Ares Chronicles: What Comes Before - Part IX: Outbreak of Madness

What Comes Before

Part IX: Outbreak of Madness

"...While the Free Trade Zone issue remains unresolved, our military must be kept in prime condition in preparation for the imminent attack. The assistance from our Ishiman friends will make sure that we will be ready to defend ourselves should the Cantharans seek to begin a conflict in the zone."

General Kramden's speech was met with enthusiastic applause, even standing ovation by many members of the Obish National Senate. With the lime light focused on the general, he maintained a smile while bowing to the senators in appreciation of their support. It took a full two minutes before the applause finally ceased.

"General, what is your assessment of Cantharan strength?" asked a senator.

"The Cantharans field 9 million ground troops. However, of this number, only 300,000 can be mobilized within a day. In contrast, we can mobilize 450,000 within one day. The numerical superiority of the Cantharans is further mitigated by the fact that at least half of them are used to maintain internal order. Although Cantharan troops have been scoring a series of victories, prolonged use of their military forces have begun to create fatigue throughout their ranks. In contrast, our fresh troops are eager. They recognize the historic opportunity at hand. With additional training, it is not presumptuous to predict that they will serve as a formidable defense for Obain. Cantharan troops are in general better equipped. That is why Ishiman aid is so essential to us."

"General, the recent proposal by the Ishiman ambassador of a strategic defense partnership with the Gaitori, what is your view of this proposal?" asked another senator.

"Senator, it is clear to us all that the Ishiman plan for a defense against the Cantharans involves a role for the Gaitori as well. I can only wish that Ishiman faith in the Gaitori is well-founded because personally, I have little faith in them. Their technology is antiquated, their government corrupt, and their ships outdated.

Perhaps even more seriously is the state of Gaitori military personnel. Their troops are seriously demoralized due to infrequent pay. Inadequate training has also further degraded the effectiveness of Gaitori troops. There are frequent reports of minor revolts staged by their military personnel. I have already mentioned corruption. According to data released by the Gaitori government and data collected by the Ishiman Intelligence Services and the OIA, we were able to conclude that of the 2 million Gaitori troops officially in service, only 1.8 million are actually present. The salaries for the missing 200,000 has gone to corrupt Gaitori generals and politicians. One can only imagine the demoralizing effect this can have on overall troop morale. Our studies indicate that the Gaitori can mobilize no more than 50,000 troops within a day in a time of emergency.

Therefore, to answer your question, senator, I do not believe that the strategic defense partnership idea is good for us. Personally, I would recommend that the Ishimans concentrate their resources on further developing Obish defenses. We believe that Obain is a more suitable candidate for the defense and maintenance of the integrity of the Free Trade Zone Treaty."

"General, you have already informed the senate regarding the comparative strengths of the Cantharan and our armies. But you failed to mention the comparative strengths of our respective navies. Can you please shed some light on the situation?" asked another senator.

"Unfortunately, our navy is still relatively young and thus limited in size. Currently we possess 147 cruisers. Cantharan navy is estimated to posses at least 43 carriers, 239 gunships, and an assortment of other military vessels. The numbers for their cruisers and heavy cruisers are highly unreliable since Cantharans have the standard practice of hiding their ships in stealth mode even during times of peace. Ishiman intelligence estimates that the Cantharans currently have 3 shipyards dedicated to the construction of their carriers and is building a fourth for that purpose. In addition, the Cantharans also have 37 other shipyards building naval vessels of all types.

In contrast, the state of our navy is in dire situation. Our capital ship design is still on the drawing board. We only possess 11 shipyards producing military vessels. The Ishimans are helping us to construct another one within their own territory. Even so, the gap in naval vessels is expected to widen in the coming years.

However, this is not to suggest that our troops will be grounded due to the weakness in our naval strength should conflict arise. With the senate's permission, I would like to brief members on our current cooperation with the Ishimans in developing a war time strategy."

The general waited. The senators remained silent, giving him consent to brief the senate on the strategic naval war time plan. The general resumed:

"Our strategic naval war time plan, which has been in development for the past 6 months, is as follows:

In time of war, our likeliest adversary will be the Order. The Ishimans believe that the Cantharans will proceed to first declare a naval blockade around Obain. A large portion of their cruisers and heavy cruisers will be used to enforce the blockade. A smaller portion of their cruisers and heavy cruisers will be dispatched to disrupt internal trade by attacking our commercial ships. Their stealth capability will make them deadly as commerce raiders.

At the same time, the Cantharan navy will be dispatching fleets to attack our naval bases and shipyards, attempting to engage and destroy our navy. The Cantharan objective will be trying to seize supremacy over our space, thus grounding our troops. Then they will transport their troops to attack our colonies.

To counter this strategy, and bearing in mind of the disproportionate strength of the Cantharan navy, we have designed the following strategy to counter Cantharan strategy:

Instead of attempting to engage Cantharan fleets, our navy will be split up into indepedent units consisting of 3 or 4 cruisers per unit. Half of these units will be dispatched into Cantharan territory itself to attack Cantharan convoys to disrupt their flow of supplies to their frontline troops and raid their outposts causing panic among their civilian population, forcing the Cantharans to divert part of their naval resources back to their home front. The rest of the units will operate within our territory, harassing Cantharan ships, and escorting independent trade vessels to Obish colonies. We believe that the formation of convoys is impractical considering the strength of the Cantharan navy. Using this "guerilla navy" strategy, we can guarantee the constant flow of supplies into Obain. Obish space is still too vast for the Cantharan navy to create a solid blockade and it is very likely that independent traders, after being promised high rewards, will be willing to transport supplies to us.

The Ishimans promised us that in time of war, we will be able to gain access to their supplies using credit only. In addition, the Ishimans are willing to purchase supplies for us although they continue to refuse to carry those supplies to us."

"Is it reasonable to assume that there will be enough independent captains who are willing to risk their lives to transport war materiel to us?" asked another senator.

"Mr. Senator, according to analyses, we believe that there is a strong tide of discontent running within the Bazidanese Star League, the Ishiman Stellar Protectorate, the Gaitori Union, and the Elejeetian Empire regarding Cantharan aggressions. We believe..."

The senators left the meeting hall. The entire procceeding took approximately 2 hours. For General Kramden, it was an exhausting experience. To stand behind a podium and speak for 2 hours answering questions from senators is not what he signed up for when he first enlisted.

Two of his aids approached him. As he saw them coming, he let off a tired smile and said:

"Every time when I get up here, I end up feeling like I just got through a war."

"In a sense, sir, you probably did."

"In that case, get me some water."

The aid dutifully obliged. As he went looking for a water pitcher, the other aid commented:

"I thought their reaction was fine."

The general nodded. The other aid returned with a water pitcher. He poured the contents into the general's glass. The general drank the entire glass in one gulp. Then he looked around. The Senate chamber is empty now.

"Now I feel so tired as if I need to be carried home."

"Perhaps we can ask the shuttle to land through the roof."

All three laughed. Then they left the Senate chamber. As the general was walking onboard his shuttle, he turned and looked back at the Senate building. It is a proud and ancient building. The Obish Senate had been operating for nearly 2,000 years continuously. Despite war, riots, fire, and some violent storms over the last 2 millenia, the building still stood, defying all of its challengers.

"We have to make sure that it survives the next 2 millenia," murmured the general.

The aids and the general boarded the shuttle. Once the door was secured, the shuttle took off. The general closed his eyes for some rest. A while later, one of the aids asked in a whisper:

"General, when do you think is the best time for us to tell them about our Salrilian contacts?"

"Not for a while," said the general, "not for a while. At least not to that crowd."

"Frankly sir," continued the aid. "I am a bit uneasy about us keeping the Senate in the dark about this. If you think that a large audience is problematic, what about the Select Committee? They've been known to keep a secret."

The general shook his head.

"Chairman Poderen is well known for his Ishiman leanings. You can be sure that if he knows, the Ishimans will know."

The general suddenly opened his eyes and looked out the window. It was in the late afternoon and the Obish capital sparkles under the afternoon sun. Despite their high elevation, the general still managed to make out small figures on the streets.

"Look at these people. We sure are hard-working, aren't we?"

"Yes sir, we are."

"Our figures on Ishiman aid is far too imprecise. We need to improve our accuracy. We can't operate on estimates."

"I am aware of the difficulty. However, the Ishimans have become more and more creative in hiding their aid numbers in their budget. Our reconnaisance in Obish and Gaitori territories are far too limited."

"If you have a suggestion, I'm sure we're all very interested."

"Indeed I do. My suggestion is this: Since we are not at war, I suggest that we dispatch the bulk of our cruisers and gunships, even our transports if we have to. In short, send all the stealth-capable ships we can spare. Have each one assigned to every single planet, base, outpost, and station the Gaitori, the Ishiman, and the Obish possess. I am talking about an intelligence operation utilizing the bulk of our navy. Fill their territory with Salrilian ships. Have a cruiser looking over the shoulders of each of their convoys. Let them not cut a blade of grass that we don't know about. Put all of them under a gigantic microscope."

"Intriguing proposal. What does the MIlitary Directorate has to say?"

"I agree, intriguing proposal. However, this kind of operation must be planned meticulously. What are our chances that we won't be detected?"

"I've already consulted the Oracle Committee. We have a 99.86% chance of not being detected."

"Good. Then I say that the Military and Intelligence Directorates will work out the details. The bulk of our navy will be placed under the disposal of the Intelligence Directorate until the completion of the operation. This meeting of the Steering Committee is adjourned."

"Look how trade and the open access policies our government has championed has transformed the Gaitori soul. We have become a selfish, petty, lazy, arrogant people with too little soul and not nearly enough free will. Foreign ideas, philosophy, technology, art, literature, music, and architecture has begun to displace our own. In a few more years under this 'open access' program, our culture will be completely unrecognizable, replaced by an odd mixture of foreign cultures that is neither our own nor anyone else's. We have become the laughing stock of the galaxy, with no unique soul, no unique identity. Our children can remember foreign lyrics much better than they can remember our national anthem. Our children has adopted foreign value systems. They have begun to make jokes out of our ancestors and have begun to admire foreign leaders.

If the other countries, the so-called 'friends,' wish to conquer us, they no longer need to fire a shot. They can use their culture to assimilate us. We have become their cultural outpost. We have become a cultural importer, not an exporter.

This trend needs to be reversed for the sake of all of our souls. The Gaitori soul is crying out for help. It is limping along, begging for a kind Gaitori to restore it to its rightful place, within our hearts and minds. Our current generation faces a threat like no other. We must be strong. We must be willing to expel these foriegn ideas, these foreign peoples. We must be able to stand against the modern trend because the modern trend will lead to the destruction of the Gaitori soul."

Such was MP Serneyus, the party leader of the Gaitori Isolationist Party's speech to the Gaitori Parliament that was broadcasted throughout Gaitori territories and heard by billions.

The Gaitori Isolationist Party (GIP) has won 35% of the popular vote, becoming the largest party in Parliament, almost guaranteeing it a place in the ruling coalition. Ironically, the Progressive Party after championing the merits of its "Open Access Program" and has ruled the Union ever since the Gaitori first contact with an alien race, had gradually seen its base eroded. Divided by internal division and humiliated by corruption scandals, the ruling party was forced to create a coalition less than 15 years ago when it, for the first time in the party's illustrious history, failed to win a majority of the Parliament's seats. Now its greatest antagonist within the Parliament, the GIP, had seized the plurality. With the asssitance of four or five other right-wing parties, the GIP could conceivably rule the Union with a right-wing coalition. The Progressive Party has been reduced to 29%.

It is under this back drop of uncertainty that the Gaitori Prime Minister visited the Cantharan Embassy and it is to his complete surprise that he found Admiral Mek Het, Chief Strategist of the Cantharan Order in the embassy.

How the most illustrious member of the Cantharan Order managed to enter the Union without anyone knowing about it is beyond the prime minister. Nevertheless, he is glad to see the admiral because he talked with the admiral on several occassions before and he is certain that the admiral will be receptive to his drastic plan.

"Immediately after their electoral victory, there are increased reports of members of the GIP attacking foreigners. The extremists within the GIP even advocate the expulsion of all foreigners upon forming a government!"

"Yes, I must agree that the situation is most distressing," replied the admiral in a leisurely tone. Then he took a sip from his tea glass before saying:

"What I don't understand is why you have come to us?"

The prime minister looked around, the only people in the room are the Cantharan ambassador, the admiral, and himself. Even so, the prime minister answered in a whisper:

"I have a plan to prevent them from controlling the government."

"Which parties do you have in mind?" asked the admiral.

"No, I'm not talking about a coalition. Rather, I'm talking about preventing the next Parliament from opening."

"How can that be accomplished?"

"What I propose, is that I can persuade members of my coalition to propose an emergency measure that we can ram through the Parliament while we're still in control. After it is passed, I will place the country under martial law, suspend the constitution, the Parliament, and the Supreme Council of Justice."

"Surely you can't be serious!" exclaimed the admiral, feigning surprise.

"I am completely serious. I cannot allow this country to fall into the hands of extremists. I refuse to see what we have accomplished over the past centuries nullified just because segments of our population can't think straight."

"But surely this measure will need the support of your armed forces."

The prime minister smiled.

"Yes, I know. That is why I have already begun to put our trusted people in key positions several months ago. The bulk of the military is still undecided. But I've been assured that when the time comes, our forces will be able to control the homeworld and other important colonies and outposts."

"Well, it seems that you have everything under control. So I must ask you again, why are you informing us of this important plan? Aren't you afraid that we might announce it to the public and turn the public against you?"

The prime minister laughed.

"Admiral, I've worked with you before. You detest the Isolationists as much as I do. The last thing you'd do is to help them. The reason why I came to you is because I need your support."

"How can I give you support without further convincing the population of the GIP's rhetoric?"

"I need you to recognize our actions and to convince others in doing so as well. At the very least, convince others to stay neutral. Without foreign support, any resistence will collapse."

"This I do gladly," replied the admiral with a smile. "Besides, it is not a difficult task. It does not go against my conscience and I doubt there will be many who are pleased to see the GIP control the Union."

"Thank you, admiral," said the prime minister. As he stood up to leave, the admiral also stood up. The prime minister held the admiral's hands tightly.

"Now, I'm finally convinced that our plan will succeed."

After the ambassador escorted the prime minister to board his shuttle, the admiral heard a noice behind him. He turned. It was his Salrilian adviser.

"As you can hear, everything has gone according to our expectations," said the admiral.

The adviser nodded.

- htjyang: not the imposter

You aren't Admiral Grammaticus in disguise, are you?

Of course not. You'd think that he has better things to do (such as working on Hera) than writing this stuff.