Frays in the Weave

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Vivian confirmed the question. There was little else she could do.

Down there the world had gone mad. Or at least a federation officer had.

She wanted to drop her shuttles, but the local government had explicitly forbidden any bombardment of their territory, and she had to accept that.

Another question came in, but it was one her crew could handle.

The bridge was a nightmare of frantic communication since the previous day, and she shunted anything not involving her directly to her subordinates. She had to make certain New Sweden's next drop was documented in detail and answer to most whatever they demanded. They gambled. She knew that, but it wasn't as insane as it might have looked. Violating the treaty of Perth was out of the question.

Soon enough twenty shuttles were on their way planet side. Their design was purely civilian. No weapons and only basic friction shields. One hospital on its way, and the medical staff would have their hands full as soon as they made ground. The reports arriving were crystal clear on that point.

Short range artillery shelled the capital and had done so for half an hour. The death toll was horrendous. Still, not a single grenade came even close to the area cleared for the hospital.

Vivian waited while Goodard's men continued killing the citizens of Otherworld and questions and data arrived to her bridge. Just as she started to hope that the madness wouldn't escalate beyond the atrocities she had to watch she received three messages almost simultaneously. One made her laugh with relief, the second had her gasping and the third saw her entire crew join her in screams of denial and wrath.

Goodard was a closet Christian missionary, and most of his senior officers had been hand-picked by himself. They weren't there to represent the federation. He had taken upon himself to go on a crusade, and as the first shuttles safely landed Vivian saw how the artillery fire was redirected. When the first shuttle detonated New Sweden declared war on the Terran Federation, and the next hour Vivian received over a hundred more such declarations.

She could only guess what was happening in the solar system. Orbit one was safe though. Declaration of war was a formality, but it was not the same as taking any hostile action.

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