In July 1863, a nation torn in tragedy
A trick of fate, two great armies merge
Gods of War at Gettysburg
Devastation lies ahead
50,000 bodies litter the land.
Hell rages three full days, the Reaper sows
There's the Devil to pay!
"The Devil to Pay; Gettysburg Day 1" by Iced Earth
Chapter 2 - Torn Bonds
Paris, Earth, United Federation of Planets
Universe Designate ST-3
1 February 2166 AST
25 August 2380 ST-3 Calendar
It was still getting used to, this mad state of war. For a month, the bonds that once held the Federation together had been torn asunder. It was not just any civil conflict, not a mere insurrection or rebellion. In many ways it was, in fact, outright war, a war that would either save or destroy the Federation.
Or so it seemed to some. To Ovnork Re'kwish, President of the Federation Council and Chairman of the Central Committee of the Party of the Federation's Ideals, the Federation was already dead; the war would decide who would possess part or all of the corpse and what would be done with it.
The Tellarite found himself spending more and more time in his office, delving himself into the rudimentary paperwork of his position, trying desperately to hide from the terrible, ugly reality on the streets outside. Out there, walls everywhere were covered in propaganda. The Association for Federation Unity was coming into primacy now; inside the Party it urged loyalty and ruthlessly purged corruption and incompetence, creating a climate of fear and terror as any found to be against it were stripped of their positions and imprisoned.
They were unopposed on this, in fact cheered for it, by the populace. The madness had not ended with the suppression of the riots at the outbreak of the war. Rather the lowest classes now accepted the AFU argument that only by sacrifice now could their benefits be guaranteed in the future. Ovnork himself never dared to give voice to the truth of what this meant; the AFU planned to go beyond the dues system and turn the colonists into literal helots in the Spartan sense, working for the benefit of other people under a regime of random terror and murder.
What tattered remnants there were of the middle class in the core worlds, as well as the non-Party upper class, also backed the AFU to various degrees. They saw the AFU, which had taken the lead in suppressing the riots, as their protector from the radicalism and bloodthirst of the deprived (and depraved!, some cried) welfare mob.
Horrible irony now came to play, the threat of having their benefits - to many of these people their very livelihoods - taken by the Colonial rebellion driving the Core Worlds to deny many of the things they once adhered to. No longer did one hear about the people working to better the sentient races of the Quadrant; the truth had been laid bare by events, and the people had revealed themselves as violently devoted to the benefits they considered their birthright, and indeed revelled in it.
It has all been for nothing, Ovnork thought bitterly as he listened to Milano and other Starfleet admirals lay out the strategic situation. The Federation had been reduced to a cul-de-sac by colony defections, with several homeworlds severed from the rest of the Federation and their governments, it was reported, negotiating with the triumphant rebel governments even now for neutrality in the civil war. If there was any benefit, it was to the Federation possessing superior interior lines for supply and deployment. The major rebel fleets and forces would have to travel a longer, circutious route around Federation-controlled space, lengthening their communications lines.
"We intend to wait for the Colonials to get cocky with their early successes against us," Milano informed him, breaking Ovnork out of his funk. "I've ordered Starfleet to secure a series of systems along these sectors..." Milano indicated the sectors on the holomap in the middle of the office. Ovnork listened to him list specific commands in a couple of cases and general dispositions, but as he was sometimes prone to do, didn't care much for the details.
"Once the Colonials exhaust themselves we'll launch counter-attacks aimed at isolating their fleets from supply, making them easy to pick off," Milano said to finish his briefing. "Politically this could be dangerous, Mister President, so that is why we want you to sign off on it."
Ovnork nodded stiffly. "You have my support." Looking at the chronometer on the desk, Ovnork added, "I'll be having a brief meeting with the consul of the Holy Roman Empire in a few minutes, gentlemen, so that will be all."
The various admirals and captains nodded and got up. As they gathered briefing materials, Milano looked to Ovnork and said, "I hope you make this good, Mister President. If we can bring the Empire on our side as well as the Talorans, we eliminate all risk of the Alliance intervening on behalf of the colonies. Without Alliance aid, this war will be our's to win."
Your's to win, Milano, my Federation has already lost, is what Ovnork wanted to say, but he merely replied, "I'll keep that in mind, Admiral. You are dismissed."
Milano nodded at that and followed his subordinates out.
Starbase 67, Reynolds System
Colonial Territory (New Gdansk-R'Toak Confederacy)
7 February 2166 AST
1 September 2380 ST-3 Calendar
The starmap showed the situation, with all of its promises and threats. The Colonial forces were on the attack, controlling space equal to half of the Federation's size and having already isolated a number of pro-Federation homeworlds now desperately negotiating for neutrality and transit rights for their ships to continue trade. Other homeworlds, notably Bolarus and Trill, had shown some inclinations of friendliness to their cause, and Sisko would soon be departing in the Defiant for Trill to negotiate with the Trill government.
The greatest problem, aside from the risk of overstretch from the ambitious colonial fleets, was a lack of centralized strategy. Almost all of the colonies on the Alpha Quadrant side of the Federation had sent representatives to Starbase 67, but that did not mean they agreed, and those on the Beta Quadrant side, led by Pacifica, New Hollandia, and Thu'tassk, were still en route taking the long way around the Colonial-held territory. To Sisko this was a grave situation; the Federation could be counted on, mostly to have a unified command and strategy, even with the infighting he was familiar with from the Dominion War. The charter colonies were in the far more dangerous position of possibly moving at cross-purposes to one another and of allowing Starfleet to isolate and destroy them sector by sector.
They had gathered now in Starbase 67's Strategic Command Center, which had been fitted with several rows of chairs to allow for a large-scale briefing by the Starbase's Starfleet defector personnel and then for the debate to come. It had the potential of being more like a legislative hearing than a military discussion, as there were well over three hundred men and women crowded into the room, and Admiral Ross was hard-pressed to keep order, accepted as a kind of provisional Speaker. The current argument was between the representatives of the Andorian colony government of Rulgussar and the Relgan Sector Association, a loose confederacy of about eighty Trill, Human, Vulcan, and Andorian worlds, which wanted to assume a strict defensive (in part because not all of their Vulcan worlds had signed on to the rebellion, taking their cue from Vulcan proper as Vulcan colonies were known to do) while Rulgussar wanted to keep advancing. It was a pair of sentiments held by almost all assembled. Sisko felt both positions were strategically incorrect, but he didn't want to raise his voice. Not yet. He had capital as one of the most publically known defectors from Starfleet and for personal success in the Dominion War, but that could only take him so far, and so he waited for the right moment in the debate to interject and propose his measures.
There was an interruption at the door, and an attendant noted that a planned participant in the session had just now arrived. Heads turned, and Sisko looked hard at the familiar sight coming through the door, the light glinting off a bare head that was perhaps the least-flattering feature on the face every Starfleet officer present knew.
"I apologize for my tardiness," Captain Jean-Luc Picard stated, looking over the attendees. "The Enterprise is a favored target and we were delayed by an ambush near Lugasor VII. Please, do go on."
Picard's arrival worked well for Sisko, as the drama of it deflated the heated Rulgussar-Relgan debate and allowed for a momentary silence as Picard found a seat. When this was done, Sisko looked to Ross, who noticed him and said, "Admiral Sisko, do you have something to say?"
Sisko stood promptly, gaining the attention of all present. "Before we discuss the matter of advancing or stopping, a more important issue is at stake. Right now our efforts are divided. Each government, each force, is operating on its own without more than rudimentary support and consultation with other colonies. I propose that we form a high command of some form, with its leaders appointed by the colonies, to oversee the war effort and work to keep our forces supplied and organized. And I further recommend that the colonies form a political alliance as a sign of the purpose we all aspire to; freedom from the Federation and independence for any world in it that desires to be free. In fact, let's be brutally honest here about where some of our inspiration is coming from, and use this." Sisko brought up his PADD and used it to transmit the text there-in to all of the other PADD devices in the room.
The delegate from a collection of Human and Centauran worlds, the Yulmani Consortium, looked up from his PADD and said, with some surprise, "This... this is the Constitution of the Alliance of Democratic Nations."
"And if you'll look further, it also includes the Declaration of Principles from the InterStellar Alliance of Universe EM-5," Sisko added. "Those are the models we are all aspiring to. A quadrant where our worlds are free, where our people can work toward their own prosperity and not so that people on a faraway world can live happily without doing any work themselves. A quadrant where we do not need to fear a corrupt central government coming to take everything we have from us, or disarming us so that we are helpless before their power or any other." Sisko's voice rose amongst the gathered, who did not speak or even remark for fear of interrupting him. "Gentlemen and ladies, we want to win this war. And to do so, we shall have to hang together. Or, I can assure you, the Federation will hang us seperately."
As Sisko went to sit down, applause broke out. Picard led them from the section of Starfleet officers, and the other delegates were soon joining it. They decided, for the moment, to encourage their governments to make Ross the Supreme Commander of the Colonial Fleets and to encourage their governments to establish a "Government of the Free and Allied Colonies" to oversee the political and domestic theaters of the war.
A couple hours later, Sisko was alone in his office on Starbase 67. It was adorned with pictures of his family, most prominently those of his late parents. The wound of his father's death was still so very fresh in his heart, even if duty required him to hide it most times (and indeed, if he had ever let it interfere with his duty he could hear his father's voice calling to him from beyond the grave, berating him for not doing what had to be done). That was the Sisko way; raised to be dutiful, proud, and hard-working. That was what set them apart from so many others, and in its own tragic way, it guaranteed that the very people who liked his father in better times would so callously and brutally beat him to death in the here and now. After all, people rarely liked being reminded that others were better than they were.
His attention had gone from a letter from Jake, coming from a home on Tharkad where his girlfriend Cordelia (whom Sisko had still not met, and who he very much wanted to) had been allowed to stay after returning from Earth, to a book that had been upon his desk, either here or on the Defiant, since the war began. It was an old-fashioned book, hardcover with a paper jacket cover, that felt good and heavy in his hands. He could see why some people continued to refuse PADDs or extrauniversal PDA devices in favor of books.
The door chime sounded and Sisko put the back on the table, slipping the bookmark in first. "Come in," he called out.
When it swished open, Picard stepped foot inside of the office. "Admiral Sisko, sir, it is good to see you," Picard replied. Sisko looked at him more closely now and thought he saw something new to the older officer's appearance. Picard didn't just seem older, but he seemed... weaker. As if a strong weight had come down on him and wasn't letting off.
"Captain Picard," Sisko said, feeling a great deal less ill toward Picard than he had when he'd first met the man, truly, when given his command at the Alliance-built station that became Deep Space Nine. "I heard about the Titan. You have my condolences."
"Thank you, sir," Picard replied wearily, finding a seat. "I wanted to give you my personal congratulations on unifying the delegates."
"I just said what so many of us were thinking," Sisko replied. "We all want to win this war, and it means working together."
"All the same, it takes a lot of courage to stand up before a few hundred self-important people and try to tell them what to do..."
"And it also takes a really loud voice," Sisko added with some humor, smiling slightly. It was a bittersweet smile, as it also made him think of his deceased father.
"Your father was a good man," Picard said to Sisko. "His death was a meaningful one, saving innocent lives."
"He was a sharp-tongued, good-hearted old man who got beaten to death by a selfish and bloodthirsty mob," Sisko replied bitterly. "His murderers were people you and I have defended for decades while wearing these uniforms."
Hearing the anger in Sisko's voice, Picard wisely chose to change the subject. He looked to Sisko's book and asked, "May I?"
Sisko nodded, and then suddenly asked, "What about you, Captain? You've always been the True Believer in the Federation, the New Humanity, striving only to better itself."
Picard had just finished pulling the book over, and Sisko's words were like a dagger twisting in his (throughly broken) heart. Looking down, tears came to Picard's eyes. Sisko didn't need to hear an answer to see what had happened, and to know how Picard now felt. "I believed a lot of things that turned out untrue," Picard replied in a hoarse, forced whisper. Sisko realized just how broken a man Picard was. A man living purely on his obligations and duty, deprived of all the deeper things that animated a man's soul. Sisko was thankful he had never wedded himself so strongly to the "New Mankind" beliefs of the Idealogues, seeing how badly Picard had suffered emotionally from the crisis they faced. To see the things he believed in proven wrong, his life's work made for naught...
Picard forced himself to look at the book. Reviewing the cover and the picture of a smiling, gray-haired and bearded man on the back, he said, "John Sheridan's memoirs, interesting choice. But understandable, I suppose, since we share so much in common with him now."
"I met him, you know," Sisko said. "It was about ten years ago, when he visited Deep Space Nine as part of his 2157 state visit to Bajor. He was on the station for about two days, we even took him on a ride on the Defiant through the wormhole and back."
"I remembered hearing something about that," Picard admitted, skimming the text but otherwise remaining quiet so that Sisko could finish his tale.
"After we got back, he had mentioned to me how much he liked oranges, so I went to my room and I made him roasted chicken with orange sauce, a recipe my father taught me. When I went to deliver it to his quarters, Sheridan asked if I wanted to go see 'the game' with him." Sisko was starting to smile, genuinely now, and continued. "I asked him 'what game', and he replied, 'Game 5 of the World Series', referring to his home universe's baseball leagues. An honest to God baseball game! So I said yes, and we rented one of the large holochambers that Quark had added to his bar so we could watch a holo-broadcast of the game."
"Sounds like you had quite a time," Picard replied, allowing himself a small grin at seeing the brightness in Sisko's expression as he recalled what was certainly a fond memory.
"It was wonderful. It was the New York Yankees versus the New Orleans Cajuns. The Cajuns won, 8 to 6, after Peter Le Croix's home run in the top of the ninth broke the tie." Sisko chuckled. "We sat there the entire time, eating hot dogs and cheering the Cajuns. Turned off our communicators and left two Narn Rangers at the door so we wouldn't be disturbed. And even better was when, a few months later, I got a parcel from Tuzanor, from Sheridan himself, and inside was a genuine Louisville slugger autographed by the Cajuns. It turns out that the second baseman for the Cajuns was the son of one of the men who served under Sheridan on Babylon-5. I have it back in storage on Bajor, I'll have to show it to you sometime."
"Indeed," Picard answered.
"You know, when I think about that, about how generous and friendly this man was toward me, a stranger who just happened to command a space station and like baseball, I can't imagine what he was like toward those he considered friends. Toward his closest subordinates and peers.... it's no wonder he commanded so much loyalty from so many people to the day he died. There are times I think I would have preferred being an officer under his command to being in Starfleet."
"I had heard that he disappeared," Picard said. "That the reports of his death were an error or simply a cover, and that his ship disappeared near Coriana 6."
Sisko shrugged. "I don't know. If he were still alive.... that would be something, wouldn't it? We could certainly use the help." Sisko pointed to the book. "I've been reading it since the war started, maybe in the hope his experience in civil war will help us shorten and win this one."
"It's not quite the same, but..." Picard didn't bother to go into how much he had studied the Earth Civil War from Universe EM-5, or on the slightly indecisive result from it. "I can understand the sentiment."
After a moment of silence, in which Sisko retrieved the book from Picard and closed it, he started speaking again. "So, how long until the Enterprise is ready to head back out? I believe there's a squadron command open in..."
”A Radical is a man with both feet planted firmly in the air.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism." - Sir Winston L. S. Churchill, Princips Britannia
American Conservatism is about the exercise of personal responsibility without state interference in the lives of the citizenry..... unless, of course, it involves using the bludgeon of state power to suppress things Conservatives do not like.
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