The light from the lamps overhead cast a shadow over the entire meeting. Ten men and women sat in a circle around a large stone table, each with a placard in front of them saying where they were from. They read place names like Karnum, Dune, New Phoenix and Bell.
Eyes that had seen too much hardship were sunken into their heads and their skin was pasty and sallow, raggedy clothes hanging off of their skeletal frames. No one moved or said anything, the tension in the room as thick as the sands that swirled along the borders between The Novan Ascendancy and the United Colonies of Earth.
The sullen sun-haired man sitting behind the Canyon City sign was the first to fidget in his seat, and the others turned and glared at him, as if by moving he had shocked them all out of a daydream of a sunny trip to the beach.
The woman with raven hair behind the Karnum sign spoke first. “I think we all know why we are here.” There was a nod from each member at the table. “The mother planets will not help us with this, not after the revolution.”
“Of course the Novans had to attack after we had declared Independence. It was a brilliant bit of strategy that.” said the man behind the Red Cliff sign. “With both of our forces at the height of their power, we probably could have even prevented the Novans from claiming any territory at all!”
A murmur of assent went around the table.
“Yes Harold,” said the woman from Karnum. “That is why we are here. Our current strategy of engaging the Novans in open warfare has not been successful. It is time for a new strategy.”
“What do you suggest?” said the older woman from New Phoenix. “That we leave? Flee to another colony? They would just follow us there and continue to wipe us out until we are nothing but the dust that coats this planet!”
Outraged whispers darted across the room as the delegates of the planet of Ferra considered the possibility for violating their own plan to keep the alien menace fixated on them to spare the other members of the UCE.
“We erased the coordinates of every colony from each ground based facility in every city that the Novans have conquered fro a for a reason people!” shouted the man from Bell. “If they learn that we are just colonists here, they will be able to find Earth! Not only that they would eradicate us as a species! You hear all of their propaganda! They actually believe it! We must be in it for the species boys and girls!”
“And so what?” demanded the woman from Neolith. “So what if they find Earth, Mars and all the rest? Why should we be unhappy that they wipe out our enemies for us?”
“Because,” said Harold, the man from Red CLiff. “We have more to fear form an invading alien force than form out own kind. I believe that we still owe the mother planets for even starting these colonies so long ago. Without them, humanity would surely not nearly have grown as much as it did.”
“And so we end up playing the buffer between them and the terrifying unknown? I think we got the short end of the stick on that bargain.” Said the woman from Neolith bitterly. This statement sent of a cascade of bickering among the delegates, each with their own opinion about what should and shouldn’t be done with the mother planets.
“This is not up for discussion at the moment,” barked a gruff man from Ruby, cutting through the arguments like scissors through paper. “We have convened here to discuss and attend to one problem and only one problem! The Novans are finally settling in!”
That statement brought every person at the table back to their senses. After sieges and temporary bases, the invading Novan Ascendancy had finally shown signs of establishing permanent bases on Ferra.
“The Novans have started setting up what we believe are starship yards and weapons producers along the Brokebone Ridge, which you all know is within spying range of Ruby.” said the gruff man.
“Patrols form Canyon City have confirmed this, it appears that they are digging in for the long haul instead of the quick conquer that they promised us.” said the sun-haired man. “My advisors believe that they are setting them up in full view of our spies not only because they wish to flaunt in our faces that they have us beaten, but also because of the rich deposits of iron and nickel that are to be found there.”
“We must do what no other government has done since the days of the nation states of Earth.” Said the bitter woman.
The entire table was silent, each person thinking about the consequences of such an action. Not since the Wasting of 2105 had nuclear weapons been used, the mere threat of the atomic abominations more than enough to keep a standard of peace throughout the human territories