Chapter 2: Government over guns
Capital World of the Federation
Capital city of New Johanesberg
The once mighty Federation was licking its wounds. Years of warfare with the Imperial Drengin had crippled its economy, and the loss of half of its Navy to the rebellious Helios AI had left its borders relatively undefended.
Undefended and unmanned as Helios had proceeded to destroy virtually the whole of the complex Echelon communication system. Furthermore, the figurehead of the Federation; Commodore Alan Bradshaw was considered KIA on Marshall IV. Simply put; the ressources of the Federation were thinly spread and it no longer held the power it once did.
As such it was not a so much a surprise when a Hermes class survey vessel came into contact with another intelligent species. Exploration funding had taken a serious hit. The TFS Torun had stumbled across the Carinoids system by mere chance. Sent to investigate a small cluster of debris of unknown origin they had discovered the existence of three class M planets. The Torun proceeded to run extensive sensor scans of the surface only to discover that the first planet in the system was already inhabited.
After setting up an Echelon II sat relay station an emissary was sent to the surface of the planet to communicate with the race that would come to be known simply as the Carinoids. The Federation never considered them more than a minor race. Trade relations were set up and quickly the carinoids came within the sphere of influence of the Terrans.
Or at least that was the concesus.
"Last reports from the system indicate the carinoids had multiple freighters inbound and outbound from their capital. Clearly they have set up an extensive trade network."
"Excellent! What is the net income on the trade routes established with them?" Asked the Prime Magistrate of the Terran Galactic Federated Republic; Carlos Da souza
There was an ackward silence in the large room overlooking the sparkling blue waters. The Trade magistrate cleared his throat.
"Actually sir I didn't quite say that their established routes had for destination a Federated world. The Carinoids clearly have a mercantile view of the universe around them but for reasons unknown they have not sent a single freighter to any of our worlds. Our current policy also forbids us to send large scale freighters to any civlization not recognized by the UP."
Da Souza saw the thinly veiled criticism but decided to ignore it. It was becoming common these days.
The trade magistrate continued.
"We simply don't have enough freighters to go around. Between the needs of the military..." he shot a quick stare at Klaus Muckler, "...and our economic needs our merchant marine is spread thin."
"So you're telling me those litlle bastards enjoy the luxury of our protection, they sit and prosper in a little corner of our Federation protected by our entire Navy, and they don't even have the decency of trading with us."
The Trade Magistrate continued Da Souza's thought "They trade with Drengin before their own benefactors."
"OberKomander, mobilize patrols in the area. I want a Navy presence up their ass 24/7 standard" Commanded Da Souza
This got Muckler's attention.
Klaus Muckler, The most decorated officer in the Navy and hero of the Drengin War, perked up in his seat. After Bradshaw went MIA the responsibility of commanding the fleets and armies of the Federation fell on his shoulders. Many saw him as the most competent field commander and strategist of the Navy. His ship during the Drengin War; The Colgate had added up the most confirmed kills of any in the Navy. He had gained the respect of every officer in the Navy. The Navy, however, had lost much in the eyes of the people. The dramatic failure of the Helios AI construct had sent the Federation reeling.
Shortly after the Federalists Party and its formed governement fell from power in a vote of non-confidence within the central council, a new party was brought in and with it a new government. For the first time the Federalists did not control the Federation. The new Prime Magistrate made it a campaign promise to bring reforms to the military. Barring a full fledged military coup, Muckler was helpless in the face of the winds of change.
Reforms were debated and rehashed over and over until a proper solution was found. Da Souza had demanded for the military to be accountable to the government, and thus the people. Everyone was in accord and Muckled reluctantly gave away his independence of action. Da Souza, or more appropriately; the Prime Magistrate, would be commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Muckler held his ground on the issue of division of command within the Navy. Muckler argued rightly that with Echelon down and currently being rebuilt it would be simply innefficient to complicate the chain of command by adding someone in charge of every different facet of the armed forces. Distances of incredible magnitude separated Fleets and planets. It would be better to keep military power as centralized as possible. This meant Muckler would be at the top of the chain of command for every facet of the military, from marines to fleets.
Thus the new reforms were put into place.
Da Souza wanted to bestow upon Muckler the rank of Commodore but he quickly refused, there was only one Commodore of the Terran Galactic Navy. He chose rather to take on the title of Oberkomander.
To keep a minimum of a good image of the military Da Souza had demanded one thing of Muckler. Join his central government as Magistrate of Defense. Muckler had no choice, though he clearly saw the well planned moves of the Prime Magistrate. By bringing in Muckler Da Souza was sending a clear message to the people that the military was under the tight control of the government.
Bradshaw must be rolling over in his grave thought Muckler.
The caucus meetings and central council meetings were especially tedious. To show his contempt for such things he always wore his dark black Navy suit and cap and donned all of his medals. He looked more like a 20th century officer of a certain army than a magistrate, but that was of course the point.
Regardless of his title, rank, or appearance he now took orders from the Prime Magistrate and he had just been given one.
"Mr. Prime Magistrate, our forces are already spread thin, I highly doubt the carinoids are a priority right now. They are living peacefully and have no military to speak of."
"That's because we protect them by the very existence of the Federation. And they trade with the enemy!" exclaimed the Trade Magistrate.
Muckler tried not to roll his eyes. "I wasn't aware that there existed a state of war between us and the Drengin. "
Da Souza interjected before Mcukler went at it again with one of his magistrates. It seemed every meeting brought a new confrontation between Muckler and one of the magistrates.
"The Korath still refuse to recognize the People's Socialist Republic of Drengia as a legitimate government. Since we do, it means that this is an issue of foreign policy. Therefore if a planet within our sphere of influence decides to accord exclusive trading rights to the Drengin, socialist or imperial, we can only assume the Drengin have some part to play in this. Let us not forget what brought us to the first war. We need a pro-active solution to this problem. The sending of a military presence in the carinoids system will send a strong message." countered an agitated Da Souza.
"Now send the damned squadron." He finished.
"Sir, if the Carinoids sustain amicable trade relations with socialist and imperial Drengin we can perhaps use that as a springboard to defuse some of the tension that exists between the two and between us and the Imperial Korath. As far as our intel can confirm they have four trade routes; two with the Imperials and two with the socialists. Think about the possibilities. Some of the greatest friendships are based upon solid trade foundations." replied Muckler.
"Quite so Mr. Muckler. Perhaps we should therefore intervene before the Carinoids get too friendly with either of the Drengin governments." replied the magistrate for foreign relations
Da Souza turned around. Clearly he wanted this conversation to be over and he didn't like the fact that this military man was lecturing him on diplomacy.
"Exactly, and they haven't sent a freighter to one of our worlds. Why is that? Oberkomander you have been given a direct order and you will obey it."
"Yes sir of course. I simply think that this will serve as a catalyst for deterioating our relations with the carinoids. It's not by sending military vessels that we'll figure out why they aren't trading with us. "
"What you think dosn't matter one bit. They trade exclusively with the socialists and imperials while enjoying the complete protection from our Federation. Do as you are told or I'll find someone who will."
"Then perhaps you would like my resignation."
Da Souza realized he may have been a bit harsh. Muckler had the admiration of more or less all the officers in the Navy. His resignation would leave a serious power vaccum in the military hierarchical taxonomy. On one hand his officers would see his resignation as a lack of confidence in the government and they would not hesitate to follow those sentiments. On the other hand any replacement would not enjoy the same loyalty from his subordinates. There were simply no viable replacements for Muckler.
Da Souza kept his head high "That will not be necessary."
"If it is the will of the council that my opinions don't matter than why am I here?" Muckler twisted the knife just a bit.
"Enough Klaus. I get it. Your opinions will be noted on the record. Your orders still stand however. I will send a diplomatic mission to the Carinoids within the month." Da souza turned to the rest of his magistrates
"I want the other two planets in that system colonized asap. Spend the money required."
Just as the magistrate for internal affairs was about to speal up Klaus cut him off. He liked to do that just to make it uncomfortable for the others. He wanted to show that he didn't like being here and that he didn't like the power play the Prime Magitrate had played by taking away his supreme authority for the Navy. He wanted to get on the central council's nerves because he knew, like Da Souza did, that there was no one to take his place. The dissappearance and presumed death of Bradshaw had left the Navy completely unprepared but Muckler knew his captains would not swerve in their loyalty to the Navy and the Oberkomander.
"Sir I've notice that since the last trimester the spending budget for the Navy has been reduced again compared to the initial projections. May I ask where the money is going?"
Da Souza let out an exasperated sigh. He hated the fact that a man with a military background tried to show off his skills as a civil servant. Muckler simply didn't understand how things worked within a government. "The rebuilding of our Echelon II satcomm system requires a lot of capital. Echelon II is now under the jurisdiction of the department of internal affairs and is no longer a military project. Your funds have thus been reduced."
Again Da souza had managed to take away some of the military's power. Initially under the auspices of the office of the Commodore; Echelon had been a revolution in regards to intergalactic communications. Manned and monitered by FISA, who reported straight to the Commodore, the reins had been taken away from them and put into the hands of bureaucrats and civil servants working for internal affairs. Another facet demilitarized.
Furthermore with the war at an end and the galaxy at peace funds for FISA had also been cut dramatically. As such the Federation's spy network lacked any type of cohesive goal. Intel throughout the galaxy was sparse and hardly capable of providing a good representation of what was trully going on in the galaxy.
The people, however, were happy about these changes. There had been strong sentiments that the Federation resembled too much that of a military government, regardless of its benevolency. Bradhsaw had thus stepped down from the office of the Prime Magistrate and had appointed himself C-in-C of all armed forces by becoming Commodore of the Navy. This had satisfied the people, but really nothing had actually changed. As sentiments rose again against the militarization of the Federation war had broken out and once again the people rallied to the flag.
Now, again in a time of peace, people were happy to see that the military was losing much of its power. Especially the fact that the new OberKomander was answerable to the Prime Magistrate; the representative of all Humans in the galaxy.
After what seemed like another four hours of endless talk the meeting finally ended. Muckler again left dissatisfied and drained from the day's work. He walked out on the landing platform where his shuttle waited for him. He climbed aboard and buckled in, let out a sigh of fatigue and closed his eyes.
"Back to the Menelaus sir?" asked his personal Tir-Quan bodyguard and pilot.
Muckler thought about it for a second. He needed a rest. "Negative, I think I'm in need of some fresh air."
His pilot knew exactly what that meant.
A short twenty minute ride later Muckler's shuttle touched down at his personal villa in the Austrian Alps. He immediately took in the bright sun reflecting on the glaciers and inhaled a large gulp of cold fresh air. He exhaled and already felt better. Hardly touched by the catalcysm, this small paradise had been in his family for generations going back to WW1 when his ancestor Von Muller had commanded a German light cruiser in the pacific. It had been among the most successful surface raider of the entire war. Emperor Wilhem II had donated this plot of land to congratulate the man. Navy life had been in the Muckler's entourage since that time.
Klaus sighed. Sometimes it felt so much easier to simply be in command of a ship and forget the politics that went with being in command of something larger. If a small civilization like the Carinoids was able to give so many headaches to a man Muckler could only imagine the existence of something much larger.
*i'm sort of a history nut in case you guys can't tell. Therefore +1 karma to whoever can ell me what light cruiser I'm talking about and which allied ship finally managed to disable her.
Hint: she made up part of the German asiatic squadron based at Tsingtao which was commanded by a certain Maximilian Graf Von Spee.
(NO WIKIPEDIA!!! lol)