Part of USS Polaris: The Voices of Deneb (The Lost Fleet – Part 2) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Stories of Subjugation

Reyes' Quarters, USS Serenity; Balan's Quarters, USS Polaris; Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Earth
Mission Day 7 - 1900 Hours
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“Those monsters, they came to my house. They insisted I help convert a pharmaceuticals plant into… into… a biological weapons facility. I told them no. I took an oath. They went into the bedroom. They dragged my wife out. They put a disruptor to her head, but still I said no. They…”

The grief in the doctor’s eyes was overwhelming. The oath he took as a physician versus the vow he swore to his wife. An inconceivable choice. It must have taken an unimaginable degree of conviction to give up the love of your life to save the lives of others.

“They shot her. They murdered her. Still I refused. But when they dragged my daughter out of her crib, my sweet six month old baby girl, and they aimed a disruptor at her, I… I… I just couldn’t let them kill my beautiful little angel.”

The doctor keeled over, burying his face in his hands, his whole body sagging over as he wept. For ten seconds, for twenty, for thirty, he couldn’t bring himself to say a thing. The grief, the shame, it was just too much. But finally he spit it out, absolute anguish in every word.

“I helped them. I fucking helped them to save her. It is my greatest shame. My girl is still alive, but how many little boys and girls did I kill through my cowardice? I just… I don’t fucking know.”

The recording cut out, and Admiral Reyes set the PADD down. She took a deep breath, trying to center herself as she looked at the pile of PADDs on her desk, each of which told a story just as tragic, just as depressing, just as heartbreaking. These were the stories of poor innocent colonists who had been abandoned by the Federation to suffer excruciating, unimaginable trauma at the hands of the Dominion. The Jem’Hadar and their Vorta overseers, they were animals, plain and simple.

Admiral Reyes forced herself to pick up another PADD. It was hard to watch these stories, but she only had to watch them. These people, they had lived them.

“When the Jem’Hadar came, they shuttered the schools, boarded up the gyms, and closed the parks. They cared for nothing except their great war with the Federation, a Federation I know little about, a Federation that did nothing for me and my son.”

As opposed to the doctor, this mother was angry. Angry at the Dominion, and angry at the Federation. She had every right to be, thought Reyes. The Dominion had taken her home, and the Federation had abandoned her to her fate.

“My son Marvolo, he is… or was… only nine. What was he supposed to do? No schools, no gyms, no parks. While I was forced to make body armor for the Jem’Hadar at the textile plant, he was supposed to sit at home and do nothing. But he was nine years old, a boy of boundless energy who just wanted to go outside and play with his friends.”

The mother was shaking as she recounted her horror.

“One day, while I was at the factory, little Marvolo went out to play. I don’t even know what he and the neighbor kids were doing, but Gloria came to get me. She said the Jem’Hadar had taken him and the other kids. They were going to execute them at sundown as disruptive belligerents. I couldn’t work, my hands were shaking so bad. The guards came over and demanded I get back to work, but I couldn’t. I mean, how could you? So they did this to me.”

The woman lifted her arm to show a cauterized stub where once a hand had been.

“And that night, they dragged me to the town square, and I had to watch as…”

She could not finish her story. She broke down in tears, sobbing and sobbing. Mercifully, the recording ended. Let her grieve in peace. She’d already been through so much.

Admiral Reyes set the PADD down on top of the others. She looked at the stack. These stories needed to be heard. She couldn’t watch any more tonight though. It was just too painful, even for an aged admiral who had experienced the horrors of the Dominion War, the tragedies of the late eighties, and many messy conflicts in the borderlands.

As Reyes looked out at the stars whizzing by at high warp, her thoughts drifted to Lieutenant Balan, the cultural affairs specialist she’d tasked with collecting these stories. She wondered how the ever positive, always optimistic young officer was holding up.

Across the vastness of space, Emilia Balan sat staring at those same stars. Her quarters were dark besides for a single candle she had lit in memory of the fallen who’d passed beyond the veil. She was on a ship with over a thousand crew, yet never had she felt more alone.

How could the universe be so cold?

These people had endured so much. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, the deepest bonds of love, all shattered by these monsters.

Emilia thought back to a young girl in the hospital a few days ago. She’d lost her father, her brother, and her legs. She was left for dead. All because of some sick manipulation of their evil captors. That girl could have been her. They were the same age. Why did that girl have to endure so much while she sat comfy on the Polaris? The universe was not fair. It was not right.

Then there were the children. The stories of their parents chilled her to her core. So many beautiful flowers crushed before they could bloom, all part of the Dominion’s sick game. How could any society have such disrespect for the young, for the innocent, for life itself?

Emilia crumbled onto the floor.

She curled in a ball.

She cried.

And she just kept on crying.

Emilia Balan could find the beauty in any moment, but tonight, lying there on the cold floor of the Polaris, there was none. No beauty at all. Only suffering. Who the hell were these monsters? And what the hell was this war?

Aboard the Serenity, Admiral Reyes decided she’d had enough. It was time to place the call. Would she face consequences for it? Very likely. But it was time to surface these stories, the stories of subjugation, the voices of Deneb. Starfleet Command had tried to bury its head in the sand, but if the people heard these stories, they would force Starfleet to act. It was probably a violation of a half dozen regulations to go to the press, but she didn’t care. She knew it was the right thing to do.

“Computer, open a channel to Aria Edir in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, Earth.”

Rear Admiral Aria Edir had fought on the front lines of the Dominion War, and Admiral Reyes had gotten to know her well during their time together in the Fourth Fleet. What distinguished Edir from the others though was that Edir was no longer part of Starfleet. She’d retired a decade ago but, unable to fully embrace the peaceful life of the French countryside, she was a regular staple on the Federation News Network as an expert on Starfleet military operations.

The seal of the United Federation of Planets vanished, replaced by an aged Trill woman sitting in her nightgown under a night light that just barely illuminated her face.

“Allison, I must say, this is a surprise.”

“Aria, I’m so sorry to call you at this late hour,” Admiral Reyes apologized, before realizing that in France, it was 4 AM. “Or… early hour, I guess?”

“Early, late, in the vastness of space does it really matter?” Aria Edir had spent over three decades among the stars, and she knew how it went. Time became meaningless when you became untethered from planetary motion. “I’m going to hazard a guess that this isn’t just a middle of the night house call to check on an old friend?”

“Unfortunately not.”

“So tell me, are the rumors I’m hearing true?” Aria asked. “Not the bit about Ramar and Beckett losing their marbles, but the bit about the Deneb Sector and the Dominion?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. How much have you heard?”

“Officially, nothing,” Aria replied, her expression grave. “Starfleet Command is silent, and FNN hasn’t even called me since those rumors started floating around. You’d really think they would too because they always invite me onto their morning shows whenever there’s anything newsworthy out that way.” She’d spent most of her three decades in Starfleet along the borders of the Cardassians and the Breen, and she was a Commanding Officer during the Dominion War.

“So how do you know?”

“Because I’m not a fool Allison. When I visit Paris or San Francisco, I hear whispers in the hallways,” Aria explained. “It’s strange though. It’s like people are afraid to say something, almost like it’s a banned topic.”

Admiral Reyes nodded. It fit with the characterizations she’d heard from the officers of Task Group 514. It was almost like everyone was living by the adage that, if you didn’t say the Dominion’s name, then they weren’t real. Too bad that wasn’t how it worked in the real world.

“Aria, let me give it to you straight,” Reyes said, her voice growing serious. “Around a month ago, hundreds of Dominion ships, if not thousands, appeared across the Deneb Sector. But these are not today’s Dominion. Quantum dating places them squarely from the seventies.”

“The Lost Fleet?” Aria asked, a shocked expression on her face. It had always been one of the great miracles of the war that those reinforcements had never reached the Alpha Quadrant during the war.

“That is our assumption,” Reyes replied. “And they’re back with a vengeance. They’ve struck everywhere from Izar to Nasera to Janoor, and Divinium basically doesn’t exist anymore.”

Aria Edir’s eyes widened. Those were not small worlds. The idea that none of this had featured whatsoever in the press was baffling. Something of this scale didn’t get missed by omission. It only got lost by active suppression. But why?

“We just finished liberating Nasera from their clutches,” Reyes continued. “We’ve got dozens of operations ongoing across the sector to defend what we still control and free those we’ve lost. It’s not going well though. The Fourth Fleet is doing this alone, and we’re spread thin. We need the full might of Starfleet here in the Deneb Sector.”

“You know those five pippers don’t listen to me anymore, present company excluded,” Aria laughed. “Not since I went on FNN in ’93 and ripped them a new one for their bungling of the Romulan refugee zone.”

“Aria, I’m not asking for your help with Starfleet.”

Aria Edir quirked her eye curiously.

“We have collected stories of subjugation from the trials endured on Nasera,” Admiral Reyes explained. “If Starfleet Command won’t act, then we need to reach people who can make them. It’s a lot to ask, I know, but I need your help. You have connections with FNN and others. I need you to help me get the voices of Deneb to the people of the Federation.”

“You understand what you’re doing right?” The retired Rear Admiral knew the regs as well as anyone. As a civilian now, she’d face little blowback and certainly nothing she couldn’t manage, but Allison Reyes was still an active duty Fleet Admiral.

“Leaking intelligence from an active warzone? Yes, I do,” replied Reyes solemnly. “Although, to be fair, Starfleet Command does not consider this a warzone.”

“Is there any sensitive material in what you’ve collected?” Aria Edir still felt an obligation to the men and women who served in Starfleet, and she would not compromise them. She’d expect Reyes to have taken this into account, but she just wanted to make sure.

“Aria, you know me. I’m not going to compromise our officers or our operations. These are just the stories of regular people, simple colonists who placed their faith in the Federation, and who got hung out to dry by them,” Reyes explained. The Trill retiree nodded satisfied. “And Aria, these stories are heavy. After you hear them, you won’t sleep well again. They make the atrocities of the Dominion War look like childs’ play.”

Aria sat there, debating her response. She understood what Allison Reyes was trying to do, and she empathized with her, but this was going against the oath they swore to uphold the laws of the Federation. Still, if it was as bad as Allison said, it sounded like the Federation of today was failing to uphold its obligations.

“Alright Allison, send it over. I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you Aria.”

Comments

  • The recollection of war stories is the best medicine to wake up from the illusion of peace. Starfleet Command doesn't recognize it, then Reyes will make them understand on how it feels on the frontline, thought it is above her paygrade and it might bite back at her. I wonder if this Aria person has the connection or well-meant intend to do the request. Great work once again!

    June 11, 2023
  • Allison Reyes

    Squadron Commanding Officer
    ASTRA Director

  • Emilia Balan

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Cultural Affairs
    Diplomatic and Cultural Affairs Officer

  • Aria Edir

    Retired Flag Officer
    Earth