(TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-03-29 12:56am

Chapter 14

Cardassian Western Detachment HW, Outside Salmio, Bajor
07:01 GST

Gul Teve'el was a large man of middle age who had risen through the ranks due to both his connections and his abilities as a leader. He was now in charge of over 75,000 Cardassian combat troops, not counting their support personnel, besieging the Bajoran city of Salmio. On top of the three Orders of professional mechanized troops he had another 30,000 Cardassian combat troops in two Provisional Orders, plus the shattered remnant of two Provisional Orders that had suffered heavy casualties.
As soon as they had confirmed enemy landings Teve'el had been forced to make a choice: attempt a dangerous escape west to his Detachment's bases or break through and force his way into Salmio. He had tried the latter, with only some luck. The enemy had landed troops in Salmio itself, making the offensive a very difficult thing. They had also forced landings on Mount Tevis on the ridges and faces where Teve'el had placed his artillery.
Now the worst came to pass, as he could see through enhanced imaging binoculars that a massive Alliance flag had been raised on the summit of Tevis. The four-colored flame circled by stars flittered in the stiff Bajoran wind, clearly visible for miles around and probably in the city itself.
It was now that Teve'el made his decision, and he began to order the withdrawal from their siege positions to the west. Salmio was a valley city, after all, flanked by massive mountains and with only two ways in and out of the city - valleys to the west and northeast that were carved out over eons by the River Salgo. The Northeast approach was barely passable and easily-defended for it's narrowness - at times it was so narrow that the river was in a canyon and did not have banks - and the siege had relied totally on the western valley and positions there, which was the reason it had been so unsuccessful.
As Teve'el made his withdrawal, the Bajorans in Salmio actually counter-attacked in several combat sectors. Platoon-sized groups of spirited Bajorans would harrass the retreating Cardassians well into the next day. To make matters worse, even as Teve'el was getting into an HQ vehicle to follow his mechanized troops toward the river town of Idiv at the opening of the valley, he learned that enemy troops that had landed outside the valley were racing to cut his units off before they could escape to the Dakhur Plains.
Deep down, Teve'el knew that no matter what he did, he was doomed.

Ithol Communications Base, Bajor
07:24 GST

The Cardassian base had been assaulted by Shakaar and his cell roughly five and a half hours ago, in perfect timing to the beginning of the Alliance landings. Now they were holed up in the base with a Cardassian force besieging them that outnumbered them by 15 to 1; not exactly the odds that a guerrila force took to fighting.
Near the ground level, Kira Nerys and Pedro Nimenez were guarding one of the entry corridors on the west quadrant of the building. The building entrance itself on that quadrant had been lost to a heavy assault, in which Kira had sustained a wound to her left hip that left her almost immobile. They were in excellent position, however, too far away for the Cardassians to remove with a grenade attack and in position to mow down any Cardassian who came through, at least until the Cardassians again had the sheer numbers to put enough people into the hall that one might get a shot.
Their AK-90s came to life again and again whenever Cardassians tried to peak around the side. Occasionally Pedro would look at Kira, who was sweating from the pain in her hip. "You should go," he said. "Get medical attention."
"No, you need me to help keep-" Kira stopped talking long enough to pull her trigger, killing another Cardassian who came around the corner, and thus finishing the clip in her gun "-to keep them back." She reached into her belt, grimacing from her wound, and brought out a clip which she then placed into the AK. She pulled back on the bolt to put a round in the chamber. "We have to hold them here."
Korolev's voice began to crackle over their radios. "We have friendly troops coming in from the French 8th Air Cavalry. Hold them back just a little longer."
It was almost as if Korolev's revelation prompted the Cardassians to try a heavy attack. One after another came around the corner and toward the duo, who opened up with their guns. Their rounds ripped through the Cardassians' "armor" and bodies alike, sending them down for good one after the other....
But the last one managed to toss a grenade just before Kira put a bullet in his forehead.

The grenade flew through the air and rolled a bit toward them. Before Kira could even hope to move with her injured hip, Nimenez jumped and landed on the grenade. "Pedro, no!" would be the last thing he would hear. The grenade exploded and the resulting discharge of energy went right through his armor and incinerated his torso and the organs within. A brief discharge of energy erupted from out of his back, but did nothing more than heat Kira up.
Some tears began to gather on her dirt-streaked face. Kira liked Nimenez a great deal despite his philosophical proddings from before; he was another good young man cut down by the hated Cardassians. She quickly changed the clips on her AK and pulled out her phaser sidearm, determined to resist to the last. "Shakaar, can you hear me? This is Nerys," she said into the radio. "Nimenez is dead. I've been hit and I can't move. I'm going to hold out here as long as I can."
"Nerys, I can send someone..."
"No! Get someone to hold the next door down from me. Tell them that I'll fill this entire hall with Cardassians before I die." The grin on Kira's face was fierce and full of fatal determination. "I hope you have a good life, friend."
And so she kept fighting. More Cardassians would come and she would kill them, until she had no more clips with which to fire. The pain in her hip kept her mind focused, not allowing her to wander off mentally as she kept to her grim and self-appointed task. When she no longer had ammo Kira turned to a reliance on her sidearm, until finally a Cardassian soldier got a shot off that hit her upper right arm. Pain flared up it and made her drop her gun long enough for three more shots to hit her; one in the right side, to her left shoulder, and to her right breast. The latter hit scorched flesh and damaged Kira's lung and diaphragm. Her breathing became labored as she slumped over and looked up at an angry-looking Cardassian man who lowered his gun and..... there was nothing.

Within minutes a vast swarm of French-built Laurent Anti-Grav flyers had landed in and around the comm base at Ithol, depositing a battalion of French troops to help drive off the Cardassian forces attempting to retake the base. The Laurents themselves added to the firepower of the attacking forces, laying down heavy machine gun fire that tore apart Cardassian troops with direct hits while the soldiers jumped out and spread about to pinch off the Cardassian troops already inside.
Leading one squad was Caporel Malenfant, who went about with his Comeau-Sainte-Martin assault rifle and in full battle dress. They entered the west quadrant of the base, shooting and killing several Cardassians while stepping over fallen bodies from the prior encounter. Going to the end of the main entry corridor, Malenfant turned away from the corridor to the maintainance rooms and saw the back of a Cardassian soldier raising his weapon to shoot a fallen Bajoran. Malenfant squeezed the trigger on his CSM and 7.72mm rounds ripped through the Cardassian's back and chest, killing him quickly.
Malenfant stepped over a great deal of fallen Cardassian bodies and what looked like one Alliance soldier under three, reaching the fallen Bajoran. The red-haired woman - who was in civilian dress but with a Bajoran insignia on an armband - had five clear wounds from nuclear-disruption weapons, but her chest was still rising and proving she was alive. Malenfant kneeled down beside her and activated his radio. Speaking in French, he said, "We need a medic in the base west entrance immediately. We have one wounded Bajoran fighter, female, with at least five hits from a nuclear-disruptor."
"A medic is being sent now."

Idiv, Bajor
08:25 GST

Even with the fighting to the east in Salmio, the twenty thousand Bajorans living in Idiv had not evacuated, staying and continuing to scrape a living off the depleted fisheries of the river and the land so polluted by the industries the Cardassians had built in Salmio. They weren't even considering trying to leave even as some news trickled in that the Cardassians were fleeing from Salmio to prevent Alliance forces from boxing them into the valley. The general idea was that the Cardassians wouldn't bother harming them - though observant of the Bajoran religion, they weren't mad or fanatical enough to attack armed Cardassian troops en masse, and those who wanted to attack were unwilling to risk Cardassian reprisal.
In the end, none of it mattered.
Even as their forward columns moved toward the city, the mobile Cardassian artillery opened up on the small town. Individual Cardassian platoons added to the fire with their mortars when they were in range, toppling buildings and generally seeking to sweep all Bajoran life out of their line of retreat so that the Bajorans could not interfere, a precaution that seemed advisable given some of the Bajoran actions elsewhere on the planet.
By the time the first Cardassian Revarat APCs were entering Idiv, it was a smouldering ruin. There were still fires here and there being put out by the town's overextended firefighters and civilians aiding them, but for those in the path of the APCs, the fires were soon a secondary concern. The Cardassian troops refused to give the slightest spoken warning; they simply opened fire. Soon one could tell the roads taken by the Cardassian mechanized columns by the random Bajoran dead on or beside the roads.

At the lead of one column, 2nd Rank Glin Ruket was seated outside the hatch with his rifle raised. Every time he saw the slightest appearance of Bajoran skin he opened fire, regardless of the size of the target. As a man Ruket wasn't exactly a murderous hater of Bajorans, but rather he was simply brutal-minded in protecting the troops under his command. As far as he was concerned, every breathing Bajoran was a threat and had to be eliminated lest they manage an attack on his troops.
Unlike him, however, was the 2nd Rank Glin to a column down the next road. Tovel had a long-standing hatred of Bajorans and delighted in finally being given the chance to kill them without restraint. Like Ruket he shot dead every Bajoran he saw.
Or almost every Bajoran. As the vehicle moved along he noticed ahead of them a Bajoran father trying to pull an unconscious or dead child out of a flipped, burning aircar. Hearing the rumble, the father motioned for them to stop and begin pleading. Tovel acted like he wasn't there and merely told his driver to go onward, and his driver knew well enough not to question him. The father responded to their refusal to stop by desperately trying to extract his child through the window. He got the head out... the torso... the waist....
Tovel actually made a low laugh as his vehicle simply rolled right over the man and the half-removed child. The Revarat was heavy and powerful enough that it easily rolled over the aircar and completely crushed father and child together. There was no scream, a mild disappointment for Tovel, simply a sickening sound from the crushing of flesh and bone under 25 tons of hard metals and composites.
He noticed movement a distance away and saw a young Bajoran, probably a teenager, hiding in rubble nearby. He lifted his weapon and opened fire, striking the boy in the upper shoulder. Satisfied the shot was sufficient to kill, Tovel continued sweeping for more enemies to shoot.

Yave Pero watched his uncle and cousin get crushed under the Revarat as it rumbled on and felt his heart sink. His own parents were long dead, his family had been killing in the shelling, and his two surviving family members had now been ruthlessly crushed before his eyes.
Pero's heartache was such that he shifted slightly to cover his eyes to cry. The Cardassian who had murdered them turned to Pero and shot him in the shoulder through the rubble that he had been hiding in. Pero gasped and fell back. He already had a number of burns, cuts, and bruises on his body. His shoulder now flared with almost unimaginable pain. He cried out, tears in his eyes, and began slipping in and out of consciousness in a tomb made from his uncle's destroyed home.
An eternity of agony passed before he saw light again. He could see a figure standing over him, wearing a helmet that had a clear faceplate. There was a dark-skinned person inside with a face that made Pero think it was a woman; the figure's high voice seemed to confirm that when it shouted in a language Pero did not understand. He thought he could hear footsteps as his eyes closed and could swear he was being lifted as he drifted into unconsciousness.
Yes, he was being lifted.... to be with his family again.... He was ready to die now. And it would only been ten hours before his eyes would open again and he would find himself still among the living, in a military field hospital of the Alliance military.

Dakhur Plains, Bajor
10:26 GST

The Cardassian Western Detachment was nearly clear. It had escaped through the ruins of Idiv and was now crossing the rolling plains of Dakhur. Few Bajorans dared cross the unit's path, and almost all who did were killed as the APCs and artillery vehicles rumbled on.
As they neared the town of Okal, the roar of jet engines deafened the Cardassians. Marine Corps F/A-37 Corsairs from Okinawa swooped down from above and began bombing the retreating Cardassians. Here and there an APC or three would be blown apart by cluster munitions. During strafing runs by the Marines Cardassian soldiers within their APCs were wounded or killed from railgun fire on the Corsairs ripping through the Revarat's thin armor.
Desperately the Cardassians returned fire. Their APC guns and heavy phaser cannon artillery proved the most effective at trying to force the Corsairs to stop their attacks.
But now the attack came from the front. Waiting ahead on the roads to and around Okal were two battalions of the 3rd Cavalry Division. Light anti-grav tanks with heavy phaser cannons and trained heavy infantry that had dismounted from their IFVs opened fire on the Cardassian mechanized columns as they approached.
The Cardassian forces surged ahead to try and simply force their way through the Alliance troops with sheer numbers. Their artillery opened fire and in some cases successfully hit and knocked out or damaged the Alliance tanks, not to mention the wounding and killing of dismounted infantry. The artillery fire lessened though as the Corsairs continued their vicious pounding of the Cardassian force.
Realizing what was happening, Gul Teve'el ordered the force to turn around and head back to Idiv and its surroundings. His reasoning was clear within minutes, as the 5th Armored Division's battalions of HBT-1s and other vehicles rolled in from the north to strike the Cardassian right flank. Teve'el and some of the rear columns of mechanized troops got away, but the rest of the Cardassian force began to simply disintegrate as it was hammered on two sides and from the air with overwhelming firepower.

Tovel led his men in dismounting from their APC just before an enemy fighter blew it apart with a bomb. The Cardassian soldiers hugged the ground and brought their weapons up to fight back against any enemy infantry that appeared.
But it was not enemy infantry that would confront them. Tovel heard rumbling and looked up to see massive armored vehicles with large guns on their turrets rumble forth. From a cupola on the turrets' tops, grenades were being fired in all directions. Tovel screamed for his troops to attack the enemy tanks. They rose and started shooting, their fire sometimes missing or sometimes connecting and being absorbed by armor. Fire erupted from the railguns on the tanks' cupolas and tore through one soldier, then another, then another.
Tovel was momentarily lucky, in that he dived to the ground just as a spray of dirt erupted before him. The railgun rounds still ripped through his right leg and literally ripped it up, sending sprays of blood and flesh and muscle everywhere. Tovel howled in pain, tossing his rifle to the side in the same movement he used to grip the bloodied remnants of his leg. He heard the rumbling growing even louder and looked up just in time to see he was in the path of one of the Alliance behemoths. He raised his hands and screamed, as it was too late for him to do anything else. The caterpillar tread pressed down on his head first, crushing his skull like a fruit and splattering brain matter and blood about. It continued down his body, turning his spine into powder as it crushed his body, causing more blood and flesh splatter from the weight of 80 tons pressing down on Tovel's body.
As the tank passed by, there was nothing left of Tovel's body but an organic smear in the dirt that was mixed in with what had been his uniform.

Teve'el rode up with his troops to the portion of Idiv they held. The enemy had taken some of the outskirts and was pressing hard on them. Teve'el continued speaking with his staff as they set up an HQ in a ruined Bajoran Temple, carefully avoiding a couple of bodies shot by their forces that had passed through just hours ago.
Those same forces were now gone, crushed on the Dakhur Plain by an enemy hammerblow from the north. The rest of the Alliance 3rd Cavalry Division had moved up from the south, providing the anvil that kept the Cardassians from fleeing and dooming them to be utterly smashed by the enemy ground and air forces. Fifty thousand of Cardassia's best mechanized troops had been crushed in a swift, brutal stroke.
Now nearly thirty thousand Cardassian soldiers were gathered in and around Idiv. At least in this urban environment, the enemy range advantage was reduced, and the Cardassians had actually managed to hold off three infantry probes by the enemy. Here, Gul Teve'el would have to make his last stand on Bajor.

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
11:30 GST

The smell of fresh breakfast pastries and coffee filled the conference room within the White House, not far from Mamatmas' office. The early 6:30AM EST meeting had been arranged ahead of time, giving Mamatmas and other cabinent members attending the meeting a chance to learn the status of the invasion of Bajor.
So far progress had been good. All the units had landed safely and secured preliminary objectives, although the Army still expressed misgivings at being forbidden to employ tactical-scale atomic warheads against an enemy they considered woefully unprepared to deal with such. Support was landing next with additional supplies to establish depots. And behind that would come humanitarian aid for the Bajorans.
Along with reports about the fighting in the invasion were growing reports of Cardassian atrocities on Bajor. The taking of several enemy bases had resulted in the discovery of the brothels where Bajoran "comfort girls" were forced to service Cardassian soldiers. Then there was the terrible slaughter across the planet from the brutal Cardassian response to the general uprising that started thirty-six or so hours before the invasion. What survivors had been found in some of the cleared out areas had told news reporters of Cardassian troops killing any Bajoran in sight, whether they posed a threat or not. Entire towns and cities had been subjected to vicious attack. The casualty toll was in the millions, expected to be in the tens of millions if not more.
"The political ramifications are clear, Mister President." Rathbone was speaking now. "The more Cardassian crimes we uncover, the harder it will be to make peace without dragging their entire government before a war crimes tribunal. And I do not see the Legate or his cronies voluntarily surrendering."
"I understand that all too well, Minister. And that leaves us in a precarious position." Mamatmas sipped at a cup of coffee. A half-completed bagel was on the dish in front of him. "The last thing we need is to become responsible for defending the entire Cardassian Union if we were forced to overrun them. And it's just not feasible to remove their government and occupy only a portion of their territory. The entire region is too unstable and the territory grabs that such a move would trigger could easily lead to a massive, full-scale interstellar war. We're not going to fight this war just to have a dozen start because of it."

"Agreed, Mister President."
"Are there any dissident forces in their military that can be utilized? Anyone who can remove Kelataza, take control, and agree to our terms?"
Eyes turned to Director Bronson. "There are some dissidents, Mister President, but most of them are in forced-labor camps. The ones who aren't are, with no exceptions we can find, living abroad and constantly monitored by Cardassian intelligence. The most substantial belong to what could be feasibly called a Cardassian Socialist Party and are currently residing in the Federation."
This prompted a question from the Minister of the Treasury, Frenchman Phillippe Guissard. "Is it that much better to bring to power a group that could easily bring Cardassia into the Federation?"
"Not that easily, if you ask me," Umachov replied in the usual gruff Russian-accented tone. "The Cardassian populace is very nationalistic, even without the State control on their lives. And would you prefer the dissolution of the Cardassian Empire and the resulting power vacuum?"
"Of course not." Mamatmas drew in a sigh. "Do you think Kelataza will sue for peace now that his last major fleet has been smashed? What does he have left, anyway? Do we know?"
"Pre-war intelligence estimates set the Cardassian fleet at between seven and a half thousand and nine thousand combat ships, not counting what they have in mothballs, which we believe is probably another five to eight hundred older ships. Enemy losses have reached approximately two thousand, one hundred and forty-nine vessels, not counting the loss of about one point one billion tons of interstellar shipping capacity, including the one hundred plus megaton transport torpedoed in the first day of the war." There was a slight grin on Admiral Hollingwood's face. "In fact, we think some of their ships were underarmed at the second Darane engagement due to a lack of torpedoes in their regional bases' ammunition lockers. I think the credit goes to our stealth ships for the great job they're doing."
"Of course, the Cardassians also lost a good deal of their local weapon manufacturing capability thanks to our strategic bombing offensive," Marshal Longwell added immediately. She and Hollingwood exchanged what seemed to be slight glares.
Mamatmas sighed. The rivalry between the Aerospace Force and the Stellar Navy was strong; the Navy felt the Aerospace Force should stick to subluminal craft and defense of systems and planetary atmosphere, while the Aerospace Force insisted on maintaining it's interstellar combat assets like it's bombers. The disaster at Kurvak and the Navy's victory afterward would undoubtedly add fuel to that fire. Before he could say anything, Rathbone spoke up. "Anyway, the Cardassians have borders with at least four other states of decent military strength, not to mention their frontier facing the Klingons."
"Don't forget active insurrections in four sectors that require the presence of combat ships," Bronson added to Rathbone's list. "And a number of other regions that require a presence to prevent revolt."
"So how many ships do you think the Cardassians could send against us?"

Bronson looked down at his notes before speaking, though he took the time to sip some coffee. "Well, for now they've got over a thousand ships that are either in their shipyards for repair or are waiting for an open slot. We're not sure of the exact amount of ships under construction, but intelligence suggests something on the order of four to six hundred combat starships, keeping in mind that the Cardassians were re-orientating their shipbuilding industry to produce non-combat transports and vessels to revitalize their economy. Combined with what they need to defend other borders minimally and to suppress or prevent revolts, I'd say that with their mothballed ships re-activated and crewed they might muster a fleet of about fifteen hundred combat warships by next month. Though a lot of them will be older and I should point out that their manpower losses have been severe. The First, Second, and Third Fleets were the core of Cardassian offensive strength and they had the most capable officers. Now Third Fleet has been wiped out and the First and Second Fleets are down to less than a quarter of their operational strength with a matching loss in manpower and all of the experienced officers and technical personnel that entails. I'd say that right now the Cardassians are sorely lacking for good experienced naval personnel, given all the ones that are dead or sitting in the camps on Krellor."
Mamatmas sighed. "Still, fifteen hundred ships is a good number, considering what we've got there. Admiral Hollingwood, I know the Navy's being stretched a bit thin now..." - he noticed the older Englishman grunt - "...but I'd like to know the status of potential reinforcements."
"Mister President, we have deployed over fifteen hundred combat warships alone to Universe ST-3, of which about five hundred have been lost to enemy action or severely damaged to the point that they will be laid up for repairs for months. When this war began, we had five thousand nine hundred and sixty-six combat warships under Stellar Navy command, with another eight thousand or so dispersed among the national navies or their mothball yards. And most of our ships are needed to protect the borders of our member nations. So I'm afraid we're beginning to scrape the bottom of the saucepan. I'll remind you, Mister President, that it's the Stellar Navy keeping 3rd Fleet in line with what's left of the Shah's Navy that's stopping Captain-General Ortiz and his Eurofascist bastards from jumping their interstellar border with Iran FHI-8. And now we have the damned Kaiser in AGC-1 rattling his saber with the Thai now that they've voted to join the Alliance next year. I may have to redeploy 7th Fleet to keep the Germans from deciding the border in Barrister Sector on their terms. And I don't think I need to mention the CON-5 situation. The Lisean offensive against Vigil has been repulsed and the damned Puritans have got the advantage. And they're not that happy we're not restricting the sale of industrial equipment and the like to Lisea."
And there was another sigh. Mamatmas felt an ache growing in his head and a slighter one in his chest. Sometimes he envied the leaders of smaller governments that conveniently had all of their borders in one universe. "I respect the astropolitical situation, Admiral. I deal with it everyday. But can you give us anything?"

Hollingwood bit his lip. "There's always 10th Fleet. The mobilization of our AR-12 members and the Gersallians re-affirming the Treaty of New Pittsburgh means we don't have to worry much about our borders there. But 10th Fleet's understrength, I'll remind you, and has a lot of older ships operating with it."
"But it's still something," Rathbone said. "Between what we have on hand now, 10th Fleet, and the carriers, we should have enough to overcome a new Cardassian force."
There were nods throughout the room. "I trust the military has a plan on what to do next?"
"Yes, Mister President," Field Marshal Pollack assured him. "We're going back to the original War Plan Obsidian's Phase 2 Offensive for this, slightly modified to account for what we've already taken. We've begun the necessary staff work to allow us to launch Operation: Rolling Thunder no later than the fifth of January. We're aiming for the 29th of December for initial strikes."
"Pretty fast tempo for attacks."
"Well, Sir, with all due respect, our names aren't 'Dale'."
Mamatmas grunted, partially amused but irritated since the butt of the joke was a personal friend. A number of military chiefs and politicians had been irritated with the way the Clan War had been run. President Verdes had given full authority for planning over to the officer serving as SAC-Hillsdale (Supreme Alliance Commander of Hillsdale Sector), Admiral Robert Dale, who was now a Fleet Admiral and serving his final months as Military Governor of the Kerensky Territories. Dale's plan for the war had not been as fast as the brass had wanted, though it impressed the Hell out of the Rasalhaguans and Federated Commonwealth (who were admittedly used to the comparitive snail's pace of K-F Drive travel without the benefit of superior charging mechanisms and anti-matter reactors) - the Clans had been conquered in seven months of methodical fighting by Allied forces that leapt from one planet to the next, annihilating all of the Clan forces that confronted them. Against the Clans or even Cardassia, planning this fast might not hurt, but I don't think you'll be able to be so cocky and impatient if we fight someone who's tougher, like New Plymouth Colony or the Centauri or the Eurofascists in FHI-8. "Anything else on the agenda?"

General of the Army Taggert replied, "We're still waiting for the planners on Corwich to give us the final data on their planned offensive. The FedCom people have named it Operation: Percival - the Davions have a thing for Arthurian Knights I'm told - and they hope to launch it by the 22nd. Admiral Lewis is on site now and thinks they should launch in five days to keep the Cardassians from trying to reinforce that border area. She doesn't think the Cardies can miss the FedCom arrivals. Says their 'walking tin-cans get too much attention'." There were a few laughs in the room. "We've agreed to make Field Marshal Bisla the Operational CO for the attack. We don't want them to think we're trying to hog the attention, after all."
And having a Commonwealth commander is necessary to keep Ryan Steiner and the Commonwealth isolationists from crucifying Prince Davion, Mamatmas added to that mentally. Over the past year he'd found that the reports from the Ambassadors in the Inner Sphere tended to be among the most..... interesting. The Inner Sphere's native technology was mostly inferior, but their knives for Byzantine politics were just as sharp as - if not sharper than - anyone else's. With the potential exception of the Centauri. Mustn't think of so many headaches at once, Nicolas. You're going to kill yourself from stress before your first term is over. I've been a politician for too damned long. "Of course," he said aloud. "Please continue...."

Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
12:50 GST

Yatar and Kelataza stood alone in the conference room after the departure of the others. The Operations Commission was certainly Not Happy with what had happened, and neither were the members of the Political Advisory Board. The two attendees from the Detepa Council, the "legal" governing body of the Cardassian Union, even broached the idea of cutting their losses and suing for peace, and a number of Guls were in agreement.
"Is there any point in continuing the war?" Kelataza asked. "The Alliance's troops are on Bajor now and we cannot prevent them from taking every Bajoran world in the sector."
"Are you prepared to deal with the likely rebellions suing for peace would cause?"
"Is it better to let the Alliance secure Bajor completely and renew their attacks on Cardassia itself?" Kelataza shook his head. "We have the forces to suppress any revolts that prop up. But we cannot risk more damage to our fleet. I think it is time to give Bajor up."
Yatar nodded. "And who will get the blame for this war, Legate? This could cost you your position."
Kelataza glared at him. "I will not be the Legate who destroyed the Cardassian Empire!"
"The military will still demand someone's head off the Advisory Board."
"You mean Torcet."
He was answered by Yatar shrugging. "Better Torcet than us."
"What do you think we should do, then?"
"I can call Justice Minister Orveliza and have the formal charges ready by tomorrow. I think the charge of gross incompetence in time of war should be sufficient. Perhaps cowardice for his withdrawal in the first Darane engagement as well."

Kelataza bit into his lip. There were still many officers and soldiers who liked Relim Torcet. Pinning the disaster on him, the one voice of the Political Advisory Board that opposed the attack on Gytep in the first place and the only leader to accurately deduce the plans of the Alliance, indeed one of Cardassia's premiere military strategists, was to Kelataza's political instincts too blatant, too obvious, an act of scapegoating. It could be dangerous for his continued health, particularly if it backfired.
On the other hand, he had no real choice. Yatar had undoubtedly done his own maneuvering on the Board and the Operations Commission and would ensure that if Kelataza didn't give up Torcet, he would be the chosen scapegoat. Yatar himself, unfortunately, would not function properly as a scapegoate - his position vis-a-vis Kelataza was too close, and any scapegoating of Yatar would inevitably drag Kelataza down with him. When it came down to it, Kelataza valued his own hide more than he admired Torcet, and sacrificing him, however blatant an act of scapegoating, was still safer than the alternative of not doing so.
"Do so," he said. As Yatar went to walk out, Kelataza added, "One more thing, Gul Hergata."
Yatar turned back. "Yes, Legate?"
Kelataza picked up a PADD and handed it to Yatar. Yatar looked at it, read the text, and looked back up. "Have that transmitted to Gul Madred immediately. If the Alliance begins advancing into Cardassia, it would not do well to have those facilities discovered with their occupants." Kelataza looked down at another PADD to continue other work. "If they were found alive, they could do great harm to Cardassia's standing in the quadrant. Dead they are no threat."
"The orders will be sent immediately, Gul." Yatar turned and left.

Yatar was in his office working on the various orders he was to send. Orveliza was going to have the charges against Torcet ready by the next day. This got rid of Yatar's main rival for the Legate's place. As for Kelataza.... Yatar grinned to himself. It would be a simple matter to blame him if the military reacted harshly to Torcet's conviction and execution. Keve was not interested in a political position - he was irritated enough having to control the Operations Commission and its bureaucratic members - which would leave Yatar as the front-runner to become Legate.
The door opened and his son-in-law Celrim entered. "You wanted to see me sir?"
"Yes. I want you to go over these tonight at home." He handed Celrim a PADD loaded with various orders to be sent out by the next day. "They have to be sent out tomorrow."
"Of course. Anything else?"
"Yes." Yatar looked him in the eye. "Two days from now, an executive order will be signed by the Legate to place all Bajorans in Cardassian space into confinement. With the Alliance taking their homeworld and surrounding systems, the Bajorans simply can't be trusted any more. This includes your.... housekeeper." Yatar noticed the look in Celrim's eye. He'd never approved of Celrim keeping the Bajoran girl Gedys as a mistress, but so long as Celrim was subtle he wasn't going to do anything about it. After all, he knew his own daughter too well. She wasn't exactly faithful to Celrim either and was something of a shrew... much like her mother.
Celrim nodded and left.

When Celrim returned home he went right to work on finalizing Yatar's paperwork. Gedys was busy cleaning the apartment and did not approach him until he was done with his work. He looked over her fine body and ordered her out of her nightgown. Not wanting to get her pregnant, he bent her over a nearby desk. With his hands gripping her thighs tightly he took his pleasure with her, ignoring her sobs and moans. After he was finished he ordered her to the shower to clean herself up and went off to go to bed.
While cleaning herself off, Gedys found herself dreading what had happened. Celrim didn't like anal sex. Why would he choose that tonight?
The only plausible reason she could think of was that Celrim didn't want to risk that she would get pregnant.
Gedys got out of the shower and slipped into her nightgown. Checking to make sure Celrim was fast asleep, she went to his office and looked at what he had been working on. She knew Celrim's passcode - he had blurted it out one night while horribly drunk - and typed it in to get to the sensitive material. Most of what he'd worked on had been bureaucratic orders. They told her what she had already suspected; Bajor was being liberated by Alliance forces. He had chosen to have her in her rear because he didn't want her to get pregnant, probably because the government was going to round up Bajorans across Cardassian space to be placed into camps.
Understanding this now, Gedys continued to read. She cycled through them all until she found a particular entry; an order sent to Gul Madred, head of the Department of Military Interrogation and Alien Operations.
She read it and her eyes widened.

It was late at Tralam Peker, but that just meant more activity. H'daen tr'Gurrwhi was in a side booth, sitting with two of his crew, both of them fellow Rihannsu. They were enjoying the performance of two Orion women on the stage, a performance that was already skirting the border between erotic dancing and actual sex. The crowd was slightly thicker than usual, filled with men from a mulitude of races and all roaring with approval.
H'daen looked up and saw an unexpected sight. Wearing a heavy woolen cloak and hood over herself, Gedys slipped into the club and stood in the corner. She made eye contact with H'daen, and he could see she had something to give. He slipped out of his booth and walked over, carrying himself as if he were going to proposition her for the benefit of the crowd. As he walked up and got into whispering earshot, he spoke in Base Cardassian. "What are you doing here? I thought Celrim never let you out at night."
"It doesn't matter anymore. The Alliance has landed on Bajor now and you know how the government will respond toward Bajorans here and elsewhere in the heart of Cardassia. I'll be sent to a camp. We may all be slaughtered before the war ends." Gedys put a hand on his cheek and gave H'daen a kiss. Her tongue touched his and he felt a small chip slip off of it and under his own tongue. "I've shamed my people by being a whore to Celrim. Please, get that to people who can send it on to the Alliance. Maybe then some good can come of my time here."
H'daen nodded. He clasped hands with her. "Honor and mnhei'sahe."
She nodded in response and walked away. H'daen returned to his seat. He put his smile back on and used the cover of getting a drink to remove the chip from his mouth. He palmed it, slipped it into a pocket and continued to watch the show despite the dread in his stomach for poor Gedys' fate.

When Gedys returned to her room she was surprised to find Celrim waiting for her, clad in his sleeping clothes. She froze with fear at seeing the angry glare in his eyes and the expression on his face. "Where have you been?" he asked in cold measured tones.
"I was out for a walk. I needed the air."
To that he roared, "I told you never to leave the apartment without permission!" Without warning he brought his fist back and punched her across the cheek and nose. Gedys cried out from the pain of her broken nose. Blood trickled down her face as she slumped to the ground. Celrim kicked her in the ribs before she could stand up, making her sprawl out on her stomach. "You stupid bitch!"
"Please Celrim... I'm sorry..."
"Sorry?! Dumb whore!" He kicked her again, this time in the side of her head. Gedys' vision filled with color as she twisted on the ground. He kicked her a third time now in the hip. As she tried to regain her breath Celrim grabbed her by the arm, wrenching it painfully as he pulled her to her feet and slapped her across the face, splitting her lip. "You fucking Bajoran slut! You're going to get us both in trouble!"
"Shut up!" He punched her again, making her spin back to the floor on all floors. The punch knocked two of her teeth out. She spat them out into small puddles of blood caused by the split in her lip and her broken nose. "I should've left you to my men back on Bajor!"
"I said shut up!" Once more there was a kick to her stomach, then another to the head. Gedys began to lose consciousness. Her head was swimming and some blood was now in her hair, from where his hard shoes were splitting open her head.
Before she could pass out, there was a ring at the door. Celrim shouted, "What is it?!"
"This is the Capital Security Force. Please open up, Gul Famcet."
"I'm not ready," he replied. He didn't want them to enter and see him with Gedys.
"Sir, we're here for your housekeeper Jorma Gedys. If you don't open up we'll have to override your lock and take you into custody for obstruction."
Celrim shot a glare at Gedys, who was nearly motionless on the floor. "Fucking bitch! What did you do?!" He looked to the door. "Open."
The door slid open and two armed Cardassian security agents came in. They looked to Gedys on the floor and to Celrim. One asked, "Gul, what's going on?"
"The bitch was out against my orders," was the slurred, angry reply. It was clear to the agents that Celrim hadn't quite slept off his nightcap bottle of kanar.
"Sir,.she was seen in the company of a wanted smuggler and suspected Romulan agent. We have to take her into custody for interrogation."
Celrim's jaw grew taunt as he processed the information, the haze of alcohol still slowing his mind. That damned H'daen. Had his weakness for kheia betrayed him? "Fine, take her. Keep her. Have all the fun you want with her, because I'm done with the little whore."
The two agents nodded. They picked Gedys off the floor and put her into wrist restraints. One tapped a communication device. "Transport us back to base. Have a medical team standing by, the subject has been injured." They disappeared into swirling columns of light.
Celrim immediately went to his comm system to leave a message for his father-in-law. If Gedys had been working for a Romulan.... Celrim could very well be ruined and find himself up on charges. He would need Yatar to protect him.
As for Gedys. Well, the thought of what the Security Force would do to her made him grin a little. Anything he did to her would seem merciful compared to what they did.

At the Capital's spaceport, a particular Cardassian trading vessel named the Lorvel Kort was spending it's final moments before initiating launch procedures. Outside of it, standing in front of the mechanical lift to the entryway for the ship, was the entire Torcet family. Relim held Kerma in his arms closely. All of their years together had come to this. She looked up at him with tear-stroked eyes, a woman who had already lost her son and was now to lose her husband. "Why don't you come with us, Relim?"
"I cannot. If I go, they will hunt us down." Relim wiped a tear from her eye. "I am sorry."
"Damn them all. Damn them all!"
He held Kerma close and allowed her to cry onto his shoulder for a few moments. Standing nearby on the lift was Opel Morcet, the captain of the Lorvel Kort - a man who like many had served under Relim and had survived war because of it. Opel had volunteered to do this as a repayment for all those old debts of survival that Relim himself didn't consider debts but the fulfillment of his duty. He looked toward them, and Relim could see in his eyes that time was short. He pulled Kerma back and planted a kiss on her lips, not the passionate type shared by two young lovers as they had been so long ago, but a simple act of love by a couple past their prime and weathered by age and tribulation.
Wiping a final tear from Kerma's eye while refusing to let himself shed the tears he wanted to show, Relim moved on to his daughter-in-law Vertal. In her arms, his infant granddauughter Yera was barely awake. She gave little Yera over to Relim, who lifted her up and kissed her on the forehead, causing her to reply with a happy cooing sound. He handed her back and kissed Vertal on the cheek. "I could never have asked for a finer mate for my son," he said to her softly. "I'm happy to have called you a daughter."
"Thank you, Father Relim," she said, sobbing softly.
Relim moved on to Jorim and Laria. He knelt and embraced grandson and granddaughter, using an arm for each while their own small arms wrapped around his neck. They were both in tears. "Grandpa, why do we have to go away?" Laria asked.
"It's to protect you, Laria." To protect you from the people who will ruin me and Cardassia in the name of their stubborn pride. "I wish I could protect you in a way that let you stay here, but I cannot." He sighed. "I love you, Laria. And you, Jorim." He put a hand on his younger grandson's head. "You two must keep up your mental exercises. They will come in use for you one day."
"Yes Grandpa," he answered meekly, sobbing and sniffling as he continued to speak. "I'm sorry I'm crying. I know... know I'm not supposed to. But... but... I... I can't help it."
"Sometimes it's okay to cry," Relim said in a reassuring tone. "Crying can be good for the soul." That, of course, was a deliberate misquoting of one of the thrice-damned Obsidian Order's favorite lines.

Both children stepped away. This left Relim with his eldest grandson, nine year old Tarak. He was still very young, still just a child, but he hid his sadness better than his younger siblings. Tarak stood at military attention, eyes forward and arms at his side as he'd been taught in school. Relim's control nearly slipped. The controlled expression, the stiff lip, it all reminded him of Harak when he had been nine and had come to see Relim off as he headed to war once more. It was true that the famed Cardassian reserve had fooled so many, making them seem cold and unemotional to outsiders. In truth, they were as emotional as any other race, and their devotion to family was such that the breaking of a family was a cause of tremendous heartache and inner pain. Relim's stomach turned a little and he could feel his heart sink, hurting with every beat. He gave Tarak a hug, which Tarak returned in a way that seemed mechanical to the casual viewer but was not truly so if one could just see past the farce that physical appearance could often be. When the hug ended grandfather and grandson looked each other eye to eye. Relim could see the emotional turmoil in Tarak, his eyes a window to a tortured soul. First his father had died, and now he was being seperated from his grandfather; both had been the idols he worshipped, the standards to which he aspired. "Tarak, I am very proud of you, and I know that your father is - would be - too."
"I thank you, Grandfather," Tarak replied as if he were a Trooper responding to a Gul during inspection.
"Remember, Tarak, Family always come first. Take care of your little brother and sisters."
"I will."

Relim nodded. There was nothing more to say to Tarak. And his heart quivered with the fear that if he looked into those solid brown eyes another moment he would lose all composure. Thoughts of Harak were like daggers in his weary soul now. With pure will he forced the thoughts from his mind and moved on to his last goodbye. Samia was standing in a cotton dress and skirt. For over three decades, she had been a part of the Torcet family. The middle-aged Bajoran woman didn't have the strong mental training of the others. She openly wept as she hugged Relim, who returned the embrace. "You have a family here," he said, "and a family waiting for you on New Liberty. You are doubly blessed." He pulled her tear-stroked face up and looked into her crystal blue eyes. His own voice choked up a little as he remembered Samia thirty years ago, a fifteen year old girl - newly orphaned by agents of the Bajoran Resistance that assassinated her parents for being collaborators - living on the street of the Alien Quarter, miserable and hungry but too proud to work as a prostitute or dancer. She had been beautiful then, and there was a strong dignity in her eyes that survived to her graceful age today. "Samia, I have never admitted this to anyone but Kerma, but I will say it now. You are the daughter I never had and I love you very much."
"Gul...." She looked into his eyes and corrected herself. For the first time, she called him something other than his rank. "Father.... I would gladly stay with you. I don't want you to be alone."
"I can't condemn you to that, Samia." Relim closed his eyes. He knew full well what would be done to Samia now that he was going to be formally charged. Her middle-age and innocence were no defense from the Military Interrogators and Obsidian Order, both of whom he knew would torture her mercilessly to dig up dirt on him, things to justify their scapegoating efforts. "And I won't be alone, not for very long. All I ask is that you look over the little ones. They need all the love they can get now."
"Yes, of course. I will."
Relim nodded. He gave Samia a kiss on the forehead and stepped away. The entire Torcet family stepped onto the lift. He nodded at Opel, who turned the lift on. As they rose to enter the ship, the family waved goodbye, all but Tarak still in tears. And as they drew distant enough, Relim finally allowed tears to move down from his eyes as he waved goodbye. His last sight of his loved ones was that of their entrance into the Lorvel Kort. The door closed, the lift retracted into the ship's hull, and Relim silently walked away.

The next day, a squad of security troops from the Ministry of Justice arrived at the Torcet residence. After knocking and getting no reply, they opened the door with their security override code. They entered the residence, still furnished but mostly empty of key mementos. "Looks like they fled," one said into the comm unit.
"Search the entire home."
The squad moved through the home quickly. They soon entered the home office of Relim Torcet, where they found him slumped over his desk with a half-finished bottle of kanar beside his personal computer. "Gul Torcet, you are under arrest for gross incompetence in time of war and gross cowardice. Please..." The first soldier moved forward at seeing no reaction. He gently touched Relim and looked to a tricorder. "He's dead." A second and third soldier entered the room and the first soldier pulled Relim's head up. His right temple was blackened by a point-blank phaser discharge. Moving the head revealed his hands, the right one still partially gripping his military-issue sidearm. "Command, Gul Torcet is dead."
"Cordon off the Torcet home. Call in forensic investigators," was the reply.
The soldier nodded and made the arrangements. He looked to Relim's computer, which was on standby mode. When he re-activated the screen, it showed what he had been viewing last. A large picture of his entire family (Samia included), not quite a year old, including both Relim and his son Harak, the latter of whom was holding his newborn baby daughter Yera. It had been the last thing he'd seen when he pulled the trigger.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-03-29 12:56am

Warning: The following scene is somewhat graphic and quite nasty, as we begin poor Jorma's journey through the "tender mercies" of the Cardassian justice system and their interrogation techniques. I spoilerized it to give you the choice of whether you want to read it or not.
Capital City, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
19:50 GST

In the heart of the Capital City of Cardassia Prime was the Capital Security Forces HQ, the facility that supported the police forces for the city. Within the HQ was the Security Forces Interrogation Rooms, where they brought petty criminals to be interrogated or "encouraged" to confess to crimes. They lacked the funding and training that the military's interrogators had and they certainly couldn't hold a candle to the Obsidian Order.
Jorma Gedys - Prisoner 3935-897-349 (plus an assorted stream of Cardassian alphabetical characters) - was strapped into the restraint chair in one of the rooms. Aside from quickly ensuring the healing of her critical wounds - the head wound was the worst - they had left her with those inflicted by Celrim when he beat her. And now they were adding their own.
Gedys was naked in the chair and her body was coated with sweat. The Cardassians liked heat and set their air-conditioning systems to uncomfortable levels for Bajorans and most other sentient races, and adding to that was the bright light over her head. Lacking the sophisticated equipment and drugs of the military and Obsidian Order, Security Forces like the CSF had to rely on brute force methods of applying pain. Both of her eyes were swollen nearly shut from black eyes and, shortly after that initial beating, they had blindfolded her and resumed a beating that had cracked most of her ribs, all the while demanding to know what she'd told H'daen. She resisted of course, since if they found out they would most assuredly do their dirty work far quicker and she wasn't about to let that happen, she could never live with herself if she caused so many innocents to die. If she could help it, of course, as the temptation to stop the hurting was there.
After the punching had left blood trickling down her nose and mouth with her chest bruised horribly, they took another approach. One by one Gedys felt horrible pain shoot up from her toes after they'd been smashed by a hammer. At every toe they would demand an answer and she would refuse, then another toe would be broken, then another.... the pain was almost too terrible to contemplate, but it was there. Then after her toes came her fingers, broken on by one. Still she refused, and for the first time in a long time she whispered prayers to Prophets she scarcely believed in anymore to grant her strength. Gedys' screams would have been blood-curdling to a less-hardy soul as they echoed in that dark room, her hands and feet being broken next by even larger hammers.

Gedys sucked in breath, muttering prayers of strength before she heard an ominous whirring sound. An even louder scream erupted from her lungs - causing further agony from her ribs - as the power drill was pressed into her right knee and tore through flesh, cartilage, and normal bone. "Plea...se... I knoow.... nothing..." she wheezed in reply to their demands. The pain from her shattered knee was simply a powerful new addition to the immense agony her body was already suffering. Tears ran down bruised cheeks and mingled with the blood around her mouth. She screamed again when the drill was plunged into her left knee.
After the drilling and screaming were done, Gedys was sucking in breath. She'd never considered it possible to feel so much pain. Prophets, please help me. Please forgive me for what I've done and give me your strength. Whatever happened, Gedys knew she couldn't give in. Thousands of innocent lives depended on her remaining silent on what she gave to H'daen.
Pained groans from shattered kneecaps and so many broken bones became yelps when alligator clips were placed on her. Prods were placed into the sensitive places below her waist. After refusing another demand for information, electricity coursed into her body through all of these sensitive places. Her entire body began aching as well. Gedys was wracked with sobs as she pleaded for them to stop, trying to convince them she hadn't told H'daen anything. That she was sexually attracted to him and had wanted to run away with him, that he had said no.
More electricity told her they didn't believe her. The gruff voices continued issuing threats, the "good cop, bad cop" routine as one tried to convince her to end her suffering while the other promised to cause her more pain. Between their words would come more electric shocks. Gedys was beginning to slip from the sheer agony. No, must hold on. Must hold. Please help me. Her mental pleadings and prayers continued as the pain did, every second of it chipping away at will that she was barely recovering.
She couldn't tell how long it'd been since they'd brought her to the room. The blindfold was removed and medical equipment used to reduce the swelling around her eyes. She could see again and faced both Cardassian men torturing her. One was thinner than the other, though not by much, and both were on the stocky side of Cardassian physical build. One's eyes were a little wider than the other's, though. Wide Eyes' voice soon confirmed him as the Good Cop, while Thin Man was the gruff-voiced sadist pledging to torture her until she broke.
Wide Eyes lowered his eyes and put his hands on her broken hands. "Come on, dear girl, you've suffered enough. If you tell us what we need to know, this will end. You'll be given medical attention."

"I loved H'daen," Gedys rasped. "I wanted him... to take me away. To take me to see ch'Rihan." It was not a convincing lie, but nothing she said could sound convincing from the weakness in her lungs. Her mind was cloudy from the sheer pain her brain had to process the existence of.
"Let the stupid Bajoran bitch continue to lie," Thin Man chuckled, looking for more tools. "The best thing is, when we're done with her, the medics can heal her up.... and we can do this again tomorrow!"
"Young lady, listen. These smugglers, you can't trust them." Wide Eyes leaned closed. "You're a lovely girl, I'd hate to see you suffer for some lying bastard of a Romulan. We'll take mercy on you if you cooperate."
"I don't know anything!" Gedys cried, weeping from the pain (and that was convincing at least). "Please don't hurt me anymore! Please!" Must not tell them! Too many lives depend on me!
Thin Man returned. His left hand seized a handful of hair and wrenched Gedys' head in one direction. He thrust a red-hot metal rod toward her face. "See this, little bitch? Guess where this is going?" He smiled wickedly and tapped the tip below her navel, at the edge of the fuzz of pubic hair between her legs. "And I've got one for you rear too. In fact, we'll give you two more chances before you get it where it really hurts. What did you tell the fucking Romulan?!"
Gedys steeled herself, but the white-hot pain of the rod being thrust into her posterior - uncovered due to the design of the chair she was in - was more than she could've planned. Her scream echoed in the room. The rod remained in place for about eight seconds before Thin Man removed it. She sucked in breath.
"Young woman, don't do this to yourself. Cooperate and you'll be spared. Please!"
"Last chance, bitch." Thin Man grabbed her by the hair again and brought the rod, still red hot, back to her face. "Talk!"
Prophets help me!

She didn't reply. The Thin Man followed through on his threat. After a horrible scream and several horrible seconds of agony, Gedys simply passed out.
Shortly after Gedys fell unconscious, before the interrogators could revive her, their immediate commander entered with military officers. "What's going on?" Wide Eyes asked.
"This prisoner may have had access to sensitive military materials." The officer looked at her body, the bloody holes in her knees and the obvious wounds from the day's torture, and scowled. "We can't risk you bottom-feeders killing her with your nasty toys. She's been turned over to the military by direct order of the Legate."
"You're welcome to her," Thin Man replied. "I've got better things to do than try to pry information out of a Bajoran masochist."
The officers nodded. They walked over to Gedys' unconscious form and unlatched her from the seat. "Glin Korvel to Command, we have the subject. Please beam us directly to the infirmary. The Security Forces got a little carried away." Within seconds all three disappeared within columns of light.
"Bah, I've got better things to do. A street punk over in Block C who was stealing credit chits in the industrial park." Thin Man chucked a finger to that side of the building. "Let's go get a confession from him and call it a day."
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-03-31 04:13am

Chapter 15

Turoa Mountains, Bajor
13:06 GST

A beautiful dawn was shining down upon the nearby mountainside. Bajoran farmers fanned out over their fields and went to work on their crops, paying little attention to the columns of Cardassian soldiers walking up the paths to one of the openings to the vast mines that crisscrossed the mountains. The Turoa mines had once produced ores and even gold for the people of the Kevima Valley, but the mines had run out of their wealth centuries before the Cardassians could get their hands on them.
Now the Cardassians - or, specifically, Gul Luvar - had another use in mind for them. Luvar's men were moving every pound of food and equipment they could carry. Every combat trooper, every medic, and a few of the support technicians and mechanics were marching along solemnly, following their leader to what they hoped was their salvation.
Accompanying them were several hundred Bajorans acting as porters. With no good roads everything had to be carried or towed in animal-drawn wagons, after all, and the Bajoran farmers and ranchers of the valley had no real ill will toward the Cardassians under Luvar. Luvar had given them all of the latinum he had in his Order's coffers plus rights to what was left of his replicator stores so they could make food, clothing, or tools as they needed. Even now, as they marched, he had no feer of Bajoran attack on his column. The farmers were content to watch and work, and a few even waved to their countrymen in his column.
Luvar's plan was simple; stay in the caves and hold out until relieved. In those confined spaces, away from the open plains or the cities, the firepower and range advantages of the Alliance military would be reduced and they would have to dig his 10,000 troops out in vicious close combat.
Walking beisde him, Damar was looking skyward. "I've heard that many of our units that move in the open have come under air attack," he said.
"That might be true. And we should thank them, because they're keeping the enemy off of us." Luvar's expression turned into a scowl. He was certain a number of his "peers" were being boneheaded and trying to engage the enemy directly, killing thousands of their own men needlessly.
"Once we're in the caves, what shall we do? We didn't keep enough money for buying more food."
"I don't intend to come out to buy more food. That's why we're staying on strict rations. We'll steal what we can from enemy corpses, of course, but other than that, we'll have to rely on our iron guts."
"Yes sir." Damar nodded. "Of course, sir."
Luvar grinned. He liked young Damar. He was competent (Which could be high praise, sadly enough), loyal, and innovative. Some of the logistical planning might not have worked without him. He would make sure to put a report in for Damar to be decorated for his efficiency skills.
Sadly, Luvar suspected none of them would live to receive such decorations.

Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
15:34 GST

Ambassador Kercet entered Tobis' office with an unemotional expression on his face. Half a day had passed since the annihilation of Third Fleet according to his recent reports. The Central Command was still debating various issues on continuing the war, but in the meantime he was to again seek the Federation's help in the war.
The meeting was with Tobis and Admiral Matthews, as usual. Kercet laid out the latest offer from Central Command; the concessions Cardassia would give if the Federation were to intervene in the war were rather generous, undoing virtually all of Cardassia's gains from the previous war and ceding critical claims. Kercet personally felt it a waste of time since the same pacifism that had undermined the Federation's war against Cardassia would now undermine any consideration of aiding it with force.
Tobis, however, was still diplomatic enough - and shrewd enough - to not rule out a Federation involvement in the war. "I've spoken with many members of the Federation Council who are growing increasingly concerned with the Alliance's aggression against Cardassia. I feel that sometime soon, we may be able to pass a resolution authorizing Starfleet to intervene."
Kercet replied with a simple nod. "We hope that the Federation will see that the defeat of the Alliance is in its best interests as well as our's."

There was another nod. Tobis looked to Matthews for a moment before handing something to Kercet. "In the meantime, Ambassador, here is a list of the sensor equipment that the Federation Council has agreed to secretly lend Cardassia for the duration of the war. This equipment will allow the creation of a tachyon detection net and gravimetric sensor grid that gives you two ways to detect cloaked vessels. Advisors are currently being gathered by Starfleet and they will naturally require Cardassian approval. We hope to have the first parts of the system up in, say, two and a half weeks?"
"Of course, Mister President. On behalf of Cardassia, I thank you. Millions of Cardassian lives will be saved by these systems."
"Yes. We don't want to see the Alliance using it's weapons of mass destruction any more than you do." Tobis put his hands together. "Our people say the situation on Bajor is bad. Your troops are being subjected to intense bombardments from Alliance air and artillery assets. Whole Bajoran cities are being shattered by the Alliance in their efforts to wipe out your garrisons."
"Yes, it is a tragedy. I can only think of the poor Bajorans who are losing their homes to the very people who claim to be the protectors of the Bajoran race." Kercet shook his head. "A very sad thing."
"The Federation intends to vigorously protest the bombardments. And I'll talk to the Federation Council again about sanctions and barring Alliance trade from moving through Federation space. We suspect that once their trade is cut off, their own merchants will start clamoring for peace."
"Hopefully so, Mister President. Then this killing can finally end."
The three men in the room nodded at that.

Gallitep, Bajor
16:40 GST

The notorious and recently-reactivated Cardassian labor camp had been partially ruined in the firefight that resulted when the Marine 24th Recon Battalion assaulted it directly. Bodies lay everywhere, Bajoran and Cardassian with the occasional Marine, but the majority of the camp's occupants had been saved from extermination.
Captain Jessica Chamberlain's side was burning with the pain from a glancing shot from a Cardassian rifle, but she was still able to walk and command, and had thus ordered the corpsmen and medical personnel to leave her alone and concentrate on others. The brown-haired Marine stomped toward one wing of the main Cardassian structures, the last one unchecked. The Bajoran laborers had pointed it out as the Cardassian punishment wing and all had showed a great amount of terror toward it.
Gallitep had been reactivated earlier in the year after the Cardassians made the decision to stay on Bajor. Once "liberated" by the Shakaar Resistance, it's reputation was so notorious that it was the perfect sword to hold over Bajorans' heads. "Cooperation or Gallitep" became a well-known ultimatum. The camp's commander, Gul Pure'el, had played that to the hilt, treating his prisoners harshly and with a methodical viciousness. Being brought to "the Room" was his ultimate threat. The walls had been purposely rebuilt to allow some sound to pass through, meaning that the nearby Bajoran prisoner barracks could hear screams from within. Few ever returned alive and those who did were often near-catatonic or racked by nightmares, certainly Pure'el's intent considering the terror it caused.
The wing was abandoned currently, it's personnel thrown into the defense of the camp, so nobody stopped them from making their way through the halls. The cells were eerily empty, as were the side rooms they saw, the offices and washrooms and such. But there was one main chamber to be checked, and with a stoic expression on her face, Chamberlain walked up to the cold metal doors. A plaque in Cardassian and Bajoran lettering was on them, but Chamberlain had removed her helmet for the time being and didn't have access to the auto-translation program.
There was a stench in the air. The room had various tables and chairs, each with metal or belted restraints, and very ominous instruments or control panels on the walls or around them. Chamberlain's eyes became fixated on the sole occupant of the room. A Bajoran boy, about twenty at most, was sitting on the floor of a sealed alcove cell in the corners of the room. In another cell in the distance, an older Bajoran man was laying against the wall. The Marines split up and investigated both and the numerous marks and bruises on them. "This one's gone," one of the Marines said from the side of the elder Bajoran.
Chamberlain leaned down in front of the boy. He was staring straight ahead, his blue eyes seeming empty of any life. He was obviously living of course, his burned and thin chest moving slowly. "Boy's catatonic. Get a corpsman, ASAP!"

Not an hour later, Chamberlain was in the battlefield hospital they'd set up in and around the camp infirmary, her body above the waist stripped down to the protective olive brown sports bra she wore as a combat undergarment. The flesh on her right side, from the rib cage down almost to her hip, was red with some blackness from the burns she'd taken from the glancing blow of the Cardassian rifle. She hissed in irritation as a female corpsman - a strong-jawed Kenyan woman - began to smear a medical healing cream on it to preclude bandaging.
Nearby, the boy they'd found in the Cardassian torture room was laying down, staring silently into space. Nobody had gotten any kind of reaction out of him, and a medical exam had found many wounds and various other problems with him, making it clear that he'd been tortured to a fairly strong degree.
"Captain!" One of her NCOs, Colour Sergeant Hillary Tupa, entered. She saluted respectively and relaxed when Chamberlain ordered her to be at ease. "Sir, there's something you need to see."
Minutes later, Chamberlain emerged from the tent with her uniform jacket put back on, her side properly bandaged. Tupa led her to a waiting jeep, which drove her a quarter of a mile out of the camp to a grassy field between the rocky hills around Gallitep. There were a few Marines present, and a Cardassian-built earthmover was alone on the field. Chamberlain felt her stomach twist as she came to realize what was probably here.
This was confirmed a few minutes later as she was let up to a trench, dug out with MET equipment. It wasn't a trench, Chamberlain could tell - it was a mass grave, filled with decaying bodies, their soft-looking flesh telling her they were non-Cardassian corpses. "Scanners show bodies everywhere, Sir," Tupa said. "Maybe thousands of bodies, probably dating back to the camp's first run."
Chamberlain had killed men and women in battle. She had seen friends blown up, bodies torn apart by explosions or sliced down by energy weapons or projectile rifles. But the sight of dozens of haphazardly-placed corpses, the stench rising from the mass grave, overcame all of that. She leaned over partially and vomited on the ground, spilling out her last ration meal and fluid into an orange-like mass on the ground.

Opelar Detention Camp, Imilis 2
16:55 GST

Major Regina Keller felt her stomach rumble in irritation as her subordinates led her to the newly discovered mass grave in the middle of the Opelar camp. Imilis 2 was one of the traditional Bajoran extrastellar colonies and had been ruthlessly exploited by Cardassia, robbed of much of its mineral wealth in the vain attempt to slake the thirst of the Cardassian war machine. Liberated by Alliance forces, it was too little too late for many of the planet's most beautiful land, strip-mined without restraint. And now, clearly, it was too late for many of the eight thousand prisoners of Opelar.
"Damn these bastards," the English brunette muttered under her breath, her voice thick with the strong accent of a New Liverpuddlian. Her white skin, naturally slightly tanned from a Pakistani great-grandfather, was more richly tanned thanks to her home in the sunny subtropics of New Liverpool, contrasting well with her brown hair. "Cardassian fuckers."
"Major!" A soldier clambered out of the grave, a thick Yoruban accent in his voice. "Major, you need to see this!"
Keller walked down the length of the grave to meet the Nigerian soldier. He pointed down to the grave. The dirty-clothed body he was indicating was barely female in appearance due to malnutrition, only two very small bulges on the chest making the gender clear. The head had a small mane of white hair along with darkened blue skin; as Keller looked closely, she could see two small objects on the corpse's head. "Antennae. Those are Andorians." Keller recalled her briefing on races in this galaxy. "A race from the Federation."
"Sir, we've examined some of these bodies. They're not all Bajoran." The Nigerian Corporal's ebony face looked back up at her, filled with quite a bit of illness at the scene of death around them. "We've found eight Humans, three Trill, nine Vulcanoids, and an Orion, not to mention a half dozen mixed race bodies, Cardassian-Bajoran and Cardassian-Human."
Keller nodded. "Get tissue samples and dental scans for identification purposes."
Next, Keller was brought to a small group of camp prisoners who had survived, mostly from the Cardassians' haste to escape Imilis 2 before the Alliance could blockade it. Most were again Bajoran, but Keller could see at least one male with the familiar spots of a Trill, and a pig-faced humanoid, a Tellarite, if she remembered right. Finally a tan-skinned figure, emaciated as most of the others, emerged from the gaggle, a sharp-eared Vulcanoid. She stood very reserved as she spoke, holding her right hand up with her middle and index finger held apart from the ring finger and pinky, with an open-palmed gesture that would have been a rough "stop" gesture if not for her fingers being split. "I am Doctor T'Rila of Vulcan. Live long and prosper."
The voice was calm and measured, but Keller could see in the Vulcan's dark eyes that her unemotional control was not complete. She had seen horrors, the same horrors that made every other camp prisoner here hallow-faced and ill-looking, with their blank eyes and forlorn expressions to go with thin bodies overworked and covered in bruises or plasma whip scorches. Her voice even had a slight scratchiness to it.
"Major Regina Keller, 635th Infantry Battalion," Keller answered.
"Some of us are in need of medical attention, Major, and I lack the anatomical knowledge or materials to tend to them."
"Our battlefield hospital will treat you." Keller nodded to a subordinate. "Lieutenant, go get some corpsmen, and trucks to take these people to the division hospital."
"Yes Sir."

East Landing, New Liberty
17:48 GST

The city of East Landing was one of the many spreading communities on New Liberty wiith its own spaceport and a growing industrial and commercial sector. Given its near sub-tropical climate, closeness to some of the best beaches on the planet, and beautiful scenery, the appeal was clear, and Sophia Razmara had been pleased that Asako had agreed to base here.
The Denmark Vesey had a berth at the East Landing Spaceport. Asako had already made the necessary trip to New Norwich to exchange the hard GPL for cash and was now on a "cake run" contract, moving goods from East Landing to planets in the Colonial Zone under contract from a distribution company. The range of travel was so short that the entire crew wasn't even needed for the runs, so those who could found more permanent lodgings on the planet anid took local jobs. The only guiding principle was to "lay low" and avoid confrontations with the authorities. Asako and Sophia had both been sure that one of the two planetary police agents were on to them - such that they had been pleasantly surprised when told the investigation was called off - and it was clear they had to be careful to avoid earning the attention of the police.
Far from her "offer" of returning to nude dancing, Sophia had taken a better job, tending a bar along a stretch of area in the middle of town, almost equidistant from the commercial/residential, industrial, and main residential areas that the town was roughly split up in. It was a lower scale bar, not a formal club, and a lot of jeans and t-shirts were to be seen among it's patrons. Not a well paying job by any stretch of the imagination, but enough to rent an apartment and tuck a little away, so it was better than some of the other work that had been available. She'd convinced the manager since she had a lot of experience with the "new" and "alien" drinks the extrauniversals were developing tastes for, which was the main reason she'd been hired. As for the other reason, Sophia wore form-fitting blouses every other night and didn't mind making herself look attractive and available, which helped keep customers. And the third, unspoken reason was that, as a half-Vulcan, Sophia was physically stronger than any Human who walked into the bar and had proven that three times since she started - that coming on top of the sheer "exoticness" of being a half-alien, again helping to appeal to customers.

It was early in the day, before the hours when most people were off work, so there wasn't much activity in the bar. Sophia was wiping down a section of bar, keeping an eye on a pool game being played by a couple of the customer and on the TV playing a World Cup match from Universe AR-12. For the day she was wearing a gray-and-white checkered skirt that went down to her knees and a sleeveless shirt with the logo of the planet's football/soccer team, with the shirt being just tight enough that Sophia's breasts stretched the logo a little. The shirt was chosen for more than that obvious reason; the entire planet was still in an uproar about the team, which had just won a berth in the 2154 AST Trans-Universal Cup Tournament after defeating Italy SE-1 the week before last, and it seemed smart to go along with the public sentiment as it only now began to wane.
Sophia looked toward the end of the bar and the door beyond it for a moment, which is when she saw it open. Light poured through the gap, showing a bright and sunny day outside. She recognized Larrisa when she came in, her gait and face giving her away even though she'd had her hair re-done and made into curls. The Edo woman was dressed lightly, smart considering the heat outside, though perhaps a little too lightly (even if unsurprising, given nearly three decades of being accustomed to the light and revealing clothing styles of her people). Her shorts weren't too high, thankfully, but her short-sleeved black top looked more like a sleeved halter top, revealing her belly and hugging her breasts closely. White lettering read prominently and in all capital letters on the shirt's front: "Being sexy is hard work!", with the letters of "sexy" larger than the others and purposely placed to be over the wearer's breasts. She walked up to the bar and slid onto a stool, leaning an elbow on the hard wood surface. Sophia walked over to her. "Cute. Where'd you get it?"
"Rachel got it for me," Larrisa said with a slight smile. "A first anniversary present."
"Oh, that's right." An innocent grin camed to Sophia's face. "It was a year ago that we introduced you to that club on Opelei."
"Right. My first night with Rachel." Larrisa put a small pocket purse on the bar top. "So, have any Rigelian sakas?"
"No, unfortunately." Sophia looked for a moment to the bar's shelves, filled with bottles of various spirits and liquors. "A lot of the stuff you'd find in the Triangle hasn't made its way here yet. Got some Orion firewater though. But that's a bit strong if you drove here yourself."
"Nah, I'm using the public buses today. Kinda weird, though. The Alliance is as developed as the Federation, but there are no public transporter nets."

"People here have a bit of a taboo against transporters. They'll use them for cargo transfer, but don't like them for personal transport." Sophia reached down and pulled out a bottle of Orion liquor. She was barely fluent in what was known as Basic Orion, a language from one of the more prominent Northern nations of the Orion homeworld interspersed with various terms common on the Southern Continent relating to their institutions, but could accurately read the lettering on the bottle. Made from a decent distillery company in the Northern Nation of Rohuluar, and the bottle made sure to mention that 100% of the labor was done by "freemen" - unlike the cheaper goods produced in the East, South, and the most subjected areas of the North, the liquor distillery's owners did not use slaves in the production of their product. This was vital because it was well-known that slave-produced goods were widely boycotted inside the Alliance and in other places, which meant distributors and companies from Orion that were interested in foreign trade were careful to ensure their products had no links to slave labor. Sophia twisted the cap off and poured Larrisa a shot. "And you just got back from Krellor I see. The ship was still gone when I left for work this morning."
"Oh yeah. We've been on planet for about, oh, five hours ago." Larrisa took her first shot and blanched a bit. "Ehhh, firewater is so strong."
"So, where's Rachel?"
"Asleep in the apartment."
Sophia nodded - the entire crew of Vesey had rented a number of apartments in a complex near the Spaceport. The pairings matched berthings on Vesey as well. "Late shift?"
"A bit, but mostly because we held off our first anniversary celebration for when we got back." Larrisa smiled widely and finished the shot. "I wore her out again. I hope she stays asleep for a while, though, because I can't remember if I untied her before I left."
Sophia's eyebrow went up. "I don't want to know, do I?"
That drew a giggle and a grin. "Considering we Edo have no concept of bondage sex and you introduced it to me last year at that Opelei club by tying me up for Rachel, you have no room to complain, Sophia."
"Yeah, but I like to be tied up for men to have their way with. Rumors and legends about Asako and me aside, I'm not interested in girl-on-girl stuff and I will never be. Want another?"
"Sure, but only one more. Asako hasn't paid us yet." Larrisa handed Sophia a $5 ADN note and she put it away, reaching for the firewater bottle to pour another shot. "Anyway, if you're not interested in sex between women, why did you take so much interest in tying me up for Rachel's enjoyment?"
"As I recall..." Sophia handed Larrisa the shotglass and leaned against the bar. "You dared me to find a way of having sex that surpassed anything the Edo had. I'm a sexual submissive, Larrisa, so what else was I going to come up with?" She watched Larrisa take the drink. "Besides, Rachel didn't know a thing about good bondage positions. I had to do it."
"Ahhh..." Larrisa nodded. "Well, it explains some things. So..." There was a mischievous glint in those blue eyes. "Find any good clubs?"
"No, the only bondage clubs I've heard of here do far too much for my taste. I don't look good in black leather and I'm not the ''whips and chains' type. I'll just take the chains. And only if I can break out of them if it suits me. So, are we done talking about our sex kinks? If someone overhears us I might be..."

"Propositioned is more like it," Sophia replied. "So, talk about something else?"
Sophia shrugged. "I don't know, sports, news...."
Larrisa thought hard for a moment. "Um, how 'bout those Cowboys?"
"It's a program I saw when we were offloading at Krellor. A sport, two teams wearing padding and on a grass field. 'Football', they called it, and not like the football here. One of the teams was called the Cowboys, and during the commercials there were ones with the tagline 'How 'bout those Cowboys?'."
"Ohhh.... Larrisa, you need to work on your conversationism."
"On Edo, we talk about three things in balance; God, sex, and community."
"What about pleasure?"
"Pleasure falls under all three. We don't do... 'small talk' as you call it. We don't have sports, politics, or anything else." Larrisa frowned. "And we certainly don't have 'wars'."
Sophia frowned. She looked up at the TV in the corner wall, behind Larrisa. "Speaking of wars..."

She turned it up to hear what we being said, causing most of the customers in the bar to hear it too. The channel was set to CNN and the image on the screen was of a reporter amongst Alliance troops, a dark-skinned woman named "Cindy Winters". ".....receiving reports from other liberated labor camps worse than here on Koreil. The planet's lived up to the meaning of it's Bajoran name; 'Divine Fortune'. It was by pure luck that the majority of the prisoners at the Okaral Labor Camp were spared what appears to be a Cardassian policy of mass execution for all camps faced with liberation. When troops entered the camp, they found it had been hastily evacuated. A massive trench dug in the camp center, intended to be a mass grave, had only a dozen bodies in it. A few thousand prisoners survived only because it appears that the early arrival of Alliance naval forces to Koreil panicked the Cardassian defenders of the planet and led to their evacuatiion before they could finish the executions. When Alliance troops arrived they found over three thousand prisoners, many malnourished and showing signs of abuse. An entire division hospital of the Alliance Army has been needed to begin to process each of the former camp occupants. But what's more shocking for us has been the discovery that not all of the occupants are Bajoran." Winters motioned off-screen and a woman with light skin tanned by the sun stepped up, wearing a dirty blue prisoner uniform. She still had a bruise on her cheek and a distant, tortured look in her light brown eyes. Her brown hair was disheveled and messy, parting just enough to reveal bruising on her shoulder blades and neck. "This woman has identified herself as Ensign Marilyn Cobb, a Starfleet Academy graduate who was captured by Cardassian forces seven years ago during the war between the Federation and Cardassia. She is among fourteen Human prisoners so far identified here at Okaral. There have been about seventy non-Bajorans identified who are Federation national, as well as two Klingons and an Orion. The number is expected to rise, as several prisoners have said that an entire prisoner barracks was assigned for non-Bajorans exclusively. Barracks that can hold four to five hundred in tight conditions. Do we have a shot archived? Please...." The image changed from the reporter and Ensign Cobb to a dimly lit room. It was essentially a long hall with bunks piled up five high, only about five to six feet long and a few feet across. Dozens of Bajoran faces were looking to the camera, their living conditions and the looks on their faces reminding Sophia of old history pictures from the Nazi Concentration Camps of Earth's Second World War. The reporter's voiceover continued. "These are the conditions that the Okaral detainees lived in, some for years. Two to three people per bunk and crammed together with forcefields in place to prevent workers from leaving their bunks once the Cardassians ended the official day. Every barracks is filled with the stench from having dozens of bodies crammed together in a small space, sweat and waste mixing into a noxious odor that is nearly suffocating."
Larrisa put her hand on her mouth. Sophia had seen such a thing before, though not quite from that angle - the slave holds on Orion transports used by the Syndicate and their planetary allies to move thousands of enslaved people between planets. She'd thankfully never been a slave before, and had those memories from aiding non-Orion pirates in seizing just such a transport during one of Asako's missions on behalf of her pirate allies in the Triangle. Her stomach twisted in disgust.

The picture, meanwhile, turned back to Winters and Cobb. "Ensign Cobb, you've been a prisoner here for seven years, correct?"
The woman nodded. When she spoke, her voice seemed weak and shaky. "Yes. I was taken prisoner when the Cardassians overran Sigma Paraxis."
"That war ended years ago and according to both sides, all POWs were repatriated. Why weren't you?"
"I.... I don't know? My crewmates and I were the only survivors from a starship, the
Coolidge. I don't know why we weren't returned. The Cardassians never told us."
"How many of your crew are still alive?"
"About ten. We used to be more, but a few were killed."
Her voice nearly broke at that point, recovering only barely.
"Ensign, do you have any family back home that could be contacted, who could be watching?" Sophia knew that was likely a lie, if a necessary one for the benefit of the poor girl, since the Federation routinely refused to give extrauniversal news orgnanizations bandwidfth on Federation comm networks - only the border regions near the Colonial Zone were able to pick up the wide-broadcast Alliance communication traffic and thus the news channels.
"My mother and father - Linda and Greg - own a specialty restaurant in San Francisco. And my brother Timothy joined Starfleet before I did. If you're out there, Mom, Dad, Tim, I love you and I've... I've missed you so much...." Cobb broke down crying beside the reporter, who gave her a sympathetic arm around the shoulder. "They've done... so much.... so much to us... said we were 'forgotten'... but I knew.... I knew I'd see.... my family again," she said through sobs.
"This is Cindy Winters reporting live from the Okaral, Koreil, Bajoran Zone. Back to you in the studio."
The picture changed back to the CNN Studios. A man with dark skin and contrasting gray hair was sitting at his desk, papers in hand and wearing a flashy suit. The anchorman continued on; "Sources in the Alliance Government say it is too early to begin counting the number of dead and liberated, though the death toll is expected to reach as high as a million, not counting Bajor itself and civilian deaths from the uprising that preceded the Alliance invasion. We have only confirmed the existance of various Cardassian prison camps and are still working to confirm the presence of either survivors or mass graves. As always, CNN will report new information as it is releas..."
The picture flipped off. Sophia put the controls down and sighed. "That's so cruel... Like the Orions..." Larrisa's face was stuck in a frown, and Sophia knew that she had to be reliving everything the Orions had done to her from the moment she'd been beamed aboard one of their ships to when she'd been freed by Asako and crew. "I thought home was so bad.... but we never did these things to each other..... never...." She looked back to Sophia. "Something stronger, please."
Sophia nodded. "I'll put it on my tab," she said with sympathy, thinking of what she'd gone through in life that was horrible, if never as horrible as what others suffered.

Sakata Estate, Rymorta, The Sphere
20:40 GST

Among the various chambers and rooms of the Sakata Estate was the holo-dojo. A set of chambers with holographic technology installed, they permitted various environments to be replicated, primarily for the benefit of those coming into Jane's employ that needed training in the martial arts. It could emulate anything from a vacant beach to a Japanese mountain-side garden.
Within the holo-dojo at this hour was one figure alone; Jane Sakata, dressed in a plain white gi, her red hair bound together into a bun at the back of her head. A katana blade glistened before her, reflecting off the false sunlight the holographic projectors were creating, while her hands retained their grip on the jeweled hit.
It was a family heirloom and trophy in one, yet just as lethal as any sword kept sharp. Even her slow, deliberate cuts and swipes to retain her training, to keep various movements coherent as muscle-memory, would have drawn blood if it struck flesh the right way. Such was the inherent danger of the weapon no matter whose hands it was in, though in the hands of Jane it was supremely deadly indeed.
Jane's senses felt the shift in air current inside the room as the holo-dojo opened, appearing in the hologram as if someone from a nearby structure was entering the false garden. The figure who came through was clad in a kimono and stopped to take in the sight before her, wonderous for her in a way it would not be for most in the vast Multiverse. "Greetings, Kurita-san," Jane said softly in the Japanese tongue.
Omi returned the salutation, looking about at the imaginary garden around them. "So wonderful," she remarked. "It would remind me of the gardens back home, but..."
"Luthien was never this... beautiful," Omiko finished. From her youngest memories she could recall her homeworld, the Kuritas' Black Pearl, Luthien. Throneworld of the Draconis Combine and, it had to be said, an ecological wreck with polluted, noisy industrial cities. The environment of Luthien had not endured the centuries of heavy industry and lax ecological precautions well, and only with Star League-era technology could the elite come close to recreating the clean, clear air and sky of rural Japan that the technology of the ST-3 universe now so easily recreated inside a closed off building, on a world not too different from Luthien in its grime.
"I grew up in this garden," Jane answered. "My parents were slain when I was just a little girl. My father Noburo adopted me to honor my parents, his old friends. I was raised as his daughter and student, I learned the art of the sword directly from him, and I eventually took his biological son Takuro as my husband." Sensing the next question to come, she finished, "They are both gone now, taken from me by the same man who seized you."

"And why you killed him," Omi said. "Did he die... quickly?"
"My blade sliced his guts open; as he lay dying I removed his head, for as much as I would have preferred to see him suffer, your rescue was more important. Duty is a higher source of honor than vengeance." Jane slowly, methodically, sheathed her katana and faced her visitor for the first time. "You are scheduled to leave in two days for Bajor, correct?"
"I am being sent to Darane first, but I shall be on Bajor in a week, yes," Omi answered. "I am informed that you wish to send men to protect me?"
"I do."
"It would not be necessary," Omi stated. "There are others on this world who need the protection more. And where I am going, there will be plenty of Alliance soldiers..."
"For now. But in the coming weeks there will also be many thousands of aid workers, aid workers that might include agents of the Claws seeking your life to avenge Sanda, or of your grandfather's security services seeking to seize you as they had Sanda do." Jane walked toward her, securing her sword on her left hip. "You are a selfless person, Omiko, and your desire to serve the nation protecting you is an honorable one. But it is just as important for you to accept protection from those who see you as a tool of politics. My protection has been extended to you now, publicly; to allow you to be harmed or seized would be to bring me shame and dishonor."
"I... see..." Omi bowed her head. "I am thankful."
Jane gave her a nod of acceptance. "Is there anything else, Kurita-san?"
After a moment's silence, as if she were working up the nerve to answer as she intended, Omi replied, "There is. When I am done on Bajor, I would like to return here."
Jane gave her a stern look. "You know it's too dangerous for you to do Red Cross duty on Rymorta."
"No, not for that. I wish to return here, to your home," Omi answered. "And I would like to learn the way of the sword."

There was a moment of silence from the other woman. Jane was stunned to hear the request. Nor was she sure she should answer in any way but "no". She had never fully trained anyone else before and was not sure she was up to that challenge. As Noburo had once said to her on the subject, "There is a difference between being a great practitioner of an art and being a great master of it, for only the master can train others to match his skill". That knowledge, and her uncertainty of her worthiness to train others, had kept her back for years in trying to pass on her adopted father's teaching.
Nevertheless she defaulted to what Noburo had said to her many years ago. "Why do you wish to take on that burden? To know the way of the sword?"
As a child, she had answered that she wanted to make herself worthy of his pride and the pride of her fallen parents, and he had sympathized with her motives. Jane could see Omi's desires were not quite so simple. The younger woman seemed to struggle with her emotions for a moment before she continued. "I am aware that many people wish to give me permanent protection. But I cannot always be protected in such manner. The attack on me was done despite guards at the Red Cross apartments, despite the security, despite everything. I was taken against my will, bound, dragged, hung into a closet space and left in the darkness. They pulled me before that alien man and stripped me. That was shame enough; the ways they touched me afterward, the things they did at the order of the Orion man, were a humiliation that burns my very soul, Sakata-san, such that I can still feel their dirty hands on my body. I cannot, I will not, endure such shame again. I must be able to protect myself."
Their eyes met. Jane could see her frustration, her shame, the humiliation she felt. For someone of Omi's upbringing, it was particularly agonizing to live with. She could understand Omi's motives for wanting training. They were tangible, clear.
But a voice within was not sure they were right. Noburo had hammered that into her at an early age. The Way of the Sword was not simply a tool to fight with, it was not something one learned to attain vengeance or to try and make up for a personal shame. It was an art, a means to strengthen one's mind more than the body, to become one with the blade and to learn and know the beauty of every movement, every breath, of the blade itself. Impure motives of vengeance or shame would sully one's practice of it.
"I will consider it," Jane finally said, opting not to be harsh and expressive of her doubts. "Go to Bajor, Omiko, and fulfill the need in your soul to be of service to those who are suffering. Once you have finished that work, and have considered your reasons for your request, return here and ask me again."

Command Center, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
11 December 2153 AST
11:18 GST

The Cardassian Political Advisory Board was again in session, minus Relim Torcet, now confirmed as dead. Gul Keve was now sitting in his place, having temporarily taken over the Military Strategy Staff. He would be the first to speak when Kelataza called the meeting to order. "The war is lost," he said solemnly. "A quarter of our fleet is in ruins, millions of Cardassian lives have been lost, and the Alliance is rampaging through our space with impunity. Their fleets are intact and their troops, by all reports, are massacring our forces on Bajor and all other worlds where we attempt to put up a fight. The time has come for us to end this. The time has come to sue for peace and to give up Bajor."
Administrator Refimo scowled. The old harpy of the Obsidian Order leveled an angry gaze at him. "The Obsidian Order is against the very idea of backing down. Doing so will jeopardize our control."
"Unless your Order knows of a way to turn the tide of the war, there is no other solution. What hope is there of victory now? Let's not delude ourselves with the madness of a select few who think the Federation can be manipulated into joining the war on our side. The same weakness we often seek to exploit is the weakness that restrains them now." Keve put his hands together on the table. "We have lost billions of tons of shipping capacity. Over two thousand Cardassian ships of war have been lost and hundreds are still in need of repair, repairs our shipyards can't complete fast enough. The enemy has already inflicted damage on our industrial output in the region of the front, destroying our local supply depots as well, both forcing us to use more of the shipping capacity we are so short on to move supplies forward. We cannot even maintain the fighting power of the Federation Frontier Fleet's survivors! The Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet is relying on their pre-war supply dumps now!"
"Furthermore, the Bajoran uprising and the enemy's early bomber arracks had the side effect of drawing our troops out from their bases. Whole Orders have been trapped in the open and slaughtered by superior firepower and swift thrusts by armored ground vehicles, these 'tanks' that we have no defense against. Bajor cannot be held."
"You are rebuilding Third Fleet, are you not? And we still have Home Fleet and the Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet."

Keve frowned at Loskat. "Third Fleet will consist primarily of older vessels and with insufficient numbers of active duty professionals in their crews. We've lost over half a million Fleet personnel and we cannot just pull individual Guls and Glins and Senior Technicians or Shiphands out of the formations in our other frontiers to replace them. Gentlemen, Third Fleet and Home Fleet are our last line of defense, not the core of a new striking arm. Our senior planners in the Operations Commission estimate we will need two years just to restore most of our material offensive strength. It could be five years to a decade before our training cadres and academies give any meaningful replenishment to the forces we've lost in this war."
Yatar nodded in agreement. "Emergency conscription can be used to plug up manpower shortages, but effectiveness will be low. All of Cardassia has been demoralized by our string of defeats. We should sue for peace now. We can pin the blame of defeat on Torcet and commanders who were killed in the fighting and keep the people sated. Then we can begin rebuilding."
"Yes. And we can ensure the support of the populace by emphasizing the need to avenge this war. We may lose now, but twenty years from now, a restored Cardassia that has learned the ways of these extrauniversals can defeat them."
All eyes now turned to Kelataza. He nodded slowly. "Very well. Ambassador Kercet will be immediately informed of our new peace terms."

Kerensky Territories Occupation Authority
Alliance Occupation Zone, Kerensky Territories
Universe Designate MWB-32
12:00 GST

The former Hall of Khans for the Clans of Kerensky had become the center from which the KTOA - Kerensky Territories Occupation Authority - governed the lives of over one billion human beings spread across the Kerensky Cluster and the Clan worlds. The Federated Commonwealth and St. Ives contingents were represented by liaison officers to the man who was in charge of the whole mechanism, Fleet Admiral Robert Dale of the Alliance Stellar Navy. He had lived on Strana Mechty for two years now, overseeing these worlds' slow transition from rule by a eugenicist warrior elite with a command economy to a proposed republic of democratic principles and with a free market economy, backed by consumer industries and widespread agricultural bounty. Two years of terraforming effort in the worlds of the Clans were already opening more land for direct farming and rendering atmospheres completely breathable, though the worst cases would take decades to finish and a number of worlds were still a few years away from completion.
But now he was in charge of the final steps of a different means of integrating these worlds into the Multiverse as a whole. With the Alliance at war in the distant universe of ST-3, locals of the Kerensky Worlds and of the Tanite Republic had stepped forward, asking for permission to make war alongside the Alliance. Some were ex-warriors, or 18-21 year old trueborns who had never gotten to make their Trials of Position with the fall of the Clans and yearning for a chance to put their lifetime of warrior upbringing to practice; others were those of the lower castes who had in two years become staunch followers of the Alliance and the ideals it embodied.
He was sending off the commander of the Expeditionary Corps, Maj. General Harry Matheson, when lunchtime came. Dale found his lunch coming in with his "cultural advisor" Natalie Ward and his assistant, Lieutenant Anne Windsor. Anne gave him a friendly grin while Natalie's expression was more subdued, as he expected and, perhaps, dreaded. What had passed between them these past two years was something he had never expected to see happen, something he had occasionally tried to resist, just to find that his years of loneliness left him far too vulnerable to the feelings and needs that a fiery and passionate young woman like Natalie could cause, especially given the attitudes her own culture had given her about relationships.
Natalie remained quiet at first, allowing Anne to speak. The bright young woman was not just any naval officer, of course, but the younger daughter of the Prince of Wales, Universe SE-1, and thus granddaughter of the currently reigning British monarch of that universe, Victoria III. Dale's relationship with the Windsors of SE-1 was one formed by war; against the Agresskan Queen Victoria had been his superior officer in the Allied command structure, her son Prince Edward has been his subordinate and eventual chief of staff, and during family visits their daughters - Edward's Anne and his Susanna - had become friends and went on to be Naval Academy roommates. Anne had plenty of respect for Dale stretching back to when she was a child and he had been this austere, warm adult that her father and grandmama had treated with strong respect she never saw them duplicate in that fashion; then he had been the beloved father of the "daddy's girl" that Anne had bunked with at the Naval Academy, with plenty of tales of family life to reinforce her sentiments toward him.

The lunch mostly covered business. Anne expressed some worry that her romantic interest, one Prince Victor Steiner-Davion of the Federated Commonwealth, would pursue a transfer from his post in the Occupation Authority - as the AFFC's Liaison Officer to it - to a combat post fighting the Cardassians. Since such a transfer, or even a request for it, would inevitably come across his desk, Dale was quick to reassure her that Victor had not sought such a transfer, despite having had a week in which to ask. "Given the Prince's unfavorable attitude to his posting two years ago, Anne, I think you've made a rather strong impression," Dale pointed out.
"He's always been so restless though," Anne complained. "I suppose I cannot blame him entirely, until the Multiversal Contact the Inner Sphere saw almost constant conflict and minor raids, it was what he was raised and educated to look forward to doing. Now he is a desk jockey, it's entirely against his character."
"Well, as I've said, he's not asked for a transfer to the front," Dale repeated. "But if it concerns you so much, Anne, you should speak to him."
Lunch came to an end soon enough. Anne departed, off to do her own administrative work as his assistant, while Natalie remained behind for the moment. "It is confirmed you are going home next month?"
To that Dale nodded. "I am. Dr. Gierulewicz will be the new civilian head of the government. I've spoken with him, he's going to continue my policies."
"I see."
"So, did Horace sign up?"
Natalie looked back to him. Horace was a former Ghost Bear, Bloodhouse of Bekker, trained to be a MechWarrior like Natalie had been. The two had been introduced that terrible day back in September 2151 AST when Strana Mechty had fallen, working in the Cloud Cobra Honorarium with the other young warriors told not to fight by their superiors but to remain and live, to continue the genetic legacies of their Houses. At first Horace had been just a friend introduced to Dale as an excellent cook, especially after Natalie had added the intimate, personal element to what was meant to be a professional relationship. But since Dale had made it known he would be returning home after his assignment ended, Natalie had grown closer to Horace, and Horace to her, and again given Clan relationship mores Dale was quite sure they had been long involved. He had tried to bury the feelings of jealousy and betrayal his own cultural background inevitably would feel at such. He had fairly succeeded, though he could not entirely deny the bitterness that sometimes rose within.
His question was on the issue of Horace's interest in joining the Expeditioonary Force and fighting the Cardassians. He had sibkin going, Dale had been told, and was strongly considering it himself. Since the order authorizing his service would come over Dale's desk for his signature, it left Dale in an uncomfortable position, a feeling he could not impartially approve it since, one could say, he might have an interest in Horace going off to the front and facing potential demise. Not that anyone would accuse Dale of that - it wasn't like he was in a position to play King David and thrust Horace into a spot in the army to nearly ensure death, if anything Horace would probably ask for such a position anyway - but it was something he could not personally live with himself should Horace be killed.

That prospect was, thankfully (or perhaps not so thankfully), quashed when Natalie shook her head. "He was very torn but he believes he is doing the greater good here working in the government." She looked downward. "I believe he has spited himself because he worries that I might be left alone."
"Natalie, I'm..."
"He is right to do so. You have a life to return to, after all, while our lives are here," Natalie stated, almost in accusation. She had not taken well to his immediate reaction to her hooking up with Horace in the past month, immediately after Dale informed her that his departure was scheduled for the first months of the coming year, AST calendar. It had been a relatively minor thing - a decision to not invite Horace to cook for a dinner - and it had exploded from there, Natalie accusing him of being unfairly jealous and Dale arguing in turn that she had acted to spite him for his decision to return to his home. The argument had been... quite rancorous.
That she was right to some degree - that he had felt a need to not have Horace around after being informed they were becoming a couple a mere day after Dale told her he was to head home - was the really painful part.
"I will be ready for our dinner with the assembled officers of the Expeditionary Force tonight," she continued, "and I will see you then. I am going to bring Horace, I might add."
"I look forward to meeting him," was the only thing Dale could say, after which the conversation ended.
Last edited by Steve on 2010-03-31 04:15am, edited 1 time in total.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-03-31 04:14am

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
14:30 GST

The usual White House Conference Room was taken up by President Mamatmas and his senior advisors for a lunchtime meeting on the progress of the war. The liberation of Bajor was continuing far better than expected. Wave One was looking like it could secure the planet by itself and there was already discussions about reducing Wave Two in favor of assigning more divisions to a further offensive into Cardassian territory.
It was such an offensive that was now the source of discussion. "Mister President, we have nearly exhausted our stocks of pre-positioned war material in the Colonial Zone," Marshal Longwell reported. "And the output of the defense plants currently operational in the Colonial Zone is not enough to maintain another offensive. We will rely entirely on shipping from other universes for the rest of the war."
"Are there any more jump point generator ships we can put into the effort?" The question was asked by Umachov. "Some of the neutral nations are already complaining about how much gate activity we're reserving for military traffic. We're not quite to the IUCEC limit yet, but...."
"The latest Cardassian defeat does reduce the need for warship reinforcement. It also reduces the amount of outgoing traffic reserved for combat ships heading to other universes for repair, since Kensington and New Liberty can handle many repair needs and we do have a number of mobile dry docks in use. They should be sufficient to finish restoring many ships in the area before the Cardassians can finish redeploying forces from other borders."
"What kind of intel do we have on Cardassian naval movements? Do we know where the remains of their fleets are?"
"What's left of the Cardassian 1st Fleet is still on the border, now at Dervak. We suspect they'll retreat when Percival commences unless they are offered a target weak enough for them to strike." Bronson kept his hands together on the table. "The Cardassian frontier fleet monitoring the Federation border - the one they reduced to use against us at Darane - is still intact for the most part, but Second Darane caused them enough damage that the Cardassians are keeping the fleet in base."
Immediately after Bronson spoke, Admiral Hollingwood leaned forward. "Given the Cardassian activity in the area and the success of our interdiction campaign, we believe that the Cardassian fleet is also hampered by supply problems and cannot effectively sortie. It remains to be seen if the Cardassians will decide to abandon their posts in the region near Bajor and fall back toward their central space where they can more easily protect transport assets, reducing their supply lines in the process."

"Do you think the Cardassians will abandon two sectors just like that?"
"They may not have a choice, Minister Rathbone. Running on minimal supply, they would be in danger from attack either by carrier or by 9th Fleet, which is completely intact and undamaged. Better to abandon the sectors than to lose them and another two hundred ships."
Mamatmas nodded, having heard enough on that particular enemy force. "And anything else? Any other fleet concentrations?"
"Their frontier fleet watching the Tsen'kethi border has made some movements in our direction, but we think the Cardassians will keep them on the border unless they're necessary to stop a major offensive in that region. We'll have to warn Hanse Davion's people to be careful in their advance, and we might want to position a task force from 5th Fleet to support 14th Fleet in the event the Cardassians go for broke and throw the entire fleet into a counterstroke." Hollingwood looked down at a digital assistant. "And there's their Home Fleet, the naval contingent of the Cardassian Home Guard. It's probably the last full concentration of modern Cardassian warships left in their fleet. I suspect it'll cause us problems as we near Cardassia Prime, but the Cardassians can't afford to toss it into action. I think Director Takahara can explain..."
Omiko Takahara nodded and began speaking slowly. "Our analysis of the Cardassian political system shows that most of their leaders have constant fear of removal, and their entire government is almost paranoid with the fear of a coup d'etat. The Home Fleet has long acted as the Cardassian State's force to guarantee them control of the space around Cardassia Prime and neighboring major systems. They have the best equipment and come under the direct command of the Legate. As such, no Cardassian ruler will easily commit them to offensive action for fear of losing them and causing the fall of the government."
"So we probably don't have to worry about them until we start approaching Cardassia Prime itself." Mamatmas nodded at that. "And that's it? They have nothing else?"

"Not quite, Mister President," Hollingwood spoke up. "They still have over a hundred surviving ships from their 2nd Fleet and about twenty or so 3rd Fleet survivors. Though we can't be completely certain of the full nature of their activation programs, we know the Cardassians are scrambling to get their fleet reserves into service and they're pulling squadrons in from other frontiers and sectors. With the survivors of 2nd and 3rd Fleet, they could field perhaps two more of their fleets. With Home Fleet, that would be about a thousand to fifteen hundred ships protecting their core systems, though at least half would be older models. Furthermore, their personnel losses have cost them hundreds of thousands of skilled professional sailors and officers, so their crew performance will undoubtedly suffer."
"Counting their frontier fleets with the Tsen'kethi and the Federation, that's still about two thousand ships, gentlemen. About twice our number. And I don't need to remind you how thin the string is getting." Mamatmas was frowning. "We've got Bajor now and it won't take long to secure it. Let's hope that the Cardassians will see reason and agree to give it up."
There were nods across the room. Discussion now went to the specific logistics, the millions and millions of tons of war material that had to be shipped from supply depots, factories, and warehouses to the Cardassian front, and the sums of money it would cost to produce more and to hire and acquire the necessary transport for it all. As the logistics discussion became heated on the issue of war material versus relief supplies to Bajoran worlds, it made Mamatmas remember an old saying on the nature of war and the people who studied it: "Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics."

As the meeting continued, one of Mamatmas' personal staff came in and handed him a note. Takahara was speaking, but she stopped as all attention turned toward Mamatmas, who was starting to frown. He looked up and rose from the chair. "One moment, please."
Mamatmas left the conference room and followed his guard detail to an anteroom where Elijah Weisbaum was waiting for him, looking somewhat officious and acting as imperious and upright as ever. Moreso than the man deserved; he had won re-election to the Council from his native New Israel, but not by any outstanding margin, and many hadn't forgotten or forgiven his base manipulation of the Council in 2151 that led to the Alliance pursuing utter annihilation of the Clans of Kerensky as opposed to a negotiated peace. After the door behind him closed Mamatmas stormed right up to the man and put the note in his face. "Just what in the Hell does this mean?!"
Weisbaum handed him a piece of paper. The statement on it was simple. "No peace without justice" as a header, followed by a word of text insisting that the Alliance bring to justice the Cardassians responsible for the atrocities committed against their enemies, and refusing to accept any peace attempts that did not include the arrest and trial of those responsible. There were over thirty signatures on the paper. "I should think the meaning is obvious, Mister President."
And it was. If the Council were to release the statement publicly, it would undermine Mamatmas' authority and any actual peace negotiations. "Has it ever occurred to you that fulfilling these terms could require an occupation of Cardassia? An occupation we can't afford?"
"We can't afford to let these atrocities go unpunished either," Weisbaum countered. "Find a way. Increase military spending, ask for the member nations to raise more troops, do whatever is necessary to bring these Cardassian criminals to justice. Because we're not going to let the deaths of our soldiers be in vain."
"Do you understand the damage that will be done to this government's standing if you were to release this statement? Do you?"
"Which is why we won't... so long as you amend the peace demands to Cardassia."

"We can't afford to keep fighting Cardassia!" Mamatmas slammed a hand on a nearby table. "We have other concerns! New members who are relying on Alliance protection! Enemies that need watching. Tell me, Representative, is New Israel willing to let us withdraw ships and troops from your borders with Europe and the Berjariak Empire so that we can prosecute the war with Cardassia? Is it?"
Weisbaum showed no concern at Mamatmas' remarks, merely a firm resolve, the resolve of a man committed to his personal political crusade to stomp out that which offended him and which would not tolerate deviation, for whatever reason, out of a belief such was immoral and inherently self-defeating. "I have enough signatures, President, and there's nothing you can do about it. Either amend the peace terms or this statement gets released to the public. Good day, Mister President." Weisbaum turned and left.
With an angry glare on his face, Mamatmas returned to the conference room. It enraged him to think that Weisbaum had pulled this stunt, even if he agreed with the moral issue. The crimes of Cardassia's leaders had to be punished. But there were more concerns on his mind than justice, and it hardly seemed fair if justice could only be bought by destroying the Cardassian Union as a political body, thus causing mass death and instability when its neighbors began fighting over the corpse.
When he returned, he had made his decision. He showed the statement to his assembled advisors. As soon as they'd all seen it, he looked to Umachov. "Tell Ambassador Parmika that our peace terms just changed...."

Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
16:09 GST

Tobis and Kercet were waiting when Parmika entered the conference room near Tobis' office. "Welcome, Ambassador." Tobis stood and a diplomatic handshake was shared - neither liked the other. "Ambassador Kercet has the latest peace offer from Cardassia."
"I do." Kercet certainly didn't look happy. "Cardassia will agree to withdrawing from Bajor and its worlds. We will recognize the independence of the Bajoran race and return all Bajorans in Cardassian space."
Tobis looked at Parmika with a satisfied smile. That smile would soon vanish.
"Ambassador, I'm afraid it's too late for that." Parmika's expression was stoic as he handed Kercet a Federation PADD with the new peace terms from the Alliance loaded. "These are our new terms."
"New terms?" Tobis spluttered.
Kercet skimmed the text. The first terms were the same, but.... "This is outrageous!" Kercet tossed the PADD onto the table. "We will not surrender our leaders to you for these so-called 'war crimes trials'! We won't have you enforcing your laws on our people!"
"Ambassador, it is now a term of the Alliance that those Cardassians guilty of crimes of war or crimes against the dignity of sentient life be turned over for trial. We're willing to negotiate on the nature of the court performing the trial, of course. My superiors are actually hoping to use this case to establish a permanent court here in the Alpha Quadrant, an international one specifically to deal with crimes of this magnitude."
Tobis shook his head. Kercet was clearly enraged. "This is a disgrace! Cardassia will never surrender its leaders to you! We will make you bleed for every piece of space!"
"Ambassador, how can you do this to us?" Tobis spoke up now. "We had an acceptable peace prepared and you go and change the goalposts!"
"It's not my decision," Parmika said. "Besides, I would think the Federation would be interested in seeing justice done for its citizens, the ones we've found in Cardassian camps!"
"The Federation is not responsible for citizens who commit illegal acts in the territory of another race," Tobis replied.
"That's very nice to hear, President Tobis, I'm sure it'll warm the hearts of all those Starfleet POWs the Cardassians 'forgot' to repatriate," Parmika guffawed.
"The Federation confirmed the Cardassian POW records and the return of all POWs," Tobis responded testily, "and we will not be tricked by agents provocateur sent by the Alliance to turn us against Cardassia."
Ignoring, with great contempt, the holier-than-thou reply from Tobis, Parmika looked to Kercet. "So, Cardassia refuses the terms? You're not going to send them to your leaders to see if they approve?"
"I know they won't. These terms are denied. Cardassia will never surrender so completely to you, and we'll make you bleed." Kercet stood from his chair and stormed out.
Parmika saw Tobis' glare and shrugged. He had little patience to deal with the sniveling toad and so he left himself, leaving Tobis to his shattered hopes of brokering a peace and keeping his job.

Kellerman, Rymorta, The Sphere
12 December 2153 AST
11:30 GST

The Alliance Embassy in Kellerman was regularly busy with native Rymortians seeking travel visas or Alliance businessmen and travelers checking in. Given the thriving underworld on the planet - including the kidnapping rings that more often than not resulted in a one way ticket to the underground slave market - it was considered a priority by all educated travelers to check in and give an account of what they were doing and where they'd be staying.
In the Embassy, the waiting room was set to the IUNS channel. The embassy waiting room operator, a tan-skinned woman who looked a bit too thin for her size, was watching the news as reporters were discussing the ongoing liberation of Bajor. The site was the town of Ikiv near Salmio, with multiple explosions in the distance as the reporter continued speaking. ".....barrage of Ikiv. After four hours, much of the town has been flattened, and many Cardassians have apparently been killed or have chosen to surrender to Alliance troops encircling the town. Those we've seen so far have a shell-shocked look about them, having never faced an intense bombardment like the one that LXVIII Corps has put them through these past two days. By all accounts, the entire Cardassian pocket is on the verge of surrender...."
The doors swung open, and the woman was subjected to an interesting sight. Two Marines flanked a gaggle of Cardassians; an old woman, a younger woman holding an infant, and three children. A Bajoran woman of middle-age stepped out from between them and walked forward. She spoke in native Bajoran. The secretary didn't understand it, so she held up a finger, brought up a headset, and tapped into her computer to bring up auto-translator systems. "What is it, ma'am?"
"I am Samia Torcet, and this is my family. We are the family of Gul Relim Torcet and we come seeking political asylum in the Alliance of Democratic Nations."
The Embassy operator keyed up the intercom. "Gina, get me the Charge d'Affairs...."

Zachary Carrey was waiting outside a hotel room in the upscale section of Ushiba when the door finally opened. Kristin Ignacian stepped out, looking rather lovely in a low-cut blouse and dress. She smiled at him and he gave her his own quick smile, showing some of the interest that his profesionalism restrained. "Follow me," she said. "You'll see what you're paying for."
They walked down to another section of the hotel but on the same floor. A few knocks at the door and Zack was face to face with an older Romulan, salt-bearded with somewhat whiter hair. He was in a night robe with long sleeved; obviously middle-aged given his hair color and the slight lines and wrinkles in his face, though he had a gruff demeanor and strong build. "Zara, this is your friend?"
"Yes, H'daen. Zachary, this is H'daen. He's a Romulan adventurer." She said that last line with a smirk on her face.
"H'daen, my pleasure."
"The pleasure is mine." H'daen shook Zachary's hand. With the handshake, H'daen slipped a data chip into Zachary's hand. Zack palmed it and slipped it into his pocket when the handshake ended. "I have a good friend on Cardassia who's gone to a lot of trouble to set this meeting up. Make sure it's not for nothing."
"Oh, I'll make sure." Zack looked to Kristin. "Coming, Zara?"
"I'll talk to you later." Kristin grinned at H'daen. "I have some things to catch up on with H'daen."
Zack grinned, with a small pang of jealousy, and walked away, leaving Kristin to enter H'daen's room. H'daen locked the room and they embraced, sharing a lustful kiss. When it ended he remarked, "I have the hlai and a bottle of your human red wine. Shall we?"
"We shall," she said, holding his hand as they walked further into the suite.

Dolan, Bajor
12:10 GST

Gobens Drayo was dying. The day prior, he had personally led a counter-attack against a desperate Cardassian push that nearly broke through the Bajoran lines in the south of Dolan. He had taken three phaser hits during the vicious firefight, winning the day but guaranteeing his death.
He laid now in the presence of many of his countrymen, including what was left of the cabal that had followed him in rallying Dolan into revolt. His nephew Toran put a hand on his forehead. "Uncle Drayo..."
With great effort, Gobens looked at young Toran. The nineteen year old boy was as haggard as any other in the city, five different wounds on him from glancing blows or non-fatal hits. Leaning beside him was his lover Ivimi, a lovely girl with honey-blond hair. They held hands together at Gobens' side. "Toran.... I'm sorry... I cost you your parents."
"Don't apologize, Uncle." Toran's face showed a painful smile. "Uncle... the Cardassians in the west have abandoned the road. Come and see!"
With a disapproving look from an older Bajoran doctor, Gobens nevertheless allowed his nephew and others to lift him to his legs. With great effort Toran carried his dying uncle to the roof, a vantage point from which his binoculars could range out to the forest surrounding Dolan. He handed the electronic device to Gobens, who brought it up to his eyes and zoomed in on the familiar site of the Cardassian camp just by the road, the camp that had repulsed their prior attack when they fought to smuggle their children and the camp from which Gul Odar had led the siege of Dolan.
In the middle of the camp was the flagpole, from which the traditional sinister symbol of the Cardassian State had long flown. But Gobens now saw that it was gone, replaced by the four-colored flame and circle of stars of the Alliance flag. A gleeful smile crossed his face as he lowed the binoculars. "We are saved," he said weakly. "Thank the Prophets, we are saved. I have not failed."

All of the sudden, Gobens was sad. Sad that for so long he had forsaken hope and only fought out of a sense of stubborness, a determination to die rather than remain a slave. Now his wildest dream had come true. Mighty Cardassia, invincible Cardassia, unstoppable Cardassia was being driven out! With all of his heart Gobens prayed his thanks to the Prophets whom he had forsaken. He wept joyously despite the knowledge, from the pain in his body, that his death was only moments away.
"Uncle, look!"
Now Gobens turned his attention to a nearby road and the tumult. Bajorans of all ages stood from rooftops and the street sides, raising their weapons and cheering loudly at the rumble of passing armored vehicles. Alliance troops sat upon those vehicles of steel, returning the waves and flying their flag proudly.
"Uncle, we are free." Toran's eyes filled with tears as well. "We are free!"
"I know, Toran. I know." Gobens took his nephew's hand. "This new world is your's Toran. For all of my sins, for all I've failed to do for you and your mother, I can only give you this. I love you, nephew, and I hope you and Ivimi have a happier life than I did. Live well and do what you must so that your children will never know terror or want. The Prophets will do the rest." Gobens' chest began to still. His eyes looked skyward and he yielded finally to the pain in his body, his spirit freed finally from the bitter - if triumphant - struggle that had marked his life.
Toran and his love wept as they laid his body down. While Ivimi held his left hand softly, Toran used his right to close his uncle's eyes. "Go with the Prophets, Uncle. Go to a place where there is no sadness, and the children can play outside in the sun."
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-04-03 11:20am

Chapter 16

Ipima Valley, Bajor
18:15 GST

As the 12th of December wore on, the farmers and townspeople in Ipima Valley ceased their work and assembled upon the major roads to see the sight now offered. For miles along the dusty roads, armored fighting vehicles and tanks of the Alliance Army rolled along, racing torward Yemenas to beat the Cardassian 399th Mechanized Order to the pivotal coast city. They were the 777th Division, also known as the Lucky Sevens, and primarily American with a few intermixed Canadians and Mexicans plus an attached armored battalion from the Russian Army. The flags of the United States, the Russian Federation, and the Alliance of Democratic Nations that they were a part of flew from the tops of their vehicles to the cheers of the Bajorans who watched them pass. Young women giggled at the sight of handsome Human men blowing them kisses while children ran for the candies and treats thrown by some of the passing soldiers. The young Russian tankers sang one of their army's tank marches, thrilled at the prospect of cutting off the Cardassians and crushing the "mother-fucking lizard pigs" (or so the insult name for the Cardassians was in their native Russian) with the firepower of their T-205s. Some of the Americans hummed "The Cassions Go Rolling Along" or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", waving at the Bajoran farmers as they moved onward; others preferred heavy metal tunes that fit the advance of great armored vehicles.
As the column passed through each town, the flags that had been worked on secretly since the war began flew from every town and village hall and even from homes and temples. Some of the renditions of the Alliance flag were crude, and a few were clearly done by children, but they made the soldiers proud as they rode through the Valley. Words and ideals were one thing, but to actually see the happy faces of the local Bajorans, to hear their adulations and to see their joy, made the entire war worthwhile to many of those watching. This was real to them.
Seated in the command hatch of an IFV-3, Lieutenant Richard Howe looked back to some of his soldiers sitting on the top of the vehicle and out to the cheering Bajorans, noticing some had broken out into song, Howe could see his own troops caught up in the spirit of the moment. And so a song generally came from them, something many had learned since joining the military or knew as hymns in church back when they were children and their relatives and countrymen were off fighting the Agresskan.
And so the Battle Hymn of the Republic once again came from a liberating army on the march.

XLII Corps Field HQ, Bajor
13 December 2153 AST
03:15 GST

The captured Cardassian HQ at Remila had been chosen to field the headquarters of XLII Corps, 14th Army, as it continued to consolidate its hold on Morala Province. The Cardassian war room had been converted to something that Lieutenant General Matthew Thorpe and his staff found useful, with writing boards and displays moved in to provide him with information on the dispositiions of all of his forces.
At the moment, his three divisional commanders were meeting with him in person for the first time since the invasion began. Seated in order of rough seniority around him were Major General Penelope Winslow of the 59th Division, Major General Gerrard Kinsley of the 555th Division, and Major General Uwe von Hannover of the 9th Cavalry Division. Further down were their chiefs of staff, the commanders of his Corps-level support units, and their staffs. On the table was a map of one of the largest cities on Bajor. Perched within two hillsides, Dalkyra was also one of the oldest, possessing an elaborate network of underground tunnels used for urban sanitation, shelter, some within the hills even being extensions of the town's main avenues with housing and other structures. Within those structures were still up to half a million Bajorans, as well as 50,000 Cardassian troops scattered in strategic points and dug in heavily, killing anything that got too close.
"We could ask the Aerospace Force to launch a bomber strike to remove the Cardassian positions," General Winslow stated. "Or use an artillery barrage."
"If you do so, you could collapse entire portions of the city. And there's no guarantee that there won't be anough Cardassian survivors to simply dig in harder within the rubble." Kinsley tapped a finger on the map. "We're going to have to force the Cardassians out."
"You want to wage an urban battle in that kind of city, General? The casualties...."
"The casualties among the Bajoran civilians still trapped within the city would sink our careers more than the casualties among our troops in opening avenues of escape for them." After a moment's pause Kinsley continued. "We can send in troops to take and secure the key avenues of transport in the city. Isolate the individual Cardassian concentrations and open up routes of escape for the Bajorans still in the city."
"And which division do you propose perform this task, General?" Thorpe asked.
"The 555th can be in position to enter Dalkyra with complete support by the Corps' attached elements within 36 hours. Just give me the word and I'll get everything started."
"Casualties could be severe," Winslow warned. "And your division is green."
"On paper, yes. But I should point out that a number of the Bajorans we allowed to climb to key NCO positions have experience fighting the Cardassians. I have no doubt some are familiar with fighting in urban environments or other situations emphasizing small unit operations. And I'll add that my troops want to participate in this campaign and they want to do something more than guard abandoned Cardassian bases and roads. We're the closest to Dalkyra. Let us begin to push into the city to take the key transit points. Other divisions can move up and join us as needed."
There were glances from all corners. Finally Thorpe nodded. "General Kinsley, please deliver to my staff a timetable for operations against Dalkyra. In the meanwhile, get your troops moving. Set operations to begin at 2000 hours GST on the 14th."
"Immediately, General..."

New Liberty Station, ADN Colonial Zone
14:28 GST

It was mid-day in the station - a complex that was part military, part civilian, one wing considered the "Naval Station" and the rest just the plain old "Station" - when the PSV Twin Cities pulled into the station, having just emerged from the IU Jump Gate Assembly visible through the portholes outside. Various people were sitting in the arrival terminal, just past the customs checkpoint, waiting for people coming in from Twin Cities or a few other liners beginning to arrive. Only the presence of more armed security personnel than usual was proof that a war was on; otherwise it was business as usual.
One of the figures was most striking to the people around her because, despite her clear human-like build and figure, she was clearly not Human, though the only non-Human feature she had were the spots that lined her forehead and disappeared where the fabric of her blouse obscured her shoulder blades. The elbow-length sleeved yellow blouse and jeans were somewhat different than what Zaharia Herzela was used to wearing back home, but since immigrating to the Alliance for the various personal and professional reasons she had she had taken to wearing the alternate styles of clothing available from the Multiverse as opposed to the jumpsuit garments favored in the Federation, especially in the space-dwelling populations.
A head of dark hair on a head of familiar shape won Zaria's attention to a blouse-and-skirt-wearing figure coming from the customs area. Once she saw the gray eyes she smiled widely and walked up, putting her arms around her friend - and sometimes lover - Katie. Katherine Berger was an immigrant from the Federation like Zaria was; she had, in fact, played a major role in Zaria's decision to forget an assignment to a Trill engineering school and to move to the Alliance. Looking at the contented smile and happy expression on Katie's face made Zaria feel relieved and happy for her old friend. "How did it go? Did they give you..."

"It was fine, everything was as the doctors promised. No complications." Katie threw her arms around Zaria again and gave her a kiss on the lower lip. "I've never felt more happy in my life, Zaria."
"I can tell." She looked down at the duffel bag. "So, what do you want to do now?"
Zaria could tell Katie had an answer that she wasn't going to like. She steeled herself for it, not bothering to give voice to her suspicion that Katie might try to return home and all the problems that'd cause for her. "You're not going back, are you?", she asked with some trepidation.
"Oh, not at all," Katie insisted, shaking her head. "No, while I was recovering I was looking for opportunities for a former Starfleet officer and found one." She smiled at Zaria. "Because I was a commissioned officer in Starfleet, the Alliance Navy is letting me take their Immigrant Officer Assessment Test. Once they figure how much I got from my Academy education and Starfleet career, I'll be admitted to one of their Naval Academies to fill any holes in my education and to join the Stellar Navy as a commissioned officer."
Zaria's response was both relief... and sadness. A paper she'd clasped tightly, anticipating it as a pleasant surprise, now grew in weight. "Katie, are you serious?"
"Well, yes. I'm sure there's housing near the Academy where..." And that's as far as she got before seeing Zaria's expression darkening. "What is it, Zaria?"
"I was going to make it a surprise..." She handed the paper to Katie. Katie's eyes went to the stylized header of the University of New Chatham and then to the text, Zaria adding, "...I thought it was something we could celebrate."
"A doctorate?", Katie asked, smiling, though with some bittersweetness to it. "They're offering the courses to you?"
"Yes. It'll take a few years, of course." Zaria took in a sigh. "Don't suppose I could talk you into trying a university education?" She was answered with a very subtle shake of the head. "Okay then. We'll still have some time together. New Liberty is growing every day, it has beautiful beaches and..." Zaria's eyes twinkled happily. "...a growing, thriving holo-D&D community for us to mingle with."
"Oh, now you've got me interested..."

Dalkyra, Bajor
14 December 2153 AST
21:25 GST

Tevil held his MP-10 close to his chest and drew in a breath. In the distance, the sounds of explosions signaled the continuing artillery barrage upon any Cardassian target that presented itself.
Korvys was looking at a picture of his wife and child as their vehicle rumbled along slowly on a road into the city. They were part of a larger operation, their battalion assigned to a slow advance in this sector to seize four key road crossings through which Bajoran inhabitants of Dalkyra might escape. The Cardassians were expected to put up a stiff resistance. "I never thought about it until now," Korvys said, "but I just realized that I might never see them again."
"Best not to talk like that," Tevil replied. "Just keep your mind on surviving and you'll get home to them in no time. We'll be heroes, Korvys."
"Yes, yes...." Korvys looked at Tevil. As he did so, the sergeant overseeing their squad ordered them to dismount. As if to emphasize why, there was an audible whine of energy fire that echoed strangely along the vehicle - it had been hit, but not by a weapon of sufficient power. "Tevil, if something happens...."
"Nothing is going to happen, Korvys." The younger Bajoran gave his friend a wink. "We're going to kick them out and bring our families back home to Bajor." Noticing Korvys' expression, Tevil nodded. "And yes, if something happens, I'll let your family know how much you cared for them and loved them."
"Thank you." They jumped out of the vehicle as another yellowish phaser beam struck its armor, starting to cut into it. One of the beams fell silent as a rifle fire came down on its origin position. Korvys heard the platoon radioman begin to call for fire support. ".....grid square Golf India Niner Four."
"Confirmed third on the board," a voice crackled in response. "Spotting round in forty-five...."
Tevil pulled on his helmet, though it was as tight as it could get already. He swallowed as he took up his position, the sounds of battle everywhere.
The Siege of Dalkyra had begun.

Korvela, Mapakar, Cardassian Union (under ADN Occupation)
15 December 2153 AST
00:45 GST

The planet of Mapakar was one of Cardassia's many settled worlds near what became the Alliance-Cardassian border. Attacked in the second wave of the Alliance's war-opening offensive, Mapakar's small population meant that only one division, the 52nd, had been assigned to garrison it. Now nearly three weeks after the initial landings, the 52nd Division was mostly engaged in removing die-hard Cardassian militia whenever they popped up. In this case, they emerged from the forests of Korvela and taken the small frontier town of the same name, attempting to impress local adults and to seize needed food and other supplies.
Seated in the commander's position in the turret of the M3-3A3 flamethrower tank "Trogdor", 1st Lieutenant Amy Byrd commanded one of the platoons of tanks in Bravo Company of the 29th Armored Battalion. Bravo Company had been specifically equipped with flamethrower tanks for fighting with infantry - that was being put to use now as they systematically demolished the Cardassian militia.
Clad entirely in standard Army tanker BDUs - including helmet and air-sealed jacket, pants, and boots - she was kept from feeling most of the heat from the tank's weapon as it shot a plume of white-hot flame a hundred yards down the street where a squad of Cardassian infantry were firing from a building. The flame spread as it gained distance and burned right into the mostly wooden structure. Screams came next as humanoid figures flailed about in the inferno, mercifully dying as Amy triggered Trogdor's 8mm Colt.
"That takes care of that position." She turned to the command tactical display in the turret. The other four tanks in her platoon were spread on other streets, moving toward enemy positions. Looking down into the bowels of the tank toward the driver, Amy said, "We're getting a request for support in square Foxtrot Golf Three Six. Get us there, best route."
"Yes Sir."
Looking to her side, Amy keyed in similar orders to the Sergeants commanding the other four tanks in her platoon. "Let's go burninate some more of the spoonheads."

Camp Kagasawa (29th Armored Battalion Bravo Company Bivouac), Mapakar
11:45 GST

Hours after the fight for Korvela, the unit had returned to camp to resume conventional garrison duties. Between the usual patrols, they typically stayed to themselves, since Mapakar didn't have much in the way of a public life and the locals were considered unfriendly.
Having participated in a debriefing with her commanders, Amy went to the metal-alloy prefab structure that acted as the shower for her company. After washing she dressed and returned to the prefab barracks her platoon was assigned.
Aside from one single glaring exception, Amy Byrd looked to be a normal Japanese-Caucasian woman of young age - she was twenty-seven - with a build sufficient for military service, if not definitively athletic or muscular. The exception was her hair. Far from the dark hair associated with Oriental Humans, Amy's hair was a rich purple color, the result of gene-engineering commonly available in the Alliance. She grew it to regulation length down to her neck much in the same style as the fictional character she liked that inspired her hair alteration in the first place.
Once in the barracks, there were a number of activities she found going on amongst her troops. A poker game was on between two of her Sergeants, a Corporal, and two Privates. Staff Sergeant Elaine Watts, one of only three other women in the platoon, was writing at one of the common use tables; a number of other soldiers were doing the same or watching the news on a flatscreen television, save for two of the youngest privates, who were using a holotank table to play a computer game.
Feeling tired, Amy picked up her bag and slipped into her bed. Among the personal possessions she had brought along were replicator copies of her Chrono Trigger manga collection.
The term most people had for Amy and her fellow fans were "Triggies", a specific subgroup of Otaku and sci-fi/fantasy fans who followed the Chrono Trigger mythos. It had been a first generation video game from the late 20th Century, played on one of the first 16-bit gaming consoles built back when the console was in its final years. It had been a fan hit for a while before fading in the 21st Century in pretty much every timeline. However, following the Surveyor Accident in 2087 AST that opened up the 1983AD Earth of Universe HM-1, there had been a resurgence of interest in late 20th Century pop culture in a few societies of Multiversal Humanity. For the usual generation life of a fad, there was a deluge of media on the popular shows, movies, and games of the era, coinciding yet influencing the release of their counterparts on the HM-1 Earth. Chrono Trigger had been one of the properties revived, starting with an award-winning holo-animation series produced by Jochiro Matsuhara in 2094 AST that created a franchise. Though it had finally lost steam with the rest of the late 20th Century media, it had created a sizable enough fanbase that sixty years later, "Triggies" were still common sights at fan conventions (and even held their own - Amy had been to a number).
A baritone voice interrupted Amy's reading; "Lieutenant, just how much did that cost anyway?" She turned her head and saw Private Eddie Lewis, the gunner for Tank 3. All she knew was that the chocolate-skinned ex-high school strong safety was a Georgia native, like her, though she didn't know yet which universe he was from (she was a native of SE-1). She looked at him quizzically and he pointed to his buzzcut head.
Nodding and using her fingers to grip a small lock of her purple hair, Amy replied, "Most of my recruitment bonus."
"Yeah, I heard Sarge Wilcox say you used to be enlisted."
"I was. And I was thinking of getting out when I was offered OCS. But hey, the Army gives free board, free food, and the pay's not that bad. Plus all the benefits."
Lewis laughed. "Yeah, good benefits. Don't know if I want bars, though. Couldn't get into any of the academies anyway. And I fucked around in school so much I couldn't get more than community college. Wasn't that good a safety. So hey, might as well join the fucking Army."
"Yeah." Amy nodded.
"So, you're into that Japanese stuff."
She nodded again.
"Heh. To each their own." Lewis laid back on his cot and remained silent. For her part, Amy continued to read until she was ready to catch some sleep.

Avalon City, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth
Universe Designate MWB-32
18:07 GST

Avalon City was asleep, or as quiet as it got anyway, as the late night hours continued on. But while most of the city rested, there were still those working within the bowels of the palace itself.
Hanse had remained awake, leaving Melissa and his younger children to their sleep while he journeyed to one of the secured studies in the palace to participate in a real-time call from Field Marshal Bisla. Morgan Hasek-Davion and Alex Mallory were along as usual and standing beside Hanse as he responded to the salute Bisla gave him. A slight distortion moved through the holotank for a moment, but only for a moment - the picture was as clear as possible for communication through the unknown ether that seperated the universes.
For the next few minutes, Bisla explained their progress on establishing the supplies necessary for the planned offensive. A week or so more and they could safely commence operations - anything before that would bring a risk of overstretch. She outlined for him the basics of the operation and their intelligence sources on what the enemy could defend with, plus her expectations. When the briefing ended Bisla's image disappeared.
"So, how long do we wait? Morgan?"
"The Cardassians don't appear to know much about our position. They may very well be assuming our troops are still gathering or that we will be dispatching forces to participate in the operations on Bajor. The Alliance has used our position on Corwich to re-deploy half of their troops in that subsector to other fronts, giving the impression I think that our forces are there to guard their flank." Morgan watched Hanse walk to a desk and get a bottle of whiskey. "Waiting longer could still give away our intentions, but that would require a rather severe security leak."

"So we wait and build up supplies?"
"Yes, that would be advisable. At least wait until the 22nd on the AST calendar." Morgan refused the glass Hanse offered him. "No thank you Highness. And to continue, the Alliance's success on Bajor was greater than they had anticipated. Large numbers of Cardassian troops were caught out of their prepared bases and positions and have been neutralized. I've been told that only half of their planned Second Wave is actually going to Bajor now. The other half is being held back in reserve, reducing the Alliance's supply burden, and providing our offensive with potential reserves and flank guards."
"It's not our situation with ground troops that I'm concerned with. What is the state of Cardassian space defenses in that region?"
"Well, the Cardassians never had reason to heavily fortify their Keloan border, which is our target. Going by intel we can expect some minor orbital batteries, nothing more. On the matter of their naval defenses, what's left of their 1st Fleet is loitering between Dervak and Shervarak. The FCEF alone outnumbers it two to one in combat-capable ships. Finally, to top it all, the Alliance's interdiction campaign has reduced the flow of supplies to the region, so what we do face there will suffer from a lack of support. To put it simply, Hanse, the Alliance has done such a good job chopping through their front door that the back door is completely unguarded and unlocked."
"Very good." Hanse nodded. "Any systems there worth our trouble?"
"A number have mineral resources of one kind or another. One subject race, the Kerell.. the Korroleia I think. Humanoid. We could see about removing Cardassian puppets controlling their nation-states and allowing others to come into power, especially if we can guarantee they would be friendly to the Commonwealth's interests post-war. The position isn't that bad, after all, and would place us near the major trade lines."
"I'll keep that all in mind when the war ends. For now, get some sleep, Morgan. There's nothing more we can do from here."
Nodding politely, Morgan retired from the room. For several moments nothing was said until Alex left as well. He returned a few minutes later with another man. Hanse looked up and nodded at Curaitis as he approached. "Mister Curaitis."
"Good morning, Highness."
Hanse took his second shot of whiskey. "What went wrong?"
"Nothing on our side, Highness. Our man ensured that the Cardassians would be given word that Opel Nevis was on Rasmussen."
"Then why did the Cardassians destroy every other ship in that convoy?" Hanse looked up at Curaitis. "It's one thing to cause the deaths of Rasmussen's crew. They were military men, they knew from the beginning of their service that they might die. But instead we sent fifteen hundred innocent people to their deaths. That's not what I wanted."

"Understood, Highness. If I may speculate?"
"Do so."
"Cardassian paranoia, Highness. They probably suspected the intelligence was either wrong or, perhaps, a leak to have them attack the wrong target. Their reaction was to attack every ship that had a Bajoran on board. That is why Galax Eagle was only damaged - it was not subjected to direct attack because there were no Bajoran life signs aboard."
Hanse sat silently for a minute. "Very well. You may go."
Curaitis nodded and left. Alex turned to Hanse. "I told you that it was a mistake. The Cardassians have a respected intelligence service. If they'd known we were trying to set up an incident instead of assuming we were trying to smuggle around Opel..."
"They didn't." Hanse poured another shot - his final for the evening, he decided. "After all, why would a Human nation struggling to catch up technologically to the other powers of the Multiverse pick a fight with a foreign power from another universe, a universe we don't even have holdings in?" He chuckled. "We should have anticipated that. Who knows of Curaitis' mission?"
"Only the three of us. The man who planted the story for us died on his ship during the attack."
"Let's make sure it stays that way. Nobody else can find out. Not even Morgan and Melissa."
"Very well, Highness."

A few more moments passed. Hanse looked at the shot and stopped himself from downing it. "Alex, what time is it in Katyusha?"
"Evening I believe."
"Perhaps I should call Victor then. See how he is doing. I've been so busy lately..." Hanse sighed.
Before he could continue or do so, Alex said, "Victor won't be home."
"The report from the detail I have protecting him said he would be going out this evening. With a young lady, I'll add."
A small smile crept onto Hanse's face. "Oh?"
"Yes. One of Admiral Dale's junior staff officers he met while working as liaison to the Admiral's Military Governor office.. She's eligible, I'll add. She is Victoria III's granddaughter."
After chuckling again, Hanse said, "Unfortunately, I don't think a political marriage will do much to solidify our ties to the Alliance. At least I can see why Victor hasn't been sending daily messages to Morgan asking for a transfer to the front. Though why is the girl working a staff job when there's a war on, if I might say so?"
"Officially we don't know, and it's not something we'd care to speculate on. Unofficially, her father, now the Prince of Wales, was one of Dale's senior subordinates during the Agresskan War. They've been close friends since. Anything else you wish to know, Highness?"
"Oh, no. Nothing at all. I'll call Victor later then." Hanse picked up the shotglass and took the entire shot at once. As it burned its way down his throat, he said, "Well, now it is time for bed. I have work tomorrow, as usual. Have a pleasant night, Alex...."

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
18:02 GST

The Conference Room in the White House was once again occupied for members of the Alliance security establishment to give Mamatmas his daily briefing on the war. The attendees were Takahara, Bronson, and Hollingwood - Rathbone was overseeing the final creation of a Defense Ministry Press Release on the war and the Alliance's expanded war aims and could not attend.
The meeting was now on the fruits of intelligence-gathering. "We have two key points of interest. The first: intelligence sources within Cardassia have provided us with a list of camps and facilities in Cardassia that hold foreign nationals. The Cardassians have been using these prisoners to set up fake towns to train their insurgency troops in, much like Kimmist North korea in the 20th and 21st Centuries of most timelines. As well as the list, we have a copy of an order signed by Legate Kelataza to one Gul Madred, ordering the 'liquidation' of camps if our forces enter the solar system." Bronson set his PDA down. "We've forwarded information to the military commanders. They're going to see about using special forces to liberate as many as these facilities as possible in advance of continued offensive action."
"Good. Go on."
"The second note of interest comes from sources within the Federation. Federation commercial traffic to Cardassia has picked up in the past few days. This includes three Federation starships identified as the Penelope, Potemkin, and Pike."
Takahara shrugged. "An increase of commercial traffic isn't surprising. The Cardassians have probably hired the services of neutral races to run non-essential cargoes so that their own transport resources can go to war material."
"Perhaps, but a source on Starbase 212 noticed that a lot of material marked for delivery to Cardassia bore Starfleet markings for electronics and other sensor equipment. Going by what we've confirmed to be in those transports and a few minor signal intercepts on non-encrypted channels, we think the Federation is transferring some high quality sensor equipment to Cardassia. If I had to make a guess given the information on hand, I'd think it was gravitic sensor technology."
"Gravitic sensors?"
"Yes. The Federation uses them to monitor their side of the Neutral Zone with the Romulan Empire. They're decently sensitive, enough that cloaked ships are detectable."
Mamatmas nodded silently. "Can you confirm this?"
"I trust our sources."
"That wasn't what I asked." The President sighed. "Which means that you can't prove it for certain."
"We could if you authorize the navy to intercept the Federation ships and inspect them."

Takahara and Mamatmas stared at Bronson for a moment. "Director Bronson, I shouldn't have to remind you that the Federation has rights as a neutral power," said Mamatmas. "We need proof that they're transporting contraband to the Cardassians. Real proof. If you don't have it, there's nothing we can do."
"Mister President, with all due respect, the 'neutrality' of the Federation is a joke. The Federation Press is effectively an arm of the Cardassian propaganda machine. The Federation government is on the verge of imposing sanctions on the Alliance while it has been granting Cardassia economic aid in the guise of 'humanitarian support'. They have barred our ships from returning to Federation space to protect our commerce while they allow the Cardassians to maintain their patrols into the Federation to seize 'terrorists'. It's quite clear that they were the ones to claim Gytep was a terrorist camp in the first place." Bronson paused for a moment. "Furthermore, if Cardassia is allowed to emplace a gravitic sensor net, it will hamper any future use of our bombers. We will lose the element of surprise in all future attacks by Bomber Command, including strategic reprisals. If they have that net, the Cardassians may even overestimate its effectiveness and decide they're no longer at risk of being damaged by a strategic reprisal. They might launch their own attacks on Bajoran and Alliance population centers to try and force us to accept a peace agreement."
"What you are asking me to do, Director, is to violate the neutral rights of the Federation and potentially draw them into the war at a time when we've exhausted most of our pre-war on-site stocks and with most of our fleet directed toward keeping the Cardassians off-balance. And I have no illusions that most of the Alpha Quadrant would see them as the wronged party, not us."
"Mister President, the Federation is unpopular in many of its frontier regions, especially those facing Cardassia. Those regions could split with the Federation and side with us. We could even begin the Nitse Reaction now."
"At a time when we're unprepared for it? And how do you know we won't turn every other region in the Federation against us and cause them to re-solidify their relationship with the central government?"
"Mister President, I must formally advise against Director Bronson's recommendations," Takahara said, stepping in. "If the Federation is drawn into this war, it would escalate tremendously, and not just in the New Liberty region. There are other powers that could seek to take advantage of the Federation's weakness if they are forced to pull their fleets out of other sectors and toward Cardassian space. The Klingon Civil War has weakened that Empire and left it vulnerable to outside attack if the Federation is unable to provide a guarantee against that contingency. And it's simply not materially possible for us to overrun the Cardassian Empire and the Federation before other powers jump in and the entire Quadrant slips into chaos, assuming we could fight off a determined attack by Starfleet and the remnants of the Cardassian fleet with our current supply situation and fleet status. And I don't need to tell you what this series of outcomes would do to our positions in other universes."

Mamatmas looked to Bronson. "Doctor Takahara's analysis more than convinces me. I'm not going to interdict those Federation ships unless you can provide me with clear, solid evidence they are carrying war material."
Bronson nodded stiffly, showing he'd never expected to convince them anyway. "I understand, Mister President. However, if you're not going to authorize that, at least allow us to launch another strategic attack before the Federation could go those systems in place for the Cardassian military. Bombers have already been forward-deployed to a number of the occupied systems. We could hit enough targets that....."
"I have already authorized another bombing offensive to begin by next week using conventional weapons," Mamatmas said. "I will not authorize the further use of strategic weapons unless the Cardassians force me to as an act of retaliation."
Bronson nodded and leaned back in his seat. Hollingwood gave him a look but remained silent. Mamatmas ignored the Chief Admiral and kept looking at Bronson. "Is there anything else of note, Director?"
"Nothing, Mister President."
"Fine. You keep looking for the smoking gun with these shipments by the Federation. In the meantime, there are other matters to discuss...."

After the meeting, Hollingwood and Bronson left the White House at about the same time. They got in the same limo sent to return them to the Pentagon for a meeting with the other Service Chiefs. As the vehicle rolled through the Washington streets, passing the Old Mall with the Lincoln Memorial to the left, Bronson finally spoke up. "You didn't mention Mjolnir."
"If I had, he would have refused to send them, and I would have been bound by the order."
"Does it matter? He has sole launch authority."
"True, but it won't hurt to give him an immediate option should the bomber threat be nullified."
Bronson nodded at that. "Mamatmas is a good man, but he's still a politician. We should all remember that."
"Of course, old bean."
"But that's not all." Bronson smirked a little. "If those gravitic sensors remove Bomber Comomand's threat to Cardassia, Mjolnir is an excellent alternative by the Stellar Navy. I imagine that post-war you will be pursuing a larger budget for the development of new strategic ships, encouraging the Council to do so at the expense of Bomber Command and the Aerospace Force as a whole."
Hollingwood didn't reply at first. "Well, Director, I think the Aerospace Force needs to wake up and realize its time is over. Technology to detect stealthed craft with ECS has advanced and their interstellar strategic bombers are simply too big. Their interstellar capability is redundant anyway. The Stellar Navy can control space easily enough. They should stick to what they do best - protecting planetary space. Of course, I don't want them to find that out the hard way, but I imagine they will."
"How soon will Mjolnir get the orders?"
"Within the next few hours. They'll run another series of readiness tests and head out shortly afterward. The orders are assigning them to scout enemy shipping lanes. This will place them in convenient locations to launch if it becomes necessary."
Bronson nodded and turned his head to look out the window as Old Washington whizzed by.

Finch Army Base, Corworth 3, ADN Colonial Zone
16 December 2153 AST
02:15 GST

In one wing of Finch Base's administrative building the briefing was going off as scheduled. The assembled battalion-level commanders of the Alliance and Commonwealth troops, as well as the naval commanders, more senior commanders, and other important officers, observed as the outlines of Operation: Percival were made by Hauptmann Allard-Liao and Major Lawson. Questions originally concentrated on various matters of logistics and the known locations of crack enemy units and the enemy's naval contingents. Bisla was pleased to see both planners field the questions in stride; she wanted this operation to go off without a hitch.
It was near the end of the briefing that the Alliance intelligence liaison officer, Colonel Deakins, stepped up. "Recently we have come into possession to information regarding the locations of Cardassian camps holding prisoners of various origins, including Bajoran and Federation. The intelligence source also indicated that the Cardassians are planning to liquidate these camps when our forces risk them being taken. As a result, the Universal Command Staff has authorized a series of attacks by special forces or selected units to take these camps and hold them until the occupants can be extracted. I have with me a list of the known facilities in the operational region for this command and I will be sharing them now. Where possible, special forces teams will be used for quick grabs and evacs. However, for some targets in our area, the population of prisoners is high enough that we will likely need large vessels to move them out, so we will be using line units to land ahead of schedule for the purpose of securing the facilities. It will be a risk, so we are asking for volunteers."

One by one various officers from both services offered their battalions on the missions. Finally there only remained one system on the list, though Deakins had not mentioned it. The first person to do so came from Bisla's table.
"What about Dervak?"
All eyes turned toward the red-haired woman who had asked. Deakins replied, "Dervak was judged too deep into Cardassian territory for a safe first strike, Colonel. The remnants of the Cardassian 1st Fleet seem to be patrolling around it and we do not have the forces to launch an attack on Dervak in the initial wave of the operation."
"Yet there are about three thousand people in the facility there who will be killed. The Black Widows volunteer to secure it," Natasha Kerensky replied.
Bisla turned and looked at her. "Colonel, you'd be stuck on the planet for days, perhaps weeks, with minimal supply. There's no guarantee our forces will even get to Dervak."
"You let us worry about holding out. And with three thousand people there, well, there's a sizable number of people who should be willing to fight for a chance to get home."
"We can't send enough ships to arm three thousand people, not without giving away the operation."
"Actually, it depends on the local sensor networks," Deakins said. "The local powers rely heavily on subspace sensors. And your non-upgraded ships don't use subspace at all. They'd be effectively invisible on long-range sensors. If you were to use one of your JumpShips to jump first into an unoccupied system without a Cardassian sensor post, and then into Dervak, you could catch them by surprise if Dervak's own orbital facility were taken out and their planetary sensors blinded."
The Black Widow looked at Deakins. "Can that be arranged?"
"Alliance Intelligence has... some resources on Dervak. We can look into it."
"Well then, it looks like that is settled." Natasha looked to Bisla. After a moment, the other woman nodded slowly in agreement. Deakins immediately resumed his intel briefing.

11:09 GST

Regular buses allowed personnel stationed in Finch Base and the nearby temporary bivouacs of the AFFC to travel into the nearby city of Farnsworth for their off-duty leisure. All personnel who did so had to remain in constant contact with the Base, of course, should an immediate mobilization be necessary (Though due to the sheer unlikelihood of a Cardassian attack this was not being vigorously enforced). Many took advantage of this system to enjoy their off-duty time in the city, mostly spending their time in the bars, pubs, and other restaurants in the vicinity of the Farnsworth Spaceport.
The Blind Boar Pub was just down the street from the Spaceport, built into a larger building with an old-style English shop and upper floor offices and apartments. It was never too busy though neither was it empty very often - a very good thing for the proprieter, naturally.
At a table a short distance from the bar, Lieutenant Phelan Kell of the Wolf Dragoons' Black Widow Company sat and quietly watched the television screen built into one of the walls. The station was on TNI (Turner News Interstellar) with a scene from Bajor, an all-too-familiar sight of a partially ruined urban setting with the sounds of combat in the background. A large, tan-skinned man was on the screen with the caption "Dalkyra" below him. "....though a few road junctions in this city have been successfully taken, much of the city is still being held by Cardassian troops. The 555th Division's attack is literally proceeding block by block with firefights breaking out everywhere. Sometimes troops will secure a road junction and within minutes come back under fire from a counterattack by the Cardassians. Not a single area of the city can be considered secure. We are in even now in some potential danger, which is why we're crouched so low to the ground."
"What kind of support is the attack getting, Wes? Is there any air support, orbital support?"
"There is some, yes, but in this kind of urban setting, fire support can be very ineffective. Bombs and rockets and shells will destroy a building and the Cardassians will just move into the rubble. Every officer I've spoken to has told me the same thing. The only way to defeat the Cardassian troops occupying Dalkyra is to move throughout the city and defeat them one at a time with infantry attacks. Casualties among Alliance troops are already higher here than in any other part of Bajor and they are expected to get worse. One of the commanders here spoke to me anonymously and said it could take weeks to secure the city. There has been some discussion that they should focus on getting the Bajoran inhabitants stuck in the city out so that heavy bombardment could be used to annihilate the enemy troops, but right....
Suddenly there was a large explosion that sent the reporter and his cameraman to the ground. There was frantic shouting and yelling accompanied by the distinct whine of Cardassian energy rifles coupled with the constant rythym of assault rifle fire.

Phelan's attention left the screen when Ranna returned from what was very clearly a trip to the restroom. She silently returned to her seat and began eating. There was nothing much to say between them that wouldn't be said in private later. They had come a long way from when they had first met on the Dire Wolf in what seemed to be a previous existance at times. At the time she had been a proud warrior of her Wolf Clan, Phelan a young MechWarrior of his father's Kell Hounds and a prisoner of the Clan. He had watched as the Wolves and their fellow Clans had ripped right into the Inner Sphere, crushing all resistance with superior weaponry and equipment, right until the intervention of the Human nations from the other universes turned the tables. Dire Wolf had been taken by a boarding action shortly after the annihilation of the Ghost Bear invasion fleet attacking Rasalhague; Ranna spent the rest of the war in a POW camp even after Phelan got to go home. When Strana Mechty fell, she was in the camp hospital, recovering from near-fatal wounds taken during a failed POW uprising that had claimed many lives, including that of her sibkin and the leader of the failed revolt, Vlad - also, coincidentally, the Wolf warrior who had captured Phelan on The Rock.
Today they were both in the Dragoons through the influence of Natasha, Ranna's maternal grandmother. They had become lovers shortly after, Phelan having the advantage of being a prior acquaitance and being "available". More than any, Phelan knew about the anger and bitterness in Ranna's heart. It was one common among many survivors of the Clan warrior caste. So many of their sibkin and comrades had died in the hopeless defense of their very way of life; they had lived to see it ended, making them feel disgraced and homeless.
As they finished their meals there was loud laughter coming from the doors. An... interesting sweaty aroma wafted into the pub and prompted almost all of the patrons to look toward the entrange. A quartet of large dark-skinned humanoids walked in weating metallic armor of some kind over black suits. Phelan took a moment to recognize them, thinking back to the information packet the Dragoons had issued to personnel coming to ST-3. They were "Klingons", an alien race with a reported militaristic culture full of warrior mysticism and glorification of their warrior code. Phelan had heard they were currently wrapped up in a civil war over who should lead their ruling council, so he was a bit surprised to see Klingons in what was clearly uniform.
Coming up to the bar, one of them bellowed, "Bloodwine!" The stocky wolf-haired Englishman minding the bar nodded and, with great effort, lifted a keg up onto the bar. He used the nozzle on it to fill a glass for each of the aliens and they greedily gulped it down. Phelan and Ranna turned away and finished their meals quietly. As they were paying for the check, however, there was a roar from the bar. One of the younger Klingons grabbed the barkeep by his collar. "What do you mean you are out of bloodwine?!"

"You bloody well drank the entire keg!" The barkeep struggled to try and free himself. "Bloodwine's not exactly common in this area of space, y'know!"
Noticing the savage snarl on the Klingon's face, Phelan stepped up and put a hand on his shoulder, prompting the Klingon to shove him off and turn. Phelan kept his footing and returned the glare he was receiving. "Let the man go. Plenty of other booze here to drink."
"You are another of the outsider Humans." The Klingon sized Phelan up and sneered. "They say Humans from the other universes are not as soft as those from our own, that there are warriors amongst you that deserve the name, but I see you also wear those pathetic rags of cloth instead of the garb of a true warrior."
"And your body armor is so much better? Like that will protect you from a modern weapon."
"Humans, pah. Always afraid of death. Always willing to surrender to your enemies rather than die. True warriors choose to die, and to die gloriously!"
"And what do you know of that?!"
Ranna stepped between Phelan and the Klingon. Phelan was about to stop her before her hand went to his chest, prompting him to stop. Fury flashed in her eyes while she confronted the taller Klingon. "What do you know of death and glory?! You speak of being a warrior but all you do is talk. From birth I was trained and tested to be a warrior in the service of my Clan, and with all my heart I yearned to pass the Trials and become a warrior, and then to win great victories so that my genetic material would be used to breed our next generation of warriors. But I was denied that! I was not even allowed to die for my Clan! I was taken and held captive while my sibkin and trothkin died trying to save our Clan from the Alliance. I was even robbed of the honor of dying with my fellow captives when we tried to fight our jailers! I woke up in a hospital bed to find out my Clan had been destroyed!"
"So your people were defeated." The Klingon bellowed laughter. "Some warriors you were!"

Before Phelan could react, Ranna smashed her fist against the Klingon's jaw. He barely had time to step up to keep the Klingon's buddies from joining in before Ranna's opponent pulled out a mean-looking knife. He swung it at her and Ranna dodged to one side. She grabbed the hand with the knife at the wrist and smashed in the Klingon's knee with a strong kick, using his sudden loss of balance to twist his arm and knock it against the bar, causing him to drop the knife. She elbowed him in the nose, and while he tried to recover she scooped up the knife. The half-drunken Klingon tried to react, but was too late to prevent her left fist from enclosing around some of his hair, using her grip to smash his head down against the bar. She stuck the knife in his face. "You drunken surat! If your people had been put in our place you too would have been crushed! We were hopelessly outmatched by an enemy we could never have imagined possible, an enemy with technology far beyond our own! We had no hope of victory. And yet, we fought. On every world in the Pentagon and across the Kerensky Cluster, Clan warriors chose to die in battle rather than submit. I lost sibkin - warriors I had grown up with - and comrades, all killed trying to defend our Clan's legacies. My grandmother's sibkin was our Clan's last Khan, the ilKhan elected by the others to lead the defense of our capital. Her name was Cyrilla Ward, and she died in her BattleMech fighting to protect the Hall of Khans. My grandmother was robbed of the chance to die with her, as she had sworn to do when they were young, and it haunts her even today. I am haunted too, because I am a Clan warrior without a Clan. I have lost everything I believed in. All I have left are my skills, my new comrades..." - Ranna looked briefly to Phelan, who was watching, - "and the hope that I will get the chance to fight in a battle again." She drew closer to the Klingon's face, enough to smell his stinking breath. "I am Ranna, a warrior of the House of Kerensky, and if you speak ill of my House and my name one more time, I will have you in a Circle of Equals so that I can kill you. Am. I. Clear?"
The Klingon snarled and grunted. Ranna let him go, glared at the others and returned to Phelan's side. "Let us return to Finch, Phelan."
He nodded, still a bit impressed and perhaps a little relieved. Ranna had finally been given a chance to blow some steam, and hopefully this group of Klingons wouldn't be bothering any more Dragoons thanks to it. They reached the door and Phelan went to open it when the eldest Klingon in the group, with graying dark hair, asked them to wait. They turned back and the Klingon, after a moment, smiled a toothy smile - showing those predatory sharp teeth - and began speaking. "I am Krethor, son of Gre'thel. On behalf of my crew, I apologize for the insult to your honor, Ranna, and to the honor of your House. Dragor is young and foolish, but I am not, and in your eyes I can see the fire of a warrior's soul. I do not envy your enemies when you are returned to the battlefield." The older Klingon nodded. "Die well, Ranna. You will see your kin again when you get to the gates of Sto-Vo-Kor."
After a moment, Ranna gave him a small smile. "Die well, Krethor." She looked to Phelan and they both walked out.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-04-03 11:22am

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
22:06 GST

The office of Loralo Puvek, a ranking member of the Detepa Council, was spartan yet well-kept to the eyes of a young Cardassian named Peratin. Peratin saw the older Cardassian at his desk. Other seats in the room were taken up by four more Cardassians he did not immediately recognize. To have such a large meeting was potentially dangerous - with the war on, the Obsidian Order was being even more paranoid than usual.
"Welcome, young man. Everyone, this is the agent for another member of our Loyal Oppostion," Puvek said to everyone. "No names will be used, of course." He was answered by nods while Peratin sat down. "Cardassia is in a crisis now. I have been told that the Alliance is demanding that Legate Kelataza and a number of our other senior leaders be turned over for war crimes trials. They will continue the war until we agree to this."
"Kelataza will never give in now," one of the others said with utter contempt in his voice. "He'll try to save his own skin."
"Which is why we must act, now. The Central Command has failed the Cardassian people. Our time has come to take the power that is rightfully our's."
Peratin frowned and shook his head. "My sponser will be no party to this."
That made Puvek glare at the young Cardassian. "What do you mean by that?"
"My sponser is no fool. If we were to take power and give in to the enemy, we would be hated by the people. Far from being able to prove ourselves better than the military, we would be handing them the knife with which to stab us in the back." Peratin stood. "We will not be party to this." He turned and stomped out.
The others looked to Puvek, who was barely frowning. "He is unimportant," Puvek said dismissively after waiting for a few moments. "With our contacts we can make a strong bid for power. All we need is for the Home Fleet to get swept up in the fighting. And that should not be too long from now."

17 December 2153 AST
03:13 GST

After a brisk walk through the heart of Cardassia's capital, 2nd Rank Gul Skrain Dukat - former Prefect of Bajor and now commander of the Home Fleet - entered the office of his superior, Gul Keve. As he did so, another man left, one Dukat didn't recognize but who was not in a military uniform. "Sir, you asked to see me?"
"Ah, Dukat. Sit down." Keve waited for Dukat to sit down before doing so himself. "I hear you sent your wife and children into the countryside. You have that little faith in victory?"
"I was merely taking... precautions, Gul Keve," Dukat replied carefully. It would be unwise to admit an expectation of defeat.
"Oh, you needn't be careful around me, Dukat." Keve picked up a small device and keyed it. "There. If they are listening, the Order can't here what I'm about to say."
"You're awfully sure of yourself."
"I have to be. Cardassia is in the greatest crisis it will ever face. Practically, we have no choice but to seek peace, even if it means giving Bajor up, ceding territory, and giving up Kelataza and the others for the Alliance to put on trial."
"But nobody would dare," Dukat said. "It would be coddling the people who just murdered over two million Cardassian citizens. The Cardassian people will never stand for it. Whoever signs any kind of agreement like that will be committing suicide, political and otherwise."
"Of course. Which is why we need a patsy." Keve smiled grimly. "I've been told that Puvek has been having ideas again."
Dukat rolled his eyes. "Not him."
"Yes, him. He thinks that with the Home Fleet off on the front, those dissident forces loyal to him can seize control of the capital."
"The military would never stand for it. The Home Guard would never support him."
"It will if I order them to."
There was a look of surprise on Dukat's face. "Gul Keve, you cannot tell me you would allow the Central Command to have its power challenged by that fool Puvek!"

"Right now, Gul Dukat, we need to get out of the war. I would allow that fool power if he takes the initiative to end it. And then he will be the one that the people blame." Keve saw that Dukat was unconvinced. "Tell me, Dukat, how much alien history do you know?"
"Very little, I must admit. I've never had a reason to study the other races. Who would?"
"The late, lamented Gul Torcet once advised me to read up oon the histories of our enemies for insights into how they think. So I have studied some Human history, and in it, I have found our salvation." Keve sat back into his chair and folded his hands. About, oh, four and a half centuries ago, the Humans of our universe fought their first industrial war. They referred to it as the First World War, or simply the Great War. Most of their great nations became involved on the side of one of two alliances. The war lasted for years. Millions died in bloody, indecisive warfare. Entire nations collapsed into anarchy as the war continued unabated." He noticed the sneer on Dukat's face. "Yes, it might be a bit hard to imagine the Humans of the Federation we know today being capable of such bloodshed, but they once were, as the Alliance has proven to us already. Anyway, as the war's end came, the nation of Germany, one of their greatest nations and the leader of one of the warring alliances, realized it could not win even though their troops were still fighting on enemy soil. But Germany's leaders knew how unpopular they would be if they signed an armistice with their enemies, so one by one they stepped down until their political foes came into power and were forced to. As a result, after the war, it was these forces that were blamed for Germany's defeat. Germany's people believed they had not actually been defeated by the enemy, but betrayed by an insidious group of traitors that took over the government. They called this the Dolchstoß, their word for being stabbed in the back."
"I see...." Dukat grinned. "Clever, Gul. You will allow Puvek to make peace, and then allow him to take the blame for it, paving the way for our eventual return to power."
"Yes, exactly. And when the time comes, Dukat, I will need your help."
Dukat nodded. And with his help, of course, would come a higher position in the future. "I am at your service, Gul Keve."
"Good. Now all we have to do is wait until Puvek is ready, and find a way to convince Kelataza to commit the Home Fleet when the time comes."
"I'll have my staff get working on a plan right away."
"Good. Then you are dismissed." Keve watched Dukat leave and smiled. This way, Cardassia would be spared more destruction... and the Central Command would deliver a blow to their surviving political foes.

Jenkinsville, Alpha Korvus 4, United Federation of Planets
19 December 2153 AST
12:05 GST

The small town of Jenkinsville was a good distance from Pelley, the capital of Alpha Korvus 4. The Alpha Korvus system was very close to Nova Savona, about half the distance away from the Alliance border. Alpha Korvus 4 was mostly a farming planet, save for a few minor on-world industries that barely supported the population. The planet was still recovering from the war with Cardassia, during which the Cardassians had attacked four times (including a one month occupation that had left Pelley devastated and had killed thousands out of a population of not quite half a million). A monument had been recently erected in Pelley to honor the Starfleet and militia forces that had liberated the planet after that brief occupation - in defiance of the Federation government at that - and the population still bore many scars from that horrible time.
In one of the apartments in the center of Jenkinsville, Howard Crawford and his family lived. Howard was a big man, possessing rich dark skin and capable of looking as if he had just stepped out of a late 19th Century photograph of a Zulu warrior. He was the Deputy Chief of Police for Jenkinsville, the second-in-command of a small force of about forty or so officers of the peace. He lived with his wife Samantha, a woman of normal attractiveness, her brother Gerald, and their two children, both born after the Cardassian War.
The entire family, save for Gerald, was seated around the dinner table with the wall monitor showing the news channels. One of the advantages of their apartment complex was that the owner had recently invested in a subspace receiver that allowed every home to pick up subspace broadcasts coming from the Alliance, offering a much larger variety of programming than the handful of government-operated channels. Currently, however, they were watching the Federation News Service as it reported on the fighting on Bajor. There were no reporters on the screen, as the anchorman instead narrated to footage from the ground battles.
"...is not as clean as phasers. They leave horrible bleeding wounds and can even tear chunks of flesh away from the body. Those shot with these weapons do not fall unconscious, but are either killed or are forced to twist about on the ground in pain. Their cries for help go ignored, and at times, Cardassian soldiers have been crushed under the heavy armored vehicles being used by the Alliance." As if to punctuate the point, after a montage of shots showing various Cardassians with gunshot wounds, a short video showed a fallen Cardassian being crushed under a tank tread head-first. The footage turned to video of Bajoran towns reduced to burning rubble. "This kind of warfare has not been seen in the Alpha Quadrant for centuries. It is a brutal application of sheer firepower, without any consideration for property or life. And it is being waged on every world that Alliance troops have landed upon. Against this vicious kind of war, even the Cardassians' brave veteran troops cannot hold out. This is why...."

"Change it," Howard rumbled angrily, and Samantha did so. She flipped on the subspace receiver to pick up broadcasts coming from the Alliance. After some debate, they put it to Channel 44. It showed the end of a commercial for automobiles and then opened with a news studio. "Welcome back to CBS Interstellar News, this is Ryan Gilliam in our New York studio," the dark-skinned man on the screen said. "Our special coverage on the war in the Alpha Quadrant continues." After a pause, during which Gilliam shuffled papers in front of him, he began speaking again. "Although the fighting has not yet ended on Bajor, relief efforts are already underway. Earlier today, President John Sheridan held a short press conference from the ISA facilities in Tuzanor to announce plans for Bajoran aid."
The video switched to show the recording from Minbar. Sheridan took up most of the screen, the ISA flag set behind him and its insignia etched into the crystal podium he was standing behind. "The Council of the InterStellar Alliance has already approved the first shipments of food and medicine to be sent to Bajor and its adjacent worlds. There have already been many volunteers from various races to help begin recovery efforts and we will be utilizing them as well.”
“Mister President, is there any concern about being caught up in the conflict? If, say, Cardassian ships attack ISA craft?”
“We’re not too worried given the apparent withdrawal of Cardassian ships from the region, but to be on the safe side, I have been in contact with several member races for the purpose of assembling escorts for any ships sending in relief supplies. Next question?”
“Mister President, there have been reports that you’ve had several high-level meetings with Ambassador Halas-Ryan from the Free Worlds League. Are you preparing to sign any kind of joint statement with Captain-General Marik regarding the war?”
“No. Currently all talks between Tuzanor and Atreus City have been about coordinating relief supplies to affected worlds. We are both working with other neutral governments and the Alliance Government in Washington to ensure the flow of supplies to worlds in the war zone and the protection of ships carrying them, that is all.”
“Have you any comment at all on Captain-General Marik’s statement about assembling a, and I quote, ‘coalition of neutral governments for the purpose of promoting a ceasefire and an end to the war in the Alpha Quadrant’?”
“I have no specific comment on that at this time.”
“Mister President, if there is any kind of joint statement signed by you and Captain-General Marik, will it include a restatement of the various condemnations for actions on both sides even though you have personally not followed the Captain-General in condemning the Alliance’s use of nuclear weapons?”

Given that there has not been any discussions on me signing any kind of statement in that fashion, I see no reason to answer that. Next question?
Sir, are you afraid of causing damage to your relations with the Alliance of Democratic Nations should Captain-General Marik push for the neutrals to denounce the Alliance’s nuclear attacks?
Sheridan slammed a hand down on the podium, not very loudly but enough to show some growing frustration. Though Howard and other viewers could not know it, most of these questions were coming from reporters from the Inner Sphere. “Since I’m not involved in any such discussions, I’m not going to answer that. There’s... there’s no reason for these kinds of questions. Please, another question, and let’s try to change to a topic that is actually important....
Howard and his family continued to eat and watch, generally interested in the politics in the other universes. After a few more segments, it was time for a commercial break. Gilliam looked at his camera - and thus at the viewers like the Crawford family - solemnly. “Before we go to commercial, we ask our viewers to pay tribute to another fallen hero.” The screen shifted to show a young tan-skinned man in Army fatigues. “Corporal Alex Berglund of Loyola, New Iowa. The twenty-one year-old son of a part time school teacher and a computer engineer, Alex enlisted in the Alliance Army two years ago to prepare for college. He was assigned to the 1,045th Mechanized Infantry Battalion, 777th Division. After landing on Bajor in the first wave, Corporal Berglund was killed in a skirmish with Cardassian forces in the city of Yemenas. And that was this hour’s Tribute to a Hero. When we return...
At the Crawford table, some noticed that there were a few tears in Howard’s eyes. And why wouldn’t there be? He remembered young men and women just like that Corporal Berglund who, right here on his very homeworld, died so that their loved ones could be free. And having experienced what it was like to not be free during the short Cardassian occupation, Howard and his wife and his brother knew just how sweet and precious a thing it was.
Which was, sadly, more than could be said for some of the better-off citizens of the Federation.

DNS Typhoon, Interstellar Space, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
14:12 GST

In a lonely corner of interstellar space over eight light years from any inhabited system and several off any normal travel line, Typhoon waited. Behind her were twelve other ships built in a similar fashion by a multitude of nations; all of them were old and worn compared to sleek, new Typhoon. She was one of the better kept secrets of the government, having long been planned and only being approved for construction after Nicolas Mamatmas became President. Her shakedown were over, errors had been fixed, and she was going on her first truly active deployment.
Seated in the center pit of her control bridge was Typhoon's captain, of wolf-gray hair and beard. Captain Marko Ramius sat in silence while his crew went about their tasks. The silence would end in a moment, as Typhoon's sensors picked up a contact. The rendezvous had been made.
"Conn, Radio," a voice broke over the PA. "Incoming signal from GateShip Lewis Macauley. They are preparing to open jump point and have advised us to maneuver into entry position."
"Helm, put us five kilometers off Macauley's ventral side."
"Aye Captain."
Swiftly Typhoon moved into her position. A few minutes passed and Ramius found himself staring at his visual display, showing the large GateShip. It was cylindrical in shape, with four protrusions in the middle of the ship going outward in an X-shaped arrangement by the ship's bearing. At the end of each "claw" were emitters that were beginning to glow with increasing yellow until....
In a moment the buildup of energies completed and four streams of energy rushed forth, converging brilliantly thirty kilometers off the bow of the Macauley. At the convergence there was a massive ripple of energy in space that grew until its greenish and goldish hues were several kilometers across. "Helm, engage main sublight drives. Take us into the jump point."
Typhoon's engines lit up. She moved forward, entering the rippling tear in the fabric of the universe. There was a brief sensation of elsewhereness as the visual sensors simply shut down, unable to process the incomprehensible nature of the "ether" between universes.
And then it was over. Open space greeted them. The officer at the helm looked back and reported, "Picking up navigational beacon from New Liberty, sir. We're within entry margin."
"Very good. Engage the ECS."
Buttons were flipped and, to an external viewer, Typhoon literally faded out of sight with a slight rippling effect. "ECS engaged sir, emissions well below stealth threshold."
From another station, Ramius' XO; Lt. Cmdr. Alex Corwin, spoke up. "Engineering reports warp drive ready for stealth running, Captain. Reactor dialing programs in place to keep reactors running below detection threshold."

"Mister Corwin, go to Code Orange running status." Ramius waited for him to finish the order, during which the ship's running status lights changed color. Afterward Ramius activated his own PA receiver and began to speak. "Greetings, crew of Typhoon. We have completed transit to Universe ST-3 and are now preparing for stealth running. In ten minutes the last transmission will be sent from this ship, after which we will be observing strict radio silence for an indetermined amount of time. I hope you have all taken my advice and finished composing messages home. You have ten minutes to finish doing so."
"Our orders are to penetrate Cardassian space and to lay off of their capital world itself, where we will observe all traffic and report on it. We are the hounds, sent to tell the hunters where their prey shall be. We will also be watching, and waiting, for the message from Strategic Command should retaliation against a Cardassian attack be necessary. In light of that possibility, upon our arrival to our observing point, every shift will conduct at least one missile launch drill."
"Our Allied Nations are in a war, comrades, and it may fall upon us to end it. I expect you to be prepared should that be necessary. Ramius out." Ramius looked to his navigator. "Mister Kamarov, give us a course for Cardassia Prime, cruise speed."
"Yes Captain, setting course now...." The Russian crunched numbers at his station and looked to the helm. "Helmsman, make your bearing Zero-Four-Four mark One-One-Eight, set warp factor for a speed of eight and a half lyphs."
"Aye, making course Zero-Four-Four mark One-One-Eight, speed eight point five lyphs. Ready at your command, Sir."
Ramius nodded. "Engage warp drives. Prepare to commence radio silence in nine minutes."
"Aye Captain."
The older captain settled back in his seat and watched as the Typhoon went on her way, carrying a load that could wipe out most of Cardassia Prime's cities.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-16 03:31am

Chapter 17

Ikila, Bajor
20 December 2153 AST
01:25 GST

After ten days most of the planet had been liberated, save Dalkyra and a couple other cities where the Cardassians had taken to ground to hold out. With combat operations winding down the Alliance forces were shifting gears to the humanitarian situation.
It was not good. Under the Cardassians Bajor's food distribution had been heavily reliant upon the transporter network and replicators, to help keep control of the industrial cities that were central to processing the planets mineral wealth and to producing materials to help sustain the Cardassian occupation. Between intentional Cardassian sabotage of the transporters, Cardassian operations to torch Bajor's granaries and deny food supplies to rebellious provinces even before the war, and the damage to the planetary transportation network and means to move food, Bajor - already a planet requiring food imports due to the loss of agricultural land to Cardassian strip-mining or industrial practices - was on the verge of literally running out of food. Importing food to feed so many people would be a great logistical challenge in peacetime; in wartime, with the Alliance military absorbing so much shipping to replenish its supply stocks and prepare for further operations, it was insurmountable.
Such was the situation that Omi found herself in, her third day on Bajor still going by. Her bodyguards, Andrew Montel and Jake Willers, remained by her side at all times, helping her in the duties the Red Cross gave out. Here in Ikila, it meant standing at a food table all day, parceling out food items carefully as an unending line of Bajorans came by. Here her favored kimonos were replaced with Western-style blouses and skirts, a plastic apron with the insignia of the International Red Cross worn over it to deal with the inevitable food spills. Andrew and Jake flanked her, speaking over and around her during the day as they exchanged remarks, jokes, and the occasional banter that two lovers could have.

The work was exhausting. Not from an immediate sense of exertion, but in a way both mental and physical, as Omi would check the Red Cross-issued card for each refugee before giving them a daily ration pack of appropriate size. An endless stream of faces, many of them dirty-faced or otherwise looking worn down, mumbling affirmations and thanks in translator-garbled Japanese. She had been on duty for 12 hours in a shift that was set to 16 due to manpower concerns, having already skipped one break due to the shortage of workers. Omi would never let her colleagues or bodyguards see her growing exhaustion, though, it simply wasn't something she would think of doing.
The day had worn on long enough that the Bajoran numbers reduced, and more sharply than they had the prior two days. "I wonder where they could be going," Andrew muttered after handing a ration pack off.
"Maybe they got tired of seeing your smiling face, hunk," Jake, being the shorter and lankier of the two, jibed.
For a moment, Andrew seemed to be thinking of how to reply - and how explicit it should be, even if neither had the energy for sex now - before a new face brought their attention. A uniformed man stood before them, someone certainly not an Alliance officer given his bearing, though he gave a courtly smile to Omiko. His words were German, translated into the Japanese and English that the trio's translators were programmed for. "Good day my lady, I am Colonel Graf von der Goltz. How would you like some dinner?"
Seeing that the Bajoran crowds behind him were thin, Omiko nevertheless answered, "I am afraid I have four more hours, sir."
"No, it is alright, Kurita-san." The new voice, that of Tetsuo Taibachi, said from behind them. He gave Omi a smile and gestured away from the table. "You've worked almost all of the past 3 days, Omiko, you should take a dinner."
Her first instinct was to politely decline, but seeing her bodyguards show a bit of hope at ending the day's drudgery and the grumble in her stomach overcame that instinct. "Very well, Mister Taibachi," she said pleasantly, stepping around the table with a very relieved Andrew and Jake following her. "Colonel, to what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Nothing more than a bit of companionship at the table, my lady, and I admit, some relief to my gnawing curiosity."

Dinner had been remarkable; meat unlike any Omiko had enjoyed, honestly, since coming to ST-3 in the first place, wine, and other things that von der Goltz implied were acquired at some high cost.
The Colonel was a unique man indeed. Karl Friedrich von der Goltz was not of the ADN, as his uniform had indicated, but was rather an officer (on extended leave) of the German Army of Universe AGC-1. The universe where, it was known, the conflict known as World War I actually had ended "before the leaves fell from the trees", with the result being a victorious German Empire that had lasted to the modern day, with Friedrich V on the imperial throne of Germany. A universe that, much like her own, had a peculiar love-hate relationship with the Alliance of Democratic Nations.
Karl, as he asked to be called, had been a courteous host, offering food and wine from the supply he had acquired to Andrew and Jake as well, and politely accepting their request to be nearby even before Omiko explained why they remained so close to her; their loyalty to her new "protector", Jane Sakata, the Red Dragon of Rymorta. Omi soon inquired as to what he was doing on Bajor.
"I was on reserve, given half-pay, with very little to do," he explained plainly. "I gave out feelers to anyone looking for the services of a fully-educated and trained officer of my level and was soon connected by various persons to Opel Nevis. At first I was not convinced on joining his endeavor, but upon speaking with Marshal Focht - Frederick Steiner himself - I could not refuse. He is a brilliant commander, it was an honor to serve under him."
"I see. It was quite a brave decision for you to make, given how cruel and evil the Cardassians are," Omi answered.
"There is no glory or honor in serving in safety, but in risking one's self for the cause of civilization. Though the Bajorans may be quite superstitious and even ignorant in some cases, they are a far more spiritual and civilized people than these wretched Cardassians," Karl proclaimed. "And civilization is a valuable thing, it must be cherished, protected, and when possible, expanded." Waiting for Omi to finish a bite while he sipped at wine, Karl asked, "You could have chosen many nations to live in exile, Omiko, some of which - like my home Germany - that would have treated you appropriately to your station." Not, of course, that the Germans of his home universe exactly thought of House Kurita as a line as deserving of interstellar rule as those of their own Europe, but he was not about to say that and, despite such attitudes, the German Empire had recognized the various Great Houses of the Inner Sphere as sovereigns. "But you chose the Alliance, a state so liberal, so democratic, that many of my cousins in Germany despise it, even fear it. A state where you are not given the same social standing you would in our own, one that even illegally occupied one of your nation's worlds and fired on your grandfather's troops when they tried to reclaim it as was their right. A battle where your own brother Hohiro was slain. So, I ask.... Why?"

At that Omi smiled faintly. "The Alliance... they intrigued my father, I think, and me. They were so unlike anything that we of the Inner Sphere thought an advanced state would be like. It is one thing to permit some degree of popular government for a town or a city on a planet, but an entire nation governed by those principles? We considered them innately doomed. The Alliance disproved that, not by itself but by how old the states within it were." A sad look came to her face. "Yes, their soldiers killed my brother and annihilated his command. But that was a fight they did not start; it was something my father's enemies set into motion through their arrogance. They sacrificed Hohiro and many brave men to their vanity and arrogance. Yet, in the end, they prevailed anyway..." Omi looked downward for a moment, a pair of tears starting to come into her eyes. She had not been there when her parents and Minoru had been assassinated, the only reason she was still alive. The assassins were punished, yes, and a number of the archconservatives who had provoked the assassinations had committed seppuku as ordered by her grandfather... but the damage was done. They had won and the Combine would remain eternally hostile to the Alliance and to the rest of the Multiverse, a policy that could bring only ruin, but there were too many in the Combine elite who refused to see that. Who were only concerned with keeping their power in a Multiverse teeming with ideas hostile and dangerous to them.
She felt Karl's hand touch her's. "I was fortunate that my parents died more mercifully," he said calmly. "And I do not object to your choice. To be honest, Omiko, as my family goes I am rather liberal and favorable to the Alliance myself. I am loyal to His Majesty the Kaiser, of course, but I firmly believe that the Alliance is a force for that which is good in the Multiverse and that the German Empire is better served by friendship toward them than by the kind of hostility so many in the Court want to display."
Almost unconsciously, Omi returned the gesture and touched his hand with her other one. Their eyes met briefly before roaring laughter distracted them. They turned to see that Andrew and Jake were guffawing beside another Red Cross worker who was standing nearby. Not privy to the joke, the two nevertheless smiled a little, such smiles being sadly lacking on the wartorn and now-starving world they inhabited.

Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
Universe Designate ST-3
15:00 GST

A holographic map of the region hovered over the conference room table, a curved and bumpy half-disc showing the advance of Alliance forces into Cardassia. At the touch of control keys the units in each system could be brought up. Currently, twin arrows were coming from the planets Corwich and Lappstein toward the Cardassian system of Dervak, one labeled with orange and the other with blue.
"Sixty-three divisions on Bajor and our current sixty divisions in the Cardassian systems we've taken leave us with a current reserve of fifty-four divisions, not counting units still in the pipeline," Lumet reported. "Since we have agreed to increase support for the Commonwealth's impending offensive, I have deployed an additional ten divisions to the Commonwealth right flank, giving us sixteen to support their Percival Offensive. As a result of these changed deployments and the need to prepare for the pre-offensive strikes on identified Cardassian camps, the Commonwealth attack has been postponed until Christmas."
"Thank you, General Lumet." Simonov nodded to the control technician, who called up the next hologram This showed four arrows stabbing out of the Cardassian systems occupied by the Alliance, every arrow aimed at Cardassia Prime. "This is the current plan for Operation: Rolling Thunder. We are aiming for a launch date of December 28th, with one hundred Army divisions and a dozen Marine divisions supported by the 5th Fleet with elements of 9th. The Aerospace Force will provide the usual pre-invasion strikes on enemy defense stations and ground bases. Field Marshal Rothbard is in command of the operation. Any points of discussion?"

Dissent first came from Polk. "I for one think that we need to delay the attack. Our supplies haven't been replenished to safe levels and won't be until at least the New Year. We're still having to support the troops we already have in occupation as well. Virtually every ship coming through the Gate now is a transport vessel carrying our supplies. This situation isn't tenable to launching a new, large-scale offensive."
"I must agree with Marshal Polk, Admiral," Lumet said. "Sustaining one hundred divisions over long interstellar distances like that is going to require a tremendous logistics effort that I do not feel is possible at this moment. We really should give it a couple of weeks."
Simonov looked away, some disgust on his face, and toward Crawford. "General?"
"We should at least give it a few days," Crawford answered. "Just after New Year's would be splendid."
Sighing, Simonov returned to his seat. "I feel that you exaggerate the supply situation," he said. "I believe that we can launch at that time, and more importantly, that doing so will be critical to keeping the Cardassians off-balance. The key is to maintain the initiative, not stop and pause for breath at every step."
"It is your decision, Admiral," Crawford pointed out.
Yes, but we all know that if I make it over your objections, there will be hell to pay if something goes wrong. Shaking his head, Simonov said, "No, that is quite alright. We will launch on the 30th. Even two days should bring in millions of extra tons of supplies. At the very least, even if we don't make it to Cardassia, we can occupy more enemy space and put our bombers closer to their industrial heartland."
"The 30th it is, then." Lumet nodded in acceptance, as did Polk and Crawford.

Danthin, Rymorta
19:40 GST

The outlying spaceport town of Danthin was hostile territory for most of the planet's denizens. The Orion Syndicate was in charge here and they ruled with their usual sense of justice and mercy - that is, absolutely none.
One of the central structures of the town was the Danthin Repository Vaults; ostensibly a storage facility, it was primarily used by the Syndicate to store cargoes of all kinds: illegal drugs, biological material, sentient cargoes bound for the slave markets on Orion, Ferenginar, and other nations where slavery existed in some form or another, and of course, stocks of GPL to be used for direct "cash" transactions.
The prospect of gaining three and a half thousand bars of interstellar specie was too tempting for Jane to pass up. That infusion of cash would work wonders in the countryside communities she protected. The only question remaining was how to acquire it.

There was the direct approach, of course: gather her people and launch an assault on the Repository. But such a direct assault had its risks beyond the obvious. It was one thing to outwit the Syndicate, but to attack it brazenly? That would invite retaliations against Jane's people, or if falsified evidence of another group's responsibility was left, then it would result in the Syndicate and the patsy setting the planet ablaze.
Subterfuge, therefore, was safer, and it was the route Jane took. A two man - or two woman - team in this case, with Jane playing the intruder, donned in a dark stealthsuit and waiting to infiltrate from the top floors.

At the front door, a well-dressed Orion woman appeared before the Nausicaans hired as watchmen. Speaking near perfect Janka dialect (one of the "Eastern" Orion ethnicities) and looking the part, the green-skinned female gained admittance. "I'm in," Misty Greene spoke into the verbal receiver installed at the tip of one of her teeth.

"I'm in position," Jane stated from her rooftop perch. She didn't have her sword this time - too cumbersome - and to avoid detection of power sources for energy weapons she went with a pair of automatic chemical-propellant pistols she'd picked up through Mister Carrey and his agency. Pressing herself close to a skylight she waited for the go word.

A short distance away, an airvan had found its position. In the back Jane's leading "technical advisor", a former Starfleet Engineer, was seated at a computer system. "Burst transmission systems up," Lt. Edward Dunai (Ret.) remarked over the comms and to the armed men in the van with him. His large frame was covered in light from the LCARS display interfaces before him. Running fingers over the customized input displays, he said, "I'm ready as soon as Miss Greene gets the splice in."

Misty found her way to the security office rather easily. Given the Nausicaans at the entranceway and the security measures - as well as their usual dash of arrogance - the Orions tended to keep a small staff in the Vault, including the man overseeing the security systems. He took one look at Misty in her Orion persona and remarked, in Common Orion, "Are you here for me or for business?"
"For both," she answered, again in the dialect she'd used earlier. He clearly understood it - Janka was fairly understandable for an Eastern or Northern Orion - and stood up. He hadn't ordered a prostitute and was vaguely suspicious, but was also clearly interested. He took a step toward her, only a step, and took out a baton he could use to defend himself if necessary. "You want to search me?"
"Your clothes will come off anyway," he joked.
She smirked at that. Her leg came up the next moment, moving fast enough that her steel-bottomed boot smashed into his throat before he could react. Choking for air, unable to breath or call for help, he was helpless to prevent her from twisting his wrist and his arm in one go, making him drop the baton, and putting him in position for her to inject him directly with a hypospray. The chemical within quickly worked its way to his brain through the carotid artery, where it did its thing; the Orion stopped struggling and fell unconscious in her arms.
Propping him into his chair, she went to the security systems and found a port for the splice. It was a small, wireless data transceiver that Edward had put together for these occasions. After inserting it Misty closed the door before lifting up her trouser leg to get to the sidearm she'd hid there, should any further security in the building come by.

From the van Ed noticed the moment the splice was in place. His fingers zipped rapidly over the LCARS display, configuring it to give him full functionality in his control of the Vault's security systems. "Disabling rooftop sensors. You can go in," he said to Jane.
"I read you."
As she made entrance, he turned his attention partly to surveillance systems. He checked each locker with an active visual sensor, knowing what they were meant to contain. But all he saw were rooms of unoccupied cots.
Then he found one that was more than empty. It had nobody in it, but the cots had been recently disturbed. Articles of clothing were still in place, having not been removed, and as soon as he saw them Ed's heart fell into his stomach just as it twisted from a sense of horror and shame. "Activity in one of the pens," he lamented.
Before he could continue, he heard Jane's voice begin speaking with a hopeful, "Are they....?"
"They're gone. We're too late." Ed closed his eyes and rubbed at them. The Syndicate had a load of captives here, but it was too late for them. They'd been moved, direct to the spaceport, and were now on a carrier to be taken to a slave auction on some other damned world. All those people...
"Don't think about it, just keep doing your job," he heard Jane speak. It was sufficient to regain his attention.
"Okay, you're looking for..." He read off the alphanumeric identifier for the vault listed as possessing the GPL. There were no colorful metaphors or false designations in this database. The Syndicate owned the authorities here: why bother?
"Are you sure I can't just break this guy's neck?," Misty's voice stated over the speakers. "Nobody would miss him."
"It's one thing to steal from the Syndicate, Misty, but it's quite another to kill an Orion in the Syndicate. They save the fates worse than death for people who do that."
"They'd have to catch me first," was the non-chalant reply. "But don't worry, I'll let the jackass live."
"Jane, hold your progress." He noticed where she was on the security systems. His computers were getting the live feed while they transmitted false "all clear" data to the main system and to all of the data recorders and screens it worked with. She had gone down two floors via stairs to get closer to the objective, but the Orions had been clever; there were armed guards at the actual GPL storage site. "You've got two hostiles."
"Think you can do anything about them?", Jane asked.
He cycled through the options. "Don't think so. Do you want to abort?"
"No, we've come this far. I'll deal with them."

Jane had come up to the corridor at Ed's direction and found her target; a storage bin of large size, guarded by two burly looking Orions wearing the skins and identification medallions of Southern Orions, one of the Lasha tribes. Fighting two men of such size was not an easy proposition. In these corridor spaces she lacked the open room to use agility to maneuver around them.
Thankfully she ahd come prepared. Reaching into the pouch on her right hip, she retrieved what Carrey had called a "flash bang" when showing it to her. The principle was easy enough; a device that left off an instantaneous, powerful blinding light that would incapacitate for several seconds.
Pressing down the activation trigger, Jane threw it over her shoulder and down the hall. She took cover around the corner again, hearing the Orion guards speak in confusion as they saw the device hit the ground. A blinding flash filled the corridor a moment later, so intense that even with her eyes closed, and herself around the corner, she could still "see" it through her eyelids.

The men were still crying out in surprise, brandishing weapons as they flailed about, their sight lost. Jane grabbed the arm of the first and wrenched it the right way, recalling from training and research the Orion pressure points. He dropped his blaster.
She twisted the arm the other way and brought her leg up in a swift motion, smashing him in the nose with a steel-toed kick. As she came about the other guard was still trying to regain sight but was clearly relying on his hearing to point his weapon. His weapon leveled and he fired, wildly, sending a beam over Jane's head and left shoulder as she rolled to her right. She was on her feet in a moment, breathing hard as she, with no sense of fair play at all, slammed her fist into his scrotum.
The pain that rippled through her right hand couldn't be resisted; Jane cried out in anguish and could not only feel but hear her knuckles break from the impact. The guard's protection had done its damage; unfortunately it was intended for more indirect blows and the force of her punch did its work. He cried out in agony and dropped to a knee, taken by shock at the pain of the impact. Jane wrenched the blaster out of his hand in his moment of distraction and smashed his face with her left knee, a blow that was also rather painful for her though nowhere near as damaging. She shook her right hand in pain, cradling it with her left, as she went to the control panel for the storage bin. "Okay Edward, I'm here. Get me in."
"One moment, fearless leader."

The moment passed. As she went to call him again, the door suddenly came open. She stepped in and found what they were looking for, GPL shipping cases throughout the large storage area. There were thirty-five hundred bars in seventy 100-bar crates in all, marked with the seal of Olorpatho and his clan. "I'm in."
"We've got ten minutes until a security sweep catches Miss Greene," Edward stated. "If you're looking to avoid a bloodbath I'd suggest you hurry."
"I heard that," the assassin answered over the system.
Jane reached into another pouch and retrieved the wall-mounted beacons. She went to each corner of the room and attached them, activating them in turn. When she was done she clambered on top of the cases and affixed one to the ceiling. As she shifted her weight to get down she lost her footing and struck the cases hard, smashing her chest hard against them. "I hate it when I do that," she rasped painfully in a low tone.
"Do what?"
Given her tech engineer's lecherous (if playfully so) tendencies, Jane thought it better to not let him know what she meant. "Tripped. Broke a nail," she lied flippantly, unable to resist cracking a bit of a grin. "Beacons attached."
Immediately Misty spoke as well. "My beacon's on... now. Getting the splice."

The moment the splice was removed Edward lost his connection to the security systems, but he didn't need them to know the result. The lifesigns of the two women, but especially Jane, had immediately triggered an alert. Ordinarily this would be disasterous - it would have immediately led to a defensive shield going up over the Vaults. But he had used his time in the Orion system wisely. Instead of the shields going up, the Vaults' anti-seizure program that the paranoid Syndicate had installed went off. The computers began to purge themselves and transporter beams would re-distribute all the internal goods into another Syndicate facility.
There would be one exception. The GPL, along with Jane and Misty, had already been snatched by the satellite-based transporter system that Jane had set up for such occasions. They would materialize, safe and sound, in the Sakata Estate, along with their liberated proceeds. The guns and drugs and other illicit goods the Syndicate had would arrive safe and sound, much to Ed's chagrin; he would have preferred activating the emergency "destroy the evidence" system, but between the issues of a transporter failure - which would have destroyed the GPL and, more importantly, killed Jane - and a desire to not royally piss off the Syndicate, Jane had told him to let them go. It was one thing to snatch up 3,500 bars of GPL from the Syndicate or one of their affiliates. They could make that profit in a day or two with the sheer quantity of illicit goods they dealt in. But to destroy everything else would cost the Syndicate a lot more money and make them far more ornery. And it was not a good thing if the Syndicate was ornery.
Edward turned to the driver, a cute brunette who was a native of Rymorta. "Okay Dana, let's go home.”
She nodded and brought the engine out of cold standby. Within moments they were in motion, returning to the Sakata Estate, a job well done.

Madred Village 23, Dervek, Cardassian Union
21 December 2153 AST
12:33 GST

It had been nearly a month since Christine had been sent to Madred Village 23, and in that time, not a single training raid had been launched by the Cardassians. The locals certainly didn't mind that, as it allowed for them to go on about their lives in what fashion they could.
Christine was living with Sharon Carter and Kristina Ivanova now. They had given her Kristina's old room and she was now working as a food server in the Village 23 Bar and Grill, as it called - it was in truth the equivalent of both mess hall and grocer for the villagers. She was on break at the moment and enjoying lunch with Carter. The robust redhead was a little sweaty from the morning's drill and training exercises, wearing a sleeveless dark gray shirt with knee-length patterned shorts. She had come in after her morning activities with the town militia/insurgency cell, who played the opposition force for the Cardassians. From what Christine had learned, there was a pool of villagers who rotated in and out of the militia, since those in it were subjected to the constant stress of being targeted in the next raid.
Carter's partly-muscled arms rested on the table as she chewed on a replicated steak, while Christine had a conventional salad of vegetables grown in the Village itself. "You've taken to life here well," Carter said to Christine.
"Thank you. I don't want to be a burden, and to have everyone fuss over me when I first showed up..."
"It's something we do here. We all look out for each other, since we've got nobody else to do it."
After they both had a few more bites, Christine bit into her lip. "I've, uh, been curious about something, if you don't mind me asking."
"Well, uh..." Christine looked awkward and put her hands on the table. "You and Kristina. I've never... known a couple... like you."
Instead of the angered expression Christine anticipated, she was replied with an amused grin. "Kristina said you were getting curious. She's good for reading people."
"I don't mean to pry...."

"Oh, it's no problem. If we were concerned for privacy, Christine, we'd have never invited you to stay with us." Carter took a quick drink. "Well, I'll say first that Kristina and I used to be into men. In a way we still are. We first met at the Ilivor 2 Labor Camp about seven years ago. Kristina was a POW, and I was an unlucky member of a merc band from the Sphere that crossed the wrong Gul. They'd tortured us both half to death by the time we ere in Ilivor, and there we were worked nearly to death until the mine vein was exhausted and the camp was closed. While we were in Ilivor, Kristina and I shared a bed in a purely platonic fashion and we watched out for one another. When we came here, we stayed friends while living in the same house. At first, we slept in different rooms, until the nightmares about what the Cardies had done to us were too much. We started sleeping in the same bed, purely platonic again. But, over time, I guess a bit of a spark came between us. It began with gentle kisses good night, an occasional embrace. Time passed, the kisses grew longer, the touching became more intimate, and the next thing you know..." Carter sighed. "We've been lovers for about seventeen months now."
Christine nodded in understanding and finished munching a mouthful of salad. "So, uh... what's it like? I mean, how do you two...."
"How do we make love?" Carter sat back in her chair, a lazy grin on her face and her hands folded before her. "Well, um, it depends on what we feel like doing. And what we feel like using. And..."
The door burst open and Edward Winfield rushed in, wearing workout clothes not too different from Carter's. "Sharon, they took her."
Christine watched Carter's face turned a little white. "Kristina?"
"Yes. Beamed her right up as we were jogging the perimeter. Absolutely no warning."
"What does that mean? Why did they take Kristina?"
Carter put a hand over her mouth, keeping her head and eyes low. When she finally looked to Christine, tears were appearing in her green eyes. "Probably to train a new interrogator, Christine. They took Kristina to... torture her.... to train another damned interrogator." Carter's fist slammed into the table, then her hand swept across it and threw her mostly-eaten lunch into the far wall. She started to sob. "Oh Kristina..."
"They'll send her back, I thought?" Christine looked from Carter to Edward. "Won't they?"
The New Anglian lowered his eyes. "Maybe. But sometimes... their training sessions go bad and the person returns completely broken.... or sometimes not at all."
Christine sat for a moment, mouth agape, before she covered it.

12:45 GST

Kercil had not met Jevil's replacement until now, and he was far too busy monitoring the physical condition of the prisoner on the restraint table to do more than get a general idea of her appearance. Glin Koviyal Orvel was cute to other Cardassians, with her small nose, large-looking eyes, and slim figure. She looked the slightest bit nervous at times as Horvem grilled her intensely on the imatter at hand.
Kristina was locked into the table. Her hands and feet were obscured by the locks themselves, though the rest of her body was visible; she was, by many standards, attractive and desirable. But she was laid out that way for a different reason, apparent as Horvem and Orvel spoke on.
Having given a brief dissertation on Human "neural weak points", Orvel took control of the device mechanism for the agonizers built into the table. Kristina's pained screams echoed in the room, with Kercil's responsibility being to alert them to her medical condition whenever Horvem desired.
This continued for a short while. When they finally stopped, Kristina laid whimpering on the table, her body covered in her own sweat. Kercil watched Horvem retrieve a device attachment for the table while speaking. "Sometimes, Glin, time constraints will forbid a slower pace for breaking your subject. What do you do in those situations?"
After thinking for a moment, Orvel replied, "Overwhelm the subject with negative stimulus. Attempt to break their will swiftly even if it means causing some physical damage."
"Exactly. And for some species, this is the best choice." Horvem put the attachment onto the table. It fit precisely upon the foot of the table. The instant Kristina saw it her face grew an extra shade of white. "Do you recognize this object, Glin?"
"It's a penetrator rod," Orvel replied in a business-like tone, though Kercil thought he saw her eyes waver a bit, betraying discomfort. "Aside from its obvious applications of inducing negative stimulation into sensitive orifices, its use adds to psychological trauma, specifically traumas generally related to violations of a sexual nature."
"What do you suppose is the best setting for a Human woman?"
"Ten," was Orvel's reply. Horvem gestured to the controls and Orvel put in the appropriate commands. The penetrator rod ceased being smooth, with raised surfaces of some bluntness appearing on them at places. "Neural stimulation levels should not be placed above Five, of course. Humans are slightly more sensitive than the norm and to have it any higher would place the subject in shock."
"Stop!" Kristina's wail drew the attention of all three Cardassians. "Please, not that! PLEASE!"
Horvem looked back to Orvel. "Glin Orvel, if this were an interrogation, how would you respond to this?"
"I would judge that the subject is close to breaking," Orvel said matter-of-factly. "Therefore I would reduce the actual intensity of the penetrator in favor of lighter settings, to reinforce to the subject that I am fully willing to use it. This should be capable of provoking a complete breaking of the subject without requiring higher settings and possible physical damage."

"Very good," Horvem said with approval. "Of course, this isn't an interrogation. Use the settings up to the maximum to familiarize yourself with its effect."
Kercil forced himself to turn away and focus on the colored display in front of him, with its unliving humanoid bipedal profile as opposed to the squirming, screaming woman on the table. It was easier to focus on the changes of hue in her neural patterns than actually watching the penetrator pushed into her and activated. Kristina's screams were almost inhuman; if one were to just hear them without seeing what was happening, they might assume she was being ripped open and torn apart from the inside.
Kercil himself agonized over every moment even as he mechanically replied to all requests on her medical status. To say anything else would be to risk exposing the fact that his stomach was twisting in shame and self-loathing. Orvel used multiple combinations of sharpness settings for the penetrator's surface and power settings for its neural stimulators, causing various kinds of response but all of them causing that same dreadful wail.
After a stretch of time that was an eternity for both Kercil and Kristina, Orvel stepped away from the controls and had the penetrator retract. She looked to Horvem. "You don't look so well, Glin Orvel," Horvem noted. "Problems?"
"Sir, I, uh.... it's nothing sir."
"That answer is unacceptable, Glin," Horvem said in a very severe tone. "What is troubling you?"
Orvel bit into her lip for a moment. "I apologize, sir, but I found this very uncomfortable."
"Will your discomfort in your duties cause you to neglect them?"
"No sir!" Orvel's refusal was strong, even if her expression still betrayed her intense discomfort, perhaps even a bit of pity and empathy for her victim. "I am here to serve Cardassia, sir. I will do whatever you order."
"Very good." Horvem was beaming with approval. "We need more people like you in the ranks of interrogators, Orvel. It is a tough job. Many give in to it and grow too accustomed to the power they hold over their subjects. They become sadists. You must never allow that to happen, and I've found that discomfort for your duties is a very effective way of preventing that. You will make a very good military interrogator.”
Orvel struggled to smile a little. "Thank you, sir."
"Now come, Glin. We'll go over my evaluation of this test over a glass of kanar. I've found it makes these things a little easier to live with. Glin Kercil, get her unlatched and beamed back down."
"Yes sir," Kercil said. He watched them leave and unlocked Kristina from the table. She was weeping loudly and didn't move even after her wrists and ankles were free. Kercil reached down, conscious of her nakedness in the back of his mind, and pulled her into a sitting position. "Come, I'm going to send you back home." When it became clear she wouldn't walk, Kercil opted to lift her, and as he moved closer to her neck and shoulder while reaching to do so, he whispered into her ear; "Do not react to this. Tell the others to be ready. The Alliance is coming for you in a few days." With that done, Kercil lifted her into his arms and carried her to the transporter room.

14:33 GST

Halina Poniatowski's little home doubled as her doctor's office, and it was in her living room/waiting room that Christine and Edward sat quietly with Carter, who was teary-eyed as they waited for Halina to come to them. Her chief nurse, a Nova Savonard named Antonia, finally came out. "She's ready to see you, Sharon," the woman said in accented English. Carter stood and followed Antonia back.
Halina met her at the door just outside her secondary bedroom-turned-exam room. "How is she?" Carter asked.
Speaking softly, the younger woman replied, "Alive. She'll heal, but they really worked her over this time. Even used the scrapers." Halina stepped out of the doorway. "Go ahead, I'll wait out here."
Carter nodded and entered the room. Kristina was curled up on the bed, wearing a simple poncho-like gown. Carter walked up to her and softly said, "Kristina?"
She turned and looked at her. Sitting up, Kristina's eyes welled up with tears as Carter embraced her. "I begged them to stop. I begged. I begged."
"Shh... I know you did." Carter held her tightly, putting a hand in Kristina's brown hair. Her tears dripped down top to Kristina's gown. "I wish it had been me," she sobbed. "I wish they'd taken me instead."
"I can't do this any more, Sharon. I can't live... like... this." Wracked with sobs, it took Kristina a short time to end her sentence. "I can't stand it. I just want to die."
"Please don't say that."
"It hurts too much!" Kristina's sobbing became so strong she couldn't say any more words. The two lovers held each other close and remained there for some time.

It was dusk when Carter and Kristina emerged from the back. Edward and Christine were both still waiting for them. "Kristina?"
"I''m alive, Red." Kristina's tear-stroked cheeks were enough to see that "alive" was the best she could do. "Listen, everyone, we have work to do."
"What do you mean, Kristina?"
Kristina looked to Carter and brought a chair up. "Anyone remember Horvem's lackey? The male one with the sad eyes? As he was lifting me up off of the restraint table today, he knelt over and whispered into my ear that we needed to 'be ready'. He then said that 'the Alliance is coming for you'."
Christine's face lifted. "The Alliance. I.. I guess things finally broke. When I was... arrested by the Cardassians, they'd been arguing with the Alliance for months over Bajoran refugees in Alliance territory."
"This probably explains the lack of AIF raids," Halina chimed in. A small, hopeful smile came to her face. "The Cardassians must be fighting the Alliance in a war."
"And the Alliance is coming here." Edward's smile surpassed Halina's. "We'll finally get the Hell out of here. We'll get to go home."
Carter was the only one who didn't smile at that. She merely kept her arm around Kristina's back and waist and pulled her closer. "Yes. We'll get to go home." Carter then, sadly, added Except for me to that.
Nevertheless, for the first time in years, Carter felt hope for the future that she'd never had before, and she loved it.

Another Gedys Scene. Not quite so graphic since we’re no longer at gory “Third World-level” interrogations.
Military Interrogations Facility, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
17:24 GST

The unassuming 1st Rank Glin Janak entered the room in the company of her subordinates, 3rd Rank Glins Dormac and Hancet. The sight before them was not unusual. A nude Bajoran woman, rather pretty, hanging from her restraints in the vertical stimulation rack. “Subject Gedys. Suspected of acquiring sensitive intelligence and passing it on to an enemy source,” Janak noted while reading the PADD before her. “And you cannot get her to confess?”
Gedys was barely conscious as she heard her tormentors inform their commander of their inability to get her to confirm the passing of intelligence and what it consisted of. Her suffering these past few days was different from what she had endured at the hands of the Security Forces. There was no blood here, no blows against her body, no drills tearing her knees apart. The Cardassians had spent three days repairing her from that horrific experience to subject her to this one which, in its own way, was far more cruel.
Unlike the torture she’d suffered before, this was raw, complete, unending hurt. The nerve stimulators built into the interrogators’ restraint racks stimulated virtually every nerve in the body. Upon activation they struck raw agony into every nerve, from the tip of her fingers to the top of her head.
And yet... she did not waver. Could not waver.
Not even now.

“Gedys Jorma, what information did you provide the Romulan smuggler with in Tralam Peker?,” Glin Janak asked, her tone all business.
“Nothing,” she rasped. “As I have told your people for days. I... I loved H’daen. I wanted him to carry me away to ch’Rihan.”
“You cannot fool a military interrogator, Prisoner Gedys. If you cooperate you will be turned over to the Justice Ministry to await trial and punishment. Refusal will require us to continue interrogation.”
“I do not know what you’re talking about,” she lied, thinking of the lives that would be taken if she broke.
Undaunted, Janak had Hancet retrieve a pair of devices, Gedys refused to look at them, even if she knew what they did. They were fixed to the rack and, with mechanical precision, inserted into her lower orifices. She gasped; the coarseness of their studded service already hurt. At the press of a button those studs grew larger, thicker. They stretched further within her.
The agony that came with the next button press was the worst she had yet to experience. And as she howled from that terrible pain, she felt the voice inside her beg for mercy. It urged her to end the torture, to tell the Cardassians what they wanted to hear. There is no hope for any of you that part of her mind thought. You are all lost. End your suffering and their’s!
But there was a strong feeling in Gedys’ heart. A bright pyre of Hope, hope that the people her suffering was preserving from murder might yet live to see liberation. Though she would die; they did not have to. Again her mind went to the Prophets she’d been raised to believe in, the collective, nameless, timeless deities that were the guardians of the Bajoran soul. The Prophets knew her sins and her shame but they would honor her sacrifice. In that ancient religion of her people, which she had so long neglected the practice of, Gedys’ quailing heart found strength. And for the benefit of many thousands Gedys had never, would never, know, she would continue to suffer.

When the Bajoran prisoner was unconscious from the vigor of the interrogation session, a disappointed Janak was called to a wall monitor as her subordinates collected the woman off the rack to be returned to her cell. She was rather perturbed to see the face of her highest superior appear on the screen.
For what it was worth, Gul Madred spoke very calmly and plainly to Janak. “The Legate has informed me you have a stubborn prisoner on hand who is resisting interrogation techniques?
“Prisoner Gedys, yes.” Janak shook her head. “If I hadn’t read the reports, Sir, I would be tempted to believe her, that she really was meeting with the smuggler to get off-planet.”
She sounds quite formidable. It does you no disservice, Glin, to fail to get information out of her. Such individuals are rare and must be treated with the respect their will deserves... and approached in a manner befitting such a strong will.” Madred looked intently at her from his office. “I will dispatch a courier to bring her to my main facility. I will personally conduct the next stage of Prisoner Gedys’ interrogation.
Janak nodded. “I will have her transferred to the courier vessel as soon as it is in range, Gul.”

Turoa Mountains, Bajor
19:06 GST

An open grotto about two kilometers from the closest cave exit was where the 13th Provisional Order had established its camp. Rations were under careful guard and all soldiers kept their arms with them as they spent the day playing kotra or other games in an attempt to pass the time. To preserve power each Section was alloted a limited amount of personal light usage a day; at all other times, only the very meager lights erected in the camp provided illumination from the complete darkness of the Turoa caves.
Gul Luvar lived as his men did, sleeping in a crowded prefab plastic structure among many erected in the center of the camp. He ate the same daily ration as his men, joined them in the daily drills, and adhered to the same standard of rationed light. Currently he was sitting in the dark, thinking quietly. He heard movement at the door and looked up habitually, though all he could make out was a faint outline of the person in the doorway to his barracks. "Glin Damar?"
"Yes, Gul." Damar stepped forward. "How did you know it was me?"
"I can't see for a damn in here, Damar, but there are other ways of knowing." Luvar chuckled. "Go ahead and see if you can find a seat."
After stumbling around for a bit, Damar found an empty bed to sit on. "Any of the men asleep in here?"
"None. Senior Trooper Furak woke up about an hour ago and immediately roused every man in his unit. It was rather amusing, reminded me of when I was a mere 6th Ranker." Luvar laid back on his bed. "How are the men faring? Any more news from our other units?"
"We received more transmissions a few hours ago. The 24th Order surrendered last night, but the 192nd is still fighting. Gul Iravak said in the transmission that he only has two thousand unwounded men left in his command and that he intends to fight until relieved."
"Iravak was always stubborn," Luvar grumbled. "He'll get all of his men killed because of it. What about Dalkyra?"
"8th, 111th, and 115th Orders are still holding out. We intercepted some open broadcasts from Alliance news services. They say an entire quarter of the city's been reduced to rubble in the fighting." Luvar grunted as a reply. Damar leaned closer to him. "Gul, the men are becoming a little restless They hear these broadcasts and of our troops being slaughtered. They don't like hiding down here in the dark while other Cardassians are fighting."
"They'll understand why we're down here soon enough." Luvar released a sigh. "I'm not going to get them killed in a direct fight with the Alliance. We'll fight like the Bajorans did, hitting and running. It's the only way we can hold out until the war ends."
After a moment, Damar finally asked, "Do you think Central Command will give in to Alliance demands to end the war? Are they even capable of it?"
"I'm not sure. I don't think the people in charge will if they aren't forced into it. But you know how things are in the Capitol, Damar. Right now I bet half of the Central Command is sharpening their knives while the other half is starting to grow eyes in the back of their heads. Plus that damned Obsidian Order will be waiting in the shadows, their usual plots and schemes. It's all going to Hell."
"That's the way things have always been."
"But they don't have to be that way."
Damar looked at the shadowy figure of Luvar on his cot. He leaned even closer and softly whispered, "Sir?"
Luvar sat up and looked Damar in what he thought would be his eyes. "There's no Obsidian Order here, Glin, and I'm quite sure that after the war my actions will get me cashiered by the Central Command. That means I don't fear them anymore."
"Then.... what are you meaning when you say things don't have to be this way?"

Luvar appreciated the curious yet cautious tone to Damar's voice. He sighed. "I'm an old man, Damar, though I don't look it. I've fought Talarians, Tsen'kethi, Klingons, Humans, Vulcans, all sorts of races. And I've learned a lot about them. Some things that our superiors would prefer no Cardassian to learn of." With a conspiratorial tone, he said, "Do you know what a 'Republic' is?"
"No, sir, I do not."
"It's a remarkable form of government. The Humans coined the word from one of their ancient languages, a term in what they call 'Latin'; res publica. It's a government of checks and balances. No Central Command, no Detepa Council.... you have an executive to lead the State, a legislature to write and approve laws, and a judiciary to determine if the laws are proper to the Constitution."
"'Constitution', sir?"
"A written document, Damar. A document outlying the rights, the privileges, and the duties of a nation's citizens, the powers that the government may or may not assume, and what specific form and basic structure the government has. The judiciary of a Republic then decides if any new laws violate this Constitution in any way. It's not a perfect system, but it works, because the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary constantly check the powers of the other branches."
Damar nodded silently. He wasn't into the political sciences - What Cardassian was? Political scientists ran a far higher risk of getting shot or sent to a labor camp - but he thought he understood some of what Luvar was saying. And he could sense the energy in his commander's voice. Luvar had thought on these things for a long time. A long long time.

"Our problem, Glin, has been that we never had balance. First we had the plutocrats, the oligarchs, the people who dominated the Detepa Council. Their power was not checked. They decided what laws would be written and which would be enforced, even when they would be. Then they ruined everything and the military took over.... and started to do the very same thing! Power, pure unrestrained power, is why we are huddling in the dark like voles right now and why our fellow Cardassians are dying by the thousands while Legate Kelataza is entertaining his young mistress and drinking fine kanar. There is no check on the power of the Central Command save for the Obsidian Order, which is even worse. There's no check on State power to keep it restrained, to protect ordinary Cardassians from it. And that is what we need more than anything."
“But, if the State’s power can be checked...” There was a look of bewilderment on Damar’s face. How could such a thing be possible? Cardassians had a duty to the collective whole, which the State embodied. It had always been that way, it would always be that way. Anything else would be... anarchy!
“Open your mind, Glin. A Cardassian will not change his beliefs, his habits, because the State no longer has a gun to his head. We are a people born to sacrifice for each other and for the whole. It’s in our blood, it’s engrained in our very souls. It does not matter what form of government Cardassians have; we will always be Cardassians, and we will always live up to the principles of the Never-Ending Sacrifice.”
Damar silently nodded. "You may be right. But what can we do? We're just two field officers with no important connections back home."
"Yes, we're the ones who have to do the dying." Luvar smirked to himself. "Ah, Glin, I hope you understand when I say I'm happy a man like you has come to serve in my unit. You're a bright young officer, very smart. Smarter than you know. Given a chance, a man like you can go much further than some crusty old orphan-soldier like me."
Damar didn't quite know how to respond to that. "Thank you, sir, for your faith in me," was the reply he managed.
"Now, if you don't mind.... I have been thinking for far too long, and this tired old man must rest. Can you rouse me in four hours to meet with the regimental commanders?"
"Of course sir." Damar stood. "Have a pleasant sleep, sir."
Damar left, leaving Luvar to dream his dreams of a better future for Cardassia.

DropShip Cyrilla Ward, Unlisted Star System, Cardassian Space
24 December 2153 AST
22:00 GST

The bridge of the modified DropShip was mostly silent, save of course for the angry proclaimations of its de facto commander.
Natasha slammed her hand down on the comm panel, cutting the feed to the JumpShip Avalon. She looked up to her granddaughter Ranna, who was standing silently across from her, and frowned. "Why didn't these idiots do any systems checks before we left Corwich! Goddamned morons!"
Before Ranna could speak, Natasha continued. "This whole ship looks like it's held together by duct tape and bailing wire because they wouldn't take their time and do the damned job right. No, they just tossed the new technology in where they could find Goddamned space! And now we're stranded out here in the middle of nowhere until those idiots on the Avalon can get their systems fixed back up! God dammit!"
"We don't need half this crap! Tell me, why does a JumpShip need a sophisticated subspace sensor system or a new fusion reactor?! Why in the Goddamned Hell does this DropShip need an anti-matter torpedo launcher?! It's a transport ship God dammit!"
"I am so Goddamned tired of walking through this ship and tripping over wires and fixtures and whatever the Hell the refit crew surats didn't put the fuck up because they're so goddamned lazy!" Slamming her fist into another panel, Natasha looked up at Ranna. "Yes, Sergeant?"
"Sir, we have completed inspection of the upgrades to our 'Mechs." Ranna noticed the look on Natasha's face and quickly added, "They work fine. All the wires are picked up and nothing is hanging out."
Natasha chuckled. "Yes, well, our techs handled that."
"How much longer until we can jump?"
"They're not sure. I just hope there's something left of that camp when we get there. I'm going to be pissed as all Hell if we get there and find nothing but ashes and corpses." Natasha frowned. "In fact, if that happens, I may go over to the Avalon and toss its techs out of an airlock!"
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-16 03:37am

Dervek Military Station, Dervek, Cardassian Union
25 December 2153 AST
00:08 GST

Kercil was rather inconspicuous sitting at his desk, but what he was doing was anything but normal. As the displays on his screen cycled through action after action, Kercil used his access and higher access codes provided to him by Abigail and Imina.to get into the station's important command systems. He implanted a few viruses and remotely took control of the transporter. Looking nervously at the time counter, Kercil monitored the sensors and saw that there were no contacts. Where are they? They were supposed to jump in by this time.
There was simply too much risk to keep his access to the main system open any longer. At any time a watch officer could notice the unscheduled access and start locking the system. Kercil activated the virus to take out the sensor grid and communications systems, then set a time delay on the virus that would target the station's plasma torpedoes on the planetside stocks of heavy explosives before causing an instant self-destruction by releasing the storage fields on the station's anti-matter supplies. With time ticking away, he used his transporter controls to start beaming weapon caches to Madred Village 23, knowing they would need them to hold out. As a final act, knowing that within thirty seconds the activity would prompt a system shutdown from Ops, Kercil initiated the transporter for two final commands; the first locked on to the beacons Abigail and Imina had placed within them, the second locked to him, and all three were beamed to Village 23.

At the time that Kercil escaped, alarm klaxons had begun blaring in Ops. Gul Yuvar stormed out of his office. "What is going on?!"
"Massive computer failures, Gul. The entire system's been corrupted."
"And just how did that happen?!" Yuvar stormed up to a computer console and inputted his codes, looking to override the system. The computer beeped refusal. "What's..."
"Our defensive systems are firing, sir! Torpedoes are...." The screen changed to show parts of the planet below. Explosions appeared in a number of locations. "They were targeted at our strategic arms stockpiles, Gul."
As Yuvar opened his mouth to make another command, the anti-matter powering the station was released from containment. Within moments, Dervak Military Station was reduced to fragments and atoms.

Dervak Defense Command
00:10 GST

Gul Korval watched Dervak Military Station disappear in a fireball and slammed a hand on his panel. "Is it a cloaked ship? What's happening?!"
"I'm not sure, Sir," a technician replied. "The sensor grid for the entire system is refusing to work. There's some kind of problem in the computers."
"We've lost contact with bases across the planet. All of our planetary defensive stations and torpedo lockers have been destroyed."
Korval began to scream and curse as he ordered the Defense Command to full alert. "Get me Central Command!"
"We can't, sir. The communications grid is also offline."
Korval screamed in rage. "Then get a shuttle and use its system! Don't let it tie into our main computers!"
"Yes sir!"
As one technician ran off to do so, another looked up. "Gul, just before Dervak Station's torpedoes fired and the sensors went offline, there seemed to have been some transporter operations. I'm tracing them now...."
"Where did they beam to? A ship?"
"No, planetside. Triangulating source...." The technician looked up. "It's the Restricted Zone, sir. They beamed into the Village."
Korval's jaw clenched. "Mobilize the 1826th Regiment. Order them to shoot on sight."

Madred Village 23

Most of the village was asleep when Imina, Abigail, and Kercil materialized in the city center. The village guard raised the alarm, believing it to be an unannounced exercise. Abigail materialized on her back in sleeping clothes while Imina was standing with a string bottom and nothing else, her arms over her head as if they had been held over her head by something. She looked about in surprise and rubbed at her wrists. She grinned happily at the sight of Kercil and went up to embrace him. "I knew you would save me," she said while holding him, pulled away from a brutal “punishment” by her Orion owner that she had incurred by refusing to cooperate with his investigation into a runaway. Kercil looked at her back and saw just whatr she'd been saved from, given the red lines crossing it, the handiwork of an Orion slave whip.
Around them, boxes of equipment had materialized. Kercil noticed one of the Human men running up and held his hands up. "I'm here as a friend!" he proclaimed.
The man looked to Imina and Abigail and back to Kercil. "What are you doing here?"
"Saving your lives. I've brought weapons and equipment. Batteries, forcefield generators, everything to help this village hold out until rescue can come. We need to get everyone up and ready to fight or in shelter immediately. Planetary Command won't take long to realize what's happened."
The villager didn't seem to convinced, but a familiar head of blond hair appeared from the village town hall. "Mister Winfield, I'm here as a friend," Kercil said to Edward.
Edward nodded and turned to an assistant. "Sound the alarm. Get all the children to the bunker under the town hall. Everyone else can get any guns we can find for them."
"Are you sure we can trust this Cardie, sir?"
"Yes, I damned well am, so get to it already!" Edward now seemed to notice Abigail and Imina. "And get them some clothes for God's sake!"
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-17 02:36am

Chapter 18

Undisclosed Location, Cardassian Union
24 December 2153 AST
23:29 GST

In a dark, non-descript office, Jorma Gedys stood naked with her arms suspended above her head, her wrists and ankles locked into electronic restraints. Energy cycled through her taxed nervous system and drew agonized screams from her tortured lungs. It seemed like an eternity of pain had come since that fateful night when she had passed the information on to H'daen. The Security Forces, Military Interrogators, and now the very head of the Cardassian military's Special Interrogations Division.
He was not that horrifying. Gul Madred sat calmly at his desk, pondering a statuette collectible he'd received from an archeological dig, occasionally running his finger over a control to send painful stimulus through Gedys' nervous system. There were four powerful lights behind him, making him into a dark silhouette in Gedys' vision. "How many lights are there?"
"Four." She'd answered truthfully, as she'd done so many times before, and as on each occasion she had been rewarded with an intense surge from the neural stimulators built into the restraint locks holding her body in place. Her scream echoed off the walls, filling the hot air of the Cardassian office. "There are four!"
"And I say there are five."
"You're insane!" Gedys screamed before she was again besieged by the pain. Her throat became so raw from the resulting scream she could barely speak normally. She broke down into sobs as Madred stapled his hands in front of her. She prayed to herself again, seeking deliverance and strength. She had to protect the secret of what she'd given to H'daen. So many innocent lives were counting on her.
"They said you were a tough one. Usually the security forces are enough to break normal Bajorans. Military interrogators then get those who don't break to them. But you? You, my dear girl, are so strong of will that you've made it all the way here. You have my admiration." Madred's voice sounded very sincere as he stood up and extinguished the lights for the moment. "However, our game has run out of time. I need what you know, and I need it now." Madred pressed a button on his desk. "Send them in."
The door behind his office opened and two Bajorans were brought in by guards. They were dressed raggedly with their wrists bound behind their back. Cardassian guards stood behind them and Madred walked over to them, sidearm in hand. "Look up," he ordered. The two Bajorans looked up slowly and Gedys gasped in horror at the sight of her parents. "Mother! Father!" She stared at their sad eyes and her heart nearly failed her.
Madred turned the lights back on. He put his sidearm to the back of her father's head and said, "How many lights?"
Gedys stared at the sight, frozen in disbelief in fear. Only when Madred barked, "How many lights?!" did she snap back to reality and respond honestly. "Four."
Her father's head exploded. The elder Jorma's upper body disappeared in a cloud of rapidly-disassociating molecules and dropped lifelessly. Pulling in vain against the restraints around her wrists and hands, Gedys screamed at her father's death. "No! NOOOOOOO!!!"
Madred calmly put the gun to her mother's head. "How many lights?"
Gedys' eyes filled with tears now as the immense truth of her father's death left her struck dumb. She couldn't speak for the pain she felt. Her father, who'd held her so tight when she was little and promised her everything would be fine. He father, who promised to protect her.
"How many lights, Jorma Gedys? This is the last time I'll ask."
Gedys swallowed. Her mother, her sweet mother.... she couldn't lose them both! And, it was only about the lights, wasn't it? Just lights.... "There are five lights!"
Madred smiled at her. He pulled the gun away from her mother's head. "That's good Gedys. Very good. We're making progress." He returned to his seat, watching Gedys weeping as he did so. Once he reclined in his seat Madred looked up to her and calmly added, "Computer, end program."
In an instant, the Jorma couple faded out of existence. Gedys watched them disappear with widened eyes. She looked back to Madred. "So, what did you tell the Romulan smuggler? What information did you pass to him?"

Madred turned the machine on again. And he didn't turn it off for quite a while; by the time he did, Gedys' body was twitching and her face had started to turn blue from lack of breath. "Please.... stop...", she panted, her voice almost inaudible from its coarseness.
"Then tell me what I want to know." Madred went to activate the device again when a call came in over the intercom. "What is it, Glin?"
"Liquidation operations complete, Gul."
"Excellent news, Glin. Madred out." Madred noticed the slight look of interest on Gedys' face. "Well, that settles that problem."
"Killing more innocent people?"
"Why, of course not. Merely seeing to the elimination of enemies of the Cardassian state. We'd kept them in my special facilities to train our counter-insurgency forces and field interrogators, but the Alliance's commitment to justice is somewhat lacking. They've been releasing these criminals everywhere. So, we took the precaution of eliminating them." Madred shrugged. "Oh well. Where were we?"
Gedys' heart threatened to come out from under her. She'd endured all of this pain, all of this anguish, and in the end, it didn't matter. Her suffering had been for nothing. "DAMN YOU!!!!" she screamed loudly. "I BELIEVED IN YOU AND YOU BETRAYED ME!" Gedys broke down into crying, her head hanging low.
Madred looked at her with an interested expression. "What was that all about?" He waited for her to cry a little and then turned the stimulators back on for a moment, at low power, to direct her attention back to him. "What's wrong?"
"I.... I..... I told H'daen about your facilities," Gedys wept. "And I gave him the orders sent to you to slaughter the people in them if the Alliance attacked. I... I was trying... trying to save lives.... I prayed to the Prophets to help me..... and they... they've betrayed me.... let me suffer.... and fail.... I...I just want to die...."
"Well, the penalty for espionage and treason is death," Madred reminded her. "So don't worry about that." Madred returned to his desk and pressed a button on it.
"Yes, Glin?"
"Alert our facilities. The enemy likely knows about our liquidation plans. Begin immediate preparations for liquidation."
"Yes, sir."
The conversation ended and Madred noticed the look on Gedys' face. Realization had dawned on her; he had duped her completely. She rasped, "How did you know that was...."
"We went over everything Celrim had in his possession that you would have considered important enough to smuggle out. That was the obvious reason and the only reason a normal person like you would hold up to military interrogation. Of course, I needed verification, which you have so kindly provided." Madred stood up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I promised to take my daughter to the zoo. Some guards will come by shortly to return you to your cell. Have a pleasant day."
Madred left Gedys alone. She began to wail in despair and self-hatred. Forgive me, oh Prophets, forgive me! How could I have been so stupid?! She continued to cry to herself even after she was returned to her cell.
At that moment, the only thing Gedys desired was death, and a release from the horrible failure that was her life.

FCS Warspite, En Route to Shervarak System, ADN Colonial Zone
25 December 2153 AST
01:30 GST

The battleship FCS Warspite was once HMS Warspite. Built for service in the Royal Navy of SE-1 during the learn years at the end of the previous century, the Warspite was over seventy-five years old and, with the exception of re-activation for war-time service against the Neo-Nazi Rebellion and the Agresskans, she had spent the last thirty years in mothballs until 2152, when she was sold to the Federated Commonwealth. The refurbished, repaired Warspite was now the flagship of the FCN contingent to the FCEF.
Admiral Sir Oliver Johnston was not actually from the Commonwealth. He was a Royal Navy officer from the British Empire of Universe FHI-8 who'd retired from Imperial service and now served with the FCN, having been granted a noble title in the Commonwealth in exchange for his service. He was leading about one half of the FCEF fleet currently toward the Shervarak system, which was near the last reported position of the remains of Cardassia's 1st Fleet. He had with him about fifty warships of destroyer size or greater, including the battle carrier FCS Invincible.
As Johnston viewed his displays and holotanks, the official orders were broadcast from Corwich. At 01:50 General Standard Time on Christmas Day 2151 AST, the Armed Forces of the Federated Commonwealth began their first extrauniversal military offensive, attacking with eleven divisions worth of troops and over half of the available forces of the growing Federated Commonwealth Navy. Accompanying them and the Alliance forces on their right flank were both nations' special forces.
Operation: Percival was now underway.

Madred Village 23, Dervak, Cardassian Union
02:00 GST

The entire village was filled with activity. Adults prepared ambushes and traps, children were taken to shelter, and weapons were distributed as quickly as possible.
Christine had never held a gun before, but now she had a Cardassian rifle in her arms as she followed Kristina and Carter to a position. Everyone had put on the darkest and most covering clothing they could find.
The three women huddled together between houses. Christine was shaking as she joined them in crouching low to the ground. Carter was the first to notice and she extended an arm, putting it on Christine's shoulder. "It's never easy the first time," Carter said. "Just don't think about it when the time comes. It's them or it's us."
"I... Okay." Christine was lying saying that, of course. She wasn't okay with any of this. Her heart was beating rapidly even now at the prospect of the fight to come.

In the center of town, Edward and Kercil were standing over a hastily-made map of the town, showing where each impromptu "squad" had been placed. With just two and a half thousand or so potential combatants, it would be impossible to resist a full Order. Edward said so, and Kercil replied by shaking his head. "They'll send a regiment first. I made sure to snatch these weapons from the bases I destroyed, so they don't know they're missing yet. By the time they realize that we have arms, they will undoubtedly have used a shuttle to communicate with Central Command. And then they'll find out they have greater concerns."
"The Alliance is launching an offensive as we speak. They're coming here."
"In how long?"
"The main force will arrive in a few days." Kercil noticed Edward's grim look. "But I was told that a special unit is going to arrive today. They may already be moving into the system now. They will help us hold out until the main force arrives."
"I hope you're right."
"Command Post, this is Ingolffson. We've spotted Cardassians with our binocs. They're coming in."
"I hear you." Edward looked to an assistant, who began calling the other groups of people to let them know the Cardassians were coming. "Hold your ground. Command Post out." Edward looked to Kercil. "Whoever they are, I hope that help comes soon."

FCS Warspite, Shervarak, Cardassian Union
02:55 GST

Alarm klaxons sent the mostly untried crew of Warspite to their battlestations. From his command chair, Johnston watched on his tactical viewer as the Commonwealth fleet came out of warp en echelon with five rows of ten ships, arrayed to place the two divisions of battleships in the center of the formation. The Invincible was held back for the moment to launch the fighters she was to contribute to the coming battle.
About four AUs away, the Cardassian 1st Fleet had gathered near Shervarak; 90 ships strong, they had almost a 2 to 1 advantage on the Commonwealth fleet, not to mention the advantage of experience. The main counter to that was the morale of the two forces; the cautious inexperience of the Commonwealth fleet versus the battered pride of 1st Fleet, which had fought and lost three battles in a war their nation was clearly losing.
Johnston ordered the fleet to turn and present their starboard arcs to the oncoming enemy. The Cardassians approached in a loose formation, noticing the relative lack of fighters for the Commonwealth flee and, in Johnston's opinion, seeking to dilute the firepower advantage that Alliance forces had enjoyed in previous fights.
"All ships in position, Sir," one of his officers replied.
"Very good. Prepare for missile salvos."
"Aye sir."
The distance closed quickly. The Cardassian fleet chose to make an in-system warp jump - one of their specialties - and were within three million kilometers even as the missiles were reported ready. Finally, at a million kilometers, Johnston gave the order. "Fire all missiles."
Plume after plume of energy appeared along the launchers on the Commonwealth's missile-carrying ships. About two hundred were launched in this first salvo, racing on to the Cardassian fleet. The Cardassians opened fire with their anti-ship weapons. Explosions appeared to mark successful hits and the destruction of the incoming missiles.

But then the explosions took on a new form and shape as missiles made impacts. The Cardassians, to their credit, performed superb maneuvers to evade the incoming missiles, and their loose formation made it easier to do so. In the end, only a fifth of the salvo struck home. Fifteen Cardassian ships were lost to the attack, another ten damaged from moderate to severe degrees and the remainder suffering minor damage or just shield loss.
At one light second another missile barrage lashed out at the Cardassians, even as they finally opened fire on the Commonwealth fleet. A Galor charging straight for the Warspite broke into two as a missile slammed into its mid-section. The Galor behind it suffered the wrath of Warspite's 260mm particle cannons. The shields failed and a torpedo from a destroyer blew off the Galor's bridge.
But the Cardassians were able to give their own blows. Warspite shook as she was pummeled by photon and plasma torpedoes that forced their way through her point-defense. Beside her, the battleship Lion took a hit to one of its warp field nacelles that sent debris and plasma flying everywhere from the resulting explosion. Three Commonwealth ships disappeared off of Johnston's tactical viewer, then a fourth as the Cardassians plunged into range and poured the attack on. Johnston imagined what they were going to do; split his fleet in two and annihilate one half.
And he was going to let them. He looked at the timer, which read 03:08 GST. Another few minutes were all that was necessary...

CDS Okar

Gul Korep watched as his veterans plunged into the outnumbered enemy fleet, ignoring the enemy's firepower with pure will and a drive to prevail finally in this war. His lead formation itself poured fire upon one of the enemy's battleships as they went past. The torpedo and compressor beam barrage finally had its desired effect, given the explosions flaring up through the vessel's armor plating.
Korep brought his fleet's vanguard around, intending to envelop and annihilate one half of the enemy fleet. He had to keep the range close to nullify the enemy's missile; orders were given to that effect.
The Okar shuddered from a torpedo hit coming from a rather determined Commonwealth cruiser that had broken formation with the rest of the fleet. Korep smirked at the enemy's inability to maintain order and, rather calmly, tasked Okar's squadron companions to take the cruiser on. It got off a few more shots, prompting the Okar's operations officer to report shield failure in the rear port quarter, before being chased back to the protection of its heavier comrades by three Neterok-class cruisers and a Mark 5 Galor. Just as it returned to formation a spread of photon torpedoes detonated around its rear section, smashing through the shields and tearing much of that section up.
"Look at them, they can't even control themselves." Korep kept watching his displays.

FCS Warspite

"Sir, orders?"
Johnston's chief of staff, Rear Admiral Phillips, was standing nearby watching the holotank display set up in Warspite's command center. "They're going to encircle Admiral Campbell's squadron, sir. Shouldn't we..."
After glancing at the time display, Johnston nodded. "Order all ships to turn ninety degrees to starboard and begin max burn!"
At that order the Commonwealth fleet turned, save for the handful of ships which had lost engine power. Their aft-facing weapons maintained fire on the Cardassian fleet as they sought to gain distance.

CDS Okar

"It pains me to watch such simpleton tactics," Korep muttered as the Commonwealth fleet completed its revolution and tried to run. A ninth Commonwealth ship disappeared from his screens; there were now forty enemy ships pulling away from his seventy. Then two more flashed out. "Stay between the enemy fleets. I don't want them reunifying."
As always, 1st Fleet responded perfectly. They were now surrounding one half of the Commonwealth fleet on three sides. Their formations were kept at all times as divisions darted to and from the enemy, pouring fire on and then retreating while comrades fired on the enemy. Everything was proceeding as Korep desired.
With his fleet still at a solid 67 against 35 enemy ships still in combat, Korep heard his sensor officer make a report. "Sir, picking up a thermal radiation spike to starboard. I can't identify it and there are no ships in the area."
"Then what is causing it?"
"I'm not sure. It's been building up for the last twenty-five seconds or so..." The officer's eyes widened a bit and he gripped his console strongly. "Sir! New contacts to starboard!"
Korep jumped from his seat. "What?! Where did they come from?!"
"I don't know.... there were no warp signatures there before... they're coming in, reading sixty-four enemy contacts!"

FCS Avenger

The Valiant-class attack ship Avenger detached from the JumpShip Syrtis within five seconds of the jump completing. In the central chair of Valiant's command center, Major Kurt Durlacher supervised his ship's approach on the Cardassian fleet as part of Attack Division 7 under Light Commodore Williams-Herlacher on the Serapis. He watched silently as the Cardassian fleet milled about on his screens.
The first shots fired by the new force were from the DropShips and JumpShips modified with missile launchers. The salvo struck the portion of the enemy fleet facing them, destroying four ships outright and damaging others. Following through on the attack were the modified Achilles-class DropShips and the escorting Valiant-class ships, bought directly from shipyards in the Alliance. The Achilles ships in the fleet had been modified, turning them into swift torpedo destroyers that raced ahead and unleashed a barrage of anti-matter torpedoes at the Cardassians. The Cardassians' reaction as their numbers decreased was to try and go after the thinly-shielded, unarmored Achilles, but those Cardassian ships that gave pursuit were in turn attacked by the Avenger and her sisters.
"Cardassians bearing down on the Mark Daniels," one of Durlacher's officers reported. "Two destroyers."
"Target lead destroyer with torpedoes, follow up on the second with the bow disruptor cannons."
Relative to the Daniels and its pursuers, the Avenger seemed to swoop down and attack like a magnificent bird-of-prey with claws spread. Four anti-matter torpedoes crashed into the leading destroyer, smashing through its shields and disabling its power core. The Avenger turned her attentions to her second target. Rapid bursts of intense "phaser" energy erupted from her bow cannons, battering on the Cardassian's shields and bringing them down. As the Avenger raced past, an anti-matter torpedo from the aft launcher finished the Cardassian off.
Though three of the fifteen Achilles-class ships were lost or heavily damaged to enemy attack, the Cardassian attempt to deflect the newcomers failed.

CDS Kraxon

The Galor-class ship shuddered from a direct hit by the 270mm particle cannons on one of the Commonwealth battleships. Sparks flew from a handful of consoles, accompanied by the crackling of electrical energy. "We've lost shields on the starboard," announced the shrill soprano of the Kraxon's operations officer. "Extensive hull damage in that quarter!"
At that point the communications officer added, "Sir, the new enemy fleet has successfully engaged Gul Korep's portion of the fleet. We're outnumbered now."
Sitting in his chair, Gul Torvel glared angrily at the tactical screen he was viewing. Kraxon had survived the first enemy carrier strike on Jemik and the battles at Darane. He was not about to die here and now, not after surviving everything else.
"This battle is lost. Order all ships in our squadron to break out from between the enemy forces and rejoin the main fleet."
"But sir, Gul Korep...."
"Gul Korep can go to Hell! I'm not going to have us die here!"

FCS Warspite

Johnston didn't allow himself a smile of satisfaction at seeing his plan go off excellently. The jump had been perfectly timed, and with the second half of the fleet to keep the enemy on that side occupied, his initial force was free to pound the enemy between them.
Warspite's old guns poured it on, striking energy shield and solid hull time and time again in the close range. The Cardassian fleet began to disintegrate as individual commanders, seeing their predicament, broke formation and tried to get out of the vice. Invincible's fighters harassed them as they fled to regroup with Korep. In doing so, they allowed Johnston's initial force to reunify... and place the rest of the Cardassian 1st Fleet in a vise.

FCS Avenger

Avenger zigged and zagged as it approached a group of Cardassian Galor, already in view on its main screen. The ship shuddered at a series of direct hits. On the bridge, Durlacher was pulled against his harness by a particularly strong hit. "Shields down to forty percent! Armor holding!"
"Target enemy ship ahead of us, fire all weapons!"
Torpedoes struck out from Avenger's bow, striking the Galor's bow shields. A hit from its compressor beam drained Avenger's shields yet again, but the helmsman - one Leftenant Wilcox - kept the ship straight and true as the weapons officer triggered the Avenger's powerful forward battery. The rapid bursts of phaser energy struck the Galor's bow, battering down the shields already weakened by the torpedo attack. Explosions erupted from the Cardassian ship's bow at the impacts. Behind them, one of the Achilles-class ships followed and fired a spread of torpedoes that blew the bow of the ship off.
A pair of Cardassian cruisers turned to follow Avenger as it headed further into the Cardassian formation. Wilcox shifted left and right, maneuvering as best as he could to avoid their attacks. Torpedoes from the aft launcher struck, with one hitting directly, another exploding in proximity, and two missing; no appreciable damage had been done.
Durlacher at that point ordered a hard maneuver and turn. Avenger dipped down and turned hard, using its lighter mass to the cruisers to quickly change its orientation. As the cruisers flew in front of the ship the Leftenant at the gunnery station - a minor member of the Luvon family from Donegal - fired torpedoes; two out of four hit one target, nearly breaking through its shields. Durlacher ordered pursuit, having gone from prey to hunter, and Leftenant Luvon kept up his barrage with the forward pulse phaser cannons. The trailing cruiser of the two lost shields from the second barrage and a pair of torpedoes finished it off. Durlacher was about to turn his attentions to the other cruiser when he saw it return to the protection of two Keldon-class heavy cruisers and their impressive bow weapons arrays. Taking a quick peak to see the location of the Mark Daniels, Durlacher ordered the Avenger back to link up with the Daniels once more.

CDS Okar

It wasn't the new arrivals that Korep was enraged about. It was his own fleet.
All it had taken was the enemy fleet brushing aside the cruisers and destroyers sent to attack their fast torpedo ships. The new enemy fleet's initial missile salvo had been met with usual Cardassian discipline. But the other half had not done the same. As soon as the crossfire began from the divided halves of the initial enemy fleet, the force he'd kept in place to keep them separate began to break formation to get out of the trap. "All ships maintain formation!" Korep shouted. "Dammit, I'll shoot any Gul that doesn't keep his ship in position!"
Korep's orders were to little avail. The 1st Fleet's commanders were survivors for a reason. They had seen peers and comrades wiped out left and right, outmaneuvered and outgunned, and they were not about to risk destruction in that position. And in their maneuvers, they'd doomed the battle. Korep could see that first group of enemy vessels reuniting... and placing his force in a new vise. It was going to be Zygola all over again.
This alone did not mean defeat. There was always the chance Korep could get far enough away to reform his fleet and meet the foe once again. But Korep had also had too many close calls in this war. He had become too familiar with defeat, and he wasn't about to sacrifice himself or what remained of 1st Fleet for what now seemed to be a doomed battle against a numerically superior enemy with a superior position.
Korep had no choice. He ordered a full retreat.

FCS Warspite

The Cardassian fleet was now fleeing, but Johnston wasn't going to let them get away unharmed. Fire was maintained and the lighter warships actively pursued Cardassian vessels until the moment they went to warp.
Had the fleets been larger, the casualties on the Cardassian side might have been greater proportionally; the retreat was unorganized and would've suffered far more as ships plowed into one another or, at the very least, lacked the maneuvering room to evade enemy fire. Instead the Cardassians had plenty of room to maneuver in their escape.
One by one the Cardassian ships elongated and disappeared at the jump to warp, even as torpedoes and energy weapon fire lashed out at them. Johnston was a bit surprised to see the Cardassians break this quickly. He had expected a longer fight. Clearly intelligence was underestimating Cardassian morale problems.
"They're running! The alien bastards are running!" The shouts from the crew were ecstatic, and Johnston gave them that benefit as the last enemy ships still capable of a fight fled the system. Work went to pick off stragglers and to prepare for S&R missions.
In his mind, Admiral Johnston considered the tally. Out of 114 Commonwealth ships to enter the battle, about twenty had been outright destroyed and another ten badly damaged or crippled. A number of the other ships were damaged to various extents, some severely. All things considered, he still had two-thirds of his fleet capable of combat operation. The Cardassians had engaged with ninety and had lost just over half that number; forty-two Cardassian ships had escaped the system successfully. Materially, this wasn't anything like the massive fleet collisions seen so far in the war, but it still had a unique claim to history and it had been a well-fought victory.
Johnston allowed himself a small grin and activated his comms, having his comm officer feed him to the rest of the fleet. "Attention all ships, this is Admiral Johnston. My congratulations to you today, as you have won your nation's first great naval engagement in centuries and its first outside of the Inner Sphere. You have taken part in history, gentlemen. You will keep this memory with you for the rest of your lives."

Madred Village 23, Dervak, Cardassian Union
04:42 GST

Kercil kept his rifle close as a column of Cardassians moved ever closer to the command post of the village. A couple of hours of fighting had seen a number of deaths on their side, though the Cardassians were momentarily focusing on seizing the center of the village and isolating pockets of resistance to be annihilated later.
As he sat and waited for the inevitable fight, Kercil noticed a man in black walk up and sit down next to him, a sidearm in one hand and a book in the other. "Calm down, son," he said, as if noticing Kercil's tension. "Unless you want to pray, there's nothing else you can do for the moment."
"Cardassians do not pray."
"A pity. I've found that prayer helps keep your spirit up in bad situations like this." The man extended a hand. "I am Father Ignazio."
Kercil looked at him for a moment before taking his hand. "Delim Kercil."
"You've done the right thing, son. Remember that before you let your guilt about having to kill destroy you."
"I'm guilty of far worse things than killing," Kercil replied. "I've watched and aided in doing things to other people that my parents once suffered. I willingly served the Cardassian State that tortured and murdered them."
"Ah." Ignazio nodded at that. "Well, son, for those who do wrong, there is always forgiveness."
"My crimes, the crimes of Cardassia, can never be forgiven."
"That young Bajoran woman seems to have different ideas."
Kercil looked away. "Imina... She's always seen good in me that I can't."
"Maybe that's because you're letting your guilt blind you, son. There's no such thing as a man of pure evil or pure good. We're all born sinners and have the choice of struggling against our bad nature."
There were sounds from outside that drew Kercil's attention. He pulled his weapon up and walked to the door to see a firefight had broken out in the village commons. Edward and his people were hiding behind the barricades they had set up, returning fire where possible.
As Kercil stepped out he immediately came under fire. One hit struck his leg, another his shoulder, and he dropped to a knee in pain. At that point there was another flash of energy from a Cardassian rifle and a sharp impact on his back. Kercil rolled forward, and when he regained his bearings he was quite horrified to see Father Ignazio laying upon the ground, his chest blackened by a direct hit. He was rasping for air when Kercil scrambled over to him, ignoring his own pain. "Why?!"
"Because.... it is my duty to save lost souls. Remember, son, you can always find forgiveness," was the older Human's pained reply. With his final breath he wheezed, "Always...." His eyes looked upward and Ignazio became silent.
I didn't deserve that! Kercil twisted around, looking at the sky in anguish and grief. His eyes met an object in the sky - a shuttle, he decided, and he followed it even as it seemed to grow larger...

Christine had not yet hit a single target. As she stayed with the others in their little cut-off alley, hiding behind hastily-constructed barricades, Christine tried and failed to control her beating heart and cold sweat. She was thoroughly terrified and could barely speak.
They had been joined with nearly five others, and none had died yet; Carter had been wounded in the shoulder and was being tended to by Kristina while the others kept up fire. The Cardassians didn't seem interested in killing them yet, and reports over the radio made it clear they were heading to the center of town. But Christine knew they would come soon, and she would die. She didn't want to die, despite all that had happened. Like many, she clung to the hope that alive, her life would become better, and so she was afraid of losing that.
And then there was a terrible roar. Frightened and excited, Christine looked about desperately, trying to think of what was making that terrifying sound. It grew louder, and louder, and louder...
Christine looked up to follow the sound and stared at the egg-shaped craft overhead as it came close to the nearby park area. Bright energy erupted from its hull, spearing Cardassian troops around its chosen landing sight. All watched and stared at the craft, with its black wolf head insignia set on red, complete with fangs dripping with blood.
Doors opened on the craft and an unexpected sight came. "What in the hell?" Christine heard Kristina say as they watched the armored walking machines disembark their craft.

Progress is a wonderful thing, thought Phelan Kell.
His new WLF-3 Wolfhound - affectionately called Grinner - that dropped from the Cyrilla Ward was a far cry from the Grinner trashed by the late Star Captain Vladimir on The Rock nearly four years ago. The changes had been numerous. Cooling vests were no longer necessary for pilots thanks to the enhanced heat shielding now installed in 'Mech cockpits. The holotank for targeting was gone, replaced by the targeting HUD that showed on the new neurohelmet model upon his head, its face plate using the same technology as other infantry helmets from the Alliance (and just as light, a welcome change from the heavy, bulky neurohelmets of the past). The controls were still the same, of course, which Phelan was entirely thankful for.
Externally, the new Grinner was protected by hardened alloys that, in the old days, would have given it protection rivaling an Atlas. The large laser once in the right arm was gone - in its place was a Rochembeau Model 6 Nuclear-Disruptor, an anti-tank phaser cannon. The medium lasers on the torso of the Wolfhound were technically the same, save that Defiance's latest models used the new extrauniversal technologies to drastically enhance the range and to make the lasers half as heavy as they once were. The savings in tonnage had gone to install the new anti-personnel pulse phasers that the designers had mounted on the left wrist.
Disembarking beside him was Ranna in a Shadow Cat, a Clan OmniMech claimed by the Dragoons from the ruins of the Smoke Jaguar and Nova Cat industrial complexes. Although work was still proceeding on adapting extrauniversal weapons to be capable of functioning in modular pods, the current line of Shadow Cat 'Mechs had hard-wired systems. Ranna's Shadow Cat was similar to the intended Prime configuration; a Rheinmetal-Borsig 120mm coilgun - licensed for manufacture to Blackwell Heavy Industries - had replaced the Clan Gauss Rifle, and the Clan-built medium lasers were replaced by the same Defiance model that were found on upgraded Wolfhounds.
Phelan directed his attention immediately to the nearby buildings. The newer sensor packages on their 'Mechs allowed them to discern between Cardassian and Human life, a great thing to prevent fratricide. He noticed a couple with Cardassians on the roof and at windows and for the first time came under fire as the stunned Cardassians began to dial up the power on their rifles. Phelan lifted his right arm toward what looked to be a house and triggered his lasers. Three solid red beams sliced through the house, cutting apart and scorching Cardassian infantry as it did the foundation and support structure of the building. The entire thing collapsed after a few moments.
A flurry of autocannon rounds appeared, tearing apart a Cardassian APC down the street toward the town center. Natasha's Widowmaker stomped out behind them, the biggest and nastiest machine in the Black Widow Battalion. The Dire Wolf/Daishi Assault OmniMech had been built entirely from newer technology. Its protection was over three times greater than the pre-upgrade Daishi. An anti-personnel pulse phaser battery had replaced the head-mounted small laser; pulse phaser cannons had replaced the large pulse lasers in the arms, joined by updated PPCs; the torso lasers were normal upgrades, and a 120mm semi-automatic Blackwell coilgun - a specific re-design of the Rheinmetal-Borsig 120mm cannon - had replaced the Ultra AC/20 on the right side of the torso. Phelan was certain that even in the hands of a green pilot, the new Widowmaker would have been able to wipe out whole 'Mech companies in the pre-contact years. With Natasha in the cockpit, I'm sure that thing would take out an entire battalion if you took it back in time twenty years ago.
Ranna's coilgun fired next, ripping the top half of an APC off - Phelan was certain she'd be upset that she missed a direct hit, even if she'd still taken the thing out. His attentions were kept on the Cardassian infantry. He kept the left arm of the Wolfhound up, spraying the particular orange-red fire of the pulse phasers everywhere he found them. Seeing one near his feet nearing an alley with Humans, Phelan contemptfully kicked the Cardassian, killing him instantly even as his body was thrown yards away.

"Christine, any ideas?"
Christine shook her head at Carter's question. "Nope. Don't know who they are. And that's not an Alliance insignia. They have a torch and stars."
"Well, whoever they are, we owe them," Ersun said from his place. He watched a Cardassian on the street get kicked by one of the walkers. "I really would like that one."
"I'd prefer the other one," Kristina added, indicating the chicken-walker with the single gun on the right arm. "But why look the gift horse in the mouth? Hopefully we can actually win now."

Edward had suffered enough disappointment to hide his joy when the cavalry literally dropped from the sky. He had no idea just what the massive armored walkers were, but he appreciated how well they handled the Cardassians. Lacking anti-armor weapons, the Cardassians could do no more than make ineffectual hits on the machines as they were systematically slaughtered.
Finally, the biggest one of them all stopped in the town commons, every surviving Cardassian in flight. A red-haired woman descended from the cockpit on a rope ladder, wearing a two-piece jumpsuit that had both the wolf's head insignia and a spider emblem with an hourglass mark. She looked younger than she carried herself, looking very much in control as she stepped up to Edward. "You're the leader here?"
"Yes. Edward Winfield, Commander of the Village 23 Militia. Formerly Lieutenant Winfield of the Federation Security Forces, if you prefer."
"I'm Colonel Natasha Kerensky of the Wolf Dragoons. My Black Widow Battalion is here to help you hold out until our forces can get to Dervak."
"Thank you, Colonel. We owe you our lives."
"Ah, don't thank me yet, Commander. We still have to survive until relieved."
"Of course." Edward gestured to the town hall. "Our HQ is in there. We can plan our defenses from there."
"Lead the way, Commander."

Dervak Defense Command
05:03 GST

The reports from the field provoked Gul Korval into a rage. Even as the initial attack fell back, he ordered the entire 87th Order to attack the village, as determined as he was to annihilate it as he had been ordered.
A shuttle had finally come bearing news from the front. The enemy had launched a full-scale offensive in this region, contrary to all intelligence expectations. The 1st Fleet had been forced to withdraw from Shervarak and now a quarter million enemy troops were racing toward Dervak. Within days, Korval would have more to deal with than Madred Village 23. This was why he was determined to wipe them out now and not risk their successful liberation.
It would be a race against the clock. And Korval meant to win.

Korlak Labor Camp, Tukar 6, Cardassian Union
05:10 GST

Gul Ruvek was seated in his office looking solemnly at his computer screen and the orders printed upon it. They were straight from Gul Madred; liquidate all 576 prisoners at Korlak and dispose of the remains with industrial acid.
The door to his office opened. Ruvek looked to Glin Korep, his second-in-command. "What is it, Glin?"
"Tukar Defense Command reports the enemy will be in position to land within the hour."
"Very well. Round up the prisoners. Have them restrained and taken to the mine."
"Anything else?"
Ruvek shook his head. "No. I'll be in here making sure all critical files are destroyed. Make sure the men fight well. If I have time, I'll join you."
"Yes Gul." Korep seemed to notice something was amiss, but he merely saluted and stepped out.
Ruvek did just as he said he would then, eliminating the critical files so the enemy could not find them. Afterward he turned on his video system and recording a message to be sent to Cardassia upon completion.
"I am Gul Javain Ruvek, Commandant of the Korlak Labor Camp. I have served the Cardassian State and People since I was a young boy, when I swore to uphold the Laws of Cardassia and to protect our State and People. I have given the State three children who have sacrificed their lives to protect Cardassia. I have obediently followed every order given to me in my career and I have enforced every rule and law here at Korlak."
"But I cannot follow this order from Gul Madred to liquidate my prisoners. Not a single one has committed an offense that our laws consider to be worthy of execution. To follow this order would be to commit mass murder on helpless prisoners, contrary to the law I am sworn to uphold and a disgrace to the Cardassian Defense Forces and to Cardassia itself. Therefore, I have refused to convey the orders to my subordinates. I am solely responsible for the orders being disobeyed."

Ruvek sipped on some kanar. "Should an enemy being watching, I will not lie and claim I have been a kind overseer. I have run this camp according to Cardassian law, and in doing so, I have personally ordered the executions of thirty-two prisoners. On numerous occasions that I have not counted, I ordered prisoners guilty of bad conduct to be subjected to what Humans consider cruel punishments, as proscribed by Cardassian law, and over my time here five of those prisoners have died as an unexpected result. I make no apology for these things; my duty was to operate Korlak according to Cardassian law and I have done so without hesitation."
"It is that same devotion to Cardassian Law that now leads me to disobey the order to kill my prisoners. I will not throw away my oath to the Cardassian People because of the whims of our leaders, who have seen fit to ignore Cardassian law when it suits them. Again, I take this decision on my own. My subordinates will not be informed of the liquidation order."
Ruvek's hand went to the table and gripped something that, in the recording, would not be visible. "I have lost my wife and children in service to Cardassia. Cardassia, and my oath to her, is all I have left. And I will not let that oath be broken. Though my orders were in violation of Cardassian law, my disobedience is a violation as well. I have committed the crime of disobeying a direct order in time of war. This is my confession of record. I will now carry out the sentence required by Cardassian law." He lifted his right hand, revealing the object in his grip as his sidearm. Without pause Ruvek pressed the emitter end to his temple. "For Cardassia."
He pulled the trigger.

Iruvitar Plains, Korrole, Cardassian Union
07:15 GST

The Korroleia were an ethnically-divided subject race of Cardassia. The Cardassians maintained order on the world by supporting a handful of the ethnic groups in particular regions and continents, who used Cardassian weapons and strength to conquer and bully their long-standing ethnic rivals while providing material and labor to the Cardassian war machine.
The Iruvitar Plain surrounded Rutara, one of the capital cities of the Iruvitaria, a pro-Cardassian ethnic group. As one of the key cities on the planet it had been targeted immediately by the 10th Lyran Guards as a means to gaining a stronghold on the planet.
The Iruvitaria were armed mostly with 21st Century-equivalent weapons, save for a few elite units with Cardassian guns and equipment. They had manned the complex defenses ringing their city - before alien contact, most Korroleia had a tactical/strategic concept of the superiority of defense similar to post-World War I orthodoxy - and were seemingly content to wait out the invasion.

Standing a distance across the plain, just outside of the mortar range of the Iruvitaria, a company of the 10th Lyran's BattleMechs awaited the order to advance, flanked by mechanized infantry and armor from the 10th Lyran's attached brigades. In the lead of the 'Mech company - Alpha Company of 2nd Battalion - stood a Centurion-type 'Mech that many could easily recognize. Its name was Yen-lo-wang and its pilot was Kai Allard-Liao, the eldest son of the great Solaris champion and Davion spy Justin Allard.
Yen-lo-wang had changed with the new age. The Pontiac-model autocannon was gone, replaced by a 120mm automatic tank rifle of British (AR-12) origin. The lasers were upgraded Defiance models, with the weight savings used to add an anti-personnel pulse phaser to the left hand wrist. Armor and electronic systems were naturally updated, and Kai had to admit he preferred the comfort of a jumpsuit in the heat-shielded cockpit from the old cooling vests. The fusion plant had been changed as well, giving Yen-lo-wang a running speed of around 108km/h for the same tonnage of the old plant.
Kai watched the HUD on his neurohelmet faceplate carefully, waiting for the precise moment of the planned charge. When it came, he gave the order - "Company, advance!" - and all twelve machines stomped forward, the slowest breaking out into runs to keep up with the faster machines. The mechanized and armored units followed behind them, as the 'Mechs were to punch the hole for the armor to widen and the mechanized units to exploit.
Shells began to land around them, exploding and showering vehicle and 'Mech alike with debris. But before the Iruvitaria could do much more, they had other concerns.
The Iruvitaria had augmented their defenses with Cardassian energy shields. Those shields were now targeted by Commonwealth artillery and airpower. Aerospace fighters fired their payloads of anti-shield missiles and bombs while specialized artillery pounded their own shells on the Iruvitaria positions. The anti-shield weapons were not as powerful as normal weapons, replacing some of their explosives package with a portable shield generator and battery that, for a moment, could generate a powerful shield to "burn through" the enemy shields. These weapons did precisely that; some didn't managed to completely burn through and instead exploded "within" the shields, others made it through and caused damage. The missiles were the most effective, targeting directly the enemy shield generator.
The first barrage failed to take out the shields, and so Kai and his unit kept their run up without being able to return fire effectively. The Iruvitaria maintained their barrage. A particularly close hit knocked one of Kai's Leftenants over, nearly crushing a hover tank beside him. Kai looked nervously at the distance; soon the Iruvitaria infantry would add their fire.
That was when the second Commonwealth barrage started. Another squadron of aerospace fighters launched anti-shield weapons to go with the artillery bombardment as before. Explosions flowered over the glimmering yellow of the energy dome covering the enemy positions as a whole.
Then it disappeared. An explosion, larger than the others, appeared further away, and Kai could hear over his radio the confirmation that the enemy shielding was down.
Focusing his sights on an enemy pillbox, Kai pressed the thumb trigger for his cannon. Flame erupted from the muzzle of the automatic rifle on Yen-lo-wang's right arm, the rounds racing the three kilometer distance and ripping into the pillbox. Kai's comrades and the other forces following his company joined in the bombardment.

The Iruvitaria were wholly unprepared for the enemy they were faced with. Though their troops had some Cardassian weapons, the rest of their weaponry and their defensive fortifications were the results of their native technology, which was only early 21st Century.... and no match for the advanced munitions they were faced with. Pillboxes disintegrated with their troops inside, mortar positions were annihilated, and soldiers died in their trenches from plunging artillery fire or even a well-aimed laser or particle beam that could literally cut through the soil and hit the trenches at an angle.
Impressivelly, the Iruvitaria kept up their fire all along the perimeter as the 10th Lyran Guards and Davion Assault Guards launched a direct assault. Kai was with only one of many pushes toward the central forts that held the approaches to Rutara. He kept Yen-lo-wang steady through the explosions of artillery shells. A sudden impact against the 'Mech's left side was easily dealt with, though it signaled he was in range of anti-vehicle guns. Kai spotted one emplacement and fired his lasers; one beam hit and sliced through the gun.
Another hit impacted on the left shoulder of Yen-lo-wang. Another Centurion to his right - piloted by Leftenant Wilkens - took a direct chest hit that caused some armor to flake off. But he kept going.
By the time they actually got to the Iruvitaria trenches, many of the enemy's troops had already been killed or were trying to fall back. Kai now got his first look at one of them - the Korroleia were bipeds who had blue-tinted skin with very thin, sharp ears on the sides of their heads.
Raising the left arm of Yen-lo-wang, Kai used the anti-personnel pulse phaser to begin shooting any enemy that wasn't in full retreat. As he stormed through he accidentally stomped on one who'd fallen. There was no chance to hear any screams, and Kai purposely refused to look at the remains after he'd gone on.
At this phase of the battle, BattleMechs were proving to have an interesting advantage: sheer physical intimidation. The Iruvitaria had never encountered anything like BatteMechs; nor did they have the necessary weapons technology to really hurt them like the Alliance had possessed. Kai could see even now the effect that even twelve 'Mechs were having, as enemy troops continually tried to fall back.
They couldn't run fast enough, of course. "Wilkens, Streiber, keep going. We'll let the infantry take what's left."
Two hours later, Rutara was surrounded completely. Fifteen minutes after that, the Iruvitaria Republic officially surrendered to the Federated Commonwealth. They became the first extrauniversal government to do so. By the time Kai and his troops were preparing to load back into their DropShips to keep up the advance - the job of garrisoning Korrole would go to the 5th Syrtis Fusiliers and elements of the 2nd Federated Commonwealth RCT.
And so Operation: Percival continued its march toward Dervak and Pelikar.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-17 02:37am

Dalkyra, Bajor
13:19 GST

In the ruins of what was once a residential area in the above-ground regions of Dalkyra, a remaining Group of Cardassian infantry were huddled about a fire (they numbered about eighteen now, with a normal strength of 32 - about equivalent to an Alliance platoon). They were from the 12th Mechanized Order, which was now reduced from 15,000 elite Cardassian soldiers to a scant two thousand scattered around parts of Dalkyra, cut off from one another by the enemy. The Alliance troops were everywhere now, holding all the major roads despite nearly two weeks of bitter fighting by the Cardassians, and morale had long crumbled as they starved in the shattered city. Once and a while an enemy shrapnel shell would land close enough to spray them with debris from the roof above, but these Bajoran buildings were sturdy if anything, and the blasts were not intended to crush the buildings but to kill snipers in exposed positions.
The eighteen men huddled together were led by 3rd Rank Glin Tirritza, a staff officer who had been given the Group after their officer was killed a few days before and who, until now, had never seen combat. His father was a Gul of moderate importance - an upper level management job in one of the government ministries - and with good connections, so Tirritza was one of those officers who was set for life. Next was 2nd Rank Senior Trooper Juvek, an aging veteran whom the survivors admired. These two men were at odds, as was to be expected.
Nearby there were enemy troops - when weren't there these days? - and Tirritza was getting the men together to attack, ignoring the explosions and other distant sounds of combat. After two weeks they were like any Cardassians left fighting on Bajor; hungry, depressed, and fatalistic. Things were constantly being said that, before the invasion, would have earned one a meeting with their local Loyalty Investigator or, even worse, someone from the Obsidian Order itself. And why shouldn't they be, some thought, as these soldiers were being sacrificed by a leadership more determined to stay in power than to do what was needed for Cardassia's survival?
As Tirritza gathered the men, one did not move. He was a younger soldier, a conscript folded into their Group from another unit, and though he had never had problems before with orders to fight, he remained seated upon the hard floor with his legs curled up, elbows on the top of his thighs and face buried in his hands. "Trooper, I ordered you to get up and prepare to fight!" Tirritza shouted.
"Sir... sir... I can't... I can't anymore...." the Cardassian sobbed - yes, sobbed! - pathetically. "I can't take this... anymore."
Tirritza had little patience for this display. He drew his sidearm and pointed it at the young Trooper. "Get up and get your weapon or I'll execute you for cowardice, right here and right now!"

"Sir." Senior Trooper Juvek stepped forward. "He's in combat shock. Let me talk him out of it."
Tirritza looked skeptically at Juvek. "'Combat shock'?" The look on his face showed ignorance... and disbelief. The other soldiers grumbled at yet another sign of Tirritza's lack of experience. "There's no such thing. It's a myth, a lie to excuse cowardice."
"It's no myth," Juvek said, hiding his contempt far better than his men. "They may not teach it at the Planning Officers' Academy, but here in the field we deal with it all the time. Even a disciplined Cardassian mind can only take so much before it begins to break under stress. If you give me a minute, I can talk him out of it and he'll be fine."
Still looking very skeptical, Tirritza nodded and lowered his gun, though he didn't return it to its holster. Juvek walked up to the sobbing young man and knelt down before him. "It's okay, Trooper. Look at me."
The young man did so, shame and fear equal in his face. "I... I can't help this... Senior, I can't... I'm sorry... I'm sorry I'm... a coward..."
"It's fine, Trooper. You've fought well so far and have shown great bravery in these bad times. And this doesn't make you a coward. Many soldiers go into combat shock when they're in the field for a long time. Now, breathe in a little more and get control of yourself. We need you, Trooper. Your friends here need your help if we're all to survive this."
The sobs did seem to relent. The young man's voice was weak and broken as he said, "I can't stand this anymore, Senior. The explosions, the guns... those weapons of the enemy that tear us apart.... I can't take it... I want it to stop.... I just want it to stop!"
"Keep breathing in slowly, Trooper. Regain control of yourself. You're a soldier of Cardassia. You are here to defend your people, and you're not alone. If we work together we have a greater chance of surviving."
The young man was slowly coming out of it. He whimpered, "Did you see Rotek the other day? When he was caught in the open? Those guns... their projectiles... it was like they were tearing him apart.... guts and blood everywhere.... I.... I don't want to do this anymore..."
"None of us do, Trooper, but we...."
"I've had enough of this." Tirritza lost his patience with the irritating display of a mewling coward being mollycoddled by an old fool. He raised his gun and walked up. "Senior, move out of the way. If Trooper Gikat is not on his feet by the time you do so, I will shoot him."
Juvek stood up and, instead of getting out of the way, turned around and faced Tirritza. "Sir, please lower the gun. I only need a few more minutes."
"You're treating him like a child! He's a Cardassian soldier, he has to fight when ordered to. Everyone does, or it breaks down the very discipline Cardassia requires for survival! Now move out of the way so I can execute this coward before you undermine everything!"

"You fool," Juvek spat. "This isn't how you lead men in the field. We don't give a damn about the fancy slogans and wise sayings the State gives out to keep people in line! All we care about is doing our duty and getting out of it alive. We all suffer combat shock and it is something that a soldier can recover from, sometimes in minutes, if they're given the chance."
"Soldier, I order you to move...."
Juvek instead took another step, keeping himself beween Tirritza and young Gikat. "You're not in the staff anymore and your family connections are meaningless here! Now lower the gun and let me finish talking to him!"
"Senior, move now or I'll..."
Juvek took another step forward and Tirritza, in a panic at the larger man coming so close, pulled the trigger on accident. The emitter glowed and a single beam struck out and hit Juvek in the chest. The old veteran, survivor of so many battles, collapsed and died at the hands of one of his own countrymen. The other soldiers saw Juvek's death with wide eyes. They looked to Tirritza, who was almost in a daze for a moment as his mind processed what he'd just done.
It ended after a couple moments. Tirritza raised his weapon. "This is all your fault, you little coward," he barked at Gikat, who was staring at Juvek. "And now you're going to die for...."
Tirritza never spoke again. His finger had just started to tense on the trigger when a dozen different beams converged on him, vaporizing him in an instant and so rapidly that he literally never saw it coming. His weapon clattered to the ground, and the remaining Cardassian soldiers stood from their places. The leading one, a 2nd Rank Trooper, tossed his gun down. "This is worthless," he muttered. "Our rations are almost out, we each only have a couple charges left for our rifles, and we've all got one wound or another. I say we surrender. We're more likely to survive as enemy prisoners than staying here to get bombed out or shot."
Slowly, they were nods. The Cardassians, to a man, tossed down their weapons and left the building, arms raised. It didn't take them long to find an Alliance patrol - made up of Bajorans at that - which took them into captivity. For them, the war was over.

Dalkyra, Bajor
14:33 GST

The Central Temple of Dalkyra was filled with people. Almost all were Bajorans, residents of the city that were hiding in the basement and slowly, but surely, using an ancient underground catacomb to escape the city. Guarding them to ensure they got out was the 1185th Infantry Battalion, which included both Lorva Korvys and Opel Tevil. Korvys had been breveted a Corporal due to fatalities during the previous days of fighting and, with Tevil and a squad of men, was holding a section of the fallen Temple wall as Cardassians milled around the perimeter, looking for a way to break in. Korvys and his men couldn't help but feel they were out for pure bloody-minded vengeance - they wanted to kill everyone in the Temple - though the truth seemed to be that they thought there were rations and equipment in the Temple they could use to survive for a bit longer.
They were under fire now from a number of positions, every man laying against large shattered blocks of mortar and brick thick enough to absorb the minimal-killing power of the Cardassian weapons. The Cardassians weren't firing much, indicating they were low on energy packs for their rifles.
Korvys looked to Tevil. Both young men now had scratchy hair growth on their faces from lack of shaving. They had been in the front lines for eleven days now and were sorely tired, their nerves long pushed to their limit by the character of urban combat. "Today's a Human holiday, y'know," Tevil said. "On the AST calendar. It's something called Christmas."
"Oh, and what's it for?" one of the Privates asked - Korvys was very certain the young man lied on his enlistment application and was not yet eighteen - from his place a few yards away.
"It's a religious celebration. For the birth of one of their Gods, I think. They celebrate it by eating a big meal and exchanging gifts covered in wrapping paper so you don't know what it is."
Korvys smirked. "It's the birth of Jesus, specifically, and it’s celebrated by Christians. You know, like Sergeant Weathers." He didn't let himself think of Weathers, who was laying in the Corps hospital somewhere... assuming he was still alive after those hits he took.
"Whatever. Thank the Prophets we don't have that many different things to remember. I still remember when I offered that girl some of my pork chops and she accused me of insulting her."
"Muslims and Jews can't eat pork," Korvys said. "Though we're going to have a hell of a time deciding if any of our foodstock animals count."
"Pork?" This was again from the young man. "What's that?"
"From a pig. It's this dirty, mud-loving little creature Humans grow for food, it has a big nose and goes 'oink' or something...." Tevil suddenly stopped. "Do you hear that?"
Everyone shushed for a moment, and there was indeed a sound; the crunching of debris from footsteps. It was coming from outside the perimeter as well. One of the others picked a long-shaped piece of debris up and stuck it above his protection and, as everyone expected, a beam of energy went right by it. "Dammit, they're getting too close." Korvys keyed his helmet to broadcast to his platoon commander, an older Bajoran man who replaced the Human Lieutenant Perkins after she was killed on the fifth day. "Movement on Northeast Perimeter. Potential enemy attack."
"I copy."
Korvys looked to Tevil and saw him taking a grenade into his hand. "What are you doing?"
"Giving them a gift. I've had it with the spoonheads." Tevil pulled the pin out and went to throw the weapon. Before it came out of his hand, a Cardassian rifle beam grazed his wrist. Tevil shouted in pain and all momentum stopped; the grenade dropped out of his hand and to the ground.
On their side.
Without thinking about it, without even considering what was going to happen, Korvys leapt on top of it. He never thought for a moment about never seeing his wife and little daughter again, or never meeting the new child his wife was carrying. He never thought about dying. He simply acted.
The others had barely the time to look before the frag grenade went off in Korvys' belly. It tore his hands up, for one, and enough of the projectiles got through to rip through his body armor and into his flesh, where they finally stopped.... but not before they'd torn up much of his torso, including his lungs and stomach. Korvys gasped and rolled over, blood and gore oozing from what was left of his chest.
Tevil stared in wide-eyed shock at the sight. Ignoring the pain in his wrist he clambered over to Korvys as he laid there and died. "No! No dammit! Korvys! Korvys, think of your little ones! You can't die here! No!"
"Movement!" One of the soldiers had been peering over his own protection. "They're coming!"
Tevil felt hot tears going down his eyes. He didn't care anymore. Korvys was his friend, the sympathetic ear.and the douse of cold water he often needed and all at once. "It's my fault," Tevil wept. "Prophets damn me, it's my fault!"
"Private Opel, eyes front! They're coming!"

Tevil's wrist was in pain, but he responded to the order. With tears flowing from his eyes, he brought his MP-10 up to the barrier protecting him and Korvys' body and watched the Cardassians scurrying toward the street from the rubble of the building opposite the temple. He opened fire in conjunction with the squad.
For minutes he just kept fire up whenever there was movement. He watched a Cardassian's head explode in the rear from one of his shots, then another one fell clutching his gut from a hit there. Energy beams responded, but they had a slight advantage in height and superior rate of fire. Soon the attack dissipated. The perimeter was secure once more.
Then the order came. "Everyone pull back into the Temple. It's time for us to get out of here!" The soldiers began to pick up anything they'd left on the ground and enter the Temple building, giving each other cover as they did so should the Cardassians storm again and get over the former perimeter.
Tevil didn't come right away. Facing his Lieutenant, he tugged at Korvys' body. "We can't just leave him here! We have to hold!"
"Division HQ wants us out! The air jocks are getting ready to flatten this grid square!"
"I'm not leaving him! He has a family! They have a right... a right to bury him!" Tevil hefted Korvys' body onto his shoulders as he'd seen done on other occasions.
"Put him down and come on!"
"Sir, let me bring him!"
Biting his lip, the Lieutenant - his family name was Pavu - replied, "Carry him as long as you can, but when you can't anymore, drop him or, Prophets forgive me, I'll have to vape him."
Accepting Pavu's terms, Tevil carried Korvys' body into the Temple. And into the passage for the catacombs, and then through those dark, dank underground tunnels. His body protested every step, his muscles ached, and his wrist was starting to refuse to move.
But he couldn't drop Korvys. He owed him that much. He owed Korvys' wife and children the right to bury him.
The distance seemed to take an eternity to traverse. Pavu would look back to make sure he was still coming, seeming very keen on it, but Tevil ignored all the demands of his body to lighten his load and kept going.

At one point, as they fled, Tevil nearly lost his footing as the floor shook. He realized what had happened. Behind them, explosives had been planted to block the tunnel. The Cardassians could have the Temple, since it was about to be smashed into rubble anyway.
Light appeared ahead. Tevil's body was ready to give in, but he kept going... kept going.... the light was just ahead! He was almost out! He'd done it!
His boots stepped into hard mud. He trudged forward and.... there it was! Green fields and the gentle sound of running water! They'd emerged from the tunnel and were outside the city, safe and sound, by the running waterfalls on the north face of the hills Dalkyra was built on and in. Pavu smiled appreciatively. "Good job, son."
Tevil nodded..... and promptly collapsed.
Korvys' body left his grip and rolled down in front of him as Tevil hit his knees. He then sluimped to the right, his body utterly exhausted. He was filled with pain. Within moments, the exhaustion, the sleep deprivation, and the end of his body's last bursts of energy had taken their toll; Tevil lost consciousness.
Had he stayed awake, he would have heard the roar of engines above as gunships began to circle above Dalkyra, pounding the remaining Cardassians relentlessly. The city had been evacuated of Bajorans and Alliance troops alike; all that was left alive were gaggles of surviving Cardassians who were starving and tired. Those who didn't signal their surrender in time were promptly blown to pieces or crushed under debris.
By the end of this Christmas Day, "Bloody" Dalkyra had finally, mercifully fallen; the one great bloody infantry battle of the war was over.
The war itself, however, was not.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-18 08:45pm

Chapter 19

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
15:15 GST

For the first time Gul Dukat had been invited to attend a strategy session with Legate Kelataza. It was a small one, with just himself, Keve, and Gul Hergata to advise the Legate.
On the holoscreen, the progress of the latest enemy offensive could be found. In half a day they had landed on fifteen planets - seven had already fallen and the rest would likely follow within a few days, as all had been lightly garrisoned. Dukat was certain the enemy was moving up reserves even now, and at the rate they were going Dervak would probably come under assault within 72 hours. He was admittedly interested ine examining reports of the unique walking armored machines used by the Federated Commonwealth. Tanks had been bad enough, now these machines were routing Cardassian and Korroleia militia just from physical intimidation.
Dukat smiled grimly. There was yet a chance here. Though 1st Fleet was utterly broken - Dukat suspected they could simply not be trusted in any engagement with the enemy now, having lost as often as they have - the Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet was now up at Kortaxis. If it was moved at the right time and the proper form, say in multiple-squadron detachments after Dervak was taken, it might catch the enemy fleet unprepared at Pelikar, which was to Dukat the clear final objective of the enemy advance. Later he would have to ask Keve for permission to cut the orders to Gul Gavron.
"Is it safe to risk the Home Fleet?" Kelataza did not look happy at the recommendation, and for the usual reasons. "The war is not going well, and there are those who may take advantage of the fleet's absence."
"Legate, this may be our last chance to stop the Alliance advance," Dukat replied. "If we hit them while they're still preparing for their next wave, we can disrupt their plans and buy time to finish mobilizing our reserves and building our inner defenses. If we don't use the Home Fleet now, we may very well lose it when the Alliance fleet moves directly on Cardassia Prime itself."
"Gul Dukat has a point, Legate," Yatar said. He went to say more but was silenced by a glare from his benefactor.

"Do we know when the Alliance blow will come? The Obsidian Order hasn't had much success in alerting us to their fleet movements."
Keve spoke up now. "Aid from the Federation has proven helpful here. The sensors they provided us to track the enemy's cloaked bombers can be used as well to scan enemy space with some reliability. The Alliance's jamming systems are online still but are not yet set to jam gravitic sensors. That, at least, has escaped their attention."
"Excellent news." Kelataza was still frowning, clearly in deep thought. Dukat almost wanted to speak again, but knew he had told his tongue right now. Finally, after about a minute of silence, he nodded and picked up the PADD with the listed orders. As he pressed his right thumb to the scanner, he said, "Here, I'm releasing the Home Fleet to you, Gul Dukat. And if you fail me.... don't bother coming back, because you won't even get a trial."
"Of course, Legate. I'll go get runners to alert the squadron commanders."
"Why bother doing that? That'll take longer than just calling them."
Dukat looked to Yatar. "Has it occurred to anyone that the Alliance may have cracked our naval codes? They knew 3rd Fleet was at Kurvak far too early, and the entire debacle at Darane was simply too convenient. Not only did they have some of their carriers waiting in ambush for us, they also launched - at that very time - carrier strikes on our remaining naval bases, which was all too possibily a distraction. If Gul Kevem had followed the plan, he would have kept a reserve that we likely would have committed upon confirmation of those strikes... sending our entire fleet unknowingly into an enemy ambush." Dukat noticed the disbelieving look on Yatar's smug face, but the accepting look on Kelataza's was what he wanted to see. The old man is finally waking up and realizing that what the State says is rarely as true as we'd like to think.
"I'll have Communications investigate the issue," Kelataza promised. "Do what you think is necessary."
Dukat nodded and gave a final salute before leaving. All was going according to plan.

Umiral, Darane, Alliance Liberation Zone
15:40 GST

Christmas at wartime could take up many things. For those in the field it was a bittersweet thing, knowing that on a day many saw as a family holiday they were far away from their loved ones. For garrison troops like Rusty Cornheiser and the 33rd Orbital Artillery Company, Christmas could actually be enjoyable. Vidphone calls home were available for everyone, presents from supportive citizens were handed out, and the Mess typically had holiday meals and more of them to enjoy.
Rusty had already talked to his family and gotten presents from his comrades. Now he was alone in the soft purple-hued grass off Darane, staring up at the stars from where he was laying on his sleeping roll, clad in tank top and trousers. Oh, he’d return to the barracks at light’s out and sleep there, but to just glance up at an alien sky was a perfect way to cap the holiday.
Or at least it was, before Valys showed up.
She was casually dressed again. A blue-ish skirt with Bajoran religious iconography sewed around the hems, a sleeveless blouse of gray, and what looked to be a flower in her hair. “The others, they said you were here.” She got on her knees beside him. “Are you sleeping here?”
“No, just looking at the stars.” He looked over to her and smiled. “Used to do it back home with my folks and my brother and sisters.”

“Yeah. Dad used to tell us which star had which planet. Where New Virginia was, New Washington, Roosevelt....” Rusty laid his head back again, arms under his head, and looked back up at them. “Do you know which one Bajor is?”
“I do not,” Valys confessed. “I have never been there. None of my family has, even my grandmother is Daranian by birth.” She slid over and laid down next to him. “Do you know which star is which?”
“Well, uhm... I think that one is Earth,” Rusty said, trying to remember the last time he looked up the Astrogazer plot for Darane. “And I’m pretty sure that one over there, at the corner of the sky... is New Liberty.”
“But there are so many....”
“Oh, yeah, there’s lots of them,” he said. “And they all exist in other universes. Copied many times over.”
“Even Bajor?”
“The star? Sure. The planet?’ Rusty shrugged. “You’re the only Bajorans we know of, actually.”
“What about Cardassians?”
“Same thing. Only here.”
“But... there are other Humans, yes?”
Rusty gave her a nod. “Yeah. I think something like only two universes out of fifty or so don’t have Humans.”
“That is strange,” Valys stated. “How can there be so many Humans compared to every other race?”
At that, he could only shrug. It wasn’t something Rusty thought about a lot. “Dunno, maybe we just got lucky in the cosmic dice rolling or something...”
That prompted a quizzical, “’Dice roll’? What is dice?”
Smiling, Rusty began explaining to her, and found that having Valys with him had given the perfect ending to this Christmas Day.

Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Cardassian Space
26 December 2153 AST
08:19 GST

The Atomic Dolphin and the rest of 66th Bomber Squadron were on nearing their dispersal point for an attack on enemy facilities in five local systems when Eastman noticed the three Ikvak-class destroyers shadowing the squadron. He looked to Sheppard and said, "Sir, what do you think about this? I've got three Cardie destroyers on passives, it looks like they're tailing us."
Sheppard looked over and brought up his own sensor display. After about a minute of watching, he turned his head back to Barton. "Get the tightbeam command link up."
Barton hit the appropriate keys and responded, "Command link up, the other squadron pilots are receiving."
Sheppard began to move Atomic Dolphin down and to the left a bit, eventually changing his course by 45 degrees on both axises. After several tense moments, Sheppard's frown grew. "The Cardies are following our course change." He changed course again, making it look like he was zig-zagging, and again they followed the course change. Only on the third attempt did they not immediately change course. "Bastards are tracking us somehow."
"Then why aren't they shooting us?" Rickover asked.
"Whatever gear they're using probably doesn't let 'em track us that well. They know we're in an area but can't get our position down accurately enough to fire. At least, not until we release our boosters." Scowling, Sheppard looked to Barton. "Use the tight-beam, get every bomber to listen closely as we make our next set of maneuvers."
After this was conffirmed, Sheppard examined the location of the destroyers and, after a moment, made a quick maneuver to cut across the length of their formation. The destroyers came out of warp and waited while he cut across again; their commanders probably thought they'd spooked him and were afraid to move now.

Finally Barton's head shot up. "Sir, got something from the Texan Lady and Marisol. They picked up something when passing by the Cardies."
"Well, what did they find?"
Barton looked it over and, after a moment, shook her head. "Just... a stream of data. Nothing specific."
"Good enough for me. Get the positions that Marisol and Texan Lady had when they picked up those beams and relay the data to Rickover. Rickover, find the origin point, and find me a target just beyond it and slightly away."
"Just fuckin' do it."
"Yes sir."
Tense minutes passed. Eastman looked nervously at the fuel level. "Sir, we can't just coast along like this. We need to head to the target or back to base."
"Not yet. If they're tracking us, a lot of bombers are going to be lost today. I want to get a good shot at shutting them down."
Eastman remained quiet. Finally Rickover finished his work. "The beam seems to be coming from System CUANB-5. And about half a light year beyond it from our current position is the Cardassian system Dukivik. Hasn't been bombed yet and it's got a C level comm station, an orbiting military post, and several cities with light and medium industrial capacity. Not a choice target, but...."
"Good enough. Give me the course data."
A minute later, Atomic Dolphin and the 66th were on their new course. Mere minutes later, the Cardassian destroyers were again shadowing them.

System UCANB-5 (Korvek 339), Cardassian Union
08:33 GST

On the surface of the rocky third planet of the lifeless solar system, a Cardassian sensor station was still under construction even after its vitals had come online. Workers in environmental suits went about setting up better living spaces, defenses, barracks, and other support facilities while the staff did their jobs. Within the core of the growing facility, Gul Rogal sat calmly and sipped on her cup of ropavtek (literally "fish juice") while her staff reviewed the data from the gravitic sensor net that was still growing along the front with the Alliance. Nearby, monitoring one of her senior staff, was the Starfleet "advisor" assigned to help get the systems running, a stoic and somewhat irritating Vulcan named Sutek.
This station, along with others, was responsible for using the gravitic sensors to detect the general location of incoming Alliance bombers and to send in border patrols to shadow and attack them when they arrived on target and started to release their bomb loads, which gave away their locations.
"Commander Sutek, why don't you sit down and take a break?"
The Vulcan man looked back to her with a quizzical look. "It is not logical to waste time when I do not require rest, and I have other stations to visit before returning to the Federation. Therefore, I must decline."
"Suit yourself." Rogal tried not to smirk. Vulcans would make excellent Cardassians save that their devotion to logic undermined loyalty to the State. She went back to watching the displays, and what looked like several enemy bomber formations heading calmly into Cardassia, seemingly oblivious to the Ikvaks that were trailing them.
"Gul, one of the enemy contacts has changed general course. They're heading this way."
Rogal frowned. She didn't like coincidences. "Verify their course."
"Doing so now..." The officer ran the course heading through the computers, getting the proper astronomical data, and finally he replied, "They're heading to Dukivik."
"Dammit." Rogai frowned. The enemy must have learned about the recent transfer of naval supplies there and had ordered bombers to change target. "Put Dukivik on alert. Send two of the ships tailing the bombers directly to Dukivik to be ready."
"Yes Gul."

Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Cardassian Space
10:19 GST

Nearly two tense hours had passed now, and the bomber crew's nerves were slowly starting to get frayed. Sheppard was the least rattled, rolling an unsmoked cigar in his hands while the time to course change was counted down.
When the time came, he sent the proper signal and all twenty bombers dropped out of warp. As the Ikvak shot past, the bombers sharply turned and resumed warp fligght - now heading toward UCANB-5. "Enemy ship overshot us, sir! I don't think they'll have time to catch us before we can fire off the boosters!"
"Barton, tell everyone to get ready. Cockpit to Bombardier, prepare new targeting data. Flying Officer Eastman will be providing your target."
Affirmations answered. Even though this mission had taken a drastic turn for the worst, even though it looked like they had lost the stealth that kept them alive, every man and woman throughout the squadron remained as calm as Sheppard could have asked for.
"Time to target is thirty seconds."
"Get ready...."

System UCANB-5 (Korvek 339), Cardassian Union
10:20 GST

"Gul! Enemy contact heading our way!"
Rogal looked up from a report with widening eyes. The main display in the command center changed to show the anomalous contact on their gravitic sensors - which they presumed to be enemy bombers - now within a minute of their position. "Impossible! Notify all ships, tell them to get here immediately!"
"It will not do you any good," Sutek replied calmly. "There are no ships in position."
"Order all personnel to take cover! Raise our defense shields!" Rogal watched in disbelief as the contacts grew closer... and closer.... She found herself hoping there was only a single enemy, perhaps lacking the firepower to break through their shield.
The contact stopped. There was activity on other scanning systems now, revealing at last the enemy position, but the Yuvak was still twenty seconds away... Rogal swallowed at the number of contacts that suddenly appeared. There must have been at a dozen enemy bombers, perhaps more; their uncloaked boosters were ominous on the screen as they raced toward the sensor post.
"How ironic," Sutek finally said. "My brother died fighting Cardassia, and now I will die protecting Cardassia."
That pompous Vulcan! How can he be so candid that we're all about to be reduced to ash! Rogal wanted to shoot him, but her eyes were fixed to the screens as missile after missile fired from the booster assemblies of the enemy bombers. The bombers were effectively invisible again; gravitic sensors showed they were in the area but it was too late for the Yuvak to attack them.
The first missile exploded against the shield, then the second, then a third that sent a sickening rumble through the facility and told Rogal, in those final moments, that the shield had failed.
The next missile detonated. Intended for an enemy shielded space facility, it was thirty times more powerful than the infamous Hiroshima blast, as were the next missiles. By the time they had all exploded, there was very little to mark the remains of Rogal, Sutek, and the three hundred Cardassians who had been living and building the destroyed outpost.

Bomber Atomic Dolphin, Cardassian Space
10:23 GST

"It's been confirmed, sir. The enemy outpost was destroyed." Eastman sighed. "And that Cardie destroyer is fumbling about like a blind man in the dark. He can't see us anymore."
"Excellent job everyone," Sheppard said before taking another drag from his lit cigar. "Now, find me the closest airbase."
"Yes sir." Rickover looked. "Closest sir is Kagawa Field on Ituk 3."
While Sheppard piloted Atomic Dolphin on course, Eastman frowned. "We're going to be running on fumes by the time we get there."

Kagawa Field, Ituk 3, Cardassian Union (Occupied)
11:50 GST

The engines on Atomic Dolphin finally went silent as the massive B-202F rolled to a slow stop at the very edge of Kagawa's largest runway. The only towing vehicle the new airfield had was ready and waiting for them, latching on within a minute and towing the Dolphin to a berth in the one hanger the small field had so far. Eastman and the others looked around at the workers and standard rates still building parts of the half-finished airfield, which had been intended to host a fighter squadron, not bombers. But large strips were added to all fields for just this occasion, and as it turned out, the 66th Squadron was down to its last five minutes of anti-matter fuel when it came out of warp in Ituk - Kagawa was literally the only field they could've used.
When they were safe in the hanger, Sheppard and crew finally came out. When they did, the field personnel started applauding even while the towing vehicle ran back out to get the next bomber coming in. Atomic Dolphin's crew was a little surprised to see the reaction. "Hey, it was nothin'," Sheppard said with clear false modesty.
The field personnel looked at each other. "You didn't hear anything over the radio?"
"Nope, not at all." Sheppard frowned. "Just what the hell is going on?"

Williamson AFB, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
14:30 GST

Air Marshal Polk's expression was grim as she put down the PDA that her aide Squadron Commander Fyodor Ruslov had handed her. The bearded Russian officer had a solemn look on his face as he waited for Polk to respond. "How in the Hell did this happen?"
"We are still investigating, Sir. The 66th Squadron's report may shed some light on the subject."
Polk swallowed hard, trying to keep her stomach still. "We sent out twenty squadrons. Four hundred of our best bombers. And we get only fify-three back? I want to know what the hell happened out there, I don't want to hear that it's still just an investigation!" Polk tossed the PDA to her desk. "God dammit, this is almost as bad as the Big One. And you can be damned sure they're not going to like this in Washington. The Navy's been nipping at our heels ever since that damned Dale Commission."
"I'll make sure the investigators know how eager you are to get answers." Ruslov stopped for a moment. "Strange that the Cardassians suddenly just knew how to find and hit our bombers, isn't it? They're not the kind of people to hold back if they can use something."
"I don't want any speculation in the press, Commander. Just go get the investigation going and have them keep me informed."
"Yes sir." Ruslov left.
Polk took a few minutes to get a drink, a bottle of green-tinged Saurian brandy that the natives liked so much. With liquor in hand, she went back to reading the survivors' reports. She paid most attention to the one from Squadron Commander Sheppard of 66th Squadron.
Deep in her stomach, Polk couldn't help but feel a sense of dread. The Aerospace Force had taken a bad hit. Who knew what other surprises the Cardassians may have in store now that their situation was becoming more desperate?

Benigno, Nova Savona, United Federation of Planets
27 December 2153 AST
08:10 GST

The household of Maria and Oliver Bennett was a modest one, located in the suburbs of the small city of Benigno near the San Pietro Coast. Oliver was a cynical man, a former Idealogue Party member who had been purged during Deborah Miller's Presidency for advocating increased defense spending. He now made a meager living out here on the frontier, having married Maria Costanza, an older woman who had been beaten and raped by Cardassian raiders during the infamous Cardassian raid of 2347 - known as the "Rape of Nova Savona" and denounced as a lie by PAPAL supporters and the Cardassian government alike - and who lost her husband and children in the attack. Her brother and sister had gone missing as well, just two of thousands of Nova Savonans who disappeared during the attack. Maria had long convinced herself they were dead, but like her entire family she held out the slightest hope she would see them again.
It was a day like any other. Maria worked as a secretary for the city government, and Oliver was a part-time political sciences professor at Benigno Community College. Both were home for the day and sitting at the table, eating quietly. Getting tired of the silence, Oliver turned on a subspace receiver that he had paid years' worth of savings to get and tuned it to Alliance media channels, which were thankfully receptable on Nova Savona. He had long enjoyed this, since the Alliance news services generally tended to have more reach than local news and more honesty than the Federation State Press.
He flipped through them and finally decided on watching Fox Interstellar News, which appealed to him for its strong anti-Federation programming. Maria turned and watched as the footage was, suprisingly, that of a ragged-looking Human. "..officials have allowed some press to review the newly-liberated Cardassian camps. A number of them are dominated by non-Cardassians, particularly Federation nationals." The screen changed and showed a trench with large containers flanking it. "On Christmas Day, special forces liberated this facility, called 'Village 18' according to sources, within minutes of the Cardassian garrison carrying out orders to slaughter their prisoners. The trench was meant to be a mass grave, and the containers are filled with acid so powerful it would likely obliterate any trace of remains that could be used to construct DNA. Now the military is trying to work to identify the people in the village. No word yet on how much cooperation they're getting with the Federation authorities."
Oliver turned the channel off in disgust. He had been in the Party and he knew what would happen; they would procrastinate, cover up, and generally throw any kind of obstacle they could into any kind of investigation into the identities of those poor souls. There was absolutely no way the Party was going to take responsibility for Federation citizens being held by the Cardassians.
Almost getting up, Oliver noticed the look on his wife's face. "Dear, please, don't get your hopes up. I want them to be in there too, but it's been so long..."
There were tears in his wife's eyes. Maria nodded. "Yes, yoiu're right Oliver. But I am going to pray anyway. I want them to come home."

La Plata, Earth, United Federation of Planets
16:15 GST

Once part of the State of Maryland, La Plata was today a moderate-sized town of about 150,000 people, due in part from the settlement of survivors from the nuclear attack on Washington D.C. in the Third World War and now due to several local public housing communities created by the government. It was in one of those communities that the Vickers family lived. It was the morning time and they were together in the home of Regina Vickers. Her teenage daughter Rachel was at the table with her and Regina's brother Matthew, with a late breakfast (or early lunch) on the table. Regina's husband Charles worked a part-time job at a local convenience store that was co-owned by the city government (many businesses were these days).
Rachel turned on the wall viewscreen and switched to the Federation News Service. It was just starting, with the pretty young brunette on the screen introducing her just as the screen flipped on. "The Federation Council voted today to officially condemn the use of napalm weapons by the Alliance military on Cardassian holdouts on Bajor. These weapons, recognized as barbaric and cruel by all races of the Federation, have been described as a jelly material that bursts to flame upon contact with oxygen found in many atmospheres. It is almost impossible to remove and often burns victims alive. The Council has threatened...."
Regina turned the screen off. "Did you hear that? They're barbarians! It's like Colonel Green all over again!"
"Oh, come on Regina, they're not that bad. They're more like the people who fought Green."
"They're still... that is so cruel! I mean, this is all over Bajor and a couple of thousand people killed, and it's all their fault! They kept on pushing the Cardassians, and pushing, and pushing, until finally, what else were the Cardassians supposed to do? They're the victims here, not the Bajorans." Regina took a sip nbefore unleashing her sharp tongue once more. "Those soldiers doing these things are all criminals and should be locked up. Every last one of them. They're worse than Klingons."
"Regina, dear, Klingons are our allies, remember?"
"Only because some of the people at the top don't care. Why, the Klingons are nothing more than bloodthirsty maniacs. Why can't we ally with the Cardassians? They're such better people." Regina shook her head. "And it's just so irritating to see other Humans acting like bloodlusting racists going out to kill aliens. It's... why? I mean, why can't they be like us? Just settle down and enjoy life."
Now, finally, Rachel piped in. "Mother, have you ever thought that maybe the Alliance's soldiers don't have any other choice? My social history teacher has been showing us documentaries on their societies. They don't have a replicator in every home, they're not even guaranteed food and a place to sleep. Most of them have to work just to do that, so they get exploited by all these rich people who control their governments. Maybe those soldiers felt they had to join the military to feed their families."
"If they're having so much problems that they have to become killers, then why don't they vote better leaders in? They have the vote like we do, don't they? And I know that the Federation is sponsoring idealists in their societies who want to emulate us. Instead of going off to burn Cardassian children with those horrible jelly weapons, maybe they should vote in these people and get their own BLN." Regina wagged her finger at her daughter. "No dear, they are not the victims. They're either racist killers or they're idiots who should know better."

"Regina, some of those kids probably sign up for the reason people here join Starfleet," Matthew replied. "Like Old Man Parker's kids."
"Oh, don't go on about them. Old Man Parker's kids are dead now, remember? And that's what they get for helping the militarists in Starfleet provoke wars with our neighbors." Regina shook her head. "I'm not going to let you fill Rachel's head with such nonsense. We don't need Starfleet. We need to be at peace with their neighbors and understand their problems. If we did that, there would be no more wars. But no, we have idiots like Maxwell out here who have bloodlust in their eyes and want to kill aliens! And I hope they keep that fiend locked up until he croaks. No room for racists in our branch of Humanity!"
Matthew sighed. "Regina, dear, you really have a lot of strong opinions, but can you ever be open-minded about anything?"
"What do you mean by that?! I'm open-minded! If I weren't, I'd be just like those people in the Alliance. You know, if you ask me, we shouldn't let any of them move here to the Federation until they prove they're capable of living at peace with everyone instead of wanting to kill people who aren't like them. Otherwise we'll be inviting a pack of murderers and racists into our midst."
"They can't move here anyway, Mom. A lot of them get genetic enhancements as children that make them live longer."
"Ah ha, see? They're so arrogant they fiddle with themselves, they're too good to live like the rest of us, oh no, they have to live longer too!" Regina rather angrily shook her head. "I just can't get over those people. They're so repulsive."
Matthew sighed and went back to eating.

Madred Village 23, Dervak, Cardassian Union
27 December 2153 AST
08:10 GST

The Village was under siege now, with about three thousand Cardassian troops in the immediate perimeter and a few more behind it as reserves. For the previous 24 hours, since they'd arrived in force, they'd mostly probed here, prodded here, and waited to see what kind of reaction that the Village Militia and Black Widows would give.
Now, finally, they had launched their assault, an advance on all sides. The Village Militia were awaiting them in trenches, backed by the Black Widows; Natasha Kerensky had assigned two of three companies to defense "sectors" as individual lances, holding back a company as emergency reserve to prevent any break in the line.
When the assault began, it reminded Phelan of descriptions of the First World War back in his Nagelring classes. The Cardassians, aware of the defenses around the Village, started off with an artillery barrage that lasted an hour. Occasionally reports would come in of Villagers killed or wounded, but the trenches were well prepared and the 'Mechs well-armored; not a single Black Widow actually went down and only some took damage of appreciable scale.
Now the Cardassian advance began, mechanized vehicles with infantry riding on them or within them. Their own design for the village worked against them; they had purposely made its surroundings open and flat to help deal with potential escapes, but now it denied them any kind of cover. They had to come in under full view of the Black Widows and Village Militia. Phelan calmly centered his targeting crosshairs on a Cardassian APC and tensed the trigger for his right arm phaser cannon. A solid beam of reddish-orange energy struck out and speared the Cardassian APC head on. Though there was little visible outside damage save for the impact point, the machine suddenly stopped; the phaser had wiped out everyone inside.
The Cardassians were soon returning fire. They were finally fielding some anti-armor weapons and seemed less intimidated of the BattleMechs, which had finally lost that crucial initial advantage in surprise and intimidation. Several beams came toward him, and four made contact, causing varying damage to Grinner's armor. Phelan crouched and said "Everyone down" to get his lance to repeat the action and make the enemy work harder to hit them. Everyone crouched down.
Everyone except Ranna.

Undaunted, Ranna sprinted forward with her Shadow Cat's MASC system fully engaged. Her shots were a bit off - natural for that speed - but she presented an almost impossible target for the Cardassians. "Dammit Ranna, get back here!" When there was no answer Phelan swore to himself and stood to go after her. "Everyone stay here and give our allies cover fire. Focus on their vehicles, let the Villagers deal with advancing infantry." Phelan broke Grinner out into a run. A hit grazed the left hip of his 'Mech, another the belly of it, and his armor was clearly starting to degrade.
Ranna had closed the distance and was seemingly going mad. She twisted and turned, firing in a pattern that appeared wild and unordered save that it was actually striking targets. It was clear that years of frustration and anger were finally being released.
And it was being released in an effective manner. Though not every shot hit her target, it did make the Cardassians pause their advance in that sector as they tried to focus their firepower on Ranna's Shadow Cat. A shot would miss here, graze there, and a couple looked like direct hits, but Ranna kept on attacking and destroying APCs, even stepping on a few soldiers that had dismounted their vehicles in haste.
Phelan got close enough that his shots were becoming highly accurate as well. Another hit to his torso started eating into Grinner's skeleton but it did not stop him, and the offender exploded a few minutes later from return fire. "Ranna, pull back dammit! Pull back now!" His scanners confirmed what he suspected was happening; the Cardassians were sending in their reserves to push through their section of the front. "You've given them their licks, get the Hell back to the line. That's an order!"
At first there was no reaction from Ranna save a continued attack, but finally the Shadow Cat turned away from the husks of her victims. The 'Mech's armor was missing patches and damaged elsewhere, but otherwise okay. Phelan began to back Grinner up and give Ranna cover as she made her way back to the line. At a third of the distance, she turned her 'Mech and back-pedaled toward the lines, giving Phelan cover fire. Phelan turned and ran back toward the lines. He was about to turn again when a solid beam from an APC hit the back of Grinner's knee. The armor took most of the damage, but it still failed, and Phelan very nearly lost control and fell when the knee locked up. Limping along, he continued on his way. "Fall back, Ranna!"
"I will give you cover until you are safe in the lines. Keep going."
"That's an order Ranna. Fall back!"
She refused, moving and dodging here and there as the Cardassian attack was starting to concentrate on their section. Fire from Phelan's lance and the some of the few anti-tank weapons provided to the Militia by the Dragoons surrounded them; the enemy's main attack had begun.
Phelan turned once more and shouted into the com, "Dammit, Ranna, I said fall back!"
"I am not a coward! I will not run from them!"

Before he could speak again, there was a roar from above. Grinner's computer identified them as Alliance F/A-37s at the same time that explosions erupted all across the enemy's lines. "Reinforcements!" was the shout over the comm.
The air support was soon joined by landing craft. Phelan was still used to the egg or sphere-shaped DropShips typically used for landing ground troops, so it was a change to watch the catamaran-shaped Marine "LCAP"s descend behind and on top of the Cardassians. The 40mm guns on the LCAPs were firing on all arcs, forcing Cardassian soldiers to the ground while the LCAPs hit soil. Twin doors opened on each segment of the landing craft; some disgorged tanks, some IFVs, and many were carrying infantry.
The Cardassian attack broke apart quickly now. Phelan, witnessing the confusion of the Cardassian forces, waited for the order to attack.
It was not long in coming.

12:50 GST

The nightmare was over.
The very fact seemed to overwhelm the senses of the long-term prisoners of Madred Village 23. After years of terror hidden under a bare veneer of civility, they were free. There would be no more surprise raids, no more sudden seizures to be used as subjects in interrogation training, no more suffering. And so they celebrated in their town square, hugging and kissing and cheering their liberators, who with great pride erected the flagpoles from which they flew their standards; side by side, the colored torch-and-stars of the Allied Nations was joined by the fist-and-sunburst of the Federated Commonwealth, a third flag bearing the wolf's head insignia of the Wolf Dragoons and, below that, a newly-replicated flag bearing the symbol of the Black Widow Battalion. In a nod to the people of Village 23, who had so bravely held out and aided in their liberation, Natasha Kerensky and Colonel Alex Rickman - her counterpart in the Alliance Marine Corps' 15th Planetary Assault Regiment - personally arranged for the flying of the Federation flag with their nations' own. The flying of the Federation flag, with its striking field of blue, made some of the villagers begin to cry. It reminded them that they would be finally be going home.
Most would, at least. Though she had a smile on her face, Sharon Carter was not as happy as she should have been. She would be taken as mad if she were to admit it, but she had strangely felt at home here. She had spent more time living in Village 23 than anywhere else, given her early life and the constant need to flee from Federation government agents that wanted to send her and the other colony children of her generation to "facilities" for the "genetically altered".
Kristina came up to her and threw her arms around Carter's neck. After giving her a jubilant kiss on the lips, she squealed "We're going home!" with glee. It took a moment for Kristina to see the look on Carter's face. "Sharon, what's wrong?"
"You're going home, Kristina. I have no home."
It took a moment for Kristina to realize what she had just done. "Oh Sharon, I didn't mean.... you can come back to New Murmansk with me, can't you?"
Carter shook her head. "I can't, Kristina. I'm a fugitive in the Federation, remember? If I go back, I'll end up in a settlement."
"We can hide you! We're on the frontier, they'll never find you...."
"My parents used to say the same thing. And then four months later, we'd be sneaking out the back door while Starfleet Security pounded on the front door." Carter pulled Kristina closer. "I can't go back with you. But, I do love you very much. Too much to keep you from going home."
"Sharon, I...."
"Shhh...." Carter planted a quick kiss on Kristina's lips. "Let's go celebrate the present. We can talk about the future later."

Phelan and Ranna had been summoned back to the Cyrilla Ward, where Natasha was, predictably, getting ready to load back up to join up with the continuing advance on Pelikar. "How long until your 'Mech is repaired, Phelan?"
"The techs promised me it'd be done in 24 hours," Phelan replied. "So I figure 36, since everyone's busy partying with the Villagers."
Natasha smirked. "Oh, don't worry about that. They'll have their party and then I'll have them all pumped with detoxicants to get to work. Now, go get some rest Phelan."
"Yes Colonel." Phelan walked out, leaving Natasha alone with Ranna.
For a moment nothing was said. Natasha walked around Ranna. "Took a lot of guts to rush the Cardies like that. You did a real good job disrupting their advance. It took skill, courage, and luck to pull that off and come back as untouched as you did."
"Thank you, Colonel."
"Oh, don't thank me yet." Natasha stood in front of her granddaughter and frowned, looking her eye to eye. "You disobeyed a direct order from your lance commander to hold position, and then you disobeyed when ordered to fall back! You put Phelan and your entire lance in potential jeopardy because you had your panties in a bunch and wanted to prove something! And I will be damned if I will tolerate that! In the Dragoons, we follow orders! This is not the Clan warrior caste and you are not Goddamned free to follow orders as you please so long as you think you've got the skills to win a fucking Circle of Equals with your superior! If you ever disobey another Goddamned direct order, I will kick your ass to the fucking curb! You will be out of my battalion and I will see to it that you are kicked out of the Dragoons! AM. I. CLEAR?!"
Ranna nodded, her spine straight and her body at rigid attention. "Yes, Colonel!"
"Now get the Hell out of my sight before I get pissed off! Dismissed!"
Watching Ranna leave, Natasha drew in a breath, and then had a private little smirk. Ranna, in her own way, reminded Natasha of herself, and that both scared and thrilled the older Kerensky.
And now, with nothing much to do, Natasha decided to go join the festivities. A good battle and a victory always deserved at least one night of booze and general hell-raising, after all.

The Fox's Den, New Avalon, Federated Commonwealth
Universe Designate MWB-32
28 December 2153 AST
01:45 GST

Communications had changed greatly over the previous years. Where once the leader of a House would have to wait for reports from the field to know how operations were going, now it was possible for news to come immediately. To reflect this truth, the various war rooms and planning rooms of the Davion military command on New Avalon had been overhauled with modern communications and display equipment.
It was in one such room, filled as it was with monitors and holographic displays, that Hanse and his nephew Morgan were getting the latest update from the Alpha Quadrant, directly from Admiral Johnston and Marshal Bisla. The former was with his fleet, now gathering at Dervak, and Marshal Bisla was still on Corwich as joint commander of the FCEF and the Alliance's "Task Force Percival", the designation for their forces protecting the Commonwealth's flank.
"Dervak's main garrison surrendered an hour ago, Highness," Johnston reported, his holographic image flickering momentarily from signal interference. "I am happy to report that we are on schedule so far."
"When can you continue on to Pelikar?"
"Completing repairs on ships damaged at Shervarak and bringing in supplies will take two days, Highness. We are also expecting the arrival of two Alliance carriers that, with Invincible, should give us a good strength in fighters to augment the fleet. However, we are somewhat stretched out and I'm concerned that Cardassian forces watching the Tzenkethi border could be directed against us. We'd be outnumbered five to one by a normal Cardassian border fleet. I would thus like to hold back until after the Alliance's main offensive begins, to see if the Cardassians have anything in the area they're willing to commit."
Hanse nodded. "Marshal?"
"Sir, with all due respect to Admiral Johnston, I believe that we are presented with our best opportunity take Pelikar now. The enemy fleet defeated at Shervarak has already retreated out of the region and all intelligence estimates place the Cardassian fleet on the Tzenkethi border light years beyond Pelikar. If we strike in the next three days, I believe we can seize and hold Pelikar easily; if we wait longer, we give the Cardassians time to regroup and make the battle that much harder."
There, the lines were drawn; the navy wanted caution, the army action. Now Hanse would have to decide which had the greater merit. "And suppose the Cardassians decide to challenge you with the frontier fleet they keep to counter the Tzenkethi?"
Bisla's answer was immediate. "We withdraw and fortify Dervak. If necessary, we ask the Alliance for assistance from the 5th Fleet to hold our position."
Hanse nodded at that. "Still, I do not want to put everything on the Alliance being able to provide aid with their 5th Fleet. They are developing their own offensive and that will be the one that brings the war closer to an end." He looked to Johnston. "Admiral, when you are ready, I would prefer you to move to Pelikar, but do so cautiously and with an eye out for the enemy. Marshal, do not commence any landings of troops until we verify the Cardassians are not going to bring their fleet over from the Tzenkethi border."

"Of course, Highness." Bisla gave a slight nod of affirmation. "May I ask for the progress of compiling reinforcements?"
Hanse allowed Morgan to answer that. "Partial mobilization is continuing, though you are certainly aware that we don't want to risk all of the units with the New Army upgrades, so I'm afraid you won't be getting any more BattleMech regiments or RCTs."
"Given Cardassian equipment and their performance so far, Sir, I'm not really worried about getting more BattleMechs. Give me an armored battalion for every infantry brigade, and a hell of a lot of those, and I'll be happy."
Hanse grinned at that, since it's what he had been hoping for. Morgan nodded. "We're busy forming and raising new non-'Mech formations of two brigades apiece with an attached armored regiment, designated as Grenadier Divisions. It's a new form, yes, but we hope to give it a good operational test in the Alpha Quadrant. The 1st Division is already en route and should be there soon. You'll have ten within three weeks."
"They'll be very welcome here."
"You and your troops, and those of our allies, have the continued faith and support of the Commonwealth, Marshal Bisla, Admiral Johnston. Good luck."
The reply of "Thank you, Highness" came from both Bisla and Johnston, after which their images disappeared.
After a few moments, Hanse looked to Morgan. "Given how much damage the Alliance has caused the Cardassians, do you really think the war will be on long enough for the Grenadier Divisions to see action?"
After a moment, he was answered by a careful reply. "Things look good so far, Highness," said Morgan, "but as I'm sure you know, the war isn't over until the other side agrees that it is."

CDS Droamall, Marull System, Cardassian Union
Universe Designate ST-3
17:10 GST

Home Fleet, 520 warships strong, was now gathering; they were joined by 300 Cardassian ships that were either repaired survivors of prior battles or ships restored from mothballs and crewed as well as they could be.
Amongst them was the Droamall. One of the latest Galor-class ships to join the Cardassian fleet, it was the flagship that Dukat had chosen for the coming battle. Walking through the bridge of the Droamall, Dukat was approached by a 1st Rank Glin. "Sir," the matured Cardassian male replied, "the couriers have confirmed that Gul Ituvek and Gul Parittza are in position."
"Excellent." Dukat walked up to the operations console, ignoring the officer attending to it and pressing keys to bring up the tactical map. At Marull, Kovulak, Palki, Mekelos, and Poruta, the Cardassian fleet was gathering once more. These positions were nearly sixty light years from the nearest Alliance-held system, making detection less likely, and going undetected was a key part of Dukat's plan. "And do we have the linkup with the squadrons observing the enemy's border?"
"Yes, Gul. We're getting hourly updates as to enemy positions, though at some cost. We've already lost two warships from attacks by the enemy."
"It is to be expected."
"Gul, if I may ask, when is the fleet going to combine to go after the enemy?"
Dukat looked to the Glin and shook his head. "We're not going to."
The young officer looked bewildered. "Sir, we're not?"
"No. Attacking the enemy in concentration would be playing to their strength, as the war's battles have proven." Dukat pointed to the map and the different gatherings of Cardassian ships. "I intend to ignore the enemy fleet. Our objective is the enemy's support, the ships they use to move troops and supplies. Preferably, our attack will come down on the moment of their offensive. By attacking at multiple points, I hope to confuse the enemy of my intentions, while our ships wipe out their transports and the troops that are aboard them. Each force, each Strike Group, will go on until it meets substantial resistance, and then it will withdraw."
"Withdraw, sir?"
"Yes." Dukat nodded. "The purpose of this attack is not to drive the enemy out of the territory they hold. It is to disrupt their timing. Hit them hard enough, and they will have to delay offensive action, and every day we gain is a day that another ship can be successfully returned to the fleet, another day for new crews to become accustomed to their duties. We must delay the enemy as long as we can, and be willing to cede territory to him in careful operations to prolong the war and give Cardassian industry more time to rebuild the ships we've lost. That is our only hope now."
"I see, Gul." The Glin nodded enthusiastically. "It is brilliant."
"Perhaps, but it will only be remembered that way if we succeed." Dukat looked to the officer. "Have a courier sent to Gul Gavron. Tell him that the Legate has authorized him to begin his maneuver."
"Yes, Gul."

Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
23:54 GST

The staff for each of the commanders present in the facility were coming and going everywhere, delivering and organizing all sorts of reports and the other minutae of military operation that necessitated the bureaucracy that the field soldiers and officers so despised. Seated together at the table, Simonov, Crawford, Polk, and Lumet were looking over the final plan.
What was being called for now was a sixty-six division assault along the front, starting from the right-most border of control for Field Marshal Bisla's Corwich Front Sector Army to the beginning of the Control Zone that stretched out to Darane and over to the Bajoran systems, under the Bajoran Liberation Zone Sector Army. Six Armies and two Marine Assault Corps, organized into the 1st and 6th Army Groups under the New Liberty Sector Army commanded by Field Marshal Pierre Esterhazy, would strike out from six solar systems taken from the Cardassians in the early offensive of the war. 5th Army Group, with forty divisions gathered in 4 Armies, would remain as the operational reserve. 5th Fleet was to provide the naval support, backed by the carriers Audacious, Kuznetsov, and Akagi and Task Forces 9.2 and 9.4 of the 9th Fleet; marked on the map was also 10th Fleet, which had replaced the 5th Fleet forces that were originally defending Kelos and minding the Alliance border with the Federation and which were now ready to join the war at last.
The mood was frantic. This was the largest military operation the Alliance military had yet launched as an organized body; it was the largest operation launched throughout the known Multiverse since the fascistic European Union of Universe FHI-8 had invaded the Kingdom of Iran in 2141 AST. Over a million ground troops and many thousands of naval personnel would be involved on the front alone; thousands more would be involved in the complex logistics and communications needed to run the entire thing. It was here in Wexford that the center of the storm was, with Fleet Admiral Simonov holding the final authority.
As the clock approached midnight, Simonov looked to the other commanders. Admiral Poniatowski had now arrived and was overlooking some final dispositions for the navy. "We have the preliminary green light from Washington," Simonov finally announced. "For the next three days, I will be relying on all of you to do all that is necessary to make this operation a success, and to give those in the field the greatest chance of victory and survival. When the New Year dawns, the Allied Nations will once again bring vengeance to the Cardassian fascists" - Simonov almost spat "fascist" when he said it - "who have murdered and harmed so many innocent peoples. God will see us through to the end, comrades. With the grace of God and the might of our soldiers, we will advance to Cardassia Prime and strike down the vile snake in its den!" Simonov looked to the operational clock, as did everyone. It displayed "23:59:30". "Set the clock. We launch in three days!"
When it hit "00:00:00", signalling the beginning of the 29th of December, a second digital clock display turned on. It was labeled "D -72:00:00", and immediately began to count down from that to 71:59:59 to 71:59:58 and on.
In three days, at the stroke of midnight to herald in the new year of 2154 AST, Operation: Rolling Thunder would commence.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-20 01:01am

Chapter 20

Ikila, Bajor
29 December 2153 AST
03:25 GST

Another hard day of work at the food dispersal counter had ended for Omi, and it would end the same way; a dinner with the handsome Graf von der Goltz, who insisted on being addressed as “Karl”. The dinners were enjoyable affairs and Omi was getting used to the different etiquette from what she had known back home. It was, at least, a way for Omi to keep her mind off everything lately. Her abduction, what had happened, the enduring sense of humiliation and helplessness, not to mention the growing pressure on the Red Cross as the food situation on Bajor grew worse by the day.
Unfortunately, Karl was unaware of how stressed she was on the issue, asking, “Did you hear about Kotala?”
Omi had. It was the Cardassian-majority settlement in Ratha Province, the center of occupation administration there. The entire province, one of Bajor’s poorest, had been racked by a rash of thefts by wandering mobs seeking food with the exhaustion of the province’s grain stores. One such mob had been on the verge of sacking Kotala on the belief the Cardassians there had extensive food reserves; it had taken a respected Vedek, Bareil Antos, to persuade the mob’s leaders that the Cardassian occupants were on leaner food rations than the Bajorans. She stated so, and the slight edge in her voice was sufficient to warn Karl of her stress. “This frustrates you,” Karl said calmly.
“It frustrates us all, and it is the single greatest threat we face,” Omi answered. “To win the freedom of Bajor by force and then cause its people to starve from mistakes and incompetence will ruin everything good that could be achieved.”
“Agreed. But, let me take your mind off of these matters, at least for one night.” He poured some more wine into each of their glasses. “I wished to show youn something tonight. A gift I’ve had brought in at some sacrifice...” He reached into his jacket pocket.
“You have given me several good dinners already, I do not...” Unable to take the smile off her face, Omi watched him open the black case and present a necklace with what looked to be topaz, amythest, and sapphire stones. “Karl, I...”
He took the necklace out of the case. “I got this for a young lady whom I was attempting to court.” Karl allowed himself a bit of a smirk. “Unfortunately Herr Burchard’s father could afford better ones.” He held it out to her. “Please, Omiko, it has to go somewhere, and I have greatly enjoyed your company. Put it on.”
Feeling flattered Omi tentatively took the necklace. Jewelry was not something in vogue in her grandfather’s household, but she had known about jewelry and how to wear it, so it was easyy for her to put it on. Once she had it on, letting it hang to where the folds of her gown met below her neck, she looked back to him and found his resulting smile infectious. “I am very grateful to you, Karl. You have made my time here on Bajor... easier.”
“As you have mine,” he answered.

Bajoran Theater Command HQ, Bajor
04:25 GST

The reports from Ratha and Dennen Provinces were staring Field Marshal Sir Anthony Hunt in the face, and he could do nothing about them, for the moment, but let their implications stir in his mind. Here he was, commander of the Alliance’s Bajoran Theater of Operations, responsible for completing the liberation of Bajor and the Bajoran-inhabited worlds about it, and the gravest threat to his command came from something that didn’t involve enemy action at all.
The letter from Lumet on his desk had made Hunt’s mood sour further upon reading it. He had pleaded with the Army to not only suspend the unnecessary Wave 3 landings - which they had - but to rotate out divisions to permit more transport capacity to be devoted to food supplies for the Bajorans. But Lumet had dashed his hopes for a reduction in troops and a larger logistic commitment for food. The Army needed every troop carrier and cargo-carrier it could get to support the impending offensive into Cardassia proper. He was instead instructed to take “measures as deemed necessary” to maintain order on Bajor and await further aid from other sources.
But there were no such sources. The Federation, while it was nor forbidding shipments of food to Bajor, was being prickly about its vessels being in “a war zone” and whether such action would violate their ceasefire accords with Cardassia. The Ferengi were too busy bilking the Cardassians for every GPL bar they could get to ship Cardassian goods on neutral Ferengi vessels immune to ADN interdiction efforts. The Keloans were sending aid, but their starship fleets weren’t very large and their agricultural surpluses were reduced. Shipping from the Colonial Zone was constant but even that seemed unlikely to hold things before the harvesting of Bajoran winter crops might relieve the situation. And it had been made clear to Hunt that there simply wasn’t enough traffic capacity through the New Liberty Gates to get him what he needed, not with the military taking up so much capacity to ship war material and supplies to try and maintain their dwindling pre-war stocks.
“Sir.” One of his aides entered, a Lieutenant of the British Army assigned to the ADN Army under wartime provisions. The young man gave him a salute after entering, which Hunt returned. “I have Fiona Hazen from CNN on the phone, she wants to get a comment about a report of a food riot in Dakhur Province.”

Rubbing at his forehead, Hunt waved dismissively. “Tell Ms. Hazen that HQ will remark if such is confirmed.” While the aide went off to do that, Hunt had a sinking feeling in his stomach. This was happening on his watch and though the means to deal with it were mostly out of his control, he knew all too well he would get the blame if things went badly. Knowing that Lumet and Simonov were more occupied with preparing to hit the Cardies again, he knew he had to go further up the ladder on this issue.
All the way up the ladder.
And so he brought up his keyboard and began to type a formal request, to be sent straight to President Mamatmas himself.

CDS Yukar, Departing Kortaxis, Cardassian Union
20:19 GST

Yukar was heading away from the Kortaxis base now, joined by over half of the Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet. Three hundred and forty warships were now en route to Pelikar, where Gavron would - if need be - fight to keep the enemy from advancing beyond Dervak.
Reports were that the enemy fleet was not large. There were about two hundred combatants, both from the Alliance and the Commonwealth, which gave Gavron a numerical advantage. But, then again, pretty much every battle in the war had seen the Cardassians with numerical advantages that failed to win victories. This had left no confidence in the Cardassian fleet. His own fleet was the only major fleet left, aside from Home Fleet, to have any of their old confidence left; they had not yet been defeated by the enemy, and they were committed to winning, if not entirely convinced it was possible.
The best way to ensure victory would be to devise a stratagem. A good stratagem. Something that would bring a victory that could restore the morale of the Cardassian Defense Forces... and make Gavron a hero.

FCS Warspite, Departing Dervak, Cardassian Union
30 December 2153 AST
03:19 GST

"We'll be ready when you give the word. Ground Command out."
The image of Major General Paul van der Groot, the commander of the Alliance 39th Division, disappeared from Johnston's screen. Johnston settled into a chair. The fleet he had with him was seventy ships strong, including a squadron of destroyers and cruisers from the 14th Fleet; veterans of the Battles at Darane and at Telkur. An additional 40 ships would be jumped into Pelikar if he arrived and saw a favorable fight.
All around Johnston, men and women went about their duties with an energy produced by their high morale. The Commonwealth Navy had, after all, met the enemy and he had retreated without much of a fight. The Cardassian military was crumbling before their very eyes. For the youngest, it was a chance to live what their parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents had lived a quarter century before, when the 4th Succession War had seen the glorious victories over the Capellans and Kuritans.
For Johnston, it was a chance to make an impact he'd never made in the peacetime Royal Navy he had made his career in at first. A chance for naval glory to give his name a place in the history books. Let the enemy come, he felt, for they would be defeated once again.

And so the stage was set....

Ikapar, Dervak, Joint Occupation Zone
06:25 GST

The main city of Dervak had been assigned to the Wolf Dragoons and a brigade of Alliance Army forces to hold down; the Dragoons would provide the heavy support with light BattleMechs for the mechanized infantry doing the main grunt work. For Phelan, it had seemed to be easy duty, and he was grateful for the more lenient conditions as a chance to spend time with Ranna who, it was clear, was still feeling embarassed by having to be dressed down by Natasha.
Then he had entered Rekor Durba.
The club was a popular one in the Alien Quarter of Ikapar. But it had seen better days. It, in fact, was not even open now. Its Orion patrons were in hiding, wanted by the Cardassian civil authorities for slave-trading, proven by the testimony of a Bajoran girl named Porel Imina. Within the facility were two dozen girls, forced to be waitresses, dancers, and prostitutes for their “owners”. The Cardassian civil authorities had previously turned a blind eye to the ooperations at Rekor Durba, due to bribery and corruption. But with Natasha taking a personal interest upon learning of the situation, and alerting the Alliance and FedCom commanders sent to set up an occupation authority, the JOZ leadership had made it clear to the civil authorities that if they didn’t want to be held responsible under their own laws they had better start enforcing them (or, rather, asking the JOZ to do so).
Upon touring the club’s back rooms Natasha had insisted on the officers of the Dragoons attending. Phelan attended with Ranna beside him as a group was brought through, officers from the Alliance, Commonwealth, and a couple from St. Ives. Some of what he saw was to be expected. The bar area, with dancing stages and cushioned seats for patrons. The immediate set of back rooms weren’t surprising, clearing being meant for liaisons between the clientele and the women employees, or slaves rather.
The back rooms, however, made his blood begin to heat up. They were made to cater for the most special clientele of the club. As opposed to being rooms meant only for sexual encounters, they were full of restraint frames and instruments of varying types and what were very clearly instruments of torture. “The Orions who ran this establishment are ‘Southern’ Orions,” explained an Alliance Army officer with them. “They’re not really nice fellows, as you can see, and are notorious across the Quadrant for their treatment of slaves.”
“They’re savages who need to be put down, preferably by an army of ‘Mechs stomping them like the cockroaches they are,” Natasha remarked angrily.
“How did they get away with this anyway? I mean, the info I saw said the Cardassians have outlawed actual chattel slavery,” Phelan asked them, trying not to look at the equipment around them.

“Because the military let them.”
The new voice came from a corner in the room. A dark-clad figure was there, with a male voice, quietly touching a block-frame used to hold a captive in place for what would presumed to be a beating. Phelan saw, to some surprise, that it was a Cardassian man, a tear in his eye. “Military Interrogation to be exact,” he elaborated.
“This is Glin Kercil, our mole, the man who made the liberation of Madred Village 23 possible,” the Alliance officer stated - Phelan noted that the man was not wearing a name badge.
“So your people helped in this disgrace? Have you not dishonored yourselves enough by your other crimes?”, one of the Dragoons, a former Wolf Clan warrior, asked pointedly.
“Cardassians do not know or care of what you call ‘honor’,” Kercil answered pointedly. “At least... we’re not supposed to. No, in Cardassia the only ‘honor’ is to be found in being a selfless, sacrificing servant of the State. The State is the embodiment of the Cardassian people, as a nation, as a race, and to question it is to be treasonous.” He seemed to look past her, as if deep in thought or, perhaps, recalling memories that were clearly painful to consider. “Even if you believe you are upholding the values of the State, you may never question or criticize its officers. My parents thought otherwise. They were loyal Cardassians. They worked hard for the State, they were Cardassian patriots. But they learned of the arrangement between the military and the Orion Syndicate and it horrified them. Slavery, after all, was illegal in Cardassia. So were many of the items and things the Syndicate dealt in. They thought they were being good citizens when they reported the military activity to the State Press and to a Detepa minister.”

He drew in a long sigh, which was an effective way of communicating what happened next. “I was fourteen when the military came for them. They made me watch... as my parents were interrogated. To make me see their errors, to make me understand my parents were traitors and that I should hate them. I saw them try to defend themselves through the pain but... but it became too much for my father as he saw the things they did to Mother. He.. confessed, claiming to be the sole architect of the ‘treason’, to spare us. They hanged him in the town square, not very far from here.”
“Hanging is different for us, you see,” Kercil continued. He ran a hand along his throat. “Our vital blood vessels in the neck, and our windpipe, are protected by these parts of hard flesh. Where you humans would probably die in minutes, it takes hours, days, for a rope to wear away the flesh enough to compress our throats and cut off our ability to breathe. It took my father two standard days to finally die. And during that time he was on display as a traitor, for all to see, for people to throw rocks at and for children to mock. Seeing Father suffer drew Mother to suicide before they could hold her trial and pronounce her sentence.”
“Isn’t the whole point of a trial to determine guilt?”, one person asked.
At that, Kercil chuckled bitterly. “Not in Cardassia. Suffice to say, I swore to not repeat my parents’ errors. I was allowed to believe they were good people led astray. That’s encouraged in Cardassia, you see. The State dangles the prospect of forgiveness for crimes, the restoration of reputation, after your death, to encourage you to cooperate without the need for further interrogation. Anyway, to shorten the tale of my life, I was given an academy education in the officer corps and soon found myself assigned to Military Interrogations.” Another bitter chuckle. “I would serve the State proudly... making my fellow Cardassians, and others, suffer as my parents had suffered.”
“You see this around you? This is just one of many crimes the State committed against its own people, and against innocents of other races,” Kercil stated. “And I was an agent of those acts, acts for which I anticipate a swift and righteous punishment from the laws of your nations.”

Kercil went silent. It fell upon one of the freed former slaves, of the lucky ten that the Orions hadn’t smuggled off world before the Alliance-Commonwealth fleet had arrived, to give a sob-filled explaination of the instruments of punishment to those assembled, certainly enough to convince those present that of all the universes in the known Multiverse, ST-3 was the most barbaric. It was an assessment he was not prepared to dispute.

06:55 GST

Kercil was in Imina’s room with her, helping her gather belongings, when a knock sounded at the door. Imina, wearing a modest blouse and skirt provided by the Madred Village 23 dwellers, answered it. The Army officer who had been attending the tours of the club appeared at the door. A man of dark skin and medium height, he respectfully nodded to Imina and asked to enter. She replied through tear-filled eyes; Kercil had just informed her, the only living being to ever declare genuine love for him since his parents had died, that he was intending to immediately submit himself to judgement in the Alliance courts for his role in Military Interrogations.
“Mister Kercil, I am Captain Salmons, Army Intelligence Command,” the Alliance man remarked. “I’m representing Alliance Intelligence on Dervak.”
“Have you come to take me into custody?”, Kercil asked pointedly, causing a bit of a whimper from Imina.
“Of a sort,” Salmons answered. “Mister Kercil, you provided vital intelligence information to the Alliance before and during this war, not to mention your selfless courage in arranging for the sabotage that permitted the Black Widow Battalion’s rescue operation to succeed. In light of your services to the Alliance and our allies, we have arranged for you to remain off of the list of accused Cardassian war criminals to be indicted post-war.”
Imina’s expression immediately brightened and she ran up to Kercil, throwing her arms around him joyously. She was too small to ordinarily knock him off balance, but to be told he would not be held responsible for his actions as a military interrogator had made Kercil’s knees become wobbly. He staggered back at the impact from Imina’s embrace while Salmons looked on, maintaining a neutral demeanor. “But... why?”
“Alliance Intelligence takes care of people who bring results,’ Salmons stated. “For what it’s worth, I think you probably should rot in jail for a while for the things you did, but I’m not going to quibble over you getting a get out of jail free card since you prevented the murdering of the people at Village 23.”
“So, if I’m not to be charged, then what do you want me for?”, he asked.
“You’re being taken to Washingtonin in HE-1 to be debriefed by our Intelligence officials,” Salmons answered. “Your girl can come too. After that, I don’t know. I don’t get told those kinds of things. Now, if you’ll be so kind as to get ready, you have a ship to catch.”

FCS Avenger, Pelikar, Cardassian Union
07:00 GST

Avenger was in the second position of Attack Division 7's formation when the Commonwealth fleet dropped out of warp. Durlacher and his crew were tense yet eager, as they had been at Shervarak.
The system was quite built up, an important frontier system for the Cardassian Union with the local sector administration located in its orbiting space station and on the planet's surface. The system had defenses, but that was not the concern of the Commonwealth fleet.
Also on scope were fifty Cardassian ships. There were only two Galors among them, clearly a screening force. Durlacher waited patiently for the order to be given to attack.
It wasn't long in coming.

FCS Warspite

Johnston carefully considered the situation. The only contacts on scope were ahead of him, already outnumbered, and none of them matched the identifier codes from Shervarak; this was a new force. His mission was only supposed to be a recon-in-force, but this opportunity to reduce the Cardassian fleet was not to be ignored. "Target enemy and fire."
Warspite and her companion ships turned toward the enemy ships, which were beginning to react to their presence by turning to run away. As they did so they came under fire from the Commonwealth fleet. Some shots missed, others hit, and ships were damaged, crippled, or outright destroyed when their shields failed to stop the hits against them.
A few contacts disappeared from Johnston's display. Four enemy contacts, then five, then finally six. A seventh winked out just as the Cardassian force got out of their effective weapons range. "Detach light squadrons to pursue the enemy. We will go commence bombardment of the enemy system defenses."

FCS Avenger

The enemy had good pilots, Durlacher noticed. The Cardassian ships' evasive maneuvers were effective, throwing off clean shots and so far preventing further losses. Avenger and her sister ships maintained the pursuit, joined by corvettes and destroyers of the Commonwealth fleet that were mostly surplus from the navies of the Allied Nations with a few warp-fitted Achilles to act as torpedo corvettes.
"We're getting closer to the Pelikar star, sir. It's beginning to affect mass sensors."
Durlacher nodded; they could use other mediums just as easily. But at the same time he felt uneasy. The Cardassians weren't going to warp just yet. He had assumed they were trying to gain a bit of distance, or perhaps buy time for the arrival of larger fleet elements. But why would they go so close to the sun?
"I don't like this at all. Keep an eye on scanners, let me know if we get any contacts coming."

CDS Yukar

Gavron was sitting silently on the bridge of the powered down Yukar. Save for the shields and position-keeping thrusters, most of the ship's systems were offline. The bright blue glare of Pelikar's star filled the viewscreen whenever it was turned on. They were very near the corona, close enough that the mass of the ships in his fleet would be masked from detection by the star. The shields were protecting them so far, and would continue to do so.
Using narrow-beam communications, they had a link with the fifty decoy ships Gavron had left in the open. They were luring an enemy force of about forty ships after them. But the enemy still had about thirty that were not pursuing and consisted of the heavy units. Gavron wasn't going to spring the trap for light elements. Especially since he knew they'd run, and he'd miss the chance to do any meaningful damage.
However, he needed to get the enemy's heavy units in position. It occurred to Gavron that if he sprung his trap but only with a portion of his own fleet, he might draw in the other enemy ships. He gave the orders to do so.

FCS Warspite

Johnston was watching particle cannon fire start to batter on the shields protecting the orbiting station when one of his officers gave a new report; another hundred enemy vessels had appeared near the system's star and were moving to attack the detached light elements.
"Dammit, I should have been more careful," Johnston muttered. "We've got a fight on our hands. Send the signal to the Blue Fox to make their jump. All ships, come about and move to the aid of our light divisions."
At those orders the twenty ships with Johnston began to turn and head to the aid of the lighter ships, going to full speed to get into range quickly.

FCS Avenger

Attack Division 7 was trapped with the other light elements, but it was also amongst the best ships equipped for this kind of fight; the Valiant-class was specifically designed to withstand greater punishment than ships of its tonnage usually took; it was "a flying armored pulse phaser battery" by intention.
So the Avenger's powerful pulse phaser cannons maintained a high rate of fire as the ten Valiant-class ships amongst the light elements spearheaded their breakout attack. They kept going, not turning to face the larger enemy force bearing down on them but to break through the ships they had been pursuing. Avenger shook from the hits that made contact with her, but her shields held; her state-of-the-art forward battery was far more effective in dealing with the Cardassian ships.
An Ikvak was torn apart by Avenger, after which she battered down a Dorkarak's shields. A spread of photon torpedoes retaliated, three hitting directly and one indirectly. "Deflectors down to sixty percent!" Another rough shake. "Now forty-eight percent!"
"We've lost the Regina Hill!"
And that was not all that was lost. Six Commonwealth warships were completely gone now, and another eight were severely damaged. The Cardassian fleet was still moving to fully engage, and if they didn't break out successfully the entire force would be nearly wiped out.
Durlacher's concerns, magnified as another series of hits put them below a third their normal shield power, did not last long. A hail of fire came down on the Cardassian force pursuing them; the Commonwealth battle line had moved into position. Further off, JumpShips materialized at a pirate point and more missile and torpedo ships began to move to their aid, with about sixty upgraded aerospace fighters.
The battle was still theirs to win.

FCS Warspite

Particle cannon fire joined the myriad other types available - energy weapons, nuclear-disruptors, missiles - to pound the Cardassian light elements and help the beleaguered Commonwealth light ships escape. Only thirty-seven successfully did so, the others crippled or outright destroyed. But the odds weren't as bad as they seemed with the forces that had jumped in. "Assume standard wall formation. Fire support vessels are to remain behind us, we'll draw the Cardassians' fire."
The Commonwealth light ships moved to join the formation, serving as the wings to guard against the Cardassians attempting to englobe the Commonwealth formation. The ten battleships of the Commonwealth fleet, supported by heavy cruisers and missile cruisers, used their sheer firepower to inflict losses on the Cardassian fleet as it approached, more intent on surviving with maneuvers than pressing home any attack on the Commonwealth battle line. Their supporting ships were moving up and things were looking fine.
"Sir, we're picking up power spikes. There are more enemy ships!"
Johnston looked to the subordinate making the report. "How many?"
"At least.... three hundred, sir! Coming up behind us"

CDS Yukar

The bulk of the Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet pounced on the enemy, coming up "behind" his formations to attack the torpedo and missile ships coming to support his formations. Gavron gave the order to fire with glee, his strategem having succeeded magnificantly.
The enemy fleet's reaction was to begin pulling back, but it was too late. Just within weapons range as they came out from around the star, the Cardassian fleet's compressor cannons and torpedoes lashed out with such a volume of fire that it was almost impossible not to hit. The enemy ships' shields flickered once, twice, thrice... and pop! They were gone, and usually only a single hit was necessary to destroy them, often with magnificant explosions. Ship after ship was wiped out. Gavron detached eighty ships to pursue these vessels, incapable of warp, as they frantically tried to fall back to the carrier ships that moved them between systems. They adopted a tight formation, pushing past the determined aerospace fighters that met them with missiles and torpedoes of their own. A few ships were lost, others damaged, but massed fire from the tightened ships eliminated the great danger; the aerospace threat was neutralized.
This left Gavron free to direct the bulk of his force on the enemy fleet. They too began to withdraw, seeking to avoid the trap. Gavron wasn't going to let them get away so easily, though. The Cardassian ships were faster and were able to close quickly, linking up with the initial forces he'd sent against the Commonwealth to press the much smaller Commonwealth fleet.

FCS Warspite

Warspite shook violently as a barrage of torpedoes made it through her point-defense and battered her shielding. Her particle cannons continued to fire, slicing into Cardassian ships here and there, breaking through shields at times and cleaving off portions of hull.
The entire fleet was under intense fire now. The JumpShips were almost within enemy range as well, and the Cardassians' numbers and the speed of their ships were making it virtually impossible for the Commonwealth fleet to effectively regroup. Johnston watched an element of the Cardassian fleet put itself between his ships and the surviving DropShips fleeing back toward their JumpShips. The DropShips themselves continued to take losses; almost half were lost now, having been under intense fire for several minutes as they burned back toward their JumpShips.
The battle was becoming a reverse of the Prodigal. The Commonwealth fleet was nearly surrounded, pressed against the Pelikar star, and being pounded by an enemy with vast numerical superiority. It was not a battle that could be won. Johnston bit into his tongue. He disliked leaving men behind, but the DropShips could not be saved.... He used his controls to patch into the DropShips with narrow beam transmissions to break through enemy jamming. "This is Admiral Johnston to all DropShips. Come about and attack the enemy. Buy time for the JumpShips to finish emergency charges to escape." Johnston looked to the man at communications. "Order all of our ships to make things easier on the DropShips until we're far enough away from the star to go to warp."
The fleet continued to press outward from that order, taking losses as it went.

CDS Yukar

Gavron was generally pleased with the progress of the battle. The enemy had committed 110 ships so far; they had lost half. His fleet had taken only a few dozen outright losses, as he had been instructed to ensure.
It was rather obvious, of course, that the enemy fleet would seek to withdraw as soon as the numerical disparity was clear. The first to go were their "JumpShips", which disappeared with tremendous power spikes just before Gavron's ships could reach them. This meant that the non-warp ships and aerospace fighters were stranded, abandoned to the Cardassian fleet.
Another few ships were destroyed or crippled as the warp-capable ships cleared the star's inner gravity well. A well-timed torpedo barrage from a few Galors crippled an enemy battleship, much to Gavron's delight, but that was the end of that. In groups the Commonwealth fleet leapt to warp speed, about forty-six ships remaining to them.
The Commonwealth ships left behind continued to fight. Gavron turned to his communications officer and ordered him to open a channel. "This is Gul Gavron of the Cardassian Empire to enemy forces. You are crippled and unable to escape. Continuing to fight is futile and would be a pointless waste of lives. If you surrender, I can promise that you will be treated well and in full accordance with the recognized laws of war."

FCS Avenger

The Avenger had been the only ship of her class to not escape, with a photon torpedo having torn apart her port warp drive nacelle. They could still fight, though Durlacher had taken the time to listen to the Cardassian's offer.
For a moment he debated the choice. He had a responsibility to his crew to not see them die needlessly. The honor of the Commonwealth had been fulfilled; they had fought to the point of inability and ensured their comrades' escape. There was no practical reason not to surrender.
But Durlacher's thoughts turned to the Cardassian prisons so recently liberated. The sorrowful tales of torture and humiliation. He wasn't about to suffer that and didn't want his crew to.
He made his decision. Gonig to his command console, he keyed in his code and brought up the self-destruct command to scuttle the ship. He set it to a minute and a half before flipping a switch to activate the ship intercom. "This is Major Durlacher. You've done well, everyone, and the Commonwealth is proud of your service. The enemy has offered us quarter and promised mercy. You have one minute to evacuate the ship if you choose to accept it and take the risk that the enemy will not honor his word. If you stay, it is of your own conscious, and we will die together as soldiers of the Commonwealth. You have a minute. Make your decision."
Durlacher looked around his bridge. Leftenant Wilcox rose and turned to his commander, as did Leftenant Luvon. They walked up to him. "Sir, request permission to abandon ship."
"Permission granted. Good luck."
They had lumps in their throats, Durlacher could tell. He prayed - as he typically did not - that they would be safe. They were still young officers, and had bright careers and futures ahead of them if they survived.
The section head at communications followed them, but the others remained in place, choosing to follow Durlacher to death. Throughout the ship, individiuals made the choice to risk torture and degradation, perhaps future death after suffering, against the certainty of dying here, in the cold vacuum, far from the stars they had lived under - indeed, an entirely different cosmos from where they'd been born. And out of a remaining crew of 48, 35 made that decision, choosing the hope of the future over their knowledge of their enemy's legendary brutality. Durlacher was a bit surprised, but he did not fault them. If facing another foe he would have joined them. But he knew too much about how this ship worked, about the AFFC's plans and capabilities. He would not risk having them tortured out of him.
The agonizing minute was up, and Durlacher and the dozen who remained with him committed their final duty. Signalling the surrender of their crew and his intent to destroy his ship, Durlacher looked to his command display and watched the seconds tick downward. They could be activated manually if necessary, but the computer systems were still intact. He knew the enemy would soon be ready to send boarding teams. With escape pods having cleared, the Cardassians were again firing on Avenger to remove her shields and, he suspected, disable their self-destruct system.
He wouldn't allow them. Saying one final prayer to the Maker he'd not consulted often on his life, Durlacher watched the ticker count to 00:00. Throughout the hull of gallant Avenger, charges detonated. Her computer core was destroyed. Critical equipment, centers of the hull structure, all of it flew apart. Durlacher and twelve citizens of the Federation Commonwealth - Davion and Lyran alike - were claimed by fire, having fulfilled their oathes of duty to the ultimate end.

CDS Yukar

The enemy had mostly surrendered now, with the diehards having been destroyed. Gavron was generally satisfied with his victory, but not by much. He had defeated the lesser power; the Commonwealth was little better than the hanger-on of the much more powerful Alliance. And this victory was not that great of one, really. More enemy ships had been destroyed in the defeats at Zygola and Second Darane than at this victory of Pelikar. This wasn't what Gavron really wanted.
But there was still the enemy, retreating back to Dervak. Still his troops. Cardassian space under occupation. The enemy fleet was broken at the moment, and he could seize advantage. Gavron returned to his seat. "Detach half the fleet to remain here and finish collecting survivors. The other half is to take formation with us. For the first time in this war, Cardassia has had the joy of seeing the enemy flee. Now we will become the hunters and seek to make their defeat final. For Cardassia!"
His soldiers - good men and women all - cheered. The other fleets had seen only defeat. The Tsen'kethi Frontier Fleet, under Gul Gavron, had tasted victory. And he wanted to taste it yet again.
Soon, the pursuit would be on.

FCS Warspite, Nearing Dervak, Cardassian Space (Occupied)
09:12 GST

Johnston was in a depressed mood, for obvious reasons. He had lost over half of the Commonwealth fleet in an engagement that had only been intended as a "recon-in-force". Even worse, he had lost it to a major concentration of the enemy fleet, one that even now could threaten Dervak. He had already alerted the commanders there of the defeat and the enemy presence, and preparations were being made to evacuate quickly if necessary.
"Sir, we're picking up enemy contacts, about two hundred and twenty of them."
Johnston's stomach twisted painfully. "Will they intercept us before we get to Dervak?"
"Yes, sir."
That was it, then. They were no match for such a larger enemy force. There was nothing more to do but fight and die gallantly. Johnston couldn't have his grand victory; he would at least be remembered for dying in the fashion of Tom Phillips and Horatio Nelson; in battle, for the glory of the Service and the Nation. "Send the message to Dervak. Begin evacuations immediately. And call Wexford and inform them that the enemy is pursuing us in force. With luck, the Alliance 14th Fleet may yet prevent us from being thrown all the way back to Corworth."
As they did so, Johnston composed in his mind what he would say next. When the orders were finished, his finger hit a key to trigger the intercom. The young man at communications - Good lad! Johnston thought of him - patched him to the other ships. "This is Admiral Johnston speaking. This is it, my brave sailors. The enemy outnumbers us four times over and will overtake us soon. Our hopes of victory are gone. All we have left now is to die gloriously, protecting the National Honour of the Federated Commonwealth." And the British Empire, Johnston thought to himself; he still represented it, after all. "Your families, your comrades, your Nation expects you to do your duty, and to do it proudly. It is in places like this that legends are made, and if history will write that the Federated Commonwealth Navy was annihilated at Pelikar, it will write that it died well, fighting the enemy to...."
"Sir! Contacts ahead of us!"
Irritated that his statement to his sailors had been interrupted, Johnston turned his attention to the display and the orange "unidentified" contacts on it. Could the damned Cardassians have gone around us?!
"Signal coming in, sir!"
The lad at the comms put the signal on immediately, having made the report only for Johnston's benefit and not to seek permission. A voice spoke clear and true; "This is Captain Mitchell, DNS Enterprise. Commonwealth Task Force, do you require assistance?"
"Thank God for you, Enterprise!" Johnston's shout drowned out the celebration from his crew. "Two hundred twenty enemy contacts following us!"
"Task Force 14.1 will meet you on the way with our fighters to cover you. If the enemy wants another fight, he's welcome to it."

CDS Yukar

Gavron listened to his subordinate report on the new enemy contacts moving into sensor range and knew that the game was up. They were all equal now. Too equal; he was under orders to preserve as much of his fleet as he could and to only engage if he could guarantee a minimum of casualties and losses. That was impossible now. "Oh well," he muttered. "Order all ships to come about and return to Pelikar, maximum speed. If they want another fight they're welcome to it. Send a signal to Gul Kuval to be ready in case they do decide for another try."
As his subordinates fulfilled those orders and the Cardassian fleet turned, Gavron sat in silence. He had been on the verge of a great victory, he sensed, and it would have given him greater power. As it was, he at least could claim the only undisputable victory in the entire war; that should be help enough for his ambitions.
As it was, the Battle of Pelikar was over.

Camp Ganymede, Yuvar, Alliance Occupation Zone
13:28 GST

The 79th Division was nearly finished loading into Arthur Clinton's immense living areas and storage bays. The meager skyline of Turek Ikara hung in the distance, where the Cardassian inhabitans remained mostly docile in the face of the occupation; some even seemed to enjoy what they considered the greater freedom of Alliance military occupation and the accompanying martial law, a rather somber appraisal of the power of the Cardassian State over its citizens.
Kellie Stevenson had added all of this to her reports, most of which she was still awaiting permission to transmit. When she wasn't gathering reports and trying to get interviews, she was working with Major Ogden, or Kyle as she knew him now, the lover she had never expected to meet while on assignment.
But now he was leaving with the rest of the 79th Division. Kellie didn't know where they were going and they weren't letting her come along. Too many of her colleagues had acted in the wrong fashion, so the Federation press was no longer being permitted any kind of entry until third wave reinforcements. It was causing its share of problems - and condemnations from the State Press against the Alliance military - but that was the fault of the people in the field screwing up.
They were at the edge of the tarmac now, Ogden walking away from her after giving one last press statement. She had wanted a goodbye kiss, but neither were terribly willing to be overt about their relationship, so they settled for a handshake and a silent look; their last kiss alone together would have to suffice.
The tarmac was fully cleared and Kellie returned to an aircar to be taken back to the inn in the city where the press corps was staying. As the private acting as her chauffer drove, Kellie watched the shape of the Arthur Clinton lift off under plumes of flame, rising toward the twilight sky and off toward the sunset. She blew a kiss toward it, thinking even now of what she wanted to do when reunited with Kyle.

Torvur, Korukak, Alliance Occupation Zone
13:00 GST

Another member of the Federation State Press to be left behind was Arvan Kortis, a Betazoid reporter initially attached to the 56th Division. Now he too was being left behind, without being told when he would be allowed to the new front areas to re-commence his reporting.
He was talking on a secured line with his boss now. The white-haired Andorian woman Uvalia was back on New Liberty in the State Press' local headquarters in Wexford. She listened to him rant and prattle angrily. "They just want to keep us out of the loop," Kortis muttered. "They want to hide things from the Alpha Quadrant. They can rely on their own press to not criticize them, but not us."
"I know, Arvan, I know. But there's nothing we can do about that." Uvalia put her hands together on her desk. "So what are you doing now?"
"Oh, I'll cover more stuff with the locals, I guess, though there's not much I want to show The Cardassians sent their undesirables here. The people cheered the Alliance when they arrived. Cheered! They're just a bunch of troublemakers, and there's no way that a responsible journalist can show such a thing. It'd be justifying the war!"
"Oh, I understand. Just do what you can. Take care, Arvan."
The screen flipped off. Arvan went to bed, irritated still.

Wexford, New Liberty, Alliance Colonial Zone
13:05 GST

Uvalia stepped out of her office and looked at her secretary, Pauline Trexos. Half-Human and half-Betazoid, the blond-haired woman smiled at her boss. "Another late night?"
"Oh, yes. Anyway, it's time for the graveyard shift. Coming, Pauline?"
"I'll be right with you." Pauline smiled at her and watched Uvalia leave. She turned to her monitor and opened a subspace link to Rymorta. The face that appeared was a Cardassian woman her age, Juvia Kulap, a Cardassian state press journalist assigned to their Rymorta office for covering the Sphere. "Pauline! How nice to see you!"
"Hey Juvia, I've got something you might like to know. To really scoop everyone else." Pauline was nearly whispering, not wanting to be heard. "We just heard from one of the reporters we had assigned to Alliance front-line units. He says they've forced our people to be left behind, can you imagine it?"
"Obviously they're hiding something."
"Oh, of course. And I heard him tell my boss that the division he was assigned to has already left their planet! I wonder what's up...."

CDS Droumall, Marull System, Cardassian Union
18:19 GST

Gul Dukat was enjoying a quiet meal in his quarters when the intercom chirped. "Gul Dukat, sir, we have a message coming to you. Sir.... it's from the Obsidian Order."
Dukat sighed and put his plate down. "Patch it through." Dukat turned to the screen and saw a dark-clad male Cardassian his age appear. "This is Gul Dukat."
"Gul, we have been instructed to pass information on to you. A source we have in the Federation State Press has alerted us that at least one of the Alliance front-line divisions has embarked transports and left the worlds they were operating on. We suspect several others have done the same, though we can only fully guarantee the one."
"Thank you. Droumall out." Dukat turned the screen off. He didn't like talking with Obsidian Order operatives more than he had to. Not after what they'd done to his father. Scowling, Dukat looked back to his meal. "Dukat to bridge."
"Bridge here."
"We have word that the enemy is preparing to move. Send out the preliminary go order now. I'll be up as soon as I finish my meal."
"Yes sir."

DNS Yancy Carlton, Mapakar, ADN Occupation Zone
31 December 2153 AST
06:19 GST

The 52nd Division had finished embarking an hour prior, and now they were in space awaiting final go orders for the coming offensive. The soldiers on board were now left to the old waiting game, wondering when they would be on solid soil again.
Wearing work trousers and a short-sleeved white cotton shirt, Amy Byrd was busy cleaning Trogdor. The tank was already pristine from its de-contamination scrub upon being put aboard, but she was still hard at working, going after every remnant particle upon the tank's gray form.
A shadow stood over her, making Amy look up. Captain Devon looked down at her, the flourescent lights of the tank bay reflecting off his muscled ebony figure. "Lieutenant Byrd, usually E-1s are assigned to scrubbing tanks, and they've been given their de-contamination scrubs already."
"Ah, but this isn't just any tank, Sir. This is my tank. Aren't you, baby?" She affectionally ran her hand on the light brown surface of the M3-3A3. "You're my baby, and you like being cleaned after setting bad guys on fire, don't you?"
Devon snickered. Though he was a product of an officer academy - unlike Byrd, who had just gotten out of OCS when the war began - Devon was often amused by her antics instead of irritated. "Well, Lieutenant, I'll leave you to cleaning your baby. Just remember to get some sleep and report to briefing at zero hundred sharp."
"I will sir."
After Devon left, she continued her work quietly. Amy was putting away the cleaning supplies when the calm of the transport was shattered by the alarm klaxons.

CDS Utoumal

5th Rank Gul Sikrep was the officer Dukat entrusted with his "4th Strike Group", a collection of 120 warships directed at Mapakar as part of the eight-unit thrust toward the Alliance positions. From the bridge of the Utoumal, a Mark VI Galor-class warship, he would lead his six squadrons against whatever force the enemy had available.
The timing had been excellent. The enemy was jamming once again to cover their impending offensive, but that would work for Cardassia's benefit now, allowing Dukat's fleet to approach undetected. They entered the system to find the enemy ships only now beginning to react, an excellent advantage.
The orders were simple. Sikrep was to ignore the enemy's warships and focus on transport vessels. There were five in the system now, guarded by about sixty enemy vessels, mostly destroyers with a handful of cruisers. "Squadrons 2 through five, sheild us from the enemy craft. We're going after the transports."
The order was sent and the Cardassian fleet raced to its target. The three Alliance squadrons, led by the heavy cruiser Novvy Smolensk, opened fire first, but they were still getting into formation and were very much surprised, so the attack was hardly as bad as it could have been.
The Cardassians returned fire as soon as they reached range. Point-defense blunted the torpedo attack, but Sikrep was happy to see four destroyers crippled or destroyed under the onslaught. As eighty of his ships attacked the enemy covering fleet, he moved on to the transports that were trying to escape. His ships opened up a torpedo barrage.
The enemy transports were hardly inspiring. They were flying blocks with engine nacelles and openings to disembark their troops upon worlds. And now their shields flickered under the onslaught of the Cardassian fleet, which poured on its attack. The enemy's destroyers turned to try and give aid to the transports, but Sikrep was not about to divert from his targets. He left it to his detachment to deal with the enemy fleet.
Pursuing enemy destroyers and Sikrep's forces fired at the same time. A Cardassian destroyer took three torpedoes and blew apart near the rear of Sikrep's formation, and a cruiser lost its port warp engine. Numerous ships took shield damage of some kind.
The transports fared worse. Despite ECM and point-defense weapons, all ten received torpedo hits. One blew apart nicely from a second torpedo hit, and two more were outright crippled, left to be destroyed by compressor beam shots. The remaining two, despite damage, succeeded in charging their warp drives up and finally went to warp, fleeing further into Alliance territory.
"Enemy transports fleeing, sir. The enemy fleet is turning to follow." On cue, the surviving Alliance warships retreated, leaving the husks of the three lost transports, four destroyers, and a single light cruiser missing a warp drive nacelle. His squadrons went to work dispatching the ship, not bothering to accept any surrenders. His weapons officer looked up. "Shall we program coordinates to commence bombardment of enemy positions on the planet?"
"No. That's not our mission. Set pursuit course, maximum warp!"

Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
06:40 GST

Simonov was seated at a table sipping some tea when one of his officers came up. "Admiral, we're receiving some garbled reports from the frontlines. The Cardassians have launched attacks along the front."
Simonov stared at the soft-spoken Canadian Lieutenant - he forgot the young man's name - and stammered, "Wha... what? But intelligence hasn't reported any activity..."
"Sir, the jamming's effecting our communications, but we have reports of at least a hundred Cardassian ships hitting Mapakar, Tuvorak, and Felvar. No reports on losses yet, though a report from Captain Foquet on the Novvy Smolensk stated that the Cardassians were targeting our troop transports."
Simonov nodded, quickly gathering his senses. "Send orders to Admiral Usagi on the Lafayette. 10th Fleet must move forward to aid 5th Fleet against the enemy. All transports are to be pulled back toward New Liberty and Kensington. And see if 9th and 14th Fleets can spare any ships without compromising their positions. We may be dealing with a full-scale enemy offensive."

DNS Yancy Carlton, Mapakar, ADN Occupation Zone
06:45 GST

With great hesitation, Amy opened the door to the shielded protection bunker of the Carlton's port bay. She looked back at the handful of her people who'd made it. Eddie Lewis was present, as was Sergeant Wilcox and Staff Sergeant Watts; Privates DiNozzo and Purette were also present. All were in their combat suits, which would give them limited oxygen until they could get to tanks and the internal oxygen tanks for them; the suits would also protect them from radiation.
The Carlton was a lifeless wreck. The Cardassian torpedoes hadn't completely destroyed the ship's hull, but they'd taken out its engines and released deadly waves of radiation that killed everyone save for Amy and her five subordinates, the only ones she'd managed to get into "the box". Sweating and rather terrified, Amy tried to force herself to calm. She was the officer here - she had to take charge.
"We might still be close to Mapakar," she heard Wilcox say. "If we're too close, the ship could drift into a decaying orbit and crash into the planet. We'll all be roasted into ash."
"Well, let's get to the life pods," DiNozzo said, his Tuscan accent smooth and hiding any apprehension or fear.
"They'll be this way." Amy carefully maneuvered herself out of the box, trying to remember what she could from emergency zero-G training. The others followed her. "Let's hurry."
Carefully they bounded down a cross hall, avoiding a fractured part of the hull and trying not to look at the irradiated remains of their friends and comrades. They took a detour to get around a blocked hall, nearing the port-side escape pods.
Amy boldly pulled herself around a corner to the pods.... and gasped. The others came about and all six lost shades of color on their faces.
The pods were gone.
In fact, the entire section of the ship was gone. They stared out at lifeless cold black, and in the distance, they could make out the slowly growing shape of one of Mapakar's moons. It was the second moon, a sulphur-atmosphere rock with raging storms.
And they were heading right for it.
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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

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

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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-20 09:58pm

Chapter 21

Turek Ikara, Yuvar, ADN Occupation Zone
07:18 GST

Kellie was alone in her suite, glaring at the computer monitor screen set upon the desk beside her bed. Her boss, Gerry Pinelli, was a short stocky man approaching middle age that was always looking to take the next step up the latter. Currently, the pudgy little power-hungerer was again refusing to air her material. He always did, citing this reason or that for his decision.
This time she was fighting back.
"Just let me do my job, Pinelli! We're supposed to report on these things!"
"We're supposed to be responsible journalists, Stevenson. Airing provocative material isn't reponsible at all. It is information that the public does not need to know and which could easily be used to justify this war."
Breathing in sharply, Kellie waited a moment before taking the argument up again. "So the public doesn't need to know that all of those innocent people got slaughtered?"
"Of course they should be told, but the public doesn't need to know who did it. All they need to know is that innocent people were killed. Saying who did it is unnecessarily provocative and you should know better."
"And what about my other material? My interviews with local citizens? With Alliance troops? Why won't you air that?"
"We're still thinking about it, Stevenson. But we feel it would be misleading to show the people back home too much positive footage of Alliance troops or their supporters in the Cardassian population. So we're waiting for material that we can put together a report that would be fair and more neutral. I'm sure you understand."
"Oh, yes, I do," Kellie replied angrily. "I'll try to get you some more material then."
"Yes, please do. And Kellie, please, remember that out there you represent all of us, and you should make sure you don't say or do anything that could make the Federation Press look... biased."
"Oh, I won't," Kellie promised, more than a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "I'll report in when I have more material."
"Great. Pinelli out." His face disappeared from the screen, replaced by the Federation insignia for a few moments. Kellie, without much to do, decided to lie down and try to get over her irritation.

DNS Arthur Clinton, En Route to Ituval
08:13 GST

Every man and woman in the 79th knew this could be the end. The minutes had ticked down steadily, and no relief was in sight as the Cardassians came closer and closer.
Kyle Ogden had only one picture of Kellie so far. She had provided him a photo of her vacationing on Risa, wearing a lovely two-piece bathing suit that was very flattering on her. He was alone now, sitting in what amounted to his quarters. He had never expected to fall for her when they first met, but he'd found her charms and her beauty captivating.
He had spent the last hour writing a farewell to her. Commander Weathers had promised to transmit all stored messages in the ship's queue once the Cardassians were in range to open fire, though nobody could be certain that the messages would ever be received.
Like the others, Ogden was suffering from the anxieties of near-certain death. Every moment held the hope of rescue and survival and the terror that they would die here, alone, far away from home. He didn't know what to do with his writing finished. He didn't want to try to get to the bridge or control center and he didn't have any strong acquaitances in the unit. There was nothing to do but sit and wait, every second full of inner torment.

Lieutenant Pinelli, Private Pacelli, and the roughly 6,000 other Catholics on the Arthur Clinton were gathered in the main bay near the embarkation door at the ship's bow. Father Colanza, a middle-aged priest and chaplain with a stern demeanor that complemented and contradicted his paternal nature at the same time, was giving the Last Rites to the assembled crew, standing atop a tank as those around him gathered in tightly. Frightened of imminent death, a death they were helpless to prevent by any effort of their own, the assembled had nothing better to do but seek solace in a faith that not all adhered to strongly, but which now stood as the only thing they had left to console them. Even Colanza had within him the fear of the end of his mortal life, a fear so primal to the human instinct that his faith could never fully restrain it.
Nevertheless, he continued in this final duty, ensuring those gathered around him would be assured of a better life in the beyond if the worse were to come, and giving them an outlet for their terror in the process.

In the control center, Weathers watched helplessly as the vanguard of the Cardassian fleet, twenty strong, was on the verge of entering firing range. "Time to range?"
"Three minutes, forty seconds."
The waiting began anew. The Clinton and the other transports were in an echelon formation, so there were no "rear" ships. The Cardassian gunners would decide who died first.
"Sir! Contacts ahead! Friendlies!"
A cheer came from the control center, but it quickly died down when the sensor officer added, "Sir, they'll get in range after the Cardassians. The Cardies will have about eight seconds to get some shots off before our ships can engage."
Stomachs began to twist; there was hope now of survival, all they had to do was not get shot at for eight seconds. Eight long seconds....
The two forces came closer... and closer.... the religious on the bridge made their final prayers, seeking deliverance, and Weathers found herself joining them as she watched her display and saw the sphere representing the Cardassian firing range grow ever closer to her ship and the others.
"In range!"
The eight seconds began. Six of the Cardassian ships fired torpedoes, then another eight. At warp flight, the torpedoes' accuracy were reduced, but they could still make hits, as the shaking of the ship confirmed. Every transport was hit at least once, but their shields were holding. One torpedo brought Clinton's shields down to seventy-five percent, then another to forty-nine.... then another....
One second before the Alliance ships entered range, a final short spread of torpedoes raced out toward the transport ships. Weathers held her breath, waiting to see where the torpedoes would go, if they would hit anyone, if after all this time her ship, her crew, and the 20,000 soldiers aboard would be spared, waiting to see if she would get home aga-....
Two torpedoes hit Clinton. One removed for good her aft shielding, and as her systems tried to recycle and restore the shielding in that quarter, the second torpedo got through and impacted on her warp nacelle.
At warp, nacelles are energized with plasma to help produce the fields that permit faster-than-light propulsion. Now that plasma was freed in the midst of a great explosion of energy. The energies blew away hull and ship frame, ripping the port side of the Arthur Clinton apart. This alone killed enough, but the others would have been spared.... if they had been at sublight.
The warp field collapsed suddenly and violently. Instead of the gradual (at least relatively gradual) return to sublight that ships made when coming out of warp, it was a sudden stop which tore the ship apart, producing an explosion from the freed anti-matter in the ship's bunkers.
With the suddenness of a moment, the men and women on board were dead.

DNS Yancy Carlton, Mapakar, ADN Occupation Zone
08:33 GST

With nowhere else to go, Amy had lead her people to the main bay at the bow of the ship. It was, in turned out, the only place left to go period. When they got there, they found another twelve soldiers, led by Sergeant Michael Beck, who were tankers like Amy and her people, save that they had "real" tanks with guns instead of flamethrowers (or so they claimed).
Informed of the course the ship was on, Sergeant Beck and his people had immediately relegated themselves to Amy's command and a desperate plan was made. With everyone in their combat suits and with fresh oxygen tanks acquired from the bow stores, they turned to the one method of escape they had left.
Their tanks.
Five tanks had now been carefully run to the main bay doors. They were loaded with ammo so that their guns could be fired as a primitive form of retro-thruster. Fortunately, since the ship was moving toward the moon "sideways", they would not actually be moving directly toward the moon when they pushed out for good. The main door was open now and the tanks ready to roll.
Before climbing into one of the M3-A3s, Amy looked to her tank. "Goodbye baby, I loved you," she said wistfully. This done, she pulled herself into the commander's seat. Again she prepared to start the engine.
Sergeant Beck and Private Wilson had volunteered to open the doors. They did so using a mechanical lever in the side of the bay, opening it just high enough to let the tanks roll out. As tanks began to roll out, they climbed into one and the driver within started his engine. Amy watched them roll out before following them.
In the distance, again, was the moon. All of the tanks rotated their turrets toward it and fired a shot, then a second, then a third. As the hulk of the Carlton slowly passed by them, it was hard to see if they'd stopped moving toward the moon or not, but Amy was hopeful that they had at least slowed their "descent" and that they had bought enough time to be rescued. They had many hours of air left, with carefully stored rations, and the tanks' radios were broadcasting SOS signals.
Below her, Privates Lewis and Purette were functioning as gunner and driver. Purette looked up and asked, "So, Lieutenant, what do we do if the Cardies are the ones who pick us up?"
At that, Amy looked to the sidearms they'd taken. Nuclear-disruptor pistols instead of guns... clean kills if they chose that route. "Well, they might think that since they're losing the war they can't afford to be mean and end up on trial for war crimes..... or they could decide they have nothing to lose, so they'll rape and torture us to death. Your call as to what you're going to risk."
"And what will you do, Lieutenant?"
Amy shrugged. She really didn't wanna think about it.

CDS Droumall, Nearing Rutavak
09:19 GST

After the initial attacks, which had seen the destruction or crippling of twenty enemy transports and the likely deaths of 150,000 or so enemy ground troops, Dukat's fleets had split up further. Now that their initial attacks had been launched, there was no more need for strict radio silence, and they were now broadcasting on a secure encrypted line; even if the code was broken, the enemy could never break it and read the orders within quick enough to be of use in the unfolding battle. With this limitation on operations gone, Dukat had ordered a further splitting of the fleet. Twelve groups were now making deeper headway into Alliance-held territory, shooting up enemy transports as they went. Dukat had taken sixty ships himself.
Ahead of them were six enemy transports, a couple of troop carriers and four supply ships, the survivors of a larger contingent that had been at Sorukel when Dukat's part of the fleet attacked. Their small escort had already been brushed aside in a desperate, suicidal attempt to delay Dukat's fleet, causing only damage and no outright loss. The transports would get to the Rutavak system before he could overtake them, but he'd be literally seconds behind.
As they came up on the system, Dukat's sensor officer reported the presence of enemy ships in-system. "Forty enemy contacts, sir."
"What kind?"
"Warships. With at least ten of their high-mass vessels."
Dukat sat for a moment and considered. Numerical advantage alone only insured greater losses for him. His entire plan counted on preserving his forces, striking targets that could not strike back. It would be foolhardy to risk even this relatively meager portion of his fleet (less than a tenth of its strength) in a fight.
Nevertheless, he wanted to take out the troop carriers. Every enemy division destroyed was one more Cardassian world that might be held or not even attacked.
"Keep the enemy transports targeted. We'll make an attempt to outmaneuver the enemy ships to maintain our attack on them. Have all ships prepared for immediate withdrawal should enemy fighters arrive."

DNS Sam Houston, Rutavak, Alliance Occupation Zone

Admiral Lewis was watching the sensor station intently, her two squadrons from Task Force 14.2 in position to give support to the transports fleeing the enemy attack. She had to hand it to the Cardies; intel hadn't seen this one coming.
"Tell the transports to get into the midst of our formation, we'll provide them cover fire. I want a formation change to Sphere, battle divisions opposite one another, light ships in position to provide torpedo fire for support to both our battle divisions and the transports."
The two squadrons began their revolutions to do so. The transports came out of warp first, seeking refuge in their formation. As they began to enter the sphere, the Cardassians came out of warp.
The Cardassians had exited warp close to the Alliance fleet, almost to their own firing range. Torpedo and particle fire answered them, but the Cardassians did not stay in a single formation, but broke up into six different groups of ten. The split fleet flew away from the Alliance group, then came back in toward the portions of their sphere made by the cruisers and destroyers. Lewis ordered a shifting of the sphere formation to put her battleships in position to concentrate more fire on the Cardassians.

CDS Droumall

Dukat's ships split up well, and at multiple points ran straight for the enemy transports. Torpedoes and compressor beams lashed out at the enemy warships, though every ship was keeping a torpedo ready for the enemy transports as per his instructions. As the volume of fire struck shield and armor in the Alliance fleet, it returned fire, its sphere shifting to present the deadly Alliance heavy warships a better firing position against Dukat's ships.
"Faster, get us in faster!" Droumall shook as her shields were struck. "Shield status?!"
"Seventy percent..." Another hit. "Fifty-nine percent."
There was an explosion off the main screen. "We just lost the Travak. Houvrall has lost shields!"
"Keep going! Fire at the transports when we reach optimum range!"
The distance continued to close.... 100,000 kilometers, 75,000, 50,000.... At 20,000 kilometers, a flurry of several dozen torpedoes erupted from the Cardassian fleet. Seeing his losses - five ships lost, forty damaged to various extents, Dukat barked the order, "All ships, withdraw! Return to base!"
As the Cardassian ships broke off from combat, losing another two of their number in the moments after the order, the torpedoes entered the midst of the Alliance formation. Point-defense fire erupted everywhere, shooting down torpedo after torpedo, but some got through. One of the troop transports lost its port nacelle, the other had its entire bow blown away. A supply transport was torn apart.
Dukat had a chance to see his partial success before Droumall leapt to warp speed.

DNS Sam Houston

Admiral Lewis cursed the luck of those damned Cardassians. On paper it was a victory for her - seven enemy ships destroyed, a few dozen damaged, at the loss of just three transports and two destroyers - but she knew better. The Cardassians weren't interested in fleet engagements. They were after the troops and supplies for the next Alliance offensive. They had won this one.
"I'll get you, you bastard," Lewis vowed. "Get me a damage report on those transports. And let me know when the rest of the task force is in range, I want to move back to Sorukel to make sure the Cardassians don't start vaping our troops there too."

Wexford Naval Headquarters, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
10:07 GST

Simonov had assembled the other service heads to watch things unfold. The Cardassians had attacked in six and then twelve directions, their targets being transports. Every time battle was offered by the Alliance fleet, they retreated. Now all but a couple of their thrusts were returning to their space.
But what damage they'd done! Ten troop transports had been outright destroyed, killing around 200,000 ground troops, more than doubling the number of dead Army and Marine personnel in the entire war. More troop transports had been crippled or heavily damaged, not to mention several dozen more supply ships that the Cardassians had ran into and taken out. Warship losses were comparitively light, thankfully, but so were those of the Cardassians.
"Bloody bastards still have plenty of fight left in them, eh?" Crawford's tone was bitter, if with a bit of respect. "They've played merry hell on our attack force."
"We should have been more careful. We relied too much on intel to tell us where they were," Simonov admitted. "But that's done. We've lost roughly 20 divisions for the first wave of the attack. But, we still have the necessary warship force to cover an offensive. What shall we do? Do we postpone the attack or call the Cardassians' bluff and launch anyway?"
"Postpone," Polk proposed. "We need time to gather more transports and restore forward supplies. An offensive would be foolhardy."
"Call," Crawford recommended.
"I agree," Lumet added. "The Cardassians' intentions were to stop our offensive. If we launch it anyway, we might catch them off guard. We still have many divisions, and troops can be pulled off Bajor if necessary, since virtually all resistance has ended there anyway."
Simonov nodded. "I'm going to alert the President of our plans. Have your staff officers do whatever work is necessary to modify the attack. We'll move zero hour to Thirteen Hundred Hours tomorrow to give time for the reserves to embark and more supply transports to be gathered and stocked. Dismissed."

Mapakar, ADN Occupation Zone
15:29 GST

There were still hours of oxygen left in their personal tanks and the main oxygen tank of the M3-3A, but already Amy and her people were starting to lose their minds with boredom. There was nothing to see but more space and nothing to do in their tanks but sit and wait. Little attempts at story-telling had ended a while ago, creating an oppressive, ominous silence.
There was a sudden lurch, and the sense that the tank was moving faster. "What the hell?" Lewis looked up at Amy. "Lieutenant, what was that?"
"I dunno." Amy looked to her radio and keyed it up. "This is Lt. Byrd, Bravo Company, 29th Armored Battalion. Anyone there?"
For several tense moments there was no reply. Finally there came a reply with a German accent; "This is Ensign Werner Maurer of Squadron SR-119 from Audacious. Hold tight, Lieutenant, we're bringing you home."
Laughter and cheers echoed in the tank. They had survived and were being rescued! The whole thing was over with.

Kellerman, Rymorta, The Sphere
15:43 GST

A late night had become a late start to the following day for Zachary Carrey, who was still trying to adjust his internal clock to these wretched 21 and a half hour days on Rymorta. He sat up in his bed and finished waking up, after he went to the bathroom and took the time to check his messages. A trip to the living room let him get his phone and check the mail slot for any physical deliveries (such things still happened on Rymorta). With this part of his morning routine done, he took to reading his messages as he returned to the bedroom.
As he came back he found Kristina getting back into bed, having slipped under the sheets as he arrived. The sheet was over her body from the belly downward, leaving the rest to view for his pleasure. She gave him a tired smile and, seeing him hold his phone unit, asked, “Anything important on there?”
“No. Just usual things.” By usual he meant the “cover chatter” that helped maintain the front of being a security company’s official. Setting the device down on the nightstand he climbed back into the bed and placed himself over her, on his knees with a leg on each side of her hips. Their lips made contact, then their tongues, as they exchanged a full kiss for several seconds..
As sometimes happened with such things, this only served to arouse, not to relieve, the desires between them, and after kissing and touching for a couple more minutes Zachary and Kristin were indulging in a fairly vigorous, enjoyable session of “morning sex”. When it ended, Zack rolled onto his back and allowed Kristin to settle her head on his chest. They remained silent for a time, relaxing in the after glow, before Zack spoke. “Have you heard anything more from Ms. Sakata about her recent financial windfall?”
“She’s already investing the money carefully thanks to your contacts,” Kristin answered. She shifted to lay over him further up, putting their faces side by side. “It’ll go to better use in her hands than Oloparatho’s, that’s for certain.”

“Yeah.” After a few more moments of silence Zack decided to make a delicate inquiry. “And H’daen?”
At that Kristin chuckled. “Ah, my dear smuggler friend has decided he’s had enough of the war zone, especially with the Obsidian Order tailing him. He’s off to Romulus for a while. I may have even convinced him to check out a couple of different universes. He believes Romulan ale might sell well in the Alliance.”
At that Zack chuckled. “It might. Though people would have to get used to the idea of blue booze.” His left arm moved down, underneath Kristin’s body, and his elbow cooked to let him put his forearm around her posterior and his hand on the opposite hip. “Are you and he.... very close?”
“We are what the Romulans call ‘pleasure mates’, or so he tells me,” Kristin replied softly. “We do have affections for each other beyond that but nothing to base a solid relationship around.”
“Kind of like us?”, Zack pointed out. Though it might be unfair to say it; it had just been these past two days that months of interest and lust had boiled over into nights of intimate pleasure between the two. Which was something he wasn’t admittedly eager to tell his superiors. It was one thing to seduce a potential asset if the operation called for it, another to indulge in mutual seduction with an asset like Kristin.
Smiling thinly, Kristin nodded. “For what it’s worth, Zachary, it means a lot more to me to be with you. You seem to know what it’s like for me, the kind of world I work in.”
“Ever think of going legit? Moving to the Alliance and taking up a career? Nurses can get paid well.”
At that, Kristin had to simply sigh. “I’ve thought of it. But then I think of Lisa Parker, and that Vulcan girl, and all the other people suffering. And I can’t just turn my back on that. So I stay here. Still being a ‘contact’ woman. Still...” she sighed again. “Still being a glorified spy-whore.”
“That’s putting it harshly,” Zack remarked.
“But it is true,” Kristin answered. “As I said before, I have a face most humanoids consider pretty, a nice body, a healthy libido, and I'm okay with alien men as well as some of the other things I’ve been asked to do. If whoring out helps me keep some people from getting shot by Cardassians or helps a load of captives get freed before they hit the Orion slave markets, then it’s what I’ll do. There’s no shame in it if you’ve got a good reason.”
“Honestly I’m not sure there’s any shame in it period,” Zack responded, expressing a rather libertine sentiment he wasn’t sure either of them believed.

“So, where are they transferring you?”
At that he had to pause. He stared at her a moment before asking, “What makes you think I’m being transferred?”
“Well, for starters...” Kristin got into his face, playfully ran a finger along his ears, and then whispered, “you seemed rather... urgent this morning after coming back to bed. Like you knew you wouldn’t get many more chances with me and wanted as much of me as you could get.”
He let out a short chuckle. “I guess I did seem a bit... urgent?”
“Well... yes,” she teased playfully.. but then she made sure to add, in a sultry tone, “But not when it mattered most.”
“Ahhh.... well, to answer your question...” Zack shook his head. “Outside of the Sphere. And that’s all I’m allowed to say.”
“Yes. OpSec and such.” Smirking, he added, “Depending on your tastes and preferences, you might prefer my replacement. She’s South American. Camille Vargas.”
“Not normally into women,” Kristin admitted.
“Let’s just say I’ve done what I’ve had to at times and leave it at that, hmmm?” Kristin grinned at him and added, “So, can I try to get more out of you on where you’re going?”
“No, I’m afraid not,” he answered, seeing that she had some interesting intents given the mischievous look in her eye. “Don’t think you can try and...”
“We’ll have to see, won’t we?”, she purred before licking him on the ear. “We’ll see how long you last.when I can have you all day.”

CDS Droumall, Marull System, Cardassian Union
18:19 GST

Upon return the local Cardassian populations had assembled into celebratory rallies at what authorities were calling the first great victory against the Alliance. For the first time in the war, Cardassia had killed more enemies and destroyed more enemy ships than they had lost in the effort.
Dukat knew better. He was, in fact, a bit disappointed that so few enemy ships had been exposed enough for easy attack. The Cardassian attack had been well-timed, certainly, but it could have been more fortunate if the enemy had been a bit less cautious. But, a victory was a victory.
However, now Dukat was concerned that Kelataza would recall Home Fleet. The victory would certainly restore some of the shattered prestige of his government, making the planned coup hard enough. Home Fleet's return would ruin its chances of success. So Dukat now had to think of a way to stay out on the frontier.
As he sat alone in his ship's small war room, sipping some celebratory kanar, a call finally came through. He turned to the monitor built into the wall, which flipped on to show Keve and Kelataza. "Congratulations, Gul Dukat. You have dealt the enemy a harsh blow."
"Thank you, Legate."
"Now that we have bought time, it is time to recall the Home Fleet to Cardassia Prime."
Dukat shrugged. "Very well." Wisely, Keve showed no reaction, but he knew Keve wouldn't be happy with his acqueisance. Unfortunately, there was nothing else to be done, as resisting the measure would only make Kelataza suspicious. Better to wait until Home Fleet was forced back to the front, which would give Keve more time for his preparations anyway. "I would like to leave five squadrons here at Marull with the 3rd Fleet, however, to form a forward guard to skirmish with any enemy advance."
Kelataza frowned. Again, he clearly didn't like leaving Home Fleet away from Cardassia Prime for too long, but Dukat was only asking for 100 ships, a fifth of the fleet's normal strength. "Very well, Gul Dukat. However, I insist that you detach yourself from the rest of the fleet and continue to command our frontline forces. There are too many in the Central Command who would look badly at bringing back home the only man to beat the Alliance."
Dukat nodded. "Of course, Legate. I'll send Gul Sikrep back with the rest of the fleet. Dukat out." He saw his commanders disappear and looked to his kanar. He would finish it before he sent the order, Dukat decided. Make what you can of this, Keve. I suspect you won't be waiting long. Deep down, Dukat was certain that the enemy would attack anyway, if only with limited force and scope, to seize advantage and catch Cardassia off-guard after their effective spoiler attack. He would do what he had to, and leave it to Keve to pull off the planned coup. He just hoped that putting Puvek in power wouldn't become a mistake.

Camp Ganymede, Yuvar, Alliance Occupation Zone
18:30 GST

After a good sleep, Kellie had returned to Ganymede to get an update on what she was certain was an impending Alliance operation. She milled with other reporters left behind in one of the civilian-open areas of the small military base.
Something was clearly up. Kellie had learned from a colleague that for several hours Camp Ganymede had been on alert, as had the planet's remaining Alliance garrison. The alert had only been canceled a few hours ago. There were reports, scattered, of some kind of Cardassian attack on the front. It was amazing to most, but Kellie wasn't surprised, as the Cardassians thrilled in surprise attacks.
After a short while, the Major who was the adjutant to the base commander showed up; a petite woman with African complexion who called for calm as the reporters began barraging her with questions. "What's going on?" "Any news on this reported Cardassian offensive?" "Have the Cardassians been stopped?"
Finally the Major stopped and turned to the reporters. "Listen, everyone. A full press release will be provided soon. I can only tell you that yes, we took some losses, and a lot of good people got killed, and yes, the Cardassian attack has been stopped and they're retreating. That's all."
Kellie's stomach twisted a little. She followed the Major as the woman went to leave the room. "Major? Major, can I..."
"Didn't I just tell you...." The woman saw Kellie and appeared to recognize her. "Ah, Major Ogden's little honey-bun from the Federation."
"Um, yeah."
The woman sighed. "I'm sorry, honey. The Clinton was lost with everyone aboard."
The words were like a hammer blow to Kellie's heart. She stood there alone for a moment, uncertain of how to act or what to do. Pain twisted through her like she'd never imagined possible. Her heart quivered from it. Tears began to form in her eyes and go down her cheeks.
And then, there was some calm. She knew what she had to do now. With firm resolution, she left the gathered press to catch a ride back to her hotel. She had work to do.

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
23:15 GST

Mamatmas had cut short his stay at the early New Year's Eve party as soon as all of his chiefs were ready. Minister Rathbone and Security Advisor Takahara were present along with the JCS - Director Bronson was not present, visiting New Avalon for meetings with his Commonwealth opposite, Sir Alex Mallory. "What kind of explainations do we have for getting caught with our pants around our ankles?" Mamatmas finally asked after quietly preparing the stack of reports in front of him.
Rathbone was the one picked to speak. "Well, Mister President, there was no warning from our codebreakers that the enemy fleet was planning to strike."
"Have they changed their codes?"
"No sir, no new encryptions have appeared in Cardassian messages."
Speaking up, Hollingwood said, "If they suspected we were reading their naval orders, they may have turned to couriers instead of transmitting preparation orders."
"So we may have lost that advantage. Very well. Does our success in code-breaking excuse the Navy's failure to provide escort?"
Hollingwood swallowed, but that was the only sign of any apprehension he had about dealing with the President. "Sir, there was some escort in a number of systems, but not enough to overcome superior enemy numbers. Our warships and carriers were still out of position when the enemy attack hit. We were keeping them back to try and disguise our attack positions because we did know that the enemy's surviving fleet forces had left the region of Cardassia Prime. We just didn't know they were going to attack. We thought that they had deployed their Home Fleet as a force to react to an attack, not to launch one of their own."
Mamatmas nodded. He still wasn't happy, but it was a good sign to see this light reaction. "Okay, well, the damage is done. What can we salvage from this?"
"Admiral Simonov intends to attack in thirteen hours," Longwell reported.
Mamatmas stared at her for a moment. "Now, correct me if I am wrong, Marshal, but did we not just lose the transport capacity for nearly a third of our attacking forces and millions of tons of shipping capacity? How the hell are we supposed to launch the offensive anyway?"
"Admiral Simonov is using transports ear-marked for redeploying troops from Bajor to embark 28th Army and the Kerensky Cluster Expeditionary Force. Transport ships are being gathered as quickly as possible to provide for an offensive more limited in scope than the planned attack." Longwell was flipping through some papers. "The figures match up rather well. The offensive should be sustainable for our planned first wave, which is enough for what we're looking to do. The Admiral hopes to catch the Cardies off-guard as they did us. They might not expect us to launch our offensive anyway."
"And when we have to stop to rebuild our supply stores? The Cardassians will try to do the same thing again."
"Well, sir, there are always measures to try and force them to come to the negotiating table. I mean, convince the Central Command to give up Kelataza and his people, and do so by making it clear that if they don't, they won't survive."

"And how do you propose I do that?"
Hollingwood shifted a bit in his seat. "Well, sir, you made it clear that any attempt to wipe out the Bajorans would be met with retaliation, and the Cardies killed probably hundreds of millions of them in the days leading up to our invasion. You could authorize the use of strategic weapons again."
Mamatmas gave Hollingwood a nasty look. "I seem to recall that the last bombing sorties went bad. What have you got to keep them from destroying more of the bombers we have left?"
"Well, sir, I'm not talking about using bombers. Mjolnir is in position."
That silenced the table. All eyes looked to Hollingwood, though his focus was on the cold glare from Mamatmas. "I never signed any order to deploy our strategic missile ships," Mamatmas said coldly.
"No, sir, you didn't. I ordered them to the front to act as scouts for our Sierra-India missions. I have them placed under cloak outside several key industrial systems in the Cardassian inner sector, including Cardassia Prime itself."
Hollingwood was safe, at least from the regs. He had acted within his purview, as Mamatmas only controlled the use of those ships' strategic stores. Nevertheless, Mamatmas saw it for what it was, and coldly remarked, "Well, Admiral, I will place it under consideration. That is all." Looking back to the others, Mamatmas' frown did not disappear. "Well, I won't block Simonov. He knows what he's doing, I'm sure. There's certainly no point in staying here. You're all dismissed, go enjoy the New Year."

DNS Olivia Burlacher, En Route to Mapakar
1 January 2154 AST
05:00 GST

Private William Tooler howled a New Year's greeting as the Times Square crowd erupted in chairs on the small flat TV he'd set up in the rec area of his company's living area. The 272nd Division was on its way to the front. Rumors abounded everywhere that the Cardies had hit hard the previous day, but none of the people in the know were talking.
"God dammit, Tooler, you're the only HE-1er in the unit," he heard another Private, Rick Paxson, grumble. "It's not New Year's for the rest of us."
"Ah, pipe down, we put up with you celebrating your's a couple months ago," Private Mueller said, tossing down cards from a friendly game of poker that was happening nearby. "And what's that awful ruckus?"
The awful ruckus was, in fact, the heavy metal music playing from the portable stereo belonging to Corporal Green, who was sitting alone nearby cleaning his sidearm. "It's good music, not an awful ruckus," Green replied.
"I can't understand a fucking word they're saying," Tooler said. "What language is that?"
"Oh, it's, uh, it's some regional Andorian language. Yeah, I bought it from a kiosk in Parker City before we left New Liberty. Guy said he bought it with a bunch of junk brought in from the Feddies. Kickass, huh?"
"But what're they singing, Green?" This was from Staff Sergeant Evans, the only woman in their particular platoon; she often muttered in irritation that her job was like baby-sitting. "What kind of music is it?"
"I think the words were said to be in a secondary data stream. Here, lemme see if I can...." Green looked at his radio and its data display. He stared at it for a while. "Holy shit."
"The chorus is 'Kill the pinkskins, kill the pinkskins, rip their mud-filled veins out...'. Damn."
"You bought a music disc of alien racist songs?" Tooler laughed. "Jeez, man, the Human stuff not bad enough?"
"Like I fucking knew!" Green growled in reply. He popped the disc out. "The bad thing is, I thought the music itself sounded good. Well, now for some Raw Metal..."
"Naw man, put in something classical. Iron Maiden or something."
"Iron Maiden? What the fuck, Paxson? Are you one of those types who got all hung up on the 20th Century? Listen to me man, fuck Iron Maiden, fuck Metallica, fuck all of that old shit. Raw Metal is where it's at."
"If only their name didn't sound so shitty," Paxson retorted.

CDS Droumall, Marull System, Cardassian Union
15:54 GST

Dukat was resting in his quarters when a call came over the ship intercom. “Gul Dukat, we have received a report from Gul Durvan. He reports enemy forces have been detected warping in He is requesting clarified engagement orders.
That made Dukat roll his eyes in annoyance. Durvan was an older officer and, like many officers of his age and rank, more concerned with not doing anything to get demoted or removed from service before he could claim sufficient seniority to rise a rank or two as a Gul so he could get a superior pension. I should order him to fight just to get rid of him was the temptation in Dukat’s head momentarily before his sense of duty, and common sense, prevailed. “Tell Gul Durvan that my prior orders stand. He is to engage the enemy only if he is able to gain large nuimerical superiority, with a focus upon their troop and supply transports, and above all else he must minimize losses. We will move up the other two squadrons as quickly as possible. Dukat out.” With that remark the computer terminated the intercom call, allowing him to grumble discontentedly.
There were two possibilities attached to this offensive. One was the thought he’d had earlier; the Alliance was seeking to catch Cardassia off-guard by attacking anyway, seeking to substitute their lost forces and ships with the element of surprise. The other was a far worse consideration; that the Alliance’s material situation was far better than intelligence had estimated and that his spoiling attack had not done any actual damage to their ability to wage offensive war.
Either way, the end result would be the same. Dukat would ask Kelataza to release Home Fleet again for his use and have an unquestionable justification for it. Without his loyalists in the Home Fleet’s squadron commands Kelataza would be exposed to removal by Gul Keve. And that was what Cardassia needed at this point.

16:04 GST

Paxson and Tooler awoke in startlement as a klaxon howled in their sleeping area. It wasn't the ship's battlestations alert, they soon realized, but the specialized alarm for troops to get their gear together and prepare for "hot" disembarkation.
So they did, getting their field gear and following their company to the IFV-3s assigned them. Tooler and Paxson were in the squad led by Sergeant Tourville, a Frenchman from Toulouse AR-12 who spoke barely-accented English and was generally amiable. Only as they were secured did they learn that the mudball they were to take was an innocent-looking-enough planet called Rutuvall.
Operation: Rolling Thunder had begun.

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
17:00 GST

The shout echoed in the Central Command's Operations Center. Gul Keve was observing the developments from the central position when he heard Kelataza's voice echo in the room. Keve looked back and stood at attention as the Legate stormed into the room. "I was assured that we had crippled the enemy's offensive forces! Assured! Now I hear that the enemy has commenced their offensive! What happened?!"
"Gul Dukat did severe damage to the enemy, Legate. Either this is a bluff, or...." Keve sighed and looked down. "The enemy may have established greater reserves than we thought."
Kelataza shook his head stiffly. "Dammit, Keve, the Home Fleet is out there instead of where it belongs, here, to defend us from anarchists and traitors! If we lose it...."
"Gul Dukat has no intention of losing the only coherent force that stands between the Alliance and Cardassia Prime," Keve retorted. "He will respond as necessary and preserve the fleet."
"He'd better." Kelataza looked back to Keve after checking the map display, as another system was lit up to display the presence of enemy landings. "I'm very disappointed in you, Gul Keve. Do try to remember what happened to your predecessor on the Strategy Staff." The attempt at a thinly-veiled threat was clumsy, showing how Kelataza himself must be slipping from his prime as this still-young war continued and looked so very bad for Cardassia.
"I will, Legate." Keve watched Kelataza leave. "I will."

18:19 GST

With nothing more to do in the Operations Center, Keve had left and returned to his office. After a short time, a visitor was brought before him. Keve stood and offered a chair to Loralo Puvek. "What can I do for you, Councilman Puvek?"
"Oh, I think you know, Gul. I think you do." Puvek sat. "We're free to talk, yes?"
Keve smirked. "If you're concerned about Obsidian Order bugs, don't be. My office is quite secure from them."
"Well, one can never be too careful. The Order does like to keep tabs on us, after all."
"Yes, they do." Keve returned to his seat. "The Alliance has launched a new offensive. Home Fleet is at the front now and Dukat is undoubtedly trying to plan some kind of counterstroke."
"The war must end, Gul, certainly you see that!" Puvek pounded a fist on the table. "Kelataza let that fool Hergata and the bloodthirsty bitch from the Obsidian Order talk him into that foolish strike on the Alliance, and now all of Cardassia is at risk. He must be removed. We should turn him and his ilk over to the enemy as they demand, we have no want of them here."
"Still, it's rather dangerous, don't you think, to be seen as surrendering to the enemy? The people will be bitter."
"The people will do as they always do; follow the State. The State, in the meantime, has the duty to preserve itself, and so men like Kelataza matter little. After the war, we can turn to rebuilding, and make luxuries available to the people to win their allegiance should the peace be unpopular." Puvek leaned forward. :"The leader of the Home Guard is loyal to you, Gul Keve. Do I have your support?"
Keve looked long and hard. Finally he spoke; "Do what you have to do, Councilman Puvek. The military's duty is to protect Cardassia, not necessarily its leaders."
"Thank you, Gul Keve. Your cooperation is very appreciated. I look forward to working with you more in the future..."

Turek Ikara, Yuvar, ADN Occupation Zone
19:33 GST

Kellie was looking at her viewscreen, the only thing showing on it being the Federation symbol as her call was routed through. She was dressed casually, in a standard civilian jumpsuit, but she'd taken care to brush her hair and generally tended to her appearance. Therefore, she was smiling when Henry Neff appeared on the screen. Henry was about her age and was Pinelli's senior subordinate. Kellie also knew he had something of a crush on her. He greeted her with a smile of his own. "Hello Kellie. Anything I can do for you?"
"Pinelli's out, isn't he?"
"Yeah, he's gone. You just missed him."
"Oh, well, I'm sure you can help me instead." Kellie giggled as she spoke. "I finished a new cut of my material for release. I was hoping to get it out tonight."
"Well, do you want me to call him back? He has to watch the mat..."
"Oh, c'mon Henry, I need to get something out. I haven't had a single report make public yet." Kellie smiled sweetly at him. "If you can put it out tonight, I'd be indebted to you."
Henry swallowed. Undoubtedly a number of possibilities were running through his mind. "Dinner. At Colbert's in Paris. After we get you a dress from one of the nearby stores."
"It'll be a night to remember," Kellie promised. She transmitted the material along on a sub-channel.
A few moments later Henry nodded. "Got it, I'm putting it up on the subspace comms tonight."
"Thank you very much, Henry. As soon as I get back, it'll be a date." She watched Henry's smiling face disappear and sighed. Oh, poor Henry. I hated doing that. But this has to be done.

New Orleans, Earth, United Federation of Planets
21:05 GST

It was night in New Orleans, and the doors of the famed Sisko's were closed for the evening. Joseph, the eldest Sisko, was finishing cleaning work in the kitchen. Upstairs, his son Benjamin was sitting at a table going over a computer readout of a ship schematic. Ben's young son Jake was seated on the floor in sleepers, flipping through the planetary interweb.
Busy overlooking his schematics, Ben was irritated when his son excitedly grabbed his leg. "Dad, hey Dad, look."
"Jake, I'm busy."
"Dad, you really need to see this...."
"Jake, no. Go get ready for bed."
"What's all the commotion?" Joseph Sisko walked up, still wearing his chef garb and with a towel draped over his shoulder.
"Grandpa Joe, look!"
"At what?"
Jake pointed over to the viewscreen unit. Joe Sisko looked at it and muttered, "Good God, Ben, look at that!"
Thoroughly irritated, Ben Sisko finally looked up from his work to see what had gotten his son and father so riled. On the screen was a trench of some kind with soldiers walking around it, Human soldiers with helmets cast aside or under an arm. One was on his or her knees puking.
The camera panned over to the trench, and there, rows and rows of Cardassian bodies were present. They were all in civilian dress, the young and the old together. A timestamp showed the scene to be over a month old. ".....was the sight when Alliance troops entered the mining town of Evelek. The people here were part of one of the few surviving Cardassian religious sects. Earlier today, troops from the Cardassian garrison entered the town, and when they left, the only living people remaining were children, which Alliance troops found huddled in small hiding spaces built into the local homes."
The screen changed to show a Cardassian boy a bit younger than Jake. His voice had the slightest electronic distortion from the use of a Universal Translator. "Whenever the soldiers come, our parents make us hide. We always hide and say prayers to Jokaravar while we wait for our parents to come get us. Always, our parents came for us when the soldiers leave. This time, they didn't come back."
A red-haired woman appeared on the screen, with her name spelled out at the bottom: "Kellie Stevenson". "According to Cardassian troops taken prisoner by Alliance forces, the Jokaravites' pacifism and refusal prompted the local commander, a Gul Gural, to order them executed. We are still attempted to speak to Gul...."
"Screen off." The screen flashed off at Ben Sisko's command. "Jake, you don't need to be seeing that kind of thing. Go to bed."
The complaint that might have come was stifled by a yawn, and Jake departed for his room. Ben remained at his table for a moment, rubbing his eyes. His father walked up behind him. "I just.... that's so horrible, them butchering their own people like that. Why couldn't they just leave them in peace?"
"It's what the Cardassian government does, Dad." With that said, Ben returned to work.

Turek Ikara, Yuvar, ADN Occupation Zone
2 January 2154 AST
05:19 GST

Kellie was awakened from her bed by a constant tone from her monitor. Groggy, she slipped her nightrobe on and slipped into the chair in front of her monitor. She forced herself to wake up when she saw Pinelli's livid face. "What have you done?" he rasped.
"My job," was her yawned reply. "Why? Have a problem?"
"Oh, you've stepped over the line this time, Stevenson," Pinelli hissed. "That.... that filth of your's has been spreading on the interweb all night! We've removed it from our system, but it'll take time to halt its spread on our comm systems. By the time we do, all sorts of provocateurs will have had time to record it and spread it on isolinear recording rods. Because of you, this whole thing has been blown."
"Again, that's my job. I'm a reporter. I make scoops and reveal them to the public."
"You were under explicit instructions not to release provocative material! You did! I'll have your job for this, Stevenson! More than that, I'll talk to the Justice Secretariat. We'll see how smug your pretty little face is when you come home and get arrested for what you've done! You'll be spending the next fifteen years in a penal..."
"Oh shut the fuck up, you pencil dick," Kellie retorted, using some swear she'd learned from Kyle and his troops. "I did what was right. It's not my fault the Federation has a problem with actually recognizing the Cardassian government for what it is. I sent that through because the people of the Federation needed to see what the Cardassians are really like. Their government murders its own people for the dumbest reasons, Pinelli. People need to know this. I'm so sorry if I've interrupted your plans to impress bureaucrats and get up another rung on the latter."
He went to speak, and she cut him off again. "And you can threaten me all you want, I'm not coming back. I've got nothing to come back to. So go ahead, get them to sign an arrest warrant for me. It'll do you no good.
"Now, I'd like to go back and get to sleep, but before I do, I might as well tell you, I didn't just pull that trick to get my material aired uncut, I also gave it to the Associated Press. The entire known Multiverse will know about what happened here. There's nothing you can do about it. So good night, and leave me the hell alone."
With a tap of her finger, Kellie turned the monitor off and went back to sleep, holding her tear-soaked pillow tightly.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-20 09:59pm

Turoa Mountains, Bajor
18:19 GST

The peace of the "morning" in the 13th Provisional Order's hideaway was shattered by a great series of tremors that gained everyone's attention. Luvar gathered his senior officers together and waited as each section gave a report.
Explosions had now blocked off all but one exit to the surface. At least two thousand of Luvar's men were dead and another thousand or so cut off. As they raised Luvar's camp to report on their status, the sounds of battle could be heard. Luvar sat and listened as each unit reported in growing casualties, being pinned in, and finally a loud explosion quickly followed by static.
The fighting had barely ended when one of the squads assigned to watch the only remaining way out returned with a guest. Luvar recognized Vedek Tuvipa, an older woman who was the senior cleric of the Kevima Valley province. "Gul Luvar, I am pleased to see you are safe."
Luvar had already guessed what she had come to say. "The same goes for you, Vedek. Are your people okay?"
"They are fine, thanks to your decision to evacuate the valley."
That was answered by a nod. "I did not want to drag civilians into the fight. I knew my people would be safer in the mountains anyway."
"You were right. However, you are now the only Cardassians left on the planet who have not surrendered. Alliance forces have established positions outside of this cave path and are offering you a chance to surrender. If you do not surrender within ten hours, they will collapse the cave entrance." Tuvipa smiled gently. "Gul Luvar, you have always proven a noble man, far better than others of your race. Please, for the sake of your soldiers, end this. They have no hope of victory and it is not the will of the Prophets to see unnecessary bloodshed."
Luvar listened to her speak. When she finished, he remained quiet for a moment, looking to his subordinates. "I will make my decision soon enough, Vedek. Please, go home and be with your family. Your people are going to be free of Cardassian rule now, and you should enjoy that."
Tuvipa nodded respectfully.
"Trooper, escort the Vedek to the cave entrance. Do not make any hostile moves, and stop before you make contact with the enemy."
"Yes Gul."
As the soldiers left with Vedek Tuvipa, Damar looked at Luvar. "Gul, what shall we do?"
Again quiet for a few moments, Luvar answered, "Assemble the men."

The surviving men of the 13th Provisional Order were gathered around Luvar, who stood upon a few crates of what meager rations they had left. "My good soldiers, these past weeks in these dark caves you have done me proud with your courage and your discipline. We have survived because of your indomitable spirit. You should all be proud."
"The enemy has given an ultimatum; surrender, or they will bury us alive in here."
There was mumbling about the crowd, but Luvar silenced it by continuing to speak. "We can therefore surrender. I know many of you would enjoy seeing daylight again, having a warm meal, and knowing you will go home."
"And when you go home, men, what will you tell your families about your time here? That you spent the entire battle for Bajor huddling in a cave until you surrendered to the enemy without firing a single shot?" Luvar's voice began to rise a bit. "What will your families think of you then? What will that say about every man here? Millions of our fellow Cardassians have been slain in this war, dying bravely for their homeland, yet we will have not even raised a hand in Cardassia's defense. Do you want to endure that shame?"
Seeing that the men were increasingly torn between their duty, their desire to survive, and their growing contempt for their own government, Luvar continued. "I do not defend our government's policies. I am an orphan. I was bounced from home to home, forced to labor and work from an early age simply so I could survive. All I have is Cardassia, which I have defended since I was a child. I have seen the State's foolishness, the petty vendettas of our bureaucrats, the dead killed by the pride and greed of our leaders. I have no love for the State, which has harmed many of its own defenders over the years. I have only one love, only one family, and that is Cardassia and her people. For me they are all."
These words were damning, of course. They would get him denounced to the Obsidian Order in any other place, but here, with men who had seen firsthand the consequences of the Cardassian State's policies and customary brutality, he found only willing listeners. "And that is why I say no to surrender. Not for the treacherous, brutal State, which has turned our people into slaves for its cold whims, but for Cardassia herself. For the dignity of our families, for the dignity of Cardassia, it must be said that even when all was lost, we fought on! We must show the enemy the true heart of the Cardassian people, not the broken submission to the State they know, but a Cardassian's love of home and family and our devotion to protect the dignity of the same! I am not ordering you to fight and die for the State! I am ordering you to fight and die for your families and for Holy Cardassia!"
The men roared. Luvar's words had been carefully chosen, and his reference to "Pikat Cardassi" - never used in the rhetoric of the State, which preferred more secular-sounding terminology tying the greatness of the nation to the State - proved wise. The shattered morale of his men was replaced by a grim, fatalistic determination. In each man's mind, their duty was clear. Cardassia needed them to set an example of Cardassian courage and devotion that the enemy could not ignore, and which might make him think twice on carrying this war on to the Cardassian heartland.
And so they would not surrender, and nor would they wait for the enemy to entomb them in this grotto. They would attack, and fight until none could fight on.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-22 03:19pm

Chapter 22

Turoa Mountains, Bajor
3 January 2154 AST
04:19 GST

It was still night-time in the Mountains when, ever so quietly, Luvar's men crept up through the caves. This maneuever went undetected, thankfully, as the enemy was keeping their troops clear of the cave entrance to facilitate bombing.
The soldiers watching the cave entrance were from the 229th Infantry Battalion, mostly drawn from American space colonies from SE-1. The troops were inexperienced, and most of their officers were new to the higher commands they found themselves in. The swift victory against the other Cardassians on Bajor and knowledge that the 13th Provisional Order was just that - a provisional unit made up prrimarily of middle-aged re-conscripted NCOs and young conscript troops with a smattering of experienced officers - had made the local commanders careless. They didn't think much of provisional units in the Cardassian army, which had melted away against the Alliance Army in other battles, so there was no perceived need to put a good blocking force against them. Rather, the troops were simply meant to collect surrendering Cardassians or prepare to block the entrance.
The squad watching the cave entrance were thus not using their HUD sensors to watch for possible enemy movement, carelessly convinced that nothing was going to happen. They were now to find out how wrong they were.
There was no sudden savage battle cry, or a gaggle of troops to make noise and thus bring withering fire down upon itself. Luvar had carefully culled amongst his men a squad of his smallest and most quiet troops, who carefully came out of the cave and spotted the enemy positions. They each had a precious plasma grenade - most of the 13th's grenades had been lost with the other units cut off the day before - and with steel-nerved precision tossed them at the unsuspecting Alliance troops.
The resulting explosions covered the covering troops with deadly plasma, killing or badly wounding many of them. As soon as the explosions were heard in the cavern, Luvar's troops came out platoon by platoon, swiftly moving to take up position as Alliance forces from their nearby encampments moved up to investigate the explosions. Those brave men who had successfully ambushed the enemy now raced forward and, with swiftness, took control of the enemy's heavy machine guns. When the first Alliance troops came into range, they pulled the triggers. Their fire was erratic and inaccurate first, as they were unused to firing such weapons, but the mere use of the guns made the Alliance troops hit the dirt.
Luvar came up with the fourth platoon, observing as the second and third dismounted their mortars with expert swiftness and aimed them to fire at the enemy camps slightly uphill. The first, fith, and sixth platoons began their work of slipping past the enemy to attack them from further uphill.
Though the enemy camp was uphill, the incline and the distance wasn't such that mortar fire from the Cardassians couldn't reach them. Green and orange-colored plasma charges rained down on the camp. Some hits killed or wounded soldiers and it added further to the chaos that suddenly struck the Alliance troops. In disarray, they began to call for air support as they fell back from their burning camp, coming under assault by an increased number of Cardassians as they managed to get out of the cave.
As the unit was green, withn its commander killed in the mortar attack, the 229th soon began to retreat on foot, trying to get away from the numerically-superior Cardassian forces coming out of the cave. Some troops grabbed what they could, but either way, quite a bit of their material was left for the Cardassians, along with dead and wounded that numbered in the dozens.

Luvar surveyed the remains of the Alliance camp. His men gathered up their arms, particularly their remaining mortars, machine guns, and infantry rifles. The enemy was retreating beyond the hill, where forest led eventually to the gulley that served as a swift exit to the valley below. He would lead his men down through there, pursuing the enemy and hopefully overrunning their defensive positions. From there, he would decide on what to do next.
Despite his speech, Luvar did not want to see too many of his men die needlessly. Already they had fulfilled some of their obligation, having fought the enemy, but he wanted to do more than just ambush a complacent enemy unit. He wanted to bring them to direct battle, and then, if their overwhelming air and artillery support forced him to, he would agree to surrender.
Perhaps I should have surrendered after all... No, no I shouldn't have. Cardassia needs this sacrifice, something to make our people proud in the face of such horrible defeat. Luvar looked down at a body. It was an Alliance soldier with his chest torn up by the rounds from one of the commandeered machine guns. Luvar knelt down beside the soldier, who was clearly in his last moments. His armor even includes mechanisms to try and preserve his life, Luvar noted to himself, seeing the sterilization foam covering his wounds to protect them from infection. The man looked up at Luvar, his dark skin almost as dark as the barely-lit ground, his jaw tremoring. There was fear in those eyes, fear of the end that Luvar had seen in too many eyes in his long life. The aged veteran took the dying soldier's hand. "It's okay, soldier. It's okay to be afraid," he said, a slight metallic tone to his English from the Universal Translator implanted in him.
After another moment, the Human ceased moving. Luvar had seen death often enough to know it had come. Amazing that no matter how different our races are in so many ways, our eyes are so similar. The dead Human's eyes were too much like the eyes of many young Cardassians Luvar had seen die. The Central Command's folly claims another life, Luvar thought in irritation.
Standing up, Luvar was immediately greeted by Damar. "Gul, the enemy is fleeing toward the gulley. Should we pursue?"
"Yes. All companies are to pursue immediately. Send a runner to get Doctor Kuvar and his people up here to tend to the wounded. And make sure they have their markings up so the enemy will not attack them."
"Yes, Gul." Damar went off and began barking orders to the other Glins.

Camp MacReynolds, Turoa Mountains, Bajor

Major Reginald Trewen of the Royal Black Watch was quick to respond as the frenzied radio reports of the Cardassian attack reached him. He had a full overstrength battalion with him, the Black Watch's 1st Battalion, with roughly a thousand men, and with no hesitation he ordered them into readiness and prepared to march them forward.
As the Black Watch took up positions just inside the gulley, in the trees, the 229th Battalion's men fell back through them. Cardassian skirmishers sniped at the British here and there but were silenced when heavy fire was brouight against them. Trewen carefully arranged his men to form a crescent, with the center bulging forward into the forest while the wings were fixed to the sides of the gulley.
The main body of the Cardassian 13th Provisional Order came on soon. Advancing carefully through the forest, in many cases using captured weapons abandoned by the 229th Battalion, they soon pressed on Trewen's center.
Leading his men, Trewen kept his SA-115 Particle RIfle at the ready while his combat helmet's HUD switched to infrared, allowing him to see the Cardassians in the dark. They came on strong and Trewen was forced to hide behind a tree, rolling out every moment or so as the streaks of energy and cacophony of automatic fire died down and allowed him to squeeze shots off. He saw the particle charges from his rifle slam into an advancing Cardassian, killing the young man instantly. Trewen took refuge again behind the tree, though even it was starting to buckle as multiple phaser shots vaporized its bark and trunk. "Fall back!" Trewen could see that the enemy, still numbering seven or so thousand, was too numerous for him to hold against like this. He waited for a sergeant to give him cover fire from a heavy machine gun before retreating to another tree.

Gul Luvar followed his men closely now, watching his forward companies slam up against prepared enemies in the forest. He had commandeered a helmet from one of the wounded enemy soldiers back in camp and could now, for the first time, understand just how much more capable an Alliance soldier was over his men. The helmet didn't just provide protection but alternate spectrums for viewing and various communications and command capabilities. With infrared Luvar could see friend and foe alike in the dark.
With a rifle in his arms, Luvar slid beneath a fallen tree partially propped up by a distant stump, giving just enough room for him to crawl through. "Glin Tupal, have your company cease their advance! Glin Rudai, Glin Okar, advance on the enemy's flanks!"

Trewen's troops were holding hard in the forest. The enemy had great courage, pressing hard even against the superior firepower-per-man of the Black Watch. One enemy company was devastated by trying to advance against Captain Stuart's company on Trewen's right, but Captain Pitcairn was forced to fall back further as the weight of what seemed to be an entire battalion came down on him.
Barely avoiding an enemy beam, Trewen turned from around a tree - thicker and stronger than the one he'd had before - and gave cover fire for a fireteam to get further away. The enemy was pressing hard, though taking losses doing so. Trewen hoped to bleed them as much as possible in this retreat, and then finally secure a line at the gulley to hold until fire support could be provided.

Luvar could see he couldn't outflank his enemy. His troops had moved too fast to engage and had not attained the kind of careful organization needed for a concentrated attack on the enemy's flanks despite his firepower advantage. Seeing the enemy's line began to flatten, as he successfully fell back and reduced his front's length, it was clear that maintaining this battle in the dark would only waste his men's lives. Most of them were firing blindly at flashes of light and toward the sound of movement against an enemy where every man had the means to see his enemies in the dark and the firepower to devastate them as they tried to advance. "Pull the men back," was his new order, swiftly sent via comms and runners. "We're disengaging until dawn. I want all battle groups reorganized and captured weapons evenly distributed. And make sure we have men to help send the wounded back to the medical camp!"

Trewen and the 1st Battalion accepted the enemy's disengagement. Wounded were quickly gathered up and sent to the rear to be treated; where possible, the dead were also collected, though thankfully there weren't many of them at all.
It was likely the enemy still had in excess of six thousand troops even after the bitter firefight in the forest, and probably no fewer than five thousand. Obviously they would seek to break through the gulley and into the forests leading into the valley, where again they'd enjoy the cover of forest and could potentially march toward another cave system. Trewen thus planned to stop them here, and to do so he arranged for a disproportionate number of his heavy machine guns and mortars to be assigned to the companies on his flanks. While his center would take position in the gulley, his wings and their heavy firepower would channel the enemy in, preventing attacks on themselves with dug-in riflemen, and be clear to fire down upon the Cardassians and destroy them.
It was still possible that Trewen might get fire support, but he wasn't going to count on that yet. The local fighters had all been armed with penetrating bombs to collapse the cave system and the artillery had been pulled back during the battle to keep it well away from the enemy.
In the end, it didn't matter. The Cardassians would be pulverized either by fire support or by the heavy weapons of the Black Watch. Whatever happened, Trewen would never let them break through and escape down into the valley. The Black Watch would hold.

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
08:10 GST

Legate Kelataza was in his office, the paperwork of state in front of him and half-completed. Every senior figure on Cardassia had been keeping irregular hours since the war had begun, and Kelataza was no different. Perhaps it was the monotony of paperwork and the means of the bureaucracy that helped to distract from the specter of defeat hanging over everyone. The great spoiling attack had failed to prevent the new enemy offensive, and the enemy was driving into Cardassia once more. The Home Fleet might stop them, but in almost all major engagements so far Cardassia had been defeated. If they lost the Home Fleet, then there was nothing but disassociated squadrons crewed by third-rate men and officers and mothballed ships with old men and boys to stop the Alliance fleets.
Without any warning, the door to Kelataza's office swished open. Four armed men with Home Guard markings on their uniforms walked in, joined by Gul Rutak, a sub-commander in the Home Guard. A knot formed in Kelataza's stomach as his instincts told him what was going to happen. "What is it?"
"Aamin Kelataza, in the name of the Cardassian Union you are under arrest. The charge is gross incompetence in time of war."
With only a slight smile of resignation, Kelataza nodded. "I should have suspected Keve and Dukat were up to something. Very well, I'll go quietly..."

“We have Refimo Tapal in custody,” an aide reported to Keve as he stood in the Operations Center, Councilman Puvek with him. “She was attempting to arrange escape when found.”
“So like the Obsidian Order,” Keve muttered to himself. This meant all of the Advisory Council at the start of the war was in custody - save for the late Gul Torcet - and that his takeover was complete. He - and ostensibly Puvek - were the men in charge of Cardassia now, and they had the carrot that would, hopefully, finally convince the Alliance to accept an armistice.

Turoa Mountains, Bajor
11:12 GST

It was almost dawn, with the first cracks of light coming over the horizon to the east. Within minutes the sun would come up over the eastern Kevima mountains and shine down here on the foothills of the Turoa. Major Trewen was in his camp, speaking angrily with a man over the radio. "Where is the air support? The enemy will be on top of us as soon as they have the daylight to see."
"As I said before, our air units have been redeployed in the past week to support the new offensive on Cardassia Prime. The only air unit we have available is the one from Rupara that was supposed to drop the penetrators on the caves. They lost track of their other ordnance, it could be a while before they find it."
"Lost track?! Lost track?! Bloody Hell, how do you 'lose track' of a bunch of missiles? God dammit to Hell, man, we're facing an enemy that has a six to one advantage on us and is mad as hell. We're going to need that air support before they can close the distance and engage us inside the friendly fire range."
"I'm sorry, but it can't be done. We have no air support for you and no orbital support. I did finally get divisional HQ to release the arty for you, but it won't be in position for another hour."
"You'd bloody well make them hurry up, because we don't have an hour before..."
One of Trewen's staff ran into the tent. "Major! The enemy infantry is moving again!"
"Get that bloody arty!" was Trewen's last shout before putting the radio down.

Gul Luvar's men had gathered for the final push. At any time, enemy artillery and aircraft could rain death down upon them so time was of the essence. There was about seven hundred yards seperating the edge of the forest from the beginning of the gulley as well as the ridges that flanked it, which is where the enemy would have the strongest effect with little cover for the troops. Luvar's intention was to break through if possible, while flanking forces were tasked to attack and tie down enemy units that could otherwise pour fire into the gulley.
Luvar had pulled his men back through the forest and its steady incline to protect them from mortar fire. Now they came back in, rushing downward as quickly and as orderly as they could. It had been impossible to get skirmishers in range during the night, with enemy sensors easily detecting their approach and mortar fire immediately following; this meant he couldn't get men into position to get around the enemy's flanks as he'd hoped.
Ultimately, with his six to one advantage, Luvar was hoping to use the initial advantage of higher ground to put such fire down on the enemy that his troops, with their superior mass, could bust through the gulley before enemy forces on the flanking ridges could tear the 13th Order apart with their support weapons.
As the Cardassians rushed through the last parts of the forest, the enemy's mortars opened fire. Bomblet shells exploded in the trees, ripping through flesh and wood alike. As the first cries of the wounded came, Luvar was amongst the men in the center companies, giving them encouragment and orders through the bombardment. He watched Glin Rudai go down, bomblet fragments in his ridged skull, and a younger Glin in charge of a Troop (Company) took over without a moment's hesitation. It made Luvar proud; every man knew his duty and performed it without pause.
The trees were past now and the Cardassians were racing downward toward the gulley over the open grass, rock, and dirt of the mountain. Those so assigned took up their captured heavy machine guns and mortars and set them up to pour fire upon the enemy in the distance. As they did so, mortar fire came down upon them as well, accompanied by the invisible threat of bullets and the all-too-visible particle charges of enemy rifles alike.
The Cardassians didn't just charge blindly. Men would go prone and take what cover they could when shots came around them. Some of the youngest men in the unit lost their heart, having never endured such heavy attack, and kept to their cover, only in some cases being pulled out of it by seeing their comrades, many of whom were from the same towns and provinces as they were, keep going.
For most Cardassians, the instinct was not to stop but to keep running, to go down only as long as was necessary to avoid getting hit before they kept going. The Cardassian machine gunners valiantly tried to suppress the enemy fire, though they were clearly not numerous enough to do so, but every enemy machine gunner forced to duck his head was one machine gun not firing.
As the Cardassian flanking Battle Groups (Battalions) tried hard to press against the dug-in enemy riflemen on the flanks guarding their mortar and machine gun platoons, Luvar led his dwindling number of fighting men down into the gulley. This was not the first charge in his life, but he knew in his heart it would be his last, so he gave a battle cry appropriate to his fatalistic mood. The words echoed amongst his men: "Du Pikat Cardassi!"
Their reply thundered down the gulley. "DU PIKAT CARDASSI!"

The Cardassians, despite their rising losses, were rushing into the gulley. Trewen noted with gratitude that the riflemen platoons on his flanks were successfully guarding the machine gunners and the mortars, who now opened up on the Cardassians as they rushed into the gulley, closing the distance quickly with the Black Watch from their hastily-prepared trenches. They were not solid defenses, as the soil in the gulley was thin, above a layer of hard mountain rock, so trenches were not very deep and men had to kneel in them to get any kind of protective cover.
The men of the Black Watch opened fire as the Cardassians came into range, the Cardassians giving them the same from soldiers who went prone. Trewen was with his men in the front trench, shots flying everywhere. From the flanks came mortar and machine gun fire from Trewen's support troops that were taking their toll on the enemy formations.
The Cardassians took cover where possible, taking advantage of grass where it was present, or of rocks growing out from the sides of the gulley. Their forward ranks were suddenly stopped when they stumbled into the hastily-formed minefield the Black Watch had put up about thirty yards from their main positions. The Cardassian mortars turned their attention to this minefield, even as they were finally coming under attack from Trewen's mortars, and the Cardassian troops quickly began tossing what grenades they had left into the field. Explosions erupted across the width of the gulley, and on Trewen's HUD he could see each mine disappear as it was detonated. The enemy would now be able to close.
Even before all of the mines were gone, Trewen bellowed the order "Fix bayonets!" His men hid any shock at the decision and instead slipped their vibro-blade bayonets onto their rifles. They had trained for this many times, even if it seemed so unlikely in a modern war. "Sound the quickmarch! Up, lads! Charge!"
"Huzzah!" was the cry that replied to Trewen's order. As one the men of the Black Watch that were in the gulley - numbering about seven hundred still - rose from their trenches, ignoring the raised dust from the enemy's detonation of their mines, and rushed forward. In their helmets the traditional quickmarch anthem of the Black Watch played, the Blue Bonnets ordering them onward as it had their ancestors in centuries past. Shoulder to shoulder, the gulley just wide enough to accommodate them like that in two rows, the Black Watch quickly closed the distance and crashed into the Cardassians.

Gul Luvar was quick to order his men forward as soon as it was clear that most of the enemy mines had been exploded. But no sooner had he stood up and ordered his men on into the thick dust that an alien cry had echoed in the gulley. He instinctively knew what was happening. "Charge men! For Cardassia!" he shouted, raising his weapon and firing into the dust before running forward. Most Cardassians only got a single shot off, wounding or killing some of the Black Watch before the two sides clashed together.
The dust was blinding, which was a disadvantage for the Cardassians, but Luvar knew if enough of his men could push through, their superior mass going downhill could force their way through the enemy. He opened his mouth and prepared for another shout of encouragement when a sharp pain struck his chest. He could hear a sucking sound and realized he'd been stabbed by something. A helmeted figure came through the dust, his rifle possessing a bladed end that was covered in blood that Luvar immediately realized was his own. Luvar tried to bring his rifle up to shoot the man, but his body lost all strength. He had been struck in the heart.
Falling over, Luvar did not take long to breathe his last, his final sensations being the pain in his body and the shouts and screams of his men.

Damar was further behind in the ranks and was one of the first to see Luvar fall. A savage howl came from his throat and he went forward, firing his rifle and shooting Luvar's killer square in the chest. The man fell over and likely died from the hit. Damar fired a second and third time and had about reached Luvar's body when a particle charge struck him in the hip. The pain shot up Damar's side and he collapsed. He looked up from where he'd fallen, about to fire again, when a boot struck him in the head from behind, and he lost consciousness.

Trewen's chest was on fire. No sooner had he plunged his bayonet into the first Cardassian he'd seen than an enemy shot had come out of the dust to strike him. He was on his back now, a Sergeant pulling him behind the line. His helmet's HUD displayed information from the medical sensors even as it summoned medics to his position, but Trewen - despite not being a doctor - knew that it would be too late. His lungs, his heart, his stomach, the high energy phaser blast had gotten though his armor and heavily damaged them all. There wasn't time. "Hold laddies! Push 'em back!" Trewen's cries became weaker and weaker after each.
He had the sensation of being lifted. Medics were rushing him back to be treated, but it was too late. Trewen silently breathed a prayer, asking God to see his men through to victory, and without more than a hard breath, he was dead.

Though both sides had lost their commanders, neither suffered immediately from it. The chain of command remained intact and new officers gave orders, though they weren't much.
Now, after all this had begun, there were calls from Division HQ that artillery was in range, and they requested a grid-square for support. But no reply came. The battle was no longer to be decided by fire but by steel. The mass of desperate, undaunted Cardassians pushed against the lines of the Black Watch, and though they bent, they did not break. The Black Watch held; the Cardassians pushed, even as they died by the dozens from the enemy machine guns above.
Even the mortars now silenced, not wanting to hurt comrades from misaiming, and instead the men who'd manned them took up their rifles and ran to join the companies on the flanks of the gulley ridge. Machine guns finished the silencing of the captured Cardassian weapons, and like a trap the two companies pivoted on the edge of the ridgeline and closed the gulley from the west, trapping the Cardassians... though only if the troops in the gulley held.
The battle became its own. In the dust and blood, amidst the screams of dying foes and friends, the grand moral causes of the war no longer existed. It wasn't about protecting Cardassia, about liberating Bajor, or about avenging the dead, or even about the Honour of the Service and the Nation. It was about something for which neither side would easily yield. It was about the land beneath their feet, the soil in which their blood was mingling. Not for its natural worth, but for the fact that British or Cardassian blood had been spilled for it. On either side, with all wrapped up in the battle, there was no one willing to yield this precious land that friends had died to take or to hold. None gave the time to think about it, with all of their hearts now in the fight to stay alive and take or hold.
For several precious minutes it looked uncertain. The Cardassians were under withering fire from before and rear and their numerical advantage was steadily leaked away. Yet this, even the press of enemy infantry in their rear, only made the Cardassians that much more determined to press forward, where the men of the Black Watch stood amongst their slain with bayonets covered in Cardassian blood, thrusting and shooting, thrusting and shooting, their boots dug into the soil to hold firm as one dead Cardassian was replaced by another.

It did not become immediately apparent, particularly not for the men in that blood-soaked gulley who's task it was to thrust and shoot, but the Cardassian tide ebbed. There were too many dead now, men with bodies shredded by machine gun, scorched by particle charge, and ripped by bayonet; the living could barely move forward as piled as the dead were. Finally a voice came calling surrender, with raised hands and discarded rifle. One surrender became two, which became three. Surviving Cardassian Groups surrendered here and there, covered in dust and the blood and gore of their slain comrades, many wounded in some way themselves. The order to cease firing came down from the Black Watch's company captains. Slowly, the dust settled in this unnamed gulley, now covered as it was in gore. The men of the Black Watch looked upon the carnage and were made speechless, as there was nothing in their experience that could match what they saw.
Scattered in that gulley of their latest victory through the centuries were the bodies of about fifty-five hundred dead or dying Cardassians. Through the gulley and in the flanks above were another eighty-six, these the victorious dead of the Black Watch, with many more wounded. The medics were already coming in now, having called for helicopters and any other VTOL-capable craft to evac the wounded to the hospitals in the valley, and these wounded would in some cases live or die by their skill.
But though defeated in the field of battle, Gul Luvar and his man had succeeded in their goal; none would soon forget the valiant charge of the 13th Provisional Order and the stand of the Royal Black Watch. The histories of the war would duly record that the final Cardassian unit to fall on Bajor had gone down fighting to the very last.
And so, finally, after many weeks of bloodshed, no armed units of the Cardassian Union remained active on the surface of the planet. Bajor was finally, officialy liberated from Cardassian rule.

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
18:10 GST

The chambers of the Detepa Council were far more spacious, ornamental, and splendid than the actual body. Once the center of government for Cardassia's old federation of industrial-mercantile oligarchies, it was now a reduced legislature that acted as the rubber stamp for whatever the Central Command - or the Obsidian Order - desired. Its only "power" was that it was the arbiter between the two stronger branches of Cardassian government and even then its arbitration was often insincere and bought off by one faction or the other.
Loralo Puvek would change that today. Before him were the four hundred official members of the Detepa Council. They were "elected" by the leading citizens of all the provinces on Cardassia Prime. Almost all were former military, though in actuality these standard seats were not sought after by ambitious Cardassians. They were, in fact, considered a sign of the end of one's climb up the ladder of power. Again, something that Puvek would change.
"My fellow Cardassians," Puvek began, standing in front of the assembled Council Ministers who were the figurehead executives of the Cardassian government. "As I speak, our loyal soldiers are finding and arresting criminals within our defense forces who have caused this war for their own benefit, not that of Cardassia's! They have been denounced by those in the Central Command who can no longer bear to see our people suffer for their crimes! The time has come for us to make peace, to rebuild what we have lost, and to make a new path for the future prosperity of the Cardassian People."
"These men behind me, all of them loyal to the Central Command, have agreed. Gul Uvil Keve, the man in charge of the Central Command itself, has agreed. They have seen the corruption of men like Aamin Kelataza and Yatar Hergata ruin the Cardassian State. They know it must end. Even the Obsidian Order, who have always protected the leadership of Cardassia, have seen its folly and have backed this step."
"I now ask you, members of the Detepa Council, to recognize me as your Minister."
Puvek was not well-liked, but the members of the Detepa Council liked what little influence and power they had, and they liked breathing as well. They could all see that key members of the military had, for whatever reason, backed Puvek, and so they did as they knew they were expected to. They unanimously elected Puvek to the post of Minister of the Detepa Council, making him the official head of the Cardassian State; a position formerly reserved to the leader of the Central Command.

19:00 GST

Kelataza was now in a prisoner’s jumpsuit and held behind a forcefield screen within the Central Command brig. To Keve, who had walked up to speak with him, he seemed rather defeated, though there was a small spark left in his eyes. Seeing Keve had come, Kelataza stood. “So, you went ahead and did it,” he sighed.
“Somebody had to,” Keve replied simply. “You and I both know the war was lost, that to delay further would only make it harder for Cardassia to recover.”
“But at what price will this peace be?,” Kelataza asked harshly. “You will surrender me to the Alliance and let them have Bajor. Do you know how the People will take such a clear act of weakness by Central Command? You could jeopardize everything the Cardassian military has worked so hard to attain.”
“You should have thought about that before making war on the Alliance,” Keve pointed out, rather bitterly. “You should have listened to Torcet, Aamin. We should have listened to Torcet.”
“Something had to be done,” Kelataza remarked. “You and I both know we would have ended up at war with the Alliance, one way or another.”
“Perhaps,” Keve conceded. “Either way, we are where we are. You, Aamin, will have to perform one final service to Cardassia, and that is to accept the burden of failure and all that such means.”
“And where it leads.”
“Likely in the gunsight of an Alliance executioner,” Keve remarked. “But what happens is immaterial. Consider this your chance to atone for this foolhardy war, Aamin.”
“I am a patriot,” Kelataza insisted. “I will bear any burden that I must for Cardassia. I only hope you don’t regret backing that sniveling wretch Puvek.”
At that, Keve could only smile thinly. He had his own ideas for what to do with Puvek.

San Francisco, Earth, United Federation of Planets
4 January 2154 AST
09:19 GST

It was morning in the city of San Francisco, and the daylight was shining through the windows of the Cardassian Embassy. Ambassador Kercet was alone in his office for the entire morning, reviewing paperwork and waiting for news from Central Command. He'd already heard through contacts that the Legate had been arrested, as had Gul Hergata, Gul Madred, and a number of others.
There was a tone at his monitor. Kercet pressed a key to open the encrypted channel and faced Loralo Puvek, whom he'd rarely met. "Well, hello Councilmember. How did you get the codes for this line?"
"There's been a change of government here on Cardassia Prime, Ambassador. I am now the Minister of the Detepa Council and the Central Command has given me authority to do what's necessary to end the war. I want you to give me the latest list of Alliance demands for an armistice. I need it immediately."
Kercet was very uncomfortable with this. "Um, very well, I'll do so immediately. Kercet out." He cut the line and quickly began opening a comm link to the Central Command. He wanted to know what the hell was going on.
He was batted around for the next several hours before someone finally gave him Gul Keve's chief of staff, Gul Imira. Imira was long suspected of having been Keve's lover - he was a life-long bachelor - and if it was true, he hoped she would quickly tell him what he needed to know. "I just got a call from Loralo Puvek saying he was the leader of the Cardassian government and wanting to know the Alliance's armistice demands," he explained.
"He is the leader of the Cardassian government," Imira replied testily, "and if you don't want to be made Ambassador to Breen, I suggest you do what you were told."
Kercet gulped. With complete disbelief, he went to work getting the list and having it transmitted back to Cardassia Prime.

Dulles Spaceport, Washington D.C., Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
20:45 GST

The private government tarmac was abuzz with activity now that the sleek Sarna One had landed, the Lockheed-Douglas W-1340 emblazoned with the insignia of the Federated Commonwealth. Cameras rolled and journalists clamored at the security forcefields, further guarded by stern-faced Alliance Marines, as the band struck up the anthem of the Commonwealth and the reception's honor guard came to attention.
From the side hatch of the Sarna One came Archon Melissa Steiner, adorned beautifully in a flowing gown of ice-blue color with a jeweled tiara on her head. Aides and bodyguards followed her down to the tarmac and over to where a contingent of Alliance Marines awaited with President Mamatmas and a couple men from his own Presidential Security Service. "Madame Archon, welcome to Washington," Mamatmas said when she was close enough, using the method of address arranged prior to the meeting by their advisors.
"Mister President, a pleasure to finally meet you in person." Melissa's expression remained pleasant. "I've been looking forward to this visit for quite some time."
"As have I, Madame Archon."
The cameras followed as the two heads of state got into a limousine, and it slowly moved off, the flags of both powers fluttering on its corners.

Inside the vehicle, Melissa and Mamatmas were arranged on opposing seats, flanked by their bodyguards. The windows were tinted one-way, allowing for them to look out but for no one to look in. "I've heard that this city was devastated on our Terra."
"So have I, but many cities were. ComStar provided a rather sobering example of what it is to be a sore loser." Mamatmas sat still, his hands folded in his lap. "It's a shame this visit had to come in wartime. The press will probably be hounding us both on details."
"Yes, it is a shame."
"Oh, I was asked by Ambassador Dresari to let you know that your daughter will be waiting for you at the Embassy when you get there tonight. He had her doing field work at the subconsulate in Bern today."
Melissa nodded. "That's good to hear. I was hoping Katherine could learn from her time here."
There was a ringing tone at Mamatmas' side. He looked over and picked up the phone, its light blinking red to show it was an encrypted call. It blinked green upon the sensors in the phone handle confirming his DNA via skin cell. "Hello?" Mamatmas listened to the voice on the other hand. He didn't react right away, though Melissa could see something important was being said. "Okay. Tell Parmika to keep us appraised. Orders will have to be sent out of this happens. Yes, it is good news. Mamatmas out."
"Good news?" asked Melissa.
"We've gotten more information on the coup d’etat that removed Legate Kelataza. The new leadership is under civilian control. They've agreed to all of our conditions for an armistice. A few details are being ironed out, but it'll likely happen in a few days. Even now Parmika's on his way to sign a ceasefire with Ambassador Kercet. It'll go into effect at 08:00 GST tomorrow."
"Absolutely wonderful!"
"I have to agree. Now we can get this bloody business over with." Mamatmas now reached down and got a bottle of wine, a fine champagne. "We'll be at the White House shortly, but I figured we have time for one glass." He settled two glasses upon the tray in the middle of the rear compartment and poured a bit into each, handing one glass to Melissa and keeping one for himself. "A toast to peace and prosperity, Madame Archon."
"To peace and prosperity, Mister President."

Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
23:19 GST

Tobis was sitting alone in his office when Torskani arrived. “I take it you’ve heard?”, Tobis stated, showing some glumness.
“The ceasefire has been signed and armistice talks are proceeding,” Torskani stated. “It appears that the war between the Alliance and Cardassia will be at an end.... I would think that occasion would merit a smile from you, Mister President.” Torskani found himself a chair as Tobis just looked off into the distance. “But, of course, it’s not how you wanted it to happen, was it? You wanted it to be your peace. You wanted to announce to the Federation, to the Quadrant as a whole, that you had brokered a peace deal between the two sides Only then could you have kept your place.”
“It’s not just about peace, but how it has been attained,” Tobis remarked. “The Alliance and their allies have prevailed through brute military force. They did not compromise, they did not deal fairly, they simply sent their ships and troops and they took what they wanted. And Cardassia could not stop them.” Sighing, Tobis continued, “Nor could we, if it came to that.”
“If it did. But such is the benefit of remaining at peace.”
“But we can’t forever,” Tobis continued. “Before the war the Alliance was a minor issue, an outside influence that might only be called into affairs of the Alpha Quadrant. Now... now every race and state from here to the fringe of the frontiers will see them as a great power, to be treated as such. The Alliance’s influence will expand and grow. Races that might have joined the Federation will instead remain outside of it, they may even do as the Keloans have done, as the Bajorans will likely do, and turn to the Alliance as their patron. Don’t you see, Torskani?” Tobis drummed his fingers on the desk. “Cardassia wasn’t the only state to lose this war. We lost too. And every passing year, as the Alliance grows larger and stronger, as it spreads influence across the Quadrant... every time we see another world, another race, fall into Alliacne orbit, we will feel that defeat. Eventually even the Federation itself might succumb. Under their pressure we will fracture, our colonies lured away by the promise of latinum and power by Alliance interests, and the Enlightened Society we have come to love and support will be no more.”
“You and I both know it needn’t come to that.” Torskani said the words but he, too, feared the progression Tobis saw coming. The most realistic-minded Idealogues had long come to the conclusion that the Enlightened Society was an uneven system, kept possibly only by maintaining the colonies as a source of materials and income. If anything happened to detach them from the Federation, the Enlightened Society would fall and the Federation would be torn apart by civil disruptions.
“You mean we hope it won’t come to that,” was Tobis’ pessimistic response, as he continued to stare off into space and consider opportunities lost.

DNS Sculpin SS-89, Cardassian Space
Universe Designate ST-3
07:58 GST

Alexa Schmidt was seated in her command chair, observing as Sandworth’s aim was true once again. The simulated Cardassian destroyer exploded on their screens and, with that, the drill determinated. “All hands secure from combat drill,” Kasia ordered from her place. “Resume standard war patrol running status.”
A chorus of “Aye”s answered her, letting Alexa remain silent as the ship returned to “normal”. Here they were, out on their third patrol of the war, and pickings were slim. The Cardassian convoys had long since abandoned this region, so close to Bajor, and their colonies in the area were being sustained by neutral shipping that Alexa could not touch.
Not that she wanted to. Their second patrol, from December 1st to December 14th, had netted 24 destroyed transports, three escorting destroyers, and a crippled cruiser that had been trying to escape the battle at Darane. Thirty million tonnes of shipping and about 2 million tonnes of warships was a nice enough score for a war patrol when there was so much success the Cardassians were starting to shy away from flights through the region. The third patrol, which had started after a two day replenishment at Darane Naval Station for refueling and restoring torpedo load, had gone on a bit longer but only netted them 10 transports over the entire period, no enemy combat ships, and no kills in the New Year.
“Looking forward to going home, Lieutenant?”, she asked Kasia.
“Yes. I miss my children,” she answered. “I’m hoping that I can get a shore posting after this tour and spend more time with them, maybe even transfer back to the UNSE service. A mother shouldn’t be away from her growing kids, you now.”
“I understand.” Alexa rested her head against her hand. This was what the Silent Patrol could so often become; boredom, when you weren’t struck by the terror of potential death in combat.
Conn, Radio, we have an incoming order, High Priority.
Looking to Kasia, Alexa sat up and brought the new order onto her screen. As she read it, those looking at her saw a small shift in her mood, a relaxing one. After finishing, Alexa reached up and keyed her PA system. “Attention, everyone. I’ve just received new orders from Captain Hagen, relayed straight from Command.” Allowing herself a small smile, Alexa continued, “As of 0800 hours today, the Alliance and the Cardassian Union are observing a ceasefire.”
At that announcement, applause came from the crew. Relief was on every face, as each thought with hope that this meant the war would officially be over soon.
Not done, Alexa finished her orders. “We are setting course for New Liberty Station. Upon return to Alliance-held space we will shift running status back to peacetime patrol standard. Hopefully... we will not be coming back out. As your Commanding Officer I am proud of the way you have all handled yourselves in this conflict. You do service to the name of the Sculpin and to the Silent Service as a whole. I look forward to serving with you again in the future. That is all.” She put the mic up and nodded to Kasia.
Being a mother eager to return home to her family, Kasia bellowed, happily, “What are you waiting for, Helm? You heard the Skipper. Take us home!”
“Aye sir!” And with that order, DNS Sculpin turned toward home, her war patrol over.

Kevima Valley, Bajor
08:00 GST

The medical ward in the former base of the 13th Provisional Order was again in operation, with the Order's medical staff working with their Human counterparts to care for all who were there. The ward had been enlarged to control much of the base, in light of the hundreds of wounded from the fight in the Turoa Mountains the day before last.
It was just before dawn and Glin Damar was lying in his bed awake.. Six out of seven men that Gul Luvar had led out of the caves were dead now, including Luvar himself. Damar could remember his pain at seeing that great man fall, the anger he had that Gul Luvar's greatness would never be recognized by his own people.
A voice called out for their attention. It was Glin Duvar, the highest ranking officer to regain his health enough to be transferred out of the medical ward. Damar and those who could looked to the door. Duvar was standing there, the young officer's face still bearing the scar from mortar shrapnel that had imbedded itself below his right eye. "Good morning everyone," he said. "I've been asked by the Alliance commander here to inform all of you that, effective as of now, the Alliance and Cardassia have declared a ceasefire. Armistice negotiations are now beginning."
Some sighed, others merely grumbled or returned to their beds. Damar frowned and laid his head back once more. The Central Command had finally done what it was supposed to do, but it was too late for Gul Luvar and so many others.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-22 05:22pm

Chapter 23

Undisclosed Location, Cardassian Union
17:55 GST

In a dark cell within one of Cardassia’s many bases, Jorma Gedys awaited her end. She was in a jumpsuit now, fully clothed for the first time in weeks, her tortured body barely recovering from what she had endured at the hands of the Cardassian “justice” system. Her heart, however, was far more severely scarred than her body. She had endured agony that she never thought it possible to take and had been left unbroken for so long. In the end she had succumbed not to the pain inflicted but to the wiles of Gul Madred. That failure had left her feeling empty. Everything she had done was for nothing. Her family was gone and she had nothing to show for it but years as a Cardassian’s whore and letting herself get tricked by Madred, dooming thousands of lives.
The door opened and she looked up. “Is it time?’, she asked her guard, in broken Cardassian, wondering if they were going to take her to be executed yet.
The guard seemed sullen and angry. He put her in restraints and bid her to follow, taking her through corridors to what appeared to be a shutle bay. There were a gaggle of other Bajorans present, all prisoners like she was. One by one their identities were confirmed and they were loaded onto a shuttle.
Once aboard, a female Cardassian officer in the cockpit began to speak. “Attention passengers. As a gesture of willingness to accept the armistice terms being required by the Alliance of Democratic Nations, you are being taken to an Alliance vessel, where you will be formally turned over into Alliance custody. Please remain calm and your journey will be quick and simple.”
That the Alliance had made peace with Cardassia was interesting to hear, but it left Gedys with some dread. Had the Cardassians won a battle and forced them to give up on Bajor? Or was Bajor free? There were so many unknowns and, for her and her fellow prisoners, anxiety and fear would not be ever until they were in the presence of Alliance uniforms and all their questions could be answered.

For Gedys there was a further anxiety. How many had died due to her mistake? How many might have lived if only she had resisted Madred’s trickery a bit longer? That her holding out so long might have saved many lives was not occuring to her. Gedys’ heart, her mind, was not in a place to consider what she had done right, for to her there was little in that column compared to what she had done wrong.
She dozed off shortly, emotionally spent, and only awoke when she heard a klaxon through the shuttle. By the time she was looking around she felt a strong thump and realized the shuttle had landed. This was to be the moment of truth; was this all some perverse Cardassian lie?
The rear door opened and Gedys was led out. They were on another ship now, the interiors a lighter gray than Cardassian stations had. Facing them were a number of figures in dark uniforms and all were clearly Human.
At that sight a number of the others began weeping, clearly of joy. In turn each had their restraints removed and were submitted to genetic testing to verify DNA compared to existing records on Bajor and in the Cardassian civilian systems.
Jorma was one of those not celebrating. A smiling young man in an Alliance uniform was assigned to undo her restraints. As he did so, Jorma worked up the courage to speak to him. “What happened to the camps?”, she said.
“Beg your pardon?”, he asked. She was unfamiliar with that phrase, but assumed it meant he wasn’t sure what she had asked.
“There were Cardassian-run camps where your people were operating,” she explained. “Forced Labor camps, places called ‘Madred Villages’, what happened to them? How many were killed?”
“Oh, those camps,” he answered. “Well, I’m not sure of all the details, but I do remember the report that the camps were taken by special forces moving ahead of the invasions. From what I heard, pretty much all the prisoners were recovered alive.”

Upon hearing those words, Gedys’ eyes widened. Her heart skipped a beat and she dared not hope... “Are you sure?!”, she asked insistently. “None of them had their prisoners slaughtered?”
“That one on Darane did, back at the beginning of the war, but other than that I’m pretty sure all the camps were liberated with their prisoner populations intact, minus a fatality here or there,” the man answered. “I mean, it was all over the news when they liberated those places.” He handed the wrist restraints to another man to be given to the Cardassians, standing to the side and scowling at the sight before them, and noticed Gedys’ eyes welling up with tears. “Are you okay, Miss...” He double-checked his PDA. “...Jorma?”
Was she okay? That was a simple question but the answer was suddenly not so simple. Or rather, the simple “yes” that would be accurate was also woefully inaccurate to how she felt. In that one moment everything Gedys had done, everything she had endured, had suffered, suddenly became worthwhile.
She hadn’t failed. She had succeeded, and by doing so thousands of innocent people were still alive and now free.
Tears of joy began to flow freely down her face as she went to her knees, sobbing in happiness. The weight of her past, once such a formidable burden, had been lifted by the realization that it had all been for a purpose. Her entire life had been vindicated by the outcome of her actions.
And so Jorma Gedys cried and prayed her thanks to the deities of her people, her heart relieved of guilt at last.

Capital City, Cardassia, Cardassian Union
18:10 GST

Puvek was holding the first full meeting of his new government since the start of the ceasefire ten hours before. His second, Ukeney Jurel, was seated beside him, and to the other side was Gul Keve. Rofar Jurritza was the new representative of the Obsidian Order to Puvek's government. Other Ministers of government were also present, of course, and all of them new to their positions.
"I am pleased to report," began the new Justice Minister, Miya Surel, "that we have apprehended and placed into custody every official and officer named on the Alliance's list of suspected war criminals. They will be ready to be turned over to the Alliance in five to six days."
"Excellent news. What about the remaining Bajoran labor camps and Madred Villages?"
"They're being disassembled. The inhabitants are being moved to marshalling areas to be handed over to the Alliance, as well as those POWs we have from the Alliance and the Commonwealth."
Puvek nodded. "Everything is going well then."
"I must say, though, that the territorial issue is not a good one," Ukeney remarked. "We're letting the Alliance and Commonwealth keep all of the worlds they've occupied completely, not just the Bajoran systems and the five disputed systems on our border with the Alliance. I'm not sure this is tolerable."
"It will have to be. We don't have much choice. And if I might point out so, Ambassador Parmika's preliminary draft made clear that territorial issues beyond Bajoran territory and the five disputed systems will be decided during the negotiations for a peace treaty." Puvek put his hands together with a satisfied expression. "They will certainly be reasonable when they have what they want; Bajor and the leaders responsible for the atrocities committed in the name of the State. Now, we must discuss more pressing domestic matters..."

Washington D.C, Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
6 January 2154 AST
14:15 GST

A late breakfast had been arranged for Mamatmas and his senior advisors. Rathbone, Nakamura, and Umachov were joined by outgoing Chancellor Montesque and Council Representatives Sir Kevin Maxwell-Fyfe (Britain SE-1), Tatanya Guseinev (Russia SE-1), and Elijah Weisbaum. The terms were given to all of them to read over.
"Aside from the systems that we had claim to and the Bajoran systems, the rest of the military zones will remain under official occupation zone status," Umachov was explaining, "until such a time as a peace treaty decides final territorial lines. Just this morning I received a note from New Avalon confirming the Commonwealth's acceptance to this term."
"Well, what worth are these systems aside from a buffer zone? We should use them to get further concessions from Cardassia in the official peace treaty," said Montesque.
Representative Guseinev beat the others to speaking. "Mister Chancellor, are there not millions of Cardassian dissidents, or half-Bajoran Cardassians who are not welcome in either place? We could hold these worlds to be homelands for them."
"Yes, we could provide a base for the Cardassian dissident movement to establish itself," was Maxwell-Fyfe's response. "One day they could very well finish the takeover of Cardassia and make it a respectable state."
Takahara shook her head. "I don't know if that's possible, Councilman. The nationalism of Cardassian society would make it too easy for their government to turn such a thing against the dissidents. They would be too closely linked to us for it to work."
"What I want to know is why." Weisbaum put a hand on the table. "We've beaten their fleet several times. They're on the ropes. Why are we going for this consolation prize when we could defeat the Cardassian Union utterly and force its dissolvement?"
Everyone looked at Weisbaum. "Well, Councilman, we don't have the force right now," answered Rathbone. "We've lost over three hundred warships in the war, including a fair number of our existing battle line and one of our carriers. A couple hundred or so more are still layed up in the docks getting repaired. At current construction levels it will take us a few years to replace all of the losses, much less build up the further reserves we'd need to adequately control the Cardassian sectors and fulfill all other defense commentments. And we have enough of those as it is. If we try to push on, we'll only unleash chaos through that entire region."
"Is it better than throwing away the sacrifices of our servicemen? If we don't occupy Cardassia Prime and rebuild Cardassian society into a respectable model, our dead will have died for nothing."

"There are fourteen billion Bajorans who would feel otherwise, Councilman," Mamatmas replied. "I'm not going to jeopardize the security of the Alliance to continue the war unnecessarily just to satisfy your personal views on how the war should end. As soon as Parmika irons out the hard details, I am going to have him sign the armistice."
"You're making the same mistakes we have for so long," Weisbaum said in irritation. "Every generation we've had to deal with the fascists from Europe, or the aliens on our far frontiers, or other powers. And every time we win, and we restore things to status quo. And then our next generation of sons and daughters have to go and fight when the enemy attacks, as he inevitably does. The only way to guarantee peace, to end this cycle, is to crush criminal governments like the Cardassians and replace them with good ones committed to the fight against fascism. I will not accept this armistice. It is a mockery. You are condemning our children to fight Cardassia again in twenty years time."
Every remained silent. Weisbaum, having said his peace, nodded and stood. "Good day, Mister President, Mister Chancellor, everyone." He left with a brisk pace.
Sighing, Mamatmas looked to Takahara. "Do you think we'll be doing this again in twenty years?"
Takahara looked back at him and shook her head. "It depends on how long Puvek's new government lasts, but no, I don't think we'll have another war with Cardassia twenty years from now." Takahara shook her head, and then added, "It'll be in ten to fifteen years. Perhaps as little as eight if they rebuild quickly. Needless to say, Mister President, we must leave the future to tend to itself. At present, we need to accept this peace offer and end the war. It will let us focus on other problems, like rebuilding Bajor."
There were nods of agreement, at which the meeting continued on to other subjects.

Bowie, Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
18:25 GST

Imina was waiting outside as Kercil was escorted by suited men into the meeting room where he was to be debriefed. As he went to the door he gave her one last look, and she returned it with a reassuring smile, indicating her own debrief had not been a terrible experience. Kercil tried not to show his apprehension or nervousness as he was directed to sit at the table opposite a group of three men. All were Human - one was light-skinned while two had darker complexions. The light-skinned man, clearly in charge, pressed a key. “Classified Debriefing, January 7th 2154 Alliance Calendar. Subject is Hanak Kercil, formerly a 3rd Rank Glin in the Cardassian Defense Forces, Military Interrogations branch. Mister Kercil, you were an asset recruited by Agent Cobalt of East African ESI. We would like you to, in summation, confirm all information you passed on to your intelligence contact.”
Kercil nodded and began to recall every bit of information he’d passed on. At first he had given Agent Cobalt, the woman he knew as Abigail, data gleaned from the military computers concerning ship and troop movements, as well as confirming the existance of Village 23. He tried to keep the data he recalled simple, remembering it quite keenly as he did.
As he did so the three men he was faced with would occasionally check notes and nod, though the man in the central chair kept his gaze on Kercil. When he spoke again, using an accent Kercil had identified as “English” among Humans (though interestingly enough it wasn’t the primary accent for actual English speakers, from what he’d seen), he asked, “Please, go into detail on the operation of December 25th, when you used sabotage to ensure the success of the long-range operation to reinforce Madred Village 23.”
Kercil found himself recounting that as well, though clearly more upset by it. He had, after all, been directly responsible for the deaths of over four hundred Cardassians by destroying Dervak Military Station and firing plasma torpedoes onto planetary targets. The three men watched him closely as he recounted every detail, ending with his involvement in the holding of Village 23.
“Thank you, Mister Kercil,” the lead man stated. “I will have Agent Kingsley see you and Miss Porel out and provide you with information on your new lodgings.”

Kercil nodded and stepped out, still feeling very bewildered. This “Washington D.C.” was unlike any city he had seen before and the wealth and luxuries of the Alliance citizenry made him think of how hard most Cardassians had it back home. Is it any wonder these people have defeated us so severely? Their wealth and sophistication is so vast... He let Imina embrace him as another Human male stepped up toward them, a case in his hand. “Mister Kercil, Miss Porel, I’m Stefan. If you will please follow me.”
He led them into a side office, where there was privacy. Once the door was closed he opened the case and began handing them what looked to be a set of documents with identification cards, issued in the false names of Sana Nerys and Tarak Mencet. “These are your new identities,” Agent Kingsley explained. “Arrangements have been made to settle you on the colony world of New Hope, Universe Designate PA-6, under United Nation-States of Earth jurisdiction. You will be given permanent visas as political refugees. If you wish to fully immigrate and become citizens AID will help facilitate this in the UNSE courts, though we must warn you against making yourselves too prominent.”
Kercil nodded. A colony world... it sounded like the best place for him and Imina. Far off on the frontier of known space, where they could be together and work in simple means. “What kind of employment shall we have?”
Stefan answered by handing Kercil the other documents. “Bank accounts for the two of you have been set up in the Colonial Trust Bank, each account with a starting balance of $20,000 ADN. We’ve taken the liberty of purchasing a parcel of farmland for you on New Hope, outside the town of Settlers’ Creek, along with a set of farming equipment to permit you to farm the land yourselves, though we won’t stop you if you want to do something else. We do, however, insist that you maintain your cover identities, maintain a low profile, and inform us if you ever plan to go off-planet. Now, are there any questions?”
Seeing Imina’s look and, for the first time in a while, allowing himself to smile, Kercil nodded. “Well, yes Agent Kingsley. I was wondering... could you have my new name be Tarak Sana?” He put an arm around Imina’s shoulders. “Imina and I are lifemates, and adopting the name of one’s mate is a custom of the Bajorans as well as the Humans, is it not?”
At that Stefan had to smile and nod. “Yes, Mister Sana, it is. I’ll have it done immediately.” He promptly took the documents for Tarak Mencet and left.
“A farm?”, Imina said. She seemed to smile. “My parents raised me on one. It will be so wonderful...”
Kercil nodded. Granted, he had been a city-dweller his whole life, but for Imina he would gladly accept this new occupation. “It will be, Imina. Just the two of us, finally free to be ourselves and with each other, as we were meant to be.” He held her close; for both, a past full of pain and humiliation was now brightened by the future that lay ahead of them.

East Landing, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
20:15 GST

One of the benefits of living in East Landing was the gorgeous coastline, and for Sophia Razmara and others in the ARAL organization it was the greatest perk of being based in this city. The warm water of New Liberty’s Eastern Sea was a pleasure to swim within, the sun not yet too hot to make one miserable while more than sufficient enough to permit the gaining of a natural tan.
It was not often that Asako was talked into relaxing in this fashion, but Sophia had been insistant since their arrival that she join them for a day on the beach and, in the name of camaraderie with her crew, Asako had done so, even donning the revealing two-piece suits that Sophia had picked out as a further concession to her more outgoing comrade. The swimming had been excellent and the spirited game of volleyball, introduced to them by the locals, had been enjoyable (if exhausting), and that all left her tired and ready to end the day tanning at the table side with a book in her hand.
She took a sip of synthehol mai tai from her glass and noticed a shadow loom over her. A man stepped up, wearing an opened “Hawaiian” shirt and shorts, and presented her another mai tai. “Synthehol, right?”
Asako nodded at him. That he was clearly interested wasn’t hard to notice, but something about the young-looking man that made her think there was more to it. She closed the book with her bookmark in place and put it down. “I thank you for your generosity,” she remarked with a bit of a smile. “Though you’ll find I’m not interested in the kind of company you’re looking for.”
Chuckling, the fellow slipped into the seat on the other side of the table. Asako had to admit he was a handsome, attractive humanoid male at the very least, with a defined chest as part of a well-kept physique. “Well, you are amazingly beautiful, so I am disappointed to hear that...”
“Even with these?” Asako indicated her ears.
“Part Vulcanoid. I actually find that kind of hot,” he answered. “But, as I was about to say, while I am certainly disappointed to hear you don’t share a personal interest, there are others I would like to discuss with you...” He looked over to her carefully. “Miss t’Prinn.”

A cold sensation went up Asako’s spine. She quickly slammed shut her emotions, not wanting to give away her startlement, and briefly glanced at her people, just to see they were all still out in the water and not within easy visual contact. “Excuse me?”, she asked, trying to maintain a detached air. “My name is...”
“Asako t’Prinn, born Asako Shimakage on Nippon Prime to mother Mamiko Shimakage on 19 September 2330 ST-3 Calendar, roughly New Stardate 7012, adopted the surname Prinn upon meeting her biological Romulan father at age 19, added the t-prefix as is appropriate by Romulan naming standards. Currently leading member of Anti-Racist Action League... where did you get that name anyway?”
Retaining a neutral expression, Asako calmly, and coldly, answered, “It sounds better in Rihannsu. So, what do you want?”
“Straight to business. I like that,” he answered. Reaching into his short pocket, the young man handed her a business card. As she went to read it, he introduced himself. “My name is Zachary Carrey, I’m a representative of Security Concept Enterprises. We’d like to hire you.”

The beach was occupied enough that there were eyes looking everywhere, so Zachary and Asako might be forgiven for failing to realize that one set of eyes, from down the beach and a bit upwards, were squarely upon them for the most part. Not above mixing business with pleasure, Mayuko Burley was celebrating her new position as the lead case agent for East Landing’s small CID office by enjoying the perks of her new home much as her quarry was. From a seat of her own at one of the beach side bars, Mayuko was enjoying a raspberry lemonade of exceptional quality and a chance to enjoy the warm sun of New Liberty’s solar system upon her, wearing a flattering two-piece swimsuit that would let her get something of a tan.
A fairly attractive, if not entirely so, young man tried a pick up line with her. Turning her attention briefly, she gave him a gentle smile and head shake as a way to tell him “No” before returning her gaze elsewhere. She sipped at her lemonade again and watched the young man who had sat beside Miss Ogawa stand up, shake her hand, and walk off. With a flick of her wrist she took a picture with her cellular phone, set to dump its photographs via planetary wireless internet into her home personal computer.
“Barman,” she called out, holding up her now-empty glass. “A refill, on my tab.”
“Yes ma’am.” As he refilled her glass he asked, “Light drinking for a holiday on the beach, ma’am. Any reason you’re not going for synthetic drinks?”
“If I want a real drink, I’ll use damned real alcohol,” Mayuko answered, “And my holiday ends in twenty minutes, then it is back to work.”
“Ah, a newcomer to our young city,” he answered. “Well, I hope to be seeing you around more often.”
“Oh, you will be,” she assured him. “You’ll be seeing a lot of me...”

Washington D.C., Earth, Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
7 January 2154 AST
14:05 GST

Off to the side from the podium in the press room, Mamatmas was in a customary suit and tie. Beside him, Melissa Steiner was dressed in regal gown with tiara, looking very radiant. "Thank you for giving me the chance to join you in this press conference, Mister President," she said.
"Minister Umachov deserves the praise for the idea. I'm just the one who thought it was a good idea." Mamatmas held on to the papers they were to speak from. "Any moment now..."
His press secretary announced them and Mamatmas led Melissa onto the raised stage, the two standing in front of the President's Seal behind the podium. Mamatmas came up first, setting the papers down while Melissa remained to his left. "Good morning, members of the press, fellow citizens, and those watching from across the known Multiverse. I am pleased to allow Archon Melissa Steiner of the Federated Commonwealth to take my place in announcing this development. Madame Archon?"
Melissa stepped up. Not even clearing her voice, she began to speak clearly, "Greetings. I am very pleased to announce that at 13:30 GST today, the Cardassian Union has signed a formal armistice with the Coalition of States." Taking only a moment of pause before continuing, she went on, "By the terms of the armistice, the Cardassian Union has recognized the right of the Bajoran people to their sovereignty and has renounced all claim to their homeland. Bajor is free."

Ikila, Bajor
Universe Designate ST-3
14:10 GST

The announcement from Melissa Steiner and President Mamatmas had brought a smile to Omi’s face as the Bajorans she was serving celebrated. To see their joy at being informed the Cardassians were giving them up, that they were free, was enough to make every moment of exhaustion worth it for her. There was something animating, uplifting, to see such spontaneous and powerful joy even among continued deprivation.
She felt a hand take her’s. Karl was standing beside her, having come to visit and enjoy a lunch with her as he had started to do. “You are wearing the necklace again,” he noted, seeing it hanging from her neck.
“It is very lovely,” Omi remarked quietly. “So you have heard?”
“I have,” Karl stated. “The war is over. Bajor is free. I have completed the task for which I was recruited. Very soon, I think I will be returning home to Germany, to give a report to the Army and to publish my memoirs of the conflict.” He brought her hand up and kissed the knuckle. “I would be joyed, and honored, if you would join me, Omiko. There are many sights in Germany I wish to show you.”
The invitation did not surprise her. She carefully nodded. “When my work here is done, Karl, I will come and be honored to be your guest.”
Karl smiled and stepped away, letting Omi get back to work.

New Liberty Station, Orbit over New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
14:10 GST

Rana Shaheen felt a tremendous weight lift off her shoulders as the Commonwealth Archon made her announcement, with President Mamatmas joining in to explain particulars. She leaned her head back in the chair and drew in a sigh of relief. After all the close calls the Hackins had faced, at Zygola, in the skirmishing around Mapakar, and then this recent Cardassian spoiling attack where they had suffered casualties from a torpedo hit... after all this, the war was over, and she was alive.
A whoop of joy came from Dani. She was off shift, granted a three day leave after the ceasefire was announced as one of a rotation of engineers who had logged the most hours during the war. While Rana, fresh from a meeting with her squadron’s CO Admiral Forsythe, was still in a duty uniform, Dani was in sports bra and shorts as extreme casual wear. She walked up to Rana, handing her a glass and then filling it with a wine that Rana, slightly more aware of what wine was which, figured to be a cheaper type and vintage Dani had picked up from a store on the station. She watched the red liquid fill to the top and held it up while Dani poured herself some, then put the bottle down. “To the end of the war,” Dani proclaimed cheerfully, smacking her glass against Rana’s and then drinking at the wine. “This is great, Rana. Tomorrow... tomorrow let’s take the shuttle down to East Landing, get a beachside rental cottage, and enjoy the rest of my leave.”
Rana gave her a slight, sad smile, and Dani knew something was up. “Rana?”
“Dani, I talked with Admiral Forsyth today.” She swallowed a gulp of wine and put the glass down. “Commander MacGruder gave me a glowing FitRep after our return. He’s recommended me to be sent to the Officer Command School at New Virginia AR-12.”
“Oh.” Dani could see where the conversation was going. “Well, uh... maybe I can get a transfer to the shipyards there. They have some naval engineering officers to oversee construction, I could get a billet...”
“As a Lieutenant? Dani, don’t kid yourself.” Rana sighed. “I leave in two days for a staff billet at 6th Fleet HQ on New Virginia and I have to finish my final reports for Commander MacGruder before I go. As much as I’d love to go on that holiday to East Landing, I can’t.”
Looking very crestfallen, Dani drew in a sigh and settled into her own chair. “So... I guess this is goodbye until I can get a full leave term?”
Rana almost couldn’t look Dani in the eye. Not as she prepared to speak her mind. “Dani... I’ve enjoyed these times with you. You are... a passionate lover, a beautiful woman and I’ve loved having you. But.... I’m going into Command now. I’m going to have more work now, less leave time... it’s not fair to you, and I think you should be ready to see others if you get the chance.”

To hear Rana say that prompted the appearance of tears in Dani’s eyes. “You’re breaking up with me?”, Dani asked softly.
“...No, no Danielle. God no, I couldn’t break up with you. I... I love you too much to dump you,” Rana answered. It hurt doing this, but she was convinced it was for the best, if only she could ignore the pain in her heart and causing similar to Dani. “But I also love you too much to make you live a lie. Danielle... my career is on the fast track. It’s going to be taking up all my time, all my energy. While I wouldn’t mind seeing you once and a while, if you are available and uninvolved... I couldn’t insist you remain in a relationship with me when we’ll likely not see each other for years on end. You deserve to be happy.”
Danielle was busy wiping tears from her eyes. “What... what if I resigned my commission? Became a civilian? I could see you more often...”
At that Rana chuckled bitterly, starting to tear up herself as she saw how difficult Dani was going to make this. “Oh God, Dani, it would be flattering... but come on. You want to make Captain in Engineering Branch before you even consider retiring and we both know that. It’s what you’ve got planned for your future. And while what we’ve had has been fun... I couldn’t ask that of you.” Sighing, Rana concluded by saying, “Did you think we’d be together forever, Dani? Given our career tracks, given we’re both in the Service? Don’t kid yourself. You knew this was going to happen one day, and one of us would do it. Well, it’s happened.”
As much as Dani might want to deny this, she knew it was true. She breathed in a sigh and buried her face in her hands. Even with all the difficulties in their relationship she had gotten used to it. And she had felt her attachment to Rana, on an emotional level, growing. To have it severed now...
“I’ll take the couch tonight,” Rana offered. “And tomorrow we can see about moving you into temp quarters until you’re released to return to your planetside apartment.”
“No, it’s fine, I’ll take the couch,” Dani insisted. She got up and went into the bedroom. Rana followed and found her putting on a blouse and skirt from her clothes in the closet. “I’m going to go get a drink, okay? I’ll slip back in later and shack on the couch. You don’t have to wait up.”
“No, no, you’re right, it was going to end anyway.” Tears were flowing freely from her eyes at this point. “It’s just... for the first time in my life... I had something, something with you, that went beyond all the others I’ve seen. To have it end.... I have to be alone now, okay? Don’t wait up, please. I have to be alone.”
Rana tried to put a reassuring hand on her, but Dani shrugged it off as she buttoned the bouse up. As soon as she was ready she slipped her feet into a pair of shoes and went to the door, leaving without a word. With nothing else to do Rana was left with the prospect of sleeping. She changed into a nightgown and got into the bed, where she sobbed quietly as she drifted off into sleep.

The sleep was gentle enough, despite the pain in Rana’s heart. It ended when she felt a weight beside her. Opening her eyes, Rana found herself facing a pair of green eyes that she knew to be Danielle’s. Dani smiled sweetly at her, dried tears still present on her cheeks, and put her hand on Rana’s cheek. “Go back to sleep, Rana,” she said quietly before giving Rana an affectionate kiss on the cheek.
Unable to resist smiling herself, Rana shifted in bed so that she was in Danielle’s arms and the two quietly fell asleep.

Turek Ikara, Yuvar, ADN Occupation Zone
14:33 GST

Kellie was sitting alone in the eatery attached to the inn she was staying in, having a light meal while the armistice celebrations continued. This past week had been the hardest in her life, in which she had lost a lover and turned her back on her home, now set adrift in the wide cosmos to try and make her own way.
"May I have this seat?" The thinly-accented voice made Kellie look up. Kiyo Katayama was a reporter for IUNS that Kellie had met after arriving on Yuvar. She was not an embedded reporter, having been sent afterward to cover the domestic side of things on Yuvar. "Doing well, Kellie?"
"I'm glad to see the war over." Kellie stared at her drink for a long second. "Kyle was going to take me to an uncle's cabin up in the Kinleys on New Oregon."
"I'm very sorry for you. But remember, you did the right thing. Kyle would be very proud of what you've done." Kiyo took Kellie's hands. "I talked to my supervisor. He's very interested in you joining the Service."
"That would be great," Kellie said happily.

CDS Droumall, Marull System, Cardassian Union
14:45 GST

Gul Dukat was dining with his officers when the news of the armistice came. Emotions were mixed. There was relief that the fighting was over and Cardassia could rebuild. But there was also bitterness that Cardassia was giving up so much. Dukat listened to his men rave angrily about Loralo Puvek and smirked. Finally, one asked, "Gul, how could the Central Command support such a man coming to power? He's humiliated us all!"
"Calm yourself, Glin." Dukat nonchalantly set down a glass of kanar. "We must all recognize that the war had to be brought to an end before Cardassia's position deterioriated further. That Minister Puvek would be so brave as to put his political career and life on the line to accomplish that line should be something we recognize. Besides, would you rather that the Central Command had signed the armistice and not the head of our civilian government?"
The assembled officers looked at each other. They all knew the answer to that.
"Don't worry men, our day will come. We will heal our wounds, learn from this war and our mistakes, and then, one day, Cardassia will avenge this defeat."
The men nodded in agreement.

Parker City, New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
14:45 GST

In a non-descript farmhouse just inside the accepted city limits of Parker City, the Torcet family had now settled in to prepare for the day that an immigration court would decide on their fates. Vertal, now a widow with four children to raise in the midst of aliens and their ways, was fussing with Jorim and Laria over dinner while heart-broken Kerma sat alone in the living quarters. Samia was still with the family, ever the dutiful housekeeper despite Kerma's attempts to get her to return to her Bajoran family, and she was currently finishing the next meal.
Tarak came down from the upper floor bedroom he'd been given. Sympathetic Alliance citizens had given them amenities they'd never known on Cardassia. Advanced viewscreen units they called "televisions", one holovideo projector, cleaning machines, and a bright and colorful wardrobe that frankly hurt Kerma's eyes for all that her grandchildren loved it.
Finally turning on the "television" for the first time that day, Kerma watched as the news reported something that made her grow angry. Cardassia had signed an armistice with the Alliance. They'd done it now, now that her husband and her son were dead, that she and her family had been forced to flee, now that so many Cardassians had been lost, now they'd bothered to make peace?!
"Bastards!" Kerma screeched. "Bastards!"
Her cries brought the attention of the rest of the household. "Mother Kerma?" asked Vertal.
"They made peace! They made peace now, not when Relim was still alive! Why?! Why couldn't they have done it when he asked them?! It's not fair!" The old woman broke down into bitter sobs.

New Liberty Station, Orbit over New Liberty, ADN Colonial Zone
22:30 GST

The liner from Dervak arrived right on time. Upon arrival a gaggle of people, almost all Human, stepped out and found themselves in Terminal Delta, Gateway 4, with various crowds around waiting for people from their ship and others due to arrive.
Sharon Carter was the first of the Village 23 denizens to step out, Kristina right behind her. She looked in interest at the Alliance station’s passenger terminal, having not seen an installation quite like it before. She reached over to clasp Kristina’s hand as they continued to walk out and take in the sights.
The voice came from their left. They turned and saw a pair of figures there, an older couple. Kristina’s face brightened as she saw them and she cried out “Mama, Papa!” and ran up to them. By the time she got to them all three had tears of joy in their eyes as they embraced happily, parents reunited with a beloved daughter they thought lost to them forever.
Sharon swallowed hard. Back at Village 23, as she and Kristina became involved, it seemed like that was it - they would have only one another to each other, with no hope of reunion with family for Kristina. Now she was with her family again. A family that might not be so welcoming to Sharon, a gene-augment who in the Federation would be destined for a life spent in a carefully monitored “Augment colony”.
With her heart full of uncertainty and fear for what her future held, Sharon stepped forward to be introduced, finally, to her lover’s parents.

Christine Bennington stepped out behind Ersun and his family and looked around. So this is Alliance territory she thought to herself, wondering what life was like her. She wasn’t sure of anything. Could she return home? Would the Federation convict her of some false terrorism charge and ship her off to a penal colony? What about her parents, her father’s government job?
As she stepped up toward an information desk, her eyes spied around and suddenly noticed a head of graying red hair the same tint as her’s, a person looking away from her. With great hope she stepped through the crowds and toward the figure and, as she got closer, realized that her hope had not been ill-placed. “Dad!”
George Bennington turned, his arm over the shoulder of Nyree, his wife. The couple saw their daughter approach them and cried out “Christie!” before accepting her embrace. “Oh, Christie, you’re okay,” Nyree sobbed, her English slightly accented in Maori fashion. “My little girl is okay.”
“Mum, Dad,” Christine sobbed happily. “You... you came all this way...”
“Spent every credit I had available to get on the fastest liner out of Sol,” George proclaimed happily, holding his daughter closely, a hand gripping a lock of her red hair. “Oh Christie, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry....”
“Not your fault, Dad, it’s not your fault,” Christine sobbed. “I’m just happy to be home...”
“Christine, this is home now,” he said. When she looked at him intently, he explained, “I couldn’t tolerate what they did to you. I pleaded with every party man I could, and when they refused to help... I tore up my Party card and told them to go to Hell. It took every credit I’d been saving to afford the move. We’re going to live here now, Christine. We’re going to live somewhere that we don’t have to worry about being handed over to the Cardassians because the Party leadership has a bug up their arse.”
“Oh Dad...” Christine held onto him, frightened and excited by what he had said. The Federation, New Zealand, had been her home, and she had dreamed of returning... and now she wouldn’t be.
But she still had her parents. She was free from the Cardassians and free to be with her parents again; together they would build a new life in the Alliance and be able to live without fear.

Oliver Bennett had never believed it possible.
It had been eight days since he and Maria had gotten the call from ADN authorities, via the ADN consulate on Nova Savona. Prisoners from a Cardassian facility on Dervak had been liberated and one of them, in her family history, indicated relation to “Mrs. Maria Costanza”. The notice had sent Maria into a frenzy of joy; to hear that at least one of her relatives had survived the Rape of Nova Savona and twenty years of Cardassiann imprisonment was the fulfillment of two decades of prayer and, in of itself, a virtual miracle.
Maria was fidgety as she stood beside him, waiting to see if any familiar faces came through the Gateway. There were so many coming out that Oliver couldn’t quite tell them apart.
As the flow slowed, and as Maria’s apprehension grew, Oliver noticed one particular figure separate from the crowd. It was a young woman, no older than twenty-five he gathered, with dark hair and the complexion of a Nova Savonard. She looked toward them with a pair of blue eyes and a face that Oliver was quite able to recognize.
The girl did too. She walked up toward them, staring intently at Maria as she, in turn, was still gazing at the gateway. Oliver gently got her attention and pointed toward the young woman approaching them. Maria turned and allowed her own pair of blue eyes to lock with that of the younger woman. A look of surprise turned to joy as tears formed in Maria’s eyes. “Antonia,” she gasped. “My little Antonia!”
Hearing her name called, Antonia Costanza smiled and picked up the pace toward them, almost running the distance as she called out “Mama!” She threw herself into her mother’s arms as her stepfather looked on quietly, tears streaming from Oliver’s eyes at seeing his wife have her tear-filled reunion with her lost daughter. “I’ve missed you so, Mama!”, Antonia cried.
“It’s a miracle,” Maria gasped as she held onto her little girl. “It’s a miracle, praise be to God!”

Edward Winfield was the last to step off, exchanging a handshake with everyone as he did so. He could hear the cries of joy as others passed before him and found himself wondering if he would be permitted to join those festivities. When he finally stepped out, he found the terminal full of people in tearful reunions but also, sadly, some who had no families present to welcome them. His eyes constantly scanned the terminal to see if the face he was looking for was there; wherever he looked, he found disappointment.
She has remarried was the thought that went thiough his head. And he could not blame her; he had likely been declared KIA. She had their son to raise. She had found someone else, and as bitter as that taste was Edward was willing to accept it, knowing it unfair to think anything else.
At hearing his named called, he turned. He found himself face to face with a woman his age, upper thirties, with dark hair and blue eyes. She was finely dressed, as always, and quite beautiful... especially to his eyes.
“Diane,” he said in greetings to his wife. Diane Howard, his beloved and fellow New Anglian, a daughter of the ancient English aristocracy and the most precious thing to him in his life. “I’m sorry.”
“You were right to volunteer,” she said. “And I’ve been waiting over ten years to say that to you.”
“Have you... another?”, he asked, delicately, seeing she had a wedding ring on. “I understand if...”
She brought her hand up closer and allowed him to see the ring directly. It was the one he’d given her that day at the Northchester Abbey, matched by one that the Cardassians had seized fromo him so long ago. He gasped in realization that she had not moved on. She had remained a widow all these years.
“They called me a widow,” Diane said. “But I knew you were alive. I knew you’d been taken and I knew the Federation was too craven to ensure your return. They thought I was being foolish.”
“My dear Diane...” With a tear in his cheek Edward fulfilled a dream he’d kept for years, through all the torture and humiliation and fear, and placed a hand upon his wife’s cheek. “I am ready to come home, darling.”
“I’ve kept the home in Anglian Norfolk,” Diane said. “But I’m also dwelling in London now... that way I can see Eddie.”
Eddie... Curious, Edward asked about his son. “How is he doing? Is he at University?”
“Starfleet Academy,” Diane answered. “I all but threatened to spank him to keep him from going absent to come here. He so wanted to see you.”
“Good, darling, I don’t want him hurting his future on a whim.” Edward drew in a sigh, anxious to see his son and how he looked as a grown youth, on the verge of manhood. But first... “Diane, through all the years, knowing you and Eddie were out here, waiting for me, kept me alive. I love you, my beloved.”
“And I you, Edward.” At that, she raised her lips to his, and they shared a warm kiss.

Ikila, Bajor
8 January 2154 AST
02:30 GST

The celebrations had broken out the previous night as the news broke across the city, every viewscreen displaying the image of the Alliance President and Commonwealth Archon declaring the armistice signed and the war over. Through the night they continued, all work on rebuilding nearly coming to a halt as the people danced and celebrated in the streets of Splendid Ikila, some of its outskirts still bearing the scars of the uprising.
The next day, an impromptu parade broke out as those provisional units that had fought the Cardassians so long and hard in the uprising were paraded around. Their foreign officers and advisors remained in the background, allowing these men and women to enjoy the adulation they had earned from their courage. They were festooned with flowers and offered all sorts of treats and foods by their fellow Ikilans.
In the Great Temple's courtyard, thousands packed in to pray thanks to the Prophets for the end of the war and their final deliverance from Cardassia. Kai Opaka led the ceremony, with Opel Nevis given a place of honor and a stoic Anastasius Focht standing off to the side to witness, though despite his pleadings he did not escape the notice of Bajor’s faithful and was fully recognized, and blessed, for his role in the uprising.
As the day's activities went on, a transport ship landed at the spaceport, a crowd of people awaiting its occupants of camp survivors. They struggled forward, each trying to get a look at the people coming out of the ship as, row by row, Bajorans emerged in plain clothes, looking somewhat unhealthy but better than they'd been before their liberation. Jubilant relatives cried out names of loved ones who had been arrested and sent to the labor camps, freed by the Alliance weeks before and now, after their initial recovery, finally being returned home.
What developed was, for those watching, indescribable. As the new arrivals went through one final, very quick DNA check for identify confirmation, they were then sent through a gate at which the crowd was awaiting. Here relatives would see the former prisoners arriving and would run forward, tears streaming, at the sight of those they'd never dared hope to see again. One by one families were reunited with missing loved ones who had survived the worst cruelty of the Cardassians. Here a husband was tearfully embraced by a wife and young child crying without restraint; there, brothers and sister were reunited. Young women who had endured the merciless violation of their captors tearfully grabbed their weeping parents, seeking solace in their arms, parents who in turn cried happily at seeing their beloved daughters home again and alive. Widows were again happy wives, orphans regained parents, and parents too reclaimed their lost children; here, at this moment, all their suffering of years was forgotten in a swelling of joy that could not be measured. The years of suffering and terror were over; the future was finally bright.

In this grand reunion, participant and spectator alike could not restrain tears. The atmosphere of joy was unconquerable, inescapable; for the Bajorans here regaining their loved ones, against all odds, Hope, the comforter in danger and darkness, had prevailed.
And for those who were watching, those soldiers who had fought to bring about this occasion, there were tears. This was what so many of their countrymen and allies had died to achieve. The horrors of war had devoured so many thousands, but this was the result, this great and beautiful moment of healing and joy. It was a truth, now, plainly to see, that war itself was not the glory; the dying, the killing, the tension and terror, the fire and steel, was not glory. This moment was the glory that came from the hell of war. A noble outcome - the freeing of a people from a most odious and cruel bondage, the creating of a future where future generations would never know the terror and pain of the past - is where the glory lies. It is where history proclaims greatness. This was to be the glory and legacy of the Victorious Dead.
The war had ended, and by the arms of the Allied Nations, the Bajoran people became independent and free.
”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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Re: (TGG) Anatomy of a War - 5th Anniversary Edition

Post by Steve » 2010-05-22 09:41pm

Epilogue 1

The First Crack

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." - The American Declaration of Independence

Dionisotti, Nova Savona, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
12 January 2154 AST

The Savonard Parliament was in full attendance and joint session, including representatives from the mining colonies in the Altare and Vado systems and the farming colony in the Quiliano system. Every man and woman waited silently as the Prime Minister of Nova Savona, a middle-aged man named Silvio Bergomi, came up, President Maria Capuletti beside him. Though they could not hear it, all knew that there were thousands of Savonards in the streets outside the Republic's capital of Dionsotti that were waiting to see what course the Republic of Nova Savona would take. Among those were people who remembered the terror of the Cardassian raid over two decades before and younger people orphaned by it or the Cardassian war with the Federation.
The Prime Minister introduced President Capuletti, who returned to the podium. She had been widowed by the Rape of Nova Savona, her younger sons and daughter having only been spared by having been place with her in a bunker; her eldest daughter had been run down in the streets of Dionisotti by the Cardassian raiders, stripped, gang-raped, and left for dead, pregnant with a child from one of her attackers that the strict Catholicism of the Capulettis had spared from abortion. With a voice almost hoarse with angry emotion, Capuletti spoke.
"My people, fellow Savonards, we have all been thankful to see so many of our countrymen freed from Cardassian bondage by the might of the Allied Nations. Cardassia has been humbled, and because the Alliance has held firm and driven them from Bajor, Cardassia no longer poses such a threat to us as it has in the past."
With fire in her brown eyes, Capuletti continued. "But this war has also revealed to us the decadence, the perfidiousness, of our so-called federates on Earth. The people back on Earth, on Andor, on Alpha Centauri, turned their backs on us as the Cardassians raped our daughters and ravaged our homes twenty years ago, though even now their envoys demand from us nearly half of our yearly wealth so that the people back in the Core can live without work or worry. They steal from us yearly and promise us defense that they never give. They left us to fend for ourselves for all of those horrible years, leaving us in constant terror of Cardassian aggressions."
"Now, we find out that they forgot of us and many others when making their peace with the Cardassians. They abandoned our countrymen and other citizens of the colonies to Cardassian enslavement in the name of making a faster peace! And had it not been for the bravery of the Allied Nations' soldiers, our countrymen would have been slaughtered by the Cardassians in the ultimate act of inhumanity, just to keep them from being liberated and brought home!"

"And while the Alliance fought to free Bajor and the Federation colonists held in Cardassian slavery and to avenge Cardassian brutality, the Federation didn't just stand aside, but it openly sympathized with the Cardassians! The people in the Core worlds believe that Cardassian murderers are the victims, and the liberators of the Allied Nations the murderers. The victims of Cardassia are again forgotten by the self-centered lazy mobs of Earth and the other Core Worlds, the ones who have robbed us for so long and now abandon us to the attacks of alien empires."
"This has been the final insult. We can no longer justify silence now that we have seen the horrors our missing countrymen have had to endure these past twenty years while the Federation coddled their tormentors. Introduced for the consideration of this Parliament is a resolution of the greatest weight. With your approval, and the approval fo the Savonard people, the Republic of Nova Savona will sever all political ties with the United Federation of Planets and assert our sovereignty as an independent interstellar State!"
A roar came from the Parliament. Prime Minister Bergomi returned to the podium. "Order in the Parliament! Order!" They began to quiet down and did so long enough for Bergomi to ask for the formal vote.
It was overwhelming.
On that day, 12 January 2154 AST, the Interstellar Republic of Nova Savona officially declared its independence, becoming the first government in decades to secede from the United Federation of Planets.

Epilogue 2

Building the Future

"The sacrifice which they collectively made was individually repaid to them; for they received again each one for himself a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all tombs, I speak not of that in which their remains are laid, but of that in which their glory survives, and is proclaimed always and on every fitting occasion both in word and deed." - Thucydides 2.43.2 (The Funeral Oration of Pericles)

Ikila, Bajor
8 April 2154 AST

The people of Ikila gathered this day at the Great Temple to witness an event that surpassed the prior week's visit of Pope Gregory XIX, as they watched the President of the Allied Nations ascend the raised stage at the Temple and head to the podium. Alliance citizens - journalists, soldiers, aid workers - were all assembled with the Bajorans to watch as President Mamatmas began to speak.
His speech was one of the more inspired ones he'd given. Starting off he listed the accomplishments of the rebuilding process so far. The environmental damage being corrected, the rebuilding of destroyed towns and cities, the slow and steady re-settlement of the millions upon millions of refugees scattered across the planet into permanent homes, either the rebuilt towns or the "new towns" being built up beside the camps.
"As the Allied Nations and the Bajoran people struggle, together, to build a better tomorrow for the generations to come, we must remember the sacrifices of those who fell to make this possible. I speak of the sacrifices of the brave who, loving life, still offered it as the price for the advancement of freedom for all sentient races. Bajor today is free from the blood of her patriots and of those who loved freedom, men and women who gave up everything they were for the promise of the brighter tomorrow. They transcended themselves, and any flaws they may have had as individuals, with their sacrifices. For this, we will never forget them, and they will live on in the memories of those who live on in the beautiful world that we, here, are so close to building. It will be our responsibility to maintain that world, their legacy to us, to honor their sacrifices. And I believe we will."
"Before I leave, I would like to now honor some of those still living for their deeds."
Stepping away from the podium, Mamatmas walked up to a line of Bajoran figures. He took from an aide an object and walked up to a Bajoran man. "Shakaar Edon, I hereby present you with the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
The former Resistance leader accepted the medal as it was placed into his hands by Mamatmas, a disc made of various metals with the Alliance torch and stars etched onto it, the name of the recepient and the awarding President's signature etched into the back of the disc.
From there, Mamatmas continued down to a young woman adorned in the robes of an acolyte of the Bajoran clergy. "Jorma Gedys, I hereby present you with the Presidential Medal of Freedom." The smiling young woman accepted the award with a smile and a word of thanks.
He moved on. "Vedek Bariel Antos..." was his next awardee, followed by another vedek, and then a community leader. The leaders of Verta and Salmio were presented, then Opel Nevis.
Standing face to face with a red-haired young woman wearing a crisp Marine's uniform, a new kind of medal was handed to Mamatmas. "Kira Nerys, I hereby present you with the Presidential Medal of Valor." Kira was handed a disc-shaped latinum-coated medal with the Alliance torch insignia in the center oversetting a shield, itself oversetting crossed swords. An inscription along the borders of the disc read Virtutis Gloria Merces: "Glory is the reward of Valor". On the back, her name and Mamatmas' signature had been engraved.
Smiling now, Mamatmas stepped past the line. "Last, but not least," he said, turning to an individual who had been courteously standing to the side, "it is my honor to present to you, Kai Opaka, the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Opaka accepted the award humbly, giving a word of thanks as her younger acolyte Gedys had just done. She then exchanged a handshake with Mamatmas to the cheers of the assembled. And so was the day's activities done; Mamatmas had seen for himself the progress being made in restoring Bajor, and the healing of the long-festering wounds of the Occupation. With so much that might have gone wrong and soured the liberation of the Bajoran people, dooming them to further bloodshed and poverty, to see the entire world united in the purpose of guaranteeing their future prosperity was a heartening thing.
It was the middle of April, and the Bajoran Spring was in full bloom.

Epilogue 3


Imperial Plaza, Cardassia Prime, Cardassian Union
27 April 2154 AST

Throngs of Cardassians cheered wildly as a single man, surrounded by soldiers, entered the plaza toward the prepared raised dais. This man, Gul Skrain Dukat, was now being hailed as a hero, the man who had stopped the Tsen'kethi invasion and advance on Cardassia Prime and thus saved Cardassia from alien conquest. With a somber look on his face, Dukat accepted the adulation of the crowd.
"My fellow Cardassians, I am honored by your welcome, truly. Without you and your sacrifices, it would not have been possible to stop the Tsen'kethi invasion. Cardassia, as a whole, is the true victor, and through victory we have retained our Union and regained our greatness. Cardassia has now broken the might of the Tsen'kethi Imperium; where months ago we were considered a beaten people ripe for conquest, we are now seen as great once again, and have reclaimed our place in this region of the galaxy."
"For all that we have done, we might still have been defeated." Frowning, Dukat pointed a finger toward the capital complex. "Loralo Puvek and his criminals nearly destroyed our strength. They surrendered to the Alliance, the killers of our children that, I remind you, murdered millions of Cardassian civilians and gave Bajoran terrorists a sanctuary from which they can continue to murder more Cardassians. Instead of rebuilding the military, they sought to disarm Cardassia - despite all of her many enemies! - and make Cardassia like the Federation, whom Puvek admires and seeks to emulate.” The crowd reacted particularly “well” to Dukat’s acidic use of the word “Federation”. “I have not one doubt that Puvek sought to subvert Cardassia and have it absorbed by the Federation! We would have maintained our sovereignty against the strength of the Alliance just to give it away to the Federation! Well, I cannot remain silent on this matter anymore. Puvek's stupidity has now become treason! I denounce Puvek and his stupidity! I denounce his government, for they are all traitors! And if the Detepa Council does not have the fortitude to see his treason and remove him, I will have no choice but to consider them traitors to Cardassia as well!"
The crowd roared their approval. The military men agreed as well.
Seeing this disasterous event unfold from his office, all that Loralo Puvek could do was ignomiously call home and have his wife get ready to flee. She and his children would later be beamed aboard a private Vulcan trading ship that Puvek secured for himself and his closest allies to flee in.
Within hours, even before his departure for the Federation and exile, the Detepa Councils tripped Puvek of his post. Gul Uvil Keve was recognized as the new Legate of the Cardassian Union and with that act the Central Command and Obsidian Order again took control of the Cardassian State.

Epilogue 4

A Doomed Peace

Oakland, Earth, United Federation of Planets
19 January 2155 AST

VIPs had gathered in the large auditorium of the Starfleet Academy annex in Oakland to see the final signing of the treaty that had taken so long to negotiate. On the side of the Coalition States sat their chief representatives; the Allied Nations' John Land, American Secretary of State from the USA (Universe DN-9) who had led the Coalition negotiation team; the Federated Commonwealth's Marshal Arden Sortek, who had headed the staff of military advisors for the negotiations; the Saint Ives Compact's Kuan-Yin Allard Liao, who had acted as the general secretary for the delegation; and Bajor's Li Nalas, a famed Resistance hero who had been freed from a Cardassian labor camp after the war and had been sent to represent Bajor's interests in the negotiations. On the Cardassian side sat Legate Tekeny Ghemor, one of the half dozen high officials in Central Command to be granted the title Legate by Keve's reforms, and those of his staff who were counterparts to the Coalition delegation.
The Federation head of the Diplomatic Secretariat, a Human named Valerie Tuckmann, oversaw the handing out of copies of the peace treaty, which the assembled then signed.
Seated amongst the crowd, Jean-Luc Picard and his officers observed with interest the various personalities on the stage as they took their pens and each signed a copy of the treaty, upon which the copies were rotated and signatures made again, until each copy of the peace treaty had been signed by all signatories. When this was finished, Tuckmann stood and prompted the two delegations to do the same, after which each member shook the hands of his opposite. At this, the observers stood and began applauding.
Almost imperceptibly, Lt. Cmdr. Data whispered to his Captain, "By my estimates, I believe this treaty will be broken by Stardate 53000, Sir."
Picard frowned.
The Treaty of Oakland, now signed, guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Bajor in the affairs of the Alpha Quadrant Powers, to be protected by all signatories. To guarantee the neutrality, the Alliance presence was being reduced to advisors for the new Bajoran government and their military; in their place, a five-year Federation presence and command would be established on the new space station built by the Alliance to replace Terok Nor. Though no one knew it at the moment, this space station - currently simply called the Bajoran Orbital Station - would soon be given a new designation by the Federation: Deep Space Nine.

Epilogue 5

The Judgement

"The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated." - Justice Robert Jackson, Opening Statement at the 1st Nuremburg Trial

Gorkon City, Khitomer, Alliance of Democratic Nations
4 March 2155 AST

The Palace of Justice, once the central building of Camp Khitomer where James Kirk had saved the President of the Federation from a Starfleet assassin and the Khitomer Accords had been signed, had been rebuilt and refurbished for just this purpose. Now, twenty-eight Cardassians who had once been officials of the Cardassian Union were seated in the dock.
The tribunal was made up of seven judges. Two were provided by the Federation, a concession to ensure acceptance of the trial results across the Quadrant and from the hope that this trial would lead to a more permanent standard of interstellar justice. Two were from the Alliance, and three had been brought in from neutral states in other universes; one from the Free Worlds League, one from the Habsburg Confederation of Universe AGC-1, with the president of the tribunal being a worker caste elder of the Minbari Federation. The wizened old Minbari man was seated in the middle, his gavel wrapping upon the tribunal's table.
This prompted everyone to sit. There were four prosecution teams; one each from the Federated Commonwealth, Saint Ives Compact, Bajor, and the Allied Nations, led by the head of the Allied Nations' prosecution, Sir Gregory Lowell; a former British Attorney General known recently as the successful defense counsel for the Wolf Khan Ulric Kerensky at his trial over the Clan Invasion of the Inner Sphere. Lowell had delivered excellent, well-crafted statements to open and close the trial, having directed an acclaimed prosecution that was equal in the parts the other delegations played and efficient in its presentation of evidence both in document form and in the form of eyewitness testimony.
Now, after over three weeks of deliberations, the seven justices returned with their verdicts. Kruvisall, the President of the Tribunal, informed the Cardassian defendants to stand when called to hear the determination of the tribunal, and if guilty on any of the charges, the sentence to be imposed. The four charges, as he explained, were "conspiracy to commit aggression, the commission of aggression, crimes in the conduct of warfare, and crimes against sentience".
And so the sentences were handed down.
"Aamin Kelataza. This tribunal finds you guilty on all four counts and sentences you to death by hanging."
"Yatar Hergata. This tribunal finds you guilty on all four counts and sentences you to death by hanging."
The Habsburg judge took her turn now, her voice thick with her Austrian accent.
"Refimo Tapal, guilty on counts one, two, and four. This tribunal sentences you to death by hanging."
And so the charges continued. Ziyal Loskal, the other last surviving member of the Political Advisory Board that had started the war, was convicted of the first and fourth counts and sentenced to life imprisonment. Gul Koral, the last prefect of Bajor, was convicted of charges 3 and 4 and sentenced to death. One of the Alliance judges, an American, pronounced the death sentence of the feared head of the Military Interrogators, Gul Madred, who frowned in disgust, having been convicted of Counts 3 and 4 for his torture of prisoners and the villages and facilities he had given his name to. The Commandant of the Rupek Labor Camp was sentenced to hang on a conviction for Count 4 for the slaughter of his prisoners. His counterpart at Gallitep received the same conviction and sentence for his atrocities against his Bajoran prisoners. Gul Severak, who had been captured along with his elite troops after their failed assault on Ikila, was convicted of Count 3 for his troops' unhindered murdering of Bajoran civilians in the combat zone and given life in prison.
In the end, of twenty-eight defendents, fifteen were sentenced to death on the strength of the evidence against them for atrocities and all but two more received life or lengthy prison sentences. One, the head of the Cardassian Press, was given a conviction on Count 1 for his participation in supporting attacks on Alliance shipping and for the launching of war on the Alliance, and only one - Loskal's chief of staff - was acquitted for the lack of strong evidence against her.
The tribunal's job done, it was adjourned, leaving it to the combined authorities empowered by its ruling to carry out sentence upon the convicted. One of the Federation judges would later claim to their State Press that he had refused to vote for any death sentence and would denounce the trial as "planned murder", but nevertheless, the trial was the first of its kind in the Alpha Quadrant and would provide a standard to be used again in the future.

Epilogue 6

The New Course of History

Ikila, Bajor
27 March 2155 AST

Nearly a year after the crowds had come to see President Nicolas Mamatmas give his speech from the Great Temple, the crowds were now gathered at the new complex built in one of the few areas of eastern Ikila destroyed by Cardassian troops, mere hours before they were driven from the city by Alliance troops.
Inside the complex, with recorders showing the proceedings to the crowds outside, representatives from each Bajoran province, from each historically autonomous area and from each recognized ethnic group, as well as those from the other worlds, gathered together and one by one affixed their signatures to a large series of documents that had been laid out on a beautifully-crafted table donated by the Great Temple for the ceremony. VIPs were watching from the balconys, including several Alliance high officers who had participated in the war now a year past and, alone amongst them, the Federation's senior officer on station: Commander Benjamin Sisko, the new Starfleet commander of the space station Deep Space Nine that had been just recently moved to hold the opening to the galaxy's first known stable wormhole.
When the signatures had been finished, there remained but one, and that was the one of the man who had led the Constitutional Congress as its President. Opel Nevis, to the encouragement of the crowd, stood from where he'd been seated by the one-eyed Anastasius Focht - soon to be invested as Bajor's first Marshal of the Armies - and walked to the table. "I am proud to be here at this moment," he admitted. "For years I never thought it possible. But through sacrifice and perserverance, the Bajoran people are finally free, and will now have a government most attuned to their needs, and able to ensure their continued freedom and prosperity." Opel picked up a pen and, in Latin script, wrote down his name.
Cheers and applause came now. Outside of the building was more of the same, and across Bajor, people stayed up to all hours of the night to hear the news of what would be one of the greatest days in their lives; the day that the Bajoran Republic was born.

Sukar Juvik, Mapakar, ADN Colonial Zone (Cardassian Autonomous Region)
19 June 2155 AST

Nearly three months after the founding of the Bajoran Republic, a ceremony much more subdued in tone was taking place in the large city of Sukar Juvik on Mapakar. Mapakar, like the thirty other systems that Cardassia had given up to the Alliance (not counting the five that had been disputed before the war), was now home to the Cardassian dissidents who had, during Puvek's brief rule and then after the restoration of military control of the Cardassian State, moved or fled from their homes, the first taking advantage of Puvek's kinder rule and the later ones being banished or otherwise expelled from Cardassia on pain of imprisonment or death.

Some took up residence in the new Cardassian March of the Federated Commonwealth, ruled from Pelikar and now including all the worlds that had been in the FedCom OZ after the war. Most, however, preferred not to be ruled by “Duke” Yulain Horvon and his lackies and alien overseers, so they instead chose to move to what became the "Cardassian Autonomous Region" of the ADN Colonial Zone.
Among those millions of Cardassians was Damar. He was a changed man from the one who had survived the Battle of the Turoa Mountains. After the war, he had been forced to see his former commander given the final betrayal of literally being left behind; with no family to claim him, Gul Luvar's body had not been requested by the Cardassian authorities for return. He would have been left alone if not for the unexpected decision of authorities of the Kevima Valley to allow Luvar's body to be buried in their land, a great gesture of gratitude by the people of the valley for the protection and justice Luvar had provided them during the Occupation. Damar could remember that day well, just before he and the other survivors were repatriated, when they were asked to lead the funeral procession. They had been given uncharged Cardassian rifles to carry for the procession, the frayed and damaged battle standard of the 13th Provisional Order draped over Luvar's coffin as it was carried in a wagon pulled by two horses through the streets and to Luvar's resting place.

The Royal Black Watch, the very men who had killed Luvar and most of his men on that bloody morning, had joined the procession, providing the soldiers for a 21 gun salute, an armed honor guard, and pipers who played martial Human music during the procession and burial. Damar had never been so moved, yet so angered, in his life, to see the enemy honoring Gul Luvar as if he were one of their own while the Cardassian government had forgotten him.
Returning home, Damar had begun to speak for Luvar, giving addresses and speeches to Cardassians who would listen to encourage them to take up Luvar's dream of a new Cardassian government "of the people, by the people, for the people". It had been tolerated under Puvek's rule but when Puvek was removed Damar became just another enemy of the State. He and his family had been arrested, his wife had been beaten and had lost the child she was carrying, and to force him to sign a document denouncing Gul Luvar's memory and some of his other comrades from the fight who had taken up the cause, the Obsidian Order had tortured his son to the point of paralysis and near-death. From there had come the standard "trial" and the court's sentence; death, commuted to life banishment. And so he and his family had been packed in with other dissidents and sent to the Autonomous Region.

Those hard days behind, Damar had joined the debates and arguments for what kind of government should rule the Cardassian worlds outside of the Alliance's claimed systems. He had argued with local colonial leaders who promoted a colony-centric view - they cared nothing for Cardassia's fate, caring more for the soil on which they and their families lived and toiled - as well as Socialists who had supported Puvek and wanted to create a "Cardassian Peoples' State" modeled after the Federation, or rather what some more extreme elements wanted the Federation to be like. Damar had argued with them all and every variation between, gathering his own supporters from those Cardassians who had fled or been expelled and from those in the colonies who still loved Cardassia and distrusted the "Federationist" Socialists.
And now he and his Nationalist-Republicans had won. Here, with delegates from every municipality in all the worlds of the Autonomous Region, a Constitution was to be signed. It incorporated many of Luvar's dreams, that of a government that, for all of its similiarities to alien governments, nevertheless possessed a character that was wholly Cardassian and based on Cardassian values. There was some compromises with the colonial-minded, and a couple of concessions to the Socialists (whom Damar darkly suspected as having some support from the Federation or at least people within it), but these could not be avoided, and Damar knew his own inexperience in government function enough to willingly accept input from supporter and rival alike.
Signing now on behalf of the Rutak community on Jurivar, whom Damar represented in the Constitutional Assembly, Damar was soon asked by his supporters to speak.
"Fellow Cardassians, today we have embarked on a course full of peril but also promise," he began, remembering something Luvar had said. "Unlike our countrymen on Cardassia Prime, we here have decided that the People should rule the State, not the State rule the People. That government must be made to serve the public trust, and trust in the maintainance of our society placed in Cardassians themselves."
"On Cardassia now, the Central Command is likely sneering. The Obsidian Order will, I have no doubt, plot maliciously to seed our government with agents and sow chaos amongst us. But we must remain firm. We must keep our trust in ourselves and our people, who have never shirked from their duty, their devotion to their families and to Cardassia. Cardassians have always been willing to sacrifice everything for the good of all, and we will now prove that we do not need the State to force us to. With your help, we will build a new State that will guarantee the security, the safety, the happiness of the Cardassian People. And, with fortune, perhaps one day, all of Cardassia will be united under this Constitution, and Cardassia will take its place among the civilized powers of the Alpha Quadrant as a great nation with a great people. I hope for this with all of my heart. In time I hope to convince those of you who disagree to feel the same way."
"Our future begins today, my fellow Cardassians. Let's get to work."
In the cheers that answered him, the Cardassian Republic was truly born.

Epilogue - Final Note

"For all that the Winter War changed the Alpha Quadrant, it today is considered to be overshadowed by the larger wars that have been fought since. From 2160 to early 2163, the wars against the Dominion - allied to a revanchist Cardassia - and New Plymouth Colony in Universe CON-5 occurred over much greater spaces and caused greater damage, death, and dislocation than any historical wars prior. The Second Battle of Darane, at the time considered the greatest naval clash in history, was grossly overshadowed a mere eight years later at the decisive Battle of Alpha Paternis, the three week holocaust that saw the destruction of 10,000 Dominion warships and 3,000 Alliance; the Alliance alone lost twice as many ships as there had been combatants on both sides at Second Darane. The disaster of losing ten divisions to the Cardassian spoiling attack on New Year's Eve '53 was magnified ten times by the destruction of Convoy P-111953 by the Dominion fleet in September of ‘61, which saw two million Alliance troops wiped out in space. The outstanding slaughter of Cardassian forces on Bajor in December '53 by a million man Alliance invasion force, which won despite their five to one disadvantage, pales in comparison to the victory of the eight million Alliance troops that invaded Ju'turi nine years afterward and crushed a Jem'Hadar defending force sixty times their size in a matter of just two weeks.

The Plymouth War saw a far greater number of great decisive naval clashes and is renowned now for the naval genius on both sides; few students of naval history care for the clash of Kevem and Lewis at Second Darane, or Kentworth's great stroke at the Prodigal that destroyed Gul Ivirak and his Cardassian Third Fleet, when compared to the battles between Martyn and Cradock at Second Queensville, Pronai and O'Bannon at New Salem, or Zhang and Cochrane at Ganzhou. The liberation of 14 billion Bajorans and thousands of Federation citizens doesn't compare, numerically, to the liberation of over a trillion people in Devenshire and New Plymouth, of trillions more following the defeat of the Domain in Universe WR-22, much less the liberation of the entire Gamma Quadrant from the Dominion.

Yet the Winter War has left a long legacy that far outweights its now miniscule battles. It was the Winter War that first displayed for the entire Alpha Quadrant the hollowness of Cardassian power and stability. It was the first of a new kind of war, a war in which firepower at all levels was proven important, and showed that Alpha Quadrant nations could no longer rely solely upon their fleets to win their wars; they needed infantry, tanks, and anti-starship planetary artillery too.
It also gave the Alliance a moral edge that it has not lost at the same time as it revealed the Federation's horrible duplicity. The Allied Nations proved they could wage war brutally but also proved they could be magnanimous in victory and uninterested in mere territorial aggrandizement, a standard that even its own allies in the Federated Commonwealth failed to live up to.
What history has also ruled on the Winter War is that it was the first nail in the coffin for the Federation, proving its government's inability to protect its own people and exciting the tensions between the Core and Colony worlds in the process. It established the Alliance as an alternative for the colonies, which Nova Savona would be the first to take. By revealing the Federation's failures it set that government on the road to ruin.
The greatest impact was on Bajor. The Bajoran people remember the War of Liberation more strongly than any other people, including those who liberated them. Even their own contribution to the victory over the Dominion - the stalwart defense of the Wormhole with the few hundreds of the fledgling Bajoran Star Navy that cost the Dominion their reinforcement armada from the Gamma Quadrant, or the crack Bajoran Marines that took the Central Command during the invasion of Cardassia Prime in 2161 and prevented the destruction of many important records - has not overcome the memory of the Liberation, which is celebrated yearly in the Liberation Festival from December 2nd to January 7th.
For me, the war is one I grew up hearing of as a 'Child of the Liberation'. My parents met during the war when my father was stationed on Darane and the memories of the war remain with them to this day. They encouraged me to learn about the war, leading to my present occupation as a historian, so its true that the Winter War led both to my career and my very life.

A moment now to reflect upon the title of this work. For most historians, the word 'crusade' conjures images of great armored European knights marching through desert, or the brutal sacks of Jerusalem, Acre, and Constantinople. These brutal wars of religion scarred generations of Humans on both sides, finding use as late as the 22nd Century in some universes.
Yet words can outgrow their original meanings. Languages from many races are filled with terms and words that once meant something and now have a completely different meaning. 'Crusade' is one such word, as it has grown beyond its original meaning related to the holy wars of medieval Christendom versus Islam to a struggle for a good, just cause.
Crusades are no longer about vicious wars against infidels. They are, to the common man, about wars of moral purpose, to free the unfree, stop and avenge atrocity, and destroy tyranny. It is with that meaning in mind that I have named this book, a history of the war that brought about my birth. In my heart, I believe that the war to free Bajor from Cardassian rule was a crusade of the purest sort, and I am grateful every day for the sacrifices that led to its success.

This book is dedicated to my beloved parents; my mother Valys and my father Russell. I am forever grateful for them for teaching me about my common American and Daranian heritage and introducing me to my love of history." - Introduction to "The First Modern Crusade: The War to Liberate Bajor" by Dr. Kesha Cornheiser, Professor of Modern History at the University of Darane-Umiral
”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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