Ares Chronicles: What Comes Before - Part XI: ...So Shall the Production of Body Bags

What Comes Before

Part XI: ...So Shall the Production of Body Bags

"Let them come to us," commanded the Obish admiral.

The Gaitori fleet continues their approach. Although both sides know that this Gaitori attack is more like a suicide run, even Obiards must admit to feeling slightly uneasy seeing an entire fleet of Gaitori warships charging full speed at them.

Hours before the battle, the Gaitori admiral Gourval received report that Obish forces launched a surprise attack against the Fulchreon System, cutting off his last route of retreat. If he attempts to retreat, he will probably be intercepted by the bulk of the Obish fleet and be destroyed.

Therefore instead of retreating, the admiral did the last thing he can think of. He charged toward the center of enemy lines, hoping to break through and buy more time for his people to evacuate.

To Admiral Gourval, surrender is not an option. He is too highly regarded within the Gaitori military. His surrender will be another in a series of surprising setbacks to his people.

"Haven't they been disappointed enough?" murmured the admiral.

Sure they have. At first, nobody expected the war to happen. Then when it occurred, the government promised a speedy peace resolution. When that appeared unlikely, the government promised swift victory. Now the war is in its third year and the Gaitori hears nothing but bad news. The entire 5th fleet, after being trapped by an Obish fleet which was later revealed to be smaller than estimated, surrendered without firing a shot. The evacuation of Grivton colony turned into a rout as enemy ships launched a surprise attack in the midst of the evacuation. Hundreds of transports carrying hundreds of thousands of refugees were destroyed. To the Gaitori people, this is not a war, it is a massacre, even a genocide.

And now this. Even when the admiral had made up his mind to go down fighting, he knew he was going down. During the past three years, he had come to respect his Obish adversaries. He learned through experience that they are cunning warriors, relentless in pursuing an advantage and vigorous in their defense. Their strategy for prosecuting the entire war, although formed at the last minute, was superbly designed and flawlessly executed. They can always exaggerate their strength when they have little while pouring massive resources in one surprise attack after another. They know their fleet is much smaller than their adversary therefore they learned how to use it more efficiently.

The past three years had been a nightmare for the Gaitori, perhaps even more horrific than any nightmare. Despite outnumbering the enemy and aided by the Ishimans, the Gaitori went on to suffer one dramatic setback after another. Ships surrendered in droves, colonies fell within hours of attack. Now the Obish had seized de facto control of the Free Trade Zone and had called for a conference for the revision of the Free Trade Zone Treaty. To add insult upon injury is that every party agreed to attend. The Elejeetians only wanted to keep the zone out of Cantharan hands. Therefore they regarded the Obish as a suitable replacement for the Gaitori as the new guardians of the zone. Even the Bazidanese agreed to attend while they are calling for a new peace conference. The Cantharans for whatever reasons also agreed to attend. Most humiliating of all, the Gaitori sponsor, the Ishimans, have also agreed to attend, signaling what might be the beginning of their withdrawal from the conflict.

Certainly the conflict is a serious humiliation for the Ishimans. Now they find themselves trapped in a quagmire. They cut off all contact with the Obiards because they felt betrayed. They fear that their withdrawal will merely facilitate Cantharan introduction into the zone. Yet their client, the Gaitori Union's performance had been less than stellar to say the least. Although Ishimans have been known to be loyal to their government, anti-government protests have sprung throughout the entire Protectorate. Their people protest what they regard as a massive waste of resources. Since the beginning of the war, the Ishimans transferred resources worth 70 billion credits to the Gaitori, to no avail. Ishiman Intelligence Services calculated that at least half of their aid usually end up captured by Obiards. Much of the rest is either squandered by mis-use or disappeared due to corruption.

Certainly the Obiards had been clever in their dealings with POWs from their former friend. Whenever they capture an Ishiman officer, they treat him well and release him to the Protectorate. As a result, even Ishiman officers had begun demanding that their government begin to negotiate with Obain regarding a peaceful end to the conflict.

The only peoples who get a big laugh out of the entire situation are probably the Cantharans and the Salrilians. The Cantharans see 3 potential adversaries at each other's throat. The Salrilians have cleverly manipulated the Ishimans to break with Obain. Then they helped engineer its victories. Now the Ishimans are caught in a carefully-laid Salrilian trap, facing humiliation at every turn. Both can see 3 potential adversaries wasting lives and resources battling each other rather than forming a united front against them. By the time this conflict ends, both would be well-positioned to pick up the pieces.

What could the Ishimans have done? Two of their clients are at war with one another. They wanted to end the war quickly. Yet Obish ambitions of replacing the Gaitori in the Free Trade Zone prolonged the conflict. Then they decided that aiding the Gaitori will prevent Obish triumph, forcing the Obish to settle the conflict. However, that strategy had been pursued for the past 3 years without success. The Ishiman government had been discredited in the eyes of their people and condemned by the Elejeetians. The Salrilians, without firing a shot, had successfully isolated the Ishimans, the Obish, the Gaitori and in effect the Elejeetians and the Bazidanese as well.

To Admiral Gourval, it is incredible how the Salrilians can so completely manipulate all the others so well. Now that everyone realized that this war was engineered in no small part by the Salrilians, none of them can see a way out! All of them intensely distrust their enemies and allies alike. No peace can survive this atmosphere of distrust. The Salrilians and the Cantharans have certainly been clever enough to officially remain neutral, thus allowing their adversaries enough breathing space to fight, but not enough to make peace with one another.

"We're like puppets, being manipulated by the Salrilian master to entertain his Cantharan guest," thought the admiral.

"Sir, we're entering optimum firing range." reported a lieutenant.

The admiral looked at the view screen again. Only 3 Obish Destroyers stand before him. But he knows that looks can be deceiving, considering that the Obish now possess Salrilian stealth technology. There could be 30 Obish cruisers surrounding them and they won't even know it until they dis-engage their stealth field. Furthermore, the admiral's fleet was already defeated at the Battle of Trianon. Although all 5 of his carriers survived, all of them are critically damaged. Most of his cruisers and gunships were either destroyed, captured, or severely damaged.

"Order all carriers, send out the fighters," commanded the admiral.

"Yes sir, dispatching orders," responded a lieutenant.

"Sir! Obish cruisers have dis-engaged from stealth mode and is now attacking our rear!"

"Sir, more Obish cruisers have dis-engaged from stealth mode and they're coming in. Our fighters are taking heavy losses."

"Incoming missile!"

Several explosions rocked the admiral's flagship. The flagship, already frail due to the Battle of Trianon, was soon reduced to a defenseless burning hulk. Enemy cruisers raced each other and maneuvered between Gaitori carriers, making Gaitori cruisers' aim even more difficult. The more maneuverable Obish cruisers took shots at the capital ships during their runs. Meanwhile, the Obish capital ships approach slowly, firing missiles pounding the carriers.

The explosive force from the last missile threw the admiral across the bridge. By the time he regained consciousness, he took a look around.

There was nobody left alive.

A meter or two besides him is the severed head of the captain. Instinctively, he looked back and saw the rest of the body and the piece of shrapnel that cleanly detached the head from the body.

The admiral attempted to stand. Then he realized that his legs are probably broken. He crawled to a command station to reactivate the view screen.

The image is that of the 3 Obish destroyers, right in front of his fleet, as if defying it to open fire again. The admiral cursed the destroyers and pressed down the firing button.

Nothing happened.

That was when the admiral noticed on a display console that his ship's concussive pellet gun was destroyed during battle. He also noticed that the missile tube was jammed.

Then the admiral started to notice that many of the white dots that he took as debris from his fleet are moving towards his ship in a slow but steady pace.

"Marines," thought the admiral.

There is nothing more for him to do.

"Computer, activate self-destruct sequence. Authorization Lu-koch-cha."

No answer.

"Computer. Computer?"

No answer.

The admiral looked down for his side arm. It was not there. Then he located it. When he was thrown across the bridge, his side arm fell out.

It was a painful 5 meters as the admiral struggled to cross that vast distance using his arms across a forest of debris.

But he managed to reach it. With a sigh of relief, the admiral picked up the weapon, closed his eyes, and pointed it at his head.

That was when a strong hand seized his arm and took his salvation from him.

The admiral opened his eyes and saw the face of a young Obish officer.

The admiral sighed and gave up. The incredible strength that he managed to gather to cross that 5 meters of debris is now completely drained from him. What is there left to do if you struggle so hard to maintain the dignity of your race only to have your efforts blocked by Fate? The admiral's only remaining thought was:

"Of all the things that won't work, the only thing that works is the sliding door!"

"Our colony on Menias III is under assault by Obish forces and requests reinforcements."

"That's impossible," said the Ishiman adviser. "The Menias System is surrounded by territory conquered by the Obiards. The planet itself is under orbital bombardment. Reinforcements will never be able to reach them."

The Gaitori vice-admiral reluctantly nodded. The Gaitori commander continued:

"Our last transmission from Admiral Gourval is one requesting assistance."

"That's also impossible. Admiral Gourval's fleet is hopeless. Since the Obiards seized Fulchreon, I recommend that we begin the evacuation of the Zenider Outpost, the Varmon colony, the Chelavisk Station, and the-"

The Gaitori commander had enough.

"Why don't we just surrender?"

The Ishiman commander cast him an eye full of scorn. After working months with the Gaitori, he also had enough.

"Perhaps if your soldiers aren't so incompetent, then we won't have to discuss that."

The Gaitori commander suddenly stood up.

"If you hate us so much, why don't you go and work for the Obiards?"

The Ishiman adviser replied coldly:

"I can assure you that my assignment here is not my first choice."

That was when the Gaitori vice-admiral realized that blood could be spilled if he doesn't say something.

"That's enough. Now, we all had a long day. Why don't we all turn in early today and get up half an hour earlier tomorrow for a fresh start?"

The Gaitori commander stared at the Ishiman adviser for another second or two before he finally saluted the vice-admiral and withdrew. The Ishiman adviser also saluted the vice-admiral and withdrew.

As he walked out of the Gaitori Naval Headquarters, he saw his aides waiting for him.

"How was it?" one of them asked.

He shook his head.

"It seems as if things can never get better."

"Things can't get any better!" said Admiral Mek Het.

The Cantharan Supreme Council is currently hearing a report regarding the Gaitori-Obish War.

"Despite massive Ishiman aid," continued the admiral, "they still cannot remedy Gaitori incompetence. Meanwhile, the Obiards continue to press forward their advantage. The Free Trade Zone Treaty Revision Conference that is scheduled to begin 13 days from now will no doubt see them pressing themselves as the candidate for control of the zone."

"That is where we come in," continued the Salrilian ambassador. "The Order will back the Gaitori while we will press the Obiards for conceding their position. In effect, the conference that they opened to unseat the Gaitori will be turned into a conference that will confirm the Gaitori."

"How will the others respond?" asked a councilman.

"How can they respond? The treaty won't be revised in any way so the Elejeetians and the Bazidanese can't complain. The Ishimans and the Gaitori can't complain either. And certainly we're not going to complain to ourselves." responded the admiral.

"Mr. Ambassador, are you so certain that the Obiards will comply?" asked another councilman.

"Actually, they most likely will not. But that simply suits us best. Once they reject our proposal, the conference will die. We will sever our supplies to the Obiards and transfer them to the Gaitori instead. Even those incompetent fools should be able to win once the full force of supplies from the Ishimans, the Order, and us start pouring in." replied the ambassador.

"Are you sure that the Ishimans will continue to supply the Gaitori once they see us start supplying them?" asked another councilman.

"They'll probably sever them immediately," replied the admiral. "But that suits us just fine. As a result, we become their principal supplier. They will have to listen to us. Then we will be able to turn the next conference into our favor."

A councilman laughed:

"It seems that whatever the Ishimans do, we can always trap them in the most undesirable positions."

"That's what we do best," replied the ambassador solemnly.

If the Obish and Gaitori soldiers on the front lines have a chance to come to the latest Free Trade Zone Treaty Revision Conference, the experience might cause them to question their causes. Indeed, the experience will be surreal. While million of Gaitori starved due to Obish blockade, the diplomatic dinners remain as bountiful as ever, with delicacies thrown away after a single bite. While countless soldiers on both sides struggle with steaming heat or bitter cold, the diplomats barely notice the air conditioning, so well was it programmed. The beautiful lighting, the extravagant dresses and uniforms of diplomats and waiters alike, and the smiles all serve to create a picture of harmony. Indeed, the conference seems to rest in an entirely different reality. So many foreign dignitaries have descended upon the conference. They form such a contrast to the soldiers of the front lines. The clean v. the dirty, the healthy v. the sick, the smiles and laughter v. the doom and gloom. If a soldier from the frontlines sees this conference, the experience will most likely cause a mental breakdown as he no doubt will be unable to reconcile the stark contrasts.

Perhaps the most relaxed is the Cantharan delegation, whose representatives cannot cease making jokes to entertain whoever they come across. On the other hand, the Obish delegation is solemn. They have a hard task ahead of them. As one can imagine, the Ishiman and Gaitori delegations have the least cause to celebrate. As usual, the Salrilians and the Audemedons declined to attend.

Although the Obish-Gaitori War seems to last with no end in sight, Obish gains remain impressive. Due to Ishiman assistance, the Gaitori managed to slow down the Obish offensive, but not end it. Although the Battle of Gaitor resulted in a Gaitori victory, the Gaitori homeworld still lies too close to the frontlines, exposing the capital to occassional raids.

One-third of the entire Union has now fallen into Obish hands. Supplied with war materiel and accurate predictions and intelligence from the Salrilians, the Obiards scored one victory after another. Their successes on the battlefield explains why they are the center of attention, surrounded by Elejeetian and Bazidanese delegations. The Elejeetians certainly hope that their links with the Salrilians are ephemeral and that those links will be broken if the Elejeetians can assist the Obiards in gaining control over the Free Trade Zone. Even the Bazidanese seems interested at a replacement for the Gaitori.

After the welcoming dinner where plates are piled high with delicacies and glasses are dutifully filled with the finest wines by waiters, the delegates withdrew to a small room for the beginning of the conference. As per custom, the senior Bazidanese also serves as the conference chairman stood up and addressed this conference of notables:

"My fellow colleagues, welcome to the Twenty-Seventh Free Trade Zone Treaty Revision Conference. Like the first conference that established the Free Trade Zone, we again stand at the threshold of history. Facing us is a tide of change that cannot be ignored.

Of the past 26 conferences, only 4 of them produced unanimous resolutions. It is my hope that this conference will be among the more productive ones.

As usual, we invited the Salrilians and the Audemedon Axis to attend. Unfortunately, as usual, they declined the invitation.

Nevertheless, we have critical issues that need to be resolved.

Seeing so many of my colleagues gathered under the same ceiling, I can't help but recall the very first conference that created the Free Trade Zone. In that initial conference, the parties acknowledged that to facilitate trade between all of them, they need to designate a region of space where trade will be conducted unhindered by governments, where taxes and customs duties and inspectors will not interfere the spirit of exchange that is so rich within all of our cultures.

After many days of intense negotiations and years of preliminary negotiations that laid the groundwork, the conference produced the Free Trade Zone Treaty that was eventually signed and ratified by all parties. It still stands today as the treaty of which the greatest number of the great powers can agree on.

In that treaty includes meticulous details but also broad principles. The maps were drawn and redrawn countless times in order to create the current boundaries for the Free Trade Zone. Diplomats negotiated regardless of day or night in order to work out their differences. Some of those differences were never resolved. But all parties did agree to disagree amicably on certain issues.

In that initial treaty, it was agreed upon by the great powers that the zone will be patroled by the Gaitori while the Bazidanese had the honor of administering many of the territories within the zone.

Today, many of those basic principles have been called into question due to changes in circumstances that were not foreseen. The Cantharan Order, for the first time in its history, directly borders the Free Trade Zone and became a signatory of the treaty at the 25th conference. The Cantharan Supreme Council ratified the treaty shortly thereafter.

It is sad to note that the Gaitori Union and Obain are currently embroiled in a devastating war that had already claimed the lives of 13 million. We can only hope for a speedy resolution of that conflict.

In the mean time, the Obish government formally called this conference regarding its proposal to replace the Gaitori as the new guardians of the security of the zone. We gather here today to discuss the Obish proposal.

I hope all of us will abide by the spirit of past conferences, that we should think about others as well as ourselves when we negotiate in good faith. That we reaffirm the principles of open and secure trade in the zone.

I hope this conference will be as fruitful as that first conference in reaffirming those principles. Details may change, but those principles must stay the same."

The conclusion of the opening speech met with enthusiastic applause from some and courteous applause from others. When the applause abated, the chairman continued:

"Now, as per the custom of past conferences, I would like to ask the Obish delegation to address the conference as the one who called the conference."

The senior Obish delegate stood up and began:

"My fellow colleagues, we gather here today for momentous change because momentous changes have occurred that require a revision to the treaty. Some of the reivions will be revolutionary and will affect generations to come.

By now, all of you have reviewed our proposal. Therefore I willl be brief in presenting it.

It is our contention, that the Gaitori Union is failing to serve as an effective sentry for the zone and that a new sentry should be selected. Obain would like to volunteer for that task.

I trust I need not serve evidence of Gaitori failure. The recent defeats they suffered at our hands are ample evidence why they should be replaced.

The Gaitori navy, as you'll note, I use the term loosely, has become a laughing stock. A joke for comedians and commoners alike. Not only is its lack of effectiveness legendary by now, but its discipline had also broken down. There are numerous reporte filed by independent traders from all parties indicating that many Gaitori captains have resorted to piracy. How many of us in this room can, in the spirit of honesty, say that the Gaitori should remain the sentry of the Free Trade Zone?

Again, I must remind all of you that the changes we make will affect generations to come. I trust all of you to make the right decisions."

As the Obish senior representative sat down, the chairman said:

"Mr. Zengren, as the senior representative of the Gaitori delegation and as the party directly affected by the Obish proposal, you will now have the floor,"

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman," said the Gaitori representative as he stood from his seat holding a pad.

"This pad contains the Obish proposal that the former speaker had correctly assumed that we have all reviewed. This is what I think of it."

With those words, he dropped the pad onto the floor then proceeded to step on it and then spat on it. There were a few murmurs in the room.

"In short, I don't think much of it.

My fellow delegates, the chairman was right when he said that we stand at the threshold of history. But this is not a threshold that requires change. This is a threshold that requires the reaffirmation of the treaty. If we make revisions, as the Obiards hopes, what message will this send to future generations? The message will be this: That force can be used to revise the treaty. Are we about to affirm the principles of force and repudiate the principles of peace? My fellow delegates, I need not remind you that the original spirit of the treaty was not one of war and coercion but peace and cooperation.

My fellow delegates, the affirmation of the principles of peace in the original treaty created impressive results. Until now, no great power had ever gone to war against one another. The principles of practicality tell us that we have too much to lose through conflict. The principles of peace tell us that we have a lot to gain from cooperation. It is unfortunate that Obain decided to reject the principles of practicality and peace in favor of barbarism. The current conflict threatens to setback both of our cultures for decades to come.

To revise the treaty at this point is ill-advised. I regret to inform this conference, that my government will never accept any revisions..."

Mr. Zengren paused for a moment to gain attention before he continued:

"...whether or not they have been endorsed by the conference of parties."

Those words sent out a shockwave throughout the entire room.

"Yes, we all know what those words mean. The Gaitori Union will unilaterally withdraw from the treaty if the Obish proposal is adopted. We will not recognize the Obish revisions."

The Gaitori representative sat down while the delegates exchanged comments. Truly, what had just transpired was unexpected even by the Obiards. Withdrawal from the treaty means that the Union will not be allowed to conduct trade in the zone. That will have incalculable consequences on an already-besieged Gaitori economy. It will also have the effect of further isolating the Gaitori from the rest of the galaxy.

After the beginning of the war, the Gaitori population turned decisively xenophobic, giving great power and credibility to the Gaitori Isolationists. After the transition of power, the Gaitori Isolationist Party soon became the dominant party, with the other parties scrambling to adopt xenophobic positions in order to maintain their presence in the parliament. Withdrawing from the treaty will mean undoing what several past Gaitori generations have labored for. They envisioned a Union as an equal to the other great powers, fully participating in galactic affairs. Now, the challenges of the present threatens to undo all of their accomplishments.

The Ishiman representative motioned for a brief recess. Seeing no objections, the chairman declared a brief recess.

The representatives left the room, discussing what had just transpired. As the Elejeetian representative left for the hall, he noticed that there was another Elejeetian standing there who was not part of his delegation. Once that Elejeetian sees the representative, he quickly came up to the representative and said:

"I am a special courier sent from Elejee. Here are my credentials."

After they have been ratified, the representative asked:

"Do you have a message for me?"

"Yes, sir." The courier then lowered his voice:

"Our long range hyperspace sensors have picked up a large group of ships heading towards the Elejeetian border. They will cross into Elejeetian territory in 51 hours."

"What kind of ships?"

"A fleet of Cantharan, Salrilian, and Audemedon warships."

-htjyang: not the imposter.

Exciting, isn't it?

Note to moderators: Apparently, someone decided to register my name again. I must admit to being quite amused. I've heard of a Star Trek fan who legally changed his name to "James T. Kirk." But as someone who seldom indulge in egotistical fantasies, I must say that I am flattered by whoever decided to register my new name.

In any case, I trust you can all see my latest name change. Whoever thinks that s/he can either usurp my name or force me to register has another think coming. I can think up of tens of thousands of different combinations using Roman and Arabic numerals. Good luck to my imposter(s).

I took the liberty of using Andrew Welch's "more neat new web board additions" and discovered that my latest imposter has the following e-mail address: your_ideas@are.dangerous

Needless to say, unfortunately, many of us are familiar with this line.


Originally posted by htjyang:not the imposter:
**I took the liberty of using Andrew Welch's "more neat new web board additions" and discovered that my latest imposter has the following e-mail address: your_ideas@are.dangerous

Needless to say, unfortunately, many of us are familiar with this line.**

So it was yet another childish act of OctoberFost. At least he's consistant...

Actually, this could get him banned if you want...

Throughout their history these "unenlightened" beings have continually opposed and fought abuses of power wrought by their own bretheren. We, as the prophets would do well to learn from these Humans.
-Final statement of the Salrilian reformist Sirthis shortly before his execution.


Originally posted by Sargatanus:
** So it was yet another childish act of OctoberFost. At least he's consistant...

Actually, this could get him banned if you want...


While far from being a fan of OctoberFost, I don't think there's enough evidence to convict him. As far as we know, this imposter may be doing this just to elicit this response from the moderators.

I sincerely doubt that there's an imposter that A) is bored enough to go galavanting around a web board registering names for unregistered people, 🆒 has done enough research to know which board members are unregistered, and C) has done enough research to know who the original MotherLove was. Add it up, and there dosen't seem to be any reason for this to be the work of anyone but OctoberFost.


Originally posted by Sargatanus:
I sincerely doubt that there's an imposter that A) is bored enough to go galavanting around a web board registering names for unregistered people,🆒 has done enough research to know which board members are unregistered, and C) has done enough research to know who the original MotherLove was. Add it up, and there dosen't seem to be any reason for this to be the work of anyone but OctoberFost.

It doesn't have to be a troll. It can be someone who has been lurking on these boards for a long time. It can even be a long time resident of these boards in disguise. The fact remains that there is insufficient conclusive evidence to point OctoberFost's direction. If I can think of something like this, I'm sure many other people can as well. I think we can both agree that many people will not regret the departure of OctoberFost. Some of them may decide to do something to expedite his departure.

I agree it's highly unlikely. But as long as the possibility remains, I don't think we should act rashly.

Wow. I read it from the very start. Very gripping 😉 Can't wait for the next chapter...

my eyes hurt though....


(quote)Originally posted by v_adryan:
**Wow. I read it from the very start. Very gripping:)

Since the upcoming Part XIV is the longest part in the entire story and since the upcoming Part XV is the 3rd longest part in the entire story, might I recommend an eye care specialist? 🙂