The Last oft the Brave : Divided We Fall

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PRELUDE TO WAR | TWO

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JUNE 23, 2551 (10:20) [Military Calendar]

HIGH ORBITAL DEFENSE PLATFORM ARTAXERXES II

TERRA, SOL SYSTEM, SECTOR 001

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Commodore Forest stood silently in repose as he looked down at the Earth as it spun on its axis below. He loved the planet, as a child he dreamed of the blue ball that every human can call home. At the time, it seemed like a pipe dream, only for the day that he came to hate the government he grew up under, only to grow sympathetic to the enemies he was raised to hate.

Only that enemy was the United earth Governing Alliance.

As a child, he had grown up under the Insurrectionist government called the Expanse Sovereign Union, a fascist regime who hated the very foundation that the UEGA was founded on 570 years ago. The Alliance and its code had changed the dichotomy of the world and brought peace. But now, the Union sought to bring destruction to the Alliance and everything they represent. Their tactics are ruthless, obliterating every obstacle, military or not.

As a child they had been told of “genocides” and “mass rapes” that the UEGA had brought upon their people, to instill ultra-nationalism and patriotism within them.

It disgusted him to the point that he does not care if the military has to eradicate them like a plague - one that will destroy civilization - only it would make the Alliance look just as bad as the people they are fighting. If that were the case, their descendants would view them just like the European conquerors and colonists who killed the Native Americans, what Mao did during his Great Leap Forward, or the genocide of the Jews by the hands of the Nazis.

It would only perpetuate violence and make the conflict worse. However, when a war breaks out it’s the kind men and women who are willing to put their lives and morals on the line to break the cycle of violence. To make the world a better place for their children. Now this has been going on for so long, that generations have fought to end the bloody conflict, only for their efforts to end in vain as their children, and grandchildren fight in war.

A beeping at his desk quickly broke his silent meditation. Taking a deep breath, he turned around and walked down to his desk before waving his hand over his desk illuminating a soft holographic display. Mumbling under his breath a single word came out:

“Fuck”

Illuminated in a brilliant blue text was the simple message:

Emergency meeting at Unified Military Command Headquarters. Scheduled for 14:32 Galactic Standard Time on June 27.

He had only a few hours to prepare for the meeting. God knows what it could be. Shaking his head he quickly began to double down on his work.

Opening the various files that had come onto his database, as a Naval registrar his job was to assign the Naval posting of officers and give their ships their orders from Command. It was the official way the Office of Naval Intelligence told him to “fuck off” after he refused to do more of their dirty work.

Every day he was reassigning ships from their current postings, to shuffling young officers around where their skills could be used best. In the entire war, they finally had hit a shortage. The Navy had seen an 86% decline in enlistments from the civilian ranks, with the most constant stream of recruits originating from “careers” or families who often are from a long line of professional soldiers.

Since this number has gotten low enough, the Military has seriously considered enforcing the draft in order to bolster the ranks across the branches. They have even considered drafting the Merchant Marines into active duty and simply convert and arm their ships to the teeth. Though most Merchant Marine vessels already are equipped with lower end weapons to stop the occasional pirates or rogue militia groups. The only problem has been the non-aggression pacts that many colonies have signed between the insurrectionists and UEGA to protect their collective asses to prevent their planets from being dragged into long acts of contrition between both sides of the conflict. Many outer colonies learned that the hard way after the Siege of Axiom which had been one of the bloodiest grounds and aerial combat battles, the conflict fought over the colony’s deuterium reserves had left the planet so devastated that the colonists were forced to flee the waste lands. Both sides eventually gave up when someone ignited the fuel.

Now, after nearly 200 years of war most officers in the navy come from a long line of military carriers often having an ancestor dating back to the earliest days of the Navy. The Marines have continuously been made up of professional soldiers being recruited out of their local militias and national guards. However, since both numbers have begun to dwindle and in need of ships the Navy and Marines have had to get clever in their recruitment tactics, from offering young college students and enlistment bonus and tuition reimbursements up to a 100% if they attend OCS. They have even upped the pension and death benefits. The Military has even considered upping the pay to nearly 500,0000 credits a year just to get officers into positions where they are useful – or in other words – on the frontlines.

While he himself was not on the frontlines he had a job that most would take in an instant. As he continued to scroll through the various orders given, he quickly stumbled upon a familiar face: Johnathan Mercer. His protégé. Glancing at the assignment he saw he had filed his resignation. However, sitting right on the file was pending denial. Currently he has been permanently grounded on New Ticonderoga in a desk position. A waste of his brilliance. In all his years he has never seen a mind like his.

Opening the file, he saw that he was up for a promotion to the rank of Commander. Had it not been from the destruction of the Columbia a year ago, he would probably have been handed the keys to his own ship by now. Either under a Admiral or his own solo command within a fleet. Now he was pushing papers.

Snapping out of his focus his head shot up as the com-system emitted a high pitch shriek.

‘Remind me to fix that’ he thought to himself. Pressing the button on his desk he opened the com to the other side.

“Go ahead.”

“Commodore, you have a visitor.” Said his assistant on the other end.

“Can you tell them I am busy?”

“That’s the thing… I did but he is nothing but persistent sir.” Forest shook his head with a slight smirk on his face. If there is one person who would do that, it’s an Admiral.

“Who is it?”

“Admiral Hoshino, sir.” Pressing the button again, he smiled. And said:

“Buzz him in.” Standing up Commodore Forest watched as Elaina guided an aged Admiral into the room. The old man, a legend in his own right, was visiting. Nodding towards Elaina she turned on her legs still awkwardly moving on her new set of sea legs.

“Thank you.” Said Admiral Hoshino as he gently bowed, a part of his native custom in Japan which had managed to survive the great diaspora of 2200. “So this is your new assignment?” Said Admiral Hoshino. Deep inside he knew that the assignment of a desk job had destroyed Forest’s ego.

“Gig, what is this, the 21st century?” Shrugging his shoulders, Hoshino walked over to the glass looking over the Earth.

“Personally, I just like the word.” Glancing over at the door, Admiral Hoshino frowned. “Can I ask what happened to that young woman?” The Commodore gave him a look, not even considering his possible ablest view towards disabled members of the military. Medical Science has advanced ten-fold since he was Elaina’s age.

“Her alert-fighter was shot down.” Nodding the Admiral acknowledged her obvious prostheses is of her right arm and legs. “She was going to be sent home but knowing that the outer colonies don’t have the same level of proper medical services I offered her a position.”

“I see.” Said Admiral Forest.

“So…” Forest walked up to the Admiral, gesturing for him to take a seat. “What are you going here?”

“I need a favor. A big one.” Sitting down the Admiral gently let himself down. “I don’t have long, and I know we need a ship to replace the Calypso which his being redirected to the second fleet to replace the Columbia.”

Looking at the Admiral, knowing full well the old man was going to drop a bombshell, he simply asked…

“What favor?”

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