Cardassia Prime: Republic of Cardassia
Admiral Murphy and Vice-Admiral Mukwotho stood at attention in front of the Joint Assistance Forces conference room. Only two weeks before, they had a seat as equals at the table. Now, because of the Federation's withdrawal from the alliance, they were begging Legate Dyoldas and Lord Daniel for help. It was absolutely humiliating.
The legate betrayed no emotion has he prepared to make a statement. Tigranian, however, continued to shift uncomfortably in his seat. The last time he and Admiral Murphy had been in a situation like this, the roles had been reversed. It ended with him losing his commission in Starfleet and his friendship with Murphy. However, Tigranian took no joy in this moment. In fact, it was worse than he could have imagined. Lord Torlek had told him that the Klingon Empire would support any decision that the Republic of Cardassia made in the matter. Now, the fate of Celdis Prime and Starfleet rested in the words about to spoken by Dyoldas.
The Cardassian balled his fist and rested it on the table in front of him.
"Admiral Murphy," he began, "I have consulted with both Prime Minister Garak and the Detapa Council in regards to the Federation's request for military assistance. They agree that the Cardassian State's demand to turn over Celdis Prime is outrageous…" he paused. "They will not cede the system to the Romulus Pact. However they will not defend it either."
Murphy and Mukwotho both looked shocked.
"With respect, Legate," Murphy replied, "how is that any different than presenting them the Celdis System with a bow tied around it? Without a combined defense, the Romulus Pact will simply invade your territory and take what it wants at the cost of almost five hundred aid workers and over three-thousand innocent Cardassian lives."
"What choice did your government leave us, Admiral?" Dyoldas angrily shouted back. "Without the Federation, the Republic and the Klingon Empire do not have enough ships to safeguard the rest of our territory. If we commit our fleets to Celdis, then the Cardassian State will have nothing between it and Cardassia Prime." Dyoldas stopped to rub his eyes. "This is a dark day for both our nations, but don't blame us. This catastrophe is on you and your politicians. If you weren't willing to sacrifice those Red Cross workers, than you shouldn't have announced a military withdrawal from Cardassia!"
Murphy turned to Tigranian.
"And what about the Klingon Empire, Lord Daniel?" he asked. "You won't commit any forces either?"
Tigranian gritted his teeth and swallowed his disgust.
"My government has made it clear we are here to support our Cardassian allies," Tigranian said. "If the Cardassian Republic will not commit its forces, neither will we."
"Even to defend the lives of unarmed civilians?" Murphy said in a less than subtle dig at Tigranian's honor. The jenSa' shut his eyes and took a deep breath.
"The official stance of Chancellor Martok and the High Council is that if the Federation wishes to stand alone, than you will stand alone," he answered. The words cut through Murphy like a dull blade.
Commander Richey ran into the room and straight towards Murphy. She leaned over and whispered something into his ear. His eyes grew wide. He turned to Mukwotho and nodded. She nodded back.
"Your position is clear, Gentlemen," Murphy said suddenly facing back to Tigranian and Dyoldas. "I appreciate your honesty," he said with curt bluntness. "However, I have just been informed that President Bacco has approved a plan to retain Celdis Prime until evacuations can be completed within the next seven days. Commander Richey here will forward you the details once they are worked out. However, be advised there will be significant Federation starship movement in and out of the Republic along approved transit routes for the next forty-eight hours.
I will also be departing the planet to take charge of our assembling task force. Please forward any concerns to Vice-Admiral Mukwotho." Murphy turned to leave, gesturing for Mukwotho and Richey to follow him. "If you'll excuse me, we have a lot of work to do."
The three Starfleet officers began walking away.
"Admiral Murphy," Dyoldas said sharply. Murphy paused and glanced over his shoulder. "You understand that any increase in Federation starship numbers within Republic space must be directly approved by Prime Minister Garak."
"Yes I do, Legate," Murphy replied with quiet reserve. "However, you may inform the prime minister that there will be no increase. In fact, the number of starships in Cardassian space will be reduced to only five. Good day."
Murphy and his staff left the room.
"Only five?" Dyoldas said in disbelief to Tigranian. "The Federation can't seriously expect to hold Celdis against a full assault with only five ships?"
"I don't think they do, Legate…" Tigranian said leaning forward onto to the table and steepling his fingers, "but it will be a fight worthy of story and song."
The Imperial jenSa' didn't have to think very hard to figure out which five ships the admiral was talking about. That meant Murphy, Annabeth, and the entire crew of his old ship would soon be flying into the jaws of the enemy with impossible odds against them.
"May Kahless guide you all to glory," Tigranian whispered under his breath. "Qapla', Sons and Daughters of Starfleet."