8: Opening Moves (1/3)

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March 25, 2180 (New Era Calendar) /
Sol System, Alliance Senate House, Terra

Senator Kendrix Vincent listened to, and already threatened to grow bored by, the rhetoric of General Ninn Howard, leader of the Alliance since the declaration of Martial law back in 2174. She yawned -- it was just another of his patronizing addresses that didn't really say anything worthwhile.

The Alliance, traditionally a star spanning democracy based on the Terran governments from late in the Old Era, still remained, technically-speaking, a democracy. Representatives from the thousands of worlds under the Alliance Banner continued to issue policy and govern as mandated by Congressional Law. It all changed in 2174 and the failed Peace Summit at Bartholomew 10 that would have ended the war with the Confederation. In the aftermath of Bartholomew, the war reignited hotter than ever and General Howard and his cadre of acolytes seized power through what amounted to, essentially, a military coup.

At least that's how Kendrix heard it from her father, a disgraced Alliance Intelligence operative.

All of twenty years of age, Kendrix held the distinction of being the youngest representative in the Alliance Senate. The young Senator hailed from the planet Io, capitol planet of the Octanus System. Octanus, located on the fringes of Alliance territory, rested too close for Kendrix's comfort to the Confederate border.

It had been twenty-five years since the war began in earnest -- long enough for the Alliance propaganda machine to alter the history books. Kendrix scanned up and down the Senate chamber and resisted the urge to laugh aloud. She doubted most Alliance citizens, including many of her peers in the Senate itself, knew the true cause of the war. If it weren't for her father, she wouldn't know any of this either.

Though everyone acknowledged the war started when fleets from Pegasus led a sneak attack on four Alliance Bases. But what most didn't know was that the seeds of conflict had been planted years before that with the conclusion of the Fourth, and final, Pirate War -- one of the bloodiest wars in recorded history. Finally united, the Pirate Bands readied for their final push into Sol to end the Alliance once and for all. If it weren't for then-Captain Howard's proposal to the Senate and if they hadn't listened to him, the Alliance would have surely fallen.

Howard's proposal would have forced any Alliance Member Star System with a home defense fleet to dissolve their fighting forces for assimilation into the Alliance Navy. Congress issued the bill -- called the Aegis Initiative -- into policy and, rallied under one banner, bolstered by fleets from hundreds of star systems, the Alliance Navy drove the Pirates back for good. Quick to issue the mandate, the Senate dragged their feet in dissolving it.

An entire decade after the conclusion of the Fourth Pirate War, Pegasus, one of the largest member systems in the Alliance lobbied for the Home Fleets to be relinquished from the terms of the Aegis Initiative. Fearing a Fifth Pirate War, Congress put down the request and in 2154 Pegasus, along with scores of other star systems, seceded from the Alliance citing their right to a Home Fleet.

Under normal circumstances, the secession would have been handled diplomatically, and the group of systems would have been brought back into the Alliance fold with little-to-no bloodshed. The Senate, however, was divided on the best course of action. Those pro-secession felt that since there was such a prolonged period of peace, the mighty Alliance Navy could do without the ships that had been assimilated from Pegasus and other star systems like Pegasus. Those against secession felt that in light of the prolonged period of peace, star systems like Pegasus had no need for Home Defense fleets. These talks lasted for over a year. But ultimately, the diplomatic talks broke down and, days after, the motley crew of discontents calling themselves the Confederation of Seceded Systems launched a coordinated, simultaneous, preemptive attack on four Alliance bases -- one of them on Kendrix's own Io itself.

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