I recommend that you read "Hollow Life" first, I just posted it as well.
The first scene is by Marina, the second by me, and the next ones are by both of us.
REPORT OF THE ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF TO HER SERENE MAJESTY THE ALL-HIGHEST EMPRESS SAVERANA II VALERIA ON THE PROSPECTS FOR DEFENCE OF TALORA PRIME AGAINST A CONCERTED INVASION OF THE ALLIANCE OF DEMOCRATIC NATIONS, DATED 60 Rissah I.Y. 618.[/b]
Central Thesis of the Proposal:
The guiding thesis of this document is the presumption of hostile action by factions in the Alliance government, predominantly those represented by Elijah Weisbaum and the Freedom Party, gaining control and launching an unprovoked war of aggression against Your Majesty's domains with the intent of spreading revolutionary democracy, using the strategic mobility inherent in interuniversal drives (IUDs henceforth) to completely annihilate space-based and much minor planetary shipbuilding capacity and support infrastructure, while ultimately destroying the bulk of the Starfleet by denying it of supply and then concentrating to crush it.
The prospects of the Alliance to engage in such a course of action are higher than may initially appear to be the case. The Alliance is by its nature extremely politically unstable, and the governments of democracies can change through violent revolution in a course of months, let alone years. Humans of the Alliance regard themselves as the fundamental species of the universe, and are offended by Taloran dominance of the humans of our home universe, and may be influenced toward war by revanchist expatriots from those territories, as well as communitarians who flee the Empire in disguise to whip up sentiment against Your Majesty through the volatile press of the Alliance.
If our own Starfleet's research into interuniversal drive technology does not bear fruit before this takes place, it is possible that we will be forced with a worst case scenario, our Empire consisting of cut off planets instructed to fight to the death with our industrial resources cut-off from each other. It is the evaluation of the General Staff that the most likely course of action for the Alliance is to attempt a decapacitation strike against Talora Prime and then commence in large-scale strategic attacks with the goal of attriting the population and industry of the Empire, as they did successfully against the Cardassians and Dominion in their victorious wars in ST-3. Therefore it is likely that hundreds of billions if not trillions of Imperial subjects will be killed in Alliance terror attacks. This can only serve, however, to stiffen the resolve of the Empire to continual resistance with the aim of ultimately forcing the retreat of the invaders.
Ultimately the Alliance, faced with our worlds dug-in against chemical and radiological attack, with underground industry comprising half our industrial assets (even if the other half is lost along with the orbital habitats which will no-doubt be destroyed in terror attacks where possible) untouched and able to produce small assault ships which can harass Alliance shipping by the thousands, they will have to commit to the ground invasion of major worlds. Probably assuming a surrender if the Imperial government is destroyed and counting on democratic sentiments, based on their ideology, to therefore magically arise in the populace out of whole cloth, they will naturally be committed to direct their full force toward the reduction of our homeworld. The main focus of Plan XXVIII is therefore the development of a comprehensive assessment of the Alliance ability to invade Talora Prime, and our ability to defend against that invasion.
ALLIANCE MILITARY STRENGTH:
Currently the Alliance of Democratic Nations maintains a military of only around 1 billion Army soldiers and 200 million Marines in a population of around 7.5 trillions. This small force, considerably less than the active-duty strength of the Imperial Army, Marines, and the State Militias (of 20 billion active-duty personnel in all), is nonetheless augmented by an estimated 3 billion active-duty personnel in the armies of the component governments of the ADN so that initial strength on the outbreak of War would be approximately 4.3 billion with another 6 billion capable of being rapidly mobilized, though the figure is largely due to the very uneven conscription requirements of the Alliance.
This contrasts sharply with the ability of the state militias and Imperial reserve to immediately mobilize around 60 billion additional soldiers in the first-line reserve. The Alliance's ability to conduct an attack on Talora Prime is therefore evidenced by the power of concentration using its control of space and IUD strategic mobility assets; we will be able to assume that very few other worlds of any consequence will be occupied if the Alliance is to conduct an assault on Talora Prime. This will allow the rust-belt of the Empire to be revitalized into the source of industrial strength and new shipbuilding to harass the shipping of the Alliance and ultimately aide in forcing the Alliance to withdraw from our universe when we have crippled their overall strength.
The plan is use Talora Prime as a fortress world to achieve precisely that, the systematic defeat of the Alliance, using the weakness of democratic military culture to our advantage. When billions of body bags have returned home to the Alliance, we may be confident that their will to fight on will be entirely destroyed. This must be the fundamental goal of any defence of Talora Prime.
THE DEFENCES OF TALORA PRIME.
Cut off from the rest of the Empire the population of 80 billion on the surface of Talora Prime, 20 billion in artificial orbital habitats, and 3 billion on the surface of the moons Calinbrae, Silavjha, and Rulai, constitute in all 103 billions as a population resource. It may be presumed that with the massive space and ground batteries of the homeworld that even if the rest of the system's population is cut off and annihilated--for due to the nature of their habitations, it is estimated at least 50% of the 60 billion residents of the rest of the system could be killed by typical Alliance tactics--or otherwise occupied, that the 23 billion inhabitants of local space to Talora Prime can be evacuated to the surface, where the underground installations for this purpose can handle them, albeit in cases of extreme cramping (an average of 9 individuals per each 4 x 4 x 3 meter cubed room in the industrial shelter system). The algae processors in secured locations have an existing capacity to producing nutrient rations at healthy levels of only 105 billions; it is inevitable that malnourishment starvation will ensue as some are knocked out and captured out of proportion with the lost portion of the population, though never to such an extent as to imperil continued resistance.
In all out of this population it is understood that those with military training who can be mobilized without impairing social cohesion or the capability of the industry underground can come to a total of 4.1% of the initial surface population, and the higher rate of about 6.5% of the evacuees from the orbitals. The first figure is the full strength of the current forces which could be mobilized from Talora Prime, numbering around 3,280 millions; those from the high orbitals, 1,495 millions, or a cumulative of 4,775 millions of uniformed personnel involved in the defence of Talora Prime could be kept in arms at any time. The pool of available replacements would be about three times larger in each case, and children coming of age would enhance these numbers over the course of operations so that approximately 15 billion replacements would be available for the defensive forces, though as the enemy destroys and overruns sheltered positions it is to be estimated that the maximum number of replacement personnel to be employed would amount to 8.5 billions with another 2.2 billions still available to replenish our strength by the time of the projected defeat of the Alliance invasion force, and approximately 4.3 billion murdered or killed as a result of operations over the course of the campaign before they could be inducted into the defensive forces.
During the period of an estimated two years (six-point-four Terran years) when the Alliance is completing the destruction of the starfleet and our general orbital infrastructure, extensive preparations can be made to defend the homeland. In all on the order of 6.5 million main battle hovertanks can be stockpiled for use by the defensive forces along with around 32,000 hover battleships, 12.8 million mobile artillery pieces, 13 million tactical rocket launchers, 200,000 mobile surface-to-space launchers, a supplement 600 x surface-to-space carrying missile submarines can be added to the 300 already in the defensive network, and the number of anti-bombardment shields can be increased from a density of one per 1,000 sq. km. to one per 250 sq. km. The number of surface to space heavy cannon can be increased from 280,000 to 410,000, and the number of missiles stockpiled for the use of all types of surface-to-space launcher can be increased from 3 million to 16 millions. Density of fixed anti-missile emplacements on the surface can be increased from one per 250 sq. km. to one per 64 sq. km.
In all, 1.6 billion suits of power armour can be manufactured, along with an equal number of personal energy shields. Small arms would remain in plentiful supply throughout operations, far in excess of the number required for the defenders. At least 700 million tonnes of explosives could be manufactured per year, so that by the commencement of Alliance operations against Talora Prime itself, in excess of 2 billion tonnes of high explosives would be stockpiled when existing stockpiles are factored in. Production of nuclear devices on the surface would be limited by available radioactive weapons-grade material production, which is unfortunately primarily in orbit and not easily relocatable, so that production would be limited to a rate of approximately 320,000 devices per year-around 650,000 new devices before the siege begins. An additional 20,000 devices, however, can be assembled using leftover anti-matter from the ground-to-space missile programme, giving a provision of around 1.7 million tactical fusion, neutron, and anti-matter devices in all, with an average yield of 10.2kT, when existing stockpiles are accounted for. Chemical production would due to the situation offworld of most facilities unfortunately only provide 1,000 tons of high-end nerve gas, 3,000 tons of low-end nerve gas, and 7,000 tons of blister and blood agents each per year allowing for not more than 36,000 tons of poison to be added to the existing stockpile of only 200,000 tons on the surface. During the initial phases of the war, however, a transport programme to reposition up to 400,000 additional tonnes of poison gas with all associated deployment munitions to Talora Prime is feasable.
PROJECTED ALLIANCE ASSAULT FORCES
After more than six years of war it is likely that the Alliance will-though theoretically capable of having 225 billion soldiers under arms-likely not have mobilized more than around 70 billions, and with a rather limited deployment through the rest of the Empire, casualties killed, wounded, and captured will probably not exceed 2 billions including 400 million dead. Therefore the first taste of heavy combat will be when the invasion of Talora Prime takes place.
In all the shipping capacity of the Alliance in relation to Interuniversal Drive Capacity, and the lack of Alliance central manufacturing resources due to the lack of a central region of indusrial production, forces most alliance shipping to remain commercial to keep their economy from collapsing. In total the Alliance can probably not commit more than sixty-four billion tonnes of shipping to support the invasion of Talora Prime. This limits the number of ground forces they can support in combat on the surface of the planet to 3 billion to 3.1 billion soldiers at any one time. Due to the small size of the Alliance military a force of around 3 billions or even slightly less is the most likely to be deployed, though in no case is it likely that the Alliance would commit less than 2.9 billion troops; in this case the strength of the invading forces would be only 60% of the strength of our defending troops. The maximal ratio imposed by constraints of commerce would be 65% of the strength of our defending forces. Because of the desire of the invaders, certainly, to equal our defending troop strength to the best of their ability, we will use a 65:100 ratio for all further assumptions in this document.
It is certain that the support forces will include a significant portion of the Alliance Stellar Navy to protect the invasion force from our raiders, including on the order of 100 dreadnoughts, 100 fleet carriers, and 2,600 smaller escort vessels. This would up to one-fifteenth of the whole fleet strength of the ASN when the national contingents are attached, preventing them from effectually countering our recovery efforts elsewhere in the Empire when their other strategic interests in other universes are also considered along with the severe combat losses they would face in the destruction of our starfleet even with their vast strategic advantages.
THE ALLIANCE GAINING THE SURFACE.
With the scale of our defences, the usual Alliance preference for sudden and rapid assaults will be nearly impossible to enact. Instead, orbital space will have to be cleared first. This will take at least four Taloran months when the minefields are counted, during which our ground defences can only be further improved. Halfway through this period, however, the dark sides of the moons can be used for the concentration of Alliance forces in preparation for the landings. It is probably that Ytalla, Ghastan Island, the Great Reef, the Arctic and Antarctic continents, and minor islands, will be ignored by the Alliance landings. Instead, each moon provides a convenient staging area for an attack against each of the great Colenta.
Fortunately this means that the Alliance forces will have to clear no less than 75% of the batteries on the surface before they have a safe landing possible. It is likely that they will only attempt to reduce half these batteries; the difficulty would considerably increase otherwise, especially with the mobile launchers. The majority of the surviving ground-to-space defences after a period of an additional four months of heavy bombardment (in which the ASN is likely to lose 20 dreadnoughts to our defensive fire and 300 lesser ships) would be in the form of missiles, which have a limited capacity; so if they can accept initial heavy losses, further interdiction of resupply forces will be much less feasable for us.
The core of the pre-war Alliance Marine Corps is likely to be used for these assaults, so that an initial landing force of around 180 million troops will be used, sixty million per Colenta. It is unlikely that the Alliance can possibly concentrate combat drop forces for initial landings any larger than this. We should with some hope be able to kill 100 million Alliance soldiers during the landing operations with our missile defences, though these will be unmasked and largely destroyed in the process, and most of the defensive missiles expended. This loss in a single day of combat will have serious consequences for the Alliance at home, however; the war would have already stretched for eight human years, and it is generally agreed by all human military philosophers that a human democracy cannot sustain a war for longer than ten years. In this context, the loss of around one-fifth of all their prior fatalities from all sources in the war, in the course of a single day, will be a shock which is likely to dash public opinion at home.
It may seem in the context of such heavy losses in landing to be advisable to engage in immediate counterattacks against the landing zones. These are only likely, however, to draw out our defensive forces for their destruction at the hands of the Alliance dreadnoughts in the high orbitals. Instead, the ground combat forces should be deployed defensively around major cities where the densest concentrations of defensive shielding and weaponry render attack from space impossible. Here our tanks will do their most good on the defensive and in support of the forces defending the highly built-up cities.
Our missile assaults can continue over the period of the next two weeks during which more and more Alliance forces will be brought to the surface. In this period we expect to kill another 90 million Alliance soldiers outright before they can reach the surface, but with the price of the total loss of our effectual ground-to-space capability. Probably another 1 million Alliance soldiers will be killed and 7 million wounded to that date in ground combat over the first eleven days. Our own casualties in this situation will be very favourable, not more than another 1 million killed and 7 million wounded; at this end of this period however the Alliance will begin to be able to strip the passive defences from the surface and the strength of the Alliance forces on the ground will be built up to on the order of 1.3 billions despite their losses with another 1.6 billion still waiting to be landed.
The Alliance's first landings are likely to be the New Valleys region of Midela Colenta, Dalamar Province on Grenya Colenta, and the Central Valleys region of Lelola Colenta. Cities in these regions will be rapidly invested and besieged before Alliance forward movement grinds to a halt and the Alliance forces halt to await the transfer of their remaining forces from the surface and the effects of their preliminary air campaigns.
OUR DEFENSIVE POSTURE
The recommended planetary redoubt for the operations is to be the Crags of Leluno, Your Majesty. This area is the most mountainous, rough, and deepest mountain terrain on the planet, outside of the subcontinent of Ytalla, and is extensive with numerous mineral resources which will allow sustained industrial production throughout the operations on the surface. The crust bulges in this area, providing a depth to the defensive structures which will render effective orbital bombardment particularly impractical. In total up to one billion troops should be concentrated here to provide a rock of guaranteed resistance in which the Imperial government will be secure and can continue to direct the conflict, while providing a bulwark upon which the strength of the Alliance military can only falter. In all the initial dispositions should provide for 1.5 billion troops on Grenya Colenta, 1.6 billion troops on Lelola Colenta, and 1.1 billion troops on Midela Colenta, with 575 million troops as garrisons in minor areas, primarily with 300 million troops heavily dug in on Ytalla and 150 million on Ghastan Island.
The cities are to be in all cases defended to the last man. Each city will form a redoubt-fortress with exterior lines of defence which can rely on internal stockpiled weaponry, underground tunnels for resupply along with submarines in the case of coastal ports, and can ultimately fall back into the cities where ferrocrete mega-structures will be virtually impregnable even with greatly sustained supporting orbital bombardment. This phase will see the expenditure of most of our armour, with defensive combat relying on prepared fortifications in later stages for a static defensive effort.
During the later stages it is likely that the Alliance forces will attempt to seize the underground factories, city-sections, and refugee tunnels. The largest casualties will ensue in this period, from civilians, defenders, and the enemy. It is thought that Alliance casualties in this period could ultimately reach the rate of 1 million fatalities per day and seven million wounded. Due to the orbital support the enemy will enjoy, our own casualties will be up to three times higher despite our extensive defensive advantage. This phase will probably commence 5 - 6 months after the beginning of the stage of city combat. Our goal will be to contest every room of every tunnel to the last soldier, with the absolute objective of inflicting the uttermost casualties possible on the Alliance troops, taking 'not one step back' and forcing the Alliance to lose a platoon's worth of men killed simply to seize a communal bathing facility in a shelter, let alone a major underground factory.
LIMITS OF ALLIANCE ENDURANCE
Four months of the kind of resistance described above will entail the loss of 220 million Allied troops killed outright and 1.7 billion wounded. A similar figure for the prior six months of less intense combat means that up to 450 million Alliance soldiers will be dead on top of the approximately 200 million killed in the initial landings, and on the order of 3.2 billion Alliance troops wounded. Conversely our own fatalities will be around 1.4 billion soldiers killed in action and 8 billion wounded, of whom 4 billion would be returned to service. We would still have at least 10 billion personnel-4 billion called to the colours and 6 billion who could be called to the colours-discounting those who are projected to be wounded later but still before they could be called to the colours.
By this point, seven billion Alliance military personnel will have fought on the surface of Taloran Prime and nearly four billion will have been killed or wounded; on the order of 60% of the soldiers who have seen action. In all at least 10% of the Alliance's projected mobilized army strength will have seen action on the surface of Talora Prime, and 30% of the surface and 80% of the underground facilities would remain in our hands. The Alliance will now have been fighting the war for ten human years and will have suffered at least 1.2 billion fatalities in doing so even though we have been unable to touch their homeworlds. The demographic loss among their youngest and brightest will be most vivid, and we will have a reputation of hard fighters who have, unlike their prior opponents, not committed atrocities or otherwise attempted aggressive actions.
Democracies are fickle. They change against their leadership easily. After this period of intense combat, there will be very continued resistance to continued operations against Talora Prime. Other strategies will be proposed to bring the war to a conclusion. At the same time, however, our fleets will be built up to the point where resumed instellar resistance to the Alliance will be possible to a limited extent; the relief of Talora Prime will however remain infeasale because of the continued extreme strategic superiourity of interuniversal drive.
The estimates of the General Staff are therefore that out of inertia and determination to win, the Alliance will continue aggressive efforts to subdue our prepared defences. These efforts will continue for another three to four Taloran months, or around two-thirds of a human year, in a period in which we should suffer at least another 3.8 billion permanent casualties and an equal number returned to the colours. By that point our manpower reserves will be only 2.2 billions not yet activated on the surface, though this ignores ad-hoc units of last resort pulled off their factories and other sources of desperate manpower for the last-ditch phase of resistance.
Due to those sources of manpower we would have the capacity to resist for up to an additional four Taloran months. Additional resistance would be possible after this point in the Planetary Redoubt and on areas of the planet not yet attacked by the enemy, for example undersea facilities and the polar and sub-continents. Resistance in these yet-untouched areas could be especially vigorous, and the Planetary Redoubt is unlikely to fall for another four months yet, with Your Majesty and the government to be spirited off to the Arctic continent to sustain resistance for another six months until the last pockets have been subdued and the position is untenable.
However, it is considered highly unlikely that the Alliance would continue to prolong the war after the second four months of the hardest fighting. Being on the verge of the eleventh year of the war and with the prospect of another year of general fighting across the whole planet of the same scale ahead, followed by a year after that of continued vigorous resistance in isolated areas, the Alliance would have suffered an additional 225 million fatalities for a cumulative in the war effort of between 1.5 - 1.6 billion soldiers dead when resistaince in the other areas of the Empire is considered. In all some 900 million Alliance soldiers will be dead on the surface of Talora Prime, 200 million of them without even bodies to return home, vapourized in the initial landing waves. Another 6 billion will have been wounded, and of these probably on the order of 2 billion will be amputees, as the nature of the weapons involves favoures the survival of those struck in a limb, but guarantees the loss of that limb. The scale of the cybernetic implants required will be a graphic testament to the nature and futility of the combat on the surface.
With the prospect of another 450 million fatalities before the whole surface of the planet is subdued, and total fatalities in the armed forces of the Alliance rising above 2 billions, Alliance military command and the civilian leadership will be facing the prospects of a general collapse of all public sentiment at home. The resurrection of our fleets from the core of other heavily industrialized worlds-thirty-eight of which have the capability to resist in a fashion directly comparable in magnitude to Talora Prime!--will make the idea of the systematic reduction of the Empire seem absurd; even with the surface of the planet, through the combination of our use of defensive nukes, and their orbital bombardments, being rendered virtually entirely uninhabitable (in fact Talorans would probably not be able to live on the surface for thirteen years after the conclusion of hostilities), we would still be positioned to kill half a billion of their soldiers with sustained resistance on one of those worlds alone, and likely figures much higher, as all estimates for the number of wounded soldiers to be returned to action are extremely pessimistic, particularly in such a grave situation as this, as are the figures for mass mobilization--though it is assumed that for ethical reasons a posture of mass employment of civilians will not be adopted to avoid Alliance genocide of the surface populace.
In this light, it seems certain that either a negotiated peace will be sought, or otherwise, a revolution at home will compel a withdrawal; or finally, that the real possibility exists that we can build up a fleet which will at the very least force them to withdraw from Talora Prime. The later is the most likely course; they will find their supply lines steadily crippled as the industrial resources of those other thirty-eight planets complete thousands of ships and dozens of dreadnoughts which render even an IUD-based supply untenable, and allow us to possibly even return to raiding in CON-5. They will be forced to acknowledge the queasy prospect of spending years systematically demolishing our rebuilt forces yet again, simply to repeat a strategy of invasion which failed-and since the Imperial government is really your Person, Your Majesty, the immediate relocation of your person to the next most suited of the major industrial worlds for a second round of Fortress Strategy will promise the Alliance with the prospect of more than a quarter of a century of continuous warfare to simply have a chance to subdue us. No democracy could sustain that by their own admission, and the defence of the Imperial realms is therefore a practicable possibility, though it must be acknowledged that civilian fatalities on Talora Prime would reach a figure of 21.5 billion dead, for a cumulative total of 23.7 billion dead on the surface. out of 103 billion to begin with at the start of operations.
Ludicrous! It was all Saverana II could think of. Utterly ludicrous! The assumptions about the Alliance, and even about their own casualties, were off the wall in a pessimistic fashion, and the idea of an invasion of that scale... Still, I understand the underlying concern. They are afraid of interuniversal drive technology. And our own research is proceeding quite slowly.
She was Starfleet in her inclinations, like her ill-fated mother, however, and so she couldn't help but look for a way to render the scenario, obviously pushed by the Army, to be a moot point. I wonder if I could accede to the IUD control Treaty that the Alliance dominates? If we could get access to the technology, even under Alliance domination, it would in the short term alleviate these concerns...
Sitting at her desk where she normally signed directives in the Old Fort at Valeria, she had her secretary call archives and request a copy of the known contents of the treaty. It was delivered by vacuum tube about fifteen minutes later, and presented to her by said fellow. She read it. Ah, as I suspected. Independent research is formally banned. Saverana thought for a moment longer about the morality of what she planned. Then she looked back to the end of the Plan XXVIII review. It sent a chill through her, as she considered the chance, even if small and outlandish, of something of the sort actually happening. More than twenty billion dead innocents on one world alone. However remote, removing that possibility is quite worth a lie from a Sovereign. That is something grandmother reminded me, from time to time, that I would surely have to do. And so she did, though of course the details took time.
Washington D.C., Earth
Alliance of Democratic Nations
Universe Designate HE-1
9 April 2164 AST
A stack of papers of state were still being worked on by President Dale as he awaited the arrivals of Peter Wells, the Minister of Foreign Relations, and one of his subordinates, Song Huang-zhu, the Secretary of the Travel Office of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, responsible for one of the more mundane things Dale knew from his life; international travel, specifically the issuing of visas and passports.
With his eyes looking at the clock and counting down the hour or two until the Security Committee meeting later that day, Dale was relieved to hear Mrs. Higgins, his new secretary (Ms. Henley had stayed with him a while, after being Mamatmas' secretary, until she decided to retire and get married to a high school lover), call to say Wells and Song had arrived. He looked up in time to see Wells lead his subordinate in, taller and thinner than the heavy-set, jovial Chinese bureaucrat. They took seats and Dale asked, "Gentlemen, what can I do for you?"
"Mister President, Secretary Song and his office have become aware of an... issue regarding Taloran nationals and their passports."
"What issue?" Dale said, almost yawning, and wondering if Mamatmas would have bothered taking up such an issue.
"Well.... they're not legitimate."
Dale looked up. "Gentlemen, we have means to discovering forged passports. How do these people get through then?"
"No, Mister President, they are not forged. They are illegitimate. They are not legal documents issued by the Government of Saverana II. We have found that they are not only issued only by subordinate political bodies in the Taloran Empire, but that they are issued.... with laxity."
Looking at Song curiously, Dale asked, "Laxity, Secretary Song? Please, elaborate on that."
"Yes, I mean, they do no subject the people looking for passports to any kind of scrutiny. Our Embassy has confirmed, with firsthand witness reports, that the Talorans simply mail in or present a request for passports and they are handed out without any verification of the person's identity. A criminal or a terrorist could have ten different names, each with a passpower, and Taloran authorities would not know. They would even give him an eleventh."
For a long moment Dale just looked at the two men. "So you're telling me that for the past, oh, eighteen to twenty months we have been letting Taloran nationals without verifiable identification to go wherever they want within Alliance territory?"
"Yes, Mister President."
Rubbing hia forehead, Dale didn't respond to this for a few moments. "So, contact Ambassador itl Ghast, let her know that the issue is jeopardizing relations."
"Already did so, Sir," Wells answered. "Her reply is that the Taloran Imperial government has no authority to issue passports or regulate, in any way, travel in and out of their empire. Apparently our own travelers don't even have to show passports."
"Sir, if the media gets wind of this, or the Council..."
"I don't need the big picture, Secretary," Dale barked harshly, not wanting to put up with the bureaucrat's "cross-every-t-dot-every-i" mentality. "Okay.... here's what we're going to do. Mister Wells, please alert Ambassador Windsor on Talora Prime and ask her to commence a dialogue so that we can come to some kind of... accord with their government to solve this."
"Yes sir," Wells replied. "I'll see you at the Security Committee meeting."
Dale watched the man go and shook his head soberly. Of all the silly things....
Still, the prospect worried him. The Talorans weren't just aliens; the Alliance, and the nations that made it up, had been dealing with alien races for over a hundred years. It was their particular social structure, their feudalist mindset, and apparently a minimalist, trusting mindset that led them to neglect things like passports.
They were powerful, no denying that. They had twice the population in a single immense space empire which took months to traverse from end to end; even traveling from Talora Prime to Earth took three weeks in the fastest ships, he'd been told. This alone wasn't special; it took almost two months to get from Earth to the outer range of exploration in almost all universes in the ADN; FHI-8 would require half a year of travel to get from Earth to the outer edge of the Allerkan Empire. But all of that territory under one government?
They were, because of this, effectively as powerful as the Alliance, if no moreso. They had to be dealt with carefully, and introduced into the Multiversal power structure in stable fashion, with a minimum of culture shock to avoid the problems that had come from exposing other unique powers, such as the Federation from ST-3, to the Multiversal Community.
And, of course, they really needed to start issuing passports....
Alliance Embassy, Valeria
Talora Prime, Taloran Star Empire
Universe Designate Talora-1
12 May 2164 AST
The Alliance Embassy had been carefully picked to ensure suitable security, access to the Taloran government, and comfort for the two hundred or so Alliance officials and workers, and immediate families, who would be working a month's travel away from home. The result was the villa of a noble recently fallen on bad financial times who willingly rented the building out to the Alliance for the Embassy, giving it suitable protection against the handful of terrorist threats in the Taloran Empire, mostly the communitarian Farzians and their tendency toward bomb-throwing.
The preparations in the embassy's dining room had been careful and precise. Human and Taloran dishes abounded, to ensure that even without enzyme supplements both parties could eat comfortably, and liveried Taloran servants, locals hired into the embassy and veterans of service to nobility, waited patiently for any orders.
The Ambassador was waiting patiently for her guest. Her name was Elizabeth Windsor; she was, in fact, HRH Princess Elizabeth Windsor, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria III of Britain SE-1, and an older daughter of the Prince of Wales, Admiral Edward Windsor, who was now serving as Vice-Minister of Defense for Naval Affairs in the Dale Administration. A natural brunette with prominent patrician nose and blue eyes, though never quite as pretty as her dear late sister Anne had been, she was in formal attire, a high-cut black dress with high heels, and waiting with the kind of patience experienced diplomats were quite capable of at times.
Jhastimia Rulandh, the Archduchess Leluno, was highly aware of human behaviour, unlike many other Talorans, and she consciously chose to wear her military uniform as a Vice Admiral of the Green, a rank which Saverana had created her--despite the fact that all her actual military experience was on land--as a favour to her closest friend. That meant that she was dressed in crisp blues and whites with plenty of gold braid and a cocked hat of crimson with green cockades, sword at her side, the blue coat of the uniform a pelisse trimmed in fur and lined with gold braid. She entered without any servants or guards, simply appearing to be a Vice Admiral on some sort of visit instead of one of the most important persons in the Empire, and walked up to the front desk, past the armed Alliance Marine guards. "Jhastimia Rulandh," she said, modestly, not mentioning her title and assuming the desk-keeper to know who she was. "I have a dinner appointment with Her Highness the Ambassador."
"Right this way, Ma'am," was the reply from the secretary, and Jhastimia was led to the dining room, which was large enough for a full banquet even if, now, it was only being used for a dinner for two.
Elizabeth stood and greeted her guest warmly. "Your Highness, welcome to the Embassy. I hope your trip was pleasant."
What would start now was two weeks of intense effort. Elizabeth had been given notification from the President to seek the opening of negotiations immediately for an agreement, even a treaty, to help integrate the Talorans into the Multiverse. And in the Taloran Empire, the best way to get things rolling was to get the attention of the Empress.
She had petitioned to the Chamberlain for an audience with Saverana II, but it was hopelessly stone-walled and clearly not going to happen. Instead the Chamberlain had moved her onto other subjects, including a brief question on whether she'd met the Archduchess Leluno and that she made a friendly dinner partner.
The Taloran court was not the court back home, but Elizabeth was no fool. As high royalty, the granddaughter of the ruler of an interstellar Nation, she'd been respectfully permitted into Taloran high society in a way a common-born Ambassador would have found difficult (hence the reason the Foreign Ministry had come to her in the first place), and she knew the gossip well on the relationship between Leluno and the Empress. And even if some of it was false, there was enough truth there to make it clear to Elizabeth that the way to the ears of Saverana was through Archduchess Leluno. So the dinner plans had been made, and a date picked to allow for the Archduchess to come to the Embassy for a friendly meal.
The Archduchess Leluno had immensely long hair to her knees, like nearly any fully adult Taloran, which was a delightful lavender colour and particular pretty when braided, while her eyes were a light blue. It contrasted heavily with the uniform, but to a Taloran that was considered prettier than matching. She followed the secretary in to the dinner table, and smiled when she saw the noble-born ambassador, in the faint Taloran way. "Your Highness... Thank you for the invitation. May I sit?" Jhastimia was musing over not merely the matters at hand, but also the details of Elizabeth's life, and the peculiar request that the Empress had told her of before going on this journey...
"Oh, please do," Elizabeth said. She motioned to a seat, allowing them to sit rather closely on opposite ends of the table. "I'm told that the chef who prepared the Taloran dishes on the table is a particularly well-liked one in Valeria and has catered Imperial functions before. I believe the name of the dish is something like Truvalia?"
"Ah, yes, that will be an excellent selection. Thank you kindly, Your Highness." Jhastimia smiled with some genuine pleasure at the prospect of well-prepared Truvalia. "I understand this dinner is for more than merely pleasure, however, which makes me rather pleased that you'd acknowledge someone like myself for the interests you wish to discuss."
"I'm thankful when I get the chance to speak with those of import here on Talora Prime, it helps with the duties I'm charged with after all," Elizabeth replied, looking forward to her own meal of roasted duck, curry kebobs, and various vegetables and salad mixes. "And to be honest, President Dale himself has written to me on what he considers a matter of import regarding our relations."
"I'm not important," Jhastimia answered. "I'm just the friend of a very imaginative girl, and neither of us finished growing up." The idea that she'd just called the Empress a 'very imaginative girl' was extreme, but she had not named names, and so it was comfortably acceptable, a sly recognition of the nature of her power. "Of course, I am the Imperial representative to the Convocate, but that is that..." She started to delicately sample the dishes. "What is the matter that His Excellency the Alliance President wishes to bring up in regard to the Taloran Empire? I'd be interested in hearing it."
Elizabeth did not show surprise at the way Jhastimia referred to her position. Among Talorans, the truth was often acknowledged while hidden delicately by terminology and colorful uses of language. But everyone in the capital knew that she was the Empress' closest confidant.
"The President is most interested in aiding the Taloran Empire into further connection with the Multiversal Community," Elizabeth replied. "He feels that such a thing would be beneficial to both of our societies and to the Multiverse as a whole. Of course, your people are rather unique in the Multiverse of today, and there are certain... differences of policy that have the potential of interfering with the Taloran Empire taking it's place among the leading states of the Multiverse. For instance, I'm sure your aware of the passport system used by the majority of Multiversal states?"
"Passports?" Jhastimia looked up, no longer modest, in fact, extremely alert. "Actually... No, I'm not aware of it. I know that.. The United Terran Homeland Party required internal passports for travel between its various nations. But what does that have to do with international travel between lawful states like our own?" To someone reasonably skilled in reading the ear movements of Talorans, the mere comment had made Jhastimia exceptionally concerned that she was missing out on something very major and very important, which to someone in her position... Was quite worrying, indeed.
Having eaten a little, Elizabeth gave her explaination. "Given our own history, the United Terran Homeland Party likely simply inherited an already-existing system. It has been our custom, for the past centuries, to have passports for travel between different states. These are, for the most part, required by other states for foreign nationals to be allowed entry into their territory, and must be gotten from the government of one's state with a regimen of ID checking to prove that the person getting the passport is not in fact someone else." Taking a bite, she added, "In most cases, it is a formality of the bureaucracy, but it is also used for aid in law enforcement and security to prevent, say, terrorism suspects from moving from one jurisdiction to another."
"Well, we don't have such a system. Terrorism has never been a problem in the Taloran Empire--if I may be quite blunt, we deal with it far more harshly than you do, and thereby discourage it--and I'm not entirely sure what the problem is associated with it. There would be precious little desire for someone from the Empire to attack your territories, and we, of course, do not even have the apparatus for enforcing such a strange mechanism. I scarcely even need mention, I do believe, that it would be regarded... Quite negatively by the Convocate." Jhastimia revealed in that comment that she was aware enough of what the issuing of passports would entail, certainly; but that could only be expected of an educated individual once the system had been explained.
"Unfortunately, this is one of those small, annoying issues that can cause undue hassle and damage to relations and trade," Elizabeth explained after finishing a bite, enjoying the succulent taste and reminding herself to thank the chef. "The President is hoping to find a solution to this, and any other issues of import between our peoples, through a negotiation and a legal treaty."
"Well, what this treaty entail on our part, Your Highness? There is not much we can do about this," Jhastimia answered, fishing for more information on the matter before making a direct answer, even as she enjoyed the delicacies of her own food, and categorized the cook as probably having worked at least for a Duke before this.
"A system that would satisfy issues such as the passport situation, as well as other sundry matters of economics that, I'm sure, are very important to the bureaucrats back in Washington." Taking a bite and finishing it, Elizabeth added, "There is also, of course, the issue of trade between your universe and others. Currently it is limited to travel through the rifts, which I am given to understand is becoming heavier and more congested as the months pass. The President is interested in any negotiation that might bring the Taloran Empire into the New Brasilia Treaty apparatus, including the construction of Jump Gate Assemblies, under Taloran control, to facilitate further trade with your home universe."
Jhastimia simply couldn't hide her shock at what had just been said. "Ah, Your Highness... It is actually a goal of the Alliance to have us accede to the New Brasilia treaty?" She asked, very pointedly, and unusual for this--it showed that her feathers had been ruffled, so to speak. "That is very interesting to say the least."
"It would be a good thing for both our societies, Your Highness, and that is my view as well. Signing the Treaty of New Brasilia would give your government a voice on the IUCEC and access to the Interuniversal Jump Generator technology, with the IU Jump Gate Assemblies built here being placed under Taloran control as is IUCEC policy for dignified, proven governments. I have no doubt that soon afterward your natural industrial potential would ensure the IUCEC permitted you to build dedicated jump ships for exploration." Elizabeth took another bite. "We don't mean to be seeing as pushing you into any of this, of course. It is rather like the extended hand, offering friendship and trust. The Allied Nations and the Taloran Empire can do so much as friends than we could as distant relations and potential rivals, as so many see us to be."
"You're aware that we also have a Zohan settlement?" Jhastimia observed delicately, as she was, of course, quite aware that some of the Zohan had settled in the Alliance, and she was testing them insomuch as how far they understood that Taloran interests lay in such research. Of course, Zohan drives were not capable of being aimed at that period--and the leadership of the Alliance would be, unfortunately or fortunately, aware of that as well.
"Yes, quite aware, and I've been told that they've proven a conduit for the trade links we already enjoy." Elizabeth smiled softly and took a drink. It was widely accepted, if not confirmed, that the Talorans would be involved in research, independent, for their own IU tech - between ADN and HRE possession of it, who would blame them? - and understood that the Archduchess would be fishing for indications of what she knew. Opting to be delicate, Elizabeth added, "I'm sure they're quite useful in research capacities, as I'm told they're very capable engineers. Some of our own companies have greatly enjoyed the fruits of their contracts with the Zohan clans living in the Alliance."
"I understand that in your own histories the practice of joining a general international treaty while stating specific reservations is not unheard of," Jhastimia answered, her ears flattening a bit. "As it so happens... One of the matters that the Empress discussed with me," and here her position came out in the open, but that was to be expected by this point, "was her intense desire to make an arrangement regarding the New Brasilia treaty so that we could obtain Interuniversal Drives of our own --as it is an issue we cannot easily afford to ignore, all circumstances considered." It was as close to mentioning Plan XXVIII as Jhastimia would ever dare come, and the idea that Saverana II was actively interested in acceding to the New Brasilia treaty, even with the comment about formal reservations.. Would no doubt come as a great surprise to the Alliance.
Elizabeth was profoundly interested in what she had just heard. "Such reservations would likely have to be brought up with the IUCEC. Despite appearances, the Alliance Government does not have as much a controlling share of it as would otherwise seem the case. But surely they'll consider reasonable terms in such reservations."
"Manufacturing would be an important component of our considerations, Your Highness," Jhastimia answered. "I can inform you right now that we would not accede unless it were guaranteed that component construction would take place in Taloran factories. If that were guaranteed, even under stipulation, however, we do in fact have quite considerable latitude for negotiation."
"The IUCEC does have stringent security measures, but they also contract out construction to many companies of signatory nations. I do not see how Taloran companies would be left out. Indeed, construction here would save a great deal on the costs of establishing gate assemblies in your universe," Elizabeth said, showing her own decent knowledge of the IUCEC. "They may even found their own companies in Taloran territory to perform such construction."
"That would have to be discussed in detail," Jhastimia answered. "But such discussions are certainly possible. And now that we've dealt with this matter.. I fear I will have to answer in some detail to the passport affair that you bring up." Her eyes focused, and her ears raised. "What precisely would it entail, for us to implement a passport system? Since I would be inclined to suspect that is precisely what you're hoping that the Empire will do."
"Well, for passports, the point I suppose would be the provision of proof that you are whom you say you are," Elizabeth said, after some thought and chewing to swallow her food. "In fact...." She was thankful for having the foresight to hand her passport to one of the liveried Taloran men in the room. She motioned to him and he immediately reached in and took it out. "This is the passport I once held before becoming a government official. Even we royals carry one, just in case." She handed it to Jhastimia, who looked over the leather-bound badge-like passport emblazoned with the seal of the Allied Nations Foreign Ministry's Travel Office. In truth, Elizabeth also had a British passport, but she chose to carry her Alliance one. This one had her face picture with a compilation of data and a passport number upon it, as well as a few visa stamps from trips she took as a private citizen. "Most citizens get one by going to the relevant office with various means of identification. Social Security cards for Americans, driver's licenses, National ID cards, whatever is applicable to their nation's system."
"Your Highness.. The information shown there is the sort of information that the Taloran government.. Does not collect. We do not have numbers attached to persons, or licenses outside of the operating licenses issued by the competent trade guilds, or any sort of identification card whatsoever. The Taloran government does not collect such information, and, more to the point.. I doubt the political feasability of it ever doing so. To put it quite frankly, I will use the terms of freedom which are popular in the Alliance. Liberty, to us, is precisely in a government which does not engage in such surveillance. It would be considered a gross tyranny, the sort of thing that the convocate would pounce upon and never sanction. You may well be asking us to do the impossible; the idea is literally unheard of throughout Taloran history, and the simple concept of collecting information on Her Serene Majesty's subjects... You might as well propose to indefinitely suspend elections in the Alliance for the Presidency."
"I'm not terribly surprised to hear that," Elizabeth said, "having lived with your people for the past year and a half." And having heard the snide remarks of nobles not quite so diplomatic, she added mentally. "Unfortunately, this isn't just a matter for our governments. So far your component governments have been issuing passports with what the report I was given termed 'laxity', and as governments across the Multiverse learn this it will cause serious repercussions. This is why the President wants a negotiation, to forestall these things. It is his hope, and mine, that a workable solution can be found."
"Well, these passports issued by the states probably rely on no data themselves," she answered, thinking for a moment. "The only real repository of data on citizens is military induction records, which are very incomplete, as only one person per village is taken... The census every sixteen years--which means that the data can be more than fifty human years out of date and is based entirely on self-reporting--and the birth and death records of the Farzian church. There are also records when someone changes residence from one state to another, but those only exist in the case of people who have done so, which is rather rare."
"Again, perhaps the negotiating team can find a solution that will be compatible with your people's opinion on the matter, using one or more of the sources you just mentioned," Elizabeth said diplomatically, more than a little worried that the intractable Talorans might very well refuse to budge on the issue. "And if you make such a deal with the Alliance, other states will certainly follow suit."
"None of the sources seem practicable at first glance. Perhaps you should negotiate with the Farzian Church on the matter," Jhastimia answered--and it was clear that she was only half joking. "Forgive me, ambassador, but this will be a delicate issue. However, we can certain arrange to have extensive discussions on the matter, as long as our existing policies do not result in trade infringement in the meanwhile. With any fortune an understanding can be made. I am just not sure of what nature."
"Perhaps brighter or luckier minds will find a solution for us in those discussions," replied Elizabeth before taking another sip on her glass. "If the Empress agrees to start making arrangements, I will happily send word to the President that the process has begun. In the meantime," she added, seeking to relieve the atmosphere with court gossip and small talk, "I have heard something of a new marriage being planned among the Midela Line's senior branch...."