stun weapons, or even a large portion, depending on the kind of scenario the commanders wanted to set up for their troops.

One such raid was raging now on the northern side of the town, in one of the residential areas. A group of one and two-story suburban-like block houses lit up with phaser fire, where the non-combatants remained huddled in their houses while the Cardassian troops conducted a firefight with the Village occupants who were most often used as the "aggressor" force.
It was into this mess of chaos that Christine Bennington arrived. She beamed down wearing only a metallic restraint shackle that held her hands behind her back and an agonizer collar, flanked by two Cardassians who handed her off to the AIF troops. The commander, a 2nd Rank Glin, turned toward the house their "target" was in and brought up a bullhorn. "Edward Winfield, you will come out immediately or I will order this girl harmed." He brought the bullhorn down and looked toward the aged Senior Trooper beside him. "It's about damned time. They were supposed to beam her down during our arrival."
"Sir, she looks bad."
"One of those interrogators must have decided they weren't through with her. Fucking interrogators. I tell you, Senior, there are only two kinds of Military Interrogators. The sadists and the ones who are just creepy." When his target didn't emerge from the house, the Glin took out a control and pressed the button. Christine doubled over and began screaming. "At this setting, this young woman will die in one minute. Perhaps less, she looks rather sick." He counted out the marks at five seconds. When he got to "thirty-five" seconds, a single figure walked out of the house. Wearing what was casual civilian wear for a human, Edward Winfield was a tall and handsome Anglian, a former FSF trooper who had been one of those unfortunate POWs the Cardassian government forgot tor return after the war. The blond-haired man raised his arms in the gesture of surrender and walked up to the Cardassian troops around his house, who brought him through the protective field that kept energy weapons from hitting the Glin and his staff. "Ah, Mister Winfield, I see we will have the pleasure of your company again."
"Charmed, I'm sure," was the reply, through gritted teeth. "So, Glin Sucel, will it be a heat whip this time or some other new thing?"
"No field interrogation for you this time. My troops will restrain you here, fly you off, and you'll be back here for dinner before the sun goes down." Sucel nodded to his men, who unlatched the girl. "You might want to have your medical people look at this one. I think Horvem had another failure."
"He has them."
"That he does. And I'm sure that failure will find the new assignment Horvem has in mind to be very unappealing." Sucel nodded to his men, who went to work restraining Edward. A couple of troops helped Christine to her knees. A sympathetic-looking soldier poured cold water on her back from his canteen before offering her a sip of it, which she accepted. Sucel noted the Trooper's name for future commendation. It was SOP for AIF to be generous when it could, since it helped undermine insurgencies. At least on some of the worlds - places like Bajor were lost causes.

A call for extraction was made and the Cardassians piled into their hover transports one-by-one, bringing with them their prisoner. They took off together and were soon shrinking against the velvet sky.
Christine didn't have to wait long. Three people came for her; a dark-haired woman, a larger red-haired one, and a large olive-skinned man. All were in civilian clothing. The man muttered something in a language Christine didn't understand. He then nodded to the redhead, who knelt over and picked Christine up. Christine was rather surprised how easily the woman shifted her on her shoulder, keeping Christine's blistered back away from painful contact.
She was brought into the house, which looked like any other suburban home she'd seen. They laid her out on the couch and gave her a pillow. The man came back from the other room and said, "Halina and Iggy are on their way."
"So, young lady, who are you?" The dark-haired woman knelt beside Christine, speaking with a clear Russian accent. "I am Kristina Ivanova. I'm from the world Novya Murmansk in Muscovy."
"Christine Bennington. I'm from Earth. Wellington, New Zealand."
"Is your hair colored? I don't think I've seen someone with your skin tone having red hair before."
"No. I got it from my dad's side. He's Caucasian, my mum is Maori." Christine closed her eyes. "Oh God, it hurts...."
"Yes. They are second degree burns. That Cardie was trying to be nice, but the water wasn't any way to treat them. But do not worry. We have a doctor and she'll be here any time now." Kristina put a sympathetic hand on Christine's cheek. "These are my friends, Sharon Carter and Ersun Celicelik."
"Where are we? Why does it look...."
"This is Madred Village 23," Carter said. "A reasonable facsimilie of the average small Human town in the Federation. The kind of place where the AIF might have to go to fight insurgents. We're real-life sims for them to train against."
"But Cardassia's driven off all the Human colonists on the worlds they took, I thought?"

"Yes, but who's to say they won't get some in the peace treaty? Or that they won't invade us again and take more Federation worlds?" Carter laughed as she plopped into a seat. "That's how the Cardassians think, you see. They plan invasions years ahead of time. Just ask Father Ignazio when he gets here. They brought him here when you were probably in diapers."
"But.... We... we hadn't even gone to war back then."
Ersun shook his head and said, in an accent, "Didn't stop the Cardassians from raping Nova Savona, did it?"
"That, that didn't happen! That's just something Jirvshk made up."
"There are still two hundred Savonese here in Village 23 who will find that interesting to know." Carter crossed her arms over her belly, having discarded the Cardassian rifle she'd been carrying. "It's a lie, Christine. The State Press has been claiming that for years on both sides of the border, since it seems our own State Press has forgotten basic journalism rules when it comes to accepting Cardassian press releases."
"So, what was it with you? They get you over the Bajorans?"
"Yes. They... they claimed I helped Bajoran terrorists. Said I'd been named. Then they tortured me until I confessed. Then after my trial, they tortured me again to name people. I... I didn't even know who they were, not personally, but..." Christine teared up. "Oh no, they're going to be taken too! I gave them what they wanted! Those people are going to go through this because of me!"
As Christine began crying, Kristina brought her face closer. "Shhh.... it's okay, Christine."
"It's my fault! Oh God, it's my fault!"
"Christine, they would've gotten the names from someone else. You can't blame yourself for what you're forced to say during torture." Kristina's expression softened and some tears came to her eyes. "We've all been there, Christine. We all said things we didn't want to say, desperate to make them stop hurting us."
Christine buried her face in her pillow and didn't talk any more.


Fifteen minutes later, with Kristina having gone up to her room to shower, Carter and Esrun watched Halina Poniatowski speak softly and sweetly to Christine in her Polish accent while applying a replicated sterile bandage to Christine's entire back. Standing beside her, the light-skinned Father Ignazio was wearing a replicated priest's clothes, complete with collar. He asked Christine if she was a Christian, and Christine's reply was rather expected; she was atheist. Ignazio smiled at her and merely said, "Many people are these days."
Esrun walked up to Carter. "I'm returning home. Fatima is getting worried."
Carter nodded and smiled at him. "She's a trooper. I couldn't stand carrying a kid around for nine months. Especially here."
"Life is a blessing in of itself. Besides, I have faith."
"Faith?"
"Faith that one day Allah will see fit to free us, so that I can take Fatima and our children and live in peace." Esrun nodded at her, then the others. "Father Iggy, Halina, have a good day." He went to the door and left.
"How is she, Halina?"
"Lots of blisters from second-degree burns. Looks like someone was going wild with a heat whip." Halina unconsciously crossed herself, very clearly remembering a similar experience. "Christine, if you could move your leg, I'd like to check...."
Christine did so, then looked to Father Iggy. "You're a real Catholic priest?"
"Yes. Though, as you can see, I haven't been in communication with the Church for a long time."
"But you heard about what happened on Earth before...."
"Yes, I know about Jirvshk nullifying the Lateran Accords." Ignazio shook his head and let out a laugh. "The Church has been persecuted by far more brutal men than Jirvshk was. As always, we will perservere."
"My father had family ties in Dublin. He told me the last riot Earth ever had was in Dublin after the Pope was evicted by the FSF."
"I wouldn't know."
Christine couldn't look at Halina directly, but her eyes tried to. "You don't have to bother checking, Doctor. I was raped."
"We all were," was Halina's reply. "I wanted to see how fresh the bruising was."
Christine looked back to Carter. "So, you too?"
"Yes." Carter nodded slowly. "We've been through it all, Christine. Some of us recently, some, not so recently."
Christine's eyes closed. "I'm tired."
"Just a bit longer, Christine. I have to get a dermal regenerator pad and put it on your back so your burns will heal. Then you can go to bed."


Kristina had gotten out of the shower and was staring at herself in the mirror, looking over her young body. She was attractive, yes, but she didn't feel like it very often. She raised a hand to the scar on her cheek from where her interrogator from so long ago had cut while she was tied down and helpless. She could hear his sadistic laugh in her dreams and remember how much joy he took at her suffering. How he'd cackled while raping her, or the smirks on his face while she was electrocuted nearly to death.
Kristina dropped back onto the bed, sitting at its edge and burying her face in her hands to sob. After a short time she felt two strong hands touch her bare shoulders. "How is Christine, Sharon?"
"Halina and Iggy are putting her to bed in the ground floor bedroom," Carter answered. She began to gently rub Kristina's shoulders. "She's got a regenerator pad on now."
"How badly did they hurt her?"
"Halina thinks she got the new, quickie package stuff they've been giving to the ones they're picking up just to go after bigwigs on the border worlds. Not like what they did to us. But I'm happy for that."
"Yes." Kristina cleared the tears from her eyes and smiled thinly. "That poor girl suffered enough. What we went through? That would have shattered her soul beyond repair. I do not mean to insult what she suffered when I say that, you know."
"I know, Kristina, I know all too well. I think if I told her about the scrapers, she'd die of fright from the mere thought."
"Boushe Moi, Sharon, must you bring up the scrapers?!" Kristina felt Carter's hands come off her shoulders. "Shit, I hurt just thinking of those."
"Yes, Cardassian military interrogators can be really brutal when they want to."
Kristina moved her shoulders about. "I want to go home."
"I know." Carter's arms came back around Kristina, meeting at her belly. "If I had a way..."
Kristina nodded.


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
19:29 GST



The Strategic Command Amphitheater was a new addition to the centuries-old Pentagon, built several stories underground and connected to the military communications networks in the Alliance. It was the nerve center of the Alliance's central authority; from this position, updates on the progress of operations and the locations of individual units could be delivered to the highest authority.
On the upper level of the amphitheather, facing the highest portion of its massive electronic digital display, Mamatmas and Chancellor Montesque were being treated to a briefing by senior military commanders. Admiral Piotr Ogilev, the junior admiral on the Strategic Planning Staff, was present with the four members of the Joint Command Staff - Chief Admiral of the Stellar Navy Sir Richard Hollingwood, Commandant of the Marine Corps Leslie Tokugawa, Marshal of the Aerospace Force Tabitha Longwell, and General of the Army Kevin Taggert. "Continued reconnassiance of Cardassian ship movements has indicated the large scale deployment of fleet assets to these systems," said Ogilev's aide Lt. Commander Jimenez, a rather attractive Filipina. "Naval Intelligence believes the combined Cardassian force numbers up to five to six hundred warships of varying tonnage, divided into about six concentrations at the major naval installations of Kemar, Akaral, Jemik, Verpar, Telkur, and Ubatal. Furthermore, the Cardassians have positioned what we believe to be a fast squadron of thirty warships to Chin'toka. As we have not yet broken their naval codes, we're not entirely sure why they are present. But recent history would suggest the following. One, that they are forward-deployed raiding force meant to attack Alliance shipping. Two, that they are intended to harrass naval forces in the region. Three, that they are to be used to attack planet-based targets, in the same way that we would turn to the Aerospace Force's Bomber Command."
"Marshal Longwell, what is the status of our defenses against such attacks?"
"The local governments' civil defense operations and centers have been activated. The Planetary Defense Wings in the Colonial Zone are ready and prepared, Mister President. Army anti-starship artillery assets are also in place. As are the national border services, though cutters can't be expected to last long against full-blown warships."
"Understood. Now, Commander Jimenez, please continue."
Jimenez nodded and did so. "As part of War Plan Obsidian Bravo, upon the raise of alert level to DefCon 2, the Navy ordered an additional five carrier task forces to the Colonial Zone to join Intrepid, which is already on station. All six planned-for carrier task forces will be in position to attack their targets by 14:30 hours GST tomorrow. Also in line with War Plan Obsidian Bravo, we have positioned 5th Fleet's Battle Task Forces along the border regions facing Bajor."
Montesque raised a hand. "Commander, Intrepid is assigned to protecting shipping in the Federation from Cardassia. What shall we do to replace her?"

"We have positioned the battle carriers James Doolittle and Shokaku and their divisions to replace the Intrepid. She will join the other five carriers - Enterprise, Lexington, Audacious, Akagi, and Kaga - by the designated hour." Jimenez pointed to the planned positions of the relevant carriers and their defensive task forces and to their targets. "Each carrier will strike at a single target, aided by the three Interdiction Flotillas on station. Chin'toka's naval forces will be attacked by naval bombers of the Aerospace Force's 3rd Defense Bomber Squadron stationed on Henderson. Pending approval, the operation details will be classified under the designation 'Operation: Santorini'."
"'Santorini', Commander?"
"An ancient volcano, Mister Chancellor," Jimenez explained. "There are some who believe its eruption annihilated an entire civilization and was probably the basis for the infamous Egyptian plague of Darkness in the Bible. The rest of the staff decided that the image of the attack being like a volcanic eruption - swift, deadly, and without warning - was a good one."
"Carry on, Commander," Mamatmas said.
"Yes, Mister President. Our carriers will cross the border ten minutes after the 'go' order is given. We estimate it will take up to two hours for the forces to get into appropriate position, even at maximum warp flight."
"That's quite a long time to be inside Cardassian space, Commander."
"Yes, which is why the operation will coincide with the use of large-scale jamming across the border and clear movements by our distraction forces, which will really be moving into a position to provide contingency should the carrier strike run into unforseen trouble. We think we will be able to convince the Cardassians that we're going after their forces around Bajor."
"Which depends upon the Cardassians not seeing the carriers."
"Yes, Mister Chancellor." Ogilev spoke up for his aide now. "Intelligence sources say that Cardassian HUMINT is focused upon locating and watching our non-carrier forces. The recent deployment of two more superdreadnoughts drew far more attention and signals traffic than the carriers' deployment did. We believe the Cardassians have not yet identified carriers as a threat and, I will point out, ecrypted communications and other intel activies have given a very consistant foundation for this view."
"And what about Cardassian ELINT?"
"Given our analysis of comm traffic and sensor activity, the Cardassians don't seem to concern themselves too greatly with it. Analysts have seen a number of factors, such as the institutional predominance of HUMINT, to explain this underreliance on ELINT."
Mamatmas looked to his military chiefs. "Okay, ladies and gentlemen, Admiral Ogilev's alternative plan is here for consideration. Plan Alpha places the Alliance on the defensive after a few attacks to gain breathing space. The emphasis on defense until reinforcements arrive is sound, but it allows Cardassia to shift reserves to face us. The entire war would become a quagmire. This Plan Beta has greater risk but promises a quicker resolution. At the very least, the removal of the proverbial knife at our throat would allow us to focus on Bajor and take it before Cardassia can fully mobilize her reserves. We must now decide if this possibility is worth the risk. I'd like everyone's...." A sudden beeping disturbed everyone present. Mamatmas grabbed the phone clipped to his belt at the waist. "Hello?"

"Mister President, my apologies for disturbing the war plan briefing," was the reply, from Bronson. "I've just gone over the latest. We have our smoking gun, Mister President."
"Smoking gun?"
"Yes. We can prove that the Deyteliz beamed the nuke into Gytep."
Mamatmas nodded, drawing the attention of the others. "How quickly can you get a briefing on the new evidence prepared?"
"I can be at the Pentagon in an hour."
"Excellent. See you then." Mamatmas turned the signal off and put the phone away. He looked to the others. "That was Director Bronson. We have the smoking gun. Deyteliz beamed the nuclear device into Gytep. Gentlemen, with this new evidence, I can now safely inform you that by 15 Hours GST tomorrow, we will be at war with Cardassia. I want you to be as silent and swift as possible in getting preparations made. I don't want the press getting wind of this until I've gone to the Council for a formal resolution."
"Sir, which war plan will you be going for?"
Mamatmas considered Admiral Hollingwood's question for a moment. "Well, Admiral, you don't gain anything if you don't try anything. Tell your commanders that Santorini has the green light."
"Yes, Mister President."


Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Near the ADN-Cardassian Border
23:09 GST



Seated in the cockpit of the B-202 interstellar aerospace bomber Atomic Dolphin, Squadron Leader Ryan "Shep" Sheppard looked at the pack of unopened cigars in his left hand while he listened to his navigator declare they were only a few minutes away from crossing the border. Which meant that unless war had broken out, they would be recalled within a minute of actually reaching it
Seated beside him, Flying Officer Lionel "Lenny" Eastman was conducting the duties of co-pilot. Immediately behind him, Corporal Dan Rickover was navigator and Corporal Jessica Barton was at the comms. Farther back in the bomber's cabin, Bombardier Sergeant Ken Michaels commanded the men and women responsible for arming and aiming the bomber's payload and controlling the bomber's defensive weapons.
The silence in the cockpit was finally broken when Dan, the "new guy", asked, "So, why the extra chair?"
"Hmm?"
"The extra jump chair you had welded back here, Major. Why?"
Shep smirked. Even though his official rank was "Squadron Leader", most Americans in the AF still used the American equivalent ranks in informal situations. "You want to know about the extra chair?" Shep looked over his instruments and ensured the bomber was still on its appropriate warp course.
"Yeah. I mean, why bother with an empty chair?"
"You've heard of the Big One, haven't you Rickover?"
"April 8th, 2607," Rickover replied, using the Universe PA-6 calendar. "During the Neo-Nazi War. Two thousand interstellar bombers from the US, UK, France, Italy, and Germany launch a full-scale bombing raid on the planet Hitlerwelt. In terms of firepower, it was the biggest raid any aerospace strategic force has pulled in any universe. Completely obliterated ninety percent of life on Hitlerwelt."

"Good boy." Shep tapped a couple of buttons to view local space. "Now tell me the other big thing about the Big One."
"Like?"
"Like the fact that only eight hundred of those bombers got home," was Shep's irritated reply. "Dammit, Rickover, you don't look that young."
"Well, sir, the Neo-Nazi Rebellion wasn't really big news in PA-6..."
"I hate that fucking name. 'Rebellion'. Like they were a bunch of pissants with some automatics. The Ratzis had a full-blown military, son. Lots of clonetroops, ships, you name it. They were fully committed to exterminating their way into Earth to reclaim their fucking Aryan homeland. Well, son, they didn't, and we annihilated the bastards like the rats they were."
"Of course, sir."
"Don't you interrupt now, let me finish." Shep twirled the cigar pack in his hand. "Anyway, the Big One. I was a Flight Leader then, had a nice twin set of Captain's bars on my shoulder. Commanded a flight of the 398th out of a base on Raynor. We had just finished dropping our loads and were returning to orbit when the interceptors hit us as we emerged from the atmosphere. Explosions everywhere, my young friend. We were packed together so thick that you were guaranteed to hit something with your defense phaser batteries, so that made counter-fire our worst enemy." Shep stared absently into the closed cockpit canopy, as if he was relieving the entire experience. "We figured we were fucked. A lot of pilots were. Hell, most of the French didn't make it. They'd volunteered to take up the last bombing slot. Lost one hundred out of one hundred and forty bombers they sent. Italians lost sixty percent of their people. The Krauts lost about a third 'cause they had that damned good active ECM, and I guess the Ratzis preferred shooting up everyone else than trying to lock a missile on a Ju-322. The Brits suffered fifty percent losses because they went first and got the initial wave head-on. We'd gone right behind them, since everyone figured the Brits would get out quick and then our bombers' better defense weapons would maim the defenders. Intel didn't know the Ratzis' home interceptors were that good."
"Anyway, our Wing got hammered. An entire squadron got annihilated, and the other only had two bombers return home. Wanna guess what our losses were, Corporal?"
"Heavy, sir?"
Shep looked back at him. "Try none."
Now that got everyone's attention. Every set of eyes was on Shep as he calmly examined his cigars again, as if contemplating opening the pack. But before he could, Corporal Barton reported, "Sir, we're getting an ELF from Sotomura. It's the turn-back order."

Shep nodded and took the flight controls, which he twisted to the left until the bomber's bearing would no longer take it over the border. He set the auto-pilot to begin a course parallel to the border. As was protocol, they would spent an hour going along here until looping back and away from the border to begin another approach. "So, sir...." Rickover spoke up after confirming the course for him. "You took no losses in the Big One?"
"Nope."
"How?"
Shep turned in his chair and pointed toward the unoccupied, empty chair brought into the cockpit. Rickover looked at it. "Sir, I don't understand...."
"Corporal, my Squadron CO was a rather superstitious guy. You've heard about pilots and crews that insist their bombers have personalities, right?"
"Yeah."
"Well, that's true, but Major Slade took it an extra step. He had extra, unoccupied chairs placed in our bombers because he believed the ghost of General Curtis LeMay would ride with us into battle and help get us out alive." Shep shook his head wistfully. "I had my eyes on the displays the entire time, but my co-pilot swore up and down that she looked back and saw a guy sitting in the chair, toking on a cigar and smiling. Every bomber had someone in the cockpit crew who reported that. Hell, Captain McGregor and his entire cockpit crew insisted that LeMay not only appeared, but winked at them after an incoming missile blew up before it could make impact on the cockpit! Became something of a legend until some jackass pussy butter-bar claimed he'd overheard the cockpit crews of the squadron talk about planting the story as a practical joke."
"Wow, I'd never heard of that."
"I have," Officer Eastman remarked. "It was a tall tale they used to tell at Colorado Springs."
Shep nodded at that. "Well, people, another approach, another recall. But let's keep on our toes. Sometime soon, we're not getting that recall, which means we'll be delivering our cargo of nuclear loving to those sorry ass Cardies on Felvar 8."


Sotomura Aerospace Force Base, Henderson, ADN Colonial Zone
23 November 2153 AST
00:05 GST



Freshly showered and clad in a fresh uniform, Monica Sandhurst stepped into her private quartering in the command center, within a hundred yards of Base Command itself, and slipped into her chair at her desk. With the military at DefCon 1, she wouldn't be able to return home for quite some time.
Sandhurst turned on the TV for some noise, setting it to IUNS, before going to work on a private letter to her husband Gary, a retired RAF officer now working as a starliner pilot. She didn't pay much attention to the station as it played on.
"President Gao's sudden resignation has sparked some surprise in the Federation press. Sources have told IUNS that Gao's departure from office was the result of internal politics, making him the second Federation President ousted in such a matter in this year alone. Former Commissioner of Starfleet Operations Kerlo Tobis has been named as the interim President as he awaits approval by the Federation Council. For IUNS, this is Jerry Eaker reporting from Paris ST-3."
The screen flipped back to the news room for IUNS, where the anchors went on to report other news related to the ongoing crisis. Finally, one of them said, "IUNS reporters were among those at Earthdome earlier today for a quick press meeting with Earth President Patrick Lefcourt and ISA President John Sheridan on the ongoing crisis."

The image switched, first to an older man with gray hair and a matching beard and mustache. The caption read, predictably, "President John Sheridan". "Mister President, what is the official position of the InterStellar Alliance to the ongoing crisis in Universe ST-3?"
"Currently, we are waiting to see the situation develops. As of now, we have no position save that we wish to see the truth come to light as quickly as possible and that we want to see justice done for this tragedy."
"Mister President, what do you think of the news that Federation President Gao Hi-Yuan has resigned?"
"I have no opinions on that at this time."
"We've heard reports that more
White Star ships have been seen transiting the New Liberty Gates in Universe ST-3. Are you planning on using the Rangers in any attempts at peacekeeping?"
"No. The deployment of the Rangers was done merely as a precaution to further protect the innocent shipping and trade of InterStellar Alliance races in the Alpha Quadrant."
"Have there been any attempts by Cardassia to forcefully inspect your ships?"
"So far, we have no reports at all of ships from ISA member races being attacked or otherwise harrassed by Cardassia."
"Sir, what is the InterStellar Alliance's position on the Bajoran Freedom Act passed by the the Alliance of Democratic Nations' Council?"

Sheridan bit into his lip for a moment. "As of now, we have no official opinion. Again, I would have to speak with our Council before giving one. I will say that I do feel some sympathy with the desire of Bajorans for political autonomy and that I hope the Cardassian Union will see the wisdom of a peaceful withdrawal from Bajoran-populated worlds."
"Sir, could you tell us if you are in agreement with the current official Federation response, calling the Alliance's position an illegal attempt to interfere in the sovereign affairs of Cardassia?"
"I will admit that it does raise disturbing questions if a government passes a law saying it will no longer honor another government's sovereignty in whole or in part. However, every case is unique and the real issue here is the ongoing question about the fate of Bajor. I'm not sure that, in his position, I would be doing anything differently from President Mamatmas. The Alliance Government is in a very uncomfortable position currently due to recent events and President Mamatmas has undoubtedly been forced to make hard decisions."
"Sir, what do you think of the allegations of Cardassian responsibility for the nuclear attack on Gytep?"
"If they are true, I think the Cardassian government will have a lot of explaining to do. Launching a nuclear attack like that on another nation's territory - and on a refugee camp as well - is not just an act of war. It's a crime against peace, and the slaughter of innocent civilians is a crime against sentients. If this turns out to be the truth, the InterStellar Alliance will give its full moral support to the Alliance of Democratic Nations and we will demand Cardassia accept punishment for such an act. Now, if you'll excuse me...."


The screen shifted and now it was Lefcourt on the screen, with the proper caption. "President Lefcourt, can you tell us the official position of Earthdome on these developments?"
"President Sheridan's statements are consistant with Earth's position as well.
"
"So Earth is also maintaining neutrality on the matter?"
"Yes, for the moment. Though I will add that the people of Earth have not forgotten what the Allied Nations have done for Earth. The Alliance Government's generous aid during our recovery from the Drakh plague has been of great benefit to Earth, it's helped millions of our people, and the Earth Alliance will always remember that. If it comes down to it, Earth will side with the Alliance of Democratic Nations."
As the screen shifted, Sandhurst finally changed the channel to the BBC. "....reports from the Alpha Quadrant indicate increasing hostility by Cardassia toward Bajoran expatriates and those who are giving them passage," an anchorwoman said. "We have now received official confirmation that four hours ago, several Cardassian vessels attempted to force the inspection of the JumpShip Hermocrates, a vessel flagged in the Federated Commonwealth. The Hermocrates had several vessels attached to it for its return jump into Alliance space and the New Liberty Gates, and by reports one had picked up three dozen Bajoran expatriates who were in hiding in the Federation. The Hermocrates was under escort by two corvettes in the Federated Commonwealth Navy, who opened fire on the attacking Cardassians in a short exchange of torpedoes and missiles near the Nadir point of the Sigma Hoffman System in the Federation. According to our information, the Hermocrates and her escorts jumped out of the system after the first volley of fire and before the Cardassians could finish closing into range. We do not yet have a response from New Avalon, but our sources in Avalon City have said that First Prince Hanse Davion will be issuing a statement on the attack within the hour...."
At this point, Sandhurst turned off the TV completely and focused on her letter.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-26 09:41pm
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Allensby Army Base, New Norwich, Alliance of Democratic Nations
07:46 GST



The men and three women of Platoon C, Charlie Company, 799th Mechanized Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 79th Division - assigned to the Alliance Army's CXIV Corps - were gathered about in bunkings in Allensby's living quarters. The Base, home to the entire Division, was under complete lockdown as they awaited orders to move out.
The Lieutenant in charge of the Platoon was Peter Pinelli, a Brooklyn-raised kid fresh out of VMI. A semi-devout Catholic, intentionally named after the first Pope by his even more devout parents, Pinelli was young and eager to jump start his Army career, and it looked like he was going to get the chance now.
He was seated by himself, watching one of the squads playing cards. Corporal Jenny Kent - a native of the British colony of Victoria - was about his age, young and tough, with dirty blond-hair cut short and a body that was more muscular than athletic. Privates Rogers, Pacelli, and Hogan were also playing, while Sergeant Dobson had already folded. A stack of green and blue-tinted paper was in the middle, the betting pool with the soldiers gambling away some of their weekly pay in the usual style. A few other Privates were watching, while a few other men - the very youngest - were ogling Private Dina Masters, the one woman in the entire Platoon who could be considered attractive and who at the moment was not wearing a uniform jacket but the standard issue dark brown sleeveless top. The rest were tending to letters home, playing portable video games, reading, or generally lounging about.
Pinelli was also keeping an eye on the clock and on the TV. They'd kept flipping it between Fox and IUNS since the order to DefCon 2, keeping an eye on things since they'd probably be one of the first units into action. Currently the channel was on Fox Interstellar, which was showing an anti-war rally in San Francisco ST-3 outside of the Alliance Embassy in the Federation. Pinelli's jaw clenched at the sight of PAPAL faithful holding placards denouncing the Alliance, the Bajoran race, and generally proclaiming that the Cardassians were the innocent party. At the sight of the Alliance flag being burned in the midst of the throng and vandals spray-painting slogans on the Embassy walls, Pinelli flipped the channel to IUNS. ".....-matmas is expected to address the Council at about 2 PM GST, or 9 AM Washington Time. Some sources say that the President will be presenting new evidence in the Gytep explosion that confirms Cardassian responsibility. IUNS has also learned of large-scale fleet and troop deployments in the inhabited Colonial systems nearest to Bajor. Our reporters assigned to local units have won permission to remain with them on-base, though they are now legally considered to be embedded reporters and the military is limiting their contact as of this time. And now we go live to...."

"Turn it off! All they can do is prattle on and on and on..." Dobson huffed in irritation. "Damned reporters."
"And we've got a Feddie one here," Kent added in her rough colonial English accent. "The bitch is one of those anti-war tossers."
"Hey, the Feddies are like that. Someone took a pair of garden shears to their balls."
"Oh, Private, so I need balls to have a brain? How about I take your's?"
"Kent, Hogan, knock it off." Dobson took a pack of Camels out of his shirt pocket and took one out. As he pulled out his lighter, he said, "Feddies have as much right to know what's goin' on in their neck of the woods as we do in our's."
"Hey, Sarge, those synthetic?"
Dobson had finished lighting his cigarette. He snapped the lighter closed audibly and blew smoke into Pacelli's face. While the young man coughed, he snickered, "What do you think?"
"Sergeant, I don't think it's good to blow smoke in the face of the Privates," Pinelli said.
"You're right, Sir, my apologies." Dobson smirked and leaned back in the chair. "So, anyway, we have that Feddie girl here. Should've seen the look she gave me when I told her I was sixty."
"Look?"
"They've got laws, don't allow any kind of gene-tinkering. Even the little stuff like age-delay. So here, sixty year old men are already going past middle age. Not in their prime of life." Dobson took a drag off his cigarette and blew the excess smoke over the table. "She gave me this killer look. Like I was some kind of abomination."
"I have a friend from school who enlisted in the Marines, he's over with the 10th Division on Krellor." Rogers looked back to his cards. "Last letter said they had this bitch from the Federation show up, all but accused them of being 'Khans' or something. She actually reported back home to the Federation home peeps that she was afraid that any day one of the Marines would rape her to death, 'cause we're apparently all megalomaniac genetic supermen or something. Jeez, like age-delay's a big fucking deal. We ain't Ratzis."

"Wow. They must be fucking nuts. Though Marines are also fucking nuts. And they're horny mother fuckers too." Pacelli tossed an extra five dollar bill into the pot. "Okay, I call."
"I'm out," Hogan declared.
"Same here," Kent said.
"Just you and me then, Pacelli," Rogers said with his Southern drawl, slamming the blue-tinted slip of paper onto the table, then tossing in a green-tinted $1 ADN to the pot. "I raise and call."
Pacelli smirked and tossed the extra buck in. "Three Kings," he said, laying out the respective Kings of Clubs, Spades, and Diamonds, as well as the 2 of Hearts and the 6 of Spades. "Well, redneck?"
Rogers smiled widely. "Beat you with a flush, Damnyankee," Rogers declared, throwing down a hand of all Spades; the Ace, 10, 7, 5, and 2. "Pot's mine."
Pacelli tossed his cards down in frustration. "God fucking dammit, Jesus Christ!" He suddenly stopped and crossed himself. "Shit, another sin to remember when I go see Pop Colanza."
Kent smirked and tossed another dollar into the pot after Rogers cleaned it out. "So, where did that Feddie bitch go anyway?"
"Heard Colonel Streiber has Major Ogden dealing with her," Pinelli said, smirking. "We'll be bringing her along wherever we go. Hopefully the Major can keep her hot redheaded ass occupied and out of our hair."


Major Ogden's small office on-base was one of the few occupied at the moment, though it wasn't for official purpose. Ogden was with that "hot redheaded ass", as Federation State Press war correspondent Kellie Stevenson was called by the troops, and they were having a personal interview. A very personal interview.
Ogden was seated on the edge of his wooden desk with Kellie in his lap, his formal duty green uniform and her bland dark blue jumpsuit crumpled together on the nearby carpet. Kellie's dark red hair flowed freely down her elegant shoulders, her chest heaving and a heavy moan escaping from her throat. Her "hot ass", as Pinelli called it, was in Ogden's hands, keeping her right where she had to be. They continued about their business for a bit before Kellie started screaming various things while their breathing picked up heavily.

With the "interview" concluded, Kellie slipped off of Ogden's lap and recovered her one-piece jumpsuit. It was a bland piece of clothing, with underwear built in, put on in two stages; first, she inserted each leg into it and pulled it up to her waist, after which she brought the upper part up and put her arms in like it was a coat. A hidden magnetic strip was then used to noiselessly seal the suit from collar to navel. Ogden was getting his white tank top and underwear back on while Kellie slipped into one of the office chairs, laying her head back and wiping the sweat from her forehead. "Well, Major, that was the most... physical and intimate interview I've ever been given."
"The pleasure was all mine," Ogden said with a smirk, quite certain he'd be in for it if Colonel Streiber learned about this. He took a look at Kellie and decided it was a crime for women to be allowed to wear such tight suits. "So, Miss Stevenson, we were talking about the cold shoulder some of the troops in my battalion were giving you?"
"Oh yes," Kellie replied, smiling at him and catching her breath while he started putting the rest of his clothes back on. "I've experienced this kind of hostility before, though, so it's nothing new."
"Oh?"
"Yes. I graduated college, University of Pennsylvania, eight years ago. Got my degree in journalism and joined the State Press, and they sent me right off to cover the war with the Cardassians." Kellie started pulling her hair back, trying to restore order from where it'd become disheveled. "I was a Paxist, Major. I joined PAPAL joyfully in my senior year of primary school and I was fully devoted to the idea that we were in the wrong and we had provoked the Cardassians into attacking us. I went to the front with that attitude, got a lot of angry treatment from the locals. But what I found wasn't the kind of war I'd been told it was. We weren't doing a thing to the Cardies. They kept attacking us and it was all Starfleet could do just to hold the line. I found out about all the atrocities, listened to the refugees talk about the firebombing of entire cities during planetary assaults, and when I realized the truth, I began reporting it back home. But I kept getting my stories rejected as too militaristic or jingoistic. The ones they didn't reject were editted and hacked up until they were nothing like I'd reported." Kellie looked down. "By the time the war was over, I knew that it'd been for nothing. The truth didn't matter to the State Press or to PAPAL. They would only hear and show what they wanted to be heard and shown."

"So here you are."
"Yeah, here I am. Hey, it pays the bills, and keeps me from becoming another BLN bum. I'm only hoping I can get to be your division's embedded journalist. The State Press might not show my stuff truthfully, but on the open networks, maybe I can get my face recognized and find somewhere else to work." She shrugged and smiled shyly. "Maybe even emigrate to the Alliance."
"That'd be very good." Ogden finished slipping on his uniform jacket. "I'll speak with the...."
"Attention all personnel, all officers of Captain rank or higher are to report to the Central Auditorium for briefing. Repeat, all officers of Captain rank or higher are to report to the Central Auditorium for briefing. That is all."
"That's me." Ogden kissed Kellie on the cheek and led her to the door. "Go back to your bunk. I'll meet up with you later and give you that continued tour."
"That will work fine, Major Ogden."


09:00 GST


A loud roar was echoing throughout the base, jostling Kellie out of the cat nap she'd started in what was left of the afterglow from Ogden. She twisted out of her bunk and on top of her sleeping cameraman. The Andorian, Levek, awoke with a start and glared at her as Kellie stumbled out of their room and into the dorm hallway. It was still nighttime outside, about 02:12 local if one used the Earth clock equivalents adjusted for the different day length, but in the clear sky there was a clear sign of something coming down. "Something's going on Levek, hurry up!"
As she did so, a voice came over the PA. "All personnel of the 79th Division are to report immediately for embarkation. Repeat, all personnel...."
"What was the big idea?!", the burly Andorian demanded.
"Get a shot of that, dammit! I don't care if they won't let us transmit it yet, I want it on record!" She pointed to the sky, where a large blocky form was slowly coming downward.
After a few minutes, a voice called out, "You're not going to be allowed to show that footage, you know."
"I know, but I wanted a record of it, Major." Kellie tried not to smile too widely at Ogden as he stepped closer to her. She was wondering if she'd seduced him or if it had been the other way around. "So, what's going on?"
"First things first. This is for the two of you." He handed Kellie and Levek updated identification badges. "Colonel Streiber agreed to letting you be our battalion's embedded journalist. I'm going to assign you to Captain Reynolds and her people."
"Charlie Company," Kellie said, grimacing. "They hate me."
"No worse than the others, and I needed to find a Company CO who wouldn't treat you like shit. Sandy Reynolds is no-nonsense. She gets the orders to let you do your work, she will."
"Thank you, Major. I won't forget this."
Ogden smiled at her. "Of course not, Miss Stevenson."
"Major, if I might..." She pointed to the window outside. "Just what is that thing?!"
"That, Miss Stevenson, is the Arthur Clinton. She is a Vandegrift-class troop transport, manned by our friends in the Stellar Navy. She'll be carrying the 79th Division."
"Where?"
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but that information is classified."
"So, even when embedded I don't get to know things?"
"You'll find them out as soon as the grunts do, Miss Stevenson. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
Kellie watched him go and smirked. Oh, I'll get something out of him. Pillow talk never fails, or so my third year journalist ethics professor told me. Of course, he also said that our duty was to expose government lies about the necessity of war and to promote peaceful outcomes at all times. She looked back to Levek, who had a smirk on his face as he slipped the identification badge into the plastic tag holder hanging over his neck. "What is it, Levek?"
"Somehow I think you and the Major are making the term 'embedded' hold an entirely different meaning."
"Shush, Levek! That kind of talk could get us all in trouble."
The Andorian shrugged. "Oh well. But I suppose it's just my imagination. Besides, you wouldn't dare sleep with an Alliance army officer. That kind of breach of ethics is... unthinkable, Miss Stevenson."
"Of course it is. Now let's go pack."

DNS Intrepid CVF-9, Near the ADN-Cardassian Border, Alliance Colonial Zone
14:22 GST



Sprawled out on her bunk in underwear, Lt. Camille Burelli was staring up at the top bunk and the pictures of her family she'd taped to the bottom of the bed occupied by her roommate - Lt. Adrianna Purcell. Purcell's blonde hair was hanging a little over the side of the bunk, far longer than Burelli's short dark hair.
Burelli turned onto her side and looked back at her PDA, laying on the bed beside her. its audio-recording system was on, ready to send an audio mail to her parents back on New Queensland. "And Mum, I know you worry a lot," she said, "but I'm fine. Really. I've got good mates here to watch my back."
"Cammie, please, I'm trying to sleep up here," Purcell moaned, visibly turning. The A-12 Marauder pilot spoke with an American Midwest accent, though like Burelli she was from a colony world and not Earth itself.

"Sorry, Adrianna." Burelli brought the PDA closer and started speaking lower. "Sorry, but Adrianna just got off CAP and is trying to catch some winks. Everyone is around here. We all know something's about to happen. It's just so frustrating. We know there's going to be war. We're going to end up seeing action. But it's not that we're afraid of fighting and dying. It's just that.... we're tired of waiting. We just want to get on with it and get it over with, you know? Kinda like Freddy and doing chores, just we're not doing things half-arsed." Camille grinned to herself, imagining her little brother's reaction to that. "Anyway, you have all my love and such. Don't know when I'll be coming home, but I will. Love you all. Goodbye." She turned the PDA off and laid back on the bed, seeing the pictures of her family - her mother, father, younger brothers and older sister. A picture of her with her prom night boyfriend Mitchell on the beach at Menzies was a little off center, and she looked at it with a little pain in her heart. He'd been her first lover, until a drunk driver in a large American pickup had crushed Mitchell's car into a tree and him in it. She'd been in her second year at the Royal Naval Aviation Academy in orbit over New Townsville at the time.

Camille looked to another file on her PDA, something she'd already written. Though the CAG and Captain had already arranged for a condolence letter to the families of Lieutenant Wang and Ensign Weatherspoon, Camille had written one of her own. Jing Zhi had been her wing mate and a damned good pilot, even if Camille had sometimes had trouble understanding the Chinese girl's broken English, and her loss really hurt. Camille looked over the text, and then a Cantonese approximate that the PDA translated it into for the official communication. It looked like a bunch of funny symbols to her, of course, but Camille knew that Jing Zhi's husband and sisters in Kowloon would understand it easily and hopefully try to understand she'd done her best. She'd have to see if Chief Shao could help her make sure it made sense.
Though she hadn't flown in a while, Camille was certain that when the shit hit the fan, she'd get more than enough flying time. So she finished sending her audio message home and slipped the PDA back into the pouch she'd attached to the wall, then pulled the sheets up over herself and closed her eyes.


In his office near the CIC, Line Captain Gill was reading over reports after ensuring the proper translation of his condolence letter to Lieutenant Wang Jing Zhi's husband and family. The Lieutenant had married in her last trip home, Gill had heard, and had filed her papers for retirement so she could go live with her husband and become a mother. But that had ended in a quick flash of compressor energy, and now all that her husband had left was a few letters, a box of orphaned belongings, and shattered dreams - maybe more, since Gill had put Wang's name in for a posthumous commendation, but odds were she'd not get anything above, perhaps, a Silver Star, though he was pushing for a Navy Cross. Dying from a single hit by an enemy anti-ship weapon wasn't quite as glorious as ramming your crippled fighter into an enemy ship or jumping on a grenade to save your buddies.
Even worse, Gill knew this was only the first letter he'd have to write. Soon they'd be at war, and even victorious war demanded its price in lost blood and shattered dreams. And then there would be more letters. More notes to inform parents that they'd lost their baby girl, to make wives into widows, and children into orphans. Gill hated those damned letters, and had hated them since he was a young officer finding out his hot-headed younger brother had taken a disruptor in the chest from some Ratzi clonetrooper on one of those Godforsaken planets the Neo-Nazis had built their new Fatherland in.

There was a knock at the door and Gill said, "Come in." The man who entered was Commander Edgar Pierson, the Intrepid's CAG. "Hello, Commander."
"Finished my letter to Ensign Weatherspoon's wife."
"Good, got mine done. We'll transmit them to Operations with our next packet." Gill rubbed the bridge of his nose. "If we weren't at DefCon 1 I'd offer you some tequila."
"Sorry, but Jack Daniels is my favorite poison." Pierson took the seat that Gill gestured to. "At your request, I moved Lieutenant Laurent to active status to replace Wang. Ensign Richmond will be flying his second seat."
"Good. Laurent's a veteran of the Agresskan conflict. He'll help the young bloods like Burelli keep themselves reigned in."
"Then...."
A solid beep filled the room. Gill pressed the intercom button on his desk. "This is Gill, go."
"Captain, we're getting an ELF burst transmission. You'd better come quick."
Gill shot out of his chair. For Command to use an ELF burst meant that what they were sending was extremely sensitive and they were determined to prevent Cardassian SIGINT from hearing it. And that could only mean.... "I'm on my way." Gill jumped out of his chair in time with Pierson. "Looks like the shit's about to hit the fan."
"Give the word and I'll get my pilots roused to go over the data we've got for Kemar," Pierson said.

Gill nodded at that and the two men went their separate ways. Gill was in the CIC within a minute, stomping up to communications. The officer on watch was Lieutenant Commander Iskinder Fitzhugh, a tan-skinned man from Ethiopian and American parents. He turned to Gill and handed him a PDA with the message displayed on it. "Do the codes authenticate?"
Fitzhugh and Gill looked over to the Petty Officer 1C at the station. The Caucasian brunette was crunching the transmission's command codes in the computer. The display popped up and Gill's spine straighted as the woman said, "Sir, code authenticates", in a Texan drawl.
"Comm, send a narrow-beam transmission to our escorts, informing them of our planned course and speed and orders for strict radio silence." Gill looked to Fitzhugh. "Change running status to Orange. I want every off-duty man ready to suit up the instant I even think 'General Quarters'."
Fitzhugh nodded and walked off, soon bellowing, "We are now at Code Orange!" and ensuring the running status lights changed to that color. He looked back at Gill. "Sir, if I might ask?"
"Don't bother, Fitzhugh." Gill handed him the PDA. "You've read it. You know what it means."
Fitzhugh swallowed. And Gill didn't blame him.
And Gill knew that very soon, he'd be writing even more of those damned letters.


Bomber Atomic Dolphin


Seated once more in the cockpit of the B-202, the crew of the Atomic Dolphin were leisurely watching their stations as they made another approach on the border.
To break the ice, Corporal Rickover suddenly asked, "Sir, why is the bomber named the 'Atomic Dolphin'?"
"What?" Shep looked back from the pilot seat, where he was again considering the unopened pack of cigars he kept aboard in defiance of Group Captain Sandhurst. "You tellin' me you've never seen an atomic dolphin before, Rickover?"
"Well, no sir."
"Ah. Then forget about it."
"No, I'm really curious."
"Son, if you've never seen an atomic dolphin before, you'll never understand."
"It's a private thing of the Major's, Rickover," Eastman remarked. "So don't worry about it."
"Oh." Rickover looked back to his display. "We're three minutes from the Cardassian border."
"Good." Shep looked back at his cigar pack. After about thirty more seconds, he suddenly began to open it. Eastman stared at him. "Something wrong, Lenny?"
"Well, sir, I thought Captain Sandhurst had forbidden you from smoking?"
"There are lots of things the service will overlook in time of war, Eastman. Smoking regs, fraternization regs, hell, had a buddy in one fighter squadron who's entire outfit got serviced by hookers while they were stationed on Jasperville during the Aggie War." Shep took a cigar out and put the pack up.
"We're not at war yet."
That made Shep smirk. "We're not at DefCon 1 for nothing, Rickover. Besides, I've got a gut feelin'." He put the cigar in his mouth, holding it with his teeth while he lit the tip with a lighter. On other craft, like actual fighters, this would be impossible due to the near-pure oxygen atmospheres in smaller craft, but bombers used Earth-standard atmosphere to reduce flammability. He took the first drag off the cigar and brought it away from his mouth. "Barton, don't bother strainin' your ears trying to pick up a recall signal."
"Why sir?"
"Because, young lady, it ain't comin'." He took another drag and calmly listened to Rickover tick away their range to the border.


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
14:35 GST



Relim and Yatar were together in the Command Center on Cardassia, from which the leaders of the Cardassian Union could supervise the military operations across their empire. The Legate would be coming at 1600 to supervise the launching of Cardassia's pre-emptive strike on the Alliance. However, Relim was not liking what he was seeing on the screens. "Where are the carriers?"
Yatar looked from where he was monitoring the Bajoran sector. "What?"
"Where are the Alliance's carriers?"
"Who cares? They're glorified attack craft tenders." Yatar walked up to Relim and pointed out their displays on the screen. "We know exactly where the Alliance's offensive fleet is. It is in position to strike at Bajor, leaving New Liberty and the surrounding systems to be attacked by our own forces. The carriers are irrelevant. Nothing better than fleet scouts and decoys."
"Might I remind you of what happened to Strovarak?"
"That was a mere cruiser. And our investigation into the exact details of the battle is still officially continuing, I'll remind you."
Relim lowered his voice and made it harsher. "I understand, Yatar, that we want to ensure that a proper, politically-convenient edition of the battle is officially circulated. But we are about to go to war. War does not give a damn about what is politically convenient. We should start looking for those carriers!"
"There is no time," Yatar said. He frowned. "And I do not like your tone, Torcet. In fact, I'll remind you of your place right now. The Military Strategy Staff. You are a war planner, and I expect you to stick to planning wars and not to dictating them to the Advisory Board."
Though the volume in Relim's voice was low, it was still hard. "Why you little...! I was commanding men into battle when you were a mewling youth whining to his instructors about how cold it is in the wastelands at night! I have fought for Cardassia for fifty years and I have not done so to have my experiences ignored in favor of the self-righteous stubbornness of a bureaucrat!"
Yatar put a finger in Relim's face. "Shut your mouth now, Torcet! Do not patronize me! Do not even dare think of it! I am the next Legate, I'll remind you. One snap of my fingers and Kelataza will have you retired and forced to beg for scraps in the capitol! Your son will find himself working on a rusted out old garbage scow in the ass-end of the frontier! You'll be sending that Bajoran housekeeper of your's to the Alien Quarter to whore her aged body out just to support your grandchildren!"
Relim's jaw clenched and the aged man looked very ready to knock Yatar onto his rear. Before he could, a Glin manning one of the command consoles turned in his chair. "Gul Hergata, Gul Torcet, we're having a problem!"
Relim and Yatar continued glaring at each other for a long moment before Relim broke the glare and turned to the man. "What kind of problem, Glin Durkal?"
"Our sensor posts and buoys along the Alliance border are being jammed, Sir. We can't read anything."
Yatar stepped passed Relim, scowling at him before barking, "Order our local defenses to be prepared for an attack!" Yatar looked back to Relim. "Well, Gul, it's happening. We have our war. It will be over soon enough."
"You presumptuous fool," Relim muttered under his breath, so Yatar couldn't hear him. He had a feeling that the war was not going to be over quite as soon as Yatar imagined.


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
14:45 GST



In the White House press room, a digital display had been set up right beside the podium. The assembled reporters and journalists of the press corps were seated and waiting. At precisely 9:45 AM EST, Nicolas Mamatmas stepped into the room and with a solemn posture went to the podium. A signal from behind him was given to let him know when he was live. Trillions of beings were undoubtedly watching as Mamatmas began to speak. "Good morning members of the press, fellow citizens, and those watching from across the known Multiverse."
"The events of the past few days have been trying upon us all. But the investigation of the Alliance Government into the circumstances of the nuclear detonation at Gytep has brought to our attention what I can only call a smoking gun." Mamatmas pressed a button on the podium to activate the display. "This is the freighter Deyteliz, owned by the Xepolite merchant cartel of Jem'irira. Jem'irira has already been noted by all concerned nations of the region as a client of Cardassian intelligence. At precisely 11:46 GST, the Deyteliz was involved in transporting consumer goods to a warehouse in Mwinyburg." Mamatmas pressed the button again, altering the colors of the display. A clear line was visible, coming down from Deyteliz. "Scientists at the University of New Israel recorded this from available sensor data the day of the explosion. Please watch."
At another button press, the beam continued for a few seconds until a second beam shortly appeared, going very close to the first, but slightly off-axis. "This second transport beam had a termination point in Gytep, at what local investigators have confirmed to be Ground Zero of the nuclear detonation. This second transport occurred about four seconds before the device detonated and destroyed Gytep, killing twenty-five hundred innocent people."

With his jaw clenched, Mamatmas pressed the button again, bringing up the face of Ortem Jorcet where he disembarked on Bajor. "This man has been identified by our intelligence sources as Ortem Jorcet, a former Cardassian naval engineer according to Cardassian record. Jorcet was seen disembarking from the Deyteliz onto the Cardassian mining station Terok Nor, in orbit over Bajor, several hours after the Gytep blast. Deyteliz visited only one other port between Henderon and Bajor, and our sources confirmed Jorcet did not embark there."
"The nuclear weapon used on Gytep was a tritium-boosted fission device, the type developed in Human history shortly after the Second World War. This kind of weapon would be within the capability of someone trained as a modern naval engineer. It is also primitive and easy to make without the extensive use of technology, making it the perfect device for hypothetical Bajoran terrorists to use. It is now the Government's opinion that the Cardassians sought to frame the Bajorans living in the Alliance as terrorists who had accidentally set off a nuclear device."
Mamatmas gripped the sides of his podium. The presentation aspect of his speech was done. It was time for him to give the conclusion, in words to inspire and to reassure the people given the task that lay ahead. "It is clear to us all now that Cardassia cannot be negotiated with. They cannot be dealt with. They are willing to hurt, to lie, and to kill to get their way. We all seek peaceful outcomes to our problems, but this is impossible when the other party is not willing to be dignified, as the Cardassians have proven themselves incapable of being. The Cardassians have built their empire on violence and cruelty. Their hunger for conquest has proven insatiable to the point that they have badgered their neighbors into sacrificing sovereignty to allow them to hunt down and imprison innocent refugees."
"This Alliance has resisted them and for this they have subjected us to relentless attacks. History will show that Cardassia has harassed and has now attacked Alliance shipping, without provocation, in neutral space. They have spilled the blood of our uniformed personnel, who serve selflessly to defend us all, and they have killed innocent sailors aboard vessels flying the Alliance flag. They have insulted the sovereignty and freedom of the Allied Nations through these acts of wanton aggression."

"But even that pales to their greatest crime. They have subjected Alliance territory to a cowardly and treacherous nuclear attack in a brazen attempt to undermine the integrity of the Allied Nations and the innocent Bajorans it is protecting from their cruelty. It shall be remembered that on November 20th, twenty-five hundred innocent beings were savagely murdered by the Cardassian Union for its own aggrandizement. In fact, I have no doubt that for some of us the date of November 20th will go down in history alongside those of December 7th and September 11th."
"Our duty is now clear. The Cardassian Union has made itself the enemy of the Allied Nations. They have murdered our citizens and insulted our sovereignty over their desire to maintain their enslavement of the entire Bajoran race. And now they will pay the price for these crimes. It is my duty as President to inform you, the Citizens of the Allied Nations, that by the full authority of the Alliance Nations' Council and Government, the Alliance of Democratic Nations formally declared war on the Cardassian Union at 14:18 GST today. Our hopes and prayers are with the men and women of our Armed Services as they go into battle. That is all."



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-27 09:38pm
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Chapter 4


VKFS Pobeda, 85 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union
14:45 GST



Yefim was seated at his desk after a nap in his off-shift time, writing a letter to his wife-to-be Anna back in sunny Kostinagrad on Novvy Ryazan. Presuming, of course, that she hadn't decided to call it off because he'd forgotten to write her for her birthday. Duty was duty, and women were women.
He was working on some of the more private parts of the letter when a call came from the conn for him to report to the bridge. He stormed onto the bridge and had a PDA handed to him by Cmdr. Petrovsky, his XO. Yefim looked and read the digital display and the Cyrillic characters on it. His eyes widened a bit and he stormed over to sensors, where a petty officer was seated. "What is the nearest Cardassian target?!"
"A convoy. Four transports and an escorting destroyer, Captain. Over two light years distance. We can make intercept in about seventeen minutes at flank speed."
"Navigator, set course for target!"
The Navigator, Lt. Vassily Yuburov, nodded emphatically. "Plotting course, captain." He tapped the data into his controls. "Helm, change attitude bearing One-Six-Four mark Zero-One-One, go to flank speed and prepare for further course correction!"
"Changing course, One-Six-Four mark Zero-One-One," the helmsman replied, moving the ship's left-right bearing almost completely around - that is, making a one hundred and sixty four degree turn while lifting the ship's "nose" by eleven degrees. He keyed in a speed and pressed a final key, sending the Pobeda racing into warp speeds.
At this time, Yefim grabbed the mike for the ship's intercom and keyed it to play through the entire ship, causing a loud whistle to come over the system. "Good day, crew of the brave Pobeda! This is your Captain speaking. It is my pleasure to tell you that we are finally being given the chance to prove our greatness. The Alliance has declared war on these Cardassian cocksuckers, doblestniye kosmonavti, and by the authority of our government we have been ordered to engage and destroy all possible targets in our patrol region."
"This is what we have been waiting for, my fellow Cosmonauts. A century ago, our grandfathers and great-grandfathers struck fear into the hearts of Anglos everywhere. Our Motherland's greatest heroes resisted attack after attack from their fleets, never wavering! Now, we are being given the opportunity to live up to their great legacy. I expect every one of you to do your duty! We shall be as Aleksandr Korchagin was to the British in the Karellian stars and strike fear into every Cardassian who dares to come into vacuum. The order is now given to man your combat stations and prepare for battle! Za Rodinu!"


Bomber Sum of All Fears, Near Chin'toka System, Cardassian Union
15:00 GST



The Tu-310 interstellar aerospace bomber nicknamed Sum of All Fears was approaching Chin'toka under cloak, along with the other nineteen bombers of the 3rd Defense Bomber Squadron. The Squadron Leader in command of the force was Thomas Martel, a thin wiry-framed man. He and his crew remained professionally silent during the flight, only speaking for their checks and tests as their vessel moved along under warp flight.
The mission of the twenty Tu-310s was to hit the Cardassian squadron at its berthing at Chin'toka before it could launch. Martel's bombers were loaded with anti-ship missiles attached to an impulse booster, which would allow them to engage from a longer range and hammer the Cardassian squadron at Chin'toka. Then they'd come about and return to Opelson AFB on Henderon.
Quietly going over the briefing specifics in his mind, Martel looked to the clock and counted down the half hour they had left. Hopefully the Cardassians would take the border-wide jamming as a distraction for the main fleet's movements and he'd have a clear target.


CDS Hiparak, Chin'toka System, Cardassian Union
15:10 GST



Seated in the command chair of the Hiparak, Gul Iltacek stared at one of his tactical displays, waiting for the order to get his new Dorkarak-class cruiser into action. One of the finest, newest vessels in the Cardassian fleet, the Hiparak had all of the "lessons learned" advances of the war with the Federation and the Betreka Nebula "Incident". He had fought in both and was waiting for another chance to rise in the ranks through his capability.
It had been over half an hour since the border sensors had come under jamming. Given the communications sent in and out before the jamming became too powerful, it was along the entire Alliance-Cardassian border. Which meant an attack was coming soon. Near Bajor, the Central Command thought, but Iltacek was quite willing to meet them at Chin'toka or to begin raiding Alliance territory while their fleet was tied up fighting the main Cardassian force at Bajor.
Iltacek pressed a key to alter the display to show various sensor bands. Local sensors still worked, but the jamming meant that ships couldn't receive data from the main sensor hubs or sensor buoys. There was something gnawing at the back of Iltacek's mind. He couldn't help but think that the jamming has some deeper purpose beyond an attempt to hide their main fleet's movements.
And then he saw them. Small, very slight disturbances on the tachyon sensor band. The Hiparak's sensors were the only ones in the fleet that could have seen them, and for good reason, since Iltacek knew the capability was meant for dealing with cloaked vessels, as he often had to during the Betreka Nebula campaign. He brought up the specific readings and then barked, "Sensor Operator, what do you make of these anomalous readings?"
The sensor operator looked at them. "Tachyon distortions, Gul."
"Distortions that constant and steady?" Iltacek shook his head. Older Cardassian systems had been able to pick up such things in sub-light ranges but rarely this reliably. "I've seen such distortions before. At Betreka Nebula, made by cloaked Klingon Birds-of-Prey. Get me Gul Percet of Squadron Command."


At about 15:29 GST, the twenty bombers of the 3rd Squadron came out of warp under cloak and neared Chin'toka. Martel's people switched on their passive sensors to get a fix on their targets.
The Hiparak and the twenty-nine other ships appeared, as expected, but they were not in their berths at the station near Chin'toka. They were all in space, with shields up and weapons hot. Martel's stomach twisted as he realized that somehow they'd seen them coming. "All craft, release weapons!"
The twenty Tu-310s unleashed their weapons at once. Twenty impulse booster assemblies, one per bomber, and five anti-ship missiles on each, all heading to the squadron of thirty Cardassian vessels.
The disadvantage to the boosters was that the moment they activated, it was like lighting a flare in a dark room. Every Cardassian ship in the fleet could see where they were fired from. And the boosters were large enough and visible enough to be fired upon.
The advantage was how quickly they crossed the distance. The Cardassian fleet opened fire immediately when the boosters hit range, but only managed to destroy or otherwise knock off-course five boosters before the other fifteen came into terminal range and their missiles detached. Each missile was programmed with a quasi-AI that would logically determine the best target for hitting from its priority list. Their smaller ion engines were still powerful enough to accelerate them rapidly, giving the Cardassians little time to shoot them down - about ten out of seventy-five surviving missiles.
The sixty-five survivors came into range. Some would make direct hits - others would activate their proximity failsafes and detonate as they emerged from the other end of the enemy formation, causing at least some shield degradation. Their blasts were powerful - each missile had a 200MT max-rated fusion warhead, making them at least four times as powerful as the average Cardassian photon torpedo.
On the bridge of Hiparak, Iltacek would watch half of his squadron go down in flames. Several ships were outright destroyed or crippled by a couple of direct missile hits - one to deplete their shields and the other to hit the hull - and others were severely damaged from multiple proximity detonations from near-misses. Very few ships survived damage save for Hiparak and the four other vessels in her wing, which only had four missiles come after them, the proverbial luck of the draw from shooting down four boosters and ten missiles. Iltacek's first move was to order his wing toward the enemy craft. But very light flashes of Cherenkov radiation told him that the enemy's missile vessels had made their getaway. "Those vessels were not moving very fast," Iltacek said. "Give me the course from which they came!"
A few moments later, Iltacek was noting that their course came from an angle not toward any inhabited system in the Alliance Colonial Zone. His first thought was "secret base", but then it occurred to him that they had been smart and had not gone on a straight course. He looked at systems near their path and noted Henderson and New Liberty as choices for their point of origin. "Hail Gul Percet again. I think I know where these craft might have come from." Iltacek leaned back in his chair. The moment had come and the war had quite obviously begun; now all that remained was to win it and get his name recognized for higher posting, as Iltacek - like many intelligent military officers - looked forward to the day he could work himself into Central Command itself.


DNS Sculpin SS-89, Cardassian Border Sectors, Cardassian Space
15:25 GST



The Valiant-class Sculpin, 9th of her type, noticed the Cardassian Hideki and accompanying older Ikvaks as they finished moving into position. Lieutenant Commander Alexa Schmidt watched them move across her display and checked their path against the planned flight path for the Carrier Group moving to strike Jemik. It would, as she feared, come uncomfortably close.
The blonde Pomeranian gave a look to her XO. Lt. (SG) Kasia Krauze - full name Katarzyna just as Schmidt's was Alexandra - returned it. "We have orders to engage," the Polish woman reminded her.
"I know." Each speaking in English as was custom in the Stellar Navy service, there was a lot going unsaid between them. They were of similar age but Alexa was already up in rate and seniority, putting the time needed for that advance in while Kasia had only done the minimal necessary while raising a family back in Nowy Krakow PA-6, aided in this before her transfer to the Stellar Navy by the more leisurely tempo given the starship officers of the United Nation-States Star Navy. And Alexa figured a lot of her thoughts were dominated by the husband, sons, and daughter back home, a contrast to her worry over one surviving parent in Stralsund LRC-19 and not much else. "Sound General Quarters, Lieutenant."
Kasia nodded and pressed the appropriate key. As klaxons sounded through Sculpin and internal running lights flashed red to indicate the ship's current condition code, its crew of 56 enlisted and 7 officers manned battlestations across the ship, from the engineering crew of 25 overall taking their places in the reactor chamber and engineering spaces to the 10 men who oversaw the main torpedo rooms. Finishing her own verbal reinforcement to the klaxons and running light changes, Kasia nodded to the Astrogator, Lt. (JG) Jorge Delgado. The Spanish man had already crunched the numbers. "Helm, make course correction One-Eight-Seven mark Zero-Zero-Eight, flank speed. Further course corrections to be updated."
"Aye, One-Eight-Seven mark Zero-Zero-Eight, flank."
"Optimum warp-speed firing range in 5 minutes," a Petty Officer called out from Sensors. "Weapons accuracy might be slightly degraded due to the high-scale subspace jamming."
Alexa directed a look to Lt. (JG) Carl Sandworth, ship's Tactical Officer. "Engagement from closer ranges should permit the weapons to maintain target lock despite the jamming. Torpedoes are being loaded in the tubes, Sir," he answered succinctly. "Firing solution will be ready once we're in position and final course data is prepared. Targets?"
"Three torpedoes for two ships with all six forward tubes, Mister Sandworth."

The following minutes would be tense ones. Sculpin's silent advance through space was unlikely to be noticed through the power of her ECS system and the silent running measures that had been implemented for the operation.
"Thirty seconds to targeting position," the man at Sensors stated. "Twenty seconds." "Ten seconds...... 8... 7... 6..."
When he reached "One", Sandworth stated readiness to fire. Alexa's reply was short and sweet. "Fire torpedoes."
The torpedoes erupted from the Sculpin's six forward launchers. They went to warp themselves, generating fields specifically engineered to not interfere with the Sculpin's. Their speed was the equivalent of Warp 9.2 on the ST-3 warp factor scale against Cardassian vessels traveling at a leisurely patrol speed of Warp 5: interception was inevitable.
The Cardassian ships had no idea what was coming until those torpedoes appeared on their screens as figuratively glowing warp fields against the background of subspace. At the range Sculpin had chosen to engage the time to impact was mere seconds. Two of the ships managed to get shields up from attentative officers; another, one of the Ikvaks and a target by Sandworth, was not so lucky. The first torpedo smashed into its bow section and blasted it apart, nearly gutting the ship by itself. The second torpedo was a slight miss due to miscalculation by the targeting computers and would detonate off the vessel's dorsal side, showering it in energy and radiation that irritated the ship's warp-field.
Just before the damage to the bow could cause the Cardassian safety measures to drop the field and save the stricken vessel, the third torpedo hit home in the mid-section. The blast finished what the first started, and the violent and uncontrolled deceleration from warp vaporized the entire ship.
The other three torpedoes had been aimed at another Ikvak. This one got its shields up just in time. The first torpedo struck home on the shields and degraded them; the second torpedo was yet again a near-miss but, due to proximity, strained the shields and warp-field, but with an engineering officer on station the latter could be adjusted and maintained. The third hit struck home as well, causing the light vessel's shields to degrade to the point of failure.

The Cardassian vessels came out of warp seconds after one of their compatriots died. Their sensor officers were already calculating the Sculpin's position from the trajectory of the torpedoes and calculating potential positions based on such, but the area of interstellar space the Sculpin could have moved to in just ten seconds at warp was stupendously vast, many millions of cubic kilometers in size.
Sculpin had not gone too far. The helmsman maneuvered her at warp speed into another firing position while, in the bow sections of the ship, the dozen men and women assigned to the torpedo room worked diligently under the watchful eye of Ensign Karla Druthers, the ship's Assistant Tactical Officer. Torpedo loading was automated of course, but for operational precautions two crew were assigned per tube to ensure all the machinery was working right, the senior of each tube crew also giving the torpedo a quick inspection by instrument and eyeball to ensure it had no defects. The whole process took about five to ten seconds usually; five was the minimum needed for the post-launch safety precautions involving the tube and for the necessary pre-launch inspection by instrument and eyeball of the torpedoes being loaded.
"Tubes reloaded, new firing solutions plotted and undergoing recalculations." By the latter, Sandworth meant that the computer, with the main work done, would constantly recalculate the necessary path of the torpedoes every second as each Cardassian target changed position.
Seeing all of the targets had gone sublight, Alexa sought to sieze advantage. Firing at a sublight target from warp was trickier, as overshooting was so easy, but on the other hand there was always the off-chance that the cloaking fields might not hide the Cherenkov radiation spike from dropping out of warp, especially in interstellar space. Staying at warp meant likelihood of detection was less save for those moments when they fired. "Weps, fire aft fish at that damaged Ikvak and the nearest buddy. Then when we come around at warp engage the Hideki with a spread of four. The other two targets of our bow tubes are at your discretion."
"Yes Sir." Sandhurst triggered the aft torpedoes first. As they flew toward their target he added, "Launcher charges sufficient for two more volleys from aft and from bow, Sir."
Alexa considered such as her monitor confirmed a full, successful hit from Sandhurst and his computers. The twin torpedoes proved overkill on the stricken Ikvak; without hits the two torpedoes, separately, blew the Cardassian ship to pieces in the moments before its own fuel reserves atomized it. The Cardassians were growing frantic. Under SOP, she had one more volley from each arc left before she would break off to return to patrol and begin the hours-long process of recharging the launcher tubes. She was considering whether to throw SOP away due to the operational necessities their orders had made clear, leaving her ship unable to fire while under full silent running for about three hours but ensuring she knocked out the remaining three enemy vessels.
"Enemy targets powering warp engines," the Sensorman called out.
"Weps, hold that shot until they engage warp." Warp speed engagement would make the calculations more complex and reduce accuracy, but at the same time reduced the risk of the targets going to warp as the torpedoes dropped out of warp. The helmsman dutifully set an appropiate speed, under Delgado's guidance, as the three remaining Cardassian ships went back to warp. "Fire!"
Again Sculpin emptied her tubes. Both of Sandworth's discretion shots hit home, crippling an Ikvak that, barely, survived dropping to sublight. The Hideki took two hits, bringing shields to the point of failure but with the vessel still intact and untouched.

"Enemy forces are changing ultimate flight path, on course to Jemik," Delgado reported after looking over the sensor data.
"Then our orders are clear. Continue torpedo reload." Alexa looked on grimly. If she had to, she would decloak and allow the main engine to power the launch. But above all else the ships heading to Jemik could not be allowed to get there or to get close enough to cut a signal through the subspace jamming. "Mister Delgado, plot pursuit course." She pressed her thumb to an intercom key. "Engineering, this is the Conn. When signaled, dial reactor to maximum and prepare to divert everything to deflectors."
"Tubes reloaded."
"Even spread, Weps. XO, stand by to disengage ECS on my signal."
Kasia gave her a grim nod. As with Alexa, she knew dropping the ECS and going to non-stealth running would be dangerous. Their ship was built for stealth. The protective deflectors would not hold for long under sustained anti-ship bombardment, even if the enemy weapon batteries were light as well. Their pulse nuclear-disruptor cannons were destroyer grade at least, giving them some power in a brawl, but their thin defenses would not last long at all.
Sandworth's shots hit home. Two more torpedoes struck the Hideki despite its attempt at warp maneuvering. Though newer, without shields the Hideki was no better off against direct torpedo impacts, becoming a mass of atoms and gas that abruptly dropped from warp.
The last remaining Ikvak took only one hit out of three, prompting Alexa and Sandworth to both curse in quiet tones. "When we have torpedo reload, disengage cloak and power up the launchers," she ordered. They would have to hope that the Cardassian would not get a target lock in the moments they were decloaked. "Prepare for evasive maneuvers."
When torpedo reload was confirmed, Sculpin dropped her protective cloaking field and put all her systems are full. For the Cardassians, what might have at best been slight distortion in subspace became a full-fledged warp field and power signature. The Cardassian ship, seeing a target its size and not sure why this vessel had decloaked, chose to turn and engage.
As it began to do so, a flurry of torpedoes erupted from Sculpin, nothing being left to chance. The six projectiles tracked their target at warp as it tried to maneuver away. Four out of six made contact and blew away the Cardassian destroyer, leaving only enough that it could come out of warp and remain relatively intact.
"Bring us out of warp on top of them. Weps, prepare forward cannons, we'll finish them off with the gun armament." She had already expended 26 torpedoes from her war load of 72. It was best to not waste a torpedo to finish off the crippled hulk.
At the helmsman's command the Sculpin dropped out of warp, "above" the stricken Cardassian destroyer. They were a half light second away, perfect range for their cannons.
Also perfect range for the Cardassians.
As the forward cannons blazed, sending four streams of energy bolts at the Cardassian ship, the Cardassian destroyer fired both wing-tip compressors. The Sculpin, on an attack run with cannons, was as easy a target as the Cardassian was. The two streams converged on her bow shields and blasted through, remnant energy from both scouring the bow. The ship rocked from the impact and the overwhelming of its light shield generators. "Damage report!", Alexa demanded.
Kasia was quick to give it. "We've lost forward deflectors. Damage to bow sections sealed off by emergency forcefields, automatic bulkhead closing is ready but will not engage unless the fields fail. Tubes 2 and 3 are out. Casualties in forward torpedo room, medics en route."
Alexa bit into her lip. On her screens she saw their strike had finished off the Cardassian ship. The pulse nuclear-disruptor cannons had ripped into the Cardassian ship's body and finished off the weakened structure, causing the vessel to fall apart in space. There would be survivors but, with the jamming, it was unlikely that they would be detected any time soon, if ever.

"Lieutenant, I don't like leaving anyone in the middle of interstellar space, even Cardies," she remarked to Kasia. "Do you think we could take the survivors aboard and bring them back with us as POWs?"
"We have the spare life support capacity for up to fifty more people, a hundred in a pinch, but I'm not confident of our ability to run the ship and watch over prisoners," Kasia answered. "We would have to take personnel off of other duties and confine the Cardassians to a secure bunk space."
Alexa nodded stiffly. She had no desire to condemn them to a slow death in the void of interstellar space, that was a death too horrible to contemplate. "Re-engage ECS for now. Prepare METting system, Cardassian survivors will be brought aboard once we have arranged the space to hold them for our trip home." There was no point now in remaining out here; they had cleared the assigned area of Cardassian patrol and the Jemik base was open to attack. With damage to the bow their proper course of action was to return to base for repairs... and to drop off the roughly three dozen Cardassians the sensors detected as alive in the hulk and in a few escape pods that got out.


DNS Intrepid CVF-9, Nearing Kemar, Cardassian Space
16:15 GST



With the other pilots of the Intrepid's wing, Camille was in her flight uniform and seated in the briefing theater. The CAG - Commander Air Group - was standing in front of a digital display showing the schematics of the Cardassian naval station at Kemar. He had already laid out the specific flight path of the craft going in - a full strike of 200 craft which would target the approximate 100 berths at and around Kemar. The strike would be led by the three squadrons of F/A-32s, with the FB-34s and A-12s following and shielded from enemy detection by the impressive ECM suite on the destroyer Marcus Whittleby. Contingents of F-30 StarRaptor and F-31 Hellcats would provide CAP for the Intrepid and her escorts.
Camille's squadron was assigned to one of the 10-berth wings; Camille would take the vessel at the end with her new Wingmate, Lieutenant Pilowski. Their first shots would have to count, coming right after they dropped out of warp and into range of the target in a very precise, dangerous maneuver. After that, any ship that wasn't crippled or destroyed in the initial volley would undoubtedly raise shields and start combat. And in a very perverse situation, the lack of good point-defense on the Cardassian ships meant the Cardassians had to engage with anti-ship weapons, which would destroy any fighter and its crew with a single hit.
After the briefing, Camille joined the rest of her squadron with their CO - Lt. Cmdr. Alexia Douglas - at the section of the main hanger their fighters were kept in. After making sure all of the flights in the squadron knew which formation to keep, they piled into their craft with the help of enlisted air crew personnel and prepared for launch.
Camille's flight was set for a stern launch. She and her second-seater Jimmy ran through the usual system checks as they were towed and fixed onto an elevator to raise them to the launch deck with the rest of their flight. Camille finished all of the necessary checks while their flight was pushed up onto the launch deck. Launch crew attached the fighter to tracks that would put it in line for lift off. Camille readied the craft's burners for when the rank of fighters ahead of her lifted off. Finally they did so, leaving her to launch. She cranked up the throttle and, in perfect time with her wingman, raced out of the stern opening of the launch deck and out into space.



CDS Yavar, Kemar Naval Post, Cardassian Union
16:31 GST



On the bridge of the Yavar, Harak Torcet was seated in the command chair checking displays and readiness reports. Gul Akel was in a fleet-level briefing with the other Guls, preparing for the coming attack. There was still two hours to go until all of the ship's crew would be back aboard and the Yavar fully replenished.
Harak finished reading a report from the engineering section and his eyes went back to the tactical display. Communications and sensors were partially on-line, but there was jamming in the various subspace bands that functioned for scanning to find ships at warp or in nearby interstellar space. The jamming was heavy enough to force them to go to powerful burst transmissions to communicate with Central Command, which in turn had said the entire border with the Alliance was under jamming. Harak was quite impressed. Certainly he'd been right; the Alliance's capabilities were more impressive than the Federation, which had never bothered with jamming.
Something was gnawing at Harak's mind, though. Jamming sensors along the border was one thing, but they were nearly forty light years away from the border. Subspace jamming could leave a large shadow, true, but Harak had a very strong feeling in his stomach that something was wrong.
He returned his attention to the computer terminal on the chair. A few button presses and the entry of his code brought up the intel data he was cleared to see. As a ship XO involved in this operation, he was given access to a portion of the intelligence for the operation. Harak brought up the one thing he was most concerned with; the known positions of Alliance vessels. The concentrations were as reported, all near Bajor. He checked the identified vessels in those concentrations.
Harak soon realized that intelligence had no track on the carriers the Alliance Navy used. They weren't even looking for them; the post stating the replacement of the Alliance carrier Intrepid with two smaller carriers for the forces guarding Alliance shipping in the Federation had only come in three hours ago and was dated for fifteen hours earlier.
The Alliance had clearly begun reinforcing their local fleet, according to intel. But Harak could find little reference to the Alliance's carriers. He was certain they'd have sent more, considering their carriers' effectiveness. The problem was that military intelligence was as conservative as ever, and they were far more frightened of the Alliance's main warships than the carriers.
"Glin Dergal," he said, speaking to the thin Cardassian woman at the defense systems station. "I'd like it if you routed shield control to my control board."
"Sir?"
"I have a suspicion, Glin, about our sensor problems. Give me shield control. And Technician Jerak, as soon as Gul Akel is out of the meeting, I want to speak with him immediately."
"Yes Sir."
Harak looked back to his screens, his left hand remaining close to the control to bring up the Yavar's shields.
A control he'd be pressing in about two minutes.


Camille watched her HUD display timer tick down to exit from warp space. The fighter's computers were handling the entire thing, set to bring the entire fighter formation out of warp at the same time and in position for their anti-ship missiles and torpedoes. The faster missiles would be thrown first, then the torpedoes, and Camille had her finger on the torpedo trigger to fire the instant they came out of warp. They would have to be quick, as their coming out of warp would light up every sensor in the Kemar system.
At about 16:38 GST, the Cardassian sensors registered a massive spike in Cherenkov radiation. The initial strike of 60 F/A-12s came out of warp a mere light second away from Kemar Naval Post and its open space docks. A barrage of Mark XIV torpedoes erupted from the Thunderbolts before they broke off in formation and prepared for the arrival of the Avengers and Marauders.
All except Camille and her wingman. Camille watched the torpedoes she fired crash into the dock holding her target.... and explode against raised deflector shields. A moment later the main gun on the ship fired straight forward as she began to turn. Pilowski was off her wing far enough that the blast only clipped his wing and damaged his fighter. Camille had no such fortune; the compressor beam enveloped her Thunderbolt, shattering its defensive shield in a fraction of a second. When that second ended, Camille Burelli and Jim Kell had disappeared with the rest of their fighter, reduced to a handful of free-floating atoms in the cold blackness of space.


Chaos enveloped the Yavar and the space around her. Even as the enemy fighters' torpedoes exploded against her shields, bringing them down to forty percent, Harak was shouting the order to open fire. The target was dead ahead and never stood a chance. The Galor-class battleship's massive bow cannon vaporized one of the fighters within a second and clipped the other one.
"Blow all moorings and cast off from the dock! Fire impulse engines!"
"Yes Sir!"
Harak felt the ship begin to move out and immediately regretted his one oversight; he hadn't shared his apprehensions with the other ships. He'd been so worried about the consequences of being wrong that he forgot the danger if he was right. If he'd had the time, Harak would've felt a great deal of grief and anger at himself for failing so spectacularly.
But there was no time for that. Harak's mental training and mind jumped into action. As Yavar's engines pushed the Cardassian vessel out of its docking bay, Harak looked over his display.
Sixty enemy craft had attacked, striking docking bays in twos. Where thirty large vessels of the Cardassiian fleet once were, only five remained, all having suffered heavy damage save for Yavar and one of the new Keldon-class heavy cruisers. It was a severe blow from such a comparitively light enemy.
"Begin evasive maneuvers! Weapons, target and fire at will!"
"I'm trying, Sir, but now that we've come active...."
"Sir! More craft are dropping out of warp!"
Before Harak could react, over twice as many craft came out of warp. A flurry of torpedoes and missiles came from the fighters, directed at the other seventy docks. A number of vessels had managed to bring their shields up now, but a number of the smaller ships had been totally unprepared - their crews inferior in skill and experience - and were caught unshielded. Another thirty Cardassian ships were lost in the barrage.
Yavar shook violently. "Enemy fighters are reforming and engaging! We just took a near-miss off the dorsal hull! Shields holding at thirty-six percent!"
"Keep firing! Use photon torpedoes, lock them on their formations and set them for proximity detonation!"
At Harak's order, Glin Dergal set the torpedoes properly and fired them with a press of the button. They erupted from the Yavar's bow launcher and raced toward the initial wave of fighters, which had just crushed the Keldon under the weight of twenty missiles and torpedoes. The torpedo detonated within damage range of five of the fighters. None were outright destroyed, having sufficient shielding, but two seemed to take damage. Dergal's fire from the Yavar's compressor cannon missed entirely. He looked at her, but all Dergal could do was grip her console tightly and growl, "They have some kind of ECM capability, and they're so damned fast it's hard to hit them."
"Keep trying!"
Other vessels that survived the initial strike were beginning to react, raising shields if they could and opening fire. There were nearly two hundred enemy contacts, making it hard to determine what was where, but Harak was gratified to see an occasional contact wink out. His people were putting up a fight.
Dergal's second torpedo had more success than the first, veering off axis to explode just behind and between a pair of Avengers. Their shields failed and both fighters' engines were taken out, leaving them helpless to stop Dergal from blowing both to nothingness with a compressor beam.
And then the Yavar shuddered violently. Showers of sparks erupted from consoles from the electrical feedback, which thankfully fried the controls' fuses before they could explode in their operators' faces. "We just took several hits to the impulse drive!" The Technician manning the operations console brought for Harak the damning damage screen. "The enemy missiles blew through our shields and have severed the impulse drive tail from the ship's main body!"
"Status on the reactor?!"
"Still functioning, but we've lost Atom Reactor 2 and power is starting to fluctuate! Shields down to twenty percent effectiveness!"
"Dergal, keep firing! Draw power from every system you have to!" Harak punched a button on the command chair. "This is Glin Torcet! All non-essential personnel to the escape pods!"
Within moments a few such pods erupted from the hull of the Yavar. Harak watched them go and refused to let himself think of the fact that he was not going to return to Cardassia Prime. He was not going to hold Vertal again, or see his children. To think of such things was a sign of weakness. He was a Cardassian officer of command rank. He had a duty to perform.
"The Gerkal has been destroyed! Wait.... the Oparak just took a crippling hit!"
Dergal ignored the Comm Technician's frantic calling out of the fleet's losses in the battle and continued trying to shoot the Alliance fighters. She managed a glancing blow on one, an A-12 Marauder, as the large space craft drew close. But it was not destroyed or even badly damaged, and a pair of missiles dropped from its wings. Brilliant blue light erupted from the missiles as their ion thrust drives ignited and pushed them toward Yavar in a few moments. Harak watched futilely as the missiles soared straight for the bow of the Yavar. For a brief moment, he thought of his family. The lead missile hit the weak bow shield and detonated, shattering the Yavar's battered screens and leaving the second missile to hit the bridge itself. Harak barely had time to visualize his parents, wife, children, and Samia before he, Dergal, and many other Cardassians were deduced to atoms much as Camille Burelli had been.


About half an hour after the death of Harak Torcet, the Intrepid and her escorts were in-system. An entire Cardassian fleet of a hundred ships had been caught unprepared. Now, only four had survived long enough to withdraw, and the Intrepid's escorts and bombers had reduced Kemar Naval Post to scrap.
From the CIC of the Intrepid, Line Captain Gill watched as the Intrepid recovered her craft. Search-and-Rescue craft launched from the secondary bays had gathered up the surviving pilots who had been forced to eject from crippled or doomed fighters. He had lost thirty-four fighters in one way or another; twenty of them had been lost with their pilots and sensor operators. Others would return under their own power but require repair before being combat ready.
Forty dead. Forty letters to write home.
But what a mess they had made. At a rough estimate, his fighters had probably slaughtered over ten thousand times that many Cardassians. The space around Kemar was filled with the blackened remnants of what was once a proud portion of the Cardassian fleet. Gill, for a moment, wondered just how many Cardassian children he had helped to orphan this day.
Fitzhugh walked up beside him. "Sir, what shall we do about the Cardassian escape pods?"
Gill thought for a moment. "Can't carry prisoners, can we?"
"Not that many, sir." The unspoken portion was "Without impeding flight operations": using the hanger deck as a massive prisoner barracks was an idea, but it would leave Intrepid unable to mount effective flight ops. And given they were almost four hours away from safe territory that was a risk no carrier commander would take.
"Well, Commander, it seems the only thing we can do is hope the Cardies get here in a hurry."
"Of course, Sir."
"How are we doing?"
"We're still completing a final sweep of the area to make sure we didn't miss anybody, Sir. All but four of our bombers have been recovered. The rest are preparing for final approach now."
"Good. I want to get the Hell out of here ASAP."
"I'll let Fighter Control know that, Sir."
Gill nodded and watched Fitzhugh walk off. He walked over to a viewscreen on the CIC's wall and turned it on, just to see the fruits of his dreadful labor.
The Cardies have used war to get their way before. It might hurt for the families of these Cardies we've killed here, but we're the ones who were attacked first and we had every right to do this. No, can't have any sympathy for the Cardies as a whole. They've got to be taught that "Ye reap what ye hath sown".
Gill called for a cup of coffee and watched silently as the charred remnants of Cardassia's finest twisted before his eyes.


Mwinyiburg, Henderson, ADN Colonial Zone
16:48 GST



The household of Hawa Small was quiet, with it being rather far in the evening. Hawa's husband Jacob had been called up to the militia a couple of hours before and wouldn't be home for a while. Now she was alone with her sleeping son Farid - who was still healing from being blinded by the nuclear flash at Gytep - and her visiting daughter Susanna and infant grandchild Thomas. They were sitting in their home speaking quietly, watching a British sitcom on the television.
Suddenly they could hear a loud siren from outside. Hawa had only a few moments to jump from the couch to see what was going on before the screen changed to show a text message, with an accompanying voice. "Attention all civilians! By order of the Governor of Henderson, the entire planet is now under a Red Level Defense Alert. All civilians, please find shelter in the bunkers immediately. This is not a test! Repeat, by order of the Governor, all of Henderson is now under a Red Level Defense Alert. All civilians must seek shelter in their city bunkers immediately!"
The response of the two women was one of terror and surprise, but nevertheless they acted quickly. Susanna took Thomas out of his crib and grabbed her bag of baby supplies while Hawa ran into Farid's room and woke him up. Both women, with their children in tow, went straight for the basement of the house, where they had already placed the emergency supplies upon the planet going on Yellow Level Alert. Hawa forced open the door to the bunker under the house while Thomas' shrill cries filled the basement. Stairs downward led to a tube with a ladder in it. Hawa helped Susanna fix Thomas to a backpack first, after which she went down the tube into the main part of the bunker. Hawa dropped down the bags next and then got onto the ladder, helping the blind Farid grab the ladder and follow her down.
At the bottom was the family bunker, but Hawa wasn't going to stay here. She opened a hatch and led Susanna and Farid down a cylinder tunnel with stairs, which eventually connected to a larger one. A increasing flood of people from the other homes in their area was filling the tunnel, which would lead to the underground city bunkers that would serve to protect the civilians of Mwinyiburg if the planet were invaded or subjected to orbital bombardment.
As they continued along, Hawa was beset with worry for her husband and son-in-law. The militia would only be allowed to the highest level of bunkers, should they be needed to quickly respond to a counterattack. Though that level was well-protected, she was afraid she would never see her husband again.
"Mama! Mama! What's going on?!" Farid's head was whipping around, his eyes covered by white bandages. "Where are we?!"
"We're in the underground tunnels, Farid. Stay close to me."
"Why are we in the tunnels, Mama?"
"I don't know, Farid." There were tears in Hawa's eyes as she led her son and family onward. "God help me, I don't know."


17:00 GST


Buried deep underneath the planetary capitol of Wakil, Planetary Defense Command was fully manned and in operation. The men and women in the PDC were not technically Alliance military personnel; they were part of the Army of the League of East Africa, the confederated body of African nations from Universe FHI-8 that had joined the Alliance in 2150.
Standing on the upper floor tier of PDC, looking down at the operators and the large digital screen displaying the space around Henderson, Senior Colonel Matthew Farani of the Henderson Planetary Militia was looking out at the display. Clad in a brown camoflogue uniform, Farani was primarily African in blood, though his name hinted that an ancestor on his father's side may have been from an Arab family that fled from the Middle East during the Great Wars of the late 21st and early 22nd Century.
"Incoming targets now confirmed as Cardassian, Colonel," the man at the sensor post said.
"Can you give us an idea of the ship types?"
"Not exactly, but considering the subspace wakes they're leaving, I'd say we're mostly dealing with destroyer and cruiser analogues."
"A light raiding force..." Farani turned to think for himself and saw the main door open. Governor Tewase entered wearing a simple suit and flanked by bodyguards. Farani saluted to him. "Governor Tewase, sir, welcome to Planetary Defense Command."
Tewase returned the salute with the kind of quick, clean movement Farani would have expected from a military man. "Colonel Farani, do you have anything further on the situation?"
"We still have eleven warships on approach, they'll be coming out of warp in ten minutes." Farani pointed to a secondary display, showing a flat map of Henderson and various icons. "All militia units have been activated and readied. Our aerospace fighters have been re-armed with torpedoes and are still launching. Anti-starship missiles have finished fueling and will be ready for launch as the enemy nears orbit. We will raise the deflector domes when the enemy is thirty seconds out."
"And the units under Alliance jurisdiction?"
"The 109th Orbital Artillery Regiment has activated all of their batteries. The Army and Marine Corps units on-planet are on full alert and in their base bunkers preparing to repel an landing attempt."
Tewase nodded with satisfaction at the preparations. "When will we be getting naval support? These Cardassians could be coming to set up a blockade."
"It'd be a very light blockade, Governor. The Navy has said it's sending reinforcements. But they won't be here for another two hours. Apparently there is fighting all along the border now."
"We'll make do with what we have then. I trust in all of you to keep this planet safe."
"The Cardassians will be blown out of the sky, Governor Tewase. I promise you that."


CDS Hiparak, Approaching Henderson, ADN Colonial Zone
17:10 GST



"Preparing to drop out of warp, Gul."
Iltacek nodded at that. "Are the modifications complete?"
"Yes. Main weapons set to twenty-five percent power. This should increase firing rate by three to four times."
"Very good. Are we picking up any facilities in orbit of the occupied planet?"
"Some, yes. A number of satellites, two orbiting space stations, what looks to be a lunar station under construction on the fifth planet's second moon." The Technician at Sensors saw something else. "Picking up a number of light craft in orbit."
"Dropping out of warp, Gul!"
The Hiparak and her ten followers shut down their warp drives and slowed to sublight speeds. Their impulse drives fired on command, thrusting them toward the beautiful planet before them. "We are still ten minutes from weapons range, Gul. I'm now picking up defensive shields being raised on the planet itself."
"How interesting." Iltacek put a hand on his chin. "If this were a Federation colony, we could simply demand surrender with the threat of bombardment. These Alliance people are better prepared. What are the make of the enemy craft?"
"Four light vessels, apparently border cutters or system defense craft of some kind. A few of their LACs are still launching from one of the orbital stations. And I'm detecting several craft that are aerodynamic."
"Ground-based craft." Iltacek looked over the display. His finger traced a line from their flying wing to the enemy's craft and the likely intercept point. "I want all ships to rig a few salvos of photon torpedoes for ranged proximity detonation. We might not be able to hit them exactly, but the blasts should do some of the work for us."
"Very well, sir, sending the orders for modifications."
"Good. Now show me our scans of the planet's surface. Their bases are our primary targets. Cities are secondary."


EASV Lion of Ethiopia
17:18 GST



The century-old former missile cruiser Lion of Ethiopia, an old Lion-class British battlecruiser now stripped of its Kollek warp drive (called a Cochrane drive elsewhere, or just "warp drive" in the Alpha Quadrant), was leading the small division of five system defense vessels, all older warships that had been stripped of faster-than-light drives to fit more room for ammunition, armor protection, and guns. Though only partially re-built due to the limited budget of the Planetary Defence Service, the Lion of Ethiopia was for all intents and purposes a warship.
She was now flanked by her four comrades, two of them being former cruisers and two more dedicated system defense ships, and nearly sixty fighters, both starfighters and aerospace. On her command bridge, Colonel Achmed al-Zarqawi stood watch with his faithful crew. An Arab from the refugee communities that originally settled in Tanganyika, Somalia, and Zanzibar during the European conquest of the Middle East in the late 21st and early 22nd Century, Achmed had slightly darker skin than other Arabs - from his African maternal grandmother - and a large frame. "Enemy vessels will enter firing range in thirty seconds," his sensorman reported.
"Lock on targets. Fire when they come into range."


At the appropriate time, the missile launchers on Lion of Ethiopia lit up and sent a dozen missiles toward the oncoming Cardassian fleet. The fighters in the squadron followed up with their own missiles, sending a multitude of missiles at the Cardassians.
On Hiparak, Iltacek gave the order to fire, and the Cardassian squadron replied with their own photon torpedoes. Which were not going toward the targets al-Zarqawi thought they would. As they moved through the oncoming projectiles, the torpedoes detonated. The explosions and the sudden waves of energy and radiation erupting from them knocked the Alliance force's torpedoes and missiles off course or even managed to destroy them. The Cardassians opened up with their compressor beams as the surviving missiles rushed toward them. Iltacek's plan worked, though the missiles that did get through destroyed one of the ships in his wing and damaged four others to various extents.
Now the Cardassians were entering range. Iltacek ordered a full torpedo attack on the ships and compressor fire to be focused on the fighters. Set to their more rapid firing rate, the compressors sprayed the squadrons of oncoming fighters with a constant barrage. Several fighters were damaged, a couple destroyed, as the Cardassian fleet finished reloading their forward torpedo launchers. The next salvo struck out, focused on the Lion of Ethiopia and the ships near her.
The fighters replied again, firing another salvo of missiles at the Cardassians, while a flurry of a few dozen torpedoes made their way to a handful of targets. The system defense craft responded with their point-defense weaponry. Smaller phaser banks and particle cannon turrets fixed to the hull opened fire on the oncoming torpedoes. The torpedoes, despite being fast, were reduced by the fire.
But not all. The dedicated system defense craft beside Lion lost its shields to the third torpedo hit; it took two more torpedoes, one of which hitting its impulse drive and crippling it. Lion took six torpedoes, losing her shields on the third. Her entire bow was savaged by the torpedo strikes, costing her two missile launchers and a number of bow weapons.
Iltacek now took his own losses. Three hits on Hiparak reduced her forward shields to 50% and some bleedthrough energy damaged her hull. One of the damaged cruisers fell apart from hits to the systems responsible for maintaining her structural integrity field. A couple of already-damaged ships took worse damage - one light warship lost her bow weapons - and virtually every ship in the squadron took damage.
From his bridge, Iltacek took satisfaction at seeing every Alliance icon on his screen wink out, even if he was down to nine vessels himself. His methods had crippled or destroyed twenty-four fighters now between the ships he had. The literal spraying of space with weapons fire was proving moderately effective, even if he'd hoped to inflict even more losses.
Now the main ships of the defense fleet were engaging with their energy weapons. Solid beams of particle or concentrated light were stabbing out at the Cardassians, along with the anti-ship phasers mounted on the newer system defense craft that remained. Al-Zarqawi watched the other cruiser of Hiparak's class get blown in half from a missile hit.
At this point, Itacek knew that staying longer would be suicide. He'd underestimated the kind of defenses the Alliance would place on what seemed to be a sparsely-populated frontier world. He'd lost three ships to them so far, even if he'd now destroyed over 30 of their fighters and one of their ships. To justify it, he could always claim to have picked up what appeared to be a large enemy force coming toward the system. Central Command wouldn't know otherwise, since the captains of the other ships would be in just as much trouble as he if Command disapproved of their retreat. And the recorders could more easily be tampered with to show sensor ghosts that didn't exist than other forms of trickery.
Iltacek turned to his helm officer. "Their defenses are too thick. We've done our fair share of damage and we should withdraw. Order all ships to turn away from the system and engage warp drives. We'll see if there are any single targets we can attack on our way back to Chin'toka."
The Hiparak killed another fighter before finishing its turn toward the system's zenith point. The other ships made similar turns, and almost as one, the eight surviving Cardassian ships went to warp.


"Cardassian ships withdrawing, Sir," an operator in the PDC reported to Colonel Farani. "We've done it."
"And taken losses in doing so. How many losses?"
"The Vesey was crippled in the attack, casualty reports still coming in. And we lost thirty-two of our fighters. The Cardassian commander modified his anti-ship weapons to fire less-powerful but quicker bursts of energy. Wasn't as good as dedicted anti-fighter PD, but it did the job."
Farani looked at Tewase. "Sir, you can cancel the Alert at your discretion. Henderson is safe for the moment."
"Thank you, Colonel."



”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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Last edited by Steve on 2010-03-04 10:23pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-02-27 09:38pm
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Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
17:15 GST



Legate Kelataza's entry into the Command Center couldn't have come soon enough. "My apologies," he said to Yatar and Relim. "I was detained by affairs of state."
In other words, you were entertaining your pretty young mistress, was Relim's first, bitter thought. He held Kelataza in the same contempt he held Yatar. Petty bureaucrats who had backstabbed their way into leadership. "Legate, we have lost all contact with Kemar, Jemik, and Ubatal. The other bases appear to be operational according to sensors, but their communications are being jammed. Verpar and Telkur both reported the detection of what appeared to be enemy strike fleets before their communications became distorted."
"And where did those strike fleets come from, Torcet?! I was told we had the Alliance's main forces under watch!"
"We are unsure, Legate," Yatar replied.
"Legate, the Order and our own Military Intelligence were focusing on the Alliance's line vessels. They have not been following the deployment of the Alliance's carriers."
Yatar glared at Relim. "Those carriers are meaningless."
"The crew of Strovarak would disagree." Relim returned the glare. "You should not have underestimated their capabilities!"
"Silence, both of you!" Kelataza studied the map closely. "Have you sent ships to investigate?"
"Squadrons have been dispatched to Kemar and Ubatal."
Immediately after Yatar replied, a Glin at one of the posts turned. "Sir, we are getting a communication from the Kavarak."
"Put Gul Ducet on."
A female middle-aged Cardassian appeared on the screen. Her cold eyes didn't warm a bit at the sight of her commanders. But there was a look of absolute shock on her face, something even her cold reserve could not hide. "This is Kavarak reporting to Central Command. Sirs, we have arrived at Ubatal. There.... there is nothing left, Legate."
"What?!" Kelataza glared at the woman on the screen. "What do you mean nothing left?! There were over eighty warships stationed at Ubatal!"
"I know, Sir. But they have all been destroyed, along with the station itself. We have also picked up debris from the attackers. It is being analyzed now."
"Sir, we're receiving another communication. It's from Gul Sirut on the Ramok."
"Ramok is assigned to Kemar," Relim said, a very sick feeling coming to his tired old heart. "Put him on, Glin."

Another Cardassian came on to replace Ducet. His head was cut and bleeding and his bridge had clearly suffered battle damage. "Central Command, this is Ramok. Do you receive?"
"We read you, Ramok. This is Legate Kelataza. Please report on the situation."
"They came out of nowhere, Legate. We had no warning. Damned patrol and sensor operators must've been asleep."
"Who, Gul Sirut?"
"They were Alliance attack craft of some sort. Smaller than starships but warp capable. They came out of warp right by Kemar and opened fire before we could get much warning. We lost over twenty vessels in their first salvo. There were attempts to fight back, but more craft came. They were very fast spacecraft. Our gunnery officers had problems maintaining target lock. We... we lost everyone, Legate. The Ukara escaped with us, but I don't know of any others making it out." Sirut seemed to look past Kelataza. "Gul Torcet, your son was on Yavar?"
"He was," was Relim's emotionless response.
"Gul Akel was on the station, so he must have been the one to guess that something was wrong. Yavar was ready for the attack, Gul. Your son destroyed or damaged a number of the enemy before Yavar's bridge was atomized. We used his methods of arming his torpedoes to break free long enough to escape." Sirut's expression showed his wearyness and sympathy for Relim, who was too numb to say anything else. "Your son died a hero, Gul."
"Some hero, if he didn't warn the other ships of his squadron of his suspicions," Yatar scoffed.
"Quiet!" Kelataza looked from Yatar to the screen. "Ramok, find the nearest post and stop for repairs."
"Yes, Legate. Ramok out."
The screen flipped out. Kelataza turned his attention back to them. "Well, Yatar, here is your great offensive. We've lost the ships at Ubatal and Kemar. Who knows how many losses in the other bases? Do you have any bright ideas now?"
"We only have one option now, Legate." Relim was gripping the outside of one of the consoles, as if to steady himself. "The early phase of this war now relies upon the Bajoran Sector Fleet. They will have to meet the main body of the Alliance fleet in battle. Hopefully they will either be victorious or at least damage the Alliance's fleet enough to reduce their offensive power."
"Why should we risk the Sector Fleet?"

"Because, you fool, if we do not, we have nothing to keep the Alliance from sending parts of their main fleet to sustain attacks straight into Cardassia. Do not think that the Alliance won't advance toward Cardassia if given the opportunity. They say their purpose in this war is to liberate Bajor, and they may choose to secure Bajor's freedom by exchanging Bajoran worlds for our worlds."
"Then why don't we move the Sector Fleet up to further cover the border? Why press an attack?"
Relim sighed. He didn't groan, he didn't give a condescending look, he just sighed. Yatar noticed a change had come over the man even as Relim spoke softly, "Moving the ships toward the border may very well cause the Alliance admiral to try to force a battle anyway. It is better to initiate a battle on our terms, in their space, than to let them catch our fleet at a time of their choosing. Furthermore, the Sector Fleet is only five hundred ships. They can't cover that entire border area against the Alliance's fleet. Not with the Alliance's carriers to give them an edge. No, it's best to force a decisive fleet battle now while their carriers are still returning from their strikes. If we are quick and fortunate, even a defeat will buy us time to bring reserves up from Home Fleet and the Federation Frontier Fleet."
Yatar looked to Kelataza, who nodded. "Send the orders to Gul Korel and Gul Lukal."
"Yes, Legate."
Kelataza walked up to Relim. "My condolences to you, Gul Torcet," he said softly. "But I must ask you to not grieve. Cardassia needs you now."
"Of course, Legate."
"Still, you should get some rest at your office. I'll alert the other Guls on the Strategy Staff that you will be holding meetings with them in the morning."
"Thank you, Legate."
"You're dismissed, then." Kelataza waved him off and watched him leave.
Yatar was busy directing the wording of the order to Gul Lukal. He turned as soon as Relim was gone and said, "Why are you being so nice to that spineless...."
"You forget your place, Hergata!" Kelataza was turned toward Yatar in a moment. "For all that we may find him annoying politically, Torcet is a veteran of many wars. He understands Humans, Klingons, and all the other races we have borders with because he's fought and learned from them all. We are at war now, and he is an invaluable asset. Besides, there is no harm in being sympathetic. The man has lost his son. You are a father. Certainly you understand the bond between parent and child."
Yatar nodded stiffly. "'The most saddening sight is to see parents grieving for their children'," he said softly, remembering the old Cardassian proverb. There were many old sayings and beliefs that the State had swept aside, but the bond of family, and between parents and their children, was so sacred to Cardassian society that even the State did not directly interfere with it (abusing it was another matter of course).
"So, are there any other disasters to speak of?" Kelataza's voice was full of cynicism as he looked about the Central Command. "Do not be afraid. Speak up. Tell me how this war has already begun to go bad."
"Well, Legate..." One of the Glins at a command post turned his chair. "We have received reports of transports and their escorts being torpedoed and destroyed by undetected assailants."
Yatar grimaced at Kelataza's frown. "Oh, so the Alliance has cloaking technology. Why wasn't this confirmed?!"
"Our intelligence resources were focused on their line ships, Legate, and the Obsidian Order was too busy setting things up for their planned terrorism campaign in the Alliance to look into the matter."
"Yes, yes, more excuses. Anything more on these attacks, Glin?"
"One such attack destroyed a convoy of four transports carrying an Order of troops and equipment to rienforce Bajor. The escort was lost as well, though according to its last transmissions it managed to somehow damage the attacking vessel."
Kelataza's face turned red. "So we've lost an entire Order? Of fifteen thousand troops?!"
"Yes, Legate."
Yatar sighed. It was going to be a long night, he could already tell.


After going past the empty receiving area of his office, looking briefly to his secretary's desk, Relim entered his main office. He walked over to a shelf on which he displayed his medals and commendations for his service. After several moments, Relim finally let out a yell and ran his hand over the shelf, tossing everything to the floor. He began screaming curses at every target in government he could imagine.
He had told them to not provoke the Alliance. They had not listened. He had told them it would be best to withdraw from Bajor, which wasn't worth the trouble any longer. They had not listened. He had told them that using a nuclear weapon on Gytep without confirmation was too risky. They had not listened. He had told them not to further enflame the situation by ordering forced searches of Alliance ships in Federation space. They had not listened. And finally, he had insisted that they prepare the fleet for anything when the Alliance's carriers were nowhere to be found. And, yet again, they had not listened.
Now, who knew how many of those ships had been lost. All of those good men and women, proud Cardassians who served with the trust that their leaders would not fail them, had been sacrificed to the vanity of the Central Command's leadership. His son Harak was just another victim, another life claimed because the Legate and the others had underestimated the Alliance.
"It will be a short and victorious war", they had said. "The Alliance's Humans are like those in the Federation. The populists will never stomach a bloody war with our people." Well, now they had gotten their damned war, and it wasn't going according to plan. The Alliance was clearly not the Federation. They wouldn't be kind enough to stay on their side of the line and keep asking for peace. They had struck first. This was a new enemy. A frightening enemy.
Cardassia needed him. Relim knew this. Cardassia needed his experience, his knowledge, his ability to think and strategize. But he was not certain Cardassia deserved that any longer. It was a horrible thing for him to think, for Relim had always been a devout patriot of his homeland. But what right did Cardassia have to call upon its citizens to serve, fight, and die if their lives were to be frittered away for the pride of a few men in the highest ranks? There had always been the unofficial view that the State asked for such sacrifices of freedom and personal desire because it was necessary.
Relim slipped into his chair and brought up the material he needed. There would be no sleep for him this night. He had a war to win.
And he had to think of how to tell his family of Harak.



”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.

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

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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-01 02:34am
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Chapter 5


VKFS Pobeda, 87 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union
17:25 GST



Pobeda was silent and alone in interstellar space, the wreckage of her enemies half a light year away. She remained cloaked while her crew worked feverishly to finish repairs from the near-miss detonation of a photon torpedo which had damaged one of the vessel's warp field nacelles. The detonation had been powerful enough to rupture the plasma line responsible for feeding plasma that energized the coils that created the warp field around the ship.
In the Pobeda's Conn, Yefim was looking into his personal display, waiting for news. A few enemy vessels had started to move into the area, but none had come close thankfully.
Their first engagement had been a success. It would have been an outstanding one if the Cardassian hadn't set his torpedoes to detonate at a specific range and been lucky enough to get one to blow up close enough to Pobeda to damage her. Of course, Pobeda prevailed and blew the offending destroyer to scrap with another pair of torpedoes.
There was movement at the stern entrance to the Conn. With his hair disheveled, Lieutenant Commander Yevgeny Kamarov walked onto the bridge and looked like he'd crawled through every part of the ship. "Captain, the shunt and valve have been completed."
"Very good, Mister Kamarov. Anything I should know?"
"Yes. To fully energize the warp coils, we will require so much plasma that there will be a buildup of plasma in the line over time. Opening the valve to the leak will be necessary to relieve the buildup."
"And your solution to this is what, Mister Kamarov?"
"I respectfully suggest that we run the reactor at 75%, the minimum necessary for low warp drive function and maintaining our stealth field and other essential systems. It will limit our speed at warp to no more than two point five lyphs."
Yefim frowned. "At that speed, it will take us a day and a half to return to friendly space. Can't we go faster?"
"That will require raising the reactor output, Captain. We'll have to vent the plasma when the buildup grows too great and that will show through our stealth field."
The ship's XO, Mikhail Petrovsky, turned from where he was overseeing the helmsman. "Sir, we are deep in Cardassian space."
"I know that, dammit! But I do not like the thought of crawling about like a snail. At those speeds, we cannot even intercept a garbage scow!" Yefim looked to Kamarov. "Is there a way you could repair the leak here?"
"No, sir. The plasma piping requires high grade material and special welding procedures. We will have to return to dock."
"God dammit." Yefim sighed. "Very well. We will return to Kensington Base and have the British give us repairs. Mister Yuburov, plot course for a speed of two point five lyphs."
"Yes, Captain." Yuborov crunched the numbers again on his systems. "Helm, change attitude bearing Zero-Seven-Six mark Zero-Nine-Three. Engage warp drive at two point five lyphs."
"Making course Zero-Seven-Six mark Zero-Nine-Three, aye."
Yefim settled back into his seat, looking longingly at all of the targets on his screens and sighing about his inability to catch any of them.


Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Nearing Felvar System, Cardassian Union
17:50 GST



"One minute to sublight," Rickover said, looking over his instruments.
"Good." Finishing another cigar, Shep tossed it into a readied plastic container. "Lenny, what do we have on the scope?"
"Looks like fifteen or so ships in space between Felvar 7, 8, and Felvar 8's second moon. I'd guess normal daily traffic and transports to and from the lunar mining facility, since none off these ships are showing mass signatures to warship size."
"Okay then. Well, let's get this started. Booster Alpha goes for the moon, it's got the penetrators for those mines. Boosters Bravo and Charlie go to the eighth planet's industrial complexes." Shep pressed a button to communicate with the bombardier. "Pilot to Bombadier. Report weapons readiness."
After a few moments, a reply came. "Weapons are ready. Preparing to open bay doors."
"Thirty seconds to sublight."
Shep waited out the time lighting another cigar. When the appropriate moment came the computers brought the Atomic Dolphin out of warp with three other bombers, who would target the seventh and eighth planets as well. "Other bombers report weapons readiness," Barton said.
"Okay then. Pilot to Bombardier, program weapons."
"Aye, Sir."
Shep kept his hands on the flying controls, keeping the Dolphin slowly moving on it's own inertia from dropping out of warp. After only forty seconds, Michaels' voice spoke once more. "Weapons ready. Opening bay doors."
Though the bomber was cloaked, if it wasn't, one could see the bottom of the Atomic Dolphin open up. Inside of the massive bomber's weapons bay, three impulse boosters were lowered until they were in firing position. "Permission to launch, Sir?"
"Permission granted, Sergeant."
The Dolphin and her fellow bombers "dropped" the impulse boosters, which were pushed down outside of the bombers by bursts of gases. Upon their becoming clear, each bomber's bombardier personally triggered the boosters and the missiles on them. The boosters' engines fired and they rocketed away toward their targets.


Rokar Talek, Felvar 8, Cardassian Union


The schoolyard of Rokar Talek's Third Primary school was filled with a class of 80 five year olds undergoing mental discipline exercises. They recited multiples of four while their overseers watched, with switches to smack children who failed to maintain their focus. The majority of the group was on the number 524 when one of the more misbehaving children noticed streaks in the sky to the distance. He looked up at the strange trails of white, having never seen so many. A sudden sting struck his shoulder, a stern-faced young woman standing over him. "Pakel, you have lost count!"
"Teacher, look!" Pakel pointed to the sky.
The young woman followed his finger and looked off to the distance, seeing the streaks heading toward the industrial supercomplex of Ikar Otal, where her husband and over twenty thousand Cardassians worked three quarters of a daily cycle fabricating weapons and electronic equipment for the Cardassian military, utilizing the resources of Felvar 8's eighth moon and those on Felvar 8 itself. She stared at the streaks, wondering what they could be.
Then she, Pakel, and dozens of the children screamed as a blinding light came from the distance. Only those teachers who had been looking away and the children who had closed their eyes were spared the flash. Young voices cried and shouted in panic even as those who were not blinded looked to the distance. The lead overseer turned around in time to see two distinct mushroom clouds forming on the horizon. He stared in utter horror, wondering just what was happening.


Yekal Mining Station, Second Moon of Felvar 8


The thirty thousand miners, administrators, dockhands, and support workers never had a chance.
The facility had it's own defense shield, but it took time to turn it on completely as it was an older, civilian model. And the operators of the station only got the warning from System Defense Command when the first missile hit. The Booster Assembly sent against Yekal had been programmed to fire two missiles and then three. The first two hit within four seconds of each other. Their hardened alloy penetrators went straight through the surface of the moon and facility and into the inner mining shafts themselves before their 500KT fusion warheads detonated. The detonations vaporized thousands of Cardassian workers and their equipment, collapsing mining shafts to condemn the handful of survivors to a death of asphyxiation, starvation, or radiation exposure.
The explosions caused a cave in. The facility literally began to sink into the surface of the moon when the other three missiles detonated in a rough triangle around the facility. Each warhead was rated at an estimated 750 kilotons. The blasts they created in the meager lunar atmosphere were still enough to overcome the faltering structure of the facility, tearing it apart before the radiation and thermal energy release of the fusion reaction did their work. Thousands of Cardassians had barely had time to realize the facility was literally collapsing before the entire structure was torn apart. They would not have time to begin suffocating in the non-oxygen atmosphere of the moon, of course, since the thermal energy of the blasts vaporized most of them and killed almost all, leaving very few survivors indeed to perish from the collapse of the facilities remains or from the lack of breathable air.


Bomber Atomic Dolphin


The instant the targets hit, the Atomic Dolphin and her three flight-mates were back at warp, returning to Henderson on what would be a trip of over four hours. Shep looked over to see everyone in the cockpit looked rather shaken. "What's wrong everyone?", he asked while lighting up another cigar.
"Sir..... how many Cardassians do you think we just killed?" Barton's voice seemed a little shaky.
"Shitloads."
"How... how can you just say it like that, Major?" Rickover looked directly at him. "I mean, they're not so alien that they don't think or have feelings. I've heard they're a lot like Humans."
"Son, that don't mean shit." Shep took a drag off his cigar and pulled it out of his mouth. "Rickover, Barton, this is war. Fucking war. The goal in war is to kill the enemy before he kills you. And our ultimate goal is to make the Cardassians leave Bajor and leave us the fuck alone. The only way we're going to do that is to convince them that we're not Feddies. We've got to show them that we have balls, big brass ones, and that we're not afraid to nuke them into the Stone Age if they fuck with us. Get that, kid? I mean, seriously, if y'all didn't like the thought of nuking things, maybe you shouldn't have sought an assignment to Bomber Command, y'know? There are plenty of other spots you could find, and plenty of others who understand what's at stake and won't give a rat's ass how many Cardies we nuke. Now, keep your eyes on your boards and get us home in one piece. If you still have a problem with it, I'm sure I can find someone willing to re-assign you to planet-side."
With that said, Shep put the cigar back in his mouth and continued smoking it while they cruised along at warp.


Kensington Base (5th Fleet Command), Kensington, ADN Colonial Zone
18:10 GST



In the command center of Kensington Base, Admiral Sir Geoffrey Kentworth was in a seat with many of his staff officers, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the roughly five hundred warships now under his command, placed throughout the Colonial Zone and Keloan space.
Soon there would be more ships. Recent indications from the Pentagon and the Chief of Naval Operations was that another four task forces - 480 warships - were due for deployment to the Alpha Quadrant, as well as four carrier divisions to bring the reinforcement total up to 500 warships not counting starfighters. Kentworth had been told that they would be placed under the command of Admiral Helen Lewis as 14th Fleet.
Kentworth took a look at the large digital display on the wall of the command center. It highlighted the current positions of every individual division, squadron, or task force on the border. Task Force 5.1 had split into component squadrons, each squadron positioned along a portion of the border facing Bajor with one squadron divided down into divisions and even individual ships monitoring sections of the Alliance and Keloan frontiers with the Federation and the Sphere. Task Force 5.2 was gathered at Kensington. She had four battle squadrons that included his fleet flagship - the Freedom-class superdreadnought DNS Pearl Harbor - and was the main hitting force of 5th Fleet with her forty capital ships. Task Force 5.3 was divided into squadrons, and two of her squadrons had even further divided into divisions to keep an eye on local concentrations of Cardassian patrol ships all the way over to Keloan space. Task Force 5.4 had two more battle squadrons, flagged from the new Tirpitz-class dreadnought DNS Karol Wojtyla under Kentworth's protege Vice Admiral Richard White, and was divided into two sections watching the Cardassian-Keloan border and the five systems in the sector that were disputed between the Alliance and Cardassia.
At about 18:12, one of the enlistees on post, a young American woman, turned in her chair. "Sir, we just got a report from the Chalons. Her subspace mass sensors are detecting a growing mass distortion in subspace, on a bearing to enter Alliance space in about one hour."
"What could it be, Petty Officer?"
"It's a rather large distortion, Sir. It looks to me like an enemy fleet, with a few hundred warships at least."
"But you can't be certain?"
"The jamming is too severe, Sir. We'd have to cease jamming operations to tell for certain."
"And we can't do that without jeopardizing our carriers' mission," Kentworth sighed. "Very well, ascertain the point at which they will enter Alliance space. Communications, send out the following orders. Task Forces 1 and 4 are to have all available squadrons rendezvous with us at a point that Petty Officer Lee will determine. Task Force 3 is to remain on station with all of her squadrons."
"Aye, Sir!"
Kentworth nodded to his staff, who began moving about and preparing things. "And send word to the Pearl. I shall be shuttling over in precisely ten minutes."
"Aye, Sir!"


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
18:34 GST



Mamatmas was seated alone in the Oval Office, a beautiful winter afternoon outside the windows behind him. He was examining a few papers and his itinerary, which was now emptying from the war. A letter from the American Ambassador from Universe AGC-1 was on his desk, expressing his government's official support for the Alliance's war effort.... and a secondary note reminding Mamatmas of the American government's disapproval of the impending plebiscite in the Kingdom of Thailand for membership in the Alliance. It differed little from the initial "disapproval notices" he'd received from Washington AGC-1 and the Kaiser's government in Berlin, but it served as a stark reminder that the Alliance had other concerns besides Cardassia.
Mamatmas began to rub his eyes after he tossed the note aside. Just three months before, he had been on the verge of perhaps negotiating an end to the entire situation with Cardassia. The Cardassians, despite initial grandstanding, had been willing to negotiate fairly on what was called the Bajoran Problem. Perhaps they too had reasons for not going to war.
But then that damned Kranitz - the young and idealistic Ambassador from the Federation - had leaked to the press the initial Cardassian terms, which had been worded as a demand. Before Mamatmas or his people could react, the press had already begin reporting that the Cardassians had issued a list of demands to the Alliance Government and threatened war for non-compliance. The popular response - anti-Cardassian demonstrations and a clear popular movement to not back down - had destroyed any hope of Mamatmas actually negotiating the matter. The hard line had been adopted, and it had led them to this point. Now everything was in the hands of fickle Fortune.
Ms. Henley buzzed him. "Sir, Intelligence Director Bronson is here to see you."
"Send him in." Mamatmas put his hands together on his desk and watched Bronson enter the room, a folder under his arm. "Something important, Director? Something you want to share before the Security Committee meaning at two-thirty?"
"Yes, Mister President. This concerns a... secondary matter directly relating to the one at hand."
"What secondary matter is this?"
"Well, sir, if I may say so, we wouldn't be in this mess if not for the Federation. And I think you should seriously start considering a more... proactive policy in regards to our friends from Paris and San Francisco." Bronson sat down. "I won't bother bringing up the Nitse Report again. But we need to decide just how much control we want to have over the chain reaction she predicted."
"And just how do you propose we exercise any control?"
"By bankrolling and giving covert support to subversive groups within the Federation," Bronson replied. Ignoring the unpleased reaction on Mamatmas' face, he continued. "We could support pro-defense groups, independence movements, and anti-BLN groups so that when the time comes, we will have the influence and connections to dictate the course of the Federation's collapse. Better a slow collapse that can come in controlled stages than for a meltdown that will set the entire Alpha Quadrant aflame."

"And if the Federation finds out, they will...."
"They will what, Mister President? They need Alliance goods more than we need their latinum. PAPAL is a millstone around their neck, restraining their government's options for fear of touching off another anti-war uprising in the Core Worlds. And if they openly begin going after those groups, they're just as likely to trigger their own collapse as they are to secure their control." Bronson shook his head. "Mister President, the day is going to come when the Federation will collapse. It's best we begin preparing for it now rather than making our successors have to deal with it."
"Fine, fine. I'll want the full Security Committee to hear these suggestions of your's later before I give you the authority of an Executive Order, but for now..."
"For now, Mister President, I would like to introduce you to a very interesting group of individuals." Bronson opened the folder and placed a picture before Mamatmas of a pretty young Asian woman with dark hair. "Meet Yumiko Ogawa."
"And she is?"
"In our records, she is the owner and captain of the merchant vessel Denmark Vesey."
Mamatmas' eyes opened a little wider. "The ship the Cardassians attacked."
"Yes. Had about two hundred Bajorans aboard. And probably millions of Alliance dollars in gold-pressed latinum stolen from the Federation treasury on New Styria." Bronson watched Mamatmas' reaction to that. "Yes, we verified by news stations that a convoy of air vehicles taking approximately $20 million from the planetary treasury to the Karlsburg Spaceport was ambushed while in the countryside. Over fifteen million was not recovered. The local authorities decided it was professional bandits beyond their scope and ignored the case. We think Starfleet Security suspects them of it, and we do too."
"So we're at war in part because we protected a bunch of bank robbers from the Cardassians." Mamatmas sighed.
"Not just bank robbers, Mister President." Bronson pulled out another picture, this one in a cafe setting on some other world, centered upon a group of individuals at a table. He then pulled out a third picture, a blowup of the second. He handed it to Mamatmas, who looked at it closely. "This is who we think she really is."
Mamatmas had only just begun to look at the picture of the woman when he realized the key difference. Her hair was not obscuring her ears now. And her ears were larger and pointed at their ends. "She's not Human?"
"Half-Human. If our sources are correct, her real name is Asako t'Prinn. Her Romulan father was a merchant and her Human mother a prostitute from the Nipponese worlds." Bronson handed him a paper, with a different version of the woman's face and information on her. "This is the unclassified Starfleet Security file that they sent us as part of standard First Contact protocol. Due to their position toward the Federation at the time, the Ministry of Justice listed Asako and her group, known as the Anti-Racist Action League or ARAL, as terrorists on our master list.
"This just keeps getting better and better."

"Well, Sir, they're not terrorists as you or I would think of them. They behave more like principled mercenaries, I should say, as opposed to a group that attacks civilian targets for maximum casualties. They've engaged in the assassination of Federation politicians and figures in favor of such things as the Cultural Rights Enforcement Act. They have connections to some of the more... gentle pirate bands in the Triangle. And as you've seen, they shoot up banks and money convoys to fund their operations." Bronson pointed out another figure at the table. "The woman beside her, with the pointed ears, is Sophia Razmara. She's half-Vulcan and, by all reports, is Asako's closest confidant and friend. There are rumors in the Triangle that the two are even lesbian lovers, though that has never been confirmed and the closest sources to ARAL say it is unlikely."
"Miss Razmara is a hard luck case as well. She was conceived when her Human mother Mitra Razmara was raped by her Vulcan employer, an elderly Vulcan named Stovuk in the earlier stages of Bendii Syndrome. Made quite a stir in the Federation press thirty years ago when Stovuk's widow T'Par and family sued for custody, saying she needed to be raised as a Vulcan. She was only seven at the time. The courts ruled in T'Par's favor, so Mitra took Sophia underground. At first T'Par and her family pushed for her to be found, but after Sophia turned 14 they lost interest. When Sophia was only 16, Mitra was caught and arrested on a world in Pacifica. She had to spend the rest of her minor years living in the Triangle, working as a dockhand and other menial labor. She eventually took a job as a nude dancer before, according to sources, she met Asako t'Prinn, and the two became friends and comrades. ARAL was apparently a direct result of this friendship."
"Well, Bronson, what do you want me to do?"
"By now, Mister President, Starfleet Security is undoubtedly preparing a request to our government to investigate Vesey. The Justice Ministry will, in turn, have Scotland Yard and New Liberty's planetary police look into them now that they've arrived in Wexford. I want your permission to have AID intercede in that investigation. We'll do so through MI5 and their traditional links to Scotland Yard. In a couple of weeks or so, they'll report to the Federation that Vesey was innocent after all. Starfleet Security may get suspicious, but they'll consider it to be incompetence and politics. The Federation's leadership is in turmoil for the moment and I would not expect anything from them for a while. Long enough for you to decide on whether or not to provide support to ARAL as a stepping stone to establishing links with other subversives in the Federation."
Mamatmas sighed. "Fine. You have my authorization for the time being. Just be careful."
"Of course, Mister President." Bronson gathered the photos back into the folder. "There is another... small matter that recently came to my attention. As you may know, since coming to live in the Alliance as a political exile Omiko Kurita has busied herself in charity work. She recently journeyed to Rymorta in the Sphere, against our recommendations through a contact in the Red Cross."
"Not exactly a safe place for her to travel. What bonehead failed to convince her to call it off?", Mamatmas asked pointedly.
Smirking ever so slightly, Bronson answered, "A 'bonehead' who has been reassigned within the Department, Sir. However, to return to the matter at hand, once in Kellerman she prepared to assist a group aiding an outlying community with a civil works project. That is, until the night of the 17th, when she was abducted from the Red Cross barracks."
Mamatmas shot him a glare that could incinerate. "What?! Why wasn't I informed?!"
"I felt it prudent to keep the incident off the media screens. You would have been informed in due time if that proved impossible," Bronson answered. "It was evident through chatter and contacts that the yakuza of Rymorta were responsible for the abduction, but thankfully our man on the scene managed to ensure her recovery. I was informed today that her captors are dead and she is recuperating in a secure safehouse. Aside from a little dehydration and the results of being shoved into a space half the size of a small closet she is reportedly healthy."

A relieved sigh came from the President. "Was it the Combine? I imagine they'd love to get her back into the country."
"Some leads indicate the ISF was involved to a degree, but they should have picked better agents. Analysis of the recovered computer of the captor is ongoing but commcall records indicated that he was also in touch with a fellow named Oloparatho, a major figure in the Orion Syndicate's slave trade business. The ISF may have found that their proxies were more interested in holding an auction than in simply accepting payment for handing her over."
"Hopefully they'll learn their lesson. Can we arrange better security for her?"
"Only as much as she'll allow. Through discreet channels Coordinater Takashi has made quite a sum of funds available to his granddaughter to sustain her in exile, but she's been resistant to hiring security. Hopefully this incident may change her mind. If it does, I intend to ensure whichever company gets her business has one of mine in charge."
"Good. The last thing I need is for a political crisis to erupt in the Inner Sphere right now," Mamatmas stated. "I have some state papers to finish, now. See you at the Security Committee meeting, Mister Director?"
"Of course, Mister President."


Command Complex, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
18:50 GST



Sitting alone quietly in his office, Legate Kelataza was looking over the minutae related to his position when Yatar entered. "We have the latest estimates, Legate. We have confirmed the destruction of three hundred and fifty warships as well as Jemik and Akarel naval posts."
"Any good news?"
"Telkur managed to blunt the enemy strike against it. Gul Ikaral was launching his ships in response to the torpoeding of a patrol when the enemy strike fell. We even managed to cripple and force the surrender of one of their carrier's escort vessels. The crew is being prepared for transfer to military interrogation...."
"No." Kelataza immediately brought up a template on his computer screen and began writing an order. "I want all POWs to be treated under the terms of the Solaran Conventions."
Yatar stared at him a moment. "Sir, interrogation of officers could reveal their planning to us. And there is the possibility of learning technological secrets from them."
Kelataza shook his head. "The Alliance signed the Solaran Conventions."
"Ink on a page!", Yatar shouted. "They are enemies! They do not deserve mercy, so why do you wish to forgo interrogation and mollycoddle them?! What do you expect..."
"What I expect you to do, Gul Hergata, is your duty!" Kelataza jumped from his chair. "You wish to be Legate, but you have this disturbing tendency to ignore the long-term. Now, you want us to ignore the Solaran Conventions as we did with the Federation. I suppose you also want us to keep as many of them as possible for Gul Madred's ongoing operation?"
"I see no reason why not to."
"You fool! Perhaps you've forgotten how this war is going so far. The Alliance appears far better prepared for war than the Federation has ever been. Now we've lost over half of one of our key attack fleets." Kelataza let out an irritated sigh. "Our reserves have not been fully rebuilt from the last decade of war, you know that. The industries are being refurbished and our economy is being rebuilt. We couldn't afford war, which I will remind you is why we attacked Gytep in the first place! To embarrass the Alliance, undermine the Bajoran resistance movements, and gain some breathing space. Now we are at war, Gul Hergata, and I am not confident that Cardassia will be victorious. We must plan for the possibility of a negotiated and equal peace. Because of the nature of the Alliance's government, it's not wise if we send their soldiers home abused from interrogations and labor. It could harm those negotiations."

Yatar seemed to think of a protest, but decided not to. "I have sent out orders to the other frontier fleets and they are detaching half of their strength to Cardassia Prime. Reserve Fleet will be deployed in two weeks' time to replace 3rd Fleet on the frontier facing the Ferengi. And 2nd Fleet is being pulled off the Tsen'kethi border to reinforce the remnants of 1st Fleet. We expect to have another eight hundred warships in total on site within two weeks, and nearly fifteen hundred in a month's time."
"Fifteen hundred ships, with nearly four hundred already lost, is a sizable portion of our fleet, Gul Hergata. I hope for all of our sakes that they are not lost."
"Of course, Legate. Though...." Yatar paused a moment to ensure his wording was proper. "Someone will have to take the blame for this fiasco."
"You want to pin it on Torcet?"
"He has few allies in the higher echelons. He would be the easiest to remove."
"But we are at war, Gul Hergata. Moving on him now will demoralize and anger the field personnel of the military, who look up to Torcet as one of them. No. For now, no blame will be assigned. If need be, we'll wait until after the war, and see how Torcet's planned counterattack works out."
"Of course, Gul." Yatar walked out.
It was no secret amongst Central Command that Yatar wanted to be Kelataza's successor. Kelataza himself was well aware of it and seemed to favor Yatar, though there were the occasional rumors that Kelataza preferred Relim Torcet despite their political differences. Yatar had heard the rumors and had to admit they had validity. Kelataza liked to think he was a patriot and would do what was best for Cardassia. As such, he admired a man like Torcet, who rose through the ranks through field service and command without any clear political ambitions.
Moving against Relim Torcet would be dangerous. But if Yatar could manipulate Kelataza properly, well, for all of Kelataza's pretenses he still loved his job and life. Giving up Torcet as a scapegoat could be palatable. Then Yatar would wait for the trial and the military backlash, and present himself as the voice of dissent. Kelataza had ordered and he, a subordinate, had obeyed. The backlash would focus on Kelataza and pave the way for Yatar to secure his place as the next Legate.
Smiling thinly to himself, Yatar thought of the matter fully. Even in war, the intrigues and machinations of the government still continued. It made him think of a favored saying amongst the Cardassian upper echelons.
"Even in a crisis, you can always find a knife in someone's back."


CDS Yevarak, Near the Alliance-Cardassian Border
19:15 GST



Seated on Yevarak, at the head of five hundred warships, 4th Rank Gul Lukal kept his focus on the tactical display as the flying wedge of Cardassia's Bajoran Sector Fleet came within five minutes of penetrating the Alliance border.
There had been a disaster with 1st Fleet. Lukal didn't know what, but he knew it had given him this chance to win personal glory and recognition. The Alliance fleet was on the other side of the border, gathering it's forces and preparing to attack. He would now blunt that attack. The ships under his command had newer models and better supply than other Sector Fleets did thanks to it's proximity to the Federation. Yeverak was a Model 7 Galor-class ship, as were a third of the Galor-class warships now leading the central squadrons of his fleet. A couple dozen Keldons and another couple dozen Dorkarak-class cruisers led the lighter screening ships of the fleet.
"Status on the jamming?"
"Still heavy, Sir." Glin Ekar Lekel shook his head. "The newer sensor packages have some visibility, but they're throwing so much radiation into subspace that it's effecting it for at least forty on our side of the border."
"Do you have anything on sensors?"
"I have a handful of their border cutters off our line of advance." Ekar looked up. "Do you want me to vector in ships to destroy them?"
"No, we won't split the formation for small fry. Just keep scanning, I want to find their main fleet."


DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22, 2 AU from the Nadir Point of the Zygola System, Near the Alliance-Cardassian Border
19:21 GST



Seated in the belly of the massive superdreadnought Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kentworth's focus was on the large strategic display showing the approaching Cardassian fleet. Due to jamming, only the dedicated electronic warfare cruiser, the Marathon-class DNS Chalons, could see them without much difficulty, but that would change in approximately twenty seconds, when the Cardassian vessels would come close enough that both sides could start to see the other with subspace sensors despite the jamming.
The anticipated number of the Cardassian fleet had stabilized to between 475 and 525 warships. Kentworth had gathered the entirety of Task Force 5.2 and it's four battle squadrons. Pearl Harbor was assigned to Squadron 5.2.1, consisting of two Battle Divisions - her's was Battle Division 5 - with four battleships and a dreadnought or superdreadnought in both, as was the ideal organization of battleship squadrons in the Stellar Navy (though not yet met due to a relative shortage of dreadnoughts). Aside from the thirty-five battleships, four dreadnoughts, and Pearl Harbor, the four squadrons each had an additional two heavy destroyers and eight destroyers to act as immediate screens. The additional two squadrons were composed primarily of further destroyer divisions, though Squadron 5.2.6 had a division of missile ships claimed from the mothball yards of Alliance member nations in Universe SE-1.

Task Force 5.1 was present with two squadrons, more cruisers and destroyers for the screening flanks of the fleet. A third squadron - this one with a Battle Division that included the task force's flagship, the superdreadnought DNS Tikvah - would be coming into formation momentarily, giving the fleet a grand total of 180 warships. Between the other three squadrons of TF 5.1 and the half of TF 5.4 that had been called in, Kentworth still had at least 120 ships en route to reinforce his numerically-inferior force.

At about 19:21:49 GST, the sensors on the Alliance fleet began to show the incoming contacts. By 19:22:04, the Cardassian fleet had clearly began to see them as well. They were three minutes from engagement range at this point. It was like they had stumbled into each other in the dark. Both fleets went to final combat alert as the final three minutes ticked down.

Due to the different orientations of the fleets, the approaching Cardassian flying wedge was "vertical" compared to the Alliance fleet. The perfect triangle of the Cardassian fleet began to alter a little as the heavy warships came further up in the formation and the lighter warships filtered to the tail, altering it to a hammerhead formation. Kentworth arranged his fleet in a simple wall formation orientated now to directly oppose the hammerhead, presenting his port broadside to the oncoming Cardassian fleet with the lighter warships on the wings and "outward".


CDS Yevarak


Lukal observed from his chair as the Cardassian fleet dropped out of warp at a range of three light seconds, a literal last minute stop from Lukal's desire to get "right down their throat". Immediately fifteen vessels of the Alliance fleet - missile-armed cruisers and destroyers - opened fire, prompting a call from Lukal to attempt to destroy the enemy missiles with energy fire. Long-range missiles raced from their launchers and toward the Cardassian fleet at maximum acceleration. The Cardassians opened fire on the approaching missiles. They had some success and blunted the salvo, but a number of missiles crashed into the defensive shields of the Cardassian heavy ships that were leading the fleet. None were destroyed, but a number took hull damage and serious shield loss.
When the range came down to two light seconds, another salvo of missiles erupted from the missile ships. There was less time to intercept now. Two [i]Galor
-class ships lost their bows and bridges. A Dorkarak exploded into fragments, as did a Neperek and an Ikvak.
At half a million kilometers, Lukal gave the order "Open fire," watching nervously. This was to be the first large-scale naval engagement with this foe, a foe that showed more taste for combat and more steel than the Federation. Lukal was curious to see how their fleet performed in battle; he was also worried that fools in Central Command had bit off more than Cardassia could chew, despite his numerical advantage.
The engagement at long range was mostly for harrassment. Most of the Cardassian shots missed due to the wider nature of the Alliance formation and it's good ECM. The Alliance's long range fire proved quite formidable in turn when the Alliance cruisers and destroyers opened fire with their torpedo launchers. The Alliance's torpedoes were quick in closing the distance and though some missed, others hit their targets. Lukal scowled to see that in this initial exchange of fire the Alliance fleet took no losses but the Cardassians were now down ten ships.
"Sir, should we not spread the fleet as well? Force the enemy to disperse fire?"
Lukal shook his head in quiet refusal. He wanted a solid, firm formation that could, once in range, concentrate firepower on the heavy warships of the Alliance fleet.

He paid for that mistake when they came within a light second. The Alliance fleet's main weapons opened up now. The firepower of the thirty-two 310cm particle cannons on the Pearl Harbor - mounted in eight quad-cannon turrets with four on the dorsal side and four on the ventral - joined the broadsides of the other capital ships, filling space between them and the Cardassian fleet with particle and laser fire. Intense beams of gamma radiation, x-rays, and tightly-packed and energized particles proved more devastating than the most advanced Federation phaser or Klingon disruptor had ever been. Lukal only had a few moments to consider his mistake, because four of the Pearl Harbor's 310s struck Yevarak at once on her bow shields. The shields collapsed before the beams dissipated and four distinct spears of blue light carved through the hull plating of the Yevarak, slicing her to pieces in the moment before her anti-matter fuel containment was lost and she was mostly vaporized.


CDS Turcek


5th Rank Gul Rocel watched Yevarak explode under the energy fire from the enemy. The firepower of the Alliance fleet was phenomenal and quite intimidating. "We can't survive like this," she grumbled. "To all ships, spread formation!".
The ship rocked as a gamma ray sliced partially through her ship's damaged starboard wing. Fire coming in, the Cardassian fleet did as she instructed, though the damage had been done so far. Rocel was down to 450 warships that had not yet suffered critical damage.
This count worsened as the Cardassian fleet sought to make range, Ikvaks disappearing under the enemy fire, as well as a couple cruisers. As soon as her tactical officer confirmed sufficient range Rocel barked the order to commence primary fire. At her command Turcek and the rest of the Cardassian fleet vent their fury upon the enemy that, until now, had fired on them with impunity. A flurry of photon torpedoes and white-yellowish compressor beams began Cardassia's retaliation against the Alliance.
But there was another surprise in store for Rocel and her captains. As their torpedoes approached their targets, pulses of particle fire came from the Alliance fleet against the barrage. "Status on the torpedoes?!", she demanded of the woman at Tactical.
"Enemy counter-fire with light weapons detonated a number, I believe at least a third of our torpedoes were destroyed," the officer answered, even as the near-two-thirds that did hit made their mark.


DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22


The Cardassians had now gotten to their favored range and the numbers they still possessed told in the ferocity of their opening salvo. Shouts were filling Kentworth's command center, which hadn't yet stopped shaking. Pearl Harbor's first and second layers of deflectors were overwhelmed - the third was down to forty-two percent. The cries of staff officers created a cacophany.
"The Agincourt has been hit!"
"Jean Bart has lost Turrets A and F!"
"Maryland has lost main power!"
The Cardassian counterattack had been focused on their line ships, striking all and damaging several. Maryland, an American (Universe SE-1) California-class fast battleship, was running on her fusion reactors now that her matter-antimatter reactor had been SCRAMed. Battleships Jean Bart, Idaho, and Durango had lost weapons. The new Missouri-class Normandie had lost her port warp field generator. Aside from these losses to their capital ships, Kentworth noted the destruction of four destroyers that had been close enough to be targeted by the Cardassians and the damaging of a number of other ships. His fleet was effectively down to 172 warships. It wasn't a paucity of protection that resulted in such damage; it was, unfortunately, the result of the sheer Cardassian numerical advantage, and their ability to thus concentrate their firepower upon the Alliance battle line.

Kentworth watched the numbers on both sides fall as the Cardassian drew to within a hundred thousand kilometers. "Detach van and forward center squadrons," he ordered, "move into double-line formation." He was sweating as he did so: this move was a gambit, as it would further divide a fleet already outnumbered.
When the Cardassians were at 30,000 kilometers, the order was given. The Alliance wall split into two, the lighter ships on the outsides - now the lead formations - racing forward to relink on the other side of the Cardassian fleet. As they did so, they opened fire on the lighter ships that were in the "tail" of the Cardassian fleet, gaining the better of them due to their superior broadside arcs.


CDS Turcek


The Cardassian fleet was near the preferred close range for combat operations and still retained an excellent advantage, over 2 to 1, meaning Rocel's fleet would benefit from inverse square law. Rocel saw the Alliance maneuver as her fleet's began to pass through and the implications were immediate. "All ships in the tail formation, disperse!", she ordered, trusting her Comm Officer to relay the order. She had gotten her fleet into "melee" range and intended to press that advantage.

But the order could not pass down quickly enough. Kentworth's gambit paid off as he forced Rocel's fleet to run the gauntlet of his battle wall's crossfire. The lead units took enough losses; another twenty heavier ships exploded and several more suffered debilitating damage, enduring firepower of a sort they had not been built to deal with. The lighter fleet units were slaughtered en masse as they tried to break off in the fleet's tail. The destroyers' shields didn't even blink for a moment when struck with the 310s on the Pearl Harbor or the 290cm particle cannons on her lighter companions; the solid beams simply cut right through and sliced apart the entire ship.
As terrible as the slaughter was, Rocel knew it would have been worse if she had not spread the fleet and if she had not ordered their dispersal. As it was, an astounding 70 Cardassian destroyers were destroyed or severely damaged, a sobering reminder of how helpless such vessels were against the main guns of an enemy battle line.
Rocel dispersed the fleet further now and ordered them to concentrate their fire on the lighter Alliance ships, seeking to match her opponents in using her heavy warships to slaughter lighter enemy ships. The former head of the Cardassian fleet twisted "up" and "down", moving toward the light ships that were coalescing at the re-joining of the Alliance fleet while the light ships simply scattered to avoid the Alliance battleships' guns. They fired at the lighter Alliance ships and succeeded in killing several. A dozen more destroyers were lost to the Alliance, with a few cruisers.


DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22


"Admiral, kamikazes!"
Kentworth watched glumly as a couple of battered Cardassian destroyers, their warp drives destroyed, made suicide runs on the battleship Agincourt. Agincourt's weapons destroyed one of her attackers, but the range ensured that the other was successful. The stricken Cardassian ship plunged into Agincourt's weakened port side. The detonation of the ship's reactor and fuel created a cataclysmic explosion that shattered the Agincourt's armored keel and tore the ship in two. Other destroyers decided to emulate this and caused a critical distraction to the battle line.
"Get the DesRons back into position," he ordered, "they must screen us from any further attempts by the enemy's light ships to perform kamikaze attacks." He received confirmation and the destroyer squadrons began to move, using their high maneuverability and acceleration to shift position. This had the further help of getting them out of the line of fire, while the Alliance battleships focused on their Cardassian opposites.

The battle was ten minutes old and the two fleets had suffered heavy loss. The Alliance fleet was down to 122 combat effective warships. The Cardassians had over two and a half times that number, with 358 ships still combat capable. The situation was dire for 5th Fleet and Admiral Kentworth; the Fleet had been spread out to cover other frontiers and now was faced with a largely superior force in numbers, one with the resulting volume of fire that it could pound down the defenses of Alliance capital vessels.
"Admiral, Squadrons 5.1.4 and 5.1.6 on approach."
Kentworth answered with a slightly-relieved nod. Another forty vessels, led by the dreadnought Florida, would give him more staying power and the chance to inflict further loss on the numerically superior enemy, with the numbers now down to 119 Alliance, 350 Cardassian, not counting the two arriving squadrons. "Tell them to engage main enemy capital units," was his order.
The English admiral and his staff watched with hope and satisfaction as Florida and the four battleships in her division made an impressive entry to the fight, causing the scattering of the Cardassian destroyers that had moved against Rocel's orders to intercept her squadron. Squadron 5.1.6, approaching from Zygola's heliopause, came out of warp at a slight distance so that her five missile ships, led by the missile cruiser Admiral Gorshkov, could have plenty of room to fire. The missile ships let out an impressive barrage, beckoning the missile ship division already with Kentworth's fleet to move out toward them, a maneuver Kentworth did not honor but which he did not contravene.


CDS Turcek


The arrival of new enemy ships gave Rocel a moment of pause. Alliance vessels had, so far, proven their ability to destroy her's in rather somber fashion, and forty more enemy ships was nothing to laugh at even with the numerical disparity. On the same token, however, it did mean that a victory here would be more decisive, and so Rocel kept the fight up with new orders.
"Incoming enemy missiles!" The Comm officer maneuvered to avoid the Russian Sunburns from Admiral Gorshkov, the Turcek's shields in no shape to take a direct hit. The missiles engaged and followed, one being shot down by a fellow ship but the other getting too close.
And so Gul Rocel now perished; her flagship was struck by the remaining missile hitting close enough to the bow that the detonation of the 600 megaton anti-matter warhead vaporized Turcek's bridge.


CDS Udupar

Two of Cardassian's best officers had fallen; 5th Rank Gul Jetain of the Udupar was now left in command. Or so he believed, but in truth it was soon apparent most of the 5th Rank Guls began to command his or her own squadron as he or she saw fit due to the wildly-disorganized nature of the Cardassian fleet. Jetain cursed in anger as Gul Parcek of the Henar refused an order to engage along his flank and began to fear that the loss of their two seniormost officers had turned their fleet into a mob, no squadron commander with sufficient seniority or influence to lead all the others.
Still, a couple squadrons did respond, and Jetain aimed them and his own forces at the new arrivals. He directed this force, fifty-one ships, against the Florida and her squadrons. He grimaced at seeing his ships begin to wink out from crippling or fatal damage.
Concentrating firepower on the lighter ships in the squadron at first, Jetain's detachment wiped out an entire destroyer division as well as another destroyer and cruiser, damaging two destroyers and another three cruisers in the process. This was in line with Jetain's entire strategy, which now depended upon killing as many of the Alliance's light ships as he could since he could see that the Alliance's advantage in technology was too great at the moment to focus on the capital ships.
Light warships in his unit, meanwhile, concentrated on staying close range with the Florida and her comrades, since they were larger, slower, and easy to keep up with. A storm of torpedoes was unleashed on the battle division while its heavy weapons carved up Cardassian ships. The battleship Maine took a few hits to her port side that exposed a fair portion of the ship to space, to the delight of Jetain.


DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22


On Pearl Harbor, Kentworth was knocked about against his harness from another strong hit to Pearl Harbor's port side. The fourth and final deflector layer had been compromised and the last few photon torpedoes had exploded on the superdreadnought's hardened armor. Its weapons lashed out at the offenders and sliced apart four destroyers while damaging a cruiser and a Galor. The Galor exploded a moment later when the battleship Kenyatta's particle cannons sliced clean through it.
This was the difficult element of commanding large fleets in battle. For all of the data relay capabilities of the fleet, a single human mind had to be ultimately responsible for large-scale tactics and strategy in a fleet of dozens and even hundreds of warships. Simultaneously considering the positions of so many warships and their status took a toll on even the brightest mind, even when counting the initiative permitted to task force and squadron commanders to ensure that opportunities a distracted Fleet commander missed could still be seized by subordinates closer to the point of contact and more easy to see what was there. As it was, Kentworth had a migraine coming on while considering the situation of the Florida and her beleaguered squadron. "Send to Squadron 5.1.6, target missiles toward enemy forces attacking Squadron 5.1.4." He ordered Squadron 5.1.6 to send her next missile barrage against the forces attacking Florida and her reduced squadron.

"Admiral, incoming warp contacts. IFF codes confirm BatCarDivs 9 and 12 are entering region."
"Bloody good timing," Kentworth answered, awaiting the arrival of the battle carriers Kestrel and Benjamin Disraeli, each with one hundred and forty combat starfighters. Ahead of them, now showing up on screens, were a swarm of A-12 Marauders and FB-34 Avengers, one hundred and twenty in all, coming in hot.
Kentworth was also pleased to see that they had attained an unnoticed success on the Cardassian fleet: for some reason, the fleet's discipline and cohesion and collapsed, individual sections of squadrons fighting their own battles against Kentworth's forces. The centrally-commanded Alliance fleet was taking full advantage of this to skew the loss ratio even more into their favor, combat effective numbers of the fleets standing at 138 Alliance, 304 Cardassian by the count of Kentworth's screen. "Have the fighter squadrons pick off enemy wounded, focusing on capital ships."


Zygola


Several Cardassian destroyer squadrons, noticing the incoming force, moved to intercept the incoming fighters. From the cockpit of his A-12 Lieutenant Herbert "Herb" Ratler of the Kestrel heard his squadron CO give the command to break and attack the approaching Cardassians. Ratler altered his trajectory while his SIO began to lock weapons on the intercepting Cardassians at six hundred thousand kilometers. "Fox 2" was the call when target lock was confirmed and the ships engaged with long-range ASM-6 Harpoons. The Cardie destroyers broke off to try and evade the incoming missiles; those that refused managed to kill a few Alliance fighters before they were literally blown out of the way by the vanguard squadron of Marauders.
"We got one confirmed kill, Herb," his SIO announced. "New targets being assigned."
"Let me clear the shot for you then."


CDS Udupar


This was the final straw. As Jetain saw another twenty friendly contacts wink out, he knew that the battle was lost. The fleet's orders had been to inflict as much damage on the Alliance fleet as possible, and he had certainly done so despite the clear technological disadvantage. "All ships retreat," he stated.
As with before, not all squadron commanders obeyed him. Perhaps some feared the Obsidian Order more than they feared the odds, even as their comrades were snuffed out by the enemy's superior power. Quite a few ships were lost now from failed suicide runs. Some runs succeeded better. A nearly-crippled Galor collided with the an ADN battleship, the Rodney, and ripped it apart with the resulting explosion. Tikvah took two destroyers in her side and lost main power. Pearl Harbor was nearly hit too, if not for the battleship Ostfriesland maneuvering herself to take the blow for the flagship.

Jetain managed to clear the reformed, battered Alliance wall and coalesced together with a small force of about 120 ships, with several dozen more moving to meet with him. Some of the vessels had taken damage to their warp drives and needed time to bring them online. Jetain gave them five minutes, during which the Cardassian fleet raced at maximum impulse away from the Alliance fleet.


DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22


Kentworth saw their retreat as his staff gave the verbal report. "Enemy fleet breaking away, sir, warp drives are being powered up.". This left him two options: pursue as best as possible to inflict further loss on his disorientated, retreating enemy, attempting to cause a rout, or engage more cautiously. The decision, for Kentworth, was easy, and mandated by the more subtle reasons of force economics. The Stellar Navy couldn't grow capital ships on trees and he'd already lost a number; better to preserve them and let the cruisers and destroyers harrass the enemy fleet while it attempted to regroup and escape.
Then he saw the contacts on his screen. "Sir, Task Force 5.4 signals readiness to engage," the call came, and a little smile came to Kentworth's face as he approved.

The Cardassian fleet was only two minutes from warp when Task Force 5.4 showed up. In the lead of TF 5.4, the Tirpitz-class dreadnoughts Karol Wojtyla and Vaclav Havel opened fire with their 290cm particle cannons in accompanyment of a complete barrage. Their hits were telling on a Cardassian fleet battle-torn and in disarray already. Kentworth observed as the Cardassian retreat took on the appearances of rout.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-01 02:35am
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CDS Udupar


Jetain cursed violently at the new arrivals. Though there were only sixty ships in Jetain's way, they were a danger to his fleet from their lack of damage compared to his own and the firepower totals they could deliver. "All ships disperse, evasive maneuvers until you are warp-capable! We will restore formation in warp flight!"
"Order sent," the Comm Officer confirmed.
"Enemy vessel locking..."
The Tactical Officer had just finished his sentence when the Udupar was hit by most of Vaclav Havel's broadside. The shields of the Galor-class vessel held up for a moment before eight particle beams and two streams of pulse phaser fire forced their way through and vaporized the front third of the Udupar.
At this point, so many of the Cardassian vessels had been badly damaged and suffered shield loss that even with the dispersal order, three dozen more Cardassian warships were destroyed or completely crippled. Some of those who had now suffered crippling damage to their warp drives remained behind, opening fire on the Alliance fleet while their comrades could flee and getting in their licks.
Multiple bursts of Cherenkov radiation filled the area as Cardassian ships - in singles, pairs, trios, or entire divisions and squadrons - made their getaway. Barely two hundred would do so.


DNS Paul Hackins DD-586


Coming at the tail of the battle had given Rana some slight hope that her ship would come out of it undamaged. But the instant she saw a Cardassian cruiser's compressor beam lance out at them she knew her hopes were dashed.
The offending Cardassian still got the worst of the exchange with the Callaghan-class destroyer. As a fleet destroyer its armament favored engagement with enemy ships over the defensive intentions of an escort-mission destroyer like the Ramage, giving it heavier pulse nuclear-disruptor cannons and more torpedo capacity. Mark XV anti-matter torpedoes devastated the damaged Cardassian and ensured its death from the pulse nuclear-disruptors' strikes to its failing structure.
In turn, two photon torpedo hits sapped the shields of the Hackins to failure, and the energy of the beams that came afterward scoured the ship. It rocked hard and damage reports echoed, confirming the entire bow of the ship had been devastated to the point of sections being blown off. Emergency forcefields were offline from damage to local generators, requiring the use of bulkheads, while the remains of vac-suited bodies (and some full ones) were pulled out into space by the sudden decompression.

The harness of her seat made Rana's shoulders ache from how hard the Hackins shook from the damaging impact and the resulting strain on her deflectors' generator moorings. Commander de Sainte-Mars demanded a report and Rana gave it to him, listing the forward sections exposed to space and the results of the hull damage. "Forward weapons offline. We still have our missile launchers on four side arcs and the aft torpedo launcher. Damage to power grid has knocked out power in sections for Turrets C and D."
"Engines?"
"Still online, but not recommended."
The Frenchman in the central chair frowned deeply. "Slow maneuvers, present remaining shield arcs toward any approaching enemies."
Her heart pounding, Rana listened to the crew confirm his orders, and breathed a silent hope and prayer that whatever was out there didn't let the enemy hit them again. It would be several excruciating seconds before her prayer, such as it was, was given answer, with the Cardassians fleeing the system completely, signalling the end of the battle... for the most part. It would only take a minute for the warp-crippled Cardassian stragglers to be finished off, and for those performing suicide runs, a destroyer with a bow blown off was not a tempting target.



DNS Pearl Harbor SD-22


The last enemy marker on the tactical map soon blipped out. Kentworth briefly permitted the cheers to fill his war room before he restored silence. "Send pursuit forces to pick off any stragglers up to the border," he ordered. "All other ships will stand down from combat alert and prepare S&R missions into the wreckage."
The last order was the critical one, and those performing it would have their work cut out for them given the sheer quantity of wrecked ships and escape pods they had to sort through. The Cardassian fleet of 500 had been reduced to 205, meaning that the 5th Fleet had destroyed 295 warships. The cripples on both sides still had survivors, which would be tended to as quickly as the surviving Alliance ships could do so, while other ships had to be carefully scanned for live ordnance and, if necessary further detonated to prevent further explosions.
The victory had been great, but it had been pricey. Kentworth's 5th Fleet had taken a battering due to the numerical disparity. Kentworth considered the losses soberly through his display. The outright loss of seven battleships. Over a dozen had some kind of debilitating damage, including the superdreadnought Tikvah. Dozens of cruisers and destroyers. The current count was that out of the 220 Alliance warships that took part in the majority of the battle (not counting Vice Admiral White's Task Force 5.4 that had arrived late, which only lost two destroyers to crippling damage), only about 128 were still operational.

Still, that meant that the loss ratio of 295 to 92 was 3.2 to 1 in favor of the Alliance fleet, which had been outnumbered. In this engagement, quality had overcome quantity in both technology and certain operational doctrines. Thanks to the Cardassians' failure to properly protect their flagships, Kentworth's fleet had been easily able to determine their identity from the heightened short-range comm traffic and had concentrated fire on them with devastating effect. As a result, command confusion in the Cardassian fleet had further impaired their ability to inflict damage, tilting the tide of battle at an opprtune moment.
But actual lost ships weren't the only ones of note. Kentworth had to consider his real losses were going to be further prohibitive from having so many ships in need of extensive repair. In real terms, he had probably lost just over half of 5th Fleet for the next month, as well as thousands of experienced crew and hundreds of officers, including starship captains, division commanders, and two squadron-commanding Line Admirals; Zhao Bei-Ling and Bart Matthews, lost on the Agincourt and Massachusetts respectively.

A Petty Officer brought Kentworth a cup of rich Turkish coffee. He gladly accepted it and began to drink the rich fluid, needing it to stay awake and keep himself focused on the command. It would take hours, perhaps a day or two, to fully complete the cleanup of the battle. Even with entire ships having been vaporized, millions, perhaps billions of tons of debris was left, as well as charred corpses and other flotsam and jetsam. Giant yardships would be needed to partially rebuild the warp drives of many crippled vessels so that they could be brought back in for full repair due to hull damage making warp-speed towing impausible, as well as hospital ships to tend to survivors and transports to ferry them back home for re-assignment or, in the case of Cardies, transfer to POW facilities.
Kentworth thought of these annoyances, these seemingly-trivial affairs of a battle's aftermath, and sighed, "C'est la guerre."



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-03 02:18am
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Chapter 6


San Francisco, Earth, United Federation of Planets
20:12 GST



The Federation Council was in full emergency session, originally planned as part of the continuing appointment of Tobis but now to discuss the war between the Alliance and the Cardassian Union.
Though the Party Committee had already decided Tobis was to be the temporary Chairman, the problem was that the Council included individuals with a different idea. Several speakers had already called for the restoration of Deborah Miller, who had previously been President from 2350 to 2356 before being removed at the onset of war with the Tsen'kethi. A vote to confirm Tobis had fallen precisely from this pro-Miller faction, which was divided between actual PAPAL members and old bureaucrats who still had friends in the government bureaucracy that longed for a return to Miller and her laissez-faire approach to government oversight.
But after war had been declared, the Council stopped it's debate and ratified Tobis' Presidency within an hour. They'd recessed and returned for his swearing in and acceptance speech, and the debate had immediately turned to the war.
The current speaker was Yvette Jospin of Mars. A petite woman of recent French, Spanish, and Chinese origin, she was one of the youngest members of the Federation Council at thirty-one, her parents being higher-ranking bureaucrats of the Idealogue Party. The card-carrying Paxist was speaking as loud and as clear as her high voice allowed with sounding like inaudible squeaking. "It is impossible to think that after so many centuries of struggle, Humanity from these other universes could still fail to find true civilization as we have. They have chosen war over peace for an offense that cannot be undone, and for the deaths of a few thousand they will now slaughter millions. This is unjust and evil. The Alliance is unworthy of any gesture of respect, diplomatic or otherwise. We must condemn this war in the strongest of terms. We must make clear that we will not tolerate this behavior."
When Jospin was done, Tobis recognized the next speaker; Sirak of Vulcan. A member of the small Surakist Social Enlightenment Party, Sirak and his party comrades were the remaining independent influence of Sirok's New Way, which had been forcibly absorbed into what became the Idealogue Party by President Jirvshk a quarter of a century before. "Fellow Councilmembers," Sirak began, speaking in what seemed the stereotypical Vulcan reserve, "I call upon you to consider logically the course you wish to take."
"You disagree with the Alliance's war with Cardassia, and rightfully so, for it is illogical to be violent when a deed has been committed and cannot be undone. But you fail to understand that you are not dealing with a government that will be swayed by your strong words of disapproval. To force the Alliance to make peace, to restraint their violent impulses, you must prove yourself willing to act to counter them. Violence is an obvious solution, but not preferable to a non-violent one. Logically, the solution would be nothing less than a complete embargo of the Alliance. The Council should approve a resolution to forbid Alliance ships from entering Federation space and to forbid the movement of Alliance goods unless approved by our government. Because of their position, this will significantly impair the Alliance's trade with the Alpha Quadrant. Other measures should be taken to bring our preferred trading partners into this embargo, with the ultimate goal of completely severing the Alliance from the economic life of the Alpha Quadrant. By doing so, you will remove their primary purpose for a presence here, instigating their merchants and trading companies to oppose the government, and the Federation will be able to dictate terms to President Mamatmas' government to restore their trade. That is the appropriate response to this situation, and Vulcan moves that it be accepted."
Tobis looked to the woman with her hand raised. "Representative Hallworth, you have an objection?"
"For all of his devotion to logic, Representative Sirak is advising us improperly," Tabitha Hallworth of Alpha Centauri complained. "If we do something so rash and provocative, we may very well end up at war with the Alliance ourselves! Do you think that mad man Mamatmas will hesitate for a moment to send even more military force into our quadrant to fight us?"
"Fighting a two front war from such an exposed and undefendable position is not wise strategy and is illogical," Sirak replied.
"You're dealing with militants! Aggressive Humans who never had a Eugenics War or a Post-Atomic Horror to teach them the evils of total war! You can't assume they'll act logically, Representative Sirak!"
"I have faith that Starfleet is capable of defending itself adequately, especially since we would be fighting with Cardassia as our ally, freeing up our forces facing the ceasefire line."
The argument didn't last much longer, and Tobis called for a vote on Sirak's measure. It didn't pass, though the margin was cut close and it could pass with a later push. Sirak had been clever in wording it, since it would allow the government to continue buying Alliance goods and materials for the DEM and BLN, unlike the failed embargo resolution after the Alliance intervention in Kelos. This meant the Party Central Committee would not be in such a hurry to ensure it's defeat.
With Sirak's vote having failed, a vote was finally passed for a "strongly worded" condemnation of the Alliance declaration of war and a plea to both governments to cease the war and negotiate before "more lives were lost".


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
22:00 GST



The President and other senior Security Committee members were standing in the upper tier of the Strategic Command Amphitheater and observing the display of the Colonial Zone. Markers showed the position of various units and individual ships, currently set to only showing naval assets. "We have confirmed overall losses to be ninety-four warships so far, Mister President," General Lewis Rashad - senior overseer of the SCA - stated. "Casualty figures are still coming in, but they are looking to be twenty to thirty-five thousand wounded and dead."
Mamatmas nodded silently. "What news do we have from the carriers?"
"All six task forces have returned to Alliance space with varying losses, mostly in fighters. The Lexington lost one of her escorting destroyers at Telkur, which is currently our only loss in ships." Rashad tapped a few keys to highlight the carriers' position. Lexington was returning to New Liberty Star Base. Enterprise and Kaga were heading toward Zygola. Akagi and Intrepid were heading toward Kelos. Finally, Audacious was linking up with one of the planetary assault groups that had gathered ten light years from the border. "New Liberty Command has dispatched tenders to replenish the depleted complements of each carrier. We'll be sending new pilots out in a few cases in the next couple of days."
"Any confirmation on inflicted losses?"
"Still compiling all of the flight recorder and sensor data, Mister President. Considering the reports we've been given, at least three hundred Cardassian ships were destroyed. Their posts at Kemar, Akarel, Jemik, and Ubatal are also gone, and the other two took damage. It is our opinion that the thread posed by the Cardassian fleet has been effectively neutralized."
"Very good, General. I'd like further information as it becomes available."
"Of course, Sir."
With that said, Mamatmas returned to the elevator to take them back to the ground levels. Marshal Longwell and Minister Rathbone were with him at this point. "Next is the offensive to seize the five systems we have claim to?"
"Yes, Mister President. Now that we have confirmed the destruction of their attack fleet and have cleared our flank with the successful action at Zygola, we have sent the orders to commence with the second phase of Santorini. Operations should begin commencing at zero-thirty GST," Longwell remarked.
"Seven-thirty, then," was Mamatmas' reply, speaking in terms of local time.
"Yes. Also, local command has asked permission to move up the time schedule so that the third phase, the seizing of the other border systems, will commence by sixteen hundred GST tomorrow. That's enough time to get the remaining divisions embarked and to get ships redeployed, Sir, but I'd like to recommend that we wait until zero-three-hundred on the 25th. That will give us time to deploy the Okinawa and her battle group to join the operation."
"What does the SPS think?"
"Five-three vote in favor of sixteen hundred tomorrow, Sir."
"Arrange a larger scale meeting with them. Hear their arguments and then decide which way to go, but I don't have to remind you that we want to hit the Cardies as quickly and as strongly as we can. No holding back unless it's absolutely necessary. We've given them the mother of all sucker punches and now we have to bring them down before they can recover and make this a fight again."
"Of course, Mister President."


Command Complex, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
23:01 GST



Relim Torcet sipped at a glass of hot otekar and let the strong taste last for a moment for swallowing. He was long familiar with the powerful caffeine drink, the method of choice in the military for remaining awake at crisis times. His eyes, long dried of the tears he'd shed for Harak, were constantly on his display.
Never in his most fevered nightmares had Relim believed such an astounding disaster possible. The loss total for 1st Fleet had now reached four hundred ships. Four naval posts had been ruined. 1st Fleet was effectively out of action and would be so until reserves could be assigned. The disaster was furthered by the fact that 1st Fleet had included many of Cardassia's newest ships, which would make them rely increasingly on ships that had proven inferior to even the Federation.
And it was worse. The Bajoran Sector Fleet had managed to do decently enough against such a powerful foe, but they had lost over half their strength and with many surviving ships in need of repair. The squadron at Chin'toka had been reduced to not even a third of it's power between the enemy attack and Iltacek's "probe" (which Relim suspected had been intended as an all-out attack, but again Cardassia's intelligence had failed the military in warning them of Alliance system defenses). And with the losses in transports and escorts to cloaked enemy ships and the vessels that had been torpedoed in a few minor skirmishes between border forces, Cardassia had lost over seven hundred warships in less than ten hours of warfare. It was a staggering blow, nearly wiping out what reserve Cardassia could count on in an emergency and denying it so many critical regional assets.
And now this. On Relim's screen was the most recent list by Central Command of damage done by Alliance stealth craft in their attacks on the industrial and resource infrastructure of the systems on or near the border. Felvar, Orkal, Melra, Diyalar, and over twenty more systems had been attacked. For all of it's humanitarian talk, the Alliance had proven it could be quite ruthless in war, attacking strategic targets in those systems with kiloton-rated nuclear weaponry. Lunar and asteroid mining facilities had been wiped out completely, as had orbital facilities, two minor shipyards, five military supply complexes and another dozen or so supply depots, and every industrial complex of value. The number of dead had already neared one million and the damage to production - military and civilian - would take quite a while to fully assess, but it was certainly a harsh loss.
In their arrogance, Relim's leaders had assumed that the Alliance was all bluster and as weak as the Federation in terms of willingness to wage war fully. Now that illusion, as pleasing as it may have been, was forever shattered. Within hours of declaring war, the Alliance had done far more damage to Cardassia's war machine than any of her enemies had ever managed.
There was nothing that could be done now, save to grieve for those lost and to work even harder to protect Cardassia from her new enemy, a very powerful one indeed. Relim took another drink and began thinking of how to work around this disaster. Complaining about it would bring him nothing, so he concentrated on what needed to be done to counter the Alliance's moves.
Briefly Relim put himself into the Alliance's position. He knew that the Alliance, through it's own decisions, would make the liberation of Bajor a clear goal of the war. He felt them welcome to it. Bajor was a net loss to Cardassia, drawing in far more resources than it's worth. Let the Alliance have the planet; Cardassia had already stripped much of it bare of it's mineral wealth. Of course, he also knew the Central Command would demand a fight to keep it on the principles of the situation.
So clearly the Alliance would want to take Bajor. But would they move right on it? Relim's instinct told him no. Bajor was still closely guarded and it would take a short time for the damage to regional industrial output to effect the Cardassian presence there. A smarter startegy would be to squeeze the local Cardassian forces off from supply while preparing for a full invasion.
It was true that the Alliance had been bold in it's opening strike, but even factoring in boldness, there was a collection of more tempting targets for them:the border systems. They would want to establish a buffer zone of occupied space and systems, knowing full well that Cardassia had more ships to move up. Only then would they want to invade Bajor.
Relim began reading over reports on the disposition of forces. The Federation Frontier Fleet would be in range soon. With the survivors of 1st Fleet and reinforcements from Home Fleet, they could attempt another naval action, this time not just a spoiling attack. That would have to be the course of action; give their forces a week to fully gather and launch a counter-strike.
While working on his plan, Relim asked his secretary to get him his liaison with the Obsidian Order. If he was to work a new plan, he wanted the best intel on the Alliance's ship positions. That would be critical to any hope of victory....


San Francisco, Earth, United Federation of Planets
24 November 2153 AST
00:15 GST



Tobis was in a meeting with Starfleet Command when the latest reports from the new conflict arrived for Admiral Dayton. Dayton read over the PADD his aide handed him and Tobis felt his stomach twist painfully when Dayton's jaw lowered and his eyes began to widen. "Admiral Dayton?" Matthews eyed Dayton closely. "Is something wrong?"
"Sir, Starfleet Intelligence just went over our latest data from Cardassia. And, well..." Dayton swallowed. "The Cardassian naval facilities at Akarel, Kemar, Ubatal, and Jemik were wiped away completely. We're not sure of exact losses in terms of ships, but the Cardassians have actually panicked enough to send some remarks over unencrypted channels. Current estimated losses at three hundred ships, we expect as many as four hundred and fifty."
There was a silence throughout the room. "From what, Admiral Dayton?" Tobis tried to control the look of utter shock on his face. "Those systems are twenty, thirty light years from the Alliance border. If those warships of their's had tried to...."
"Apparently, their carriers were responsible, President Tobis." Dayton looked further down the information on the PADD. "And not five hours ago, there was a battle in the Zygola system. The Cardassians, after these strikes on their naval posts, launched what appears to be a desperation attack against the Alliance Colonial Zone with the Bajoran Sector Fleet. We received data logs from merchant ships in the vicinity, sir. The visuals are quite stunning, and we've estimated losses to be about three hundred Cardassian ships and a hundred and fifteen Alliance."
"Are they playable?"
"They will be soon. But...."
"But what? What is it, Dayton?!"
Dayton swallowed and looked at his assembled peers and colleagues. "Among these recent updates are reports from our agents on the ground. The Alliance used some of it's stealth craft to launch attacks on infrastructure targets in the border systems. Mining posts, industrial complexes, refineries, shipyards, military supply depots, they attacked everything of value with nuclear weapons. Over twenty-five systems were hit. This is a severe blow to their regional infrastructure, Mister President. There were no apparent attempts to attack cities and the like, but I'd say there's a million dead Cardassians now, and two dozen star systems who's worth to the Cardassian Union has been utterly ruined."
The color drained from pretty much every face in the room. Tobis' stomach wrenched violently and one of the admirals, Admiral Donald Teller of Operations, got up from the table and barely got to a disposal bin in time to throw up. "The war has just begun," Matthews said with a thin-sounding, weak voice. "And... and the Alliance has done all of this already?"
"My God...." Admiral Williamson of Starfleet Security rested his head of gray hair into a hand. "They just wiped out enough ships to represent a fifth of Starfleet."
"Mister President, we need to get confirmation on all of this before we can act on it," Dayton said. "You need to be diplomatic and cautious."
Tobis nodded stiffly. This development threw everything out the window. Where once the threat of a united Cardassian-Federation front served as a reasonable deterrent, well, that was over with.
The Cardassians, one of the most feared military powers in the Alpha Quadrant, had just had their heads and asses handed to them on a silver platter. There could no longer be a threat of Cardassian and Starfleet forces linking up at New Liberty to force the Alliance to accept a peaceful solution to the Bajoran Problem. Tobis' heart froze when he imagined just how the Alliance's attack would have effected the Federation. Every system forty light years from the border utterly devastated, fifty precious starships swept away by the Alliance fleet as so many boats swept by a tsunami, and the prosperity of the Federation threatened while the Alliance's forces rampage throughout her worlds, bringing fire and ruin where there was once peace and happiness. The very thoughts of the Alliance devastating the Federation as it was devastating Cardassia chilled Tobis' very soul. He couldn't let that happen.
Of course, something had to be done. The Quadrant-wide reaction would be immense, of course. Tobis had to wonder just how effective Federation influence could be in counteracting what could be a very strong surge in pro-Alliance sentiments. The Alliance had now humbled mighty Cardassia and the other races and states would probably not care much for all of those dead and innocent Cardassians, since most societies in the Alpha Quadrant were not as socially enlightened or progressive as the Federation. They would see the Alliance's opening attacks as a gesture of great strength and would regard the Alliance with awe, fear, and respect. Tobis wanted neither. He wanted Mamatmas and every other senior member of the Alliance government in a penal colony. He wanted them to pay reparations for these brutal attacks. He wanted them to stop sheltering those Bajoran troublemakers, who had now helped to spark a war as he always feared they would.
Tobis wanted a lot of things. But right now, his desire to punish the Alliance for launching such vicious attacks on Cardassia was outweighed by his terror at the thought of the Alliance doing the same thing to the Federation.
He knew Torskani would hold a similar view to the one in his mind: villify the Alliance but do nothing that could bring the Federation into the war. And Tobis would follow that to the letter.


Dolan, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
01:30 GST



The town of Dolan, on New Liberty's main continent about four hundred kilometers from the planetary capitol of Wexford, had been initially founded before First Contact by Bajoran refugees in the Federation. With the flood of Bajorans who moved into the Colonial Zone after the Alliance purchased it after First Contact with the Federation, the town's population boomed and was now roughly sixty-five thousand Bajorans and about six hundred Humans, mostly temporary occupants living in the town to work on construction projects and education matters. The town's mayor and city commission were all Bajorans, as was the town police chief and all but a handful of the police force.
Now many of those thousands of Bajorans were standing at the sidewalks, windows, and even rooftops of the buildings along Dolan's main street, part of Highway 1 (which stretched for two thousand kilometers between Wexford and the main seaside community at Parker City). Along the width of the four lane road was a military parade. A proud martial tune filled the air as the 6,000 plus men and women of the 1st Brigade, 555th Division marched through the streets. The reconstituted 555th Division - the Fighting Five Fifty-Fifth - now included the three brigades of Bajoran volunteers that had enlisted in the Alliance Army since the establishment of the Colonial Zone. And all 20,000 men and women of the division were on their way to war after this previously-scheduled parade, the first public showing of the Bajoran units in the Alliance Army, which now had special significance as the Bajorans here believed the liberation of their homeworld was at hand.
The marching band was playing a Human march, Semper Fidelis - "Always Faithful" - as they had already finished with a Bajoran tune. The flags of the Alliance and for a unified free Bajor flew proudly amongst the honor guards of the brigade, with the brigade's CO - Brigadier Juanita Rodriguez - standing tall and proud in a vehicle at the head of her troops. The crowds cheered the soldiers on, hanging banners in Bajoran exhorting them to go and free their beloved homeworld and to end their exile. Some onlookers screamed names as they recognized neighbors, co-workers, or even family amongst the proud ranks in green. Children waved small flags, some adults larger ones, and there was a general positive energy in the air, the energy of a people who finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
Behind the 1st Brigade came the 435th Armored Battalion, also composed almost entirely of Bajorans. Their tanks - a collection of M90 Pattons - were painted in camoflogue colors. The vehicle commanders saluted the crowd as the tanks rumbled by, to the delightful cheers of the people of Dolan.
The images were being spread across the known Multiverse on the news. There were newspaper reporters present as well. A British reporter to the Times later remarked that "the Bajoran troops of the Alliance carried themselves proudly, honouring the reputation of the Army with their disciplined rank." A German from AGC-1 praised them as "looking indistinguishable from any unit of the German Army I have seen before. They are the best of their race." An American of the same universe would write, "They have a reputation as a hard-working people, farmers and artisans alike, and are clearly amongst the best material in all the cosmos for making armies."
"There is an energy in the air," stated a report. "And I truly pity Cardassia, for that energy will soon be applied against them."


Yuvar, Cardassian Union (Disputed)
02:14 GST



The tracked IFV-3 and it's three compatriots rumbled across the dirt of Yuvar 6, a planet in one of the five systems disputed between the Alliance and the Cardassians. Lieutenant Pinelli and his platoon had been sent by Captain Reynolds to investigate the Cardassian mining settlement of Evelek. It only had a few hundred occupants, but was apparently empty judging by orbital scans. Their mission was to follow up on the initial recon sweep by investigating the town's structures. The rest of the company was in position to provide support if they found something.
Pinelli and his troopers were grumbling with discontent for two reasons. One was that they weren't with the rest of the division. The 79th Division had been assigned to securing the northern region around the planetary capitol of Turek Ikara, where 30,000 Cardassian soldiers and militia were still holed up against the rest of CXIV Corps. As a result, they were actually seeing combat, and young lieutenants like Pinelli were always looking for combat to earn their pay and create the possibility for advancement. But instead they had to head away from the front to the very outskirts of inhabited land on Yuvar to investigate a small settlement.
The second reason was due to the two passengers cramped into the IFV-3 Pinelli was riding in. Kellie Sanderson and her cameraman Levek were seated in the middle of the rear compartment, wearing the same combat fatigues as everyone else.
The fatigues were made of special air-tight material, and the full set - socks, shoes, trousers, full-sleeved jacket, and gloves - was completely sealed off from the atmosphere to counter the use of NBC weapons. Their helmets were Emerson Armor-Lite Model 5s; Pinelli had a Cherenkov 7 Platoon Command helmet with better communications abilities and a digital-layered helmet face plate that displayed a HUD at his mental command. Both types had internal oxygen tanks and the ability to hook up to external tanks for use in vacuum or in tainted atmospheres, though at the moment Pinelli and his people had their external air supply vents - with emergency filters in case of sudden attack - open to breathe the uncontaminated air of Yuvar 6.
Pinelli was still irritated that Reynolds had sent the Feddie reporter with them to Evelek. He didn't trust the Feddies, and neither did his men. But Kellie and Levek had acted decently toward them, taking the time to interview Private Masters and Sergeant Dobson. Kellie even apologized for being rude earlier when she'd learned Dobson's age.
Climbing up through the IFV to the upper hatch, Pinelli watched the terrain turn to dusty flatland with brush, like out of an old American Western. There were mountains in the distance, likely the location of the mines that the Cardies of Evelek worked. The town was also coming up, as Pinelli could see what looked to be a spire in the distance.
They pulled up to the first building and each squad disembarked from their vehicles. Pinelli had one squad stay behind while the others broke up into fireteams and investigated the smaller structures.
Pinelli, Dobson, Masters, and their squad split into five and investigated two homes. Then they investigated the next two, and so on for the next half an hour, making their way through the eastern quadrant of Evelek.
Finally, when they were in one abandoned three story home, Masters was looking in a closet on the ground floor when she noticed something on the ground. She looked to the other Private with her, Hogan, and said, "Hey Hogan, what do you make of this?"
Hogan walked over and knelt at the door, using a touch of his hand to the side of his helmet to activate a helmet light which shined down on the floor. He could clearly make out the borders of what seemed to be a secret hatch of some sort. Hogan tapped down on a button controlling his comm and asked for Pinelli to come immediately. Pinelli arrived in the room shortly afterward with Dobson. "What do you think, Sir?"
Pinelli swallowed and knelt down at the secret hatch. "Cover me." He ran his fingers around it's border before finding a slight grip, which he used to pry it open.
There was a loud cry of fright from inside. Pinelli shined a light down the hatch and into the cubbyhole that had been built into the floor. It was a small box-shaped chamber, barely five feet by five feet by five feet, and snuggled into it were three Cardassian children, including one infant cradled in the arms of what looked to be a Cardassian girl roughly equivalent to an age of seven. She looked up at them, as did a younger child, apparently a boy, who was hiding his face and looking away while shouting a phrase over and over. Pinelli looked back up at his men. "There are kids in here! Cardassian kids! Shit, does anyone have a translator or something?!"


Now seated outside, Pinelli and several troopers were watching Kellie speak to the children with her Universal Translator implant. Their own HUDs displayed translations of what they said, but only Kellie's translator let her speak back in their language.
The denizens of Evelek were part of the Society of the Holy Sun, one of the last religious groups left amongst the Cardassians. It was a monotheistic faith, with a supreme diety named Jokaravar embodied by the Cardassian sun and numerous "servant" dieties who also acted as patrons of mortals in the way that Catholic saints were to Catholics. The Jokaravites, as they were called, had been deported from Cardassia generations ago to a colony world on Ikarel 10, and from there, various dissidents were sometimes sent to Evelek to slave away in the mines. The children didn't know where their parents were, just that the soldiers had come about a day earlier to order the adults to report to militia duty. The Jokaravites were borderline pacifist, believing that they could only morally fight in wars that were justifiable by their teachings, which ruled out virtually every war that the Cardassian Union had waged in the past century. They had chosen to refuse and to protect their children they had hid them away in hiding compartments in their homes that they had built with sensor-blocking materials painstakingly acquired over decades.
While Kellie interviewed the children, recording it for future use, Pinelli and his platoon finished examining Evelek. There were no signs of the adults, but they found another fifty children in various homes. They were all scared of the soldiers and some had refused to come out of their hiding places until other children could be brought to them to convince them it was safe. HQ had medical personnel slated to arrive from the hospital ship Theresa Huntington to care for the children, but until they arrived it was left to Pinelli and his troops to watch the children and finish checking things up.
Kellie had just finished her interview with one of the older children, a thirteen year old girl, when Pinelli received a call. Corporal Kent was on the radio, speaking with a tone that made Pinelli's blood curdle. "Sir... We... we found something."
Following Kent's signal, Pinelli and Masters walked out to where Kent and Private Gao had headed. It was about 500 meters outside of the settlement, toward the mines. Pinelli walked up to where Kent and Gao were looking down into what looked to be a ditch. Gao had removed his helmet and Kent's face plate was open, which he found difficult to believe from the overpowering stench which now prompted him to activate his air filter. "Corporal, what is it?"
Kent pointed to the ditch and Pinelli looked into it. His mouth dropped open in shock, after which he crossed himself and muttered, "Mother of God."
The ditch was filled with bodies. Cardassians in civilian clothing, elderly and young, men and women, were lying about randomly. Some had been bayoneted and others had massive burns on their heads from being shot at point-blank range by phaser weapons at low settings. Pinelli felt his stomach grow violent and barely wrenched his helmet off in time to puke. As he drew in breaths trying to control the urge to vomit again, he saw Masters yank her helmet off, vomit covering her face. She was crying before wretching again.
Pinelli slipped his helmet back on, now certain he had nothing left to puke, and made two calls. One to Kellie, and one to command. Afterwards he crossed himself again and began whispering a prayer while tears rolled down his eyes. In all his life, he'd never imagined he'd ever face something like this. Never....


Ikapar, Dervak, Cardassian Union
13:01 GST



Released for his duties for a length of time Horvem had yet to decide, Glin Kercel returned to the planet's surface and the trade city of Ikapar. Ikapar was a modestly-sized city of about two hundred thousand souls with a spaceport and the seedy underbelly one would expect for a planet so close to the Sphere.
With nothing else to do, Kercel decided to pay a leisure visit to an establishment in the Alien Quarter. Rekor Durba was a men's club, multi-racial, with a host of beautiful alien women who danced nude and did a great many other things for the entertainment of the clientele. Paying to enter, Kercel spotted a lovely Bajoran girl on the stage, lowering herself into the lap of an Orion trader so he could grope her bare chest. Porel Imina's honey-colored blonde hair was cut as short as ever, he could see as he walked over to the proprieter responsible for more... intimate forms of entertainment.
About ten minutes later, Kercel and Imina were in a private room assigned to her. They always took care to hide the mutual affection they had for one another until they were fully alone in their room. Their's was an odd attachment, born of Kercel's self-loathing for his people and their cruelty, Imina's shame for her work, and their mutual loneliness.
During their intimacy and their talking after it, Kercel slipped into one of her bags a data chip that she would know the purpose of. After they were done and had said their goodbyes, he left to go drink away his guilt while Imina took a rest and met with her Human associate, Abigail.
A couple of hours later, Abigail - a Roman Catholic from a Human community in the Sphere - paid a visit to the Catholic chapel in the Alien Quarter's residential district. There were very few chapels in Cardassian territory due to various Cardassian laws and this was one of those rare ones. After giving confession to the priest - wary of the likelihood that the Cardassians had bugged the confessional - Abigail stopped to light candles and pray quietly. The data chip Kercel had handed to Imina was in her hand when she put a candle back, slipping the chip under the candle.
Two hours later, a blonde-haired Human woman stopped at the altar as well, after giving a short, incomplete confession to the deacon. She picked up the same candle and removed the chip. Afterward, she went back to her hotel room.


Later the next day, the woman re-emerged from her hotel room. Her hair was now red and there were Trill spots on her body, which her hot pink dress showed well by exposing everything above her ample cleavage as well as her strong belly. Most onlookers took her as a prostitute, an image that strengthened as she made her way to the Belukara Hotel in the wealthy region of the Alien Quarter.
The people in this area were very wary, and for good reason. At one time the criminal underworld of Ikapar had been rather unified, but no longer. The local crime boss, Oparatho from the Orion Southern regions, had suffered a falling out with one of his major suppliers of slaves and drugs, a nominally legitimate Ferengi trader and financier named Quek. An initial fight over Quek's raising of his prices had blossomed into a turf war, with Quek using Nausicaan mercenaries and contacts in the Cardassian government to take over or eliminate a third of Oparatho's operations. The two hated each other fiercely, though they kept their fight as low key as possible to prevent a public display that could bring the government down upon them both. As a result of this, they had both put out contract hits on each other.
The woman had accepted both.
One might ask what her name was, but the truth is she adopted and shed identities as she moved along, killing when a good price was offered for it. However, at one time in her life she had been Lieutenant Misty Greene of Starfleet. A time before the death of a beloved companion and her lashing out at the fools who tried to dishonor his memory. She had been cashiered from Starfleet, incarcerated for a short time and drugged in an effort to reduce her "emotional anger".
The drugs had done more than that. They had driven her wounded soul into deep isolation, only shreds of what she once was remaining amongst many memories. Now she was a cold-blooded killer-for-hire who's last shred of decency kept her firmly on the line of killing only those who deserved it. And only if the money was good.
Upon arriving at the Belukara Hotel, Misty went to the sixth floor and a suite entrance flanked by scowling Nausicaan guards. They granted her entry after searching her purse.
Misty was led to the bedroom of the suite where Quek was waiting in a robe. His men left him. He instructed her to remove the top of her dress, which she did, baring her chest to him and smiling seductively as she slipped on top of him. He kissed her slightly, more interested in groping her than anything. As was expected, her hands began to caress the lobes of his ears, an incredibly arousing experience for Quek.
The romance of the moment ended with a snapping sound. Quek's face barely registered what must have been a sudden, horrible surprise as his neck was suddenly broken by a sharp twist of Misty's hands. She slid off the bed and put her top back on, then retrieved a comm phone from her purse. She took a picture of Quek's dead body and sent it to a dummy phone Oparatho had specially for his contract on Quek. A moment later, a response came, text only, verifying the sum of $1 million Alliance had been transferred to her account in Kellerman on Rymorta, completing the two million overall. With this done, Misty mussed her hair up to make it look disheveled, placed Quek in a position so that he'd look like he was sleeping from a distance, and left. The guards thought nothing of it, since Misty had already learned that Quek's embarrassing secret about his lack of stamina and his tendency to kick prostitutes out after failing to do much with them.

She traveled down to the third floor and a room she'd rented out under the name Italaria Que'sevi, her background being that of an Orion businesswoman from the Northern nation of Ropakao. Inside the room she had a teenage Orion girl, a slave she'd bought and was going to emancipate in exchange for her part in this plan. She removed her clothes, placed them in a specially-made bin, and dissolved them with acid. Then she had the girl, nude as she was, follow her into the bedroom, where a vat of special body paint awaited. A half hour later, Misty was no longer Trill but Orion, with her dark hair pulled back into the traditional three-buns favored by wealthy Ropakai women. Wearing a modest, respectable business-woman's dress of black color, Misty led the teenage Orion girl out, the girl dressed in a sexy halter top and high-cut skirt to look like any other sexually-promiscuous teenager. Once in the hotel lobby, they kissed discreetly but yet visibly and parted ways, making the proposed Italaria Que'sevi look like any other wealthy and free Northern Orion indulging in homosexuality, which Northern Orion macroculture considered degrading due to the Eastern and Southern Orions frequently forcing it upon their slaves. This ended the first half of her plan.
Now Misty started on the double play, or what she now considered the "bonus round". She would have to kill Opartho before Quek's body was found to collect on the second contract, which was worth more because she'd taken advantage of Quek's inexperience with the criminal underworld and the stupidity of his lieutenant Pelog.
Leaving the Belukara, she traveled a few blocks to her safehouse, a smaller, less popular hotel for aliens. Oparatho thought she would be going there to lay low, but in truth she had the hotel owner, a Cardassian veteran with a large gambling debt, in her pay. He had arranged for her to be given the key to enter a linked room the one she had. Once in her main room, she went straight to the bathtub and washed herself with a special soap that would chemically strip the realistic body paint off. Once her skin was fair again, she applied oil to it to make it a little darker and fixed Vulcanoid ear extensions on. She also added peculiar scars to her wrists, neck, and arms to look the next part she would play. She placed a mark on her forehead that would look like the attachment point for a limbic transducer and dressed even skankier than she'd been in her Trill guise, wearing a mid-riff bearing high-cut halter-top that seemed little larger than a bra and a very immodest skirt. She left the adjoining room as Maria t'Rillaeie, a Human/Romulan illegitimate bastard turned cheap transducer junkie, the 24th Century-equivalent of a "crack whore". She returned to the Belukara where she looked a bit out of place but obviously, to those watching her, having been hired by a occupant with peculiar sexual tastes, the kind that a transducer junkie would participate in to get her next fix. Misty had gone the extent of having Pelog rent the tenth floor room she was headed to in the name of one of Quek's associates.
Once in the room, Misty looked under the bed in the main bedroom and found the cases she'd had Pelog place. One case contained a French-made Comeau-Sainte-Martin sniper rifle with a wireless transceiver to send video images from it's scope. The other case contained a black jumpsuit, which Misty gladly changed into to get the "skank wear" off. She made sure all the lights in the room were off and walked up to and knelt at a window looking down the street, which she opened enough to get a clear shot. In a distant window at about the level of her room, she could see several Orion men talking. The building in the distance was an expansive night club and brothel, the workers mostly slaves of varying races bought by Opartho. She had very little qualms about what she was going to do next while she fitted a headset on and dialed out to Pelog. "Pelog, are you there?"
"I'm here, lady," the Ferengi replied.

"You're getting a feed. Watch closely and have my two million ready." Misty switched on the scope's video transmitter and brought the rifle up toward the window. She zoomed in enough to see, distinctly, the men in the room and their faces. She pointed her hairs on one. "Who is he?"
"That's Remar Ika'tors, one of Opartho's bodyguards."
"And him?"
"That's Opartho."
"Good. Now watch."
Misty squinted her eye a bit and with calm patience waited for her hands to settle enough to get a clear shot. When she had one, on the rear left of Opartho's head, she pulled the trigger and watched his head explode from the impact of a 10mm round.
She only had limited time now, since his bodyguards and associates would undoubtedly figure out where the shot came from. She quickly changed back into the skank wear and placed the suit and rifle back in their cases while she listened to Pelog confirm the $2 million ADN had been transferred to her account in the banks of Liechtenstein, a Human-settled planet in the Sphere. This made her overall take to be six million, two from Opartho and four from Quek, who were now both dead.
Next she went further down to another room she had pre-arranged, this time with another personal associate from the Sphere. It was a second floor room facing a different direction from which the shot would have been impossible. There she took off the Vulcanoid ears and changed into a pleasant-looking, but not skanky, dress. A set of nose ridges and contacts to make her eyes brown finished her disguise change into Romel Wenrys, a Bajoran woman and mistress to a fictional Cardassian Gul who had the papers to prove it. She called for room service and had her "belongings" transferred to a private transport that was taking her to the spaceport. Just after she left, Opartho's people began to search every room after confirming the assassin's absence from the possible shooting rooms.

At about 19:34 GST on November the 25th 2153 AST, Misty Greene, now again the Human with blonde hair - Sara Macetti - departed from Ikapar Spaceport on a Federation-registered liner, bound for Kellerman on Rymorta. She allowed herself a slight smile as the first news reports of Opartho's death were displayed. The Cardassian authorities would not bother with their more draconian measures to find Opartho's killer, as even his old allies would be happy he and Quek were dead.
On top of gaining that six million, she had another million coming to her from her old associate and friend Jane Sakata, who had arranged for her to get the data chip now hidden in Misty's belongings.
All in all, it had been a very fruitful visit to Dervak.


Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
15:03 GST



Inside the Stellar Navy headquarters for Universe ST-3, the currently-sitting SACST-3 - Fleet Admiral Alexei Simonov - was with his commanders from the other services. On the table before them, a holoviewer displayed the progress of the initial invasion. All five disputed systems were now under Alliance naval control. Two planets had surrendered so far and the other three were not long from doing the same, though all five had suffered damage to their residential cities. Thankfully, the lack of a large city on any planet had prevented the kind of hellish urban fighting that wore down even victorious armies.
Now the discussion was "Where next?" The clock was ticking now. The Cardassians would be sending everything they could spare now and unlike the Alliance, they did not have a transport bottleneck as the New Liberty Gates were going to be. A perimeter had to be established, and quickly, but without moving so fast that they could not adequately secure and maintain their units.
Now pouring over starmaps, the decision had been made to advance another five light years into Cardassian space. But General Alistair Crawford - a Royal Marine officer now in the ADNMC - had now brought up another idea. "It is my proposal," the Englishman said, "that we secure the system of Darane." He pointed on the map to Darane, a system with a majority population of Bajorans that was considered part of the Cardassian Oversight Authority of Bajor. "The only inhabited planet is Darane 4. It's planetary population is only about four hundred thousand, the vast majority of them Bajoran slave workers. Intelligence does not believe their defense troops number above 10,000, so a single Army Corps should be more than enough to secure it, supported of course by a battalion from the 10th Marine PAR (Planetary Assault Regiment)."
"And the value of the leap to Darane?" This question was asked by Air Marshal Anne Polk.
Crawford pointed to it's location on the map. "Darane not only offers us the morale victory of liberating Bajoran land so quickly..." He traced a finger from Darane to around the Cardassian Oversight Authority's borders. "....but an active naval post would give the Navy the range to effectively sever Cardassian-held Bajoran worlds from the rest of their empire. The severing of their supply lines would be of enormous strategic value."
Polk nodded. "And Darane would be a good staging point for our bombers to strike targets on Bajor. We could provide the besieged cities with daily bombing support to prevent their fall. It'll also make the transport flights the President has ordered easier to keep up."
Simonov placed his hands together before looking to General Pierre Lumet. "General Lumet?"
"It is an exposed position, Admiral. Can 5th Fleet maintain it?"
"Given the additional task forces that have finished transiting the gates, I believe so." Simonov looked from the Frenchman back to his English colleagues. "The value of this operation is clear. I will inform Washington of my support while you prepare the forces necessary. That will be all."


Menzies, New Queensland, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate AR-12
17:13 GST



It was now 13:12 local time in Menzies and the sun was going to be setting soon. New Queensland's rotation took only 20 hours compared to the Earth's 24, meaning that every week had a "catchup day" to maintain pace with Earth standard time.
The planet had been settled for centuries by Australians from the province of the same name, though it also had populations of Pacific Islanders, Indonesians, and Filipinos in some of it's regions. Menzies was on the end of a south-facing peninsula near the sub-tropics, about two hundred kilometers from the planetary capitol of New Townsville. A favored local tourism spot, Menzies was also home to about three hundred thousand people in a spread out set of suburban neighborhoods, the wealthiest being on the beach.
It was in a housing division not far from the eastern beach that the Burellis lived. They had a nice two-story home, with four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large living room with an adjoining family room, and all of the commodities of an upper middle-class/lower upper-class home. On the verge of being "wealthy", Anthony and Sonya Burelli lived comfortably with the three sons they still had in the house, from seventeen year-old Patrick down to six year-old Alex. They kept one room unoccupied for Camille, who didn't yet have a home of her own when she wasn't on deployment.
Anthony would be home from work soon, coming from the Brunswick Spacecraft Fighter Production Plant where he worked as an upper level manager commanding the assembly line that built FB-34 Avengers for the Alliance Stellar Navy and Australian Navy. Because it was summertime in Menzies, school was out and Sonya now had to deal with eleven year old Freddy and six year old Alex fighting in the living room over a video game they were playing. Patrick was undoubtedly in his room upstairs looking up holoporn (try as she might, Sonya could never manage to block his access to it) or, if he was being discreet, chatting with buddies on the Internet while playing games.
At about 13:15, Sonya walked out the front door to greet her husband as his sedan pulled up with another behind it. He got out of the car and, in the other one, she noticed Lieutenant Commander Hathford, a fellow New Queenslander who had been in the RASN (Royal Australian Space Navy) and now the ASN. Hathford was the quality assurance man assigned by the Navy to the plant. She had met him before at the celebration dinner after the Navy agreed to grant a production contract for the plant to produce new FB-43 Starfires when they were officially ordered in two years, a contract that would make millions for Anthony and Brunswick Spacecraft Inc. "Anthony, you should have told me that Commander Hathford was coming...." She noticed he looked rather pale and sick. "Is something wrong Anthony?"
He walked up and put his hands on Sonya's shoulders. "Dear, Commander Hathford went ahead and let me know before the official word came." His voice began to choke up. "Darling... Cammie.... Cammie's been killed."
There was a look of utter horror on Sonya's face even as her first mental reaction was to deny it possible. "No, no she can't be! Not my baby girl! No! NOOO!" She held onto her husband closely as they sobbed together. "Not my little Cammie! Please God no!"
From the door of the house, Freddy and Alex watched as their parents embraced and cried. And they were both able to realize why. They had lost their "big sister". Their eyes teared up while Hathford gently helped Anthony bring Sonya into the house while she continued to wail from her grief.
Some of the neighbors had by now noticed what had happened and had easily guessed why, and retiring into their homes, those that remembered Camille recalled who she had been with a tear and a smile. By the next day, the entire neighborhood would be mourning the loss of one of their own, one of many who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their homelands, their families, and what they believed to be true and righteous.



Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
17:19 GST



The military aircar pulled silently up to the Torcet home. "This will only be a minute," Relim assured his driver, the same 5th Ranker from before, before getting out of the car and heading to his home.
Samia was the first to meet him in the main hall. "Gul, we didn't expect to see you so soon."
"I'm only here briefly, then I must return to Central Command. Where are Kerma and Vertal?"
"In the kitchen making dinner for the children."
Relim nodded and walked past Samia toward the kitchen, feeling conflicted about how he would tell them the news. He entered through the door to the hall and faced both of them, preparing vegetables for the meal. "Relim, what are you doing home?" Kerma put her knife down and walked up to him. "I figured that with there being a big war you would be kept at Central Command."
"I have to return there very shortly, but I wanted to be the one to bring you the news. Kerma.... my dear... I'm sorry." A tear came down his face. "Harak is dead."
Kerma had never been one to control her emotions. Her face twisted into an expression of pain and she screamed, "No!" She beat her hands down on Relim's chest, screaming "No!" over and over again before allowing him to embrace her, tears streaming down her cheeks.
Relim looked to Vertal. She was better at controlling herself, and always had been, but there were tears flowing freely from those closed eyes, her face betraying the horrible pain in her very heart. He found himself wondering how Kerma would have reacted if, all those years ago, he had died at Harak's age.
Vertal soon found someone to release grief with. Samia entered the room, her eyes tearing up from having heard the news, and the older Bajoran woman allowed Vertal to embrace her and weep on her shoulder.
An observing Human may have been moved to tears from the very thought of a family mourning a loved one lost. But all but the most hard, cold Cardassians would be as tearful as the family. For all their reputation for cruelty, for ruthlessness, for unwavering mental discipline, Cardassians were in their heart an emotional people for whom family was the basis of all emotional existence. The sight of a family mourning the death of a beloved child, spouse, and parent was perhaps the most dreadful of any sights.
And the scene in the Torcet home would be repeated across Cardassian space in thousands of homes, as Cardassian parents, widows and widowers, and orphans mourned the loss of their family, only barely consoled in the belief that their loved ones had died for the defense and glory of Cardassia and her people.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-05 03:34pm
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Chapter 7


VKFS Pobeda, 27 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union
17:30 GST



Pobeda limped along as she had been doing for the past 24 hours while her captain grumbled bitterly in his command bridge. During every shift he'd taken, Yefim had looked at his scope and seen legitimate targets come one after the other, moving too fast for Pobeda to intercept at this speed. He could always order the reactor back to maximum safe capacity and restore all plasma flow into the warp systems, but that would mean venting plasma and thus revealing themselves. So he just kept watching the passing ships.
But at about 17:30, Yefim's attention came upon a big contact. A truly big one. He pressed a button on his chair. "Sensors, this is the Captain. What is this Contact 194?"
"Contact 194... looking at it now, Captain...... Captain, her subspace displacement signature is huge. She must be at least a hundred and fifty thousand megatonnes in mass."
Yefim's eyes widened. A one hundred megaton target?! "Is it a warship?!"
"Power output's on the low side. She's either the biggest fucker of a warship ever, or she's a superfreighter of some kind, Captain."
"Any escorts?"
"Reading up to four Cardassian warships with her. I can't determine much because her subspace displacement is partially masking their's."
Yefim nodded and did some quick thinking. "Navigation, bring up the speed and intercept data of Contact 194!"
Yuburov's answer was not long in coming. "Speed is five lyphs. Her course is towards Bajor. Interception impossible at current speed."
"And if we restored the warp coils to full?"
"Sir, we'd have to vent plasma before interception is possible."
But Yefim wasn't willing to give up this prize. "What if we were to hold off on going to 100% on the reactor until we were close? So that we could hit the target before we had to vent plasma?"
There was a smile on Muscovite's face while he ran the numbers and did his calculations. "Helm, course change Three-One-Eight Mark Three-Three-Three and prepare for further course correction. Maintain current speed." After the helmsman confirmed the new course, Yuburov looked back to Yefim. "Captain, if we go to full speed at the ten minute mark, we should intercept them with four minutes to spare before we have to vent plasma. I'd suggest venting right after we fire our first torpedo salvos."
"We will. Ready warp torpedoes! We will go to full alert ten minutes before interception!"


18:03 GST


The Pobeda was now at her interception point, and only one minute remained before the enemy was in weapons range. Yefim gripped his chair arms tightly, watching the mammoth target approach on the subspace scanners. It had to be a transport of some kind, hopefully military. A part of him worried that the Cardassians had civilian passenger ships that massive, but he didn't think it likely.
"Cardassian target coming into range in thirty seconds," Skobelova reported from her station. "I have a firing solution plotted. Tubes One, Three, and Five loaded. Opening outer doors now."
"Enemy vessels closing, Captain..."
"Steady..."
"This is Engineering. Three minutes until plasma buildup reaches critical. Venting necessary, Captain!"
"Vent when I give the word, Mister Kamarov."
Yefim watched and waited for the range to close. The timer set up on the conn counted down. 20..... 15..... 10...
"Opening inner doors! Depressurizing torpedo tubes!"
5...
"Final firing solution ready!"
3...
2...
1...
"In range now, Captain!"
"Fire!"
Three of the six forward torpedo tubes energized and expelled their lethal payloads. The torpedoes raced ahead at over twenty lyphs, closing the range in moments. The Cardassians on the target ship had no time to raise full shields before two of the torpedoes successfully hit, the third missing.
There was a massive burst of radiation where the ship had been. The sensor operator's voice crowed over the intercom. "Direct hit, Captain! She was a milk cow and she's been blown to fucking bits!"
"Kamarov, vent plasma now!" Yefim's order had come even as the sensorman declared the target's destruction. "Evasive maneuvers!"
After venting the plasma that had built up in the line, Kamarov "dialed down" the reactor and Pobeda limped away in silence while the escorts to the destroyed ship looked about for her desperately. Yefim smiled grimly. The battle was not over by a long shot, not until he got away.


CDS Yakur, 25 Light Years from Cardassia-ADN Border, Cardassian Union
18:20 GST



Gul Orcet was not in a pleasant mood as he listened to his superior, Gul Curak, vent rage at him. And the reason for that rage, and the likely end of Orcet's ambitions in the military, was the fine mist of debris that remained near his ship.
His ship, the cruiser Yakur, had been detailed to lead an escort detail for the Cardassia's Pride; the largest vessel ever constructed by an Alpha Quadrant power. Over a kilometer long and over half again as wide, the massive Pride had been built carefully in assembly fashion due to its inability to fit any conceivable dock in the Cardassian Union. It had been a prestige project, eight years in the making, to prove the greatness of Cardassian ship design, with sublight impulse drives whose development had pressed the edge of Cardassian propulsion technology further and a massive, complex warp array fueled by not one but three warp cores, as Cardassian materials and engine science simply could not build a reactor sufficient to energize the warp array required for the Pride.
Yet even this ship had been pressed into service, meant to deliver a quarter million conscripts to Bajor along with the equipment to fortify the planet to repulse an Alliance invasion. Only the Pride could deliver the bulkiest industrial parts in quantity and still deliver troops. As for the risk, it had been believed that the close escort of so many ships - 10 in total - and a passive shield system would protect from the Alliance's raiding ships.
Unfortunately, Central Command had been wrong.
One second the Pride had been there; the next, it was gone. Torpedoes to the ship's delicate, complicated engine array had caused antimatter containment to fail in the resulting power flux, an unforseen design flaw, and in a flash of energy a quarter million Cardassian soldiers and industrial equipment worth millions of industrial credits had been reduced to vapor. And all on the watch of Gul Orcet.
About the time that Gul Curak made allusions to his next posting - involving a military transport in the Expansion Frontier sectors where luxuries were non-existant, staples as expensive as luxuries, and contact with family only possible through letters due to the demands of subspace bandwidth in the underdeveloped region -- the Yakur's Sensor Operator made a report. "Gul, review of the data from the time of the attack indicates that a plume of plasma appeared on sensors for several moments before dissipating."
"And?," Orcet asked irritably.
"It had to be artificial, Gul. It was from a cloaked ship."

"Do we have any indications of a cloaked ship on sensors?"
The Sensor Operator looked over his screens. Yakur had been outfitted the prior year with Cardassia's newest sensor technology. "Some disruptions in subspace, natural... I do have a slight distortion on the scopes consistant with a ship mass, roughly one light year away." Taking a moment to confirm, he added, "Heading toward the Alliance border."
"Alert Drakar and Trexon to intercept and investigate, use maximum powered sensor sweeps and proximity-detonators on torpedoes."


VKFS Pobeda


The Pobeda was limping its way back toward Alliance territory in much better mood than it had been in before. News of the success had spread through the ship and prompted cheering and some celebration by the crew who were off-shift.
Yefim was still in the Conn. They were almost a day out from home base at current speed and what had looked to be a disappointing patrol had become one for the ages. The destruction of such a massive vessel was an achievement of Russian arms worthy of the history books. He pointedly allowed himself to wonder if he and his crew would be permitted a part in a victory parade in Moscow, now that would be a sight....
"Conn, Sensors. Two contacts are approaching our position. Cardassian, Hideki-class..
Immediately Yefim looked into his viewer. "Are we leaking plasma?", he pointedly asked.
"No, Captain," the crewman at the Conn's engineering board replied. "The plasma shunt is still working properly."
"Lizard sons of bitches," Yefim cursed angrily. ECS could cover many things, but any ship at warp would disturb subspace to a varying degree. ECS systems tried to disperse this effect enough that the subspace disruption could be light enough no operator would consider it a cloaked ship. "Conn to Engineering, Mister Kamarov, the enemy may be tracking us in subspace. Status of the ECS?"
"Functioning. The ECS field has had minor variances due to reduced power we are running our ship at. This may be permitting the subspace disruption to be prominent enough to appear on sensors."
"Recommendations?"
"None. The efficiency of the field may only be improved by improving the warp field power. To do that we would have to energize the drive and our plasma shunt would begin to be overwhelmed again, making venting necessary."
"Captain, if I may..." Petrovsky looked over from his spot in the Conn. He had been due to leave duty after their attack but asked to remain until they were sure the danger had passed. "If we drop out of warp, the subspace distortion would disappear."
"The Cardassians would figure out we were in the area, though," Yefim pointed out.
"Yes, but they could not get our exact position unless we vented plasma or fired. I propose that we wait until they enter range and fire a full forward salvo."
"Mister Skobelova, status of launcher batteries?"
Skobelova checked her station. "Enough for the Commander's proposal, Sir. We would have enough power afterward for four, maybe five torpedo launches before recharging would be required."
"Very well. Helm, bring us out of warp."


CDS Drakar


"Sir, the distortion reported by Yakur is gone." The Sensor Operator, Glin Kurcen, made his report to Gul Antelin.
Antelin considered her options. "Feed coordinates to the Helm. That could be the result of a cloaked ship dropping out of war. Signal Trexon..."
"Torpedoes set for detonation by proximity sensor or ship control," the Tactical Officer stated as Antelin made the order.
Drakar came out of warp first, Trexon still a distance away. "Running full sensor scans, focusing on plasma plumes...."


VKFS Pobeda


Yefim was still watching his scopes. One ship was in sublight range but the other was not. He contemplated emptying his torpedoes now, knowing three would probably knock the enemy out, but at the same time did not want to give the other incoming enemy a good spot to start shooting at when he arrived.
"Firing solution plotted, Captain," Skobelova reported. "All doors opened and tubes depressurized."
"Time to other ship?"
"Twenty-five seconds," was the answer from Sensors.
"Shall I fire?"
"No," he said hoarsely to Skobelova. "Firing solution on other target?"
"Final calculations waiting for when they drop out fo war," she confirmed.
The tension was palpable, sweat appearing on faces, as they waited to see their fates decided. "Target coming from war in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1..."


CDS Drakar


"Trexon has arrived, they are commencing sensor sweeps."
Antelin gave a slight nod to confirm her understanding. "Have them begin taking a position near us, if there is a ship out here then we might shoot when it attempts to attack one of us."
"Yes sir, sending your note to Gul Dranar."
"Torpedo!"
Antelin heard her Sensor Operator bellow the word, followed by the correction "Torpedoes!", with just enough time to give the maneuvering order before Drakar was hit. And it did not take the hits well. The torpedoes, of greater power than the photon torpedoes the Cardassians were familiar with, blasted Drakar's shields to failure in two hits. The third struck the vessel amidships, blasting through hull and bulkhead material and knocking out critical sections. The ship's lights flickered and died, returning a moment later in the alternate hue that indicated they were from the emergency reserves. "Our main energizer has been hit, Engineering reports auxiliary power online but with no warp capacity."
The viewscreen came back... and Antelin looked in apprehension at the sight. Trexon was gone; a spreading cloud of debris from a direct hit to the main reactor fuel storage was all that was left. We are dead was her thought as her bridge crew tried, likely in vain, to get her ship running again.


VKFS Pobeda


Yefim's look showed he was not ready to celebrate, even as Skobelova confirmed the destruction of one ship and crippling of the other. No, there were still eight Cardassian ships out here that could attack him, if he let them. This ambush had bought him time that had to be put to proper use, now.
"Set course for Kensington, Mister Yuburov, maximum speed." Before Petrovsky could say anything, Yefim picked up his mic unit. "Conn, Engineering. Mister Kamarov, set reactor for max speed and cloaking effect."
The response was immediate. "Yes, Captain."
Seeing his XO's concerned, look, Yefim explained himself. "We need to get home, Mikhail. No more crawling around out here. As for the plasma leak... better to occasionally give away our position than to risk being directly tracked."
Petrovsky nodded. "I understand, Captain."
There was a shudder in the ship as Pobeda returned to warp, a voyage of nearly a day to be cut to a voyage of maybe three hours. "Get some rest, Commander," Yefim said to his XO. "And take Second Watch with you. We should be home soon enough, I will call an alert if an emergency happens."


Ipima Valley, Bajor, Cardassian Union
22:15 GST



Ipima Valley was only about two hundred kilometers from Sal Valley, where the city of Salmio was still besieged by the Cardassians' occupation forces. its population was only about a hundred thousand, spread out into dozens of villages along the Ipima and Turba Rivers. For thousands of years, Bajorans from Ipima had quietly plowed their fields of grain and tended to their animals, only arming themselves to defend the soil they loved.
There were no Cardassians in Ipima Valley right now, as the Occupation authority considered the area "pacified". Occasionally nearby Resistance activity or labor conscription enforcement duties would spark a raid by the Anti-Insurgency Forces that would rile the locals up but nothing beyond that, and so the Ipimans quietly continued to work as they always did.
On this day, along a dirt road that wound between the two rivers and the villages along them, a band of young Bajorans from the larger coastal city of Yemenas roared along in an old ATV that predated the Occupation itself. The vehicle, powered by old-fashioned refined petroleum that was one of the few resources in abundance, roared along the dirt track, passing farms and ranches as it traveled between the towns and villages of Ipima. And upon their arrival in each place they visited, the same thing happened.
The sound of the ATV's engine roaring would draw the attention of locals, at least long enough to see the Free Bajor flag held by one of the occupants. As they gathered to see the ATV come through, the man beside the young girl driving the ATV would bring out a bullhorn and began crying out in the Turbani dialect of the Bajoran language. "Rejoice Bajor! The war has begun! Your liberation is at hand! Rejoice!"
The ATV would stop briefly, allowing the crowd to ask what he meant. And then the full speech would be given.
"The Alliance has declared war on Cardassia and has devastated our oppressors in their first attacks! They are coming to drive the Cardassians off of our world! We will be free soon! Rejoice!"
And then they would leave and the townspeople would contemplate what they heard. In some towns, they just went about their business, not wanting to rely upon a single report to think that the invincible might of the Cardassians had actually been bested.
But other towns were more accepting of the news. And in those places, celebrations immediately sprang up as jubilant Bajorans, so used to the hopelessness of slavery, prayed for a redemption that finally seemed close at hand. In one town, a citizen who had done traveling recalled from memory the image he'd seen on a Federation news cast of the Alliance flag, and after hours of work and sewing with his wife, erected a facsimilie at his home. Soon the entire town had them.
When the sun had risen, Ipima Valley's yeomen farmers had already begun their work day as they'd done in the past thousands of years, dreading silently that this might be the day that some Cardassian troops would pass by, take some notice of them, and then come to demand their crops, their meager wealth, or even worse, their daughters. But when the sun set and they returned to their homes for dinner, the dread in their hearts had subsided. Even to those unwilling to be hopeful, there was the tiniest spark there, making them think joyfully of what it would be like to live without the fear of the Cardassians that kept them terrorized from day to day.


Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
25 November 2153 AST
00:50 GST



Yatar and Kelataza exchanged salutes with Relim when they entered the main briefing room in Central Command. "Almost two million dead in thirty-six hours," Yatar lamented. "The Alliance has launched multiple invasions along our border. And we have received confirmation that the Cardassia's Pride was destroyed by a cloaked enemy ship. A cloaked ship that fired while cloaked."
"I am aware."
"Then you are aware that something must be done immediately. But instead you squander time calling in our forces so... meticulously." Yatar stabbed a finger at the map. "2nd Fleet should be counter-attacking on the Alliance border, not heading to Level as you have them!"
"If you send 2nd Fleet against the Alliance now, you will lose them." Relim was busy studying the starmap again. "I think that even you should realize how deadly the Alliance's carriers are to our fleet."
"And you would allow them to simply fly through our space unopposed?"
"I never said that." Relim met Yatar's glare for a moment before turning to Kelataza. "Legate, the threat is the Alliance's carriers. Think of them as a form of force-multiplier. They are flexible, with the ability to launch devastating strikes on our fleet. They must be removed."
"Then we send the fleet in to hunt them."
"Not quite that way, but I have something in mind. As our records from Telkur showed, the carriers are screened by their own escorts, and I'm quite sure the Alliance will have sufficient resources in the vicinity to concentrate their naval strength on a single fleet attacking their carriers. What we must do instead is a diversionary attack, which will require much of our strength to do properly. A main element of the fleet will penetrate Alliance space on a course that could threaten Kensington or New Liberty. This will force the Alliance fleet to come out and do battle. As soon as their carriers' positions are verified, the striking reserve will go after them."
"It sounds risky."
"War is risk, Legate. And would you prefer trying another general confrontation and having their carriers annihilate another fleet?" Relim tapped a few keys and brought up a listing of the four fleets in the region. 1st Fleet still officially existed, though its 536 ship roster was down to merely 134, of which only 101 were considered combat capable. The Bajoran Sector Fleet was down to 202 ships (205 had survived the battle at Zygola, but three had been torpedoed and destroyed by Alliance stealth attack ships that harrassed the retreat from Alliance space) from 500, of which only 140 were considered combat capable.
Meanwhile, the Federation Frontier Fleet and 2nd Fleet were at full strength, at 400 and 450 ships respectively. The Frontier Fleet would be arriving with 300 ships, leaving 100 along the Federation border, and 2nd Fleet would have all of its strength, adding another 750 to their cause. This gave an effective fleet total of 1,024 warships that would be in the same general area in about seven more days.
Relim now laid out how he planned to deal with the Alliance Fleet. 2nd Fleet and the remnants of 1st Fleet and the Bajoran Sector Fleet would be combined and then re-divided into three strike groups that would penetrate Alliance space, attacking targets of opportunity while on course for New Liberty and Kensington. This would hopefully draw the Alliance's carriers out, and after the confirmation of their arrival in the region, the 400 ships from the Federation Frontier Fleet would be sent in to attack the carriers that had been located. Even if they only got two or three, the blow would at least force the Alliance to hold off further offensives and buy time for Cardassia to move in 3rd Fleet and other distant assets.
Kelataza nodded in approval with the plan. They would set the launch date for eight days from now, while ordering the un-attached border squadrons to do what they could to slow or impede the movements of the Alliance's ships into Cardassia. Yatar protested this, insisting that 2nd Fleet be allowed to conduct its own operations to stop the advance into their territory, but Kelataza overrulled him. Cardassia needed a good, sound military strategy to overcome the Alliance, after all.
Of course, all three men also knew that if this failed, the career and life of Relim Torcet would end soon afterward.


WTC-3 Spirit of Bob Hope, On Sub-Orbital Approach over Bajor
09:13 GST



The WTC-3 interstellar aerospace transport craft Spirit of Bob Hope was one of sixty in the 23rd Special Transport Group of the Aerospace Force. After hours in flight from Krellor, they had successfully slipped through the plasma storms in the Badlands and rendezvoused with two squadrons of F/A-32 Thunderbolts from the James Doolittle that would escort them in to Bajor.
The enemy's Bajoran Sector Fleet was elsewhere, back at major facilities getting repairs, leaving only some light warships and attack craft to cover Bajor. The transports had their own ECSes for this kind of op, but they would be detected the instant they hit suborbit and began to produce re-entry trails.
The fighters from the Doolittle engaged first, clearing the way for the transports to make suborbit with impunity. The frames of the massive WTC-3s glowed red from friction with the upper atmosphere. The target was up ahead for the sixty crews.
Directly over the besieged city of Dolan, the WTC-3s jettisoned multiple pods from their cargo holds. The SHALO (Super High Altitude Low Opening) drop pods were made of a durable ceramic made to survive the stresses and heat of re-entry. They also contained thrust pods and a small computer system with visual sensors and the programming to ensure they landed in the proper area. Several pods fired off bits of thrust as their computers continued to calculate needed vector changes to ensure they fell in Dolan and not in the Cardassian positions around it.
By now the Cardassians had realized what was happening and a dozen attack craft launched from a base about four thousand kilometers away, bearing straight down on the transports. The first squadron finished their drop and fired their engines to escape Bajor's gravity, but the other two squadrons were still in danger. This was the dangerous part of the mission; the fighters could not enter atmosphere to help the transports.
The first Cardassian shots were absorbed by shielding, but that would not last. As the second squadron concluded its drop and pushed toward space, three compressor beams converged on a transport and blew it apart. A second transport lost one of its engines to a compressor beam.
Now the planetary defenses joined in as the third squadron finished its drop. Multiple heavy compressor cannons from planetary locations fired upward. ECM by the transports helped them to survive, but four were destroyed in ten seconds. The squadron commander ordered them to pull out before completing the drop.
Spirit of Bob Hope did not do so immediately. its crew was carrying what it considered a special cargo among its drop pods and it wanted to ensure they were delivered. So they remained a crucial five seconds to ensure their drop was complete before they tried to regain altitude.
At that point, five attack craft fired on her at the same moment, and three beams struck home. Spirit of Bob Hope and her half-dozen crew were killed instantly as their craft was turned to vapor and odd pieces of debris.


Dolan, Bajor, Cardassian Union


Straits were dire in Dolan. They were on quarter rations of food and water, and a number of wounded had refused food and water to preserve it for the children huddled in the center of the city. Ammunition for the AK-90s was low - they had run out of raw stock for replicating more - and a number of the fighters had taken ill from all the dust and pulverized concrete in the air. Everyone knew they were doomed, and most of the people would be satisfied dying in the rubble of what had been their homes if only they could get their children to safety.
It was midday in Dolan, with the sound of energy fire not-so-distant with the Cardassians again pressing the eastern quarter, when the trails appeared. High in the sky, so many of them. And as the Bajorans looked on, there were suddenly streaks of Cardassian energy fire and several small explosions. It must have been ships trying to flee Bajor, Gobens thought sadly as he looked up from where he'd been laid down with half his arm burned by a Cardassian heavy weapon's proximity hit (it had vaporized the men beside him). He closed his eyes and wept bitterly at the killing of more of his people.
Within minutes, however, something odd was happening. Cries came as Bajorans recognized small objects drifting downward. Small objects that turned out to be rather big as they came down to the ground, fast enough that one Bajoran had his arm broken when one hit him in the side. Gobens forced himself to stand as Bajorans huddled around the large trunks. Each was emblazoned with a symbol he recognized; the Alliance torch and its four-colored flame. "Open them!"
So the order went out, and Gobens could scarcely hide his glee at what was inside. The pod nearest him had a 105mm mortar and plenty of ammunition for it. Another had a heavy machine gun, and another, a high-powered anti-vehicle laser cannon with solar battery.
But that was not all. Several pods had raw replicator stocks for food as well as masses of bagged rations. His people began to gather the rations immediately, Gobens barking orders that ensured that a number were taken to the starving children they kept in the bunker of the old Cardassian HQ.
There were trunks with water, with water purifiers and condensers, and other equipment to help them stay alive. Replicator stock for making AK-90 ammunition, mortar ammunition, food, medicine. The sixty craft had each dropped several tons of supplies, enough to keep them alive just a bit longer.
Gobens attention was called to a trunk unlike the others. It, too, had the Alliance torch on it, but it had been decorated with stickers of small colorful animals, five-pointed stars, and other childish things. Gobens recalled the English he'd learned enough to read the note on the trunk. "For the children of Dolan, courtesy of the Spirit of Bob Hope.", followed by a list of six names with accompanying military rank. He pushed the trunk open with his one good arm and looked down at a collection of stuffed plushie dolls and various other things that he assumed were Human toys. He directed that the items be taken to the bunker immediately and assigned several youths to do so.
In the near distance, Gobens could hear the sounds of their new weapons being put to use. Hopefully, this would let them hold out for a little while longer. Just a little while longer....


Rupek Labor Camp, Darane, Cardassian Union
17:19 GST



Situated near a pristine valley on Darane's eastern continent, Rupek was home to about ten thousand Bajorans and around four hundred Cardassian overseers and administrators. The Rupek mines produced iron, copper, gold, and various other minerals that were of varying value to the Cardassian Union.
Standing in a room above the large mess hall for the Bajoran workers, Gul Durel and his assistant, Glin Tekis, were watching about one thousand of the Bajorans file into the mess hall. They had been told that they were being put together, group by group, to be beamed up to a waiting transport ship. Alliance forces had been detected en route to Darane and Durel was under orders to not leave Rupek's slave workers to them.
Soon the Bajorans were alone in the room. Durel nodded to Tekis, who pressed down on a button. Hidden emitters activated and filled the room with energy. The majority of the Bajorans had no idea of what was happening until they were completely disintegrated. A handful cried out in terror or fear before they disappeared and the energy in the room disappeared. "That was the last batch," Tekis said. "We are ready for evacuation."
Gul Durel nodded slowly. "You've forgotten something, Glin. There are more."
Tekis looked at Durel questioningly. "Sir, are you sure? My records say that was all of the workers."
Durel nodded once more. Several moments later, the door to the mess hall opened. Two Cardassian soldiers entered and stood guard by the door while another crowd was led in, this one composed of children as young as a few infants in the arms of older children. There were moon-faced toddlers, lanky adolescents, and everything in between. Some of the very young ones were weeping, wanting to be reunited with their parents, and the squealing and crying from the infants echoed in the hall. Tekis looked to Durel with a bewildered expression. "Sir, they're children."
"They're Bajoran children, Tekis. Our orders are to terminate all Bajorans in Rupek. The Central Command did not specify 'adult Bajorans' when they stated that, or did we read the same orders?"
Tekis' mouth opened partially. It was one thing to execute enemies of the state, but these were only children! "Sir, we're Cardassian soldiers. We're not supposed to murder helpless children!"
"We're supposed to do what the Central Command tells us to do! They told us to terminate every Bajoran in Rupek. And so we will, no matter what age they are. Now press the button."
Tekis looked to the button on his control that would activate the emitters and wipe out the children in the mess. This was completely beyond anything he had ever imagined he would have to do. There was no justification, no purpose for this order, save the spiteful bloodymindedness of members of the Cardassian command.
Durel grew angry at Tekis' pause. "Push the button, Glin Tekis."
"Sir, they're not just children! They can't possibly be enemies of the State!"
"They're Bajorans, Tekis! Even if they're just children now, that just means that by killing them we make sure that twenty years from now they won't be planting bombs or firing on our occupation troops! Get out of my way!" Durel shoved Tekis aside and went for the button.


Yerba Imina was three years old. A sweet girl with hair the color of honey, she was clothed in a colorful green shirt a size too large and pants to her ankles of white color. Crowded in with the other children, Imina clung tightly unto her green stuffed jikkila Limmi and wondered when the strange men with the spoons on their heads were going to feed her and let her be with Momma and Pappa again. She cried a little and wondered if those strange 'Prophets' that Momma always talked about were going to come and take her to Momma and Pappa.
Imina's tummy shook and she sniffled. She wanted something to eat! And so did Limmi, who she kept a tight grip on so he wouldn't get scared and run away. Because then she would be all alone, and Imina was afraid of being alone, and she wanted Momma and Pappa and something to eat and what was that bright light appearing from the walls and coming toward-....


Durel's thumb pressed down on the button. The emitters fired and within two seconds, every single child in the mess had been vaporized. A few had started to cry out when they saw the lights, while other children had remained oblivious. Tekis could not contain his horror at his commander's unreasoning cruelty. This was a disgrace to Cardassia, Central Command be damned!
After finishing the deed, Durel turned on Tekis again. "You spineless coward! When I give an order I expect it to be obeyed!" He pulled out his sidearm and put it to Tekis' head. "We are at war, Glin Tekis. I am fully within my rights to shoot you for insubordination. Imagine what that will mean to your wife and unborn child, the family of an officer executed for an act of mutiny in time of war?"
The door opened to the camp's command room and two guards came in, pushing forward a Bajoran adolescent with his hands bound behind his back. The sandy-haired boy, thin and mal-nourished, lowered his eyes as he was forced to his knees. "We found him snooping around. Looks like he got away from the others."
"Ah. Well, this is fortunate timing for you, Glin Tekis." Durel motioned with his gun for Tekis to stand and face the Bajoran boy. "Fulfill our orders, Glin. Terminate the boy and I will overlook your previous inability to follow orders."
Tekis looked from Durel and the phaser pistol in his hand and to the boy. He pulled his gun and pointed it at the Bajoran, but for several moments he could not pull the trigger. This was not what he had become an officer for. He had become an officer to fight for Cardassia against those that threatened her, not to slaughter defenseless children. He stared at the boy for a moment, exchanging looks with the youth's eyes.
Then there was the sensation of metal against his temple. "You have until the count of zero to pull the trigger or I will pull mine. Remember, if you die here, it will be for mutiny and your family will be ruined. Five."
Tekis looked at the boy's defiant glare. There was resignation in those brown eyes, Tekis saw. The boy knew he would die. He must have known all along.
"Four."
There was already a lot of blood on Tekis' hands. One more dead Bajoran would not add very much. But there was a deep sense within Tekis' soul that this was wrong. This was all wrong.
"Three."
His family! His wife and child, his parents, they would be ruined if he were killed for an act of mutiny in time of war, especially this war against a powerful enemy unlike any Cardassia had ever faced.
"Two."
His eyes and the Bajoran's eyes met once more, and the boy bowed his head and prepared for the end. How noble! was Tekis' thought. There was something about the boy that made Tekis respect him and his entire race. It made Tekis feel ashamed. Ashamed that his people had enslaved these innocent people. Tekis thought of how much shame Cardassia had gleefully accepted, shame that spread to every Cardassian, every family...
My family!
Just as Durel said, "One", Tekis pulled the trigger. A beam of energy sliced into the boy's chest. He barely cried out before the energy completely disintegrated him. Tekis lowered his sidearm and looked to Durel, who nodded. "Well done, Glin Tekis. Remember, the ship leaves in an hour. Get your things from your room and office and be back here by that time."


Durel had immediately returned to his office to check on the status of the system wide data crash that would keep their data from falling into enemy hands. As he did so, he noticed his secretary, a lovely young Cardassian in her late twenties, working diligently at her desk. "Terial, is everything ready?"
"I'm finishing final data wipes now, Gul, and my things are packed."
"Good job, young lady. I'll have a commendation recorded for you on such excellent work." Durel entered his office to finish getting his things. After he came out, he said, "Come along, Terial. We have to get going."
"I'm coming Gul." Terial smiled at him and watched him wait by the door. With his back turned and his attention on organizing the things in his hand, Terial cupped a small drinking pouch of water she'd placed on her desk and lowered her hand to beneath the desk, where her legs were. Durel did not notice the small, fair-skinned hand that reached out and took the pouch.


Durel was among the last few members of the camp staff to leave, but they were now waiting on the administration building rooftop for Tekis and Terial, who had not shown up. Being suspicious, Durel ordered the remaining technician to check the systems and see if any terminals were active and to verify that all data had been wiped. The technician checked and nodded. "Everything's clean, sir, and inactive."
"No lifesigns?"
"Just one, coming up the stairs."
Soon after the door opened and Terial exited onto the roof, favoring her left ankle and carrying her bag. "My apologies, Gul. There was some fluid on one of the stairs and I fell on my ankle."
Durel nodded and pressed his communicator. "Umaral, this is Durel. One more to beam up, in need of minor medical attention. Lock on to Specialist Yekata's signal."
"Yes, Gul," was the reply. A few moments later, Terial was beamed up to the transport ship.
"Sir, the vanguard of the Alliance fleet will be in weapons range in thirty seconds. We must leave!"
Durel bit his lip. That fool Tekis had gone off somewhere and was going to get himself killed or captured. Oh well, one less coward to worry about. No doubt Central Command will do a fair job discrediting that weakling if he's captured and says anything stupid. "Durel to Umaral. Bring us up now."
And for the last time, Durel looked out at Rupek as it dissolved from his sight. The small camp, really a bit of a town, was now lifeless.
Mostly.


18:40 GST


Having landed nearby, a platoon of the 105th Mechanized Battalion, 222nd Division, rumbled into Rupek and dispersed to investigate it. Life signs had been detected, though far less than expected. Considering attempts by other camps to exterminate their prisoners, the worst was feared.
One squad made its way through the administration building in the middle of the camp. They fanned out and used their helmet HUDs and the comm network with the ships in orbit to track the position of the life signs.
One pair, Corporal Collins and Private Takahara, finally made their way into the reception area for Gul Durel's office. They entered and looked around the spartan room, noticing the remaining computer terminals on the secretary's desk. Just as they were about to check the office itself, a high-pitched whine came from nearby. They brought their weapons up and looked toward the secretary's desk as the whine turned into a steady cry. Collins nodded to Takahara, and the young half-Japanese woman walked over to the desk and looked underneath.
Cramped in where the secretary's legs would've gone were three Bajoran children. The eldest, a girl who looked to be about six or seven by Human standards, was holding the newborn infant which had just woken up and begun crying. She stared at them with bright green eyes, as did the third child, a boy of about two or three who was curled up opposite her with their legs intertwined and their backs up against the legs of the desk. "Corporal, take a look at this!" Takahara backed up and allowed Collins to look. The Bajoran girl said something to them, and their Higgins-Parkinson ICDH-IIs (Infantry Combat Data Helmets, the name given by the corporation that produced it) immediately ran the words through the comm network they were hooked up to and displayed on their HUDs a translation: "My brother is hungry."


Down the hall, Privates DiCola and Lang walked into another office. Passing by a reception room that had been cleaned out, they entered the office proper and brought their guns up at the sight of a Cardassian laying back in his seat. They walked up to either side and noticed two things; the man's sidearm on the ground below his limp hand and a small data device on his desk. His eyes were closed and half his head blackened and charred from a point-blank energy discharge. DiCola reported the find to the rest of the platoon and picked up the device in the man's hand. A simple press against the main button began playing the recorded file the man had left in mechanical sounding English, the dead man's face on the device's display screen as he spoke.
"I am Elim Tekis, 1st Rank Glin of the Cardassian Defense Forces and Senior Assistant to the Camp Commandant, Gul Durel. I leave this message as a confession. A confession to my beloved wife and unborn child, to the Humans coming to save the Bajorans, to the Bajorans themselves, and to Cardassia. I have been both witness to and perpetrator of many evil things that happened here at Rupek..."


Kathil Shipyards, Kathil, Federated Commonwealth
Universe Designate MWB-32
20:10 GST



For centuries, the Shipyards at Kathil had been one of the great prides of the Federated Suns as one of the few remaining facilities that could service JumpShips. Today, it was still a pride of the Federated Commonwealth, as it was the first shipyard to undergo technological upgrade under the Technology Acquisition Act passed by the Estates General in February 2149 AST - July 3048 Inner Sphere time..
Fifty-eight months and four point fifteen trillion kroner later, the FCS Alexander Davion was sitting in Spacedock 1 - the first large capacity "slipway" built at Kathil, her construction contracted from New Strathcylde Shipbuilding from Britain in Universe Designate SE-1 - and a crowd had now gathered for her formal launching ceremony. Kym Hasek-Davion was to christen the ship, the first of her class, a design created by a joint team from Federated-Boeing, the New Avalon Institute of Science, and New Strathcylde.
Alexander Davion was the first "modern" capital warship to be built by the Federated Commonwealth and this situation was so momentous that Hanse Davion was amongst the dignitaries witnessing her launch. She was over twenty-five times more massive than the Star League's vaunted McKenna - due to her sublight speeds, long-range weaponry, and sophisticated sensors she could have likely defeated every McKenna the SLDF had possessed before they could even enter their own weapons' range. Extrauniversal naval analysts had classified the ship and its line as "missile battleships" due to the continuing preference for missile capability by the FCN.
And this was only the beginning. In Spacedock 2, the skeleton of the FCS New Avalon was visible. The Tharkad-class dreadnoughts - FCS Tharkad was being built at Alarion - would be even larger and more powerful, comparable to the Alliance's Tirpitz-class. Hanse's ambitions for a great and powerful star navy extended further; work was beginning on the Royal Shipyards at Tharkad and New Avalon. Unlike Galax, Kathil, Alarion, and other minor facilities, the Royal Shipyards would be built completely in extrauniversal style, with literally dozen of slipways for building ships of a wide variance of tonnage and every bit the equal of the great shipyards of the Allied Nations; the majestic shipyards at New Strathclyde SE-1, the massive docks of New Virginia AR-12, or the grand shipyard complex of New Israel FHI-8 over the moon Solomon. They represented Hanse's dream of bringing the Federated Commonwealth into the Multiverse at large as a respectable power, not a collection of ruined neo-feudalist worlds.
It would be an extrauniversal matter that the reporters would concentrate on in the following conference. The war in the Alpha Quadrant was the big news. The Alliance's smashing victory, which recovered for them the lost prestige from their early setbacks against Myndo Waterly and her Blakist fanatics from the previous year, was among the subjects, as was another one.
The call for war had begun with the attack on Hermocrates. Since then, there had been several more instances of the Cardassians harrassing ships of the Federated Commonwealth, now particularly emboldened by the Federation forbidding Alliance vessels from Federation space for the duration of hostilities. There had been fiery debate in the Estates General for war and many of Hanse's vassals supported the idea (save, of course, for Ryan Steiner and James Sandoval, as the former wanted to attack Rasalhague to reclaim Tamar Pact worlds and the latter wanted to focus on "home front" issues and facing the Draconis Combine).
And now there was increasing public support as well. News had broken of a massacre of Cardassian religious dissidents on Yuvar, making the Cardassians seem even worse as they were clearly slaughtering their own people as well as Bajorans. The attacks on the shipping of the Federated Commonwealth and the nuclear attack on Gytep had most people of the Commonwealth, on both sides, clearly anti-Cardassian, and pro-war sentiment was rising steadily.


Hours after the christening ceremony, Hanse Davion was in a planetside wardroom with his two senior defense advisors; his nephew, Marshal of the Armies and Duke of the Capellan March Morgan Hasek-Davion, and Sir Alex Mallory, head of the Intelligence Secretariat and Justin Allard's replacement. That was a wound still fresh, as the first anniversary of Justin's murder by a Maskirovka agent was nearing, coinciding perfectly to the beginning of Myndo Waterly's ill-fated attempt to drive the Alliance out of the Inner Sphere and rally the creation of a Blakist overthrow of the Successor States following such a victory. The Alliance had been unprepared to fight such an opponent - though even Hanse had been surprised to hear that Waterly had used nuclear weapons to repel an invasion of Terra - but the great strength of the extrauniversal juggernaught had been too much for Myndo and had led to the fall of Terra in the second and better-prepared invasion, the Cradle of Humanity now ruined by a fanatical ComStar scorched earth campaign and being slowly rebuilt by the Alliance despite an ongoing Blakist insurgency.
As for Justin, if Candace had not smuggled herself back into the Confederation to settle the score personally, Hanse would have gladly completed what he'd started a quarter century before. He still contemplated it though offending Candace was a cost he didn't want to pay yet. And now he had a better opportunity to test the new army he had been building for the last five years.
"Waging a war in the Alpha Quadrant is not a very easy proposition to consider." Morgan, as the host of the occasion, poured the other men a few drinks. "Unlike the Alliance, we have no stocks of parts and equipment built up in the New Liberty Zone. The logistics will be difficult to say the least. And would we be there to support Alliance operations or wage our own?"
"You're going to need something for the populace to justify the human cost, Your Highness. A world or two at least."
"I think that could work." Hanse took the drink Morgan offered. "The initial reports from observers seem to show the Cardassians as being little more than lightly-armed infantry."
"Well, not so lightly-armed, Highness. But the doctrines of the great powers of the Alpha Quadrant seem to be in favor of focusing on control of space with infantry to clean up enemies in confined positions on-planet. The Cardassians' army seems dedicated to fighting such foes or to dealing with domestic insurgencies and rebellions. I'm starting to think that even non-upgraded units would have a fair chance of defeating them."
Hanse nodded at Morgan's remark. "True. On this subject, what units have finished the New Army upgrades?"
"All of the active Federated Commonwealth RCTs. The 10th and 30th Lyran Guards, the Davion Heavy Guards, and the 1st Davion Guards as well, and the 1st Federated Suns Armored Calvary has finished upgrading its armored battalions with vehicles using extrauniversal technology. July 3053 is still our scheduled date for the complete upgrading of the entire order of Lyran Guards and Davion Guards RCTs. Then we'll get to work on the other units; Donegal Guards, Crucis Lancers, Lyran Regulars..."

"We're already making the Estates General unhappy with the focus on military upgrades, Highness." Mallory looked up from where he'd swallowed some of the scotch offered by Morgan. "Fighting a war in another universe is going to cost even more money."
Hanse nodded slowly at that. "The prestige is the great prize. Right now, gentlemen, the Multiverse at large thinks of us as little more than primitive feudalists who can barely manage cold fusion. At best, we're quaint traditionalists, and at worst? There are posters in colleges across the Alliance calling for my violent overthrow and the annihilation of the noble class of the Commonwealth."
"But that doesn't change anything here," Mallory pointed out.
"Not for now. But it should be changed. Think of what would have happened if the Alliance had been like the Clans? We would not be having this conversation. And if the Alliance can come here, so can other powers. Gentlemen, if we are to continue to rule ourselves, we must move on and we must think outward. A war with Cardassia would gain prestige for the Commonwealth. It would give us a place at the peace table. We don't need to keep Cardassian worlds but we could force concessions in materials and funds to return them, enough to more than make up for our expenses in fighting the war. Finally, it continues to ingratiate the Alliance to us. Better to ensure that they feel indebted to us for aid than to assume they'll always be in agreement with our interests."
Having taken a drink, Mallory asked, "So you've decided to join the war, Highness?"
"Not completely. Best to let the press continue whipping up public sentiments for a few days while we wait and watch to see how the war goes." Hanse looked to Morgan. "Get together the units you think will be best for an initial offensive and get the necessary transport and supplies for them. In the meantime, I will send orders to Washington for Dresari to speak with Mamatmas on Alliance support for a Commonwealth entry into the war. If the Alliance will not grant us basing and movement rights, then this entire discussion has been nothing more than an academic exercise."



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-05 03:35pm
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USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D, En Route to Quo'noS, Federation Space
Universe Designate ST-3
20:50 GST



The daily activities of USS Enterprise went on as they usually did, the crew mostly ignoring the fact that they were heading into Klingon space for their captain to decide the new leader of the Klingon Empire. A handful were paying attention to the developing war between the Alliance and Cardassia, mostly those who had been involved in fighting Cardassia themselves.
It was now breakfast time for the senior officers and, as happened on occasion, Captain Jean-Luc Picard was partaking in his ready room, though his appetite had been neatly destroyed by what he was witnessing on his main monitor. After the sound of his door chime came twice, Picard called for the person on the other side of the door to come in.
It was Riker who entered, carrying with him a PADD undoubtedly loaded with the usual bureaucratic forms that were part of the day-to-day running of a ship. He noticed the expression on Picard's face and asked, "Sir, are you okay?"
"Just watching Humanity at its worst, Number One." Picard turned his monitor around so Riker could watch the screen.
It was a live feed from an Alliance news station, likely being transmitted from the Triangle. The scene was presumably on one of the worlds the Alliance's ground forces were invading, with troops running about as a reporter covered his helmeted head instinctively from the whistling sound of a shell, which exploded somewhere off-screen. "....fighting near the town of Ikim here on Darane. An estimated two to three thousand Cardassian troops that failed to evacuate before the Alliance arrival are holed up in what the local Bajorans call the Fortress of Death. Can we get a shot..... good." The reporter disappeared as his cameraman twisted his camera to show a distant mountain-top, with high walls clearly visible despite the distance. "Ikim has been under constant shelling for the past hour, starting when troops from the 512th Division began securing the town. Now, most of the troops have withdrawn and are attempting to assault Ikim Fortress, but there are still a few here sweeping through town..." - there was another explosion and the reporter paused - "...still a few here sweeping through town to find Bajoran civilians and evacuate them."
Riker watched for a few more moments before looking away. Picard brought the monitor back around and said, "Computer, mute audio." Looking back to where Riker was bringing a seat up, Picard accepted the PADD from him. "I've been watching it on and off since we received first confirmation of the Alliance declaration of war."
"I've heard the Cardassians have already suffered over a million dead."
"They have." Picard sighed and went to the replicator. "Frankly, I'm not sure which side is the most deplorable."
"A million for twenty-five hundred seems pretty damned unfair, if you ask me."
"Of course it does, Number One. But I hardly think the Cardassians are an innocent party. Rather, all of these dead - on both sides - are just unfortunate victims of the kind of bloodshed that occurs when two militant governments decide to settle their disputes with violence instead of diplomacy." Picard turned back to the replicator. "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." After the accompanying whirring sound and sparkle of light, a fresh cup of Picard's favorite beverage was ready. "Want anything, Number One?"

"That won't be necessary." Riker watched Picard head back to his seat. "I took the time to read over some of the material from the Alliance. It's not all bad. They have their own anti-war factions and peace activists, but it's hard to imagine the kind of thinking that leads to all of these articles and opinions calling for total war over a single refugee camp."
"'An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind'," Picard said in agreement. "Though I'm sure some of the more respectable pro-war speakers from the Alliance would counter with, 'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'"
"I'd hardly call the incineration of a million Cardassians the act of good men."
"Yet it's been done before. Hiroshima, Nagasaki, various other incidents through the many different courses of Human and non-Human history. And the Alliance's leadership believes that, like the Allies, they were fighting an evil power to defend their territory and to rescue a race of people from enslavement."
Riker was silent for a moment. "I still can't see how that justifies such large scale destruction. We outgrew that kind of thinking centuries ago."
"Indeed, Number One. But they didn't. They didn't have Khan and the Eugenics Wars, or Colonel Green and the Third World War. They had their own wars, yes, but nothing so destructive as to make all of Humanity reconsider itself." Picard sipped his tea. "Over the past year or so, I've started to read some of their histories. It's easy to see where they get some of their attitudes and their militarism. In Universe SE-1, they had Armand Giuseppe's violent Pan-Humanist movement and the Third World War as the result. In PA-6 and AR-12, radical Islamist uprisings against the governments of Europe led to wars that killed untold millions. In Universe FHI-8, the disintegration of the United States heralded an era of war that resulted in Europe being taken over by neo-fascists, Britain reverting to an authoritarian monarchy, and the near extermination of Earth's Arabs. Earth DN-9 was subjected to an alien attack in the early 21st Century." After breathing in a long sigh. "It's like history returned to life. They don't think like we do, Number One. Instead of coming to the stars to explore as we did, they never changed. Their wars convinced them that they had to remain armed and powerful to resist attack. So they remained the same, fighting and squabbling against themselves for so many reasons..."
"And what can we do against that, Captain? How do you convince them to try peace?"
"You can't, not until they feel safe. Until then, well..." Picard looked back at the monitor. "We can do nothing but watch as they and the Cardassians kill one another en masse."


21:33 GST


Seated alone in his quarters, with Keiko doing her work in the arboretum, Miles O'Brien watched the monitor on the table play footage from the ongoing war between the Alliance and Cardassia. "Troops have reportedly begun to enter the fortress here at Ikim," the man on the screen stated. "As all of you have probably noticed, the artillery barrage against the fortress seems to have succeeded and the shelling has subsided, hopefully for good. Now... here! Here, zoom in there!" The reporter's frantic motions caused the cameraman to zoom in on the distant fortress. O'Brien could make out the sight of a flag being raised against the orange twilight sky of Darane. The circle of stars and torch with a four-colored flame was barely visible against the brightness of the Darane sun. "Viewers back home, Alexis and Jeff in the studio, it looks like our troops did it! The flag of the Allied Nations is now clearly visible over Ikim Fortress!"
There was some cheering around the reporter from the troops he was standing with. O'Brien smiled softly and raised the small glass of whiskey he'd gotten from Guinan, thinking of all the comrades he'd lost in one way or another because of the Cardies, including Captain Maxwell. "Good show, lads. Give the Cardies hell, they deserve every bit of it." He took the drink, hoping to hell he'd never let Keiko hear him say such things, and turned the news off.


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
26 November 2153 AST
00:10 GST



It was just past seven in Washington and Mamatmas had been forced to cancel a pre-planned dinner date with his wife and other family to attend a war briefing that the Joint Command Staff was holding for him and the other senior members of the Security Committee. They were seated now in the Pentagon, a holomap of the Colonial Zone and its surroundings hovering over the circle-shaped table in one of the briefing rooms. Systems were marked in color by who held them; blue for the Alliance, red for Cardassia, yellow for the Federation.
The map had been marked to show the current offensive. The damage to the Cardassian 1st Fleet and Bajoran Sector Fleet had removed the forces that could effectively stop an Alliance offensive for the moment, so the military was going a bit further than planned. Though originally only the five disputed systems and a line of systems within 5 light years of the border were going to be taken, the line had been expanded to fifteen light years, judged a proper barrier but requiring most of their remaining Army and Marine Divisions to complete. Some systems were still glowing, indicating that one or more planets was technically under contest.
Off toward Bajor was another system that had been marked, at the twenty light year range. Darane was now labeled blue instead of the Cardassian yellow.
"The Cardassians opted to evacuate Darane, so all we caught were a few collections of company-sized detachments and the two thousand or so Cardassian troops that had taken refuge in Ikim Fortress." General Taggert was giving the briefing. "Darane is now officially secured."
"Are we going to seize any systems between Darane and the border?" asked Takahara.
"No, ma'am, not currently. It's rather unnecessary, since most of the occupied systems are only mining colonies and the like, very little in the way of enemy troops or value. Nor is it necessary. Because of the victory at Zygola, we currently have control of the local spacelanes."
"Don't you think the Cardassians' sector fleet will try to kick us out of Darane?"
"Yes we do, Mister President," Chief Admiral Hollingwood replied. "We've detached the two task forces of 14th Fleet to hold Darane. That should be enough force until the Cardassians move up reinforcements. By then we hope to have completed the transitting of 14th Fleet's other task forces."
"And 5th Fleet?"
"We've managed to replace roughly half of her lost numerical strength, though that's just in terms of ships destroyed at Zygola. Our real losses were higher and it will be another week or so before 5th Fleet's replacements can arrive."
"Do you want to call in any national forces to reinforce the fleet?"

Collingsworth looked to Longwell before shrugging. "We haven't seen the need for support from the national navies yet. The national navies of Iran, East Africa, and Britain are deploying on their own accord for defending their holdings in the Colonial Zone, freeing the Stellar Navy up for fighting the war."
At that moment, one of the glowing systems became normal. "Felvar's been secured," Taggert said. "Things are proceeding well. It looks like we caught the Cardassians napping."
"Most of this confirms our appraisal of their planning. They never bothered deploying more ground troops to the frontier worlds because the way the local powers think focuses entirely upon the use of their naval contingents. Troops only move in after the navy has completely secured supremacy. We probably won't hit heavier resistance until we advance in that area again." Commandant Tokugawa looked to Mamatmas. "Assuming we actually do advance there again."
"A good point, Commandant, which brings me to the Committee's next question." Mamatmas kept his hands folded on the table in front of him. "How is the deployment of Army troops going?"
Taggert finished a sip of coffee before answering. "We've engaged with sixty divisions organized into four Armies - 4th, 5th, 8th, and 12th - all along the front. Currently we haven't organized them into a seperate Army Group command and they are still under the Sector Army Commander's authority as individual Armies. But they will be designated as 1st Army Group when we finish the planned reinforcements in the next two weeks."
"How is that going?"
"Currently our reserve is made up of four Corps, eighteen divisions in all. By this time next week we expect to have an extra sixty divisions in place. Of course, that means we're beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel for our available reserves. If we take any more divisions out, we'll be reducing our defenses on other fronts. We may have to ask for national army units to be used for filling in."
"Then we will. I don't want this war to linger. Best to get it over with, and since we're on the point, how soon until we can invade Bajor itself and what kind of plan do we have for it?"
Tokugawa and Taggert were both looking at figures. "Well, sir, our war plans call for a three wave invasion. The First Wave would consist of fifty divisions, ten Marine and forty Army, landing and securing key regional points. The Second Wave would be another fifty divisions, all Army, to begin active offensives, and a Third Wave of fifteen to twenty-five divisions would establish a reserve."
"That's quite a lot of troops," Rathbone said. "You're looking at what? Two and a half million ground troops?"
"According to figures, the Cardassians have five million combat personnel on Bajor. Even assuming our current formula for factoring in their technological disadvantage and lack of heavy weapons, our calculations for needed force requires to have half of their available numbers to win a guaranteed victory. There's no other way around it, Mister President."
"And while the Army uses its numbers to take Bajor, the Corps can secure the other Bajoran-majority worlds around Bajor," Tokugawa explained. "We currently have ten divisions in the Colonial Zone or engaged against the Cardassians. Another twenty are being sent, along with three divisions of US Marines from each American member nation in the Alliance, save for Universe HM-1."

"So, how long?"
"Operation: Crusader's current D-Day is 12 December, sir. Almost three weeks away."
Mamatmas nodded. "I see. But can Dolan and the other two besieged cities hold out that long?"
"Salmio and Verta are in no danger of being taken as of this time. Through Project Prometheus, anti-MET field generators were made available to all of the resistance forces involved in those rebellions, so the Cardassians cannot conduct their usual surprise transporter attacks, and Salmio and Verta are located in valleys that are easily-defendible. In fact, not only is Verta under siege, but three hundred square kilometers of arable farmland around them, all in the valley, providing plenty of food and breathing space. As for Dolan..." Bronson looked to Longwell. "Marshal Longwell can probably explain."
"Our first two supply drops met with resistance, Mister President, and we've now lost about twenty-eight transport craft despite the escort of naval starfighters. But now we have Darane, which is close enough to Bajor that it is within range of our warp-capable aerospace fighters. I've already made the orders for airfields to be prepared for the 14th Long Range Fighter Wing, 4th Special Transport Wing, and 21st Strategic Bomber Wing. This will aid supply efforts immensely as well as allowing us to bomb Cardassian positions threatening the besieged cities."
"And speaking of Darane, Mister President, the Navy is moving in a Prefab Naval Facility to place in orbit over Darane 6. It will be capable of field repair and maintainance of lighter warships, specifically our stealth attack ships, which will aid tremendously in cutting their occupation forces' lines of supply. Additionally, we are establishing supply dumps on Darane 4 itself to maintain our fleet. That will take two to three weeks to finish."
Mamatmas nodded. "One final item. Marshal, you've mentioned using bombers against Cardassian assets on Bajor. Non-atomic, I assume?"
"Yes. Non-atomics, Mister President. We'd be using plasma and thermobaric weapons."
"And will there be strategic attacks on targets near Darane?"
"Maybe later, Mister President. But we don't want to push the Cardassians too far, otherwise they might decide to just start slaughtering Bajorans. Though I won't rule out attacks on strategic facilities with non-atomic weapons."
President Mamatmas nodded at that. "Well, it seems everything in order." Mamatmas stood. "Gentlemen and ladies, please continue your fine work. It may take a while, but I feel we can win this war decisively so long as we put our minds to it. I hope you all have a good evening."


Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
00:14 GST



Relim, Kelataza, and Yatar were once again meeting, now with Home Fleet's commander Gul Jural in attendance. So far they were proceeding as scheduled for their counterattack, but Relim was now finding out there was a new wrinkle to be dealt with.
"We cannot allow the Alliance to solidify its hold on Darane," Yatar insisted. He stabbed a finger at the map, pointing to Darane and then tracing a neat line to show how easily it could be used to sever Cardassia's supply lanes to Bajor. "The fleet must attack and drive them out before they arrive in force."
"We can easily shift our planned operation to Darane," Relim suggested. "The Alliance will want to defend Darane for those very same reasons. We can draw out their carriers for our reserves to attack."
"Seven days is too long," Yatar insisted. "We must strike before then. The remains of 1st Fleet and the Bajoran Sector Fleet could be used."
"Commit them piecemeal, Yatar, and you'll lose them," Relim scoffed. "We must strike all at once to get at the carriers."
"Dammit, Torcet, you've gotten cowardly in your dotage," was Yatar's angry reply, making Relim's cheeks flush with anger. "These people killed your son! Don't you want to wash your hands in their blood?!"
"That is not a luxury that can be afforded," Relim replied through clenched teeth. "We are facing an enemy of incredible power. They have weapons and technologies we do not possess and they have a will for killing as strong as our own. If we do not use our brains to outwit them, they will crush our fleets until there is nobody to keep them from reducing Cardassia Prime to rubble!"
"We cannot afford to have our links to Bajor severed, Gul Torcet," Kelataza said, now effectively intervening. "Do you have any thoughts on how we can keep the Alliance from securing its hold?"
"Legate, it is better to have the links severed briefly and then restored by victory than it is to lose from haste and have them severed forever." Relim shook his head and pointed to Yatar's plan. "Our reserves are low, but Gul Hergata would squander portions of our strength for his plan. It is better to preserve what we have for the plan against their carriers."

Now, finally, Gul Jural spoke up. "Legate, I need not remind you that the Operations Commission is insistant that we need to maintain our position on Bajor. The loss of Darane threatens that."
Relim scowled. Now Operations, the bureaucratic and political arm of the military, was sticking their noses in. They were the kingmakers these days, and Relim knew Kelataza would follow their desires over the advice of the actual combat arms. "So Gul Keve wants us to try and reclaim it immediately?"
"As soon as possible, sir."
And that was it. Kelataza looked to Relim. "Gul Torcet, the Federation Frontier Fleet and 2nd Fleet are on their way already, yes?"
"Yes."
"How soon until they arrive?"
"The Frontier Fleet will begin arriving in twenty-four hours and will finish in about fifty-four. 2nd Fleet won't arrive for another six or seven days."
"Then I will allow the Frontier Fleet time to arrive before we launch a counter-attack on Darane. Sixty hours or so from now should suffice, don't you think?"
"Yes, Legate," Relim said quietly, his mind racing as he tried to think of how to make this work with fewer ships. It all depended on how fast the Alliance brought forces to Darane.
"Then it's settled. We will counterattack at Darane in sixty hours. Gentlemen, please go and make the arrangements for this future victory."
And with that last bit of bravado, the meeting concluded.


Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
27 November 2153 AST
14:19 GST



Tobis had not waited long before asking Ambassadors Parmika and Kercet to meet with him. It had taken days to get them to agree. But now Kercet and Tobis were seated, waiting for Parmika to enter.
Parmika arrived at just the right time, wearing his usual business suit with a PDA in hand. Tobis didn't really like the Motorola ZS1510 Parmika favored. It seemed archaic compared to the nice, flat PADD found in the Federation. He didn't look at either men before sitting down. Tobis cleared his throat and said, "Well, gentlemen, now that you're here, hopefully we can arrange for some common ground to end this bloodshed before more lives are lost. Ambassador Kercet, what are your government's terms?"
"Very generous, President Tobis." Kercet looked Parmika head on and handed him a PADD. "The official text of the proposed armistice terms is there, but I shall spare you the need to read through it. We will cede Yuvar, Yevel, Lorvarak, Itilcet, and Opara to the Alliance and agree to demilitarize all systems within ten light years of the Alliance border. A payment in gold-pressed latinum would be made as reparations for the... regrettable incident with Gytep, a payment worth about two point five billion of your Alliance dollars I believe. We also promise to withdraw half of our occupation troops from Bajor within the next year and to begin preparations for making the Bajoran-inhabited worlds of our Empire an autonomous province of the Cardassian Union with full native rule. You would, of course, withdraw from Darane and the other systems you've occupied and have no claim to and you would repeal your Bajoran Freedom Act."
Parmika skimmed the text and handed it back to Ambassador Kercet. "Ambassador, the terms of the Alliance are as follows.
First, you will withdraw from Bajor completely and without question and will recognize the right of the Bajoran race to be completely sovereign and independent.
Second, you will cede Yuvar, Yevel, Lorvarak, Itilcet, and Opara to the Alliance.
Third, your government will pay twenty-five billion Alliance dollars as reparations for Gytep and attacks on Alliance shipping. You will also turn over for trial those responsible for the attack on Gytep, the massacre of the Jokaravites of Evelek on Yuvar and one Gul Durel, Commandant of the Rupek Labor Camp on Darane, for the massacre of the Bajoran laborers held there."
Kercet smirked. "Those terms are unacceptable."
"Then this meeting is concluded." Parmika stood from his chair.
"Ambassador, please!" Tobis rose to his feet. "This is merely the opening round. Now that you've laid your positions out, it's time to compromise."
"Very well. We'll reduce the demand for reparations down to twenty billion," Parmika replied.
"We will not just abandon our sovereign territory like that, Ambassador!" Kercet pounded his fist on the table. "Bajor must remain a part of the Union if there is to be peace!"
"No, Ambassador Kercet, Cardassia must accept a free and independent Bajor for there to be peace."
As Parmika turned to the door, Tobis cried, "Ambassador, please, be reasonable!"
"Reasonable, President Tobis?" Parmika turned around. "Do you consider the Cardassian occupation of Bajor to be reasonable? The forced labor camps, the summary executions, the taking of young women to be courtesans for their officers? They murdered thousands of Bajorans on Darane just to keep them from being liberated! And you're asking me to be reasonable?" Parmika straightened his posture. "If you would take off your ideological blinders and look at the situation equally, you would see that Cardassia started this war. Cardassia has been slaughtering innocents. Well, we know these things, and that is why we will be expelling them from Bajor one way or the other."
Kercet jumped to his feet. "We will never let you steal our sovereign territory! We'll sweep Bajor clean of life before we let you seize it from us!"
"Ambassador, you don't want to do that." Parmika's voice was low and threatening. "If you think genocide will get you out of this, you're wrong. In fact, you'll just make things worse. My people have issues about genocidal societies. The last one we encountered was the Agresskan. And the Allied Nations bombed the Aggies back into the Stone Age." Parmika noticed Tobis' frown while Kercet's face was dominatedby an expression of rage. "This meeting was a waste of time. Call me back when Cardassia's willing to accept our terms."
With that said, Parmika left.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-07 01:00am
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Chapter 8


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
19:56 GST



A handsomely-dressed figure walked into the waiting room for the Oval Office and smiled at the slightly overweight lady at the desk. To the eyes of Sir Peter Dresari, the younger brother of the ruling Duke Eric Dresari of Kentares in the Federated Commonwealth's Draconis March, she looked to be in her twenties at the most, but Sir Peter had long learned that amongst the extrauniversals looks could be deceiving. "Ambassador Dresari, Sir, please be seated," Ms. Henley said. "The President will be with you shortly."
Dresari nodded and took a seat in one of the plus chairs, looking over the artifacts in the room. Bronze busts of the American Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and both Roosevelts were on a few of the tables, while on the wall beside the doors to the Oval Office there was a hanging photograph of Tatyana Ivanova, the famous Russian President of the late 21st Century in Universe SE-1 that restored Russia to her pre-World War III power (Dresari figured that the ADN's first President, Rodislav Plotinikov, had left it and his successors hadn't removed it). The wall behind Ms. Henley had a framed picture of Mamatmas' inaugeration and that of his predecessor, Jennifer Verdes. Verdes, who had resigned upon her diagnosis with the terminal neurological disease Gephardt's Syndrome, was now dying in a hospice, reportedly suffering increased bouts of dementia.
Dresari could faintly hear shouting from inside the office, making him wonder just who was in there with Mamatmas. That question was answered when the door flew open and he could clearly see the dark-skinned figure in traditional Japanese robes standing there, his back turning toward Dresari and Henley so he could see Mamatmas. Ambassador Mitsuharu Toyama's voice, speaking in accented English, betrayed the anger obvious from his posture. "The Dragon will not forget this insult!" He slammed the door closed and turned to face Dresari. Briefly the angry expression turned into a sneer. "Ah, Ambassador Dresari."
"Ambassador Toyama," Dresari replied with a diplomatic smile. "A pleasure as always."
"I do not suppose you could answer the question that has occupied many minds on Luthien, Ambassador? We would all be most interested to know whom is who's lapdog!"
The smile slowly faded from Peter's face, though not from the anger that Toyama had sought to provoke. "Typical Kuritan thinking. Master and slave. No room at all for equals with shared interests. By the way, how is life on Luthien? Has Coordinator Takashi finished his investigation to find the scoundrels who slit his son's throat and put a knife into his daughter-in-law's belly? And then there was that horrible mishap with poor young Minoru."

Toyama's nostrils flared and he stormed off, Dresari allowing himself a small smile. Goading self-proclaimed samurai could be dangerous at some places, particularly places where they were allowed to carry their swords, but it was still amusing to see their blood rush into their cheeks from rage.
"Ambassador Dresari." Mamatmas' voice from inside the office prompted Dresari to turn. "Please, come in. And would you mind closing the door?"
Dresari walked into the Oval Office and closed the door behind him. "The Combine Ambassador seemed most upset. This is about Omi Kurita, isn't it?"
"Yes. The Combine seems to have very little tolerance for the way our government works. Ambassador Toyama and his masters back in the Imperial City think that I have the authority to easily overturn the ruling of an Alliance Court of Justice. They're not very happy that three educated judges ruled unanimously that Omi Kurita had proven her life would be endangered if she were returned to the Combine and that she be granted political asylum in the Alliance. Apparently, it's very embarrassing to Takashi Kurita that his own granddaughter needs foreign protection from his own supporters." Mamatmas motioned to a plush chair in front of his desk, which Dresari took. Left unmentioned was the recent abduction attempt on Rymorta, something Mamatmas didn't want to advertise and which, he suspected, the FedCom government would know of soon enough anyway. "So, Mister Ambassador, what can I do for you today?"
"This will only take a few minutes, as I'm sure you've got plenty of duties on your hand due to the war. In fact, it's the war that I'm here to talk about." Peter put his hands in his lap.
"I've heard the Estates General has had some debates about entrance into the war. So, the First Prince is in favor of such an entrance?"
"Naturally, for the good of his people, the First Prince is trying to consider and prepare for all options. But if the Federated Commonwealth were to declare war on Cardassia, would the Alliance allow us to stage from your territory? Perhaps even set up some kind of joint command to ensure we're not going to step on each other's toes?"
Mamatmas was silent for a moment, thinking. "Well, I'll have to get back to you. I'll need to talk to the Service Chiefs first, see if a Commonwealth entry would disrupt our operations. I'll be holding a full meeting with them in about an hour. You should have your answer by dinnertime."
"That's all I needed to know, Mister President. Thank you for your time."


22:19 GST


Inside the Pentagon, Mamatmas was listening to Minister Umachov finish his element of the briefing. The Klingons had not given any response, considering they were entering the final phase of their Succession for the Chancellory of the Empire. Neither was there a Romulan response. The Ferengi had merely asked the Alliance to confirm that it would honor the neutrality of the Ferengi Alliance and the rights of Ferengi merchants, which Mamatmas had instructed Umachov to do.
There were occasional notices of support. Murluno ke'Ytaklu, Lord Protector of the Talarian Steadhold, had extended the moral support of the Talarian Steadhold, which itself had been besieged by the Cardassians for six years in its Ulithra Sector. The Keloans were obviously friendly and the Tsen'kethi, while not outwardly interested in the conflict, had withdrawn a quarter of its forces on the border with Kelos, which the ADN was responsible for helping to defend, and thus removing the threat of a successful attack on Kelos. The indication was clear; they wanted the Alliance to feel secure enough to focus on the Cardassians, whom the Tsen'kethi had their own quarrels with.
With the briefing over, Mamatmas now brought to the attention of the assembled - the Service Chiefs, the Chairman of the Strategic Planning Staff Field Marshal Pollack, Ministers Rathbone and Umachov, Security Advisor Takahara, and Intelligence Director Bronson - his conversation with Dresari. "Ambassador Dresari expects a response tonight. I would like to give him one."

"It's a mixed bag, Mister President," Pollack remarked. "The Commonwealth's army is still in the midst of a massive upgrading program and the AFFC's naval contingent only has a few hundred starships capable of participation in a naval battle. We'd have to provide some backup. But, at the same time, if he commits sufficient strength, we could launch a secondary offensive to draw off Cardassian forces. For instance..." Pollack pointed to a starmap of the war zone. "Imagine if we diverted 4th Army and a task force or two from 9th Fleet to commit to an advance cutting across the Keloan border and the boundary of the Neutral Sphere toward Dervak and Pelikar. Hanse's forces could support our left flank, hitting Shervarak and driving toward Dervak while we go via the Rikeva Mini-Cluster. Possession of those worlds would make a valuable bargaining chip in peace talks and provide a distraction if the Cardassians decide to pull ships off their border with the Tsen'kethi."
"Mister President, Hanse is going to want something for this war." Bronson tapped the table. "It's my opinion that Hanse has been behind the growing pro-war movement in the Commonwealth from the beginning. He's ambitious and he recognizes the inferior position the Commonwealth enjoys in multiversal relations. A victorious war in another universe would improve his standing. Of course, he'd have to get something out of the war to justify the whole thing. I have no doubt he'll want to keep the planets he takes."
"Something like that could be fuel for the fire of a Cardassian Revanchist movement post-war," Takahara warned. "Hanse would inevitably have to draw us in to defending any annexed territory, unless he somehow manages to get the IUCEC to agree to build a gate assembly in them."
"Keeping the disputed systems will do the same. We should recognize that this war will likely create a Revanchist movement no matter what we do." Rathbone folded his hands together. "I think we should let Hanse join in. Cardassian infantry is lightly equipped and there's little that we've done that even the non-upgraded units of the AFFC can't. And the AFFC can contribute another fifty to a hundred divisions in the near-term if the war continues for a long term."
"How much could Hanse's entry disrupt our operations?"
Hollingwood was the first to speak up. "Well, the gate assembly remains the critical issue, Mister President. It's working almost 24-7 now for us to move in more ships, additional supplies, and troops without disrupting civilian traffic, which is rather considerable. We have deployed the Gateships Catalina Rousseau and Frederick Kingsley to bring in more military traffic, but that can only do so much. Still, I suppose that after two to three weeks, the Commonwealth would have enough troops and materials in position assuming they use the New Andalusia and Rasalhague Gate Assemblies."
"So, Admiral, do you agree with allowing Hanse to use Alliance territory to join us in the war? And what about planning? Against the Clans, we relied on liaisons for joint operations. But now we're facing an enemy far more potent."
"The establishment of a joint planning staff for FedCom operations should be possible," Commandant Tokugawa said. "As soon as they enter the conflict, work can begin on that."
Mamatmas looked at everyone else on the table. "Then it seems to me that there's no reason to say no. So, anything else?" When nobody spoke up, Mamatmas sighed and stood up. "Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time. I'll be sending a note to Ambassador Dresari informing him that we would permit the Commonwealth to stage from Alliance territory if they were to join the war. I hope you all have a good evening."


23:09 GST


Sir Peter was sitting at a corner table in Hampton's, a five-star restaurant about four blocks east of the Capitol Building in one of the rebuilt quarters of Washington. The salad he and his companion had been given as an appetizer was completed, leaving only the main course to come.
There were the occasional glances to the corner by other patrons, intrigued by the sight of two suited men standing to either side of the table to protect its occupants. Or rather, the occupant across from Sir Peter. Finishing a final bite of lettuce was the young woman of twenty years who was far more than Sir Peter's intern; her name was Katherine Steiner-Davion, the second child of five between Hanse and Melissa that had united the Steiner and Davion houses of the Inner Sphere. She had been assigned for three months to the Commonwealth Embassy in Washington as part of one of her courses in diplomacy, to return home with her mother when Archon Melissa made a planned state visit in the middle of January. Most of her fellow students managed little more than internships at Consulates and Embassies in their home universe, but there were perks that came with being high royalty and only a step removed from the throne (at least until her older brother married and fathered a child). Sir Peter had no doubt that there were two motivations for the glances, one being from those who recognized her or at least understood she was some kind of VIP from the bodyguards, and the other being from her loveliness, even if she was modestly dressed compared to the kind of fare she'd have at a court function back home.
"You did well in the meeting with Representative Higgins, Highness," Sir Peter said. "I intend to inform the Foreign Office back home."
There was a sweet grin on Katherine's face, which seemed very bright. Her blonde hair was kept back in a pony-tail, something Katherine had adopted from a popular holovid actress from Universe SE-1 named Jessica Lambert. Her business suit and knee-length skirt made her look modest while maintaining much of her youthful attractiveness, and unlike Sir Peter, access to the extrauniversal age-delay gene treatments meant Katherine would look that way for another fifty to sixty years. "I liked Representative Higgins. He was quite the gentleman. But the hat was a little out of place."
"It's about image, Highness. They call it the 'cowboy' look. And it seems to be working, since he's a popular politician from the Republic of Texas in AR-12 and was re-elected by sixty-five percent of the voting Texan populace." Sir Peter smiled and placed his plate to the side. "He did find you rather charming."
"If you say so." Katherine sipped at her drink before going on. "I'm still getting used to things here. Back home, people would stand aside on the street and would flock around when they heard I was around. Here, the most I get are scandalvid reporters and a few familiar looks."
"They call them paparazzi, Highness. And you have to remember that for all their society seems the same to our's, they have no reverence for nobility. Merely curiosity."
"Hmmm..." Katherine had no immediate reaction to that.
At that time their dinner was served, a filet mignon for Sir Peter and roasted duck for Katherine. Before they could begin eating, the maitre d' approached Sir Peter and handed him a slip of paper. "An aide from the Embassy asked me to give this to you."
Sir Peter read it, grinned, and handed it back. "Tell the aide to have this transmitted home ASAP. In fact, tell him I want it on the First Prince's desk within the hour."
"I will, sir." The suited man accepted the paper back and backed away to return to the door.
Katherine watched him go for a moment before turning to her dinner. "More diplomatic intrigues, Sir Peter?"
"Ah, the usual things, Highness, only the usual. Now, if you wish to say grace before we begin..."


Kensington Naval Base, Alliance Colonial Zone
Universe Designate ST-3
28 November 2153 AST
08:30 GST



Lt. Cmdr. Alexa Schmidt of Sculpin stepped into the office of Lieutenant Captain Marvin Hagen at her appointed time and greeted her commanding officer with a salute. The commander of the 4th Interdiction Flotilla, Lt. Captain Hagen was a slim figure, a native of the world Parkers' Planet in Universe SE-1. He appraised Schmidt closely with brown eyes and returned her salute. "At ease and bring up a chair, Commander."
Alexa did so, remaining quiet and waiting for her flotilla CO to begin speaking.
"I've gone over Commander Mayborne's report," Hagen began, "on your engagement near Jemik on the 23rd. While securing the attack route against Jemik your vessel engaged a force of thre Cardassian starships, destroyer grade, crippling one and destroying three, and taking thirty-four prisoners from a Cardassian ship left derelict in deep space.. Fairly decent performance, I agree. Save, of course, that your ship came home with damage from a direct hit, three wounded, one fatality." Hagen put his hands together on the desk. "Why, Commander Schmidt, did Ensign Druthers have to die?"
That made Alexa swallow. Sculpin was a small enough crew that everyone knew each other, and Druthers was, as Academy-fresh ensigns went, well-liked. "The responsibility is mine, Captain," Alexa confessed. "I made the decision to drop from warp in weapons range and finish off the final enemy with bow guns due to my concern for my torpedo load. I did not consider that their wing-tip weapons might have charged capacitors ready to fire."
"At least you know where you screwed up, Commander." His voice made clear his disapproval. "I considered having the JAG command prepare hearings for a court-martial. But you've learned your lesson, haven't you, Commander?"
"I have, Sir."
"A shame it took the life of a promising young officer to teach it to you." Hagen brought his hand to a piece of paper he had. "Commander, given the war situation and my impression that you will not repeat this mistake you've made, you will retain command of Sculpin. I have a condition, however." Hagen handed her the paper. "This is the phone address of Ensign Druthers' parents. I'm told that Druthers' younger siblings are there too. You will call them today, with full video enabled, and you will be the one to explain to them just why their daughter, their sister, died and who's responsibility her death was. You will tell them, Commander, and then you will sit and wait for them to say their peace to you. Is that clear?"
With the scrap of paper in her hands, the number listed upon it clear, Alexa felt a powerful lump in her throat. "Yes sir," she said hoarsely. "Crystal clear."
"We understand each other, good. You're dismissed, Commander."


Kasia and Delgado were in the promenade deck of Kensington Base's central structure, partaking of the atmosphere. The stores, restaurants, and especially bars were full of the newly-minted veterans of this "Winter War" with Cardassia, men and women drinking to survival, lost comrades, and future victories. Spirits and morale were high with the news of the liberation of Darane by Alliance forces, dampened somewhat by the sobering knowledge of not just the losses at Zygola but of reports of the slaughtering of innocent Bajorans in the work camps of Darane. Such news only served to harden the hearts of the uniformed men and women against their brutal, cruel adversaries. The Cardassian jokes were now bordering on tasteless and needlessly racist in content and various national groups couldn't decide on a humiliating, demeaning enough nickname (the English speakers were starting to favor "Cardies" even further, but a few had gone to "Spoonies"; the Russians preferred comparing them to lizards and other reptiles due to their scaly flesh).
The Russian bar on Level B, just down the way, was especially noisy. Filled with Russian Army troops held over in the Base and the crews of Russian ships, they were noisily celebrating the victory of the national navy vessel Pobeda, under Capt. Yefim Galkine, which had not only knocked out a troop convoy in the opening hour of the war but had also, it was now reported, torpedoed and destroyed the massive Cardassia's Pride, a 150 megaton transport that the Cardassians had built as a prestige project.
They made their way to Roscoe's Pub, a more multi-national themed establishment, where the liquors and beers were more diverse in choice and the clientele less noisy. No attention was paid to the Fox Interstellar newscast at the end (IUNS and Fox were proving the most popular of the news channels in the military, though the BBC held a close third and was favored by all the non-US Anglo nationals). "To Karla," Delgado said with his glass raised when they'd gotten their orders filled.
"To Karla." With a tear in her eye at the thought of the young, twenty-four year old woman and her loss, Kasia clanged her shotglass against Delgado's and downed a shot, both taking to bourbon this evening.

Karla Druthers, as the youngest officer on Sculpin (the ship's Asst. Ch. Eng, Ensign Yen Zemin, was ten years older), had been something of a joint project for the ship's other six operation officers. It was considered their common duty to help the bright young New Appalachian grow in skill and confidence as a naval officer of the Silent Service. And there had been promise there, sweet promise, but it was gone now. Karla had suffered a relatively generous fate by their service's standards. A body remained, if damaged, for her parents to place into a casket and put into the soil; more than usually granted to the slain of the Silent Service, who simply disappeared in atomized ships and were left to their Eternal Patrol.
"Carl is supposed to come by," Delgado said, "but he wanted to personally call Karla's family as her immediate superior. I do not know if it was wise for him to try alone. He's taking her loss rather harshly."
"He saw a lot of promise in her. We all did," Kasia lamented. She tried to empathize with the Druthers and it was excruciatingly painful to do so. The thought of losing any of her children as the Druthers had just lost their's was a possibility she did not want to contemplate.
The seat next to Kasia was taken the following moment by a pale-faced, distraight-looking Alexa Schmidt. She had dried tears and a dreadful look about her. "You spoke to Karla's family?," Kasia asked.
"I did." Alexa motioned to the bartender. "Scotch, neat. Bring the whole damned bottle." As he did so, she propped her head on the bar with her arms. "I told them what happened to. Why Karla is dead."
"You were following basic procedure," Kasia said.
"A first term cadet out of Weddigen knows to make sure that the enemy has no charged weapon banks!," Alexa barked. "But I was too damned eager. I let the combat rush get to me and closed in for the kill with guns before confirming their weapon status." Her drink arrived. Alexa provided her money-slip for the bartender to charge the bottle to and poured a glass full, which she downed in one gulp. "The Druthers are right. I killed their daughter. I am a murderer."
"Mistakes happen in war, Alexa," Kasia said in an attempt to re-assure her CO. "We all missed that call. We let our confidence get to us."
"Maybe Captain Hagen should relieve me after all. I'm just a stupid German bitch trying to be the next Werner Hartenstein." That accusation by the grieving Druthers had hit home hard on her. Alexa did, honestly, have the ambition to be another of the great commanders in the vein of the U-boat aces.
"Oh, quit yer damned belly-achin'," the bartender finally grumbled, revealing his full New Chatham accent, one of the more rough types. "Shit happens, get yer head back in the game and just keep it from happenin' again."
He went to settle another patron's order while the three Sculpin officers looked at their drinks. "To Karla?", Kasia asked Alexa, hoping a friendly toast might raise her CO's low spirits.
"Yes, to Karla, and to the crew of Sculpin," Alexa agreed. "We've got a lot of bloody work ahead of us yet."


Umiral, Darane, Alliance Liberation Zone
13:21 GST



The Bajoran town of Umiral was one of the few "legitimate" Bajoran settlements on Darane; an original colony and not a Cardassian labor camp. The farming town of 20,000 or so had only suffered some damage from the short siege of Umiral Fortress by troops from the 77th Division. Now the Fortress was being used as a barracks by the men and handful of women from the 832nd Mechanized Battalion and the 33rd Orbital Artillery Company.
With nearly three days having passed since the landings on Darane the troops were getting settled in well. Near Umiral, Bajoran workers were helping military people set up an airstrip for Aerospace Force bombers. Meanwhile the troops were enjoying themselves, indulging as many soldiers did during the quiet times in war. Beer flowed freely from the kegs that had been moved in by their commanders through various means against the regs, as well as a few attempts to try the leftover stores of Cardassian kanar.
Of course, the liquor wasn't the only thing that they technically shouldn't have had. Amongst the men of the 33rd Company, a number of the local Bajoran girls from Umiral had been invited to attend their small party in what was now a converted indoor gym and general meeting area. Some had come out of curiosity about their liberators. Some were simply glad to have some fun. And a few had been cajoled into it by concerned parents who wanted them to hook up with a soldier so that, at the very least, they'd get a shot at escape if the Alliance suddenly proved as weak-willed as the Federation had been.
There were, overall, about three dozen girls spread out amongst the 96 men. Some were shy and remained to themselves, unsure even with their translators active, while others happily played and joked with the soldiers and, of course, drank. Which helped to convince some to shed extra articles of clothing, revealing soft and fair skin. The Bajoran concept of the bra delighted the soldiers, since they were simply a cloth band around the girl's chest with tiestrings in the back like on a bikini top, and now about four or five girls had come to the point - due to inebriation - where they removed even that, baring their breasts to applause.
It helped that Bajoran religion itself didn't govern sexual conduct much. That was mostly governed by local culture, and the local culture of the Daranians had long been drudgery and terror of the Cardassians. Now that it was gone, there were many young Bajorans who happily enjoyed their taste of freedom. And there were thus many young Bajoran girls - innocent and curious and now ecstatic from feeling freed from terror - who were happy to show liberating soldiers just how grateful they were.
A few others were less open. Lekula Valys was one of those. Nineteen years old, Valys had long dark blonde hair and was wearing a modest short-sleeved blue and gray blouse and knee-length yellow skirt, both with patterns that her grandmother had sewn in. She was sitting in a corner, sipping on water while watching her cousin Demys climb into the lap of one of the soldiers and kiss him full on the mouth while he gripped her bare chest. Demys had drank too much of the "beer" the Humans had, Valys thought. She personally couldn't stand the stuff from the one gulp she'd sampled.
Seated by her was a young brown-haired Human male without a shirt but wearing his ankle length pants. He wasn't as physically strong as some of the other men and Valys thought he looked a little too thin, but he had smiled at her a couple of times while reading a book. Finally, she worked up the nerve to speak to him, remembering the English her parents had taught her in the past few years thanks to a book relatives smuggled out from the Federation. "I am Lekula Valys. I am happy to meet you."

The man smiled again at her and set the book down on the table to his left. "Russell Cornheiser. You can call me Rusty."
"Rusty?" Valys smiled sheepishly. "You do not look as big as the other soldiers. Do you have trouble fighting?"
"Oh, I'm not in the infantry. I'm the systems operator on one of those big mobile plasma cannon vehicles we have outside."
"I... I do not know what 'infantry' or 'vehicle' is." Valys lowered her head. "I was not given a translator, and I do not speak much English."
"Oh. Uh." Rusty scratched the back of his head. "Infantry are the soldiers who carry guns and fight on foot. The men who took this base. I don't fight like that. I, uh, I operate the computers on a moving thing with wheels that has a really big gun on it for shooting at ships in space above us."
That drew a nod. "I see. So, you are not really a soldier?" She saw him frown and quickly asked, "Did I say something wrong? I am sorry."
After the frown faded a little, Rusty shook his head and tried to smile. "No, no. It's just a thing, I mean, we have many different jobs in the Army - what we call our soldiers who fight on planets - and sometimes we argue with each other over whether some jobs aren't good enough for the people who do them to be considered soldiers. And, well, I get that sometimes."
"Oh. And I am sorry for being wrong."
"Don't worry about it." Rusty noticed her small glass of water. "Not enjoying the beer?"
"I... I do not want to get.... how do you say it in your language? Where you drink too much of something like kanar or your beer and it makes you dimwitted or stupid?"
Rusty laughed aloud at that, making Valys laugh too even if she wasn't sure why. "Oh, we have a number of names for that. We usually call it getting drunk. But we also call it getting plastered or getting tanked or, hell, a lot of other things."
"Well then." Valys grinned a little. "I do not want to get tanked. I might start taking my clothes off too."
"I can understand that." Rusty reached a hand toward her's. "Can I?"
Valys hesitated for a moment before letting him take her right hand. Rusty held it. "Um, oh jeez, I'm not very good at this kind of thing. I was going to compliment your skin being soft and all, but...."
Valys began to giggle. "You are very funny, Rusty. And you are nice. I like you."
"Well, that's... that's swell." Rusty swallowed. Valys wasn't the most sexually attractive girl in the room, but right now, she was the only one he had eyes on. His blue eyes met her's and he smiled sheepishly. "I'm just, well, I've never been with girls much, y'know? I mean, in trying to be romantic with 'em."
"I have never been with boys. Most boys my age have... had... to work hard in the mines because of the Cardassians."
"And what did you do?"
"I stayed home with my mother and grandmother. We made clothing and cooked dinner from what food we could get. My mother also taught me English so I would not need a translator if I were allowed to move to the Federation."
"Didn't get out much?"
Valys shook her head. "No. We were scared to be outside with Cardassians around. If we had to go out, we wore heavy robes with covering for our heads and faces. We did not want a Cardassian to..."
"I get the idea." Rusty was pretty sure just what she had been afraid the Cardassians would do. He had the idea that this wasn't the first time Bajoran girls were having a party with troops in Umiral Fortress, but it was the first time they were here of their own free will. "Well, I... I feel bad that you had to..."
The doors to the gym opened and First Sergeant Yuri Collins barged in. His troops sometimes made fun of the fact that he had a Russian first name - the name of his maternal grandfather, his mother being a Russian immigrant to America AR-12 - but when Sergeant Collins' booming voice spoke, every head turned, even the lieutenants of the company. "Attention everyone! Clean up and get into your gear! We've got enemy contacts coming into the system and you'd better be damned ready when they get here, just in case the spacemen can't handle it."
And just as quick as that, the party ended. Drinks were left to sit while the troops quickly ran here and there to pick up gear, get into their gear, and in some cases get some detox pills to sober up fast. Rusty was among them, but he took the time to wink at Valys, who smiled back before going to Demys, who was looking for her discarded bra.


DNS Musashi, Near Darane 4
13:35 GST



In the CIC of the Tirpitz-class dreadnought Musashi, Vice Admiral Dolores Smith was studying the readings of the incoming enemy force, roughly five hundred ships strong with an extra hundred fighter-sized enemy attack craft in formation with them. She had only one hundred and thirty on her side, the ships of Task Force 14.3 - which only included two battle squadrons - and the BatCarDiv formations of Kestrel and Shokaku. The rest of 14th Fleet and Task Force 5.4 were hours away. Closer and near the Badlands were the carriers Kaga, Enterprise, and Intrepid. They were nearly within strike range, the Audacious being about another hour out. Smith had asked all for immediate support given the numbers arrayed against her force.
As it was, all she could do now was gather her squadrons into formation and await the enemy attack. The odds weren't very favorable, but the Navy never ran from a fight, and Smith intended to make the Cardies pay dearly if they were to wipe out her task force.


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
13:40 GST



With Yatar and Kelataza both away, Relim was in overall control in the Central Command. On his screens, the six hundred ships that consisted of the Federation Frontier Fleet's detachment and the survivors of the Bajoran Sector Fleet and 1st Fleet were all taking position. Five hundred ships were assaulting Darane directly and the last hundred were moving into their launch positions for when the Alliance's carriers were detected. Relim would've preferred better intel on the carriers' positions, but Cardassian sources couldn't pinpoint them and Cardassian scouting resources in the area were being stretched thin by losses to Alliance stealth ships and interceptors. He was going to have to hope that the Alliance would not guess his plan and would have any carrier strikes against the main force come directly, allowing him to determine the approximate locations of carriers.
This was not what Relim wanted. He had wanted 2nd Fleet to be here to use against the carriers. A single, overwhelming fleet force to engage the overmatched vessels. But that damned Operations Commission had to get involved yet again. And now they were investing far more into chance and fortune than Relim liked. He'd lost too many good men and women to the fickle tastes of fortune already.
About an hour remained. An hour until the First Battle for Darane would begin...


DNS Musashi, Near Darane 4
14:40 GST



Admiral Smith, her staff, and the CIC operators were all buckled into their safety harnesses and ready when the Cardassians began to enter range. They'd learned their mistakes from Zygola, warping in with just one light second between their fleet and Smith's force, which had positioned itself about one quarter of an AU away from Darane 4. The two battle carriers were a bit further off, protected by their four escorts apiece and their fighters. The forty sublight-only F-29 Wildcats fielded by the carriers for close support were nevertheless superior in maneuverability to the incoming Cardassian fighters and were equipped with enough anti-fighter missiles to devastate them if they tried a direct attack on the carriers. The other two hundred and forty fighters of the fleet included eighty sublight F/A-35 Dragons, laden with anti-starship missiles, and a mix of F-30 StarRaptors, A-12 Marauders, and FB-34 Avengers. They were all tasked to supporting the fleet as a whole.
The 120 ships of Task Force 14.3 had formed into a rough Wall of Battle, the heavy cruisers of the component squadrons joining the nineteen battleships and the dreadnought Musashi as the center of the Wall. However, Smith had organized the divisions and squadrons of her force so that the light cruisers and destroyers could more easily intercept Cardassian ships attempting the suicide attacks that had been so deadly to Admiral Kentworth's force at Zygola. As a result, the unit was a little more spread out than a usual Wall formation and more flexible in potential maneuver.
The Cardassians came in with a "loose" formation, each ship spaced out by about fifty kilometers between them (by ADN comparisons this was actually a rather dense formation). They opened fire immediately with their torpedoes, countered by the weapons of the Alliance fleet. The Alliance fleet's point-defense weapons filled space with fire, shooting down every torpedo it could before they could make impact. When they did, the damage from the pure volume of Cardassian fire was considerable. Musashi rocked hard as two of her port deflector screens were simply overwhelmed. Near her, the Iranian (FHI-8) battleship Prince Amir lost all of her deflectors and had a Cardassian photon torpedo detonate in her stern section, blowing out one of her warp field generators. Prince Amir's main battery of gamma ray lasers sliced open a Galor in response and proceeded to kill four other ships in the following ten seconds. Musashi's mighty 290mm Particle Cannons were even deadlier, killing most of the ships they hit.
This was the key element for Smith's plan of survival. The Cardassians had the numbers, but their technology was inferior and their ships - like most of the locals - were horribly thin-skinned by Alliance standards. Puncture the shields and an Alpha Quadrant ship was easily destroyed, while Alliance vessels tended to be built with thick multi-layered armor plate made of various high-quality "superalloys" and ceramics. As a result, her battle line was capable of inflicting stupendous losses on the Cardassian fleet.
The British (SE-1) battleship Revenge, first of her class of new Royal Navy line ships, had a new weapon system that had never been fired in anger before. Her eighteen 400mm Hypervelocity Coilguns thundered in battle for the first time and produced results; one Galor was hit straight on by an AP round that wrenched her shield generators out of their moorings and produced a sufficient explosion to damage her bow. A Keldon disappeared when an AP round passed through non-existant deflectors and literally tore through much of the ship and hit her fuel bunkers; a second Keldon took severe damage to a wing from an AP round while an HE round fired from the Revenge's dorsal guns damaged her shields. In all, ten out of eighteen rounds had managed to hit targets in some way (HE rounds were more successful, as their fuses were set for proximity detonations).
Within twenty seconds of the first exchange of fire, Smith had outright lost ten ships and had another twenty-six damaged, including all of her battle line. The battleship New Jersey was the only battleship to have really suffered, losing two gun turrets and a warp field generator to a mass torpedo strike. Enemy losses were heavier; each ADN ship had targeted at least one enemy and in some cases several, and roughly twenty Cardassian ships had either been destroyed or crippled, with dozens more damaged in varying ways.
"Have the New Jersey and Prince Amir pull away a bit and present strong sides to the enemy. Order Destroyer Divisions Two One and Two Three to adjust position to cover their maneuver." Smith looked to another monitor. Twenty minutes until the first three carriers would be in position for a carrier strike.
"Sir, Shokaku and Kestrel are asking permission to engage with their Wings."
"Tell them to wait until the enemy comes to within one hundred fifty kilo-klicks. And for God's sake, keep the carriers as far away as you can."


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union


Relim's jaw clenched at the loss figures appearing. His squadron commanders weren't being as careful as he'd hoped, and he didn't want to take too many losses with this distraction force.
"Order Gul Pekel to break off from the main fleet and bombard enemy positions on the planet," Relim said. "Even if they have defenses, the Alliance admiral will have to maneuver to engage them and present a weakness we can exploit." Relim was determined to do as much damage as he could, as he did not have much faith that his meager reserves would be as effective as they would've been if given the time for 2nd Fleet to arrive. "Any sign of the Alliance's large carriers yet?"
"No, Gul Torcet," an aide replied from his station.
Relim bit into a lip and clenched on the rail at his command station. He used his controls to alter the view on the main monitor, watching as his fleet closed with the outnumbered Alliance force. Twenty ships broke off and headed toward Darane 4. "Concentrate fire on their battle line. Gul Upar and Gul Tarel need to loosen their wing formations and try to get their fleet squadrons to the opposite end of the Alliance formation. Commit our fighters to screening attempts by the enemy's fighters to engage."


DNS Musashi, Near Darane 4


Admiral Smith noticed the detachment of enemy ships withdrawing from the Cardassian fleet's main body and heading to the planet. "Warn the Army. Have their defenses and orbital artillery batteries ready. And have our fighters engage those fleet wings trying to come around us."
With that order given, the fighter wings of the two battle carriers went into action. The two carriers' CAGs had already given the order for careful use of weaponry; there would be no "overkill" leading to wasted shots. Each Cardassian target only had one or two attacking fighters depending on their sizes.
Gul Upar's left wing was better prepared. Upar's ships met the fighters' torpedo and missile attack with their bow weapons set to low power and wide fire. Spurts of compressor energy caused the projectiles to explode and served decent purpose as rudimentary PD, attritting the salvo. The missiles and torpedoes that get through damaged shields everywhere. One Ikvak exploded from its shields collapsing from a proximity explosion and allowing a torpedo through, the only loss on that wing.
Gul Tarel failed to do so and died for his mistake. Three Mark XIV torpedoes hit his flagship Cevelik. The first two blew out a portion of the ship's shield grid and the third hit the exposed bridge of the Cevelik. The rest of his wing fared badly. Twelve ships were destroyed or disabled and a number took damage.
Some of the fighters of the Cardassian fleet now attempted to strike Kestrel and Shokaku, being met partway by the smaller, nimbler Wildcats. Their intermediate-range anti-fighter missiles twisted and turned with the slower Cardassian fighters, especially their "heavy penetrator" gunboats. Nearly every shot hit and three-quarters were immediately fatal to their targets. The pilots of the Wildcats fired another group of short-range missiles when the time came before moving head-on to engage the attackers in a direct dogfight. Cardassian fighters proved they had the firepower to kill the F-29s, blowing the tail off of one and blowing apart another as they continued on with dogged determination to hit the carriers. But the F-29s had the advantage in sublight acceleration and manevuerability, and many Cardassians would be lost in the ensuing dogfight, unused to fighting such nimble yet powerful foes.
In the end, only twenty fighters of the detachment actually attempted to torpedo the Shokaku. The Flight II Guardian-class destroyers Ashikage and Ashley Thompkins maneuvered to block their line of fire and opened up with their Stark-McNeal PP-10 and PP-11 batteries, designated Type 1 and Type 2 Pulse Phaser Batteries respectively in ship schematics. Thick pulses of nuclear-disruption energy met the approaching Cardassian fighters, punching through what they had for shielding and damaging or destroying them. Similar-capability weapons on the Shokaku opened up on the four fighters that managed to make it past, joined by light particle interceptor batteries. Fighter after fighter was picked off, until only the final one survived long enough to fire a torpedo that failed to punch through the Shokaku's shields.
Smith had other concerns on her hand now, though. Gul Upar's wing was "enveloping" the front line of her fleet. Upar had delegated several of his destroyers to be "point-defense" for his wing, using their weapons to attrit attempts by the fighters at bombardment. It would be possible now for Upar's wing and the main body of the Cardassian fleet to pummel her front ships on all sides.
Taking a gamble, Smith exploited the damage to the Cardassian right wing and ordered those squadrons to move closer to the center. She then commanded the other battle squadron in her task force to break from the Wall and "cross the T" of the Cardassian left wing.


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union


"What is that fool doing?!"
Relim's angry shout echoed in Central Command as he watched the left wing's fighters head for the Alliance carriers. "Order them to stop at once and return to holding their screen!"
A Glin at one of the stations shook his head. "Sir, our data link slowed a bit. We're getting time lag of thirty seconds now."
"Dammit, Glin, get it back to real-time!" Relim pounded a fist on his chair. This was the last thing he needed. And he had no doubt that Upar and the others were behind this. Field commanders didn't appreciate someone sitting over seven hundred light years away telling them what to do.
His worst fears were confirmed when the data caught up and, indeed, that portion of fighters had been lost or were about to be. But immediately Relim's attention turned to the developing situation on the board. The Alliance admiral was adjusting his center, detaching twenty ships, including nine of his battle line, to put their flanks to the two enveloping wings of the Cardassian fleet. "Clever. Have Gul Upar come about and back toward the main body of the approaching fleet. Gul Yetek's squadron must move to hold the englobement intact." He could see a rough half-globe of Cardassian ships that, if he were successful, would become a full globe that could then direct their firepower to wipe out a quarter or so of the Alliance task force while their battle line was tied down fighting other elements of the Cardassian fleet.
Still, some doubt gnawed at Relim. Why hadn't the Alliance commander moved to intercept the ships he was sending to Darane 4? Clearly the Alliance couldn't allow Cardassian forces to retake it, or even worse, to bomb it to rubble.
"The Alliance's right is moving ahead to link with their center. Tighten the right wing up and put as much firepower as you can against those ships trying to get in the way of Upar's wing. Perhaps we can make this a complete englobement after all."


DNS Musashi, Near Darane 4


Admiral Smith was finding herself trapped upon the horns of a dilemma. The larger Cardassian fleet was clearly better led than what she'd been led to expect from their performance at Zygola. They were going to try and squeeze Squadrons 1 and 3 into a globe while the rest of their fleet concentrated on the center line.
To deal with the right, Smith signaled for the carrier craft to focus on that portion of the Cardassian fleet. Squadrons 1 and 3 were ordered to prepare to move ahead and break out of an enspherement, perhaps joining with Squadron 4 to cut off the Cardassian left wing.
Smith looked nervously at the clock. Reinforcements were coming, but would they come in time for her force?


CDS Hokarav, Approaching Orbit of Darane 4


The older Model 5 Galor-class ship was leading twenty vessels - all of them decades-old veterans of the fleet - into formation over the planet. On his bridge, Gul Pekel was ready to begin punishing the insolent Bajorans of Darane for their treason in supporting the Alliance invaders. "Enemy forces on-planet have raised some kind of regional shields," one of his officers reported. "Reading four distinct energy fields over the concentrations of enemy troops and planetary settlements."
"It makes no difference. Open fire."
The twenty ships had four targets, and five ships each fired upon them. "All enemy shields are holding, Sir, and..... we're getting weapons fire from the surface!"
At that moment a blue particle beam struck the shields of a Neterok-class cruiser beside Hokarav. The cruiser's shields flicked for a moment, at which time a second beam struck the shields and enlarged the flicker. Just as the beams disappeared, a third and fourth beam appeared, one missing and the other breaking right through the shields and scouring the ship's thin hull. The cruiser began venting atmosphere through its wounds for a moment. At that same moment, Pekel's bridge shook as three beams converged on its own ventral shields.


Umiral, Darane, Alliance Liberation Zone


Seated in the belly of an OAG-3SP, Rusty still found himself thinking about Valys in the spare moments as he directed his full attention to his work. Cardassian ships were overheard now and outside one could've seen the bright flickering in mid-air as their compressor beams were stopped by the theater shields. But those shields wouldn't last forever and it was up to Rusty and his comrades to drive their attackers off.
Rusty's job was primarily making sure all of the sophisticated computers were running right. There was a gunner responsible for actually firing and a commander - Staff Sergeant Rick Flagman - responsible for the order.
Right now they were battering a couple of nice targets in orbit. Rusty had an eye on the "scope" that actually provided the visual data for the gunner while crunching the hard data on the orbiting ships' movements versus that of the planet's rotation itself. They were now leaving geosynchronous orbit, clearly not wanting to remain in position to be battered by arty fire.
The scope showed a brilliant series of trails. SOMs (Surface-to-Orbit Missiles) had been fired by one of the other anti-orbit artillery batteries. He watched a ship explode spectacularly from a SOM hitting its reactor plant, tearing the vessel in half. Rusty hoped to Hell that those things didn't do much damage if they made planetfall. Darane was mostly uninhabited, fortunately.
"Charge back to seventy percent!" shouted Specialist Alex Higginbotham, the man responsible for monitoring the power intake from the battery's central fusion reactor. Soon the gun's capacitators would be fully recharged and they could fire again.
"Keep it going, men! We'll send these Cardies straight to Hell!" was Flagman's reply.


CDS Hokarav, Approaching Orbit of Darane 4


Feedback caused one of the control consoles to explode with a shower of sparks. Gul Pekel watched with impotent rage as monitors went red, indicating hull damage from the relentless surface-based barrage of fire. A missile had blown an impulse engine out before the ship could begin rotating. Damage to the power distribution system by a direct particle cannon hit on the Hokarav's main body was now reducing shield effectiveness, as evidenced by the damage they were taking despite their intact dorsal shields.
"Sir, receiving directive from Central Command. We are to break off orbital attack and commence attack on the two enemy carriers in-system."
Pekel growled. He'd effectively lost four ships now, three outright destroyed and one which was nothing more than an orbiting hulk waiting to be torpedoed. "Very well. Direct us to our new targets."


DNS Musashi, Near Darane 4


The enemy squadron had broken off its attack on Darane with light losses and was heading to engage the battle carriers. Smith contemplated how to respond and decided to trust that the battle carriers' defenses could last. For the moment had arrived, and on her board the clock showed that the carriers were in position and launching strikes that would be attacking in the coming minutes.
Squadron 1 was down to only twelve ships capable of movement when it finally broke through the Cardassian left wing, and all of them had been damaged. A Ramage-class destroyer blinked off of Smith's screens from a torpedo hit to its torpedo magazine; most of the crew of one hundred and eighty officers and sailors were killed instantly by the shattering of the destroyer's central keel and the flood of radiation and energy through the ship.
It seemed like the Cardies were everywhere. She was down to just over a hundred combat effective ships, including the two carriers, and each ship had taken some kind of damage. The Cardassians were still holding with about four hundred and sixty-four ships. Their tighter formation was enough to more easily direct firepower, while looser than it had been at Zygola to facilitate tight maneuvering to evade shots and to disperse Smith's fire.
Squadron 2 fared little better than Squadron 1, losing six ships outright and having the squadron flagship lose a warp field generator as they fought their way out through the attempted enspherement. Squadron 4 was hammering the Cardassian left wing for all they were worth.
Smith was suddenly forced against her restraints as the entire ship seemed to lurch more violently than it had before. Power blinked for a moment before going out completely, the emergency batteries kicking in within seconds. "What the hell?!"
One of Smith's officers replied immediately. "Deflectors just went down completely. Our MAM reactor was damaged and has been SCRAMed. The ship's taken heavy damage to the port side from mass enemy torpedo strikes."
Smith did not respond to that. Her attention remained on the screen as she ordered her fleet's tail to link with Squadron 4 while Squadrons 1 and 3 came about and compressed the Cardassian left against Squadron 4.



”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

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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-07 01:01am
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Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union


Relim was considering how to respond to the successful, if costly, breakout of the Alliance fleet's left when confirmation came in. "A mass of contacts has appeared on sensors, Gul. At least seven hundred enemy spacecraft are inbound and will be in weapons range in eight minutes."
"Track their courses and relay them to our reserve fleets. Tell Upar and the others to disengage before those Alliance fighters get there."
"Sending orders, Gul." About ten seconds later, he said, "Getting a signal from the Surbalar. It's Gul Jekacet."
Relim nodded and looked to a secondary screen, where the thin-faced woman appeared. "Gul Torcet, I do not understand why you want us to withdraw. We have the enemy at our mercy. They have lost nearly a third of their force while we have not yet lost a tenth." Jekacet stopped speaking for a moment while her ship shook. "Should we not press our attack?"
"Gul Jekacet, there are seven hundred Alliance fighters bound for your fleet. All of them are undoubtedly carrying full war lords, enough to destroy half of your fleet or more within the first two salvos. I cannot risk the loss of your forces. Attempt to inflict as much damage as you can upon the enemy and withdraw before those fighters reach firing range."
Jekacet nodded. She was a good fleet commander in Relim's opinion, if prone to moments of bull-headedness like that fighter debacle earlier, and she'd heard enough from the blow to 1st Fleet and the losses at Zygola to know the danger of Alliance fighters to their ships. Relim was very pleased to see her fleet pulling back, firing as they went. An Alliance battleship disappeared from Relim's screen, as did a few other contacts. By the time the Cardassian fleet went to warp, just ten seconds before the fighters reached firing range, they had destroyed forty-three of one hundred and thirty Alliance ships in the Darane system. The ADN fighter losses were about thirty damaged and twelve outright destroyed. The Cardassian fleet left behind the wreckage or crippled hulks of just fifty-one of their own ships, plus sixty fighters. So ended the main phase of the First Battle of Darane. It had been, in terms of losses suffered by each side, a tactical victory for Cardassia; it remained to be seen if the reduced carrier-hunting reserves forced upon Relim by his impatient peers would be sufficient to make First Darane a strategic triumph as well.


CDS Ducelik, Outer Band of the Badlands


Sitting silent, amongst one hundred of her number, the Dorkarak-class cruiser Ducelik powered up as soon as the order came and joined a part of the fleet in heading toward the suspected location of ADN carriers. The sleek warship didn't have as much of a hammerhead shape as other Cardassian ships; the older design moved the "wings" and their warp generators back further along the hull to the extent that some called them "Cardassian Warbirds".
The entire fleet cruised at max warp to get to their targets before they could begin escaping. Examination of the enemy fighter fleet descending on Darane showed that there were likely three carriers in the region, so the fleet split almost evenly into four squadrons of twenty-five ships, with one squadron to act as a mobile reserve for encountering the enemy.
It took about ten minutes to find the Alliance carriers, awaiting the return of their fighters after the main fleet had retreated from Darane. And the attack began.


DNS Kaga CVF-7, Near Darane


Line Captain Eric Weathers was in the CIC when the screen lit up with new contacts. The man operating the sensor station made a full report. "Enemy fleet inbound, speed varies between the ships, but the lead formations seem to be going at about seventeen point four lyphs."
The speed of the enemy fleet precluded escape at this range, since the Kaga could only manage seventeen lyphs as a maximum. "Then it looks like we're going to have a fight. Launch our remaining defensive fighters and close the blast doors on the armory lifts."


CDS Ducelik


Ducelik and twenty-four other Cardassian ships came upon one of the Alliance carriers, designated the Kaga according to their information. The lighter ships slowed a bit as they approached the carriers' escorts' weapon range, allowing the slower cruisers and one Galor to join them.
They were immediately hit by a hail of missile and torpedo fire. Ducelik's bow shields were dropped by half from a direct torpedo hit. The Ikvak-class destroyer on her left wing exploded from one of the 180mm particle cannons on an Alliance cruiser striking her hull. Three Cardassian ships died in the hail of fire.
They returned fire immediately, focusing initially on the escorts while the Galor's extra spread capability allowed them to strike at the Kaga. The Alliance fleet's point-defense responded, filling space with particle and phaser fire. Torpedoes exploded harmlessly everywhere, but some got through. One Alliance destroyer lost shields, to be gored a moment later by the Galor's main compressor beam. The Kaga took no torpedo strikes thanks to her own point-defense.
The defensive fighters the Kaga had held back joined the fray, firing short-range anti-ship missiles as the Cardassians came in.
On the bridge of the Ducelik, sparks flew as direct missile hits tore through the ship's shields and hull. Damage reports flooded in from everywhere to the station held by 6th Rank Gul Ikir Dukat (no relation to the Dukat who until recently was Prefect of Bajor). His ship operations officer, 2nd Rank Glin Olcet, listed out the damage to their ship over the crescendo of other reports on the battle. The loss of warp drive, the loss of weapons, shields down to one third power, hull breaches here and there with so many casualties, oh so many...
With his teeth gritted together, Gul Dukat did the only thing a Cardassian officer of his rank could do in such a situation.
He gave the order.
"Ramming speed!"
The engines on the Ducelik were pushed to their limits as the wounded cruiser suddenly sprinted ahead of her comrades and toward the Kaga. The Gul shared final goodbyes with his professional crew, each convinced that they were acting to keep Cardassia Prime from suffering the same fate of Felvar and the other border systems.


DNS Kaga CVF-7


"Cardassian ship on collision course, Captain!"
The shout filled Weathers with a sense of dread. His eyes were nervously intent upon the approaching Cardassian cruiser, intent on slamming into his ship. "Evasive maneuvers! Keep it from hitting anything vital!" Weathers shouted, knowing full well it'd probably be for naught given the relative size and mass of the two ships; the cruiser was simply too fast and maneuverable compared to Kaga.
Kaga's escorts had noticed the danger and were directing weapons fire at the cruiser. The ship's tail was blown off by the particle cannons of DNS Krakow - a Dorsetshire-class cruiser - and a pair of torpedoes savaged its right side, knocking it partially off course.
But in the end it wasn't enough. The fires and debris streaming from the hull of Ducelik made it look all the more haunting as it continued on course. It slammed into the deflectors and transferred energy of the collision tore the shield generators right out of their moorings, unable to withstand a speeding mass of almost a million tons. Having been slowed by the deflectors, the Ducelik still slammed hard into the top hull of the Kaga. The mass and speed of the cruiser easily crushed the launch deck, killing the crew assigned there, and slammed straight through to the hanger deck. There were no combat fighters to be destroyed, but plenty of hanger crew that would also perish.
The Ducelik's mass and speed provided enough energy for it to penetrate through the armored hanger deck and into the outer areas of the ship. Bulkheads collapsed and more crew died while the cruiser continued its "descent", until finally its bow impacted the keel, the melon-shaped armored core of the ship in which the reactors, armories, and command facilities of the ship were placed. Enough momentum had been lost plowing through the armored hanger deck and the decks below that the strong keel stopped Ducelik immediately.
Then Ducelik's anti-matter reactor exploded, as did its torpedo magazine. The explosion threw crew across the entire ship off their feet. Those on the upper end of the ship didn't survive long enough to hit the ground. The explosion ripped through the outer hull area with terrifying speed, a wall of radiation and flame from combusted atmosphere engulfing vac-suit-covered bodies everywhere and consuming flesh and metal alike. Kaga's upper decks were blown away from the force of the explosion, sending millions of tons of debris into nearby space. The armored keel cracked under the strain of the impact and following explosion, exposing deck compartments within to vacuum, but it did not break.
The CIC was a mess. Seat harnesses had kept the command crew from being tossed about, but a number felt sick from the violent rocking of the ship. "MAM Reactor SCRAMed!" was the only thing immediately heard.
Weathers looked to the damage monitor for the ship. The entire upper hull was covered in red and yellow, indicating areas effectively destroyed or severely damaged. On the life sign indicator, where half of the ship's crew had once been now only scattered groups of blinking dots were showing.

Nor was the attack over. The vessel rocked again as the Cardassian squadron pressed home its attack against the wounded Kaga. Compressor beams sliced through the weakened upper hull, scorched armor on the ventral hull, and further weakened the ship's vital armored keel. A trio of photon torpedoes tore apart the warp field generator housing nacelle on the starboard side.
The ship's escorts now fell back toward Kaga to protect her. Cruisers Krakow and Townsville and the destroyer Thaddeus Storms took up positions to shield Kaga's weakened sides from fire. Their weapons fired time and time again, trying to drive off the Cardassians or at least stop torpedoes from getting through. Some of the Cardassians responded by focusing fire on the Kaga's bodyguards, an attempt to clear their attack route. After a series of compressor beam impacts weakened her deflectors, Storms took four torpedoes to her rear hull and was reduced to a drifting hulk of debris from the detonation of her fuel reserves. The French frigate Olivier Sainte-Martin moved to replace Storms, her 155mm particle cannons punching through the hull of a Cardassian Ikvak and detonating her reactor.
On the Kaga, Weathers continued to direct the escorts, watching the battle see-saw a bit. Townsville lost a dual particle cannon turret after her deflector failed. A Cardassian Dorkarak was destroyed by a salvo of torpedoes from the destroyer Lillian MacCallister. An Ikvak trying to hit the ventral hull of the Kaga was sliced in half by the 250mm particle cannons on the heavy cruiser Shiloh. And all the while, more damage was inflicted on the wounded carrier by the fanatical Cardassian attacks, killing surviving crew and worsening her grievous damage.
The battle came to an abrupt end with the return of Kaga's strike contingent. None of the Cardassian ships retreated; all of them determined to try and finish off the Kaga. The squadrons of Avengers, Marauders, and Thunderbolts came in like avenging angels, launching a mass salvo that simply devastated the battle-torn Cardassian squadron. Torpedos and missiles made multiple impacts without resistance, tearing the collection of squadrons and cruisers apart. Four Mark XIV anti-matter torpedoes impacted on the single Galor in the formation and tore its wing off, allowing the Shiloh to finish it off with a particle cannon broadside.

On the Kaga, the damage assessments were still coming in. Weathers was waiting when the ship's chief engineer, Lieutenant Commander Israel Williams, stepped into the CIC. His diagnosis was grim. "Sir, warp is impossible, and the ship couldn't survive the structural stresses from going to warp anyway. The keel has taken too much damage."
Just to hear the answer, Weathers asked, "How long would it take to restore warp and to repair the keel to survive warp flight?"
"It'd take hundreds, maybe thousands of man-hours of work to repair every stress fracture and crack and to rebuild enough of the external hull structure, sir, not to mention the work needed to restore warp capability." Commander Williams sighed. "As Chief Engineer, I have to tell you this ship is not spaceworthy and we should abandon ship as soon as possible."
Weathers nodded solemnly. "Very well." He looked to another station. "Give the order for all hands to abandon ship. Signal the escorts to begin picking us up. Commander Williams..." Weathers gave him a solemn look. "Set the scuttling charges."
"Aye sir."


DNS Shiloh CH-106
19:09 GST



Line Captain Weathers was sitting on the navigation bridge located at the bow of the Vicksburg-class heavy cruiser DNS Shiloh. The Shiloh was the fifth of the Vicksburg-class ships, the class of heavy cruiser that had been chosen to be the first original heavy cruiser design for the Alliance fleet. It had actually been designed under the auspices of the short-lived Alliance Space Force, President Plotinikov's bad joke of a navy force that was renamed and reorganized as the Alliance Stellar Navy following the election of the 2nd Alliance Council in 2147.
Weathers had used the time needed for evacuation to learn the fates of the other carriers. Enterprise had avoided attack entirely, having changed position after launching fighters. Intrepid had suffered some damage, but was still combat capable, along with twelve of her escorts. Audacious had arrived in time to drive the Cardassians out of the area and was now alongside the Kaga's escorts, most of the ship's survivors and fighters having been ferried to Audacious.
In the ship's command center in the armored keel, Lieutenant Captain Tricia Renault was overseeing the Shiloh's part in the picking up of the survivors from the Kaga. Out of 5,340 crewmembers on the Kaga's duty roster, 2,994 were dead, killing by the Ducelik's suicide ram or by the following enemy attacks that hit the hull. There were over a thousand wounded, ranging from various bruises and broken bones from being thrown around during the impact to severe radiation poisoning and burns or lung trauma from exposure to vacuum when their vac-suits were damaged. A hospital ship was being called to a rendezvous so they could help process all of the wounded and the dead bodies that had been recovered during the evacuation.
Now only one thing remained. Lifeless and abandoned, Kaga nevertheless could not just be left here. The Cardassians would certainly try to search the ship and examine its construction and leftover technology in any way they could, and with the Cardassian fleet having left Darane intact, their arrival could come at any time.
Weathers nodded his head and the communications man on the nav bridge sent the signal. Simultaneous explosions ripped through the Kaga's hulk along the lines of the outer hull and keel. The ship came apart immediately, and despite the power of the explosions there were still millions of tons of debris from the lost ship. A sad farewell to a young ship and to the crew who had died with her.
Still. there would be no trophy for a Cardassian Gul to return home with. The Kaga had been given the proper end to her short life and her comrades were still here to avenge her death in future battles. The war was not over yet. Not at all.



”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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Last edited by Steve on 2010-03-11 02:05am, edited 2 times in total.
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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-09 02:16am
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Chapter 9


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
19:49 GST



"You... you incompetent coward! You worthless excuse for a 1st Gul!"
Yatar Hergata's face had changed color to an impressive red and he was nearly blubbering as he continued to vent and scream obscenities at Relim, the two men standing with Kelataza in a conference room near the Central Command. Kelataza finally calmed his subordinate with a raised palm, having decided the verbal abuse on Relim was enough. "Gul Torcet, please, explain to me why you deemed it necessary to withdraw our fleet at their moment of triumph?"
"There was not going to be any triumph, Legate," Relim replied. "There were over seven hundred Alliance fighters inbound, carrying enough munitions to devastate the fleet at Darane. A withdrawal was the reasonable thing to do."
"Do you understand how badly this makes the Union look, Torcet?! We were winning and we retreated! We're the laughing stock of the Alpha Quadrant! We would have been better off detailing those one hundred ships to joining the assault on Darane!"
"Yes, and then we wouldn't have even managed to get one of the Alliance's carriers. What you should have done, you fool, was wait until 2nd Fleet came so we could guarantee we would have the necessary force to overwhelm both the ships at Darane and the carriers. But instead you forced me to attack early, and now the Alliance knows we want Darane back and the Alliance knows we'll be coming after their carriers, so they'll keep moving them. You have squandered our one chance to stave off the Alliance onslaught!"
"I would shoot you for cowardice right now if only I had my pistol!" Yatar stuck a finger in Relim's face. "As it is, I'll have you tried, convicted, and executed in the public square! Your family will be deported and that bitch Bajoran housekeeper you keep sent to a labor camp!"
"Gul Hergata, calm yourself." Kelataza intervened once more. "Gul Torcet's actions were justifiable. He preserved our fleet." Kelataza sighed. "Still, the fact remains that our forces were winning at Darane when they withdrew. To maintain the reputation of Cardassia's military, Gul Torcet, I have no choice but to hereby strip you of all command authority over our military forces. You may continue in your current capacity as the government's senior military strategist."
Relim clenched his jaw before nodding. "Yes, Legate. You must do as you see fit, for the good of Cardassia."
Kelataza smiled and nodded back. "You're dismissed, Gul Torcet."
After Relim left, Yatar looked to Kelataza. "The Operations Commission is going to want more. We're going to have to try him for incompetence, Legate."
"After the war, yes", Kelataza replied. "Before then, we dare not. The last thing we need is to inspire more dissension in the ranks. If enough of the field military turns against us, we could very well suffer a coup."
"The field personnel would never dare move against us in this time of war!"
"If they feel that we're going to send them and their soldiers to death and defeat from incompetent leadership, there are millions of idealistic Glins who would gladly shoot us and then submit themselves for execution if it meant preserving their troops' lives and giving Cardassia better leadership. You underestimate the dissension already in the field ranks, Gul Hergata. You do not understand their impatience with the upper levels of governments, their contempt for our leadership. We must tread carefully. Work with Gul Torcet. Begin drawing up a plan for another assault on the Alliance forces in Darane. And it must be soon, before the Alliance can resume fortifying their position."


Sakata Estate, Rymorta, The Sphere
22:30 GST



The Sakata Estate, in a secluded area outside the city Kellerman, was an estate of some size, with four structures that included two guest-houses and the main mansion. The red dragon motif that Jane Sakata had adopted was prominent on the outside walls and the main gate. Up to date security systems protected the estate from attack or intrusion, as well as volunteer combatants under Jane's command.
It was all a very impressive site for Zachary Carrey as his aircar moved up to the central building. A short woman and a tall man girded in phaser-disruptive protective armor (the armor acted to disperse the effect of the nuclear-disruption beam, protecting the wearer briefly) welcomed him at the door and admitted him inside.
Jane Sakata was waiting for him, wearing a simple kimono in the Japanese style, unarmed. Kristin Ignacian was with her, dressed modest as she went with a sleeved purple-blue blouse and knee-length skirt. "Mister Carrey, it is interesting to finally meet you," Jane remarked. "Kristin tells me much about you."
Looking at the gorgeous, lithe redhead, Zack answered with a charming smile and accepted the offered hand. "As I've heard about you, Mrs. Sakata."
"This way."

The two women led Zachary into the living quarters area. Some of the rooms were occupied by children, adolescent and teenage, the orphans of people killed by bandits or seized by slavers and taken under Jane's care. Others had full-grown adults, mostly women, of varying ST-3 races, almost all with the markings and appearance of those forced into prostitution as sex-slaves by the Orion Syndicate and other criminal organizations of the ST-3 universe associated with the lucrative, expansive slave trade. Zack swallowed at the sight of them, thinking of the Vulcan girl at Bruno's and just how much humiliation and suffering these poor souls had endured.
They came to one of the rooms set up for medical recovery. A young Trill girl passed by wearing white, a nurse, and gave a soft smile to him as they passed. Inside Jane brought them to the bedside of a gown-adorned young Oriental woman with blue eyes, recognizable immediately as the exiled Omiko Kurita. She was awake and looked to them immediately, bowing her head respectfully to Jane. She spoke to her in Japanese, a language Zack had no experience in, addressing her as "Sakata-[/i]san[/i]" "You are, sir?", Omi said, addressing Zack directly.
"I am Mister Carrey," he answered candidly. "A consultant for Security Concept Enterprises, which was contracted to guarantee your protection by the Red Cross. I was asked to check up on your recovery."
"I feel stronger now, and better. I look forward to working on this poor planet to help the unfortunate." Omi gave a smile smile, a reserved content look, but there was something in those blue eyes that told Zack she wasn't fooled as to whom he represented. "I hope that those in the Alliance who are concerned for me will not begrudge me my desire to be of use. It is not right for the Keeper of the Family Honor to have idle hands, you understand."

"I do, Miss Kurita." Stepping up toward her - and admittedly a little interested in her personally, in the fashion that Zack usually had for lovely women - he took her hand and gave it a soft shake. "But you must understand now that Rymorta is not safe. The Red Cross believes that you might be better suited for caring for Bajoran refugees and, eventually, for helping in rebuilding efforts on Bajor should it be liberated."
"Yes, I had heard that war with the Cardassians had begun. I hope very much for the victory of the Alliance." She betrayed no response at being asked to change her plans. "If the Red Cross asks I will accept assignment elsewhere, though I am opposed to leaving Rymorta without being of some service to the people here. I have seen t0o much of the depredation they live in to leave in such circumstances."
"You can be of service to the people of Rymorta, Kurita-san, by helping us with what you saw," Jane spoke up. She produced a PADD from the folds of her kimono, on which was the picture of a green-skinned alien who looked mostly human save his skin pigmentation. "Do you recognize this man?"
"I do, my captors called him 'Chief Oloparatho'."
"Over subspace?"
"Subspace? As in your interstellar communications? Yes. A video call." Omi's eyes wandered a bit and she clearly had a less-than-pleasant memory in her thoughts. "Sanda had me brought out of my cell to be shown to him. He demanded I be... examined... for his benefit." Her voice weakened a little and there was a clear sense of humiliation.
"Examined?", Zack asked. "In what way?"
Kristin chose to volunteer the information, seeing that their guest would probably prefer not to. "Orion slavers like to see their merchandise, Mister Carrey, and to know there are no physical defects. It involves being stripped, physically groped and manhandled to look for physical imperfections and characteristics and to test... tenderness in one's figure, how pleasing it could be for a potential buyer," she answered. It was all he needed to know.
"He was impressed with me, I believe," Omi continued on her own, giving Kristin a carefully grateful look at her taking on the job of explaining the humiliation she had endured. "He told Sanda he would pay two thousand bars of gold-pressed latinum for me. Sanda convinced him to go to thirty-five hundred, stating the ISF's promised fee for my 'recovery' was worth three thousand such bars and that he was taking a risk of retaliation giving Oloparatho right of refusal."
Carrey did the math in his head. 3,500 bars, 7,000,000 slips, thus... $3.5 million ADN. God damn that's a lot of money, for one woman?
"After my... examination.... I was re-clothed, fed, and placed back into my cell," Omi finished. "The next day was when you arrived."

"Thank you, Kurita-san," Jane remarked politely. "This information may be of great use to us and is valuable to protecting the innocent people here."
"I am in your debt, always, Sakata-san," was the reply.
Jane looked to Kristin and Zack and they both followed her out into the hall. "Three point five million Alliance dollars for her?", Zack asked increduously.
"Oloparatho could have easily made twice that by selling her to the right people," Jane remarked bitterly. "Human women of Omi's age are 10 to 20 bars typically, as low as 5 in some markets, but since she's a virgin her value doubles, and then we get to the fact that she is the daughter of a noble Human house that rules its own interstellar empire, even if in a different universe. I could see him selling her to the Kunar of Tanar or the Great Chief of Saraspo for ten thousand or higher."
Zack almost asked how Oloparatho would know about Omi's virginity, but the thought quickly came to him on just what the demanded "examination" likely entailed and he remained silent. "The ISF really screwed the pooch," he sighed. "They didn't have the time to build the right networks and get to know the local environment, they just slapped together a half-assed operation to try and get some prestige back for their conservative faction back on Luthien."
"The yakuza here are tightly connected to the Orion Syndicate and the Alpha and Beta Quadrant slave trades, and aren't nearly as tame as the yakuza of the Inner Sphere," Jane explained. She spat a Japanese phrase out, clearly directed at the ISF, then for the benefit of her Japanese-oblivious guests she switched to English. "Dumb bastards almost got their precious princess turned into some misogynist Orion bastard chief's concubine. As it is she's been humiliated, shamed, by the examination process she was subjected to, and is going to need time to heal from that." Jane looked to Zack. "Mister Carrey, please tell your employers that several dozen highly-trained volunteer agents stand between your subject and further harm at the moment and that I am willing to assign two of my best bodyguards to her protection if expenses can be covered. No profit is requested."
"That is awfully generous of you," Zack replied. "And Oloparatho? You seemed awfully interested in what she had to know of him."
"And she told us a lot." Jane smiled wickedly. "Moving thirty-five hundred bars isn't easy, especially if he wants to avoid detection by various authorities. The money is still here. And I think it'll make a proper compensation for all the pain that son of a bitch has personally caused to my people."


Karlsburg, New Styria, United Federation of Planets
29 November 2153 AST
05:29 GST



Zandra's was a "gentleman's club" of some ill repute to the locals. An exotic nude dancing club, the proprieter - herself a former dancer and prostitute - maintained backrooms for drug use, prostitution, and various perverted activities in between. Of course, though the locals had a love/hate relationship with Zandra's, foreign shiphands found it a great place to come and view the finer specimens of native womenfolk, and sexual promiscuity was a vice that spanned universes.
The seductive gyrations of a topless Trill dancer, with short brown hair and possessing "natural" hormonal breast augmentation, drew hollers and wolf whistles from a crowd of "spacemen" from the Federated Commonwealth, crew on board the JumpShip Shackleton. The Shackleton and the four DropShips attached to it were stopping at New Styria to pick up about eighty college upperclassman and teachers - including the three young men at another table enjoying the sight of a naked Orion girl leaning her back against a pole - before making their way back to New Liberty and the Interuniversal Jump Gate Assembly there.
As the Trill danced closed to them, meeting their eyes often to ensure she was keeping their attention, they nevertheless spoke to one another. "I can't wait to get home. Seein' lots of different aliens and all is interestin', but not somethin' I wanna do for long, y'know?"
"Yeah, yeah..."
A third man, their DropShip's First Mate Alex Richmond, laughed at that. He invited the Trill dancer into his lap, slipping her several kroner coins "Ah yeah, got lots of aliens. And some of those Bajoran ladies on the Eckhardt would be cute if they weren't, y'know, starved and all. Though there is that one weirdo Bajoran with the scar who's staying on the Rasmussen..."
"Oh?"
"Yeah. Saw 'im at the last port when I had to go over and help move around some cargo. Don't ask me why the SOB wants to stay on a cargo hauler." At that point, First Mate Richmond concentrated on the Trill girl in his lap and said nothing more.
After giving Richmond his lap dance, the Trill girl finished her routine. She returned to the back, where she was met by a human and usual client. She told him in hushed tones what Richmond had said. He nodded and left.
About an hour later, a message was being sent to the local Obsidian Order handler about this newly-gleaned intelligence.


06:40 GST


First Mate Richmond was right on time to the offices of Universal Transport in Karlsburg. A company founded from investors from the Federated Commonwealth, Universal Transport was a growing business that was working tirelessly to expand the Commonwealth's trade links through the known multi-verse.
Once he arrived, he left a note to a Mr. Curtis that was immediately delivered to the branch manager's office. After reading the note in the security of the office, Mr. Curtis took out a small noteputer and typed a simple message to be relayed back home.
"Mr. Secretary, I have given your request all the consideration it was due. Sincerely, Mr. Curtis."
When he was done, Mr. Curtis made a call. "This is Curaitis. Ready the transport. We've done our work here."


New Liberty Station, Orbit over New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
20:12 GST



Rana Shaheen was sitting in the light-dimmed living room watching TV when the door opened and Danielle entered. She was still in her work uniform, the blue engineer's worksuit of a dockyard repair engineer covered in zipper pockets, and it was flattering on her in a modest kind of way.
"How was work, Dani?", she asked, and all Rana got was a low groan. Dani walked right by her and into the bedroom, where she promptly plopped herself onto the bed. Rana watched Dani curl her pillow up under her disheveled locks of dark hair and almost immediately go to sleep. Dani's sigh of exhaustion as she fell asleep was echoed by a sad sigh from Rana.
Hackins, damaged at Zygola, had been routed to New Liberty along with some other ships due to Kensington being filled to capacity. Damage to ships in the carrier strike forces, at Zygola, and now Darane had every fleet station in the Colonial Zone filled to repair yard capacity, and every day a skirmish here or there along the fringes of the Cardassian-Alliance front brought in ships in need of some repair work. The Navy was trying to get them in and out as fast as possible, and so it fell upon the repair yard personnel like Danielle to maintain a fast tempo.
Thirty-six hours on, eight hours off, with thirty minute breaks every six hours for a stim dose and refreshment. Sometimes I think I am the lucky one. The thought came to Rana's head as she stripped off her informal uniform and switched into a one piece nightgown, a spaghetti strap gown of navy blue made of replicated silk. She slipped into bed next to her fully-clothed lover and draped her arm around Danielle after slipping under the covers. Soon, to get comfortable, she shifted to lay directly on her back, staring at the ceiling as she waited for her body to be ready to sleep as well.
Afte ra short time, Dani turned in the bed, moving so that she was facing Rana and laying on her own belly. She laid her head over Rana's heart, made a happy-sounding sleep-moan, and draped her left arm over Rana's belly and up to where Rana carefully laid her own right arm. Sighing contentedly, even with the weight of Dani's head on her chest and Dani's tangled, unwashed hair close to her face, Rana laid her left hand on Dani's lower back and let herself fall asleep as well.


Ikithra System, Disputed Territory (Joint UFP-Cardassian Control)
30 November 2153 AST
18:29 GST



The Ikithra System, marked as Sydonis on Federation charts, was one of the systems that had been disputed when the ceasefire between the Federation and Cardassia was made. Colonized by the Federation first, in the 2330s, the Cardassians nevertheless claimed prior control and had seized two of the three habitable planets in the system, deporting the non-Cardassian population to labor camps deep within Cardassian space. A quarter of the Sydonians taken as such had never returned home and some remained imprisoned after all these years, more victims of Cardassian perfidy and the Federation's spinelessness. Not that this had stopped the Cardassians from claiming that all living Sydonians were indeed returned, a claim not entirely untrue as many Sydonians had died from brutal conditions in various Cardassian labor camps. As such, only one planet remained inhabited by Federation citizens, the other two home to Cardassians now.
It was in this system that the JumpShip Shackleton and its two escorts - the Fox-class corvette FCS Swiftsure and the British-built Type 298 frigate FCS Upholder - had arrived, to pick up a DropShip that had dropped off a load of grain for the Federation colonists on Sydonis 6.
They were halfway to Sydonis 6, on full impulse, when the interception squadron of ten Cardassian ships - led by a Dorkarak-class cruiser - made contact. The order was made to allow immediate inspection for Bajoran terrorists. The Shackleton refused and barely succeeded in sending out a distress call before jamming began.
On the bridge of the CDS Gorecet, Gul Makel was uncomfortable. The intel was supposedly good - the Bajoran terrorist leader Opel Nevis was on board the Rasmussen - but finding his location seemed too good to be true.
"Glin Ikim, I want to be sure we get Opel. Order all ships to target any of the outsiders' ships that have Bajoran life signs. We'll take a couple of ships and deal with those escorts."
"Yes, Glin, right away."


Avalon City, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth
Universe Designate MWB-32
23:45 GST



The new Assembly Building for the Estates General of the Federated Commonwealth was one of the newest and most beautiful additions to the great metropolis of Avalon City. Built close to the Palace and the Davion Peace Park, the Assembly Building was just eighteen months old, placed so that the Estates General could meet on either capitol of the Commonwealth as part of Hanse Davion's steps toward a "more democratic" form of government. Along with the limitations on the nobility to seek seats - no noble higher than a Baron was permitted - the democratic voting process insured that the Estates were seen as the voice of the people in the government. A number of planetary, regional, and Commonwealth-wide political parties had seats. Royalist "Loyalist" factions controlled the Estates General with about thirty-three percent of the seats, but another fifth of the seats were taken up by the growing Coalition for Democratic Reform, a group of democratic parties from different regions and even of different specific interests that represented the growing pro-democracy sentiment of the Commonwealth, with the Alliance's existance and stability disproving the centuries-old notion that democratic government was unsustainable on the interstellar scale.
In the end, though, the Estates General were more form than function. Seen as necessary to mollify certain groups from the ADN that were uncomfortable with the heavy-handed rule of Inner Sphere nobility, the Estates General still had very little real power to enforce legislation and continued to act mostly as an advisory body.
Of course, such a body still had its uses, and Hanse Davion intended to have unquestioned support from them if he were to pursue war in another universe. The debate was now raging late into the day on whether the attack on the Hermocrates was sufficient provocation. Emotions were running high among some, as the confirmed Cardassian atrocities were being used as arguments for the moral necessity of war. Hanse had returned to the session to observe how the proceedings were going.
Currently the floor was being held Representive Annabelle Grassi of Kentares. A woman of Mediterrenean complexion and appearance, she was into her early fifties and a prominent lawyer from Kentares who was considered a "loyalist" to the Davion family while giving support for some democratic schemes. Of course, she was also a vicious anti-Combine speaker and something of a crusader for the downtrodden; during a visit to the New Liberty Zone she'd met Bajorans and had made them her personal raison d'guerre when it came to any issue concerning the Alpha Quadrant. As a result she was the "odd woman out" when it came to most of the Draconis March's representatives as they were generally isolationist when it came to extrauniversal affairs, preferring to focus upon local issues and especially upon the Draconis Combine.
"The pure barbarism of the Cardassian State and its disregard for the rules of civilized conduct are a matter of the public record. There is only one way to deal with beings of such cruelty, and that is to meet them in battle and rout them! I need not remind this assembly that Cardassia committed the most grave and barbarous of acts, the use of a nuclear weapon upon an innocent and unarmed civilian population, and has consistently violated the rights of neutral vessels to innocent passage through space."

"Mark my words!" Grassi lifted her right hand into the air, her index finger raised. "If you think we are immune to this war, that we can stand aside, remember that one day we will all be judged for our actions at this time! When History points its finger toward us and asks us what we did while Cardassia was committing genocide upon the Bajoran race, what will we have to say? Will we use the excuse of Thomas Marik and his ilk, babbling weakly about 'chivalry' and 'peace' to hide our cowardice? Will we sneer and ignore the issue like the autocrats on Sian and Luthien, confident that History's judgement can be kept from their own people whom they also butcher at their discretion? No!" Grassi slammed her right fist down upon her desk so hard it thundered throughout the chamber. "No, I want us to be able to look History straight in the eye! I want us to stand and say that we, the loyal subjects and retainers of the Great Houses of Steiner and Davion, drew our swords and fought as Knights of all that is good and noble in Mankind! Let History recognize us as honoring that which we claim to serve and believe in! Let it not be said that we cowered in the corner or stood silent in self-righteous false chivalry as innocent children were butchered by Cardassia!"
A roar of agreement came from various parts of the Estates General. The loudest roar was not from Hanse's pro-military loyalists but from the democrats, who usually opposed Hanse's military policies but were currently viciously anti-Cardassian and pro-war. Some political attacks had been mounted against them, accusing them of being puppets of the Alliance, but Hanse had used his influence to keep them low key. Right now, he preferred that support.
After order was restored the debate continued as usual. As Hanse watched the Representative from Freedom voice opposition to war, he was handed a note by an aide. He read it and, to observers, visibly sickened, as Hanse learned now of the fate of Shackleton in the ST-3 universe. He waited for the Representative to finish his comments, thinking of what he would do as ill disgust slowly turned to cold rage within him, before standing and boldly asking the Speaker to let him address the Estates General. His face looked paler than his usual color, filling the Estates General with dread.
"Representatives of the Commonwealth Estates General, I have just learned of another attack upon a Commonwealth ship by Cardassian forces. It is currently being reported on by a number of news services. With the agreement of the Speaker, I would like it if we could all observe."
There was a nod from the Speaker, and all eyes looked behind and above Hanse to the massive plasma digital screen built into the Assembly Chambers wall. The screen turned on and presented the live video channel of the Inter-Universal News Service and caught a reporter in mid-report, standing in a concourse somewhere on New Liberty. "...spoken to a Captain Edgar Matheson of the JumpShip Shackleton. They're still counting the casualties from the attack, but it appears that there are no survivors aboard the DropShips Rasmussen, Eckhardt, and Bountiful Harvest. The only ship not directly fired upon by Cardassian forces was the passenger liner Galax Eagle, which also suffered damage and casualties. The current count of dead is in excess of 1,500, including about four hundred Bajorans who were scattered around the three DropShips, most of them women and children."
A female voice - presumably from the studio anchor - asked, "So it was a Cardassian attack?"

"Yes, Maggie. It has been confirmed from numerous sources, including the Federation colony on Sydonis 6 and the Federation Starfleet vessel USS Hawk which responded to the distress signal of the Shackleton and her escorts. The attack happened about six hours ago as Shackleton was awaiting the DropShip Bountiful Harvest on its return flight from Sydonis 6. After being refused inspection, Cardassian ships engaged the Shackleton's military escorts and destroyed one while others opened fire on the ships attached to Shackleton. They retreated after destroying three DropShips which all were reported as having Bajorans aboard as passengers or crew. Again, the final death toll is 1,500, with about four hundred Bajorans amongst them."
"Do we know who these people were, Greg?"
"No, names have not been officially released. The authorities are compiling a casualty list now to officially notify the families of the deceased and the injured, but we do know that there were several groups from the Inner Sphere traveling aboard the three ships, including a tourist group from Saint Ives and three groups of college teachers and students from the New Avalon Institute of Science, the University of Tharkad, and the University of Donegal. They were on an extended field trip in the Federation that was commissioned by the Commonwealth Ministry of Education and the Elaine Welford Foundation." There was a sudden wail from someone in the Assembly, one woman closer to the back burying her face in her hands in an attempt to suppress agonized sobs. "I'm told that the Commonwealth Consul-General on New Liberty is in the process of authorizing a preliminary press release, which we will have soon hopefully...."

The signal was turned off. Hanse looked to the Assembly, his jaw locked tightly. He had an idea on what to say. There was no guilt to be shown in what had become of his carefully-laid plans, of his terrible miscalculation in having Curaitis set the Cardassians up to provide him with casus belli. The guilt would come later, in private, as he grieved for his innocent subjects, men and women he had failed; he had failed by getting them slain because he had yet underestimated the cruelty and disregard for life that the Cardassians possessed. For now, he hid any trace of that realization, in favor of the appearance he needed; the stern, commanding Sovereign of innocent people slain by alien barbarism. "As we can see, even as they are being pushed back in war, even as they are suffering defeat after defeat at the hands of the Allied Nations, Cardassia retains all of its cruel arrogance and disregard for the laws of civilization. They have attacked our ships and murdered citizens of the Federated Commonwealth in neutral space. I... I can no longer remain silent on this issue."
"What we have seen here is further proof of the insidious mindset of Cardassia. To them, other races fall under two categories. They are either slaves to Cardassia or they are enemies that are to be exterminated or enslaved in the future. Cardassia... holds no regard for any laws, any morals, any kind of restraint or code that contradicts their desires for conquest and power."
"The Federated Commonwealth cannot allow its rights to be so easily taken. We cannot allow the murder of our citizens to go unpunished. I now back Ambassador Grassi's eloquent call to arms. I call upon the people of this Commonwealth to draw their swords and fight this menace to the security and freedom of all nations, Human and Non-Human alike! The call to battle has been made and we shall answer it, in our ships, in our 'Mechs, in our tanks, and in our hearts! If this Assembly desires it, if it wishes to see proof that I believe this war is necessary and must be waged, I will go get into my 'Mech and fight Cardassia myself!" A thunderous roar erupted from the Assembly, silencing itself when Hanse continued to speak. "I now ask for you to vote on whether the Federated Commonwealth should declare war upon Cardassia."
As the Speaker came back to the podium to call for the official vote, the chanting began. The chant consisted of only one word: "WAR!" It erupted first amongst the Democrats and a split second later amongst the Loyalists, their numbers ensuring that "WAR!" echoed throughout the Assembly Chambers. Everyone else began to join in, swept up in their emotions, their anger for the crimes of Cardassia and their pride for their homeland, overriding any of their prior opinions on the matter. The chanting alone was deafening, but many of the assembled now added to the noise by slamming their fists upon their desks. The Speaker was not even heard at first, unable to quiet the Assembly for nearly a minute before finally gaining their attention with repeated hand gestures. "The vote shall be held by acclaimation!"
And the chanting immediately continued.


DNS Lexington CVF-4, Near Rekfeth System, Cardassian Union (Occupied)
Universe Designate ST-3
1 December 2153 AST
08:15 GST



Even in wartime, the crew of a warship still had to get off-duty time when not in combat, and fighter pilots were no different. This was the time when pilots sent messages home, played cards, watched movies, worked out, and the like.
Thanks to the movies, there was a persistant misconception about the average fighter pilot. Naval aviators would often laugh at viewing any such movies and seeing "pretty boy" actors and "super model" actresses flying fighters with seeming ease. The truth was, muscle power was necessary for good flying, and so pilots kept in shape with weight-lifting and other exercises.
On a bench in the gymnasium weight room, Lieutenant Anahita Razmara grunted with a bit of effort and lifted the bar and weights as high as she could. Her wingmate, Lieutenant (J.G) Linda Mackey, took the bar with her hands and brought it to rest on the hooks. They were clad in the usual combination of white sports bra and gym shorts, the white contrasting more with Anahita's bronze skin than Linda's fair complexion. Anahita was the senior pilot in their squadron, WFS-28, and unlike Linda had seen far more combat, being a veteran of the Tenth Euro-Iranian War (Universe FHI-8) ten years ago. Anahita was thirty-five years old, though with anti-aging treatments she still looked twenty, with a fit and muscled body like that of a trained athlete, not at all the kind of beautiful body the media would have preferred. The crescent moon brand on her right thigh and the scar that ran from her right temple to her right heel were leftover reminders of her time as a POW in the Euro-Iranian War. The fact that she had survived the mandatory execution that the Eurofascists of her universe ordered for all Muslims was in of itself a tale of luck that seemed to be a gift of Providence. Anahita had transferred from the Shah's Royal Navy to the Stellar Navy when her homeland, the Kingdom of Iran, officially joined the Alliance in 2150 AST.
On the other hand, Linda was a young pilot of twenty-three, only fifteen months out of the McNicholson Naval Aviator Training Academy in orbit over Monroe (Universe PA-6). Her violet purple hair was a result of exotic gene-engineering that had caught on as a short-term fad in PA-6 near the start of the "Interuniversal Era" in 2028 AST, Linda's maternal grandmother being the source of her strange hair color. Linda was not as muscled as Anahita, with a lithe body figure that was strong enough to do the job required of her. She was a runner and had been an important member of the Training Academy's swimming and track-and-field teams in her class days. "Anyone you knew on the Kaga?" Linda asked Anahita as the older woman sat up on the bench.
"No. Did you?"
"A pilot with a Marauder squadron was one of my classmates. I hear she's okay."
Anahita nodded. "I am quite sure that a number of admirals were not happy to hear about Kaga. But such are the risks of war, and I suppose we allowed ourselves to get overconfident after the opening attack on the Cardassians. As they get more desperate, they'll try things like that even more."
"My friend who works in the CIC says we might be heading to Darane soon." Linda noticed someone changing the channel on the TV screen on the far wall. "Captain looked over an intel report and even told everyone that we'd be seeing action if the Cardie fleet moved again. And.... hey, what's this?"

Noticing something on the screen she was interested in, Linda went to the closer one and changed the channel to IUNS. The screen flashed to show the studio, where a male anchor was speaking. "So far, no official comment has been issued by the President on the Commonwealth's declaration of war on Cardassia. Sources close to the White House say that the President has been in contact with First Prince Hanse Davion on the matter of Commonwealth troops deploying from Alliance territory. Now we will be going live to Tian-tan and our Saint Ives correspondent Zhu Xiao-Mei."
The screen changed once again to an open street in the capitol city of the Saint Ives Compact. A small Chinese woman was on the screen and began to speak in the majority Han dialect, which the channel auto-translated into English. "Here in Tian-tan the mood is one of outrage and anxiety. There were approximately three hundred citizens of the Compact killed on board the liner Eckhardt when it was struck and destroyed by Cardassian weapons fire during the attack at Sydonis. But even the pro-Alliance rallies held outside the Alliance Embassy have not been able to cover up the deeper concerns of the people here, namely, if they too will be going to war with Cardassia. Many Compact citizens still fear the power of the Capellan Confederation and the continued rhetoric by Chancellor Sun-Tzu Liao at his intentions to push for reunifying the Compact to the Confederation. The sentiment is mostly one that if the Compact joins the war, it should contribute money and advisor roles, not troops, which would be used instead to free up some of the estimated two hundred thousand Alliance troops that are currently stationed in the Compact. Either way, there are some sources close to Duchess Liao that say a declaration of war is imminent and will be announced within the hour. We will keep you posted. Live from Tian-tan, Saint Ives, this is Zhu Xiao-Mei, InterUniversal News Service. Back to you, Richard."
Back in the studio, the male anchor began speaking again. "Our final note from Universe MWB-32 comes from Terra. The Military Governor's Office announced that two dozen Blakist insurgents were killed or captured in a home near Lakeland in the Florida Peninsula by Alliance occupation forces and local authorities. This was the terrorist cell apparently responsible for the rash of car bombings and ambushes that have killed three hundred people and wounded over a thousand in the Orlando-Tampa Bay corridor in the past month. On the other side of the world, one Alliance soldier was killed and three injured last night in Mesopotamia when Blakist insurgents in Fallujah opened fire on a foot patrol, bringing a total of ten thousand soldiers killed on Terra MWB-32 since the President officially announced in April that all ComStar military forces had been eliminated. Now we go on to news from Universe SE-1..."
Linda turned the TV off and looked back to Anahita. "Looks like the Cardassians shot themselves in the foot again."
"Given the quality of Humanity in this universe, it's easy to see why they think they can push us around and get away with it. So, off to the showers?"



New Tel Aviv, New Israel, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate FHI-8
13:40 GST



One of the non-descript buildings in the National Defense Complex of the New Israeli capital was dedicated to perhaps the most well-known, if secretive, government entity in the State of New Israel: Mossad. The Mossad had for centuries been one of the finest intelligence organizations in Universe FHI-8, the first and final lines of defense for the organized, powerful, yet beleaguered New Israeli state after the Great Exodus from Earth in 2095. Today they were an integral element to the Alliance's overall intelligence network, providing analysts and contacts to AID - the Alliance Intelligence Department - and directly working with the Alliance on matters of internal and external security.
In the bowels of the central offices of Mossad was a non-descript group of offices and rooms for Cryptography. Among the Alliance's many intelligence services Mossad Cryptograph stood out, to such an extent that they had agreed to assume a fearsome task from Director Sir James Bronson of AID; breaking Cardassian military codes.
For months a team of experts, given hypnocram-assisted crash courses in Cardassian language and linguistic patterns, had taken up the duty under the charge of mathematician Dr. Givon Levitch. The vagarities of Cardassian language had been a difficult hurdle, as the work of what was called "xenocryptography" required an innate understanding of an alien culture's functional use of numbers as well as the mathematics understandings usually associated with cryptography.
Among the cryptographers, forty-two year old Hibah Haswari was busily studying the basic element of the Cardassian codes, part of the unit working on the all-important naval code. He was a unique figure in the unit; the only Muslim Arab present, descended from the Palestinians who joined the Great Exodus, taking the bold decision to try and co-exist among a people they generally despised in order to survive. These days those old hatreds were gone; Jew and Muslim alike had lost their homeland and now had a new one, with plenty of space for all, and co-existence was the norm. That he was the only Palestinian in the unit was not from any discrimination but simply the demographics of the population compared to the majority; his presence alone actually meant his people were overrepresented compared to their percentage of the population.
Hibah had a first-rate mind when it came to numbers. The Cardassian numerical systems, particularly their use of separate measurement and organization bases for civilian and military use, had been a challenge in of themselves, and now he had to combine that with needing to determine how they coded and decoded their language into numerical and lettered form. It was a daunting process, made easier recently with the cracking of the administrative codes to give insight on how Cardassian cryptographers did things.

A new calculation was running, being tested to see if it worked as a decryption algorithim, and Hibah was watching it intently. He felt he was close to a breakthrough, he had to be. He'd invested so much time in this, had seen the pattern in the Cardassian code begin to emerge, and found it hard to believe it could long deny him.
The initial result wasn't successful, but he was clearly close. Hibah modified the decryption algorithim and let the powerful quantum-scale computers go back to work, their isolinear-based processing working at a scale that was mind-boggling in terms of speed and complexity. Feeling tired and knowing his shift had another four hours to go, Hibah secured his workstation and went to the replicator to make coffee. Replicated coffee was free for them and, while not nearly as good as the actual stuff - he preferred the Arabica-style Pomerantz coffee, from a New Israeli grower in Equatoreal Judah - it still had all the kick necessary to keep someone awake and functioning.
He returned and restored his workstation, taking a sip and letting the caffeine work to his brain. As he brought the cup down with another gulp of coffee in his mouth, its cheap flavor a way to help bring him back to full wakefulness, his eyes moved over his screen.
At seeing the successful result, and a completely decrypted Cardassian communication now flashing on the screen, Hibah nearly choked as he forced the coffee down his throat - lest he spit it out instead - so he could let out a full-throated whoop of joy. "We have it! Allah be praised we have it!" Not that he was entirely religious, but in his joy Hibah was quick to revert to the religion he'd been raised in and to call out to God in a moment of triumph.
The others noticed his reaction and came over, Dr. Levitch among them. His eyes went over the results on Hibah's screen and he happily clapped his subordinate on the shoulder. "Well done Hibah," Levitch proclaimed. "We've got it! We've got the Cardassian naval code!"


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
2 December 2153 AST
01:04 GST



President Mamatmas was in the den of the White House, seated withthree of his grandchildren by his adopted children. After he and his wife Karyn had their only child Kevin, Karyn had developed an illness and required surgery had left her infertile, requiring adoption for the expansion of their family. Together they watched a computer animated kids' show playing on the den's television, a pre-ordered program from a digital database provider. Five year old Tamika cuddled beside him on the couch while seven year olds Michael Jr. and Evelyn sat in other chairs. Mamatmas watched patiently, not really enthralled by the very childish antics of the characters - if pressed he could barely remember which was which - but happy to be with his grandkids whom he saw so very little of.
Of course, as there was a war on, Mamatmas could be called away at any time, and his grandkids became very apprehensive when the phone beside the couch started ringing. Mamatmas nodded at Michael, who dutifully paused the show while he reached for the phone. Underneath its slot in the base were two lights, green and red, and it was the red light showing, telling him it was a secured line. Seeing this, he pressed a finger to the base of the phone, allowing the electronics built in to scan the DNA of his skin cells to determine who he was. "Hello?" he answered when the light on the phone changed from red to green and confirmed he'd been cleared.
Director Bronson was on the other end. "Good evening, Mister President. I have a piece of good news for you."
"And that would be?"
"I just got a report from New Tel Aviv. Our Mossad cryptographers have broken the Cardassians' naval code. They're working on interpreting the latest comm intercepts now."
"Wonderful news. Keep me appraised." Mamatmas turned the phone off and looked back to his grandkids. "Don't worry, kids, I'm not being called away yet. Turn the movie back on."
Michael Jr. dutifully obeyed.


Ikila, Bajor, Cardassian Union
01:45 GST



The holy city of Ikila was the spiritual center of Bajor. Though there were far larger cities elsewhere, Ikila stood above them all, for it was the home of the Kai and the Great Temple of the Prophets, a structure that had stood for millennia as a testament to the beauty of Bajoran architecture and the skill of her ancient engineers.
Ikila's population numbered about 300,000 Bajorans. Counting all of the towns and villages around it, the entire area had a population of about half a million, and in fact there was farmland all around it, for the Bajorans had long ago decided that it was not proper to bring the natural life of Bajor too far from the Great Temple. And it was usually during the muddy winter rains that farmers were out digging and planting that which was best grown in the mud and cold, plants like the vegetable opila, which restored the rich soil for the main crops to be planted later and gave them additional foodstuffs as spring planting began.
But now the farmers and their families were digging for something else entirely. In the towns and villages outside of Ikila - in Ikila itself - Bajorans flocked out to the mud and ignored the cold rain to begin digging furiously, and they weren't digging plots this time but trenches. The people of Ikila were preparing for war.
At about 1:15AM Alliance GST, Opel Nevis and his guerrilas had struck the local Cardassian offices and field base. There were not many targets for them to deal with, thankfully. Ikila had a Cardassian garrison of only one hundred or so soldiers in a small field base outside the city and only about fifty Cardassian inspectors for its spaceport. The Cardassian presence was purposely light because the Cardassians believed the Kai and the Bajoran clergy pacified; they also had a massive force of elite mechanized troops, over 100,000, less than a day away that would viciously suppress any attempted rebellion.
Dealing with this force was going to be the real challenge for Opel. But he and his supporters had spent a year smuggling weapons in, using bribery of the local Cardassian officials and forged documents to prevent inspections, once even smuggling in the weapons with other contrabands the local Gul and his officers wanted. Opel himself had come with the last load, just a day ago, having been smuggled through the Badlands to Federation space for transfer to a freighter of Federation nationals sympathetic to the Bajoran cause. And it was all for the purpose of defending Ikila when the day came to rise up in defiance of their hated oppressors.

As soon as the rebellion began there was some chaos. Opel and his people were quick to raise a shield dome - powered by the city's fusion reactor - to protect from orbital bombardment. The Cardassians managed to get warnings out before being overrun, provoking some fear in the populace as a number of them became faint-hearted at their fear of provoking Cardassia, and thus contributing to some of the chaos in the opening hours of the Uprising. Finally, the Kai was asked to weigh in on the issue, but Kai Opaka merely responded that she would have to go speak with the Prophets on the matter. She was walking a fine line; opposing the rebellion would only hurt the Temple by making them appear to be collaborators and potentially divide the Bajoran people as liberation seemed nigh, while open support might prompt the Cardassians to begin killing temple clergy and taking prisoner the civilians that they, to this point, had left alone as under Temple protection.
The panic and chaos ended as Opel Nevis' voice boomed throughout the area, his image soon appearing on viewscreens as far as four thousand kilometers away. "Sons and daughters of Bajor, I beg your attention!" the sixty-five year old rebel shouted. Opel, the writer the Cardassians could never silence and the dissenter they could never kill, the man now credited with founding the Resistance, drew the attention of millions of Bajorans. "I come to you now to tell you that the time of liberation is finally at hand! Cardassia, in her blind pride and arrogance, has provoked a power greater to her own and is now being repulsed! The Cardassian fleet has even chosen to flee rather than to give battle to their new enemy!" There was a roar from the crowd. "People of Bajor, throw off your terror for your oppressors! Work with me, work together, and we shall be free! I ask you to fight! I ask you to dig! I ask you to do everything in your power so that, with the blessing of the Prophets above, we can free our native soil!"
The speech alone might not have done the work of persuading enough Bajorans, but Opel had already arranged for news reports from the Alliance to filter in. The Cardassians no longer had one foe but three; the Federated Commonwealth and the Saint Ives Compact of Universe MWB-32 had declared war on Cardassia. This news, and the news from Cardassian sources that an "error in command" had led to the withdrawal of Cardassian forces from the fight at Darane, fueled the hopes of the Bajorans in and around the city. Cardassia's hold on them was finally at an end, and now thousands of the Bajorans were willing to risk it all if it meant they could finally be freed from the terrors Cardassian used to keep them down.
And so the work on the trenches continued. Three trench lines in all, circling Splendid Ikila, to be defended by a people invigorated by their faith and hope.


Space Station Terok Nor, Orbit of Bajor
02:00 GST



Uvil Koral, a 2nd Rank Gul of the Cardassian Defense Forces and Prefect of the Cardassian Oversight Authority of Bajor, was rubbing his forehead in irritation at the reports. The eastern continent of Bajor was now ablaze with a rebellion centered around Ikila. Koral cursed those incompetent fools at Central Command and the Obsidian Order who had now provoked a war with two more extrauniversal states when the man they were trying to kill had been on Bajor all along. Had the Obsidian Order really gotten that soft?
Koral now had to deal with the rebellion. He called down to one of his lead subordinates, 3rd Rank Gul Sevarak, who commanded the Central Mechanized Detachment, made up of seven of Cardassia's best-equipped and trained Orders. It was the Central Detachment that was responsible for keeping the knife at Kai Opaka's throat, and now that she had proven incapable of keeping her flock in line....
"Prefect Koral, what do you wish us to do?"
Koral's jaw clenched. "Wipe them out, Gul Sevarak. Every living Bajoran within fifty kilometers of Ikila is to be put to death for this act of outright insurrection. The severity of our response should keep the others in line." And hopefully the Central Command will deal with these damned Humans and end this spark of revolt once and for all, he added to himself.
With Severak's orders given Koral returned to other work until a figure stepped through the door to his office. The being before him, while humanoid, only adopted that figure as a way to interact with his environment. Koral showed none of his general dislike for the shapeshifting biology sample called Odo, made security chief on Terok Nor by Koral's predecessor Gul Skrain Dukat, whom Koral regarded as too soft toward the Bajorans (just as he regarded Dukat as having been too soft). "Constable Odo?"
"You called, Gul Koral?"
"There's an uprising in Ikila. I want you to triple security patrols and institute a station-wide curfew of all personnel. Bajoran worker dependents are to be confined to the habitat ring until further notice. Any violation of curfew is to be dealt with by summary execution. Is that clear?"
Koral cursed at seeing Odo's reaction, or rather, apparent lack of one. The shapeshifter's flawed facsimilie of a humanoid's facial structure made him hard to read which, in turn, frustrated Koral and contributed to his mistrust. "It is, Gul. I'll begin the curfew immediately."
"See that you do." Koral watched Odo leave and put in a private call to Glin Durel, Odo's second in command, and as for as Koral was concerned, the proper security chief of the station. His orders would be repeated to Durel, with an additional one: Odo was not to be informed of Case Red, Koral's plan to blow the station up in event of imminent invasion... with the troublesome Bajoran population still aboard.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-09 02:17am
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Rouen, France, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate AR-12
03:12 GST



At the age of twenty-one, Mathias Malenfant had recently achieved the rank of Caporel in the Sixth Republic's Armée de Terre. Unlike many young men who proudly served the French nation upon conscription into the National Service, Mathias had decided to remain for a longer term and had proven himself capable of higher service, being assigned to train as a member of the elite 8ème Division de Chassuers d'Air (8th Air Cavalry Division).
Now that the Alliance was at war, the French Republic had ordered a partial mobilization so to maintain defense against the Japanese, Russians, and Germans, both on Earth and in her interstellar holdings. Reserves were being called up while various French Army units of sufficient skill were being assigned to the Alliance Army to fight Cardassia. The 8th Air Cavalry Division had been one of those units.
Now young Mathias was hugging his father goodbye. His father Pierre, who lost an arm fighting the Aggies sixteen years ago in Universe HM-1, slapped his son proudly on the back. His mother Marie handed him a final package of things she wanted him to have, and his younger sisters Marie-Anne and Caterina gave Mathias hugs on his way out.
Leaving his family's apartment in Rouen, Mathias took a taxi toward the bus station for his trip to beautiful Paris and the marshaling center chosen for the 8th Division. As he waited at the bus station, Mathias met a few other soldiers from the 8th Division or other units being called up, exchanging greetings with his comrades while waiting patiently. He looked toward the wall in the station and frowned at the propaganda poster recently put up for the war. It was a sad sight - the now-famous Bajoran mother at Gytep, covered in burns from the atomic explosion there and cradling the charred body of her dead child - and with it was the caption that read "Sons and Daughters of France, arise and avenge!" Mathias much preferred the poster that showed Marianne, Uncle Sam, and John Bull plunging rifle bayonets into a Cardassian soldier's chest with the flags of the Alliance and France above them all, an accompanying caption proclaiming "In Unity We Will Win Victory!". It reminded him that France was not alone, that all of the Allied Nations were in this fight together and that they would drive the Cardassians back with their combined strength. Of course, Mathias placed his faith mostly in French élan, which would certainly carry the day if all else seemed to fail, just as French courage had once held the lines at Verdun and Pithiviers.
Thinking of la gloire, as young soldiers and sons of victorious war veterans were prone to do, Mathias passed his boredom in waiting for the bus by humming and singing to himself...

Allons enfants de la Patrie (Arise children of the fatherland!)
Le jour de gloire est arrivé! (The day of glory has arrived!)
Contre nous de la tyrannie (Against us tyranny's)
L'étendard sanglant est levé! (Bloody standard is raised!)



Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
18:10 GST



Again in meeting with his commanders, SACST-3 Fleet Admiral Simonov wasn't sure how to respond to their intelligence liaison's delivery of Cardassian naval orders, fully decrypted and translated. "These Cardassian reinforcements are heavy. Another five hundred naval ships of their 2nd Fleet, to go with the five hundred or so ships that were used in their last operation at Darane." Simonov continued reading. "And another attempt on Darane?"
"According to the intel, yes. We have a number of messages between a 3rd Rank Gul Kevem and Cardassian Central Command indicating they're going to hit Darane again within 48 hours."
Simonov rubbed his forehead. "We are supposed to begin a bombing offensive on the Cardassian siege forces around Dolan and Salmio in thirty-nine hours. If this is true, those bombers will come right back into a mess of a battle."
"I'll arrange for an earlier launch, Sir," Air Marshal Polk said. "It'll take some doing..."
"Considering the secondary objective of the bombings, can we alter the time table that greatly?" General Crawford asked.
"It should be doable. Give me a few minutes and I'll have the order sent to change the time. Messages will dropped with the special load to Dolan."
"Has the 14th LR Fighter finished deploying yet?"
"Yes Admiral," Polk answered. "Two of its Fighter Groups are ready for operation. The 7th LR Fighter Group will be heading out with the 3rd Special Transport Group for the drop at Dolan."
"Good. Hopefully we can curb some of these transport losses. And that concludes this meeting, if you will excuse me, I must go arrange a few things to maintain the security of our code-breaking accomplishment and to prepare a proper welcome for the Cardassians at Darane. You are all dismissed."


WTC-3 Mother Goose 35, On Sub-Orbital Approach over Bajor
3 December 2153 AST
00:13 GST



Another group of WTC-3s was coming in to Bajor on what was being called the "Coffin Run" by cynical transport crews who'd seen too many of their own go down in flames from Cardassian attack. As they disengaged their ECSes and began their runs, eyes went nervously to the screens to watch the Cardassian attack craft scramble.
But there was to be a new element today. In formation around the transports were the sixty F-33 Spitfires of the 7th Long Range Fighter Group, now stationed on Darane for the "Dolan Run" as it was more positively called. The bulky aerospace fighters looked more like American F-14s of the late 20th Century than their more famous British namesakes of the Second World War, with swept back wings to be fully extended for atmospheric flight. Seated in the head of one of the formations, Wing Commander Greg Marshall flipped a switch on his controls. "Release drop tanks."
At that mark, all of the F-33s released the drop tanks that, now empty, had provided the anti-matter fuel to warp to Bajor, allowing the internal tank of the fighters to fuel their return flight. Unlike the naval escorts the WTC-3s had been given in their prior sorties, the F-33s had an advantage that would soon be clear to the Cardassian interceptors.
On cue, the reinforced Cardassian attack craft squadrons rose to deal with the transports. They had taken to remaining below the transports at all times, keeping the transports between them and escorting starfighters in orbit. But that was a tactic that no longer worked, as evidenced when a squadron of the F-33s plunged into the atmosphere along the WTC-3s, saying, "Feet hot" over their radios as they dove toward their prey. The Cardassian pilots were surprised by the arrival of these newcomers and some broke off to cover the others in their planned attacks on the WTC-3s.
Wings extended, the F-33s drew first blood with the use of their AIM-300s. The air-to-air missiles detached from their firing points on the underbelly of the F-33s and tracked down their targets. Shield flares appeared as they detonated against the deflector screens of various craft. In several cases the shields were not up to deflecting the energy of the explosions, leading to crumpled hull plating or even heavier damage, thus reducing the effectiveness of the craft. One exploded from a missile hitting too close to its fuel tanks and another began to plummet from losing an engine.
More F-33s plunged down to meet the initial attack while the Cardassians sent orders to scramble more attack craft. The initial squadron got close enough, in relative terms, that a dogfight broke out in the skies over Dolan.
Still watching their screens carefully, the crew of Mother Goose 35 opened their bays and began jettisoning their SHALO drop pods. It would only take a few minutes and then they could begin their climb to, in the words of the craft's commander, "get the hell out of here".


With a hand firmly on his flight stick, Flying Officer Quenton Lake pulled his Spitfire upward to keep his sights on one of the sleek Cardassian fighters burning hard on the WTC-3s. His HUD's targeting icon slipped upward toward the fighter as he pulled in behind it, until finally the fighter slipped into the box on the HUD and the targeting icon turned red while a buzz sounded in his ear. His finger pulled the trigger on his flight stick and two crimson beams of nuclear-disruption energy stabbed the Cardassian fighter. They lasted just long enough to bring down the craft's shields and slice open its rear. Flames erupted from the craft as it stopped ascending and began to plummet.
A warning light on his HUD told him he was being painted by a Cardie fighter. Lake spun away and raced his Spitfire down, trying to shake the Cardassian off. "This is Archer 3. I'm being targeted."
"I see him, Archer 3," his wingman answered in an Irish lilt. Pilot Officer Cera McGinnty's Spitfire followed them both while Lake evaded a shot from the Cardassian fighter's compressor beams. "I'll get him."


3rd Rank Glin Pela Uvek kept her Dagger-type craft behind the Alliance fighter, doing everything in her power to keep the enemy fighter in her sights. It twisted and weaved, heading downward at a faster rate. A female voice called out, "Uvek, break off! You have an enemy on you!" The young Cardassian pilot did so, twisting hard and now noticing the new enemy following her on her sensor screen.
Coming around, Uvek focused her sights back on her original foe, who was now twisting to intercept her wingmate. But her craft now flashed a warning that she was being targeted just before another target appeared on her screen. Uvek realized it was a missile and immediately maxed her engines out, racing downward to try and evade. She twisted hard, seeing the target get closer and closer and closer.... She slammed on the retro-engines, slowing and twisting even harder! The missile overshot her and continued on, finally colliding with the ground and sending up a massive plume of flame.
Uvek was just recovering and speeding up when Cera McGinnty's phaser cannons tore into her craft. The hit was on her cockpit, vaporizing three quarters of Uvek's body and leaving her dead craft without guidance as it fell toward the ground.


A feral grin was all the celebration Cera allowed herself before the dark-haired native of Sligo twisted her craft away from her target. A third fighter had descended from the fight above in a failed attempt to save Cera's target, while said target's wingmate was being chased by Lake. She turned toward him and switched back to her AIM-300s, of which she had four remaining. Crying "Fox One!" aloud and into her helmet's receiver, Cera's finger tensed on the trigger and sent the missile toward her target. He began to maneuver hard to avoid it while Cera returned to Lake to keep an eye on his six.
Lake was still trying to get a solid lock when Cera's warning lights went off. She evaded the shots against her just in time, twisting away and warning Lake that she had someone on her six. Her exact words were, "Get the bastard you're on, I'll take this ass on."


In Dolan, the streaks in the air had again sent Bajorans not fighting the Cardassian siege forces scrambling to make ready for the arrival of more supplies. But the new sight of many explosions and additional streaks brought some curiosity.
The curiosity increased as small craft could be seen twisting and turning about in the air, firing on one another with phasers and missiles. In one particular incident, two craft - one Cardassian, the other presumably Alliance - came low enough to be fully visible, with the roar of jet engines becoming very audible. The sleek Cardassian fighters were something the Bajorans in Dolan were regrettably familiar with, but the Alliance fighter, with its wings and tail fins, was certainly a new sight. The Bajorans watched anxiously as the Cardassian kept shooting at the Alliance fighter, who was dodging wildly, twisting here and breaking to the side there until.... Ah ha! A cheer came from several Bajorans as they saw the Alliance fighter shoot upward, slow, and cause the Cardassian to overshoot!
Within a moment the Alliance fighter pulled back downward and drifted to the side, getting right on the Cardassian fighter before it could move away. The hunter had become the hunted! Now it was the Cardassian's turn to try and escape, with the Alliance fighter staying on it fiercely, the two craft coming so low that the jet engines were starting to become deafening.
Suddenly there was a high-pitched repeating sound in the air as the two 20mm railguns in the Alliance fighter's chin came to life. Tracer fire streaked through the air, clearly hitting the Cardassian fighter. Even before the first tracers hit, flame began erupting from the rear of the Cardassian craft. An explosion consumed the rear half, causing the fighter to plummet downward with a sound that grew louder and louder until BOOM! The fireball of the crash erupted from the side of Mount Deyis to the east. A roar came from the Bajorans as they wildly celebrated the Alliance fighter's victory. The fighter raced overhead at a safe altitude, spinning and answering their roar with its own to the continued cheering of the Bajorans.
Which was when a solid beam came from the nearby forest, spearing the fighter's rear.


Cera McGinnty giggled to herself, having seen the cheering Bajorans below, and did a quick spin to show off. She was about to pull back on the stick to return to the upper atmosphere when her fighter rocked violently. Warnings went off all around her as her HUD displayed the damage to one of her engines and a wing. There was no way she was going to make it back to orbit. Growling to herself, she shouted, "Archer 4 here, I've taken a hit. I have to bug out!" She pulled the fighter toward Mount Deyis and then pulled the eject lever. The cockpit and the anti-matter tank was tossed out of the frame of the fighter by their built-in thrusters. The computers had already been programmed with the "safe" landing areas - being Dolan and territory outside the Cardassian siege lines - with Dolan being the optimum landing site and thankfully in range. Cera watched her craft fly on to the mountain, where it went up in a plume of flame.
Normally not religious, she had been raised Catholic nevertheless and Cera whispered a few prayers of thanks to God and to Saint Patrick, glad her homeland's heavenly patron had seen fit to yet again get a little help from the Big Guy Himself in keeping her safe, no matter how long it'd been since she'd last been to church or given confession and the like. She smirked and wondered how good rations would taste, since it looked like she'd be living with the besieged Bajorans for a while.


Gobens was directing the redirection of the supplies coming down when his lieutenants brought him to a particular set of pods, larger than the others.
Soon it was clear what had arrived; Alliance truck vehicles. Smiling thinly he looked over the rugged trucks, which all contained the necessary instructions for operating them and a set of instructions, coded in High Bajoran with a code he'd already been provided with, informing him of a change in intended plan for the "special operation" arranged with the Alliance Aerospace Force. With decoder in hand he looked over the data and grumbled at the moving up of the schedule. His own preparations would have to be hastened...


Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
10:00 GST



The meeting had begun as soon as Legate Kelataza had arrived, again late from what Relim suspected was a rendezvous with his mistress. Gul Kevem sent them a message to the effect that 2nd Fleet was in position and that they would be launching a full sortie in thirty hours.
Now the discussion was directed toward deciding if Relim's strategy from before should be repeated. Yatar declared it a failed plan and insisted that all forces be placed into a knockout blow against the Aliance fleet at Darane. "Even now, we are developing counter-measure tactics to deal with Alliance fighters," Yatar informed them all. "Outer screens of our lighter warships can be used to keep enemy fighters distant through the use of their main weapons. Then we can use superior numbers to overwhelm their fleet."
"Those numbers will not remain superior for much longer," Relim retorted. "Our losses in each engagement have been staggering. The Alliance's ships carry more weapon emplacements than our's and they have superior alloys for crafting armor that easily trumps the hulls of our ships. If you would bother to look at the footage from the battles, Gul Hergata, you would see that direct hits capable of crippling our ships or a Federation starship are in fact absorbed by Alliance vessels of the same type." Relim slammed a hand on the table. "Our one hope is to hit them in such a way as to make them overly cautious, giving us time to recover and perhaps bring them to the negotiating table. If we destroy more of their carriers, the importance they place in them will serve that purpose. Having our fleet gutted in another direct naval confrontation will not, even with your proposed countermeasures, which I doubt will work to the level needed to nullify the Alliance's advantage."
"We cannot allow this war to linger for much longer," he continued, now addressing everyone at the table. "Though this war is not yet two weeks old, we have lost two billion tons of shipping capacity, including the loss of the Cardassia's Pride and all of the troops and supplies aboard it. We have been unable to effectively counter the stealth ship threat, with which the Alliance has been cutting away at our lines of supply. It is like we are fighting the mythical Horvik, and even as our blades press against each other, the Horvik's other hands are at our throat."
"How do you suggest we end the war, Gul Torcet?"
"Maintain a plan to maintain reserves to hit their carriers, or redeploy portions of the fleet in strikes against their bases in their colonial zone," Relim replied. "We must do something to give them pause in this war. Anything to remove the pressure upon us."

"And if we fail?" Relim noticed the sharp gaze of Gul Keve. "What shall we do then, Gul?"
"There is only one thing left then." Relim returned the gaze. "We sue for peace."
"Even if it means giving them Bajor?"
"Yes. Every man at this table knows how little Bajor is actually worth to Cardassia. The decision to remain there and to pursue Bajoran expatriates was motivated by reasons of pride that, while freely entertainable in peacetime, must be put aside in war for the good of Cardassia."
"Gul Torcet, to give up territory is a... dangerous course to take," was Keve's reply. "Our subjects are kept in line with the knowledge that Cardassian Will is indominatable. This may change if we willingly hand over Bajor."
"Gul Keve, if we lose the fleet we've gathered, they will take Bajor anyway, and we will have lost the prize of the war. In our hands, Bajor is a negotiating chip to win concessions in other areas. Once we lose it, we have nothing with which to negotiate."
"Then we should not lose it." Keve rose from his seat. "We will not peddle our rightful territories away like some spineless Federation diplomat! We will make them fight for every inch of Cardassian space!"
Relim scowled. "If we lose our fleet then we will not have the weapons with which to fight for every inch of our space! The combat power of the Alliance fleet is unrivaled, we cannot simply blunder about with numbers and hope to win!"
"There is Third Fleet," Yatar suddenly said.
Both looked to him. "Third Fleet is still monitoring our frontiers facing the Ferengi, Klingons, and Federation," Relim said. "I'll remind you that we placed them there to serve as heightened border defense after our setbacks."
"Our intelligence states that the Klingons will likely have a succession problem. The two sisters of Duras have been hiding a nephew and son of Duras that they intend to hold up as a legitimate heir and claimant to the Chancellory. We will risk no threat from that quarter. And the Ferengi and Federation are no threats at all. Our reinforcing squadrons from Home Fleet should be more than enough to cover the border. If we move Third Fleet to Kurvak, then there is a force that can oppose Alliance landings on Bajor with enough strength to repel anything but the strongest Alliance fleet."

Relim scowled. "Why was I not informed?"
Yatar looked at him and smirked. "Currently there are no military applications to the information. There was no need to inform you."
Kelataza slammed a fist on the desk to get everyone's attention. "It is time to get back on track. I, personally, see no reason to reject Gul Torcet's plan. Given the appropriate number of ships, it should work."
Gul Keve nodded in agreement. Now it was Yatar's turn to scowl.
"As for Bajor, we shall see how the battle goes. Even if we lose, certainly the Alliance will accept an alteration to the Bajorans' legal status in our empire and the granting of self-rule. We will even offer to pull our troops off-world and to keep them out unless they're needed for security reasons."
"The Alliance will not be satisfied by anything less than Bajoran political independence."
"This would be independence, Gul. A compromise position, one I do not think the Alliance can lightly pass up. After all, who knows what could happen in war." Kelataza stood. "Our plans are fixed. For the good of Cardassia, we must prevail in the coming battle."



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-11 02:42am
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Chapter 10


Dolan, Bajor, Cardassian Union
23:22 GST



The besieged city of Dolan was within a small gap between forested mountains in Bajor's northern regions. It was easily-defended as such, as the Cardassians had now learned, but at the same time it was easy to block off. Only three roads led out of the city, and only one - heading southeast - came to a town within a two hour driveby powered vehicle.
Sitting on that road was the Ikor Pavak Provisional Group, a force of about 500 Cardassian men who had been placed into the army as a result of committing crimes. The Cardassians used their convict-soldiers as cannon fodder in most cases, and as such used them widely on Bajor, since it was better for the convicts to get killed than trained professional soldiers. This policy had backfired in one key area; the Ikor and their criminal compatriots were prone to committing vicious atrocity after atrocity. These men had often served time in labor camps and prison mines themselves and had no compunction about doing to others what they'd had done to themselves, especially since they were still subject to the same punishments they'd been under while in confinement.
Ikor Pavak had a reputation among the people of Dolan already. Their forward position was within eyesight of several Bajoran observation posts, and it was here that the Ikor placed their prisoners... after they were through with them, and the screams of their victims were often audible to the Bajoran defense lines when the guns were silent. After the Ikor finished amusing themselves by gang-raping and torturing their prisoners - usually Bajorans from outside Dolan who foolishly tried to break through at night with handfuls of supplies or news pamphlets - they often killed them by cutting open their bellies and pulling their intestines out, hanging their expiring victims from nearby trees and posts with their own entrails and always ensuring that the Bajorans in Dolan could see the fate of their countrymen.
Atrocities like this usually stiffened Bajoran resolve and instilled anger at the same time, while for other Cardassian units, it increased contempt and hatred for the "convict-conscripts". There were long-running hatreds between the convict troops and the main army, the latter blaming the former for the vicious insurgency they often had to die fighting against, while the former simply hated the latter simply out of their own condition.
Members of Ikor Pavak bragged often that they had no fear of death. And their questionable valor was about to be tested in a way they hadn't yet imagined....


Bomber Atomic Dolphin


Miles above the Ikor Pavak, sixty B-202 aerospace bombers dropped into the atmosphere. F-33 Spitfires plunged down once more to intercept Cardassian attack craft while naval F-31 Hellcats and A-12 Marauders from the carrier Audacious dealt with targets that might strike from space.
At the piloting controls for the B-202 Bomber called the Atomic Dolphin, Squadron Leader Sheppard took a drag from his lit cigar while the bombardier reported that they were ready to drop. "Okay Cardies, here's yer wake up call. Hope you like yer breakfast hot."
From the bellies of all sixty bombers, tons of napalm explosives poured out. Each bomb was guided in the same fashion as a SHALO transport pod, with clearly delineated areas programmed for impact: the southeast road and the areas around it. From his pilot seat, Sheppard lifted the B-202 out of the atmosphere as soon as the bomb bay emptied and was closed, all the while ensuring the bomber's recorders were keeping a record of what hit where for use in the after action report.


The bombing was something the Cardassians had simply never dealt with before. They'd been given little warning, as their commanders assumed the craft above were simply more transports dropping more of those damned weapons to the Bajorans, and were mostly out in the open as the bombs went off about them. The napalm burned hotly, made of various synthetic petroleum and other chemicals turned to jelly form. Those who survived the explosions ran and crawled about in horrific agony as their very flesh was burned off of their bodies, coated as they were by the burning material. They finally died, one at a time, screaming until their brains were literally cooked within their skulls or their bodies shut down from shock. A few suffered a particularly grueling fate, the napalm making its way down into their airpipe. Even the bodies of their Bajoran victims were quickly consumed by the cleansing flames which simply engulfed the entire area southeast of Dolan. Cardassian fire suppression units were called in to combat the fire before it could spread through the forested areas to other Cardassian positions. When the fire died, it would be found that every man in Ikor Pavak had been killed, many of them burned alive.
The Cardassians, led by Gul Odar, were not sure what had begun. Oh, they knew the Alliance had performed this attack, but the enemy intentions were not yet clear.
They were still in this state of uncertainty, even confusion, thirty minutes later when another bomber group of sixty bombers arrived. Again the Cardassian attack craft scrambled and again the bombs fell, this time plasma explosives that hammered the troops around the western roads out of Dolan. Just after the bombings the Bajorans used heavy mortars and some light 75mm artillery that had been dropped to them to begin a limited offensive against the Cardassian siege forces, concentrated on the western road. The shelling was followed by teams and groups of Bajorans in ragged clothes carrying their AK-90s and newly-furnished MP-10s into range to lay down suppressing fire. Gul Odar assumed it was an attempt to break the siege and deployed troops toward the west to pinch off the Bajorans and stop the breakout.
In truth, dozens of Bajorans were going to sacrifice their lives for an entirely different reason. As the Cardassians pulled toward the west, a second force raced out of the southeast as soon as the Cardassians had finished suppressing the fires immediately upon the road. Mounted on the trucks air-dropped in the last few runs by Alliance forces, only the outer edges of the formation contained the fighters intending to occupy the road. In the middle vehicles, crammed in as tightly as possible, were dozens of the smallest Bajoran children in the city.
From above more craft appeared; A-11 Tornados newly deployed to the bases on Darane. The tactical bombers flew low and strafed and bombed Cardassian forces attempting to intercept the convoy while further above, fresh squadrons of F-33 Spitfires continued to viciously dogfight with the Cardassian attack craft. There was the usual push and shove as fighters on both sides went down. Some of the A-11s gave support to the beleaguered Bajorans in the west, all of them volunteers who had offered their lives for the chance to get their children out of the siege, allowing for them to slowly extricate themselves from the vicious Cardassian counterattack. One A-11 was hit by a stray Cardassian shot and its pilot and Sensor Officer forced to eject as the craft slammed into the ground east of the city.
After four hours of vicious fighting, the short-lived breakout ended with Cardassian troops again reclaiming both the western and southeastern roads. Dead Bajorans and Cardassians lay everywhere, but the Bajoran dead would have the claim to victory. Their sacrifices had not been in vain; over five hundred children had been evacuated successfully, to be dispersed immediately to prevent Cardassian authorities from finding them. Four B-202s were shot down, along with ten F-33s and four A-11s, leading to about thirty Alliance fatalities in their part of the operation.


Finch Army Base, Corworth 3, ADN Colonial Zone
4 December 2153 AST
04:15 GST



The Finch Army Base landing tarmac had an entire area cleared for the incoming shuttle, which was being welcomed by an awaiting party of officers led by Lieutenant General Chad Dahlstrom, commander of LXXXI Corps. The vessel touched down and a side door opened, allowing for officers to step out. The first one was a woman with a bionic arm in the AFFC uniform, her rank insignia that of an AFFC Field Marshal, accompanied by a Marshal and other officers. General Dahlstrom saluted the Field Marshal. "Field Marshal Bisla, Marshal McFarland, welcome to Finch Army Base. I'm General Dahlstrom."
"General Dahlstrom, a pleasure," Vanessa Bisla replied. "I look forward to working with the Alliance military once again."
"Pleasure's mine, ma'am. Allow me to introduce Colonel Isabelle Sampson, my chief of staff, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Jones, who will be senior liaison to your command." Dahlstrom indicated the two officers closest to him, a woman of mostly Caucasian complexion and appearance and a man of dark African complexion. Moving on to other officers, the introduction continued. "And this is Major Tyrone Lawson and Captains Reiko Tokugawa and Henry Frost, the commanders of our junior planning staff."
Bisla introduced herself and James McFarland formally before moving on to other officers, including a young Oriental man with gray eyes and dark hair. "...and Hauptmann Kai Allard-Liao, the head of our junior planning group when he's not in his company command in our 2nd Battalion."
With introductions finished it was time to show them about the base, which was done in a convoy of open jeeps. One of the things shown was the third flag pole that had been added to Finch Army Base's main offices. Already the flags of the Alliance and the United Kingdom - the legal authority of the Corworth system - had flown there, and now the flag of the Federated Commonwealth joined them.
Later on came the staff meetings, the establishment of a joint planning staff headed by Major Lawson, and other sundry things associated with establishing quarters for the thousands of Commonwealth troops incoming. Ten divisions worth of Commonwealth and mercenary troops as an opening wave, including crack units like McFarland's 10th Lyran Guards, the 1st Davion and Heavy Davion Guards, and three regiments of Wolf Dragoons, accompanied by one hundred and fifty combat starships of varying type and class, all assigned under the banner of the Federated Commonwealth Expeditionary Force (FCEF) with Field Marshal Bisla in command.
Within that first day, the plans were being prepared for Operation: Percival and the Commonwealth's official entry into the fighting. It was well known to them that this was a secondary front - one that the FedComs hoped could be made more prominent anyway - and that while the Federated Commonwealth prepared to strike its own blow against the Cardassian Union Alliance soldiers would be fighting and dying on the other fronts.


East Landing, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
10:20 GST



The East Landing Spaceport was a smaller facility primarily used for private craft and some light transports. Located away from the growing urban region of Wexford it was a tad less hectic, more laid back in environment... well, except for now. With a war on and the planet under a 24/7 moderate defense alert, security had been stepped up to deal with the threat of Cardassian saboteurs and ships were rather more common, the result of the traffic increase to support the military's efforts.
The security guards, augmented by planetary militia, waved through a non-descript sedan to the hanger area. Adorned with no markings it was still clearly a rather official vehicle, and the driver inside had shown then impeccable ID.
Inside the sedan, Police Agent Nick Hartford, New Liberty Criminal Investigation Department, brought the vehicle to a stop near the large hanger they were interested in. Nick fit some of the stereotypes one had for older English policemen: cleanshaven, a bit rough in language at times but not overly passionate and aggressive, and with a penchant for heavy coats to fit his burly frame. At six foot three feet he could be fairly intimidating as cops went, though his mind was a more methodical one. He brought up a set of binoculars and looked at the rear of one of the Max-sized Hangers, from which the rear engine assembly of a massive ST-3 indigenious ship was visible thanks to the internal lights. "Aren't they supposed to keep ships that big ported at the Orbital Station?", he asked pointedly, his English accent one of the less refined types, though not to the slang-filled tones of Cockney.
"Depends on her atmospheric stability, not size," his partner remarked tiredly. Agent Mayuko Burley - May to her friends - was a Yank in a CID brimming with Brits, slipping into an open agent slot after a failed bid to get into the FBI and four years of detective service with Schwarzeneggerburg PD, one of the major cities on her homeworld of Pacifica (Universe GS-42). She was half-Caucasian and half-Japanese, the latter evident by the slight colored tone to her skin and a bit of slimness in her eye structure. Physically she contrasted Agent Hartford's burly frame with a smaller, if solid figure on the athletic side, having some curves of attractive quality when they weren't obscured under an agent jacket or coat. The most striking thing about Mayuko was the highly rare condition she possessed: complete heterochromia of the eyes, with the right one green and the left blue.

As the senior Agent, Nick went first. "Oh bloody hell, we've got a long enough day as it is and a five hour drive on the H2 to get back to Wexford. I say we get this business over with."
"Your call, Nick." She let him get out of the sedan first before emerging herself, checking habitually to ensure her sidearm - a Glock-Hollings 9mm particle charge pistol - was in place. It was still new to her, as the Schwartzer PD (as it was called back home) had still been using chem-propellant semi-automatic pistols for officer sidearms.
"I can't believe we're doin' this for the bleedin' Feddies," Nick complained as they walked toward the hanger. It was dawn in this time zone of New Liberty, the system's sun beginning the lit portion of the planet's twenty-four hour 32 minute day. "They've just got their panties in a twist over the war."
"Bank robbers are bank robbers, Nick," May answered. "We've got to give them an interview and check out their stories. Last thing we need is for some glorified pirate band to set up shop here on New Liberty, right?"
"Sure, sure. All I know is that I had to get up far too early for this shit."
Mayuko cracked a grin at that and stepped up to the door. A makeshift paper adhered to it listed the bland, ultimately forgettable name of "Ogawa Transport". She pressed on the chime button beside it while Nick looked around, irritable and in very clear need of coffee.
The door opened and a bleary-eyed young woman answered them. She looked Human - though in ST-3 looking Human didn't always mean being Human - with a mess of blond hair cascading around her shoulders. A Federation-style civilian jumpsuit was something in clear contrast to the multi-piece garb of the two police agents, though it was rather flattering on the girl. "We don't open for another hour," the girl said, stifling a yawn.
The two presented their credentials. "Criminal Investigation Department, miss," Nick said. "Agents Hartford and Burley. We need to speak with you."
"Me?"
"All of you," Mayuko added, after which a disgruntled snort came from her partner. "But we can start with your boss. Yumiko Ogawa?"
The woman gave a nod. "She's in the office, follow me." She turned and led them in.
For all his tiredness, Nick did clearly give a leer toward the curved backside of their guide, visible as it was with her tight jumpsuit. "See anything you like?", Mayuko said in a soft, low tone, but with a bite to it.
"Maybe."
Flashing him a smirk, she replied, "Yeah, it is a nice view, isn't it?"
Now it was Nick's turn to look at her quizzically, even as they stepped out into the main hanger. The starship within was, truly, one of the larger planet-capable vessels, twice the size of a large scale atmospheric passenger liner (the modern equivalent to the 20th Century's "jumbo jets") with a fair degree of cargo space. It was also at least seven stories, so it was at least a seven deck craft, the hull a green color the like that Romulans preferred on their ships. The Cochrane drive nacelles were built into the frame along the "wings" of the ship, one directly overhead of them with a couple suited people crawling over it.
The blonde girl led them on, trying not to smirk as she overheard the police agents' discussion. Nick, after fumbling for a moment at his partner's words, started to say, "Known you for a couple months, May, I didn't know you... y'know... kept an eye out for your own."

The younger woman rolled her eyes. "It's the 25th Century, Nick. I find the whole "sexual preferences" label a bit... old fashioned."
"Actually, it's the 24th Century," the young woman ahead of them stated. "At least... it is here."
"25th Century for GS-42, Miss....?"
At the prompting, the blonde girl stopped and turned. "I am called Larrisa. I am... was... of the Edo. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Agent Burley."
She answered Larrisa with a polite smile and then looked back to Nick as they resumed their trip.
"Looks like you're not the only one with an eye for..."
"Ah ah ah, Agent Hartford. We're here on business, remember?" Mayuko allowed herself a bit of a smirk. Tweaking her uptight partner was a bit of fun for her, especially exploiting the "Yank vs. Brit" cultural differences.
Larrisa brought them to the corner office. It was rather spartan in furnishment at the moment, with just two desks, both occupied. One occupant was a dark-haired woman of tan complexion, hair cut neck-line short, wearing a blouse that Mayuko considered one size too small and a pair of knee-length ladies' shorts. The other, Oriental in appearance and more modestly attired in jacket and trousers, was clearly the boss. "Miss Ogawa? There are police agents here to see you," Larrisa said from the office door, in a tone that made both detectives think this wasn't the first time such had happened.
"Ah, welcome, please," Miss Ogawa - Asako t'Prinn sliding easily and swiftly into her civilian alias - stated. "May we get you something? The replicators aren't in service yet, but we do have a coffee machine."
"No, it's fine," Mayuko said, cutting off Nick before he might insist on a cup of joe. "I'm Agent Burley, this is Agent Hartford, New Liberty Criminal Investigation Department." She motioned to Nick while retrieving her credentials to show Asako. "We're here following up a case. There was a bank robbery of sorts in the Federation a couple weeks ago, on New Styria. I believe that is the planet you last visited before coming here?"
"Why, yes, I remember hearing that on the planetary newsnet before we departed," Ogawa stated.
"Starfleet Security has determined by witness statements and forensics that Bajorans were responsible for the heist. And as anyone with a TV or holo-set knows, your vessel took on a couple hundred of them on New Styria. We'd like the names and locations of the Bajorans you took aboard and genetic samples to compare them, and your crew, against those provided by Starfleet."
Asako had a bemused look on her face. "Is that all?"
"Well, we also want to interview the members of your crew, see if any of them overheard anything," Nick said, taking over, picking up on Mayuko playing the hard-nosed young bitch cop by slipping into the place of the older, world-weary, easy-going cop. "It's just a routine thing, Miss Ogawa. The Feddies sent us your info, thought you needed checking into, and our bosses are just following up. The fact it took us this long to get out here, well, with the war on and all, it's no big deal, just something that needs to be done."

At that Asako grinned. She was no stranger to police behavior either. "Well, Agent Hartford, you can feel free to ask my crew anything you desire, and I'll have Sophia give you a list of our Bajoran passengers to look up, but I'm afraid I have to pass on the genetic samples. Unless, of course, you have a warrant?"
"Do we need to get one?," Mayuko asked, in a rather aggressive tone. "Something you think you need to hide?"
For a moment Asako didn't answer. Then she pleasantly put her hands together and leaned forward. "Agent Burley, you may take for granted life in a society of law and of rights, but we did not have that luxury. We have lived in societies dominated by the state exercising power, legal or unofficial, to monitor and spy upon its citizens, to take genetic material and all such things at will without our consent, even without our knowledge. So I hope you'll understand if we clasp hard onto the rule of law now that we enjoy it here in the Alliance, even if we have nothing to hide."
"The interviews will be fine, for now, Miss Ogawa," Nick answered, sparing Mayuko the need to continue her hardcore approach.
"This is my partner Sophia," Asako stated, motioning to Sophia in the other chair. "She will arrange the interviews you have requested and provide you the names and listed destinations of the Bajorans we had aboard. Is there anything else you would like?"
"Nothing else for now," Mayuko remarked. She kept the edge to her voice for effect, though it was clear now they were dealing with a cool customer, involved with the Styrian heist or not. She gave Nick a look that indicated her doubt that they'd get anything useful. He returned it; he could tell they were in for a tough time on this case as well.
But the job was just that; the job. They'd follow through on it - you never knew what might come loose on accident - and pursue the case from other directions.


DNS Suffren CVF-2, Classified Location
12:00 GST



It was noon general-time on the carrier Suffren, newly arrived to the Alpha Quadrant and now close to the location it had been ordered to in preparation for an operation against the Cardassians. Seated in the carrier's CIC, Line Captain Emily McGruder and her ship's CAG, Commander Pierre du Plessis, were going over the final details of the operation while awaiting the final launch authority from command.
"Given what happened to the Kaga, it's no wonder they assigned an extra division of destroyers to our task forces." McGruder shook her head. "Something of a waste, though, and I don't like having extra ships that could get us detected."
"The Admirals are nervous from losing Kaga. They know the Cardassians are finally recognizing the danger of our fighters and that they'll be looking to take us out."
"They got lucky." McGruder sighed and looked to the comm station. Any time now, the order to sortie could come. It all depended on what happened over at Darane.


CDS Strovek Ikav, Near Darane
15:12 GST



The Model VII Galor was racing toward Darane at cruise speed and was not racing alone. 3rd Rank Gul Kevem was in his command chair, staring out at the grand fleet assembled around him.
Never before had the Cardassian Empire amassed such an armada. One hundred and sixty ships from what remained of the Bajoran Sector Fleet. Seventy-five survivors from the 1st Fleet, plus the entire 2nd Fleet of five hundred ships. Following behind them were three hundred ships from the Federation Frontier Fleet, their losses at the first fight of Darane replaced by incoming squadrons and elements of Home Fleet as it, in turn, was reinforced by yet other units in Cardassia's far-flung reaches. One thousand and thirty-five ships in all. Seven hundred would strike the enemy at Darane, while the others remained behind as a reserve for attacking carriers.
Or so was the plan from Central Command. Kevem, however, had his doubts as to their necessity. He was at the head of the greatest fleet ever assembled in Cardassian history. Its pure weight should be enough to shatter the fleet opposed to it.
"We're coming into range of Darane, sir. It's time to break off the reserves."
Kevem heard his subordinate's report and looked to his sensor officer. "What is the enemy's strength?"
"One moment, running through spectrums.... Sir, reading over five hundred enemy contacts."
"We outnumber them two to one, then. With a fleet of this size...." Kevem put a hand on his chin for a moment. "Detach the three hundred reserves. All other ships are to enter attack formation. The battle begins now."


DNS Sam Houston, Darane
15:15 GST



The twenty year old Texan-built heavy dreadnought Sam Houston, now in Alliance service, was the chosen flagship of Admiral Helen Davis of the 14th Fleet. The "heavy dreadnought" had been an attempt to mimic the first "superdreadnought" of the Multiverse, the Israeli Tikvah. Admiral Davis, a native of the rich world of New Midland in the Republic of Texas (Universe FHI-8), had served on the Sam Houston as an officer during the Aggie War and had seen the great Allied victories against the Agresskan at Alpha Droxi and Korv'veka. Now she would again be fighting an alien threat unknown back in her home universe.
14th Fleet's strength had been effectively reduced by the First Battle of Darane. After the hammering taken in the last battle, all damaged ships able to withdraw were sent back to Kensington and New Liberty for repair, reducing Task Force 14.3 to about fifty ships. Ships like the Musashi had been patched up in space with the help of dockships but had not regained warp capability yet, so they too were stuck and would be forced to fight.
However, all of 14th Fleet had gathered now; four task forces with about 400 ships, reinforced by most of Task Force 5.4. The Alliance battle line now possessed fifteen dreadnoughts and seventy battleships as part of a five hundred ship force. Kestrel and Benjamin Disraeli were still present as well, their fighters launching even now.
"Enemy fleet approaching, Admiral. Seven hundred vessels on intercept course. The Delium reports that an additional three hundred contacts are hanging back."
"Waiting for our carriers." Davis bit her lip. She knew the carriers would come, but not at first. Command had something up its sleeve, she was sure. A nasty trick... and all she had to do was play pin cushion until the carriers were permitted to attack. "Okay everyone, this is what all our training's been for. Let's give them a pasting."


CDS Strovek Ikav


With training-honed precision, the Strovek and the other ships of the Cardassian armada dropped out of warp together in such a way as to maintain their formations. The impulse engines on the ships fired and accelerated them forward toward the waiting Alliance fleet, half a million kilometers away. The distance was considered a dangerous one, but Zygola had proven to the Cardassians that if they came in too far out an Alliance fleet could whittle them down before they could close.
Immediately there was a hail of fire from the Alliance fleet. Missiles were now being countered by ships from each squadron with weapons set for low-powered rapid fire, filling space with fire as missiles were shot down everywhere. The other ships in the squadrons opened fire with torpedoes and compressors. Kevem had left the formation loose, another lesson from Zygola, which reduced losses from the fire.
The pure volume of fire from the Alliance fleet took out twenty-five of Kevem's ships and damaged dozens more to varying extents, but that was to be expected. As they closed within 100,000 kilometers the Cardassian fire was becoming more effective. Kevem's fleet barreled right into the center of the Alliance battle line, and as he'd hoped, the enemy admiral split the Alliance fleet to repeat Zygola.
"Are they inbound?"
"Yes sir." His aide, 6th Rank Gul Durek, looked uncertain. "Won't the Central Command be angry with you for this?"
"So long as I win, they will not care," was Kevem's reply.


DNS Sam Houston


Admiral Lewis' seat shook a little under her from the impact of four photon torpedoes on the Houston's dorsal and port shields. The Cardassian fleet had forced her to split her force, as they'd done to Kentworth at Zygola, which only aided the overall plan.
Light years away from Darane, covered by ECM and activity in the Badlands, were the carriers Enterprise, Akagi, Lexington, Audacious, and Formidable. They were awaiting a go code that would come from Command as part of a larger diversion op coordinated with some battle carriers and, if Lewis was right, two more of the fleet carriers. It was hoped that whatever diversion was being called would lead to the enemy bringing in their reserve meant for the carriers.
Which meant that for now her fleet had to take the hammering from the sheer numbers of the Cardassians. They had clearly learned from Zygola, coming in even closer and with a wider formation, and now assigning ships to be point-defense and shoot down incoming missiles.
A rumble through the deck told Lewis that the Houston's powerful 600mm mass drivers had just fired. They were built into the broadsides and bow of the ship, unable to be turreted, with two facing forward and six facing to the port and starboard. The slugs they tossed relied a lot on KE, though each had a plasma warhead or a smaller high-explosive one with AP cap. She watched with satisfaction as one of the Cardassian Keldons took a direct hit from two slugs, including one to a warp nacelle that caused the plasma circulating through it to explode. The ship rocked from the force and its pilot lost control, causing him to collide with a Model VI Galor. The two ships survived for a moment before four 290mm particle beams from the Vaclav Havel sliced them apart.
The Cardassians were still giving them good, of course. With a grimace on her face, Lewis watched the valiant Musashi get battered yet again. She had evacuated Admiral Smith from Musashi, fortunately, but the rest of its crew proved very unlucky as torpedo after torpedo pounded the wounded and crippled dreadnought to scrap until it literally came apart.

By this point her fleet was divided and was moving to link up again at the tail of the Cardassian formation. The Cardassians avoided the disasterous maneuver at Zygola that had cost them so many ships, remaining spread out enough that they didn't lose nearly as many ships.
So far the Cardassians had lost about fifty ships, with her fleet down thirty-four. This was not the pace she wanted, but she'd expected to get hammered before the distraction worked.
The ship shook again from two Galors pouring compressor fire at the Houston. Her secondary batteries of pulse phaser cannon turrets opened fire, pounding on the Galors' shields until they gave away. One was crippled by direct hits while the other twisted away, only to have its tail hit by the Prince Amir.
"Admiral! Three hundred more enemy contacts coming out of warp at six hundred kilo-klicks!"
Lewis bit her lip. That was way too early. Nevertheless, it was what they'd wanted. "Signal the carriers, tell 'em the reserve's here!" The thin Texan brunette stabbed a finger at another station. "Have Task Forces 1 and 4 speed up and cut through the enemy fleet! They're trying to isolate them!"
It was at that moment that everything became clear to Lewis. The bastard Cardassian had never intended to hold his reserve back! Even now she could see his main fleet concentrating between the halves of her fleet, isolating Task Forces 1 and 4 to hammer them with impunity.
"Sir, we're having a little trouble getting through the Cardassian jamming. But.... a reply from Enterprise! 'Have not received go command. You must hold. Over.'"
"To hell with that!" Lewis' angry shout echoed in the command room. "You tell that Yankee sonovabitch to get his fucking ass here now!"


CDS Strovek Ikav


Kevem watched with satisfaction as his reserve came down on nearly one half of the Alliance fleet, isolating and hammering two hundred and forty-three of the enemy's ships while his main fleet easily kept them seperate. This had worked for the Alliance at Zygola; now it would work for him. Contact after contact began to wink out on his screen as one half of the Alliance fleet was mercilessly squeezed between hundreds of Cardassian vessels. His losses were creeping near one hundred now, counting both outright destroyed ships and those that had taken some kind of crippling damage, but he still had nine hundred warships with which to pulverize four hundred and thirty.
No, four hundred and twenty-nine.... twenty-eight.... Kevem smiled. This would be his hour of glory. He would prevail here, drive the Alliance out of Darane, and turn the tide back to Cardassia's favor.
Four hundred and twenty-five...


DNS Patrick O'Neill DD-248


The Patrick O'Neill was a newer Callaghan-class destroyer, armed primarily with nuclear-disruptor weapons (known as phasers in the ST-3 nomenclature) and torpedo launchers as well as point-defense weapons. In its inner keel, Commander Roger Wolsely was doing his best to keep his ship alive in the fracas.
Patrick O'Neill's weapons were firing everywhere and concentrating on the smaller Cardassian ships trying to make torpedo runs on the French battleship Jeanne d'Arc. Nearby the Russian battleship Admiral Pavlov took five direct hits to her weakened starboard shields and suffered armor damage.
Three of O'Neill's phaser beams converged on a Cardassian Ikvak and cut through its damaged hull, allowing the pulse phasers on the bow to hit cleanly and take out the Cardie ship's left nacelle.
"Sir, more destroyers!"
Wolsely's English accent echoed in the command center. "Turn to starboard! Fire torpedoes!"
The Patrick O'Neill and the three remaining destroyers in her division turned toward the incoming Cardassian pack and fired their Mark XVs. The anti-matter torpedoes, a new generation meant only for ship use, packed a wallop that would become evident when six out of eight made contact. Every first hit knocked down the bow shield of a Cardassian ship; the two cases of a second hit blew out entire portions of the ships' hulls and effectively removed them from the battle.

Immediately after this the destroyers opened up with bow energy weapons, as did the Cardassians. Patrick O'Neill took three beams to her bow, being the focus of three of the survivors before two died from Alliance fire. The ship rocked violently and pulled every officer and NCO in the command center against his or her harnesses. "Direct hits, bow quarter! We've lost Torpedo Tube 2!"
"Emergency forcefields in place!"
Even as these reports came in, O'Neill continued to fight. Her phaser weapons sliced into a Cardassian cruiser trying and failing to engage the Pavlov in a gunnery duel. Pavlov's 290mm particle cannons retorted and tore the Cardassian apart.
Immediately behind it, two more Cardassian Dorkaraks poured fire into Pavlov's wounded starboard. Compressor beams flayed armor away that photon torpedoes then pulverized, creating gaping holes in the Russian battleship's hull. Her destroyer screen was gone now, all lost to the press of the Cardassian fleet.
Wolsely wanted to come to the ship's aid, but his place was with Jeanne d'Arc, which needed his help. However, Jeanne d'Arc proved to not be blind to her comrade's distress. The ship's graser battery turned toward the Cardassian cruisers and raked them with fire.
As she did so, O'Neill and her division were faced with another ten Cardassian ships. The destroyer Zhang Yu-Lin blew apart under sustained fire while O'Neill kept firing despite taking hits. One hit destroyed the navigation bridge, killing all in it, including Wolsely's XO, Lieutenant Commander Travis Pierson. One of Wolsely's officers asked if they should begin abandoning ship. Wolsely's reply was short and sweet: "Shoot her until she blows!"
About forty seconds later, the crippled and dying Patrick O'Neill was torpedoed by a Cardassian destroyer. Her weakened hull could not stop the torpedo from hitting the damaged inner keel, blowing the ship apart and leading to the deaths of most of her crew, including Commander Wolsely.


DNS Enterprise CVF-1, Near the Badlands


In the CIC of the Enterprise, Line Captain Frank Mitchell was watching the feeds from Darane nervously. Behind him, Line Admiral Matthew Stark was hovering over the comm station, making the Petty Officer seated there very nervous. "Sir, I have a message from Admiral Lewis."
"What does it say?"
"Request for us to engage."
Mitchell saw his chance to speak up. "Sir, roughly a thousand enemy vessels have engaged so far. It looks like they committed their reserves."
"So it appears," was Stark's non-committal reply. He knew what was riding on his engaging at just the right time and he would be damned if he allowed another carrier to be lost because the Cardassians had played tricks with their reserve units.
Mitchell, carefully toeing the line of what was appropriate from a subordinate to his superior, remarked, "So we should engage, sir."
"No, Captain Mitchell, we should not." Stark looked away from the screen, standing tall at six feet two inches with a head of graying black hair. His blue eyes were the same color as Mitchell's, and right now the mood they conveyed was that of the irritated flag officer. Irritated at a battle that had to be arranged in this fashion, irritated that he would have to put more carriers at potential risk to fulfill the "Wall Admirals"' desire for a "decisive fleet battle" as opposed to what he and some of the other carrier commanders had asked for; a pre-emptive carrier strike on the enemy fleet while it was still gathering. As it was, there was no way he would let the blame of another lost carrier rest on his shoulders by moving too early and without the okay from Command, the confirmation that the entire Cardassian reserve had indeed been committed. "Not until we get the go order from Command."
"Sir, Admiral Lewis is your superior officer. She's ordered us to engage!"
"Fleet Admiral Simonov is her's, and his orders to me are to remain here until the go order is given. So we're staying here." Stark eased back into his seat. "Keep monitoring the channels for the go order."
"Sir, what shall we tell Admiral Lewis?"
"The same thing we did before."


DNS Sam Houston


Sam Houston was now in the middle of an inferno. Desperate to free the half of her fleet that was trapped, Admiral Lewis personally commanded the two squadrons around her to follow her squadron into the enemy fleet to force their way through. Fire converged from all corners and erupted in the same angles, the Cardassians desperately trying to pummel through the defenses of Lewis' ship and that of her comrades while she was just as determined to punch a hole through the Cardassian formation to extricate Task Forces 14.1 and 14.4.
The Alliance fleet was now down to about 400 combat-effective ships in varying condition. The Cardassians had lost about a quarter more, but still had over eight hundred and fifty combat-effective ships in their fleet. The battle was clearly in their favor.
"Send to Admirals Kazinsky, Richardson, and Maynard. Concentrate fire to the enemies on our port!"
"Sir, our reply has come from Enterprise. It is a repeat of the last transmission."
Lewis slammed a fist onto the chair of her arm. "To hell with that bastard Stark! Send a priority message to Admiral Simonov and ask for the go order!"
As her comm officer did so, the ship rocked violently again as damage was done to her starboard by intense enemy attack. The mass drivers retorted and one slug ripped through a Model V Galor. The covering destroyers darted in to torpedo another Galor that had been gored by Sam Houston's pulse phaser cannons. One received a crippling torpedo hit to its dorsal hull while the Galor's last shot took down another's bow shield. Two Mark XV torpedoes hit the Galor in her damaged side and blew the ship in half.
Lewis' tactic of concentrating fire on the ships at the bottom of the forming "H" shape was starting to work. A portion of the Cardassian fleet was now coming under fire from three sides.


CDS Strovek Ikav


Kevem was observing the maneuver of the enemy fleet. A decent strategem, all thing said, as the Alliance fleet could only hope at this point to isolate and hammer portions of his fleet enough to change the tide.
"Pull those squadrons out of that area. We'll let them make their union. All the easier to trap the entire fleet as they are bunched together."
"Wait.... sir, those middle formations are turning to port!"
"They're going to try to run?" Kevem tapped on his tactical screen. "Assign these squadrons to block them as well as possible. All ships are to maintain fire and pick off stragglers. I won't let them get away without a fight."


DNS Sam Houston


Lewis' screen showed the Cardassian fleet start to break up and reform in front of her force as the three squadrons she'd led into the middle bar of the "H" shape now formed turned to part. It was time to make a breakaway attempt.
This was part gamble; running meant that ships with damaged engines might not keep up and could be picked off. But Lewis thought she had the grasp of this Cardassian now. Tough and aggressive, but too aggressive. He hadn't even bothered to attack the planet yet; he focused everything on her fleet. He wanted her fleet wiped out, and it stood to reason he would pursue even after she broke out.
Now if only Simonov would send the damn go order!


Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone


Simonov was pacing in the command facility at the silence coming from Darane. They had expected that the enemy would jam and contact would be lost, but this didn't leave his job any easier. He knew full well that this battle would determine the pace of the war, perhaps its outcome. If the fleet there was crushed, even if it inflicted stupendous losses on the Cardassians, it would be the end for any plausible victory in the war for the near future and would place the Alliance into an uncomfortable position strategically.
Everything was riding on the bold plan, formulated by Simonov with the present admirals (only Admiral Stark, placed in charge of Carrier Strike Group 1, had stood against it, with the support of subordinate admirals in favor of another carrier strike mission), to convince the Cardassians to draw their whole fleet into a fight by having carrier strikes commenced elsewhere, in an attempt to convince them that there were no nearby carriers for them to hold a reserve in the hopes of drawing carriers into the open for direct attack. Then the carriers could strike directly and, with Admiral Lewis' forces, smash the Cardassian fleet.
"Status on Suffren and Kuznetsov?", he asked a subordinate irritably. "Have they attacked yet?"
"They are still maintaining radio silence, by time table their attacks will come in ten minutes."
"Admiral!" Another officer, a Lieutenant, looked up from the communications stations. "We are receiving a coded message from Admiral Lewis. 'Enemy reserves committed. Overwhelming enemy force has divided fleet and is inflicting great loss. Carrier support urgently requested."
But our diversions have not yet launched! Simonov wiped his forehead. It was possible the Cardassians were not replaying the last battle and were simply out to annihilate the Alliance forces at Darane. But could he take the risk? The carriers were a military asset of great material and morale value, even if their usefulness versus that of the 40 megaton dead-weight-tonnage rated battleship (past 40DWT they were called "dreadnoughts") was sorely debated within the Navy ranks. As it was, losing Kaga had been a painful thing but had not unduly effected morale; losing more carriers, however, was something Simonov did not want to report to Washington.
But neither did he want to report the obliteration of the 14th Fleet with part of the 5th. Swallowing, hoping he had read the Cardassians correctly, Simonov nodded to the communications officer. "Give the go order to Admiral Stark on Enterprise."


DNS Enterprise CVF-1[, Near the Badlands


A beeping sound came from the comm station. "Sir, high priority burst transmission from Fleet HQ. 'Go Order is given. Commence attack.'"
Stark replied, "Authenticate it."
"It's authenticated, sir."
"Authenticate it again." Stark stood from his seat. "I want to see it myself."
Captain Mitchell hid his discomfort at his superior's almost bureaucratic insistance on the order being given and confirmed. Stark again hovered over the signals man's station, watching the computer re-authenticate the transmission. "We have the go order. Transmit authority to all carriers to move into launch position and prepare for immediate strikes."
"Yes Sir."


DNS Sam Houston


The Alliance fleet had now lost an entire task force worth of ships. The battleships Jeanne d'Arc and Admiral Pavlov were among the dozen battleships crippled or destroyed, as were the dreadnoughts Musashi and Yitzakh Rabin. Sam Houston had lost one of her armor layers on the starboard side and several more of their capital vessels were in increasingly severe states of damage.
Nevertheless, Lewis pressed forward. With the enemy having cleared out from her immediate front, she was able to re-organize her fleet into something of a melon-shaped formation, though wide enough that most ships still had very clear lines of attack, with the least-damaged ships slipping outward while those with heavier damage moved closer to the center. Cardassian ships trying to penetrate the formation were blasted mercilessly.
After all this time, only now were the wings from the Kestrel and Benjamin Disraeli finally making themselves known in a decisive way. Having not been numerous enough to be effective in stopping the Cardassian press, also harrassed by the Cardassian tactic of assigning ships to anti-fighter duty by using their main weapons on lower-powered rapid fire settings, the surviving fighters now served as the spearpoint of the fleet, opening fire from range - some of the fighters using their last torpedoes or missiles - to break the Cardassian ships trying to block Lewis' fleet.
With her fleet's losses now over one hundred and thirty ships crippled or destroyed, Lewis' force plowed through the Cardassian fleet. The Cardassian ships veered out of the way to prevent collisions, often raking Alliance ships with their compressor beams and torpedoes even as they were subjected to intense fire. A Dorkarak that tried to get in front of the Sam Houston was blown apart by a direct hit from the dreadnought's bow guns; the helmsman maneuvered the Houston "down" and avoided a collision with the dead hulk.
Breaking free of the Cardassian fleet, Lewis ordered all ships to go to warp; those with disabled warp drives were given the order to conduct evasive maneuvers and do their best to survive. She didn't expect that to be hard; this Cardassian commander wouldn't waste time picking off a dozen or so destroyers and cruisers when he could pursue her fleet.


CDS Strovek Ikav


Kevem was quite irritated to see the Alliance fleet get free, but the battle wasn't over yet. He gave the pursuit order immediately with a force of 798 ships, leaving behind those with disabled warp drives to continue to skirmish with the Alliance ships in the same situation.
As the fleet jumped to warp, Gul Durek spoke up, protesting, "Sir, shouldn't we begin bombardment of Darane 4?"
"To hell with Darane 4. That is not the prize of this battle, Gul Durek. That Alliance fleet's destruction is the prize."
"We chased them off, though. Clearly they are defeated!"
"No, it's more likely the Alliance Admiral simply pulled back to quickly re-organize and attack again while we moved toward Darane. But now they cannot restore their formation freely, and enough of their ships have suffered damage to their warp systems that they are slow. Some of our ships may suffer the same, but we have enough ships at full capacity to hit them immediately." Kevem dug his fingers into his chair. He wasn't about to let his glorious victory get away like that. No, he must be remembered as the Gul who crushed an entire fleet of Alliance ships. Only then was his rise to power assured.


DNS Sam Houston


About two parsecs away from Darane, with the Cardassian fleet starting to enter range, Lewis brought her fleet to a stop and was re-assembling them into a wall formation when the Cardassians came out of warp, this time at 700,000 kilometers. This slight error was taken advantage of by an immediate missile barrage from the fleet's missile ships. Since the Cardassian fleet had gone to warp hastily and were not drawn up in proper formation yet (nor could they do so fully with ships lagging behind due to damaged warp systems), so their anti-missile tactics were reduced. Twenty Cardassian ships in varying states of damage were destroyed or crippled by the attack.
Lewis waited for the enemy to get into combat range and had her fleet, again, unleash its full broadside barrage on them. Fifty-six battleships and thirteen dreadnoughts of the Allied Nations were an impressive force to behold, and this was their primary element. Heavy weapons fire lashed out at the Cardassians once more, taking advantage of the last moments of incohesion before the Cardassians managed to properly re-assemble their formations on approach. Another twenty ships were destroyed.
The Cardassians entered range and returned fire. Again their greater numbers, if reduced by the furious assault, were quite capable of causing extensive damage through volume of fire. One battleship, the Italian (SE-1) Conti di Cavour, took a hit that broke through the armored keel and hit a fuel bunkerage; the explosion it produced blew the ship to pieces and damaged nearby ships with small but fast debris.
The Cardassian formation now split itself into two, beginning to englobe Lewis' fleet. Which was precisely what she wanted them to do, considering the message she had just gotten.


CDS Strovek Ikav


Kevem watched his fleet begin to surround the Alliance fleet and he waited. He knew the commander would not remain in such a compromising position forever, which is why he was holding back 200 ships of 2nd Fleet to again harrass them upon breakout. Kevem sensed that the victory was here for the taking. With their fleet annihilated, retaking Darane - or wiping out all life on the planet - would be a simple task. Certainly the Alliance would be so demoralized from such a defeat that they would sue for peace, and if they did not.... well, they would have to be dealt with more firmly, and the Cardassian Empire would do so without any pause or mercy.
Of course, he was a little concerned with the absence of the enemy carriers. He presumed that the loss of one of them had unnerved the Alliance command and they'd been pulled back to Alliance space, perhaps placed in a position to cover the other borders or kept as a reserve. It didn't matter, in the long run. Kevem's victory here would decide the entire war.
Still.... best to be safe. "Maintain sensor sweeps, I do not want to be taken unaware."
"We are, sir, but there is a great deal of interference from jamming on both sides."
"Then form up ships to be a protective anti-fighter screen! It is not that difficult a task!"
"Y...yes Gul!"
With those maneuvers done, Kevem nevertheless decided to commit half his reserve to the attack. Strovek and the other ships joined the attack now, battering away at the Alliance fleet. They were now down to 336 effective combat vessels, a growing number of them damaged in various ways. He was down to 749, having maintained four-fifths of his initial numerical superiority. Though, granted, the need to maintain a tight enspherement would probably whittle his fleet down as they tightened their formation as closely as they could...
Another Alliance dreadnought blinked off his screen, pounded to death by his fleet. Kevem placed his hands together and was thinking of just what kind of position he would ask the Central Command to grant him when his sensor officer started shouting....


Lt. Anahita Razmara was among the leading craft of WFS-28 when they came out of warp. Her F/A-32 raced forward, one among over a thousand sent from the five Alliance carriers in the area.
Anahita's squadron commander now received attack orders from Admiral Lewis. Her computers waded through the hundreds of contacts - far too many for her to personally sort through - to find her squadron's assigned target choices. She fired her engines on full, keeping an eye out on the Cardassian ships acting as screens, which it was her job to destroy. Finding one such destroyer, which was trying to kill some of her comrades, Anahita called into the comm "Fox One!" and fired an ASM-4 that was one of two to strike the destroyer, blowing its bow off. She moved on to the next target, her squadron having been assigned to deal with enemy ships acting as anti-fighter defense so that the A-12s and FB-34s could hammer the enemy.


The fighters descended upon Kevem's formations like a ravenous horde of insects. Missiles and torpedoes closed the range quickly and tore apart ships already weakened by the fight with the Alliance fleet. The Alliance fleet noe concentrated its fire against the enemy on its starboard, literally catching a large portion of Kevem's armada in a multi-sided vice.
From his place on Strovek's bridge, Kevem was trying to account for the sudden arrival of a thousand enemy fighters, shielded from detection by effective use of ECM and the already-reduced effectiveness of sensors in the jamming used in a general fleet melee. He ordered the other side of the sphere to try and come to the aid of the side being attacked, but the Alliance fleet's formation remained such that the penetration was only causing them damage. Meanwhile the fighters were free to unleash their attacks on Kevem and the majority of what was 2nd Fleet.
"Sir, shields down to twenty percent!" a cry came out after a vicious tremor that rumbled through the Strovek. "More enemy craft inbound!"
"Evasive maneuvers! Damn you all, we can't let this stop us!"
"We need to escape!" Durek shouted. "There are too many of them!"
Kevem drove a fist into the arm of his chair. Now it was his fleet's contacts that were rapidly blinking out on his screen. It was sheer pandemonium as several squadrons were simply annihilated and others lost their command ships. The order of an entire Cardassian fleet had been reduced to frantic maneuvering and firing as small, swift Alliance fighters tore through their formations, striking with their deadly torpedoes and missiles at ships already weakened by a heated naval engagement.
His victory had been robbed from him. Kevem was too intelligent to allow himself to be deluded from that sad fact. The fighters had too much relative firepower and were able to direct it against a portion of his fleet that had drawn together to hold the enemy fleet. Even now his fleet had been reduced to less than seven hundred vessels, and many many more were becoming more and more damaged by the moment.
"Order our ships to break off. We have to regroup at the edge of the enemy fleet formation and fall back to...."
A torpedo slammed into the Strovek's bow at that moment. Kevem and his bridge crew were annihilated in a single burst of radiation and energy from the explosion the torpedo's anti-matter charge produced. The ship itself was destroyed a moment later by a missile from an A-12.


CDS Iravak


Upon the destruction of the Strovek, 5th Rank Gul Orel Kerecet became commander of 2nd Fleet. With due consideration to the newly-developed situation, her orders were immediate. "All ships retreat! Fall back!"
"Sir, Gul Palek is ordering us to hold!"
"Palek is not a commander of this fleet. Fall back to Telkur!"



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-13 03:09pm
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DNS Sam Houston


Lewis watched the disintegration of the enemy fleet become total. In individual formations, the enemy to her starboard broke and fled. The other half of the enemy fleet was now open to attack by the fighters, which had not yet used all of their anti-ship weapons.
This second half of the fleet did not last much longer. Lewis' fleet focused its fire on them, with far less of a numerical disadvantage now, and after their fighters came up and took out another couple dozen or so of them, the second half of the fleet disengaged toward the nearest base. The fighters followed them until they went to warp before stopping.
Lewis took a moment to think about the situation. 14th Fleet had been hit hard. Little more than 260 ships remained combat effective and warp capable, with much of Task Force 5.4 also reduced in effectiveness. She was down, overall, to just about 320 ships that were still functional, though some were without warp propulsion, plus or minus a few that would be combat effective within an hour or two of repair, which she was not too concerned about.
However, the enemy had taken a hammering as well, losing a little over 360 ships in this engagement and with most or perhaps all of their ships having suffered damage ranging from weakened deflectors to lost systems and other hull damage, all of this thanks to the vicious fighter attack and the concentration of fire on the second half of the enemy after the first half retreated.
Perhaps more importantly, they were split for the moment. Roughly 375 ships had retreated back toward the main Alliance-Cardassian border region, the rest toward the Cardassian bases nominally in support of their positions in Bajor and on the Federation border, and her fleet roughly between them.
Which meant there was only one real option to take.

"Send out a request to have all stealth ships operating in the area harass the two fleets' retreat. I want all squadrons of 14th Fleet reformed immediately and focus given to patching up battle damage as quickly as possible. Re-assign ships of the 5th Fleet where it's necessary to restore the proper strength of a squadron."
"What about the carriers?"
"The carriers must remain in Darane to present an effective blocking force to prevent easy reunion of the enemy fleet. But that's not enough." Lewis put her hands together. There was too much risk that a reunion of the enemy fleet could, with reinforcements, deny the invasion of Bajor. The victory here was an empty one if she did not shatter one half or the other, and it would be better to take the half heading back toward the the Alliance-Cardassian border. "Inform HQ that 14th Fleet is pursuing the enemy and requests carrier support, likely in the area around the enemy naval post of Telkur."
"Yes Admiral."
Lewis nodded slowly and brought up the greater strategic map and a display of her surviving assets. She still had 320 ships, of which she would bring 240. Twelve squadrons to provisionally divide into two task forces, as her skillful subordinates were arranging now. Given the experience of the last three naval clashes between the Alliance and Cardassia, she would have an advantage.
Of course, she had no doubt that her Cardassian counterpart had felt the same two hours ago when the battle had started. In war, intangible variables were often the deciding factor in victory and defeat. All operations, all actions, were acts of risk. Defeat was still a possibility, but Lewis' fear of defeat would not keep her from making her victory here total with the annihilation of another Cardassian fleet.
There was a rumble through the Sam Houston as her powerful warp drive was energized. The 14th Fleet jumped to warp speed in pursuit of the enemy.
The Second Battle of Darane had ended. The Battle of Telkur had yet to be waged.


Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
17:37 GST



The moment the word came from Admiral Lewis, cheering erupted in the HQ's war room. Simonov breathed a silent prayer of thanks and permitted his subordinates their joy for a moment before restoring order; their work was not yet done. Lewis had reported the division of the enemy fleet; one half retreating toward bases in Cardassia's sectors near the Federation, the other fleeing toward Telkur. She was now in hot pursuit of the latter and needed assistance.
Simonov could have ordered her to break off. But like Lewis he knew this day's victory would be hollow if they didn't render the enemy's defeat total. The initiative of the war demanded the Alliance to attack wherever possible and inflict as much damage as it could. So, with the order restored to his war room, he issued new directives. Interdiction Command's stealth ships were to harass both retreating forces while Suffren and Kuznetsov would come about and be ready to engage the enemy fleet when it got to Telkur.


DNS Suffren CVF-2, En Route Back to Alliance Space
17:42 GST



The Suffren and her escorts were returning from their successful strike on the Cardassian naval base at Telkur. The base had survived the strike that opened the war, but now it was reduced to debris. The other surviving post, Verpar, had been destroyed by Suffren's sister carrier, DNS Kuznetsov, with other attacks being carried out by the battle carriers James Doolittle, Shokaku, Frank Fletcher, and assorted lighter carriers. The attacks had been a diversion, to convince the enemy at Darane to commit his reserve and thus opening their entire fleet to one overpowering carrier strike.
Now Captain McGruder was in her office, sipping on coffee and looking through the first after-action reports to be submitted. Her XO, Commander Regina Martin, was a very thorough and punctual woman, even if McGruder didn't like her attitude at times.
A call came to McGruder's desk unit. "Captain, receiving ELF from Command."
"I'll be right there."
McGruder stood from her chair and made her way back down the hall to the Suffren's CIC. There she was met by one of the senior watch officers, Lt. Cmdr. Richard O'Connor. He motioned her to the comm, where the ELF message had come in. "These orders have been authenticated?"
"Yes Sir," the Petty Officer at the Comms replied.
"Then send short-beam transmissions to our escorts. We are to turn around and head back to the area of Telkur. Signal the Evelyn Carver to begin wide-area jamming. Command's already got jammers up all along the border again to keep the Cardies in the dark."
"Sir, why are we going back to Telkur?"
"Because it looks like the Cardies took off from Darane with their tail between their legs, not realizing that Admiral Lewis is a true-blooded Texan who won't rest until she's blown them out of the stars. She's chasing the enemy fleet back to Telkur and Command wants us there to hit them when they arrive."
O'Connor nodded. "I'll alert Commander du Plessis."


DNS Noelle Cale SS-19, 29 Light Years from Darane, Cardassian Union
19:12 GST



The Valiant-class stealth corvette was on standard patrol when the order came in from Interdiction Command to harass an enemy force fleeing from Darane toward bases in the Calrel Sector. The Noelle Cale responded immediately, and traveling at her max ECS-active speed of eleven lyphs, she soon intercepted what seemed to be a very large fleet. Easily three hundred ships too.
The ship's CO, Lieutenant Commander Eliza Roth, gave the order to attack. Alert klaxons sent the crew to their battle stations. The enemy fleet was only traveling at eight lyphs, their commander clearly concerned with not abandoning ships with damage to their warp systems.
As their attack range closed, the enemy formation began to alter. A contact blinked out on the screen. "Sir, one of the others is in range," her sensorman reported. "A Cardie destroyer just got torpedoed."
"Warp-capable torpedoes loaded, Sir," the weapons officer added. "Formulating firing solutions for potential targets."
"Enemy fleet is dispersing a bit, looks like some of their lead ships are picking up speed!"
"Increase speed, even if it means possible detection! Lock torpedoes on the heaviest enemy ship we can hit in the first five seconds! Helm, prepare for evasive maneuvers!"
The Noelle Cale increased speed immediately.


CDS Kolarak


Gul Palek responded to the report of a destroyer being torpedoed by ordering, "All ships to full speed! Prepare for evasive maneuvers!"
The Cardassian formation began to loosen as those ships that could accelerated and maneuvered to pass ships that could not. As they did so every ship also began to scan actively for enemy ships.
"Sir, picking up unknown contact heading for us!"
"Open fire!"


DNS Noelle Cale SS-19


The Cale's helm began weaving as the ship came under fire. Two torpedoes came at them and missed. But the Kolarak's neighboring ships were starting to target the Cale as well, so they had to act fast. Two warp-capable torpedoes erupted from the main tubes and headed for the Kolarak. One torpedo missed and instead re-acquired another target and impacted on a nearby Dorkarak's shields, while the other torpedo slammed into the Kolarak's shields, reducing them. A flurry of Cardassian torpedoes raced out to try and hit the now-gone anomalous reading on their sensors that had been their only knowledge of the Cale's presence. None of the shots succeeded, thankfully.
Lt. Cmdr. Roth now turned her attention back to her original target, which would be out of range in a few moments. "Fire Tubes 2, 4, 5, and 6!"
Four more torpedoes raced out of their launchers, all heading for Kolarak. Again, one missed, this time not hitting a single target. The other three, on the other hand, made impact one after the other; the third faced no shields and detonated against the port warp nacelle. In warp flight, those nacelles were filled with plasma carefully contained within magnetic fields and special alloy substances. The torpedo destroyed that containment and the plasma quickly expanded, looking very much like a conventional explosion. The Kolarak shuddered violently from the ferocious blast while, simultaneously, its warp field failed and it dropped out of warp. Ships behind it attempted to evade, but one Galor was not so lucky and plowed into the Kolarak at warp speed. Subspace physics prevented the kind of extremely catastrophic explosion that normally would have been the case with a superluminal object striking a subluminal one, but the Kolarak was still packed with anti-matter in its torpedoes and fuel bunkerage, as was the unfortunate ship that collided with it, and the resulting explosion ranked well into the gigaton range while vaporizing both vessels.

The Cale moved on to its next target. There were still a few dozen enemy ships that could not muster the speed to outrun them at safe speed, and a third and fourth ship in their wolf pack joined the attack. Some of the Cardassian squadron commanders now made an attempt to cover their slower friends, dropping back and exposing themselves to fire while trying to torpedo any anomalous reading on their sensors. The other squadron commanders, however, did not come to the aid of their slower, damaged comrades; they remained at high speed, getting out of range as quickly as possible.
The Cardassian ships had another disadvantage; they were low on torpedoes, having already expended most of their loads in the prior battle. Some of the ships were already out, having not been fully replenished prior to the battle due to a shortage of torpedoes in the base lockers; a consequence of the Alliance Interdiction Command's effectiveness. Compressor beams were virtually useless at warp, so once a ship was without torpedoes they could not fight back against the stealth ships. When able, they too went to full speed to escape the growing carnage as ship after ship was subjected to torpedo attack.
On the Cale, Lt. Cmdr. Roth was merciless in directing her ship's attack. A half-dozen attack ships were present now. Then seven. Finally one dropped off, having expended all of her warp-capable torpedoes due to her prior patrol successes. A second, the Keith Oppenheimer, met a sadder fate, getting hit by a lucky Cardassian torpedo that took out her ECS and revealed her for the Cardassians to kill with two more torpedoes.
Soon the Cale dropped back, low on warp-capable torpedoes. Others did the same. Some returned to base to rearm, others went back to their patrol. When the attack ended, forty Cardassian ships of varying class had been destroyed.


CDS Iravak, Near Telkur, Cardassian Union
22:12 GST



Gul Kerecet was now very leery. There was heavy enemy jamming everywhere, keeping them from getting comms from the Central Command. There was something very wrong, she sensed.
"Anything yet?"
"Negative, Gul. Telkur is not responding, but the enemy jamming is be interfering with both subspace radio and subspace sensors.
"Keep looking. There is something very wrong here. Get me Gul Korep of 1st Fleet."
A few moments later a static-filled image of a Cardassian man popped onto the screen. "Yes, Gul Kerecet?"
"Gul Korep, I want you to take your fleet to Tervar and see if that gets you outside of the jamming field."
"Yes, Gul. Korep out."
The 1st Fleet's surviving 68 ships broke out of the formation, leaving Kerecet with 307 warships. "Keep your eyes open...", Kerecet said to her crew.
Several minutes later, at about 22:24 GST, the Cardassian 2nd Fleet dropped out of warp. Kerecet was horrified by what popped right onto her screen.
Telkur had been a base designed to dock up to one hundred Cardassian warships, plus berths for civilian ships. Now it was nothing more than a twisted field of scorched debris. "Picking up hundreds of impulse trails," the Iravak's sensor officer reported. "It looks like it was an enemy carrier attack."
"Dammit. All ships, prepare to..."
"Enemy contacts coming out of warp above!"
In tandem, two hundred Alliance fighters exited warp about 600,000 kilometers from the Cardassian fleet. A rain of ASM-4s came down on 2nd Fleet, which now maneuvered to evade the attack.
Another two hundred fighters came in from another direction now, this time at a range of 635,000 kilometers and on the Cardassians' port/ventral arc. Again there was a flurry of ASM-4s to pummel the unprepared Cardassian fleet.
"Form anti-fighter lines! We have to break out before..."
A crash of Cherenkov radiation behind the fleet flooded the Cardassian sensors. The 14th Fleet had arrived.


DNS Sam Houston


Lewis had restrapped in her seat just minutes before the fleet came out of warp. The Cardassian fleet had split up, but there were still over three hundred targets ahead of her.
Well, not three hundred anymore. The fighters had closed rapidly and were hammering the Cardassian formation. Ship after ship, having not been given proper time for repair, suffered crippling damage.
Now the 14th Fleet added to the carnage. She split the formation in two and brought them up toward the Cardassians, angling to the sides so her heavy ships could present their powerful broadsides while lighter ships darted ahead to interfere with Cardassian attempts to break free. The mass drivers on the Houston thundered once more as space filled with the fury of the Alliance fleet.
The enemy began to try and break away, even as their numbers were swiftly cut down by the fury of the fighter attacks. Lewis ordered pursuit, naturally. She hadn't come all this way to let them off that easily.


CDS Iravak


Kerecet's reaction to the arrival of the Alliance fleet was to have her fleet break to starboard. Those ships no longer warp capable were given the order to hold fast and delay the enemy so that 2nd Fleet could make good their escape.
In response to this, Task Force 14.2 accelerated to cut the Cardassians off. Kerecet's ships focused all firepower forward, ignoring for the moment the deadly stings of the Alliance fighters so as to force a breakout. The Alliance ships were thankfully damaged as well from the fight at Darane, and a number took severe damage from Cardassian attack; Squadron 14.1.2 was swept aside as the spearhead of the Cardassian fleet broke through.
Still, the fighters buzzed about, often targeting the warp drives of their foes, and the other Task Force of the 14th Fleet adjusted to the maneuver to chase the escaping Cardassians. Kerecet kept losing ships for every shot fired, their shields long reduced from the two combats this day.
Finally she sighed with relief when Iravak was able to go to warp. A Galor beside them was torpedoed just as its warp drive energized, tearing the ship apart. But the relief turned to dread when she looked at her numbers.
Three hundred and seven ships had warped into Telkur. One hundred and twenty-four escaped.


DNS Sam Houston


Eighty Cardassian ships had been deprived of warp capability before they could flee, not counting the ships outright crippled and destroyed by attack in the short engagement. These vessels now did the one thing they could do; they kept fighting.
Sam Houston rocked from a pair of torpedo hits that battered down her second-to-last deflector layer. Lewis ignored the shaking and continued to issue orders, pulling her fleet together to contain the Cardassians.
At that point the Cardassians turned to their last option: suicide. Each ship fired its impulse drives as fast as they could force them, racing toward the largest ships in the Alliance fleet. Seeing the danger already from what happened at Zygola, Lewis had arranged lighter ships to create kill zones of heavy firepower around the battle line. These proved most effective, and as the Cardassian ships were not "fresh" but heavily worn down by battle damage, most didn't even come close to succeeding. Three ships alone managed to penetrate the defense lines; only one, a Dorkarak, collided with the shields of the battleship Cutler, penetrating through and blowing out the entire starboard side of the American battleship.
With this final act, the Battle of Telkur - the epilogue itself to the great Second Battle of Darane - ended.


Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
23:24 GST



Faces were somber in the meeting of the Cardassia's great war leaders. Guls Hergata and Torcet, with Gul Keve and Legate Kelataza, were standing in a central room as the final figures came in.
Gul Kevem's grand armada had been the greatest naval force Cardassia had ever sent into a singular battle. Her crews had sent letters home boasting of the victory to come, and even the demoralized veterans of Zygola and First Darane had been reassured by the size of their force. Victory had seemed pre-ordained.
But now those dreams were ash. The Bajoran Sector Fleet had been completely annihilated. 2nd Fleet had only 124 ships left, of which only about 30 did not require extensive repairs of one sort or another. 1st Fleet had survived with 68, with 40 not needing extensive repairs. The Federation Frontier Fleet had suffered the least casualties, with 42 ships lost, but again many of their number would require some repair.
One thousand and thirty-five ships had left the bases in the Calrel sector. 450 of them had survived. The disaster equaled that of the first day of the war.
"Darane is lost for good," Kelataza sighed. "We have not even begun to assess how long it will take to get the damaged ships from this defeat back into operation. We're still repairing the ships damaged in their accursed first strike and Zygola!"
"What will we have the Information Ministry say? Can we hope to effectively cover this up?" Yatar Hergata's face was paled. Relim wondered if he finally accepted just how bad the situation was and if he'd cease with his political maneuvering. "Nearly six hundred ships lost for good. Dozens, hundreds more damaged. Can our shipyards even hope to repair that many ships in any kind of effective time?"
"The strategic situation is not totally lost," Kelataza insisted. "Third Fleet is heading to Kurvak, and our fleets hammered the Alliance fleet as well. They might not be able to muster an assault on Bajor."
"Assuming, of course, that they don't simply have another fleet coming!" Relim slammed his fist on the table. "We have no true idea of their full potential!"
Keve, so far, was the only one who seemed unperturbed. He, like Relim, was a combat veteran. He knew how to remain cool under fire, real or metaphorical. "Then, Gul Relim, what do you suggest? What should we do now?"
"What do I suggest? What should we do now?! Make peace you fools!" Relim swept a hand outward. "Bajor is worthless to us! Offer an immediate, unconditional withdrawal from Bajor and the Bajoran-inhabited worlds of the area in exchange for an armistice! That is an offer the Alliance cannot turn down! Do it now, before they take Bajor themselves and we lose our one valuable bargaining chip!"
"I... I will instruct Ambassador Kercet to amend our offer to the Alliance. We will withdraw troops from Bajor itself and grant them self-autonomy in the Cardassian Union. We will keep all troops off-planet unless we need them to enforce payments of tribute."
Relim gawked at Kelataza. "That will not be enough! Give them the damned Bajorans, wash our hands of them!"
"I will not just voluntarily give up worlds held by Cardassian troops, worlds on which Cardassian troops have bled." Kelataza glared angrily at him. "Nor would the Central Command."
"Give them Bajor now before they take it!"
"Third Fleet will prevent that. It is fresh, undamaged, and the Alliance fleet is battle-worn. No, I will not give away our territory so easily."
"Legate, with all due respect..."
"Silence, Gul Torcet! Do not forget your place!" Kelataza turned to Keve. "Gul Keve, any ideas on redeployment to make up for losses?"
"We could pull out of the Ulithra Sector, leave the ruins to the Talarians. I'm also attempting to organize a 4th Fleet, but it won't be ready for another three weeks. Until then..."
"Until then we have only 3rd Fleet. It will have to do." Kelataza and Relim exchanged another glare before Kelataza banged his hand on the table. "You are all dismissed to return to your duties."
As they left, something occurred to Relim. Something that he'd been waiting for, yet dreaded.
For the first time, Kelataza had not ended the meeting with an exhortation presuming Cardassian victory.



”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

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 Post subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-13 03:46pm
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Chapter 11


Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
5 December 2153 AST
01:30 GST



Admiral Simonov and the other service chiefs in Universe ST-3 were holding their usual post-battle briefing, enjoying a breakfast due to the time in Wexford. "Losses were... severe," Vice Admiral Conrad Poniatowski, Simonov's Chief of Staff, informed them. "One hundred and eighty warships alone were lost in the general engagement at Darane. 14th Fleet lost another forty-eight ships at Telkur. Large portions of 14th Fleet are going to need serious repair work done."
"Kensington and New Liberty bases are still working on some of the ships damaged at Zygola. We'll have to send them back through the New Liberty Gates." Simonov frowned. "This will interfere with our timetable for the invasion of Bajor."
"We must invade soon. I sent the order for deployment to Darane out right after we heard of the Cardassians fleeing from the main battle." General Lumet took a sip of coffee while eyeing his unfinished crossiant. "No later than the 12th."
"The 10th would be better," Polk insisted. "My people are ready to commence bombings on their attack craft bases on Bajor. And according to what we've heard, the Cardassians are finally breaking through the first trench line around Ikila. If they sack Ikila, the morale blow to the Bajoran Resistance would be devastating."
"Can we make the 10th with so many assets from 5th and 14th Fleets out of action?" Crawford looked to Simonov with skepticism. "Intel says the Cardies are moving another big fleet up to Kurvak. We'll need firepower to take them out."
"Don't worry about the fleet at Kurvak, my bombers will deal with them," Polk said.
Simonov steepled his hands together. "As we speak, additional ships meant to form 9th Fleet are starting to transit. Given 14th Fleet's current position, we should pull them back to Corwich and allow 9th Fleet to take up the position at Darane."
"I suspect the High Command won't be very pleased if we let 9th Fleet get smashed up too," Crawford muttered. "Battleships don't grow on trees!"
"We still have enough to bloody the Cardassians again, and I think they'll be licking their wounds for a long time after this last fight," Poniatowski replied. "And in a week or so, some of the ships damaged at Zygola should become available again. The crews at Kensington and New Liberty are working around the clock to get those ships back in action."
There were nods all around. After some more considerations were discussed, Simonov came to the most important item of the meeting. "So, shall we ask Washington for a preliminary green light on Operation: Crusader?"
Every head nodded. In five days, the liberation of Bajor would begin.


Before his day could end, Simonov had one more matter to attend to. He made his way to his office and was present for the private communication coming from the Sam Houston, currently on its way home from the Battle at Telkur. Admiral Lewis appeared on the screen, looking tired with her combat rush over. "Admiral, my congratulations on your victory," he said cheerfully. "You will win the Navy Cross for this."
"I thank you for your consideration, Sir. However, I didn't call to receive your accolades but to make a request of you."
"Yes, Admiral?"
"Line Admiral Stark." Lewis' expression darkened. "With due respect on the issue of authority to do so... I want him court-martialed for what he did."
Simonov frowned deeply. "What do you mean?"
"You know perfectly well what I mean. I requested, twice, carrier support. The enemy reserve had engaged. Despite this, and despite the fact that I issued him an order as his superior officer, he refused to attack, insisting he needed orders from you first, and through his petulant behavior he caused unnecessary losses to the fleet. Thousands of good men and women died because of that son of a bitch."
"He was actiing under orders, Admiral. Now, I am going to be charitable and I will presume the adrenaline rush from battle has ended for you, leaving you tired and not thinking things through. I will not tolerate attempts at backbiting each other. Admiral Stark's actions will be considered during review of the After Action Reports. Until that time I expect you to behave appropriately, Admiral, otherwise I will find a new commander for the 14th Fleet. That is all." He killed the line before Lewis could say anything, and thus mandate that removal and all the horrible repercussions that would come from it.

Had Stark acted inappropriately? No. Had he acted properly? That was debatable. Simonov had felt doubt too on whether the Cardassians had truly engaged their reserves but, when it came down to it, war was about making gambles and taking calculated risks. He'd made it clear to Stark that he should move if the circumstances demanded. That he hadn't, well, Stark would be back soon and Simonov could discuss the matter with him privately.
Simonov saw something more dire in this than just the disagreement between Stark and Lewis. They each represented one half of the growing divide in the Stellar Navy, the "Carrier Admirals" versus the "Wall Admirals". It was a result of the diversity of universes where different forms of superluminal drives, different technological paradigms, had developed. His own home universe of SE-1 was at about the mid-point in that particular spectrum, but in the others, the ongoing conglomeration of technologies from every nation in the Alliance had sparked the heated debate on whether carrier-centric forces or battle line-centric forces were the appropriate path to take. Stark, in his position of using carriers for strike missions instead of a direct, open battle, had gone into the tactical and strategic thinking of the former camp. As an admiral of the Texan Star Navy of Universe FHI-8, Lewis had been trained and educated in an entirely different environment, one that emphasized the clash of mighty dreadnought-starships. Not too surprising for the first of the known universes to develop warships of over 50 megatonnes dead-weight-tonnage.
If Second Darane became yet another point of contention between the two camps, well, that was not a division the Stellar Navy could easily afford, not when it was fighting with the Aerospace Force for funding in various roles that both services laid claim to, nor when it was trying to win the support and closer cooperation of the national navies which tended to support one side or the other. Simonov could only hope they managed to avoid such an outcome.
With the day having been long, it was time to retire, and so Simonov did, arranging transport to his nearby quarters for a good night's rest. He would be able to sleep soundly all things considered, as he knew that with their costly victory at Darane the Alliance was well on the way to winning the war.


Cardassian Mechanized Detachment Field HQ, Bajor, Cardassian Union
01:50 GST



Forty kilometers to the northwest of Splendid Ikila, Gul Severak surveyed the ruined husk of the Bajoran farming town Keytala. In front of him, his troops surged forward toward the Bajorans' second trench line. He smiled smugly, even if Prefect Koral had chewed him out a mere half day ago about how long it was taking to get to Ikila.
The Bajorans had used weapons from all corners of the quadrant, including - most devastatingly - munitions and weapons from extrauniversal sources. Anti-tank weapons, mortars, and heavy machine guns had repulsed every attempt by Severak's forces to break through upon their arrival at the trenches. They even had some light artillery that had devastated his first initial attempt to break the trench line ten kilometers to the northeast.
But the Bajorans were not professionals and allowed their emotional attachments to get the better of them. Instead of placing their line more firmly in the farmlands to the southeast of Keytala, they had tried to defend it long enough for the children and infirm to escape. Severak had exploited this in the past day by using small teams of his best troops to infiltrate their positions and destroy machine gun nests, mortars, and other key parts of their defense, after which his forces hit the city with three waves that finally broke the defenders. Now the survivors were fleeing to the second line while Severak's forces poured through the gap, spreading out to cut off the other sections of Bajoran trench from Ikila and forcing the evacuation of those trench sections.
Still, there were two trenchlines to go, and the terrain for the second was even better. Severak would have to find a way to break the lines quickly lest he lose more men.


Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
08:29 GST



President Tobis' face turned pale as he read Dayton's preliminary report on the second engagement at Darane. "That many ships lost?"
"At least five hundred if you count the Cardassian 2nd Fleet's apparent losses at Telkur. We're not completely sure yet on the total scale, of course. That could take a few days."
Tobis turned to his media head, Corina Montelbano of the Press Relations Secretariat. "How will the Cardassians respond to this? A cover-up of losses?"
"Perhaps. They may exaggerate Alliance losses as well. I would suggest we do the same, unless you want people to think it was a great Alliance victory."
"Yes, public acknowledgement of the fall of Cardassian power might interfere with our negotiations with the Cardassians. If the public loses their fear of Cardassian power they might not be as amenable to the planned terms."
"Still planning on giving up systems to the Cardassians?" Dayton's voice betrayed his dislike of the policy.
"If it is the price of peace, so be it. The idiots should've known better than to move to that region or to stay there, especially with what happened during Jirvshk's reign." Tobis sighed and put his PADD on his desk. "In other news, Admiral, we need Starfleet Intelligence to help back our new approach to the Gytep business."
"Oh? In what way, Mister President?"
Tobis looked to Montelbano. She looked to Dayton in turn and said, "The idea is to tell the people that this was the fault of the Alliance. Their government sent weapons to the area of Gytep to convince us that Gytep was a terrorist camp, knowing we would tell the Cardassians and the Cardassians might try something that could be used as pretext for a war. This way the Alliance Government would get the war with Cardassia it wanted but without being seen as overtly aggressive."
Dayton's expression changed to show bewilderment. "What? That's preposterous! There are far better ways they could have done that than setting up Gytep!"
"Clearly they underestimated the Cardassians' capabilities," Tobis said.
"I've told you before, those weapons were sent to Mwinyiburg as a matter of law!"
"The people of the Federation don't know that," Montelbano pointed out. "And even if they did, it just goes to reinforce the image of the Alliance and extrauniversal Humanity as being a pack of brutal savages thirsting for war and killing. In fact, we intend to emphasize that their Humanity is inherently violent toward alien races in our press releases. This has the further benefit of being potentially harmful to Alliance interests in other non-human states."
"Furthermore, in the matter on hand, it would look convenient to the Alliance plot anyway, if weapons had to be sent to Mwinyiburg under law. It gives them plausible deniability."
Dayton sighed. Some things never changed, and he knew at this point that Tobis was desperate to deliver a success to the Party Central Committee to keep them from removing him later. "Anything else, Sir?"
"Nothing at the moment. Now, if you'll excuse me, Ambassador Kercet will be here later. He wants me to arrange another meeting with Ambassador Parmika. You are dismissed, Admiral."


Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
18:50 GST



Mamatmas was at his desk in the Oval Office, Defense Minister Rathbone and Security Advisor Takahara seated in front of him. On his desk was the Alliance Council's newest resolution, a defense budget increase of $250 trillion ADN for the war effort. Mamatmas' signature was redundant - it had passed overwhelmingly and was beyond his power to veto - but there was no reason for him to not sign it.
Of course, the budget made him think of other things. This was not what he had wanted. The Alliance's long-term defense planning centered around the ten year program of infrastructure upgrade and R&D projects. There were still dozens of new technologies, particularly in the naval fields, that were going to come on the line in the next ten or so years, and it had been deemed better to invest in the long-term capability for a buildup with a modernized fleet than to pursue a larger fleet in the short-term and risk it being technologically inferior within a generation.
As Chancellor, Mamatmas had led the Council in establishing the short-lived Commission on Naval Strategy, bypassing the obstructionist and overtly anti-navy Plotinikov Administration, chaired by a personal acquaitance and respected naval officer from the USSN (Universe HE-1), Vice Admiral Robert Dale. The "Dale Commission", as it had been called, spent the entirety of 2148 researching the Alliance's known and potential defensive requirements and recommended to the Council the partial naval re-armament, infrastructure upgrade, and R&D funding that was adopted in bits and pieces under Plotinikov before Jennifer Verdes became President and implemented the entire measure. The goal was to be ready to implement a full-scale naval mobilization with an upgraded, state-of-the-art fleet by the 2161 Fiscal Year.
But now that could be placed in jeopardy, if the war lasted too long or too much damage was done to the Alliance fleet. Yes, contingencies had been made in the plan to raise the actual fleet and military by up to fifty percent for emergencies, but nearly half of that contingency had already been put into use in the previous year after Wolf 359 and the perceived need to increase the fleet. The sum before him would completely fill the contingency and then some.
Mamatmas did not want to place the long-term security of the Alliance in jeopardy. As such, the war had to be brought to an end as quickly as possible, with preferably as few losses as possible. "Gentlemen, is the assault on Bajor do-able?"
"For the moment, yes. Yesterday's battle has eliminated the bulk of the Cardassian fleet in the region."
"Yet there were fleet movements to Kurvak according to our intercepts. Another five hundred ships. Are we in shape for another fleet fight?"
"Marshal Polk is planning an attack by aerospace force assets to hit that enemey fleet before it can interfere." Rathbone sipped at tea. "And elements of 9th Fleet are transiting the New Liberty Gates. Admiral Simonov and staff are assigning them to Darane and redeploying 14th Fleet's functional ships to Corwich. There might be some further shuffling of ships down the line, of course, but right now we're looking at three to four task forces of ships from 5th and 9th Fleets being available to support the landings at Bajor. And the distance between Bajor and Darane is small, so an enemy attempt on Darane during the landings can be dealt with."
Mamatmas nodded. "And all of the troops will be ready by then?"
"They're on the way to Darane right now."
"But they want to move the landing up to the 10th. We're making the schedule tight as it is. I'm not sure haste is the answer to this situation."
Takahara spoke up now."We should consider the situation on Bajor, Mister President. Dolan can possibly hold out with continued transport drops, but Ikila is under a direct assault by a large, professional Cardassian force, and in terrain that doesn't limit their movement greatly. Even with the weapons they managed to smuggle in and whatever we can bring in, they'll be lucky to hold out a week."
"Can't airstrikes blunt the Cardassians?"
"The Aerospace Force is running at maximum tempo already and the Cardassians' elite forces have far more heavy weapons that could be used in an anti-aircraft fashion. Airstrikes are not considered likely to stop the Cardassian advance without supporting ground forces."
Mamatmas nodded. "Well, that's everybody then. The Service Chiefs have signed off on Simonov's request to set the invasion for the 10th of December. Tell him he has the green light."


Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
6 December 2153 AST
12:29 GST



Ambassador Kerecet and President Tobis were both rather surprised to hear the cackling that came from Ambassador Parmika. The Greek-born British ambassador tossed the PADD back to the table. "Gentlemen, is this some kind of bad joke?"
"It's no joke Ambassador."
"You could have fooled me, Ambassador Kerecet." Parmika's grin faded. "How is this much better than what you showed me last time? 'Self-autonomy'! Please! You'd put your flunkies in charge and then move troops back in the instant the Bajorans did something that displeased you."
"Our terms have not changed, Ambassador Kerecet." Parmika stood. "Your government will be well-advised to accept them now, before this war continues and we can find any more... questionable things that could make us rethink our terms. Good day, gentlemen."
Parmika left as he had done before. Kerecet turned to Tobis. "Are you going to allow them to get away with that?"
"I'll file a complaint with the Alliance Foreign Ministry. If Ambassador Parmika's behavior continues, I may demand he be recalled."
"I'm not talking about that pompous fool, President!" Kerecet placed his hand on the table. "The Alliance is a threat to both of us! You need to bring the Federation into the war on our side!" Kerecet tapped the PADD on the table. "We may even cede some of our claims on the border if the Federation sends Starfleet to fight beside us."
"I'll have to talk to the Federation Council about it, but I can't make any promises."
Kerecet responded to that with a sneer. He knew full well the Federation would never intervene in the war. The pacifists that Cardassia had so adroitly exploited this past decade had no stomach for war, and the other factions had no love for Cardassia to support such a conflict. It was a sad irony to him that the very timidity and craven behavior that Cardassia had found such use for was now backfiring on them, leaving them alone to fight the Alliance. "Then I'll be speaking with you again sometime, President." He walked out, leaving Tobis to brood.


San Francisco, Earth, United Federation of Planets
13:15 GST



After catching another suborbital shuttle from Paris to San Francisco - he hated METting or "beaming" as the locals called it - Ambassador Parmika was in an aircar twisting through the streets of San Francisco.
When the Alliance Embassy came into view after a turn, Parmika sighed. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of PAPAL activists and protestors were milling around the Embassy, nearly barricading its doors. Parmika rolled his eyes at the various anti-war placards - "End the racist war against Cardassia!", "Alliance Leaders = War Criminals", and such were prominent - and watched as the protesters started throwing things at his aircar while it slipped past. Starfleet Security had set up a forcefield along his entrance route, meaning nothing could actually hit the car. Nevertheless, it was irritating.
Far less fortunate were the people trying to enter the Embassy. Some were from the Alliance, on Earth for various purposes, and others were Federation citizens either coming to work as native embassy staff or looking into visas to enter an Alliance member nation. The crowd showed no restraint, screaming abuse and hurtling small objects and such at the people while they strained against the physical barricades that Starfleet Security had erected. A platoon of Starfleet Security officers were present everywhere, monitoring the protest and keeping the protesters off the barricades. Inside the Embassy walls there was better deterrent to the protestors; a squad of Alliance Marines carrying MP-10s, which the protesters also screamed hatred for. The Alliance had, after all, "desecrated" the peaceful sanctity of Earth and its paradise by bringing "weapons of hate" to their Embassy, making a "mockery" of diplomacy - or so was being screeched by the PAPAL activist currently leading the revolt. "Say 'No!' to Racism!" the young man screeched, a fist raised up. "Say 'No!' to War! Say 'No!' to these brutal warmongers!"
This had been the status quo at the Embassy since Gytep had been attacked. And Parmika didn't see it ending any time soon, though he was going to call up Starfleet and once again demand forcefield protection for people trying to actually enter the Embassy. This time he figured he'd put a little more threat behind it, since by interstellar law they had to ensure the Embassy could be peacefully operated, and it was clear that physical barricades simply wasn't cutting it.


Camp Goodman, Krellor, ADN Colonial Zone
15:00 GST



Some of the officers and men of the 3rd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division of the United States Marine Corps (Universe SE-1), were seated in their barracks' rec room. About forty Marines in all, with every eye turned toward Peter Crocker, a reporter from the Federation State Press. Though most Federation reporters had been denied permission to become embedded journalist, considered unreliable for their service's clear political leanings and some potential connections to Cardassian intelligence, they were allowed to conduct interviews with personnel not yet in combat or deploying for combat.
Crocker was seated with a platoon's Gunnery Sergeant, Jules Gibbons, while the other men watched or chipped in answers. Gibbons' skin was several shades darker than Crocker's, and his apparent youth belied the fact that he'd been a Marine for something on the order of thirty-five years. He and his men were all in normal uniforms as opposed to BDUs, wanting to look somewhat good for their host. Gibbons hid his own disagreement with his officers' decision to accomodate Crocker as well as he could.
The discussion had initially been simply on what the Marines did, but now Crocker was asking, "So, you are not specifically Alliance Marines?"
"That is correct," Gibbons said slowly and deliberately, hiding some impatience. "We're United States Marine Corps, not Alliance Marine Corps."
"What's the difference, if I might ask?"
"Well, for one thing, no Colour Sergeants. The Alliance Corps chose to use that since it's a British Royal Marine rank and they wanted to give the Brits some little token since most of the AMC was gonna be American anyway." Gibbons smirked at that. "We call E-6s Staff Sergeants."
"And?"
"Furthermore, in peacetime we do not answer directly to President Mamatmas and the Alliance military. Our Commander-in-Chief is President Lucas Trimble of the United States of America Universe Designate SE-1. Our senior officer is Marine Corps Commandant Patrick Jones and, unlike our AMC counterparts, we are not an independent service but operate under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy. You gettin' all of this, son?"
"So.... you didn't sign up with the Alliance military?"
"Nope."
"Then why are you here?"
"The laws of the Alliance clearly state that in time of war the Alliance Government can call upon the national armed services for duty under Alliance command."
"And how do you feel about that?" Crocker was jotting something down on his PADD. "Your government didn't declare war but you're being forced to fight anyway."
"The United States Government did not have to declare war, as the duly elected Representative of the United States to the Alliance Council voted on our behalf. The same representative half of the men in this room re-elected a month ago."
"Still, your national leaders didn't get a say in this war." Crocker continued jotting down notes. "Clearly you must feel a little apprehensive that your government was forced to go to war by the decisions of others."
"That's how the system works, Crocker. Our voters knew that when they voted to accept the Alliance Constitution. Besides, some of us voted for Mamatmas too when he was running for Chancellor, so it's not like he's an unelected official like, oh, your President Tobis?"
"Come on, you must feel something about being compelled into this war. It's not your own, your nation doesn't even have holdings in our galaxy!"
"But other members of the Alliance do. That's all that matters. The Allied Nations have to stick together."
"Seriously, you're being forced to fight Cardassia! Their army is one of the most feared in the entire quadrant!" Crocker scratched at his forehead, as if he were trying to get a certain response. "Don't you have anything to say about that? About being forced to risk your lives against all of those elite Cardassian soldiers?"
Gibbons smiled at that. It wasn't a pleasant smile, but a predatory one, as if he'd just been given an excellent opening to devour some kind of prey. "Well, Crocker, I'll tell you what my Marines and I think about having to fight the Cardassians. It has to be between you and me, now. No babbling to our superior officers. Okay?"
Crocker's nod was almost too eager. He leaned forward, hungry for what he thought he was going to hear, some material to send back home on anti-war sentiments in the Alliance military or such.
"I think.... THAT WE'RE GOING TO KILL THOSE CARDIE MOTHER FUCKERS!!! OOH-RAH!"
The shout literally threw Crocker back into his seat. Gibbons jumped to his feet as his men chanted "OOH-RAH!" over and over again. "We're gonna make those mother fuckers wish they were never fucking born! We're going to kick their asses across the fucking quadrant!" He pointed to one of his men, who turned on a music system which began to blare a military march soon identifiable as "The Marines' Hymn."

"From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the Shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of UNITED STATES MARINES."


And at that Gibbons was smiling. It wasn't every day a Gunny got to pull a prank, after all, and getting to lure and reel in a Feddie reporter was certainly an occasion that would make for good barracks fodder one day.
As for Crocker, his reaction - upon his recovery of breath - was to turn a bit pale and to be in a state of utter disbelief. "Fanatics," Crocker breathed to himself as they continued singing.. "They're worse than Klingons!"


13th Provisional Order HQ, Bajor, Cardassian Union
23:12 GST



Seated alone in his command office was an older Cardassian man of respectable height and build. 4th Rank Gul Ikval Luvar was a hardened veteran of many wars against foreign enemies and rebels alike. A stern disciplinarian, he was nevertheless respected by the men under his command, a motley mix of raw conscripts from various colonies and older professional soldiers without the benefit of battlefield exploits or political connections to bolster them to higher command. He kept them sternly drilled, having the older veterans teach the young soldiers appropriate battle tactics and firing discipline, and was known among the rough 10,000 men of his unit for walking around with a stick to support his limp right leg, a stick he often lifted and swung around while speaking to his troops.
Luvar himself had a few political connections, mostly in the field personnel who knew of his abilities as a commander, which was why he was in command of an entire Order despite his personal lack of "political qualities". These connections also ensured him protection from his known resistance to Cardassia's less... dignified orders toward the Bajoran population. He had forbidden the establishment of "troop service" that the other Orders were known for; the controversial practice enraged local Bajorans for its theft of local womenfolk to be forced into what amounted to sexual slavery - in other jurisdictions the taking of women and young teenage girls had usually led to violent resistance. Instead he encouraged his troops to nurse relationships with other Cardassian women instead or to abstain until their tours ended. He had also done his best to protect the Bajorans of his region - the Kevima Valley - from higher authorities seeking to conscript labor or worse. The local Resistance cells had a grudging respect for the man and often left his troops alone, concentrating on other Orders with lesser commanders.
His secretary beeped in to inform him of a new arrival. Gul Luvar stood and returned the salute of his new Chief of Staff, 1st Rank Glin Kavel Damar. Damar was a younger officer, formerly in starship service but without any strong political connections. Luvar had liked his record for loyalty and competence and had asked for him after Damar's ship was lost to Alliance attack ships a week ago. With the Central Command convinced an invasion was imminent and the supply lines to Bajor nearly severed by the Alliance's infernal cloak ships, all available personnel had been diverted to the army. "Glin Damar reporting for duty, Gul."
"Welcome, Glin. I take it you've had time to look over my standing orders to the 13th Provisional Order?"
"Yes, Gul."
"Good." Luvar returned to his seat. "Please, come and sit. I have jevel, the finest grown on Ibaravak."
"Thank you." Accepting the mild stimulant drink Luvar offered from the pot beside his desk, Damar took his seat. "I want you to know, Sir, that no matter what happens, I am honored to serve with you. The 13th Provisional Order has the best rating of any provisional unit in the Defense Forces."
"Thank you, Glin." Luvar sighed. "Damned fools in Central Command. This world is not worth a war, and certainly not now, with our fleet badly damaged and our reputation ruined."
"But if we withdraw, certainly other worlds would be emboldened to revolting."
"Let them. We could easily defeat those revolts, and on many of those worlds our supporters have far better appeal than our supporters here on Bajor."
Damar nodded. "I don't take it the Prefect agrees. And I heard grumbling on Terok Nor that you were too soft on the Bajorans around here."
"You mean I don't let my men seize every pretty Bajoran wench they find for their personal pleasure. And I don't let the labor conscriptors take away workers in this area. And, finally, I make my men pay for their goods instead of stealing them." Luvar snorted. "This isn't some poor urban city, Glin. Kevima Valley is a patchwork of fishing and farming villages and towns. The locals here care more for their soil than they do for Bajoran independence, at least right now, and every man and woman is crucial to maintaining their way of life. They don't have teeming masses of unemployed or barely employed urban-dwellers to haul off to the factories, farms, and mines. So long as we let them live in peace and buy their goods fairly they will be content and we will have no problems."
"Until the Alliance invades."
Luvar smiled and nodded at that. "Yes, until the Alliance invades. Then, I fear, we might very well die for the pride of the Central Command."


Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Near Bajor
7 December 2153 AST
03:15 GST



The Atomic Dolphin and her squadron came out of warp some distance from Bajor, approaching from the system's zenith point with ECS systems active. In the cockpit, Sheppard finished securing from warp flight and orientated the bomber properly. "Pilot to Bombardier, program weapons."
"Aye, Sir."
Inside the Atomic Dolphin's bomb bay, three impulse boosters had been loaded. Each carried five re-entry missiles with non-atomic warheads meant for surgical strikes. The boosters were locked on specific areas, the missiles on specific targets: enemy bases and attack craft facilities. "Weapons programmed."
"Open bay doors. Launch when ready."


Kevep Sor, Bajor, Cardassian Union


Kevep Sor was a base near the city of Luvia, the home of the Cardassian 1,329th Planetary Defense Force and the 203rd Provisional Order. Altogether, some 25,000 Cardassians lived and worked in the facility, as well as an additional few hundred "native" workers, mostly of half-Cardassian and half-Bajoran heritage or "trusted" Bajorans (not counting the two hundred or so Bajoran girls forced to live in the base bordello).
The base was on medium alert now, contending both with the threat of invasion and the Alliance sorties to support the Bajoran rebel cities. Most of the native workers were now under close watch and would soon be dismissed. Even the bordello was to be closed down, though not before one last night of carousing by the troops in the base, who were taking the time to make some final use of the Bajoran girls they had available.
But suddenly, all activity was ended by the shrill cry of an alarm. A shield dome popped into existance over Kevep Sor as everyone rushed to evacuate the base or to launch the attack craft. There was a sudden explosion in the air over Kevep Sor, from a missile warhead hitting the shield dome. Then another explosion, and another...
The shield finally gave; three missiles came down through the dome and toward the base. Multiple explosive warheads were fired out just as the missile came into optimum height, raining a series of vicious explosions that spared nothing. Buildings, unshielded attack craft, and living flesh were vaporized, blasted apart, or scorched by the tremendous blast.
The saddest thing is that the explosions did not discriminate in their killing. In the barracks building holding the troops' bordello, which was hit directly by one of the warheads, Bajoran girls weeping at their renewed humiliation died along with the Cardassians who were violating them.
Within minutes, Kevep Sor had been turned from a thriving military base to a mix of ruins and structures lucky to survive the blasts. Thousands were now dead and the base no longer had worth to the Cardassian defenses.


Camp Gapaka, Darane, Alliance Liberation Zone
12:15 GST



Camp Gapaka was the prefab barricks facility set up by the 555th Division when it arrived on Darane on the 6th. It was named after Vedek Gapaka Levip, the founder of the first Bajoran expatriate community in the Federation and one of the spiritual founders of the Bajoran Resistance, making the intent of the unit clear.
The unit was only half disembarked from the troop transport assigned to it, the Francis Conway, giving all of the troops sufficient room while maintaining readiness to launch the instant the order was given. The unit was on constant standby for re-embarkment and the mood among the soldiers was optimistic.
One irony of the situation was that roughly three-fifths of the unit's Bajorans had little to no memories of Bajor at all. They had either moved to the Federation with their families while they were still young or they were born in the Federation and had only heard stories of Bajor. To them, Bajor was semi-mythical, some unreal place their parents or grandparents longed to return to. It might have well been Heaven to them, albeit a Heaven currently controlled by demons. A Heaven they were about to reclaim.
Laying in a prefab barracks just outside the Conway's main hatch, Private Lorva Korvys was typing on a personal laptop, writing a letter to his wife back in the town of Little Hook on Corwich. Above him on the upper bunk, Private Opel Tevil was just laying and toying with his unloaded sidearm. Finally Tevil twisted to look down and said, "Korvys, still writing home?"
"Yes."
"Ah." Tevil turned again and faced the low ceiling. "I wonder how much longer until we go?"
"Beats me."
"You've never been to Bajor, right?"
"I was three years old when my aunt and uncle smuggled me with them to the refugee settlement on Sovel. I can barely remember anything about Bajor. Devys, though, she was almost a teenager when she left. So she remembers a lot more than I do."
"Devys being your wife?"
"Wife of four years, yes." Korvys sighed. Tevil heard one last tap of the keyboard before the snapping sound of the laptop computer closing. "From Little Hook, right?"
"No, I settled with the parents in Wypl Losa. A hundred or so miles up the coast from Little Hook, right on the sea."
"Ah. So you didn't see many of the local Humans?"
A sly grin crossed Tevil's face. "Oh, I did. Wypl Losa might be a bit isolated, but we have a small Human population, mostly the people responsible for setting up the local schools and such. And some of them brought very beautiful daughters."
A chuckle came from below. "Ah. So you're into Human girls?"
"Not too different from our own. And they love wearing very little when they're at the beach." Tevil had fond memories in his head of a couple of those girls he was most successful with, a blonde-haired beauty and a spunky, short brunette.
"But no family for you yet."
"I'm only nineteen, I'll get to it."

Korvys finished packing his laptop away and laid on his bunk, arms under his head. "Devys and I got together when we were eighteen. We had Uliya about a year later."
"If you've got a little girl, why'd you enlist?"
"Because I, well, I..."
"You got caught up in the 'We'll free Bajor one day!' sentiment, I guess?"
Korvys grinned at that. "Maybe a bit. But I also felt that I'd be helping to protect my family and maybe get some good pay in the process. And when I was eligible, I was going to sign up for OCS so that I could get transferred to the Corwich Militia as an officer."
"Oh, that's nice. Get some bars on your shoulder."
"And what about you? Why'd you enlist?"
Tevil shrugged. "Recruiter talked me into it. Said I could get a free college education, and the signing bonus they offered helped pay for my family's new home."
"Didn't bother with the charities?"
"Nah. Besides, things were boring at home anyway."
At that moment their Staff Sergeant, an older Human of light brown complexion named Weathers, entered and announced the daily mail call, leading to everyone standing and saluting. The soldiers had very limited real-time communication with their family, and almost no access to A/V comms due to limited communication bandwidth for the unit; such was the drawback of being in the field.
After some other names were called, Sergeant Weathers bellowed, "Lorva! Korvys Lorva!"
Korvys got off the bunk and accepted the small slip of paper from Weathers. He pulled it open from where the Division Postmaster had applied adhesive to seal it upon printing and sat down on the bunk. Tevil peered over the side. "Letter from the wifey?"
Korvys didn't reply at first. Instead he slowly lowered the letter and stared off into space. Some of the other soldiers laying and sitting nearby noticed the look on his face. "Hey, Korvys, what is it?" one of them said.
"It's a letter from my wife Devys. She's.... she's pregnant."
Applause came from all corners. Tevil reached down and slapped Korvys on the shoulder. Korvys just continued to stare blankly, coming to grips with the happy but unexpected news. He reached into his things and brought out the picture he kept from the day he finished boot camp and saw Devys for the first time in weeks. He was in uniform, she was in a sleeveless blue blouse, and their little girl Uliya was in his arms, wearing a cute little yellow dress and with the same dark blonde hair Devys had.
Tevil reached back down and put a hand on Korvys' shoulder. "Hey, Korvys, you're gonna make it. Don't worry."
"Yeah." He continued to look at the picture some before getting his laptop back out to redo his letter to Devys, taking into account this news.


Ithol Valley, Bajor, Cardassian Union
8 December 2153 AST
07:15 GST



Kira splashed another handful of cold water into her dirt-covered face and pulled the heavy woolen coat a little tighter over her thin, nearly mal-nourished frame. A fully-loaded AK-90 dangled from her shoulder, the steel weapon starting to catch a reflection from the dawning Bajoran sun. Behind her, in the trees and rock outcroppings of the mountain, were about sixty-four fighters, including the five Star Marines led by Lieutenant Korolev. Kira had sadly lost three of her comrades in the two week march; one killed when ambushed by a rather large shalkur and two lost in their passage of the more severe mountain trails from the bitter cold or slipping over the edge. But they had survived. After a grueling fifteen day march through the Gorlin Mountains with only basic nutrition rations and shalkar meat as food, Shakaar and his cell had arrived in Ithol.
The scenic Bajoran valley had a temperate climate, being warm in the summer but potentially cold in winter, something like Upstate New York on Earth. Fresh snow coated the ground from last night's snow shower, though the temperature was still high enough that this small mountain stream had not frozen over. Here, at the northern edge of the Gorlin Mountains, they were within a ten hour march to the Cardassian communications facility at Ithol, a comm facility that coordinated Cardassian ground troops for the entire Valley plus the prairie and steppes outside the valley on all sides. It was the major comm hub for the area, and without it the Cardassians would be forced to realign all of their communications to the other half of the Dakhur network, which was currently being utilized to deal with the siege of the valley city of Salmio. As soon as Korolev got the signal, they would begin their march and attempt to take the base by surprise. The timing was crucial, since it was not good defensive ground and there were about a thousand Cardassian troops in the area who could lay siege to them within two hours; another thousand and a half within six. So they would have to be supported quickly if they were to avoid annihilation.
"Damned cold. If we're not sweating like collaborator whores in the summer, we're freezing in the winter." Kira's irritated mumbling drew a laugh from nearby. "What's it to you?"
Corporal Nimenez looked up from where he was sitting. He was just as haggard looking as she was, with hair growing on his chin, but the young soldier shrugged. "Nothing, actually. But why that term? I thought the Bajoran for 'whore' was kefipi?"
"I'm talking about Cakefipi."
"Ah. The Bajoran prostitutes who service Cardassians."
"More like the ones who do it willingly and who even have their children."

Nimenez looked back down at his gun, which he was cleaning. "And what would you do if a Cardassian forced himself on you and got you pregnant?"
"Carve out my own womb," Kira spat. She noticed Nimenez frowning. "You have a problem with that?"
"I suppose it's my beliefs showing through. I believe that Life itself is sacred. Even if it's Cardassian."
She smirked at that. "You've never dealt with them before."
"Not like you have, true. But I don't think they're all evil either. Evil transcends simple matters of race. So does Good, and the promise of redemption."
"Oh, don't give me that metaphysical crap," scoffed Kira. "You're a soldier. Your job is to kill your enemies. How can you reconcile that with your beliefs?"
"The Church calls it 'Just War', that is, a war where a Christian can fight and kill without violating Christ's message of love and forgiveness or the sanctity of Life. And while I will not lie and say I am an utterly perfect Catholic, I do believe very strongly that killing is a wrongful thing that can be justified only in certain circumstances. I became a soldier because I believed that if I had to fight and to kill, I would do so in circumstances that would justify these things and that I would be defending the things that I cherish." Nimenez put his AK down and placed his hands together. "What do you believe in, Nerys? I am not very familiar with your people's teachings and the divine revelations from those you call the Prophets, so I don't know how they compare to the Church. So you tell me."
"I, well...." Kira sighed and then sat down near him. "I'm not sure."
"Not sure?"
"We're all taught to believe in the Prophets from an early age, and we learn some of the basics about them, but... Sometimes I don't know. What if it's all some ancient fairy tale? What if there are no Prophets, no Celestial Temple? No happy land to which we will go when we die, free from the Cardassians? And when I think about how I don't know for sure, I always decide that it doesn't matter. I am here, Bajor is here, and the worst of all, the Cardassians are here. So I fight to get them out of here so that we can all live in peace." Kira saw Nimenez shaking his head. "What?"
"We Humans have often learned that there is never peace. It's a part of the nature of living things. We're so random, and we let our emotions and our beliefs carry us away so often, that there's always some form of conflict between two different groups, or even the same." Nimenez put his hands on his knees. "Even Bajor is like that. According to what I've studied, your people have their own ethnic divisions, cultural differences, and rivalries for land between those lines."
"Under the Kai's rule, Bajor was united in peace," Kira countered. "We argued, yes, but we didn't go around killing each other."

"The Kai has not ruled Bajor in decades. Your people's very culture has been changed since the Cardassian takeover. You cannot simply remove the Cardassians and return to the old ways. It's not possible."
"Then what will happen to us, hmm? Maybe you Humans can come and 'teach' us things, just like the Cardassians said they were going to?"
Nimenez saw the fire that was starting to kindle in Kira's eyes and sighed. "I understand why you might not trust us, Nerys, and I sympathize. But could you perhaps find it in your heart to be a little trusting. My people, the Humans from other universes, had no ambitions in this universe when we arrived, we simply wanted to find new avenues for trade. We, like you, were forced to fight by Cardassia. We have no desire to control Bajor or the destiny of the Bajoran people, only to help you if you would let us. That's for you to decide. Your people have to want us here if our help is to last."
"You say that. But what about your leaders? You've admitted yourself that Evil is something that is possible for us all. What happens if your leaders decided they knew what was best for us? Then we're right back where we started."
"I do not believe it will come to that."
"And what is that worth, coming from you and not your leaders?"
"Perhaps not a lot," Nimenez admitted. "But I'm afraid that for now, it will have to be enough." At that point, he stood to his feet and picked up his gun. "Have a good day, Nerys."
Kira watched him walk off and looked back at the others. No matter what doubts she had, she knew these things: this world was her home, and the Cardassians had to be driven out of it. And that was precisely what she intended to see done.



”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 subject: Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition PostPosted: 2010-03-24 10:41pm
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Chapter 12


Wexford, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
12:38 GST



New Liberty Criminal Investigation Department had been given its main headquarters in a common building with the Wexford Metropolitan Police, an organization still in organization after being created six months ago in light of the burgeoning population of Wexford and the Wexford Borough Police being overextended. The reorganization had assigned the latter to the larger borough area in which Wexford was the center; Wexford itself was to be the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Police - both still retained Police Headquarters for a central office, the Borough Police not yet finished in their move to the outlying suburb of New Krinot (named for a Trill town - the population there had become overwhelmingly Trill in the past eight months).
There were those who complained about "putting too many eggs in one basket", but it did permit a great deal of easy coordination between the three law enforcement bodies, and it permitted a kind of camaraderie to develop between the organizations instead of the kind of rivalries and contempt that could divide other such groups, like the notorious dislike that the American FBI and various city and even other federal police agencies had for each other in virtually every universe.
It was within the offices of CID that Mayuko Burley found her partner Nick Hartford, standing over a replicator unit and ordering from it. The unit was set into the wall of a break room away from the squad room, next to the locker rooms from which Mayuko emerged in a sleeveless blue blouse and matching black trousers. She watched a donut materialize alongside a cup of coffee before turning her attention, briefly, to the note above it left by CID Human Resources, reminding users of the replicator system that it was "a privilege, not a right" and to "not exceed your daily usage cap". "You know," she started to say as Nick retrieved his breakfast treat, "there is a cafe down the road a bit, run by some immigrants from the Federation, that makes some good breakfast meals. And they use real coffee too."
"Maybe so, but is it free?" Nick smirked as he took a swig of his replicated coffee. "Why pay three bucks for something like this when I can have it every morning for not a dime?"
"It's not free, Nick, its our tax dollars at work. Why else do you think they put up the sign reminding us of daily limits?" Catching the smell from the cup in his hand while he took a bite of the donut, Mayuko curled her nose slightly and continued, "Besides, replicated stuff can't beat coffee actually made from real coffee grounds."
"Eh, so you all say. Me, always been the same." Nick got back to his desk, which like Mayuko's was fairly cluttered with digital notepads, the standard issue computer, and assorted papers for their open cases. "So, was thinking of heading out to Dolan today. Do some interviews on that Styria heist the Feddies have us looking into."

Mayuko slipped into her chair and activated her computer. She rubbed at her forehead after glancing at the case file. The interviews with Ogawa's crew had gone nowhere and the Bajorans they'd carried had dispersed across the Colonial Zone since their arrival. The few they had interviewed had not been helpful while the similarity in their stories did have Mayuko quite suspicious. Though they didn't have any evidence, she was quite sure there was more to Yumiko Ogawa's outfit than there appeared to be. "You know, I wonder if we could cause the Vesey crew to slip a bit if we got them isolated," she remarked to Nick as he wolfed down his donut. "Nothing we can charge them with, but if we called some of them in for individual interviews?"
He finished chewing but the look on his face told Mayuko he wasn't particularly enthused with the idea, especially the prospect of another drive to East Landing. "Maybe, but I think we're wasting time. Even if Ogawa and her crew are guilty, proving it will be hard, and the only proof we really have to go on was sent by the Feddies. Not going to impress the extradition judges, you know?"
Sighing, she nodded in agreement. "I know, but I don't like the idea of letting local bandits make a mockery out of us. I think we should shake the tree, see what falls..."
"Hartford! Burley!"
The stern voice was that of Inspector-Captain Abigail Morse, their immediate boss. Mayuko had only recently broken herself of the habit of trying to call Inspector Morse "Lieu" or other derivatives of "Lieutenant" due to how she saw the older Englishwoman. She looked to the short, thin woman standing at her office door and stood, Nick following suit. Inspector Morse re-entered her office, a sign she wanted them to follow. They moved around a couple unoccupied desks and entered, taking the seats Morse offered. "You're still looking into the Vesey and a connection to the New Styria robbery?"
"Yes ma'am," Hartford answered, being the senior agent.
"Well, don't bother any longer," Morse answered. "I got another call this morning, this one from Planetary Councilman Morris and Deputy Chief Nichols. Seems the Bajorans you sought out for interviewing started telling people you were looking to arrest refugees for a bank robbery in the Federation. He was quite irate about it, asking if the CID was going to join Starfleet and Federation police services in 'racial persecution'."
"We were given the case, ma'am, we have to follow where it leads," Mayuko spoke up.

"I'm telling you where it's leading, Agent Burley. It's leading to a situation where the New Liberty Government Council might start to ask just what the CID is spending millions of pound sterling doing, beyond following evidence hand-gifted to us from the Federation which conveniently implicates members of a race the Federation has been treating like crap lately." Morse sighed. "I got the word from DC Nichols while talking with Morris. The case is being closed."
Nick made a "hmph" sound and gave a bit of a shrug. Mayuko looked more bewildered in her response. "Ma'am, I think it's premature to close the case..."
"What you think, Agent Burley, is not of consequence against DC Nichols' order. The case is being closed. You and Agent Hartford will focus on other, more fruitful cases, and we'll inform the Federation that our investigation of Denmark Vesey and her passengers and crew showed no evidence of their involvement in the Styrian robbery." Morse motioned to the door. "Hartford, you can go, but I'd like to speak to your partner for a minute."
Whistling with some amusement, Hartford looked to Mayuko and muttered, "I always told you that you should know when to let it go," before getting up and leaving. He closed the door behind him, leaving Mayuko to face her boss directly.

For her part, Morse didn't seem to be any harsher in demeanor, and there was no clear indications of an imminent scolding. "You don't seem willing to follow Agent Hartford's example and let the case go. Why is that?"
"Nick's got experience, ma'am, but he also likes to concentrate on the short-term cases, things that are easier to prove and deal with," Mayuko answered. "Back at Schwarz PD I was trained to follow a case to its natural conclusion, whether it meant arrest or being put into a cold case file. And this case has not been given any kind of conclusion."
"Agreed," Morse stated. "You know, Agent, with the population expanding so heavily CID is getting stretched thinner and thinner in manpower. The cases we're getting from other towns and cities sprouting up across the globe is getting to be too much for our handful of offices. Word is that Chief Denton is going to be announcing a few annex offices to be opened around New Year's, maybe afterward. I was wondering... would you be interested in such a position?"
Mayuko blinked in surprise. "Well, um, I would, though shouldn't Agent Hartford....?"
"I'll offer him one too.... fat lot of good it'll do, that's a man who's never met a promotion he liked," Morse remarked candidly, with a bit of humor. "It wouldn't be a full office, just a field office. Two agents, one assistant, to handle cases in your area. CID would dispatch further agents to your assistance if certain cases required it. How does East Landing sound to you, Agent Burley?"
Under ordinary circumstances Mayuko would've been delighted to hear it. As much as Wexford reminded her of her bustling hometown on Pacifica GS-42, East Landing was a gorgeous boom town full of immigrants, a warm subtropical climate, and a beautiful coast with beaches for relaxation and swimming. Even with a case load like the one she'd expect, off-time would be made available, and such a city provided plenty of opportunity for enjoying it.... more so than the rapidly-industrializing, chaotic Wexford.
But that wasn't all there was to it, she realized. Mayuko gave a look to Morse that showed she knew there was something else up. "You want me to keep an eye on Ogawa?", Mayuko asked.
Morse smirked. "Why, Agent Burley, I have no intention of giving you such an order. The case is closed, after all." Letting that remark hang in the air a moment, Morse continued on. "Though, of course, as our main agent in East Landing you could 'keep an eye' on Ms. Ogawa and her outfit as you see fit, so long as you do so without stepping on any toes or lines and without ignoring open cases. Who knows, you might even have a chance to learn about things like her business relationship with individuals like that Ferengi broker from New Norwich she visited immediately upon arrival in the Colonial Zone, to whom she transferred a cargo that was verified electronically as miscellaneous consumer goods and which just happened to match, roughly, the mass of fifteen million Alliance dollars worth of gold-pressed latinum."

That, of course, was all Mayuko needed to hear. It was clear that there was something going on higher up that led to their case getting pulled out from under them and that Morse wasn't any more willing to give Ogawa and her people a free pass as Mayuko was. "Maybe," she said, with some casual lack of interest in her voice. "Provided it doesn't take into the time I could use to get a nice tan on those beaches." Smiling widely, she stood up and gave a nod to Inspector Morse. "Thank you for the offer, ma'am, I look forward to filling the position."
"I'm pleased to hear it, you'll do fine in East Landing."
Mayuko smiled and left. Morse gave a thin grin. She knew the Yank girl would do a good job on her own, and with less scrutiny from Deputy Chief Nichols. Morse knew the man from Scotland Yard, and she also knew he had other old friends and contacts from his Yard days as well, including those in MI5 and, nowadays, Alliance Intelligence. But no matter what the spooks were up to, Morse wasn't about to let them let criminals run free in her jurisdiction without some kind of observation.


Ikila, Bajor, Cardassian Union
13:09 GST



Kai Opaka's expression was stoically neutral when the viewscreen flipped on to show Vedek Winn Adami, standing in a Cardassian military office. Opaka hid her feelings for Winn, which mostly consisted of some minor contempt and irritation at Winn's fence-sitting and politicking. Though representing a conservative branch of the Bajoran clergy, Winn was in fact an opportunist who played the factions of the Temple against one another, even as she vacillated in support to the Cardassians, carefully toeing the line between collaboration and subtle opposition. Opaka didn't doubt that Winn was sincere in her devotion to their faith, however, it was simply a case of Winn's desire to preserve her life and what power she had being more important and, in fact, wrapped up in her sense of importance to their faith. "Kai, Prefect Koral desires your response to this... unwise uprising in Ikila. The casualties on both sides are increasing by the hour. Surely the Prophets have revealed their wisdom to you by now?"
"The Prophets work on their own time, Vedek, not our's," Opaka chided her, somewhat gently, perhaps in a sense of pity for what she suspected would be Korel's response to her message later. "Revelations cannot be rushed."
"Oh, yes, of course. My apologies for my presumption, Kai."
"Tell Prefect Korel that I shall shortly be revealing the will of the Prophets to the people of Bajor."
"Yes, Kai. I will do so immediately."
Opaka watched Winn disappear from the screen. From behind her, a young nineteen year old acolyte stepped forward, her cherubic face full of concern. "Kai, what shall we do? The Cardassians are going to slaughter us and burn the Great Temple."
"Prefect Korel has said that if I manage to end the uprising he will spare the Temple and those of our city who are not fighting."
"But that will still condemn hundreds, thousands of our people to death." The acolyte's lip trembled. "And, how can we trust the Cardassians? They may sack Ikila anyway."
"Yes, they would." Opaka put her hand on the young woman's cheek. "Calm your pagh, my child. The Prophets have revealed to me the future and I know now what must be done."


Space Station Terok Nor, Orbit of Bajor
13:20 GST



Prefect Korel was in the Ops center of Terok Nor, Vedek Winn's image on his screen. "So the Kai will denounce the uprising?"
"I am certain of it, Prefect." Winn smiled diplomatically. "The Kai has too much love for the people of Bajor to let them waste their lives in this hopeless act of violence."
Korel nodded. "Then for their sakes, they had better listen to the Kai and stop this pointless struggle." Korel tried to hide his own apprehension. Central Command had just issued an invasion warning, believing that the Alliance would attempt landings within four days. The last thing he wanted was the Central Detachment hotly engaged with enemy troops coming down on top of them.
"Sir, signal coming from the Great Temple."
Winn's image flicked out, replace by Kai Opaka. The older Bajoran woman seemed deceptively serene as she began speaking. "People of Bajor, please hear my words. The Prophets have spoken to me these past terrible days, revealing to me the course our people must take to avoid destruction."
Opaka's expression hardened. "For many decades, Bajor has been under Cardassian rule, and it has not been pleasant. The Prophets have always counseled restraint, knowing that our people could not overthrow the Cardassian control of our world. But that has changed. The Prophets have promised us deliverance, my children! They have consoled us to wait no longer, for our time has come! Cardassia's new enemy has crippled her strength and has opened the way for our...."
At that moment Korel's comm officer cut the channel from Ikila and severed the Great Temple's connection to the rest of the planet. Korel's expression was one of rage. The screen now reverted back to Winn, who had lost much of the color on her face. "Prefect, I... the Kai must have been coerced by the rebels! Perhaps I can persuade the other Vedeks...."
"Spare me your platitudes, Winn! Your Temple has betrayed us! The rebellion will only grow now!" Korel snarled. At this moment what little tolerance he had for the Bajorans snapped; he would, if possible, kill every single one of them, and only wished he could annihilate this pathetic race of religious fanatics who dared to yet again cross Cardassia. "I see the only way to bring you pathetic wretches to your knees is to destroy you utterly. I'm ordering the execution of every member of the Bajoran religious orders and the extermination of the population of any city that supports the rebels!"
Winn shook her head. "Please, Prefect! Show mercy! There are Vedeks who will support you, who know that resistance only means..." At that moment one of the Cardassian soldiers in the room with Winn walked up behind her and, without hesitation, pulled the trigger on his pistol. Winn was not even given the time to turn around before the energy beam struck her. She screamed for a brief moment as her body was disintegrated into nothingness.
"Send final instructions to Gul Severak. All Bajorans in Ikila are to be executed. No exceptions. Burn the Great Temple to the ground!" Korel pounded a fist on his table. "Get me the Central Command. And prepare to initiate Case Red by evacuating all non-Bajoran civilians from the station."


Cardassian Mechanized Detachment Field HQ, Bajor, Cardassian Union
13:24 GST



Severak shook his head at Korel's image. He knew appointing the man had been a mistake by the Central Command. Dukat could be soft, but he was far more intelligent a Prefect, while Korel's default policy was to kill first, ask questions later. "Rescind the order, Prefect. It's bad enough that the Kai has backed the rebellion. If we start slaughtering their clergy the entire planet will rise in revolt!"
"And why should I care? Our troops can slaughter them all. Our troops should slaughter them all."
"Don't be a fool, Prefect. According to our intelligence the Alliance will be attacking any day. Do you really want all of our troops to be caught in a killing spree when their troops land?" Severak pounded a fist on his table. "Prefect, let me take Ikila. I'll have Opaka's head beamed straight to you and you can direct the Vedeks to elect a new Kai to reverse her decree."
"You've had six days, Gul Severak. Yet you're still thirty kilometers away from the city's outskirts!"
"Initial attempts to quickly overcome the rebels' second defense line failed, so I held back to give time for one great push. It is my intention to launch an overwhelming offensive and to begin shelling their third line immediately thereafter. In fact, the offensive kicks off in precisely five minutes."
"Why bother? I'm having preparations finished to demolish Ikila, and all the other major temples, by orbital bombardment. Their shield will likely not withstand a full assault from Terok Nor and the orbiting ships I'm gathering."
Severak felt a chill go through his spine, and it wasn't just the cold Ikila winter. He had the rank to see reports on Alliance announcements and public policies. If they commenced photon torpedo bombardment on Bajoran civilian targets, the Alliance would most assuredly retaliate, and had even expressly promised to launch its weapons on Cardassia Prime. The Central Command wasn't too worried about that... but with his family back on the homeworld, and plenty of understanding of the kind of power they were dealing with, Severak damned sure was. "The Central Command ordered no bombardments. They don't want to give the Alliance pretext for another wave of nuclear attacks."
"They're just bluffing. The Alliance, being Humans, are too squeamish to actually retaliate against population centers, and even if they could, Cardassia Prime is far from the war front, there's no way their craft could attack it and survive the attempt."
"You don't know that! These Humans have already shattered much of what we believed true about war and it's not your place to risk the lives of Cardassians to appease your ego and your hatred of Bajorans! At least give me time to remove Opaka!"
Several moments passed, in which Korel seemed to be weighing his options. Severak was coming dangerously close to the line of insubordination, which could get him vaporized and his family disgraced, but he had a fairly good idea of the actual line's place and how valuable he was to Korel, a life-long space service officer who knew nothing about planet-side combat. Nevertheless, Severak nearly let out a sigh of relief at seeing Korel visibly relent. "Very well, I will retract the order," Korel stated hesitantly "You have three days. After that, if the Kai is still alive, I suspect we will have no choice but to deal with the Bajoran Temple permanently. Which I intend to do by any means necessary, the Alliance's threats be damned."


Outside Lelipa, Bajor, Cardassian Union
13:29 GST



The rain had turned the dirt of the trenches into cold winter mud. The mud was no new thing for Oleri Gevia. The nineteen year old farmer's daughter was used to it from helping her father tend their land after her older brothers had died of illness or disappeared to join the Resistance. Gevia was only about five feet tall, needing a box to actually stand high enough over the trench for her to aim the Cardassian phaser rifle she'd been given when she volunteered with some of her schoolmates to fight. For her, it was a chance to lash out at the people who took her older sister away to be some Gul's whore and who killed her beloved grandfather so many years ago.
Or so she'd thought at the time. But after days in the cold rain wearing only a cotton vest and torn jacket with trousers and having to watch three of her friends die, she had come to realize that she had been premature in volunteering. In fact, Gevia was terrified, and with every ounce of her soul she wanted to run and save herself. But she couldn't bring herself to, not in front of her friends, not knowing that they would forever remember her as having abandoned them in their moment of need.
So she remained at her place, carefully holding the Cardassian weapon to shoot at any Cardassian trooper who appeared. Whenever she saw them she felt terror in her heart. If they captured her, would they simply kill her? Would they rape her first like they had probably done to her sister? Maybe she would get sent to Gallitep! The possibilities were horrible and weighed in on her mind as much as the fear of death.
Trying and mostly failing to calm herself, Gevia focused her rifle on the thickets that she knew some of the Cardassian soldiers were hiding behind. She heard something overhead at this time, something she wasn't quite sure of for a moment until she realized what it was: plasma charges! The Cardassian artillery had opened fire!
There was nothing to do now. Gevia simply stood there as the first charge went off about thirty yards in front of her, the heat of the explosion warming her skin and blinding her for a moment. Explosions were going off everywhere and she could hear cries of fight or of pain as some of them detonated near or even in the trench.
Now the Cardassians emerged from the thickets; grim-faced men carrying rifles bigger than her's with side-arms on their hips and some with communication gear on their heads. Gevia leveled her weapon and began to open fire on them. She wasn't a good shot - very few of her friends were - but together their massed fire managed to hit a few.
Suddenly there was an explosion beside Gevia which threw her off the box she was standing on. Her entire right side had been struck by plasma, burning much of her skin away and leaving her right arm, leg, side, and most of her face a pulp of blackened, charred flesh. Gevia began to moan and a tear began to roll down her surviving left eye, her right eye's tear duct having been destroyed. She began to cry out in her mind, begging for her life as she lay dying in the cold winter mud, soil that her family had farmed for generations. I don't want to die! I don't want to die! Prophets help me, please don't let me die! Save me! Save me please!
Gevia continued to plead for her life until everything faded into black, her heart gripped in a hand colder than the mud that she died in.


Space Station Terok Nor, Orbit of Bajor
15:30 GST



Korel was finally satisfied, to an extent, with how things were going. Severak's offensive had already broken through the second trench line around Ikila and again the Bajoran rebels were falling back to their third line, already under artillery fire. Severak had planned his attack well, holding back sufficient reserves that when his forward units were forced to stop at the third trench line, backup units would surge forth under artillery support to begin piercing it as well. In about thirty hours or so, Ikila would be wide open to attack.
Rebellions were springing up elsewhere now, though, and some in areas long presumed pacified. Korel had ordered his troops to do what was necessary for their own self-defense, which in same cases would probably be slaughtering every Bajoran near them (something he didn't care about). But such was the price the Bajorans would pay for their fanaticism, and Korel did not care how many of them died or how many of them would be killed despite being no threat to his troops. The life of a Cardassian was infinately more valuable than the life of a Bajoran, after all.
Glin Durel walked up beside Korel. "Prefect, the first phase evacuation is complete. We are preparing to evacuate non-essential personnel. The Bajoran workers and their families have been confined to the Habitat Ring and the work facilities."
Korel nodded. "Very good. Commence Case Red immediately."


Further down, in the Promenade level, Odo was finding himself in the middle of a bad situation. His lieutenant, Durel, had gone off to Ops and not returned, and the evacuation of the non-Bajoran civilians had expanded to non-essential personnel; even those essential to station operations were beginning evecuation procedures.
It was not unexpected; the Alliance was expected to commence an invasion of Bajor any day now, and such an invasion would quickly see Terok Nor destroyed. But what was unexpected - even if it shouldn't have been given Korel's bloodymindedness - was that he saw no indication of evacuation of the Bajorans. Instead they were all being confined to their quarters or the working areas.
Odo's monitor flashed on. It was Korel. "Constable Odo, I will have you beamed off in the last batch of personnel very shortly. Can you confirm that the Bajorans are all confined?"
"They are, Gul," Odo replied in a monotone fashion. "How are you going to beam them off the station?"
"Oh, I'm not, Constable."
Korel was undoubtedly pleased to finally get an apparent reaction from the shapeshifter, one of some bewilderment. "You are leaving them aboard?"
"Yes. A few hundred Bajorans is not a large number, truth be told, and I'm already killing that many every few minutes, so I have no problem adding more when I blow this station up."
"But, you can't... They are innocent people, Gul Korel, we've cleared out the suspected Resistance..."
"There is no such thing as an innocent Bajoran, Constable, just those that are too cowardly to attack Cardassians," Korel retorted. "And I don't intend to let them get their courage up given the current tide of the war. Be prepared for beamdown shortly, unless you'd like to see if you can survive the station's fusion reactors being overloaded?" After Odo was uncomfortably silent for a moment, Korel flashed a small grin. "I thought not, Constable."
When he disappeared from the monitor, Odo found himself wondering what to do about this. He'd always had qualms about the Cardassians, but Korel was severe even by their standards. Now Korel intended to murder every single Bajoran on the station from sheer bloodymindedness. And, Odo hated to admit, there was not a thing he could do about it.

Not that he didn't try. He'd been the head of station security long enough to learn his way through the computers. He attempted to use the security systems to access other functions but found that Gul Korel had locked him out, likely long ago. Without that access, there was nothing he could do. Not a thing at all.
The door to his office swished open and a figure stood in it. "Good day Constable. Might I be of assistance?"
Odo looked up and let out a guttural sound at the figure before him. "And I thought they evacuated all the Cardassian civilians."
At that remark, a sly grin came to the face of the station's tailor. Known to Odo only as "Garak", the Cardassian took a few more steps in, enough to prompt the door to shut behind him. "Yes, well, you never know when you will need a tailor, even in a crisis," was his reply, oozing with that usual charm he employed to be disarming. "Besides, I didn't want Glin Durel to decide my price for his mistress' gown was too steep and that he could help himself to it behind my back. A craftsman like myself does deserve honest compensation for his labor."
"Of course," Odo answered, drawing out the end of it to try and make clear his disbelief. Garak was something of an enigma, the whispers of his past being anything from a disgraced Gul in Special Operations to a banished agent of the Obsidian Order. And if he was staying, he had a good reason for it. "Well, Mister Garak, I think you should report for evacuation, the station is to be destroyed shortly."
"Ah, our good Prefect Korel has decided not to try and hold it. A wise choice from a military perspective. I suspect that he has implemented Case Red and is leaving our Bajoran neighbors to be atomized with the station?"
"And how would you know about the Gul's 'Case Red' when I didn't?", Odo asked pointedly.
"It's surprising to some how boring the process of having a suit tailored can be for the customer, especially for a fidgety, ambitious staff officer of the Cardassian military," Garak replied. "And given my singular charm as a conversationalist - and a bit of a raconteur I admit - you'd be surprised about how much a tailor like myself might learn. Anyway, I suspect we don't have much time left to do something about Korel's rather distasteful behavior."
"There's nothing I can do about it," Odo retorted. "He locked me out from all non-security functions long ago. Even some of the security programs have been routed to Durel."
"Yes, well, I believe I may have a solution to that. Computer?" Garak waited for an affirmation beep, reflecting that the computer was ready to accept verbal input. "Commence selective command program Black-491004. Authorization Code Black-441256."
Odo looked with surprise as his computer displays responded immediately. Every program and function on the station was now in his control. "What did you do?", Odo asked Garak pointedly.
"I heard that code from a computer programmer from back home who had come to update Terok Nor's systems," Garak said, in a fashion that was all charm but no truth. "I'd always wanted to see if it'd work."
Odo made another "hmph" sound and found he could access the transporters remotely. "I can start beaming people off, but Ops will detect the transports..."
"Actually, my dear Constable, that program was designed to make whomever was in the location it was activated capable of performing operations without alerting Ops. So long as you time transporter use with the rest of the station I believe you can remain undetected."
Odo nodded stiffly. He didn't have a lot of time. Working quickly, and with Garak literally observing over his shoulder, he worked the station's backup transporter systems, those tied into the cargo bay that were no longer being utilized for the evacuation. Wherever internal sensors confirmed Bajorans, he would snatch them in the transporter and send them down, directing them to the countryside where, from his knowledge of the operations below, there was little risk of facing Cardassian troops.
He continued doing so until a transporter beam enveloped him and Garak, whisking them away from Station Security and down to Bajor. Ordinarily they would have materialized in the Planetary Command Center at Renmakal - where Korel would undoubtedly soon discover their actions and enact retaliation - but while Odo's back was turned Garak had performed his own activities on the computer systems and enabled a safety protocol within the program he enabled, meaning that as soon as Korel's officer in Ops locked onto them and beamed them down, the computer systems re-directed the transport to the countryside where they were sending the survivors.


At that, the remaining ten or so Cardassians on the station made their way to the transporter pad on Ops. Six beamed down first, leaving Korel, two aides, and the transporter operator. Korel waited for the operator to finish his preparations and then gave the command. "Computer, this is Gul Korel. Commence self-destruct sequence with a delay of one minute, initiation code Gray-3394483."
"Self-destruct sequence set," the computer replied.
Korel stepped on the pad and nodded to the transporter man, who activated the delay-set transporter and walked to the pad. As he did so, Korel said, "Begin countdown."
The operator stepped on the pad and they were beamed down three seconds later.
Those of the station's Bajoran population not rescued by Odo and Garak remained huddled in their quarters or stuck in the processing centers. They wept, cried, and prayed as they waited, helplessly, for the end. For some there was only the terror of an imminent doom they could not avoid, for others, anger that they had not been spared when those beside them had been whisked away, and finally, those who could die with some peace, knowing that at least one person dear to them would live on.
Fortunately this final act of torture by Gul Korel to his Bajoran charges did not last long. When the computer timer hit zero, the station's massive fusion core went into an intentional overload, timed with explosive charges in key structural members in the hull. Something on the order of one hundred Bajorans died from the explosive force or the released radiation as the explosions tore the station apart.


From the surface, Korel stood in the main courtyard of the Planetary Command Center as hundreds of people looked up to see the bright explosion in the sky. Terok Nor was gone.
Gul Pecel, the female commander of the center, looked to Korel. "Why did you destroy the station?"
"Without the fleet to protect it, Terok Nor was doomed. Better for us to concentrate ourselves on holding out here, on the surface of the planet, until Central Command can rescue us." Korel looked at all of the soldiers around him. "Tell every Cardassian you see that there is no escape. We must hold our ground or die trying. There is no other possibility."


Kevima Valley, Bajor, Cardassian Union
22:15 GST



The Bajoran survivors from Terok Nor were moving quietly through the valley. The Province was a rural one, nominally pacified under the policies of Gul Luvar, and his troops were too busy preparing to enact his plan for self-preservation against invasion to interfere with the movement of the hundred or so survivors Odo and Garak had saved.
The two were conspicuous in the mass of Bajorans, Odo for his strange facial structure and Garak for being Cardassian. Garak especially had gotten some rude looks but Odo's reputation was one every Bajoran on Terok Nor had known; if he was here, with them, and so was Garak, that meant Garak was not a threat to them.
As they walked, looking for a town to find respite and sustenance, Odo allowed his curiosity to come to the fore. "Tell me, Garak... why?"
"Why what, my dear Constable?"
"You didn't have to do what you just did," Odo pointed out. "Risking execution to help me save these people? Why?"
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about reprisal from the military, they might see the logs and realize something odd happened, but with the forged records that the program created, it's just as likely that whatever overworked Glin looks over the sensor logs will easily come to the conclusion that it was a computer error."
"That doesn't answer my question, Garak."
"Well, how about this then? I detest Korel. The man is an unimaginitive brute unfit to command a salvage vessel and, why, the mere thought of his reaction to being defied makes me smile." And Garak did, indeed, smile, and it was a particularly wide smile. "I may harbor no strong affections for the Bajorans, but unlike Korel I am quite capable of trying to live with them in a relationship beyond 'ruler' and 'ruled', and I find the prospect of letting them get slaughtered needlessly to be quite distasteful."
"Really." Odo stopped for a moment, prompting Garak to do the same after he took an extra step. "You know Garak, I almost believe you when you say that."
"You may believe as you wish, dear Constable, but whether what I spoke is the truth or a lie is irrelevant; it's still an answer, and that's what you asked for." With that remark given, Garak walked on, leaving Odo to consider the enigmatic figure for a brief moment before continuing on himself.


Kurvak, Cardassian Union
9 December 2153 AST
03:16 GST



4th Rank Gul Ivirak stepped onto the bridge of his flagship, the Leverat, and his crew immediately stood to full attention. The Betreka Nebula veteran had a solid frown on his face, the kind he always had, as he nodded and thus ordered them back to duty station.
Kurvak was not a major fleet base and did not have the berths to hold but ten ships out of Ivirak's fleet of five hundred. But a major fleet base was not needed at the moment; the Alliance invasion of Bajor would come soon and it would be up to Third Fleet to somehow prevent it or at least make its cost prohibitive to the Alliance's forces, giving Cardassia an opening to regroup the other fleets and restore its fighting power. Ivirak had given several addresses these past day to remind his crews that the Alliance's fleets had been damaged by the brave sacrifices of other Cardassians. Reminding them that the Alliance's insistence on taking Bajor could be used against them, causing them to expose their forces to attack where they would least expect it. In that advantage was their key to victory, a victory Cardassia desperately needed.
Ivirak watched the blue and green world of Kurvak spin in the distance, a 3D display of the system beside it on the screen. "Assign scouts to each spherical quadrant of the heliopause and two light years outward. Maintain active sensor sweeps for any intruders, real or imagined. I do not intend to get caught unaware."


Ikila, Bajor, Cardassian Union
18:16 GST



Opel Nevis felt twice his age as he walked into what was an impromptu hospital for the battle wounded that Bajoran fighters had managed to get back to Ikila. Limbs were missing or badly scorched on some while the more fortunate had far less scarring compressor beam wounds, though all had been badly wounded. And every hour, the death count grew.
For a moment Opel stopped to give words of comfort for a dying man. The middle-aged Bajoran spoke mostly of his small grandchildren and wife, hiding in the Temple now, and Opel listened patiently, his heart threatening to shatter from the pain he felt at all of this. Was he not responsible for this man's death and the deaths of so many others? He had sparked this uprising because he sensed that the time had come and they would be able to hold the Cardassians long enough for the Alliance to land. Now, for the first time, he felt doubt.
Beside him, the poor man finally died, the death rattle of lungs damaged by the intense thermal damage of a plasma explosion finally ending within the grotesque remains of what was once a decently robust chest. Opel raised the sheet over his head and looked away, tears rolling down his eyes. This blood was on his hands. So much of it.
A gentle hand touched his shoulder. Opel turned and was quite stunned to find himself facing the Kai. "Your Eminence." He dropped to one knee, an act that surprised him a bit. For most of his life Opel had not been terribly religious, but habit was habit, and he now had a respect for the Kai that he had never possessed before.
"Stand, my child." Opaka reached down and brought him to his feet. "Why did you come here? Are you not needed to lead the defense?"
"No. The Humans I brought with me are more than capable of overseeing the matter." Opel's eyes looked down. "I have not been able to check up on news elsewhere, but some have told me that uprisings are spreading across Bajor and that the Cardassians are now resorting to slaughter."
"I have heard some similar things."
"Perhaps you should have not supported us, Your Eminence."
"I did not make that decision, my child. I am merely a messenger of the Prophets. It is they who decided the time had come and revealed to me the future."
"And what is our future, Kai?"
Opaka smiled serenely. "The Prophets blessed me with what I saw. I saw the fires of this war die and the shattered cities rebuilt. I saw Bajor and her people blessed with a prosperity we have never known. Bajor will be reborn, Opel Nevis, and it will be a Golden Age for our people."
For a moment Opel said nothing. He wasn't quite ready to believe it - he had been a rationalist for far too long - but in his heart he felt a sense of ease. "Then, for the rebirth of Bajor, we will persevere. Please excuse me, Your Eminence." Opel bowed his head respectfully and stepped away, leaving Opaka to tend to the spirits of the wounded.


Opel returned swiftly to the Cardassian HQ that they had converted to their command center. A holographic map on the central table showed the Cardassian forces quickly pushing in on Ikila's western outskirts, held only by the final trench line. "The reserves are in position, Commander Montecuccoli?"
The slightly-tanned young Human, an officer of the Free Worlds League nobility who was officially "on leave", turned from one of the stations and nodded. "The best men we have left will counterattack the Cardassians as soon as they break the trench line."
"At best, they will be a delay. We may only have twenty-four hours until Ikila is wide open."
The slightly-accented voice made Opel's head turn. A single figure dressed in combat fatigues emerged from a side room where he had been discussing things with subordinates. The Human was older than Opel and was missing his right eye, now covered by a patch. "Has there been any word on the arrival of Alliance forces?"
"None, Marshal."
There was only a grim expression on the face of the "Marshal", known to Opel Nevis and many others as Anastasius Focht, the former Precentor-Martial of ComStar, once known in life as Frederick Steiner. "Given the many months the Alliance military has had to plan an invasion of Bajor, I expect it will come soon."
"I would think it would take weeks, at least, to prepare an invasion of Bajor," Montecuccoli said.
"Ah, but that is not how the Alliance thinks, Force Commander." Focht finished walking up to the display, running a finger over the symbols representing the ad hoc battalions that had been formed since the uprising began. "They undoubtedly began preparing to liberate Bajor as far back as the first incidents in June. And remember the lessons of their wars against the Clans and ComStar, not to mention the opening of this war. Many in their leadership are married to the concept of seizing and holding the initiative. It has worked against them, yes, as we saw with their first attempts to deal with ComStar, but that alone will not change their way of thinking and they will want to land on Bajor as quickly as possible."
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