Back Home – The 30 Days War

by Warringer

Chapter One

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Director Andrew Matthews of the Commonwealth Intelligence Agency shook his head as he looked at the place where a holographic display used to be until a few moments ago. He had seen this video for several times now and it still shocked him what he had seen there.

He had gotten a data crystal with the video two days ago, after his old friend Anson Davidson, the Secretary of State had talked to the Quetzal Ambassador.

The last two days had been used to scan the crystal and the video file for any sign that it might be tampered with, but there were no signs of tampering. There had even be several scans if the video had taken of a holographic projection, but once again it came back negative.

As far as anyone knew, this video was genuine.

He turned his head and looked at the President, his Chief of Staff, the Minister of Defense and Secretary of State.

The President, Neral Dane, was a Ferron and as such he presented the fact that the Commonwealth was a nation that followed its principles of equality.

His Chief of Staff, K'Nal, was a Narn and the Minister of Defense, Mar'lan, was a Dilgar. That made Matthews and Davidson the sole humand in the room.

And all four were pretty much staring at the place where the display used to be until a few moments ago.

"I cannot believe that they would be so bold," the President said and he leaned back in his chair heavily, making the metal and leather creak under his weight.

The scene they had seen was just that bold. And it presented the heads of the Commonwealth with insight how the Union was able to pretty much press gang small independent nations into the Union after the separation of several of their members to become members of the Commonwealth.

"And I think we now know why several of the candidates for the Commonwealth have up and left for the Union," K'Nal noted dryly.

Matthews looked at the empty space where the display used to be again and once again shook his head.

The scene had been rather short, but it showed how far the upper echelons of the Union were willing to go to grow in power and size, especially with the Commonwealth now pretty much combining the independent nations of the galaxy.

It had shown a meeting between the Coatl of the Quetzal with several of his advisors, talking about everyday politics and several religious festivals of the next few weeks. The meeting had been pretty much interrupted when an Officer of the Galaxy Army, the military arm of the Union, had simply teleported into the meeting. Than he had, not very hidden, threatened the Quetzal with a full economic blockade and possibly military action if the Coatl wouldn't decide that they became members of the Union.

"We know what a full economic blockade can do to a planet or a small star nation of several planets," Mar'lan said and Matthews could see just a hint of hate in the Dilgars face.

That was not surprising. Omelos, the old homeworld of the Dilgar had been blockaded after the unconditional surrender of the Dilgarand the result was well known. Nothing had gone in or out. Well, nearly nothing.

"Well," Matthews said after a moment," we know that the Quetzal won't starve as they are independent from food imports. Their industry is another matter through."

"And their main trade partners are nearby members of the Union," Davidson added.

"Not something that would do them good on the long run. And if the Galaxy Army follows through with their threat of military action..."

"We saw what happened to the Nb..." the President tried, but some races had names that were nearly unpronounceable for a human or humanoid voices.

Silence hung in the room. The Nbkrtl had been all but wiped out and the rests of their populations were slowly starving on their destroyed worlds, while the Galaxy Army and Galaxy Police were blockading their worlds, preventing the Commonwealth to send humanitarian aid. There had been tries to send relief good to their worlds, but the Galaxy Army had escorted them back to Commonwealth space at gunpoint.

"How likely is it that the Quetzal would fold up anyway?" the President wondered out loud.

"Not very high," Davidson said after a while." Since they did not fold up at the first threat, they won't fold up until the end of time. They might drive one of the hardest bargains I can imagine, but once they give their word or come to a conclusion of the bargain, they keep their word, no matter what."

"I think they fear that their culture is going to be destroyed more than most other races."

Matthews frowned.

The Quetzal feared the destruction of their culture with every right. The Jurians and with them the entire Galactic Union just as well as the Minbari and the Galactic Federation had a very serve case of 'The White Mans Burden'. Every culture not their own was primitive and the people of those cultures needed to be enlightened with the 'right culture'. The Union was careful with their destruction of foreign cultures and the replacement with their own, but the Minbari weren't. The Minbari were acting more like the Japanese during the occupation of Korea.

"We need to bring the Quetzal into the Commonwealth," Mar'lan said, and broke the silence that had once again descended upon the room." Not only to make sure that their culture survives. We need a fleet base as far into Union space."

"If we can keep them from the Union," K'Nal added," It will also be a signal to the other independent nations and people that the Union and the Federation can't press everyone under their thumb."

"The question is," the President wondered after a moment," how are we going to do it?"

It once again brought silence to the room.

"Politically," Davidson noted," it would have the biggest impact, if we could manage to get he Coatl to sign the Commonwealth Carta while his worlds are blockaded. It would show that the Commonwealth doesn't care about these blockades."

"The problem would be that the Galaxy Army or the Galaxy Police are going to keep every ship from the planets. And once the Carta is signed they could still invade the Quetzal planets and not acknowledge the signing of the Carta."

"Not if we hide the ships we give to the Quetzal and a 'White Fleet' in jumpspace and let them drop out once the Carta is signed," Matthews said." Additionally are intelligence operations to keep the attention of Galaxy Army and Galaxy Police away from the Quetzal. That could buy additional time we need to get the Quetzal into a good defensive. I doubt that the Union is willing to attack an entire fleet of the Commonwealth 'visiting' a new member nation. That would be an act of war."

Matthews looked around and at the other men in the office. One after the other they nodded.

"We would need to talk to the Coatl first through."

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Dark clouds, made of sulfur, dust and just about everything not very healthy hung high above the desolate landscape, littered with destroyed buildings, the skeletal remains of trees and other plants. Here and there one could see the remains of animals or even what used to be a sentient being.

Just about thirty years ago, this place used to be a fertile world, populated with a race that was considered the bane of local space by the less developed races.

Doran was a dying world, its crust cracked by numerous volcanoes that spit dust, brimstone, sulfur and many more stuff that was considered unhealthy. All this had been caused by a single meteoric strike into an inactive tectonic zone that had unleashed a tectonic nightmare on the once lush world.

Long since the Doranian War, which had brought Earth into space and paved the road to the unification of local space under the banner of the Interstellar Commonwealth, Doran was isolated from the rest of the galaxy by a blockade of orbiting ships. First of the Global Defensice Initiative of Earth, later from ships of the Interstellar Commonwealth.

And still there was conflict happening on the planets surface. Even as the planet was growing more and more inhabitable, the Doranian forces continued to fight, dug into massive sub planetary installations they had build long time in the past, just before their first great leap into the space around them.

Mines were still producing ore, factories produced consumer and military systems, hydroponic gardens produced food and the Doranians themselves produced offspring that continued to fight a war they had already lost.

To Earth and the Interstellar Commonwealth, Doran was a mixed affair. For once they couldn't allow the Doranians to go back into space and try to regain their glorious past and the blockade of the planet and the conflict that still happened on the surface ate away troops and vessels. On the other hand, Doranians were still fighting and as a known enemy, it was easy to contain them. Very useful for training your own troops and give them experience in a combat setting.

The Commonwealth Marines loved this environment. It had everything they needed for combat training and allowed them to try out new toys.

First Lieutenant Hotaru von Bismark, breathed in as she fought the light headache that came from her new implants. For a moment she wished that she could take off her helmet to massage her eyes, but compromising the seal of her Mjolnir was not something she wanted to do out in the wild of this planet. She knew the rumors. Everyone seemed to know a trooper who had taken of his or her helmet and than kneed over because of one or another of the unhealthy stuff that was polluting the atmosphere.

Sure those were rumors, but she didn't want to test if they were true.

For a moment she closed her eyes and tried to chase away the headache, before opening them back up.

"Big Dragon," she heard the voice of Sergeant Miller, who was in command of her Scout squad." We found some Cats."

Hotaru frowned.

"Civies?" she wondered out loud.

Okay sure, it was very unlikely that there were any civilians left on this planets, but she had to make sure. Even if the Commonwealth was not really in war with the Doranians anymore, the continued operation on Doran was closely monitored by various places and should one of them suspect a field command of attacking civies, it would have the same impact as if it happened in war.

"Negative," came the reply." We got a six bricks, a squad of heavies and four squads of light infantry."

She shook her head lightly. The Doranians still continued to learn, even if they had been herded on this planet and with their backs against the wall. Some of the things they had learned was the importance of guerrilla warfare as well as that of heavily armored vehicles, such as tanks. Of course by now they had indeed developed their own portable shielding generators.

A 'brick' was one of the successful tries of the Doranians to design and build something that could be called a heavy tank. It was crude and primitive compared to most tanks of the Commonwealth, but at the same time they were effective. Most military strategists liked to compare the 'bricks' with the T-34.

After a moment of silent thought she pulled her M-44 closer to her and turned slightly to look towards the rest of her platoon, as they continued to march towards the next nav point of their combat patrol route. Than she breathed in deep and pinged at the com of Sergeant Miller, trying to pinpoint his current position.

'Implant operation will become normal for you, Lieutenant,' she heard her Training Commander say with a smirk.

That had been before they had gone to make her miserable for two weeks as she got used to the implants and the other modifications that came with Stage 2 implantation.

She pulled up a map and marked her position and that of Miller and her other scouts. A small package arrive and allowed her to pinpoint the position of the Doranian attack force and the relative strength.

While she had her own heavy weapons in her platoon, six bricks and a squad of heavy powered armor was a little too much for her to take on. Taking on what remained of them however...

"Gamma Six for Mulder Two Four," she said into a different com channel after pinging for the closest Mulder Unit.

"Two Four hears," came the reply.

"We got some bricks and heavies moving towards HQ. I wonder if you could soften them up for us to take down?"

She heard a low chuckle over the channel.

"We got nothing other to do, Gamma Six. Get us the position and we 'soften' them up a little."

She chuckled in return and pushed the package with the position and the relative strength over the com link.

"Have fun," she said with a chuckle." Gamma Six out."

"Well have that, Gamma Six. Mulder Two Four out."

Hotaru shook her head briefly.

"Whity," she called out through the still open channel to Miller." Heads down. You'll get a visit by Mulder."

"Oi!" was the reply and she could hear a somewhat mad shuffle. "We could take them without them."

She snorted.

"Let them have some fun to," she said." We'll mop up the rest."

"Than bring a really big bucket and mop, Big Dragon."

"Will do."

She chuckled again and turned towards the rest of her platoon.

"Okay, people, you heard it. We got some mop up duty..."

Overhead the heavily stealthed disk of Mulder Two Four streaked towards the position of the Doranian attack force.

The ASJ-3 'Mulder', was based on the very successful HSJ-3 Corbin and continued the line of the heavy airborne close combat gunships. Armed with a whole array of devastating weapons, raging from Plasma Gatlings to 105mm railguns, it spelled death to just about every ground unit it encountered.

Moving towards its target the gunners locked in on the bricks and heavies, before reaching their position and unleashing hell on the Doranians.

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He stopped and turned slightly towards the low stone guard rail and looked over the vast city that stretched below the Ziggurat. Many of the surrounding buildings the ancient building made from stone tried to reach its height, but none even came close.

And if they would have done so, the gods wouldn't look upon its builders in a positive light. The Ziggurat was over a kilometer in height however and so it was not very much of a problem to build high without building taller than the massive Ziggurat.

He breathed in and closed his eyes for a brief moment before his gaze went back over the vast city he had seen growing around the Ziggurat. He could still remember the times when the city had been small and his people simple farmers and herders.

Now the Ziggurat was one of the few buildings as ancient as him. In fact he had started building it with his own two hands, a humble servant of the Gods that guided him and his people into the future, back to the path among the stars where they had been cased away by an ancient evil.

More than two hundred Azakta had passed until the massive Ziggurat, the most holy place on the planet, had been finished. Untold masses of people had helped building it and it had been his first sign that he had been chosen by the Gods to guide his people back to the start. Having started to build the massive building and personally placing the last stone had been the first sign of his immortality.

Ages passed and he had managed to unite his people and they had thanked him by choosing them as their leader, be it in worldly or religious matters. And he had given his best to lead his people.

In the end he had lead them back to the stars, back to the place where they belonged.

Little had he known that the times after reaching back to the stars would become more complicated as they had ever been.

"Coatl?" he heard a familiar voice behind him.

"Come here, Netarl," he said without taking his eyes from the vast city shape and its air and ground traffic.

He had to chuckle slightly. How many of the leader of the times he had born in, many thousand Azakta ago, would have brashly ordered people around in his place.

From the corner of his eyes he saw how the current leader of the Quetzal military slithered up to him and coiled up his body to sit comfortably. Additional to the normal crossed belts over his chest he wore a single belt around his body, carrying a blaster and a short sword in it, while a number of golden trinkets showed his pride as a warrior.

"What can I do for you, Netarl?" he wondered and turned his head slightly to look into the battle hardened face of the warrior, noting the number of faint scars and the small patches where he had lost parts or all of his feathers.

"Forgive me Coatl," Netarl said and bowed slightly, causing him to chuckle lightly." But I have a question."

"We all have our questions," he answered still chuckling. How he liked to play the part of the old wise man, even if he didn't look a day older than being thirty Azakta old.

Netarl's facial scales changed their colors slightly and the feathers on his head pulled together slightly, as he breathed in deep.

The Coatl noted that Netarl seemed to become a female for the next Azakta, he certainly began to develop the characteristics for it.

"Why are you pushing the signature of the Carta of the Interstellar Commonwealth?"

The Coatl closed one eyes slightly as he looked at Netarl. Of course he was encouraging his people to question him and his decisions, but it surprised him anyway. He had thought that it would have become clear why he had decided like this.

"Do you remember when the Galaxy Police Officer dropped by?" he asked.

Netarl's feathers bristles and the tip of his long body shook slightly, making low rattle like sounds.

"How could I forget."

The Coatl nodded slightly and looked back at the vast city.

"Than you know that their ultimatum will end ten light cycles before the Azakta. Than they are going to blockade our worlds."

Netarl nodded.

"That will prevent any of our people from outside our planets to return home for the Azakta."

From the corner of his eye he could see how Netarl's facial scaled paled slightly.

"And you know how loose the Unions definitions of blockading planets is. They can change their blockade into a full invasion at any time."

Netarl paled further and than shook his head violently.

"They wouldn't," he said silently and looked at the Coatl, a several millenia old Quetzal.

"They would," he said and sighed, looking out at the vast city again before closing his eyes." Why do you think the Galactic Academy has visited our worlds during the last Azakta?"

"But they cannot..."

Netarl stopped himself.

The Coatl turned around to look at him. Netral was a warrior. For him it was hard to think outside of the bounds of honor and valor as he knew them. He, the Coatl, on the other hand had a long time to learn and he knew more about the nations outside of Quetzal space than most scholars. And he knew that the Union and many other races had other views of honor and valor.

"They can," he said and placed a hand on the warriors shoulder." And they will. They will invade us when our entire people is helpless in the ecstasy of the Azakta. I might be the only one who is not longer part of the Azakta, but I am still just a simple Quetzal like you are. I cannot do anything to prevent them from invading us when they chose to."

He sighed and let go of Netarls shoulder.

"We will share the fate of many other people who have become part of the Union. They will destroy our way of life. They will force us to deny and forget the Gods. They will make us into one of their drone nations, and if the Jurians to order us to bark, we will bark. We would forget the Great Evil and that we are part of the only line of defense against it."

Memories of an old vision, one he had gotten more than a thousand Azakta ago, flashed through his mind. The orange, yellow ships of the Great Evil were swooping at a massive fleet of space ships, numerous different classes of all sized, trying to destroy them and failing. Ships he know knew belonged to the Interstellar Commonwealth standing side by side with ships of the Quetzal in this fight.

He breathed in deep and closed his eyes for a moment.

"The Commonwealth will protect our very culture. We will continue to be our own people, preparing to meet the Great Evil. Just like they do."