Knight's Council, Ogrion
The council room was so silent that you could have heard a pin drop. Eleven figures, all seated around a large round table, were staring at a hologram in the middle. Only one of the figures, that of Grandmaster Berko Hepburn, was physically present, while all the other ones were present through holograms. A few more minutes of silence passed before it was interrupted by the deep voice of Grandmaster Hepburn: "So they were Dominion ships? Are you absolutely sure?"
The hologram in the middle of the table turned towards him. It resembled a man in his thirties, dressed in the uniform of an Orosian trade captain. The hologram spoke: "Absolutely sure, my lord. They had Dominion peacekeeper emblems and everything. My vessel, the Hammerhead
, was in Dominion space when we received the news of the sector lockdown. We had just offloaded our cargo, and picked up some Colvianian Trout from the local station. We were already heading back home, but the peacekeepers caught us off guard and fired at us. Several of our trade fleet's lightly armored ships had already been destroyed before we were able to jump away. It's a miracle some of us managed to get back in one piece."
"Hmm, thank you for this information." Berko shifted in his seat as turned off the trader's hologram. He looked around the room, as he addressed the March Knights around the table: "I did not know the situation was this bad. It seems that the amount of unrest in the outer Dominion is at its zenith. Our trade fleets are being attacked all across Dominion space, and I refuse to stand idly while our people are being murdered. This is the time to declare our independence from the Dominion, and remove its decrepit government from power. Who is with me?"
An 'aye!' went around the table, but three of the March Knights stayed silent. "Sister de Villeneuve, you look worried. What's on your mind?" Berko asked.
A young woman, probably only between 25 and 30 years old, Joan de Villeneuve, March Knight of the Mall-ta March, spoke: "As you know, Lord Hepburn, nearly half of Mall-ta's sphere of influence, what we consider Orosian territory, overlaps with that of the Dominion, including some of our richest, most prosperous and productive worlds and systems. Even the Mall-ta system itself is almost on the border. How do you plan on handling this?"
"That is a good question, but we've already prepared for this. The Wandering Knights Southern fleet's patrol area has been moved south, in order to protect that area when the time comes. They will be able to help with our main offensive as well, although the fleet will prioritize defending our own territory. Brother KMA, you were silent as well. Do you have any issues with the plan?"
Before the robot could reply however, another voice spoke up. This voice belonged to a Phupra, who towered over the rest of the knights with his 2.2 meters, and inability to sit in a chair. "With all due respect, Lord, wouldn't this leave our northern borders undefended? We've been having a lot of pirate problems lately, they're becoming so bold that they've started to attack frontier worlds and settlements, as Brother KMA can confirm. If we go south, they'll only start to become worse."
"That is a valid concern, Brother Xaazqu. In order to prevent these pirate attacks, the Wandering Knights Northern fleet, as well as the Marches of Oros and Newacre, will send fewer forces to the south, in order to guarantee the safety of our worlds. As soon as we are done with this conflict, we can focus all of our attention on these pirate attacks. Now, is everyone on board with the plan?"
Berko looked around the room. No one seemed to be having any objections. Good
, he thought, With some luck we will be able to end this quickly, stop the Dominion's atrocities, and return to protect our home.
He spoke again: "Now then, there is another matter. Although I know some of you dislike these kinds of methods, we've managed to place a spy, or rather several in the Dominion senate. Here they are."
Rather than turning on the hologram, however, instead the screen behind and above Berko activated, and displayed a very peculiar sight. The Knight's Council could see a very humanlike android, with three suspiciously mouse-like chambers or cavities on the outside. And before it stood three Truqiks, the small rodent aliens that make up part of the Union. Berko continued: "For the past few years, these three have been piloting an android representing Alexandra Mars, who you might know as the Dominion senator for our sector. Their names are Kwik, Kwek and Kwak. Don't worry about the original Alexandra, she's retired and working on a farm somewhere in Urusalim."
Most of the Knights were either shocked or amazed at this. They always thought that the slightly uncanny senator was working for the Dominion. "Now, my Truqik friends, we are planning an assault on the Dominion. I need you three to delay the response for as long as possible, and send back as much information about the Dominion's plans as you can, but make sure you don't get snuffed out. Is that understood?" The three furry aliens bowed in unison, before breaking the connection and deactivating the screen.
"Now then, I believe that's all for today. I want everyone to gather as many of our fleets and armies as you can. I will leave my deputy Avra in charge here. I shall announce our independence from the Dominion and have it publicly televised. We will rendezvouz at the Gate of Lucien. There we will wait for the Dominion's response, and hopefully make it out alive to continue south." With those words, Berko ended the meeting and exited the room.
Omiea, Orosian frontier world?
The ground was soft under Sandra's feet as she walked. It was night-time, and as she looked up at the night sky she could see Ravagua, Omiea's odd, purple moon. Major Robinson paused for a moment as she surveyed the land, looking for any signs of the great dust clouds that the pirates made as they traversed the steppes. Luckily, there were none, and she slung her sniper rifle over her shoulder as she kept walking. It took a few minutes, however, before she realized that she was totally alone. "Gábor, Murphy, where are you?" She yelled out, "This isn't funny guys!". Only then did she realize that shouting might not have been a good idea, because she could hear something
breathing and snarling behind her. Almost instantaneously, she bolted away, not bothering to look back, or call for reinforcements. Whatever the thing was, it gave chase, and she knew that she could not keep up. After about a minute of running, she felt a heavy weight knock into her back. As she saw the ground coming towards her, she braced for impact and closed her eyes...
And was greeted by her room. A nightmare,
Sandra thought. Just then, her door opened, and the tall robot that had become her mentor poked his head in. "Squire Sandra Robinson, I was just looking for you. Wake up. Oros is going to war with the Dominion."