Part 30: MeetingsThis is bad news for us. Alliance militarization will mean fewer freedoms for the Neutral Rim.
I'm not liking this turn of events. The admiral's good at fighting a war, I'll give him that. But removing civilian control over the military and putting them in control of the Alliance is dangerous.
The Alliance military has started to play a larger role in setting policy. In times of war, people seek a strong leader. Oftentimes, the niceties of democracy are forgotten for the sake of security.
Perhaps, but too often we fight wars to overthrow dictators only to replace them with people far worse.
Sometimes, fire must be fought with fire.
That only leaves the whole world scorched, Ava.
The bottom line is that we depend on the Alliance. They're the one fulfilling this requisition order. And that's only scratching the surface of all the other things we need.
Well, here you go. My signature.
Thank you, captain.
Lieutenant Stares wishes to speak with you.
Very well, send her in.
At ease, lieutenant. What can I do for you?
Admiral Grey has requested that you speak with him.
All right. I'll just ring him up on the FTL comm.
He wishes to speak in person this time.
That might be difficult. We're a long way from Solaris.
The admiral's currently at Ongess, captain, leading the campaign from the front lines.
Ah, I should have known. He prefers to lead from where the action is, doesn't he?
Yes, sir. He wishes to tour the ship, as well as give you further instructions.
I better clean my office then. Thanks for the notice. We'll make our way to Ongess as soon as possible.
Change of plans, Ava. We're going to Ongess. Admiral Grey wants to meet us in person there.
Ha ha. Ongess isn't that far from Cera. At the rate we're going, maybe we'll be back home in time for the new year.
Better not jinx it captain. Cera's still a long ways yet.
What's the situation at Ongess?
Because of this, Ongess has had a long and troubled history. First conquered by the Ryuvians, then by the New Empire, then by PACT, Ongess has been the target of virtually every spacefaring power for as long as recorded history.
Liquid Ongessite ... I hear it's almost magical.
There's nothing magical about it. It does have numerous military applications though, including powering FTL drives and ryders. It can also be converted into a super dense solid used in the manufacture of high grade armor and munitions. The Alliance devoted considerable resources into taking the planet from PACT. The Battle of Ongess lasted five days between nine fleets. Hundreds of thousands of casualties on both sides.
Makes Far Port seem small in comparison. All right, thanks for the report. Lay in a course and jump when ready.
Warp complete, captain. We have arrived at Ongess.
Take us into port, Ava.
Understood, captain. Helm, slow to one tenth power! We are to dock at star gate 32-B. Comm, contact Alliance Control and request permission to dock.
I better get ready to meet the admiral. You have the bridge, Ava.
Captain Shields. A pleasure to finally meet you in person.
Likewise, Admiral Grey.
Welcome to Ongess.
It's good to hear Ongess has been liberated. The Alliance's progress in the war has been impressive thus far.
The war is far from won, but the tide is in our favor. Still, we mustn't become overconfident. The situation is still ... precarious. The Veniczar has avoided committing his strongest fleets to a direct confrontation so far. Undoubtedly waiting for us to get arrogant and make careless mistakes.
We can discuss this more in my office. But first, we've prepared a tour of the ship.
Ah, do show me around, captain. I hear your ship is one of the finest in the Neutral Rim.
Our main fleets are still deployed to Ryuvia and Cera. As for the others I must ask, was it wise to allow the Alliance to take Ongess? The people of Ongess have been oppressed for so long. It troubles me to imagine what horrors the Alliance may visit upon the Ongessians.
Fontana. When one plays the game of chess, smaller pieces must be sacrificed to win. The Alliance Fleet far outnumbers our own. We cannot meet them head on. But they are not united under one purpose as we are. We will slowly whittle down their will until dissent within their own ranks sabotages their efforts. The people of the Alliance are strangers to the necessities of war. Just like the Imperials, they are addicted to their own opulence. Once the people of the Alliance realize the sacrifices they must make to fight a distant war in the Neutral Rim, they will begin to question their cause. They are merely an unruly mob, content to live their lives in the riches of the core worlds. We will take away their wealth. Their comfort. Their luxuries.
And that is when we will strike.
What of our own citizens?
Our ships are crimson because they have been forged with our own blood. You have been a loyal advisor, Fontana. You were a mere slave boy when we first met. Now, you are our trusted right hand.
We will entrust the destruction of the Sunrider to you. While it is merely one ship, we fear it will interfere with our plans again. Bring the princess back to us. But kill the rest of them. The Sunrider has just arrived at Ongess. Take your best ships and draw it out. Captain Shields is young, but still a formidable enemy. Do not underestimate him, or you will meet the same fate which befell Cullen.
Understood, my leader. Fontana out.
(Is this really what he would have wanted?)
Back on the Sunrider ...
We're the last vessel of Cera, admiral. We're the only family we have.
I hope you have received the supplies you requested. Contact me personally if you are in need of additional resources.
Thank you, admiral. My first officer informs me that our resupply operations are going well.
The Alliance is a great and benevolent nation, captain. You know, I grew up listening to the stories of my ancestor, the High Admiral Madeline Grey. The hero who unified the fleets of a hundred worlds to defend Solaris from the Imperials. The Alliance was an agreement between free worlds to unify against the tyranny of the Empire. We were born to protect our freedoms from dictators. And now, it is our duty to take up arms once more, this time against the madman Arcadius, who threatens to paint the entire galaxy red. We are the greatest force of freedom in the history of the galaxy. Even in the midst of war, we are conducting our scheduled democratic elections.
My best wishes for your candidacy.
Too many lives have been lost because of the inaction of the Solar Congress. Instead of bold statesmen, our politicians have become like little children on a playground, squabbling about irrelevant issues. We must win this war quickly. I do not wish to see our best and brightest die needlessly because of a lack of political will at Solaris.
In any matter, let me speak of the real reason why I called you here. I understand you have experience fighting pirates, captain.
We do. One pirate in particular weve really managed to annoy.
Good. Because she's here, at Ongess. You are to find her and put an end to her. For good.
Hunting pirates is our specialty, admiral. We'll take care of it.
Ongess is Cosmos' home turf. She knows this area like the back of her hand. Be careful. And godspeed captain.
Lieutenant. Do take care of our good captain for us.
Well then, I do believe it is time I returned to work.
Admiral! Are you injured?
The hell was that!?
Captain to the bridge!
Damn! Kryska, secure the admiral!
Let go of me! I said I'm fine! Now what's going on!?
Explosion from within the station, captain. Theyre reporting a massive fire.
And the Sunrider?
No damage to report.
Put our ryders on alert! Power weapons!
Emergency disconnect! Blow all our docking clamps!
Aye captain! Initiating disconnect.
The liquid Ongessite containers have burst! We managed to avoid the worst of it, but the station has been catastrophically damaged!
Theres an incoming transmission. General broadcast, going out to everyone in orbit.
To all Solar Alliance imperialists: leave this planet at once! Our Ongessite is not for you! We will die fighting to the last ship before we become a part of your empire!
Is that live?
Negative, captain. It was just a pre-recorded message.
Psychological warfare, huh?
No. An act of terrorism. Now you've seen the threat that this woman poses to the war effort. I expect her dealt with.
Understood, admiral. We know how to handle her.