Part 43: Turn 266TURN 266
President Sisko may have pledged that Starfleet will never again invade a Romulan system, but the Cardassians go on with the war. A sizable invasion fleet arrives on Tohvun, one of three remaining Romulan systems. The Cardassians have finally invented their most powerful ship, the Battleship II.
Federation Colony Ships are in orbit over each of the uninhabited systems within the Federation-Cardassia disputed territories. They are ordered to terraform at least one planet in each system, but they are not told why. Colonization is not possible in a disputed sector.
TURN 267. Their invasions may fail, but the Cardassians are determined to stamp out all life on the Romulan colonies. If they lack Troop Transports, bombs will have to do. Daran has only a small number of people left. Gul Dukat is surprised to hear President Sisko make a few disparaging remarks about this practice during a Federation news conference for an unrelated matter.
TURN 268. The Federation is aghast at the news that over 40 million people have been murdered on Romulus. Sisko declares that he will find the culprit responsible for this act of sabotage, "no matter what allegiance he may have." When asked to elaborate, the President simply responds, "It is unclear whether the Romulans would choose to poison their own people."
TURN 271. The Romulans repel another invasion. Their citizens are motivated by hearing stories of Cardassian atrocities on other worlds. But the Battleships on Tohvun continue the bombings.
TURN 273. Nearly the entire Federation fleet is stationed at Cardassia now, leading to wild rumors which Dukat dismisses. In the northeast, the Cardassians kill everyone on Daran. Because it is so close to the Federation-controlled Romulus system, it creates another disputed territory.
Moab, likely to be the final Romulan system, is almost ground into dust by a smaller fleet of Cardassians.
TURN 276. Our intel strength has nearly reached 10,000 points. A Cardassian spy is outed and forced to confess his crimes during a televised trial. Dukat sends a private message to Sisko on the matter, but it goes unanswered.
A Colony Ship is quickly purchased on Romulus and sent to Daran. There are now 5 disputed sectors with systems, and each one has a Colony Ship in orbit.
President Sisko has established an ultra-secret branch of the Federation security force, code-named "Section 13". It spreads a message throughout the Federation: "Operation Pale Moonlight is a go." Spies are ordered to begin sabotaging the Cardassian military at the earliest available opportunity.
TURN 277. Only 9 million Romulans remain alive. A single Orbital Battery stands between them and the Cardassian Destroyers. For now, it is just enough.
Cardassia is swimming with Federation Troop Transports.
The Federation diplomats are surprised to learn of their latest assignment, but they follow orders. For the first time in its history, the Federation will declare war.
TURN 278. The final 2 Heavy Cruisers in the northeastern fleet are ordered to open fire against the newly-constructed Cardassian Outpost in the far northeast.
The Cardassians manning the station have just enough time to try shooting at the Federation ships before the Outpost is obliterated.
On the old Federation colony of Styris, a group of Cardassian Troop Transports has always sat around, perfectly chill. But now the Starbase is ordered to destroy them.
One Troop Transport is blown up as they make their escape.
On Cardassia itself, the Federation fleet is ordered to attack the only Cardassians in space there: the Outpost.
The fleet consists of a single Heavy Cruiser that guarded the Qo'nos Starbase since its construction, 27 Troop Transports, more than a dozen Defiants, and plenty of Scouts.
The commander of the Outpost barely has time to send a warning to the civilians living on the planet before he is blown into space.
Noone can believe it. The Federation has officially declared war against its own alliance member.
Agents of Section 13 are thrilled to report the very first act of sabotage against the Cardassians, blowing up a command structure on Cardassia Prime at that. They believe they have successfully framed one of the few Romulans still alive.
Everyone is overwhelmed by the news. It is as though the Federation has turned completely evil overnight. All of its principles are thrown out the window. Every editorial page is filled with outrage, though one commentator wonders, "But how much of this criticism is based on race?" With elections still a ways off, there is talk of legal action against President Sisko.
But Sisko is prepared. Every system in the Federation is placed under martial law. It is completely unprecedented.
All across the disputed territories, the Colony Ships are ordered to colonize. This is only possible because of the state of war.
We no longer have the ability to use Cardassian logistics. The massive fleet on Cardassia is technically stranded now, because it is out of medium-range. But this does not matter, for the fleet is not ordered to go anywhere else. They will conduct a full-scale invasion of Cardassia itself.
TURN 279. A Cardassian Troop Transport ship flies through Federation territory, now at his peril.
Starbases that were safe havens to the Cardies for so long have turned into death traps.
A lone Defiant traveling toward Cardassia runs into a Cardassian Outpost with a Cruiser.
The Defiant is pleased to demonstrate its power, quickly knocking out the Cruiser.
The Outpost attempts to return fire, but the Defiant runs circles around it and delivers a fatal blow.
There is mass confusion and panic on Cardassia Prime, where Federation troops are reported everywhere. When intelligence agents learn of the colonizations in the disputed sectors, optimists suggest that perhaps this "war" was really a power play for those colonies.
Gul Dukat personally takes command of the defense of Cardassia. For awhile, he is his old self again, launching daring counterattacks and encouraging his troops by leading them into battle. But he is called back to his private quarters to read a personal communique from President Sisko, for his eyes only. Dukat expected such an explanation to arrive from his old friend, so he tells his men that he will be back in a few moments with good news.
Alone in his office, Dukat opens the message. It reads: "I never respected you, Dukat. You are a fool."
An hour later, Dukat is discovered in his office, the victim of an apparent suicide.