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Garla had located the Yellow Rose’s astrometric lab that included a holo-alcove to allow a close-up study of stars, planets, and other stellar phenomena. Curious about her home in this reality, she had configured the alcove to create a scale holographic representation of the entire Star Alliance.

As she walked across the simulation of man high stars and planets, she couldn’t help but be impressed by the sheer size of the territory. She had easily located Krellon Prime, which she had found exactly where she had expected it, as well as the five vassal planets which in the history she knew, her people had brutally conquered and turned into slave worlds for centuries.

But where in her reality the borders of the Star Alliance didn’t extend much further than the farthest of these five worlds, here, the Alliance had laid claim to a far wider area of space, filled with resource-rich colonies and even a handful of planets which she knew to be home of other civilizations but which here were clearly part of the Alliance.

She was well aware that many in the Central Council, the Star Navy, and even in the Eye of Krellon regarded the Federation with at least some envy over their ability to create an empire which stretched out over thousands of light-years in just a couple of hundred years and, differently to other major powers such as the Klingons, the Romulans, the Cardassians, and in fact even her people, without the need to conquer a single planet. The Star Alliance in this universe wasn’t nearly as massive as the Federation in hers, but it was certainly several times more expansive than what she called home.

“Quite a sight, isn’t it?”

She turned upon hearing the familiar voice, already berating herself for allowing anyone to approach her undetected, something that could quickly turn out to be a fatal mistake in her line of work.

“It never ceases to impress me,” Lif Culsten said as he joined her inside the holographic representation of the Star Alliance. “To think that this all started with a single, mostly unimpressive planet and over time grew into an empire like this. An empire that has become the envy of many nations in the galaxy.”

“Except perhaps the Nyberrites,” she said.

“If our last encounter tells me anything, it’s that they want what we have,” Culsten said. “And they understand our potential. Are probably afraid of it.”

Garla regarded the simulation again. “This empire of yours. It certainly is larger than what I’ve ever known,” she said as she walked to the center of the alcove until she stood right inside Krellon, the planet on which she had been born. “Tell me about your Star Alliance.”

His eyes seemed to light up at this. “It’s a truly magnificent place and I think our history reflects this. We spread out into the stars just over three hundred years ago. We encountered the Yooktku first.”

This surprised Garla. In her universe, their first contact had been with the lupine T’aq. An aggressive and warrior-like race that had not responded well to Krellonian explorers more interested in the resources their world had to offer than its people. A long and bloody war soon followed that had eventually led to the enslavement of an entire people and developed into a doctrine of Krellonian foreign policy for years to come.

She wondered what it would have been like if her people had made contact with the peaceful and enigmatic Yooktku instead. By the time the Star Navy had come across them nearly a hundred years later, the Alliance was already an empire fueled by war and slave labor and the Yooktku had fared little better than those who had come before.

“We formed a partnership and established the seeds of what would later become the Star Alliance, initially made up of five founding members.”

Garla knew these founding members as vassal worlds instead.

“Together we quickly grew, establishing colonies as far as the Gazelle Nebula and convincing other races like the Jin’Tar, the Ortu, and the Darsaean to join the Alliance. Today we control an area of space nearly four hundred light-years across.”

“That is impressive.”

He nodded and then walked over to the computer console, entering a few commands and the simulation all around her changed until it was focused on what she recognized to be the Federation. Although what in her universe was a massive entity spanning over one hundred fifty worlds over two galactic quadrants, here it had been reduced to less than a few dozen star systems seemingly being fought over by two separate factions.

“And it could become even more impressive.”

She understood what he meant. “You wish to conquer the Federation.”

He joined her inside the holographic model. “There isn’t much left but many of these worlds are still rich in resources or hold other worthwhile secrets, including Earth, Vulcan, and Andor. And while engulfed in civil war, the Federation has never been weaker since the Borg War.”

“What about the Nyberrites?”

“Contrary to popular belief, the Nyberrites don’t care much for open conflict. Sure, they like to flex their muscles from time to time, but they much prefer to use diplomacy and trade as weapons. That’s how they picked up the pieces of the Romulans, the Klingons, the Cardassians, and parts of the Federation after the Borg had decimated most of their space. They won’t mount a serious military effort to stop us.”

Garla took a moment to consider what he had said. It was obvious that Sentinel Culsten was among those people who had always desired what the Federation had, even if it was a shadow of its former self.

“Together we can make this work. I can tell that you share the same sharp mind and tactical acumen as the Garla I knew. With my resources and your knowledge of strategy and tactics, there’ll be very little to stop us. Even those bloated buffoons in the Central Council will be forced to acknowledge the inherent logic of our plans.”

“But why?”

He offered her a puzzled look.

“You’ve told me that the Star Alliance is this wonderful place and from all I’ve seen, it certainly appears much superior to my home. Resources are in high supply, you’ve been spared the social ills that have plagued my home and your people, from everything I’ve seen so far, your people are content. Why risk all of that by going to war?”

“Isn’t it obvious? We can’t allow ourselves to stagnate and become complacent. Look at what happened to the rest of the galaxy. While they were resting on their laurels and became slow and lazy they allowed the Borg to nearly wipe them out. That is not a fate I wish for the Star Alliance.”

“And your strategy to become impervious to such a fate is what? To eventually conquer the entire galaxy?”

“Why not? If there are no more enemies to threaten us, the Star Alliance will be able to sustain itself until the end of time itself.”

Garla couldn’t help wonder how many other civilizations that were now nothing more than ancient memory and dust had followed that exact same chain of reasoning.

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