(This is a story not in the Ares universe, but the SETR universe. SETR was a plugin that I once undertook, and while never finished, yielded a somewhat complex storyline. (SETR = Star's End: The Raiders).)
1: The Triumvirate
The meeting would have to be undertaken in the most secret of circumstances. It must not be heard of, thought of, or known of by any of the presidential staff. Even the president himself must remain in the dark.
The people in this meeting were: Director DuPont, Director Murda, and Director Naccali. They were the overlords of their respective stations, Jupiter Command, the governing body of the Earth Sol military, Neptune Command, intelligence agency, and Mercury Command, police.
They had come to discuss the future of the Earth-Sol Federation.
They were all of them very different when it came to their personality and goals. DuPont fancied himself as a stalwart and apt military leader, but knew that his days of command were coming to an end. He hoped for some political aspirations beyond that, perhaps even the presidency. Murda was comparatively young. She was an up-and-coming military genius whose rise through the ranks was nothing short of conspicu0us. She owed it all to her sound judgement. Naccali, by contrast with the 2 of them, had no ambition. He did not seem old, or young, but weary, and carried a scar which ran down the right half of his face. His aim was solely to restore the justice and equality of the Federation, which he believed had been lost.
'So now we have spoken at length as to our views, would you mind enlightening us as to yours?' Director DuPont said to Murda.
She had remained relatively quiet throughout the meeting. In turn, the others had stood up and spoke about what they thought the future of the Federation held, and what they should do about it. DuPont spoke of war. He said it was inevitable, and they might as well plan for it. The return of a strong Cossack leadership inevitable as well, and they might as well plan for that too. He said that with a pro-military government, the ESF might be able to expand into Union space. And if they did not strike out and find new resources soon, the economy would stagnate and the supply of raw materials would dry up. Then they would be dominated without a chance.
Then Naccali got up and spoke about what the democracy of the ESF meant to him. He said that when he was young, he had been taught about the 4 virtues of the ESF over the Union of Worlds. That he no longer believed that was true. He hoped to help restore, with strong political clout, the government of the old ESF. He cited the general unhappiness of the people, the huge gap between the rich and poor, and the technological stagnation during the past century. If these were not remedied, they would experience defeat, but from an enemy much closer to home.
Then it was Director Murda's turn. She stood up.
'Colleagues, I organised this meeting to listen to your views. Now I will present mine.
Naccali, your reforms may do some good, but each one will be extremely difficult. Your opponents are very well entrenched in their positions, and you on the other hand have almost no political experience. You arose to your post through merit, but the basis for that merit can be re-judged. You will almost certainly lose your command if you attempt this.
Also, the disorders with our government arose out of a natural progression of this government and it's people. To prevent the government from acquiring disorders you must enforce a different mind-set or go through constant purging. Some of our problems arise through lack of resources. Now I will speak of that.
Admiral DuPont, this would be the main reason for a war with the Union. We of the ESF are on the top of Orion's arm, and our good neighbours the Union are at the bottom. To reach new resources, we must go through them. We have existed in roughly the same state as now for several centuries. Eventually a conflict will be forced, and at that time, the Union will have superior ship power, manpower and will outproduce us. The ITA and mining corporations feel very strongly about this. If you attempt to do this, your political road will be easy, and you will receive strong backing all the way.
But please, take the time to learn the lessons from previous wars. We were in a better position to do this during this 70 years ago, during the Border War. The Union's fleets were smashed, but remember our inability to dominate in a far-flung sector. Think how difficult our task will be now, when we must occupy a volume of space almost equal to our own. The Union has had many years to colonise and an unlimited pool of wealth. We do not know where all theirs systems are, they know all of ours. It would also drastically accelerate the drain on our resources. Future generations will pay the price for your audacity.'
Each in turn listened to what she had said. Naccali nodded at the beginning, but he was clenching his fists at the end. DuPont didn't smile during the whole procede, but at the end, his moustache drooped.
'Be it so. What are your views on the future?' Said DuPont.
'Yes. After that, I think I'm quite interested into what you have to say.' Said Naccali.
'I have nothing to say.' She replied.
'What?' Admiral DuPont was annoyed by this. After listening to her rant, he atleast expected some kind of contribution. Naccali was also annoyed.
'But Murda, remember, we agreed all of us to come here and discuss this. You mean have absolutely nothing to say?'
'That's right. I'm sorry, but you all spoke of a dilemma and a way out of it. I cannot find a way out of my dilemma.'
DuPont could see.
'You mean, you have absolutely no reason to think the ESF can survive?' He asked with an air of disbelief.
'That's correct.' She showed no expression at the terrible judgement passed on the teeming hordes of humanity.
Naccali moved an inch backward in his seat, recoiling from this terrible news.
'The ESF is doomed to fail no matter what we do. We can all fight in our own ways, but this is the end result.'
DuPont was incensed.
'Director Murda, this is your stated opinion. But I'll let you in on a secret, your opinion is not fact, and you are not able to read the future.'
'I am well aware of that.'
They were silent for a moment.
'Well,' Said Naccali. 'This has certainly been... rather interesting. I must agree with you on some points though, but this: the ESF can survive. If we fix this government, return it to it's original state, then we will be able to weather any assault because the people will not surrender. In much the same manner as you said the Union would withstand our attack.'
'I don't intend a war however.' He added.
They all stood up. Director DuPont left without a word, and Naccali followed him. Just as he was about to exit, he turned round.
'Farewell Murda. I hope your objective, should you eventually acquire one, is successful.'
He smiled and disappeared.
Murda stood motionlessly and then followed them. She reflected sadly, that this would probably be the last time they would ever meet again.
DuPont made his way from the meeting with a scowl etched on his face. He was disappointed in Murda. He had not known she was such a defeatist.
Fall? The ESF fall? What a preposterous notion. Disregarding the social problems, a military war had an excellent chance of victory. The ESF had a far larger fleet than the Union. The Union would be, and could be defeated with the destruction of it's fleets. The only holdback had been directors too indecisive and president's too timorous to order the strike. That would change.
Besides, nothing like a war rouses a people's spirits. Once the war was over, he could see to stamping out these so-called social issues with all his attention. The mining corporations and the ITA, where the real power lay, would be in his lap.
The meeting had been held deep underground, on Earth. Now as he made the steep slant upwards, he saw the opening onto terra firma. Eagerly, he marched up the last few metres. His shuttle was there. They had arrived seperately, they would leave seperately. He heard Naccali behind him.
He too entered the bright light of day.
They said nothing for a moment.
'DuPont, can I ask a question?' Naccali turned round and DuPont felt a slight nervousness.
'It's this. If I try and do this thing, will you help me? Both of our aims require some political power.'
DuPont considered for a moment. He would probably be using his connections in the Cossack party for his aims. Erring on the far-right, the Cossack would be strongly opposed to corruption. He supposed it would be easier to enlist the help of his fellow director than oppose him.
'Yes, I'll help.'
The shuttles awaited them. DuPont and Naccali parted.
The moment the shuttle's lifted off from the military depot, Murda emerged herself. She walked over to her shuttle and met her pilot.
'Did you record everything?' She asked once she had entered the shuttle proper.
'Yes sir,' He replied in low voice. 'It's all there.'
She made herself comfortable in the passenger compartment, and the shuttle lifted off.