A Coalition of the Compassionate: The East Will Rise Again! (Dac Pipeline Hyperlane)
Posts: 827
  • Posted On: Nov 13 2021 3:45am

It had been a long time coming, a long time coming.

 

The Mon Calamari were now formally decoupled from the Eastern Province; their only remaining official overlap with the Provincial government was through the Dac Enclave on Teth. The Enclave was a slice of land and ocean – and the billion or so Mon Cal and Quarren who lived there – that through treaty was both a territory of the Dac Republic and a Special Cultural Reserve of the Teth planetary government. As Coalition citizens, residents of Teth and members of the Dac Enclave on Teth were free to travel from one to the other without restriction, hold property, seek work, and attain residence. Ultimate authority for traffic control and system security remained with the Teth government, but strong legal protections for the Enclave had been established by treaty.

 

Chadra had withdrawn from the East, entering the Dac Republic as a founding member. F'tral, a waterworld with its own technically apt aquatic natives, had joined the East at its induction into the Coalition, unwilling to restructure their government to meet the requirements necessary for inclusion in the Dac Council. While intensely interested in pursuing economic opportunities that Coalition membership afforded, the Iyra of F'tral thus far had shown little interest in Eastern politics, and seemed only mildly interested in the East's recent military developments.

 

With the departure of Mon Calamari from the East, Roche had become the most isolated Eastern world. The main body of the Contegorian Confederation lay between Roche and the East, and Roche was separated from the Cooperative worlds in and around the Quelii Sector by the ravening expanse of Reaver Space. Fortunately, relations between the Coalition and Confederation were taking a turn for the better, ensuring easy access to Roche for the time being. Despite their precarious positioning, the Verpine Technocracy's commitment to optimizing the Eastern military's Guardian was only the most recent of the major commitments to Eastern and Coalition prosperity that the natives of Roche had made. The Verpine, while perhaps the most distinct from the East's broader cultural norms, had become one of the most committed member species to Eastern development.

 

These days, Eastern politics and society were driven by two largely opposed interests: humanitarianism, and militarization. Teth, Chalacta, Sneeve, Delaya, Fwillsving, Bimmisaari, and Kegan had organized themselves around the former, creating or expanding the Coalition's two most powerful civilian government institutions: the Coalition Refugee and Evacuation Service, and the Coalition Resettlement and Reintegration Service. Together, these worlds and institutions had formed a refugee relief network only rivaled by the most successful organizations in the Old Republic's history.

 

Roche, Kubindi, and Tammar were the main drivers of the East's military interests, but Teth had invested considerably in system defense in the wake of the Dragon War, and F'tral's new status as home to a set of Mon Calamari Shipyards had triggered a significant shift in its manufacturing industry toward military production. Refugees were clamoring by the tens of millions to join the Provincial military and fight the Reaver scourge, but only recently had any comprehensible strategy to defeat the Reavers begun to take shape. Political will to divert resources from refugee relief and toward guns and warships had been lacking until now, where it might be those very refugees who change the calculus and trigger a major militarization campaign.

 

Of special interest, however, were the places where these two interests overlapped. Kubindi was shipping thousands of freighters worth of high-protein insect-derived foodstuffs to refugee worlds, the Verpine of Roche were continuing to help refine data management schemes to optimize refugee resettlement and job placement, and Admiral Panacka was contributing a good deal of his time and effort to the establishment of a dedicated Coalition security force to patrol the Trans-Rim Trade Route. The Coalition-controlled hyperspace route connected new refugee worlds out West to the Eastern worlds still being flooded by refugees from Reaver Space. Even the most militaristic elements in the East had a vested interest in safeguarding the Coalition's growing refugee population, and that had not been lost on those very refugees. Soon, the East's peculiar blend of “compassionate militants” might just be positioned to decide the fate of the East, and by extension, the whole of the Coalition . . .

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Charros IV

 

Admiral Panacka ran his hand down the underside of the starfighter fuselage, admiring the gleam of the factory-fresh paint job. “It's a beauty, alright.” He glanced back at his tour guide, the young Colonial officer sporting a Galactic Technologies insignia. If Panacka hadn't known better, he would have sworn the little punk had come straight out of an Imperial cloning vat, complete with short-cropped hair, medium-muscular build, and a stiff upper lip.

 

The officer tensed, doing a poor job of suppressing a frown. “The HF-10 HyperFighter is the finest starfighter produced in the Coalition. It's armament, speed, maneuverability, survivability, range, pilot comfort -”

 

Pilot comfort, even?” Panacka interrupted, cracking a wry smile as he stepped away and regarded his tour companion.

 

Taima Tolen, Deputy Commissioner of the Resettlement Service, smiled back, the tiny, near-human Bimm winking at Panacka.

 

As I said,” the officer reiterated stiffly, “the finest fighter in the Coalition, and unfortunately for you, it is off limits to the East.”

 

Well,” Panacka dragged out the word, making a show of looking around the Colonial hangar, “what a shame.” The rest of the launch bay was taken up by full squadrons of a mix of Colonial and Eastern starfighters, all being prepared for the upcoming joint-action demonstration. Returning his attention to the Colonial, Panacka shrugged and said, “At least now we don't have to figure out how to pay for them.”

 

Indeed,” the Deputy Commissioner said. “Bimmisaari was not likely to approve new military expenditures anyway.”

 

Panacka nodded, walking over to the woman. “It would have taken a full vote in Parliament to secure the funds; not likely in these . . . transitional times.” The two of them turned in unison toward the Colonial, putting on their best sad faces and trying to look solemn.

 

He didn't catch on. “GT has a solution,” he said.

 

You don't say?” Panacka gaped, dripping with mock surprise.

 

The Colonial still wasn't getting it.

 

Glory be!” Taima shouted, so over the top that Panacka was worried the old lady was going to strain something.

 

The Colonial government recognizes the security value that the HyperFighter would provide to the Trans-Rim Trade Route,” he began, stiff and unappealing as ever, “and as such, we would like to help you secure permission from the Contegorian Confederation to begin purchasing and utilizing HyperFighters in the Trans-Rim Defense Fleet.”

 

Well I'll be . . .” Panacka said, walking over to the Colonial and putting a hand on his shoulder, squeezing hard. “You know,” he continued, pretending to ignore the grimace on the young man's face, “when I first heard you Colonials wanted to come out and make a pitch face-to-face, I thought . . .” he stepped aside a little, giving Taima a good look at the young Colonial's discomfort, but not letting go of the man's shoulder. “I thought: now what could they have to offer me? I mean, the East pitched in on funding for the Trans-Rim fleet, sure, but those Colonial designs we're using are mostly being built at Narg, Teth, hell . . . even Amorris all the way up in the Quelii Sector. All you've got to offer us, the only thing that you make yourselves anymore, is this . . . uh, pretty . . .” he waved a hand vaguely at the Hyperfighter, “. . . starship.”

 

Admiral,” he grunted, finally jerking his shoulder free of the man's grasp and taking a step away. “I can assure you that the design of the Hyperfighter -”

 

Yeah I don't care,” Panacka cut him off, glancing over to Taima and returning her earlier wink. “Look, here it is.” Returning his attention to the Colonial, he got serious for a moment. “It's a fine ship, it is. It's custom built for hyperlane security, and it does that quite well. And yeah: it's packed full of Confederation technology and materials that you aren't allowed to sell or deploy outside of their agreed upon usage . . . whatever.

 

The point is that the Confederation has been drooling all over themselves for the chance to get their merchant fleets into the markets out West, and they can't do that without a safe Trans-Rim route. So here's the deal: you tell them that if they free the HyperFighter for use in the Trans-Rim Defense Fleet and donate all exclusively Confederation materials to the cause, then we will fill the space between the Eastern and Western Provinces with HyperFighters, no extra charge.”

 

The Colonial stumbled for a moment, clearly not well suited for this kind of exchange. “That's a . . . tremendously unfair arrangement. The Confederation -”

 

You're telling me!” Panacka exclaimed. “That kind of commitment would blow a hole straight through the Eastern budget.” He glanced back at Taima Tolen.

 

Indeed,” the Bimm woman agreed, “but I'm sure our friends out West and even down South would be more than willing to share the financial burden.”

 

You see?” Panacka said, turning back to the Colonial. “We all pitch in, we all benefit.” He slapped the man on the shoulder, harder than he should have. “This is the Coalition: that's how we do it.”

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Tammar

 

Tammar had a single, small, unassuming moon. Occasionally, it provided some use for the planet's military academy, as a reasonably static object on which to set up target dummies, or as a celestial body with just enough gravity to demonstrate basic principles of orbital mechanics. Usually, though, it was just there, just . . . there.

 

That would no longer be the case. Since Captain Orion and General Decurra had struck up their deal with Admiral Panacka, a detachment of Kubindi army engineers had been preparing a nice little planet-facing stretch of Tammar's tidally-locked moon. Now, finally, the pair of deepdocks that Panacka had secured from the Ugor had arrived, and while one of them would be deployed to a deep-space holding area with an escort provided by Tammar's secret fleet of warships, the other was going to be very carefully parked into a Kubaz-made hole in the face of the moon.

 

The deepdock was being fit with a repulsorlift cradle that would allow it to be eased gently into its new home, and also removed with haste if ever needed. A number of heavy-duty tractor beam projectors had also been set up around the perimeter of the deepdock's new home, and would be used to move ships safely in and out of the deepdock's several drydocks without any trouble from the moon's gravity.

 

It was the solution that Tammar needed to keep its secret fleet of warships maintained and stocked. The combination of a system-wide interdiction network and an array of long-range sensor scramblers deployed around Tammar and its moon would mask the presence of individual ships, but the deepdock needed a more substantial camouflage if it was going to avoid detection. The lunar surface coupled with the sensor scramblers would do just that.

 

But there was more. Panacka and Decurra weren't convinced that Tammar's naval power would be sufficient for the Kubindi-derived army she was building on the planet. If Tammar was going to realize its full potential as a base of Eastern military power, then it would need more ships, and there was nowhere left in the East to get them. Fortunately for everyone, the East was far from the totality of the Coalition.

 

The Dominator-class Heavy Battle Cruiser Evermore exceeded the limits of Tammar's sensor scrambling network. With properly sensitive equipment, a scout ship on the edge of the system might even be able to acquire a class identification from the signature of the twenty-five hundred meter warship, by the simple fact that no other Coalition vessels matched its size and profile closely enough. That wasn't of particular concern to Captain Orion or General Decurra, though: the ship wouldn't be here for long.

 

Permission to come aboard?”

 

The Ryn woman in the Cooperative Defense Force uniform took a moment to size up the mismatched pair, the squat Tammarian with his bulging air sacks and the towering Kubaz in her head-to-toe commando armor. “Alright then,” she said, waving them forward.

 

The pair stepped from the access ramp of their shuttle onto the deck of the Dominator, Orion smiling despite the circumstances. “Congratulations on your new command. You know, I once -” Decurra slapped his upper arm, silencing him immediately. “I mean, of course: I'm sorry for your loss.” He became much more somber, forgetting his own former command as he remembered the reason for the Ryn woman's transfer to this ship.

 

What do you want?” she asked coldly. “What am I here for?”

 

Colonel Ellen,” Decurra began, taking a step forward and placing a hand on Orion's shoulder to indicate he should stay where he was. “We are enacting a plan on Tammar that will greatly bolster the East's ability to strike, without forewarning, at threats to the East, but we are in need of additional naval assets and troop transport capacity.”

 

Can't help you there,” Ellen said, seeming disinterested. “I'm not part of the East.”

 

That's exactly why -”

 

Decurra silenced Orion by holding her hand up in front of his face. “We know,” she said, calmly, not taking her attention from the Ryn commander. “We also know that this ship alone represents the most substantial contribution that the Ryn Fleet has made to the Coalition's anti-piracy efforts to date, and that this ship is not alone. We also know that a Dominator is far too much warship for hunting fringe pirates. You aren't going after simple convoy raiders are you, Colonel Ellen?”

 

There was a long moment of silence in which neither of the two could get a good read on the Ryn colonel's disposition. Finally, she answered: “We're going to kill Jarvis Ragnar.”

 

Orion spoke up again, and this time Decurra let him. “It's going to be hard to maintain firing arcs on those light frigates he so loves to use. I should know, I used to – ouch!” Decurra slapped his arm again, this time harder.

 

He's been recruiting larger warships from the Alliance,” Ellen said, tone still even, hard, clinical. “And besides, Evermore isn't for his ships.”

 

We could help,” Decurra offered. “Tammar's navy is larger than you would expect, and is heavily composed of Second Wave fast attack ships. Together, we could form a powerful force.”

 

We aren't an Eastern operation,” she reminded them.

 

That's exactly why – would you stop that!” Orion shouted at Decurra, blocking her slap with his hands and then sidestepping until he was out of her range. Returning his attention to Ellen, he continued. “That's exactly why we need you. With support from outside of the East, we can ensure the clandestine obligations of our operation here. And with our help, you can bring to bear overwhelming firepower against your targets.”

 

Target,” she said stiffly. “There's just one target.”

 

For now,” Decurra said. “The more powerful the Ryn Fleet grows, the more enemies it will cultivate.”

 

They're not my concern.”

 

They will be,” Orion said, “when the people who gave you this command decide its time for you to repay your debt to them.” He glanced over to Decurra, and decided to move closer to the group when she nodded in agreement with his observation.

 

Assuming I'm buying your pitch,” she began, guarded, “how would this work?”

 

Surprised he hadn't started going yet, Decurra looked over to Orion only to see him staring back, waiting for her to answer. “With Ryn help, we can establish a second transponder profile for the entire Tammar Home Guard, making them appear as forces of the Ryn Fleet. We'll simultaneously be hiding our true origin and inflating the presence of the Ryn military in the galactic eye.”

 

And in exchange, you'll call on us when you need our firepower?”

 

Possibly,” Decurra acknowledged, “but our more pressing need is for logistical support, and covert supply lines. The system's interdictor all but cuts us off from the East. It conceals our actions, but it also drastically limits our prospects for future growth. We need a partner who can help us keep the fleet running in the long term, and secure new sources of support going forward.”

 

Okay, I can see it. It's a decent plan. Is there more?”

 

Yes,” Orion said, eliciting surprise and concern from Decurra. “But you don't get to hear about it. Not yet, anyway.”

 

Trust is earned, Colonel,” Decurra said. “How about your people and ours earn some trust between one another?”

Posts: 827
  • Posted On: Nov 13 2021 3:45am

Dac

 

They were calling it the “Dac Pipeline”. In the early days of the Return, it had referred unofficially to a series of nav points set up through former Dragon space, strung together between Teth and the Calamari System. As the Return continued, though, and more and more of the Dac Council's own resources were brought back to the East, a second, unnamed set of safe jumps was established between Chadra and the Calamari System.

 

Eventually, as it always did, the Cooperative got involved, and they brought in a number of their survey ships from the nearly complete mapping of the Trans-Rim Trade Rout. The Cooperative quickly abandoned the Teth-Dac project, realizing that they could incorporate a stretch of the Lesser Lantillian with the Chadra-Dac route and link the new Dac Pipeline straight through to Charros IV. From there, travelers from the Calamari Sector would have access to the rest of the Coalition through the Trans-Rim Trade Route.

 

It was a beautiful thing. Really, it was. It also meant that the newly established Dac Republic now had a proper hyperspace route that it had to incorporate into its overall security strategy. It wasn't impossible by any means; after all, the Dac Fleet (then called the Mon Calamari Fleet) had been reconstituted well before the Dac Republic (at the behest of Minntooine and upon their admittance into the Coalition), and it had spent its early service to the Coalition escorting refugee fleets from the East to the West, essentially serving as trade route security. Even now, several Dac Republic naval ships were patrolling stretches of the route, and would continue to do so until dedicated replacement ships belonging to the new Trans-Rim Defense Fleet were completed and deployed.

 

Fortunately, the local defense and standing military forces of the Calamari Sector's Dac Republic worlds were being folded into the preexisting Dac Fleet, greatly bolstering its overall power. The distant worlds of the Dac Republic, worlds like Minntooine and Ando, proved a far greater problem for national security than the Dac Pipeline ever could, but perhaps solving the problem of Pipeline security could establish a precedent for addressing the others.

 

That was the reason for this meeting. Vice Admiral Ulav Tez wished he could take credit for the plan; however, the initial spark of insight was from General Ta'ront, former commander of the Dornean Navy and newly appointed commander of the Dac Fleet. Vice Admiral Tez, a grizzled Quarren from Minntooine who had shepherded the reformation of the Dac Fleet, had been selected to make the pitch because he was more familiar with Dac's Eastern counterparts.

 

So the vice admiral had plucked up the friendliest face under his nominal command and made the call to the East, and was happy to see that Admiral Panacka had taken the request seriously enough to come himself. Now, the four Coalition officials were seated around a small conference table aboard one of Dac's newly restored shipyards, the blue-white of Dac ocean and clouds shining brightly through the room's viewport.

 

Alright, so what's this new plan of yours?” Panacka asked without preamble, the strain of his workload and travels evident.

 

Hello,” Rosh the Bimm said lightly, smiling and offering a hand first to the vice admiral, then to his companion.

 

Good to see you again, Ambassador,” Tez said, shaking the furry Bimm's hand.

 

Ambassador,” White Knight Ruuvan said curtly, accepting the shake as well. Ruuvan's attention quickly snapped back to Panacka, where it had been focused since the man had arrived.

 

But seriously,” Panacka reiterated, “what do you want?”

 

Don't mind him,” Rosh said, smiling. “He's been dealing with Colonials.”

 

Have you and that pal of yours been talking about me again,” Panacka barked, leaning back in his seat as if trying to get away from the Bimm.

 

Oh Admiral, Taima and I don't talk about you! We take our rivalry far too seriously to share information on a mark.” He smiled mischievously and winked at the most powerful man in the East.

 

No luck with the Colonials, I take it,” Ruuvan asked.

 

Panacka shrugged, seemingly disinterested in the subject. “Time will tell. We're trying to shore up security for the Trans-Rim route now that the West has opened up their new refugee worlds and traffic is picking up. But then,” Panacka's attention focused on the vice admiral, “I take it you know something about that.”

 

Yes, well . . . we are encountering something of a trade security problem of our own.” The Quarren shifted in his seat, glancing out of the viewport at Dac. “General Ta'ront is developing a strong defense strategy for the Calamari Sector: sector-wide rapid readiness in the event of an attack, multiple reinforcement routes for out-of-system forces arriving to any targeted world, that sort of thing. With his plan, we'll be able to free up enough ships to patrol the Dac Pipeline.” Tez returned his attention to Panacka, meeting the man's intense stare. “The problem is Chadra.”

 

Those pacifists?” Panacka said, looking away and showing his disgust plainly. “Leave 'em to it,” he added, glancing at Ruuvan before returning to Vice Admiral Tez.

 

There are nearly two billion Mon Calamari and Quarren on Chadra,” Tez said sternly, “and the Dac Republic is committed to the defense of Chadra as a member world.”

 

Yeah, well: your mistake.”

 

Chadra has a planetary defense force,” Tez continued, ignoring the admiral's scorn. “It will be insufficient to repel a dedicated assault, however, and the Pipeline's defensive forces will be too spread out across the length of the route to render coordinated relief in a timely fashion.”

 

Coalition worlds already operate under a mutual defense agreement,” Panacka reminded his counterpart. “If Chadra is attacked, our nearby forces will come to its aid.”

 

We were hoping for more,” the vice admiral said.

 

I'm so hurting for help that I've been bargaining with Colonials,” Panacka said, leaning forward and putting his elbows on the table. “I don't have ships to spare for you. I just don't.”

 

He wants you to incorporate Chadra into the East's overall defense plan,” Ruuvan said, taking some of the pressure off of the vice admiral. “Panacka, we can make this work.”

 

What am I going to do with a handful of Calamari ships?” he asked, shifting his attention to Ruuvan but keeping his aggressive posture. “We're fully committed to the Second Wave program, we've incorporated Guardian into the entire fleet, and we've standardized training and operational procedures across the Province. Incorporating your boys would be more trouble than they're worth!”

 

We would be willing to adjust Chadra's defenses to Eastern standards,” Tez said, “over time. The Dac Republic can contribute financially to the East's defense plan immediately, and will secure contracts for the manufacture of Eastern-approved warships from Coalition shipyards as soon as possible. The incorporation of Guardian is not as simple, but the Dac Republic would be willing to negotiate on that point, if necessary.”

 

Panacka relaxed back into his chair, taking a silent moment to size up the two Dac Republic officers, one an old friend and the other a near stranger. “Incorporate Chadra's defenses into the East, under my command?”

 

They would not be available for offensive action without approval from Dac Fleet command,” Vice Admiral Tez warned, “but for internal, Eastern defense purposes: yes. They would be committed to the East's defense strategy, and would likewise be unavailable for reassignment by the Dac Fleet without your prior approval.”

 

Panacka started nodding, then glanced over to Ambassador Rosh. “This could work.”

 

Don't look at me,” Rosh said, “I'm just here in case you declare yourself Emperor. We can't be having another one of those!” he exclaimed, looking to the two Dac Republic officials and flashing a smile.

 

If I'm responsible for Chadra,” Panacka said, dismissing the Bimm's nonsense and getting back to the serious business, “then Eastern Command will need real-time access to the Pipeline's security force.”

 

That's reasonable,” Tez said.

 

Force strength, deployment positions, rotation intervals, communications protocols, the works.”

 

Of course.”

 

And I'll need to be consulted before changes to Pipeline security procedures are made.”

 

Ulav Tez looked over to Ruuvan, who simply nodded. Reluctantly, Tez nodded as well. “In the event of a major attack along the westernmost half of the Pipeline, I'll be expecting a response from Eastern Provincial forces.”

 

Of course,” Panacka said. “After all: we're in this together.”

 

 

 

* * *

 

 

 

Sneeve

 

High Commissioner Brand was busy working away in his office, fully engrossed in the work of turning the East's massive refugee population into sentient capital that would propel its transformation into a Coalition juggernaut.

 

The door opened, and President Borosh stepped through, his alien visage as grim as in the darkest days of his rebel command.

 

What's wrong?” Brand asked, sitting back in his chair, the work at hand banished from thought.

 

Are you going to kill me?” Borosh asked as the door slid shut behind him.

 

What?” was all Brand managed, taken aback.

 

I'm not going to kill you,” he said. “I'm not even going to have you imprisoned.”

 

Oh, gods. Oh gods no. No, no, no, no, no. He knew. Somehow, he knew.

 

But this is over,” Borosh continued, picking up his long, Sneevel arms and placing his hands flat against the surface of Brand's desk. “You're going to retire quietly to some hillside somewhere with your wife, and never again set foot in the capital. You will remain there, until age or some horror from your secret past finally kills you. This nation that you built on your lies will survive you. That is your solace. That is your legacy. That is all that you or I will see of redemption.”

 

There was a blaster in the bottom drawer, the bottom drawer that was rigged to open with a properly applied kick from his seated position. He could have it out and fired before Borosh could open the door. He could do it. He could.

 

Borosh, I -”
 

I would prefer to imagine that the friendship you cultivated with me was not entirely a fiction invented in service of your foreign master. I would prefer to keep alive some spark of hope that the man I fought and bled beside is a real man, a true soul, a decent man.” He turned to face the door.

 

Brand's hand itched for his blaster. Every fiber of his being screamed for him to act.

 

President Borosh palmed the door control and the opportunity was gone. As he took a step out of the door, he looked back one last time. “I do wish you well. Don't come back.”

 

Well, it had been a good run. The New Alliance sleeper agent had survived the collapse of galactic governments and the fall of local dictators with his cover intact, but he couldn't survive this. He couldn't make this work out. Every action available to preserve his cover would destroy everything he'd worked so hard and sacrificed so much to build. The Coalition, the East, Chalacta and Sneeve would have to get along without him now. Whatever his efforts had made them, they would have to carry on under their own strength. He just hoped that it was enough.

 

Palming his commlink, he sank back and let the relief of it all wash over him. “Miri, I'll be home early.”

Posts: 827
  • Posted On: Nov 13 2021 3:46am

Teth

 

 

 

Here we are: Easterners. A place, a people, an identity that was conjured out of thin air, waved into existence by decree of the upstart administration of a 'New Galactic Coalition'. Our identity was forged after our creation, forged in a war that we lost, against an aggressive, totalitarian, inhumane neighbor who nearly swallowed us whole.

 

We were beaten. We were broken. Hope had failed us. Our strength was spent. All that we had become, all of the goodness that we had found in one another, all of the fury and the fire . . . it wasn't enough. We were prepared to surrender to an evil we could not hope to beat back.

 

But it was too late for us. Even in our despair, even in our loss, even with our wounds and our sorrows and our dead: we had become something else. Mon Calamari – Dac – the one-time capital of the whole Coalition, fell by siege. Tens of billions of refugees flooded into what was left of the East, desperate just to survive. It was too late for them too, because we had already become something else.

 

In the two years that followed, under the leadership of the Eastern Parliament, the people of Dac found first refuge, and then life anew, all across the Coalition. Dac has returned to the Coalition now, many of its own people have returned to its waters, and after all that loss and all that pain and all that sorrow and all that despair, Dac lives, its people are rebuilding, and the Coalition is stronger for what we did in those darkest of days.

 

Because it's too late now: we're already something else. The East has become a . . . a Coalition of the compassionate, who have tended one another's wounds, and in doing so become stronger. We have taken that strength and used it to tend the wounds of others: of strangers, refugees fleeing a terror more gruesome and grave than we could have imagined. And for that – in that – they too have grown stronger. And in their pain, and loss, and strength, we've lost something too. We've lost the lines that divide them and us; we've lost the assurance that we are somehow different, and for that loss we have gained a new strength, a new purpose, and a new hope for the future. Because they are us; they are becoming us.

 

Quite literally. They are, after all, in many cases, new Coalition citizens, residents of the East . . . people wounded, who tend wounds.

 

A Coalition of the Compassionate all over again.

 

This is who we are. This is who we have become. This is why we have won the greatest victory that can be won. Yes, our fleets have been rebuilt. Yes, our armies stand strong in number and capability. Yes, our factories churn with the fires of industry. But that is nothing.

 

We know what it is to survive our own despair and remain good. We know what it means to be bankrupt of hope, and yet endure. We know how it feels to stare oblivion in the face, and carry on.

 

The East stands strong now because even in our weakness, in our brokenness, we could not abandon our compassion. We could not stop being Easterners.

 

It's too late: this is already who we have become.

 

My name is Erek Joron. I am not a great man, but you have made me a good man. You have transformed me. You have ennobled me. All that is worthy in me, is of the East.

 

We fought a war that almost destroyed us, but that is when we turned to one another and found our true strength. That is when we learned that we are stronger together. That is when we learned that we are better together. That is when we learned that all of the things that set us apart, are the things that each of us need.

 

In these past years, as we have come to rely ever increasingly on one another as Easterners, the parliament on Teth has struggled to manage the duties of governance increasingly placed upon it. In its struggle, in its weakness, it did what we in the East have learned to do: it turned to its neighbors for strength. They answered as you have come to expect the East to answer: overwhelmingly.

 

It is my duty and great pleasure to announce to you, the people of the East, and to all the galaxy who watch on, that the worlds of the Eastern Province have empowered our Parliament to establish a Constitution of the Eastern Coalition, under the broad governance of the Galactic Coalition, to formalize the relationship between Eastern worlds and strengthen the authority of the Eastern government. You, the people of the East have demanded an Eastern Federation of Coalition Worlds, and so you will have it.

 

Stronger Together” is a silly sentiment, but it is a good sentiment, and in the East, we have learned to cherish good things.

 

 

 

End