DISCLAIMER: None what so ever. This is an original work. So all of it is mine, mine, mine!
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a Science-Fiction story, but before you assume (since I write Star Trek Voyager fiction mostly) no, this story is not Star Trek based. In fact, it's based on no movie/series or the likes. The only thing this is based on is my imagination. Did others have the same idea before me, I don't know. All I can say is that I wrote this while not even thinking of other established entities like Star Trek, or Star Wars, or Babylon 5, or name your favorite show. And last but not least: My undying gratitude goes to Jo for betaing this work of fiction. Since Word is so nice to put red lines under misspelled words, her work is made extra hard because my spelling mistakes are not literally mistakes as such, but more words used in the wrong place (saw Vs. was) and other pesky things like punctuation. So, a double dose of thanks goes to her for her very appreciated work.
SETTING: Centuries in the future. But I tried to keep sci-tech 'realistic.' Meaning, yes, they have faster than light flight, yes they have laser weapons, no they don't beam down to a planet, no they don't have holographic people running around.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
CHALLENGE: Written for Epic Proportions 2009.
The Danmun Alliance
"What was all that swooning about Latennador about?" Alenador asked annoyed while they were walking through the corridors of the building complex. "We're in the middle of a conversation with an enemy soldier, and you go on and on about how you love your husband."
"You're the head of the DHD, and you drift off like that? What in Danfi's name were you thinking?"
"I'm sorry," Suenador sighed. "You know I'm a lot more professional than that. But... I don't know. I guess that it's because it's Jane. For a moment in there I was back in the garden of our family house back on Earth where we were talking about boys and girls. She trying to convince me that girls are the thing you need in your bed, me trying to convince her that boys are the thing. You know I have my home here now. I couldn't think about leaving it, leaving Latennador, my children, you sis. But Jane is my sister too. I know we've both changed a lot, but we haven't seen each other in twenty years. Our relationship stood still, we haven't had time to grow apart, or even closer than we already were."
"And maybe that's also the reason why I was so careless in there. Danfi knows, I as head of the DHD, have had talks like this so many times that I lost count. I know what to tell and not to tell... normally. It's... maybe the thing is that Jane and I never had any secrets. I never had to hold something back from her. It's hard to start now."
"I hate her for what she just did," Alenador said with a sigh. Coming to the reason why she was so annoyed.
"What do you mean?" Suenador asked innocently, knowing full well what Alenador was talking about.
"She called me a young girl. Do I have to prove every day that I know what I'm doing?"
"But she never questioned your abilities. She talked about how young you are, or at least look," Suenador disagreed. "You may be twenty-nine, but you look like nineteen, or less depending on who's guessing. There aren't many women who wouldn't want to have your youthful looks."
"But they don't have to listen to the nonsense I have to hear. How would you like to be called the sandpit general?"
Suenador countered immediately. "To be called a sandpit general, you first have to be a general. That's something you shouldn't forget. Besides, you aren't the only one with a nickname. I have one as well, so does Latennador. It's normal. But you, sis, you're the only one I ever heard of that has a nickname that includes a rank. I personally think that 'sandpit general' sounds a lot better than 'metal masher'."
"Mmhmm. They won't quickly forget that Latennador crashed his Fighter into the hanger, damaging five other Fighters... and the hanger of course."
"But that happened on his first ever solo flight at the academy."
"My point," Suenador said before asking with a smile, "Tell me honestly, do you really find it so terrible that they say that you look young?"
"Yes," Alenador said coldly. But then her voice turned back to the soft and warm tone that she only had in her voice when she talked to people she knew closely. "No, I'm a woman, I sure don't hate it when someone tells me I look young. I know it won't last forever, so I might as well enjoy it while it lasts. I just hate the fact that I always get told that at the wrong places. At home in my private life I would love to have someone to say that to me. But not here. Here it's only used to be amused at my expense."
Suenador stopped Alenador by softly taking hold of her arm and asked concerned, "Wait a minute, what about your girlfriend?"
Alenador sighed. "It's over. I threw her out last week. I was just about to tell you the day that your sister showed up and I had to spend time with her. I wanted to come by your place later tonight and cry my eyes out. You're so good at giving the comfort I need. So, can you handle a guest tonight?"
Suenador was slightly worried about Alenador. Suenador was one of the only people who knew that the mighty General Supreme Alenador sometimes also needed a shoulder to cry on. "No, I know something better. You take the rest of the day off and we leave right now. Then we can go and have a drink somewhere and you can tell me everything. And after that you'll be treated to a great night with the Nador family."
"You can," Suenador interrupted. "You're the General Supreme, basically you're more powerful than the President. Nobody will dare to say something if you take a half day off."
Before Alenador could react, Suenador let go of her arm and said, "And now I don't want to hear anything about it anymore. You are taking the rest of the day off, that's an order."
Suenador certainly was no where near the position to be able to order Alenador around so Alenador couldn't help but laugh. "If you say so, I guess I just have to do it."
They walked in the direction of the exit and Suenador asked, "Why did you throw her out anyway?"
"Because she was scared. She loved the fact that she could say that the General Supreme was her partner. But she was afraid to say a single word at home without thinking it over five times before saying it. Wondering with every word that she said to me if the General Supreme would hear it as well."
"So just like the previous one?"
"Just like? No worse. That one at least dared to say some things in bed that one didn't say in public. But Hiaczen didn't even dare that."
Alenador gave a humorless laugh. "Even when we were making love I could clearly see her think, 'I better not say that'."
"Eww, way too much detail."
"You're my sister, you don't have sex."
This time Alenador laughed for real. "I think you have that messed up. Sisters actually love to talk about sex. It's the parents that don't have sex."
"Ewwwwww, yeah. You got a point."
Alenador quickly got serious again. "I wonder if I'll ever meet someone who's not impressed by my rank. I've never had someone call me a bitch in fun. They always think that I'll put them in front of a firing squad if they dare say something like that. Can't they see that I leave the General Supreme at the door every time I come home? Take the example of the 'sandpit general' nickname. I know that everyone calls me that, and everyone knows that I know that. But you and Latennador are the only ones who dare say it to my face. I still have yet to meet another person who actually dares to call me that."
"And what would you do if you did meet someone who called you that?"
"Between you and me?" Alenador asked.
Alenador leaned a little closer and whispered, "I would promote them for showing extraordinary valor."
"I think that the problem is that you do indeed have power, sis. You can put someone away for years if you want. Danfi knows, you can have them killed if you want. I think your partners do fear that."
"But that's stupid," Alenador said irritated. "Even if I was the lowest private, I could still take my hand laser and shoot my partner. What's the dif? The only difference that I can see is that then I would be punished for it. But that really can't make the difference, I mean dead is dead. Why should one fear the one more than the other?"
"That... is something I can't answer. I think it's the fact of knowing that you can do things without anyone being able to stop you that puts them on guard. Oh, guard," Suenador interrupted herself. "It'll be one very long task to have Jane guarded. I don't think she'll give up trying to escape anytime soon. With her training and background she could succeed if we aren't careful. She'll be able to use her martial arts to overpower her guards, and is smart enough to find a way to get away."
"She won't get off this planet if we don't want her to; you know that. But, she could do a lot of damage here," Alenador agreed.
They walked out of the building and onto the sunny street before Alenador continued, "Having said that, it actually won't be a long task at all."
"We can't just let her run around unguarded. She's too much of a risk for that," Suenador said warningly. "I told you, she had more training than the normal Union training. Her martial arts training was more than just 'kick here, punch there'. She was taught that her mind is her biggest weapon, and she was taught how to use that weapon."
"You almost sound as if you're jealous of her training."
"You bet I am. Jane actually offered to teach me what was being taught to her back then, but then I felt that it was stupid to waste so much time on training. Time you could use to have fun. You won't believe how many times I kicked myself since then for not taking her up on her offer. Don't underestimate her. You can't let her run around."
"Oh we won't let her run around; we're going to let her escape."
"Escape, are you nuts?"
Alenador's lips twitched into a smile. "Be careful who you call nuts."
"Yeah, yeah, save it. I mean it, she's too much of a risk. Especially with what we just told her. I thought that we were going to keep her here, otherwise I would never have told her so much about us."
"Listen," Alenador said with patience she only showed family members and friends. "We can do three things with her. First, we could kill her."
Alenador saw Suenador flinch and continued her explanation, "Even ignoring what you feel for her, we can't kill a legend such as her. Danfi himself would hunt us down in our afterlives if we did. Second option is to do with her what we normally do with POW's. But as you said yourself, that won't work. Someone like her would finally find a way to do us a huge amount of damage. You yourself once tried to cripple our network. You know how easy it is to get information."
"Yeah," Suenador could only agree.
"The third option is to let her work for us. We let her escape with the information she now has. What she knows isn't really dangerous to us, but it'll cause confusion and paranoia with them. If she tells them we look like them, some of them will think that suddenly we're easier to beat. You know there are morons like that. When she tells them how much we know about them they'll think that there are spies amongst them, especially since we can make it look like we're Humans. That suspicion will greatly work in our favor. People will start to wonder if something is a legit order, or if the person who gave the order is a spy. Should they follow the order?"
"True," Suenador agreed. "Sometimes a new commander comes in and they give the weirdest orders while trying to make the famous new start that every commander makes on a new deployment. But if they have to worry about spies they might start to wonder if that new commander is truly a real Union person."
Alenador pointed a finger at her friend and sister. "Who knows, maybe they'll even try and implement our army system with them. You know our history. When we started using the new system there was so much confusion that we almost lost the war. The Union even managed to have a forward starbase close to the edge of our solar system. It only lasted for a day, and it was what finally made our side realize that egos were the last thing needed and start working together instead. Our system has served us well in the last centuries, but it was a disaster to implement. If they start doing the same, we'll walk right over them. People won't be sure just what their task is. They won't have the experience of our drills. The only reason why the reserve ranks know what they have to do is because they have to serve in the army for three months each year. In two months we'll start the great offensive. We can use all the doubt and confusion amongst them that we can create."
"You're right," Suenador had to agree. "And if we win, it won't matter what they know of us, they'll find out then anyway."
"No, Suenador, you have to say it correctly. When we win, not if. You know as well as I that we left nothing to chance. In two months time we'll start the biggest offensive this war has ever seen and within two to five years from now we'll have taken over all Union territory. And as far as Jane Darnell is concerned, believe me, the worst thing that could happen is if she actually didn't tell them a thing. But can you see that happening with all that we told her?"
Suenador sighed. "No. She'll think that we told her this because we're preparing her for a life here, just like it happened with me."
She sighed again. "But Danfi knows, using my sister like that makes me feel ill."
"Use her like what?" Alenador reasoned. "We're letting her go back to where she wants to be. What the Union does with her information is not up to your sister, but to their top command."
Three days later every detail of Jane's escape had been planned. When, how, what path she would take. Everything. The only thing they hadn't taken into account was Jane herself. She had done what nobody thought possible. She had escaped out of a normal Danfi holding cell. Because of that she arrived two hours earlier than planned in the hangar of the building.
'I don't get it,' Alenador thought. 'I gave the order to have her Fighter prepared for takeoff. I don't have to check that. I know that my orders have been followed; they're always followed. I knew her Fighter would be ready, why did I feel I had to check this myself?' Alenador caressed the hull of the Fighter and sat down on the nose wheel.
'Don't kid yourself, girl. You know why you're here. The feelings she gave you while she was holding you in that cell, have been more intense than all the stuff you ever felt for the women you thought you loved. Irony, got to love it. A whole planet with women to choose from, and only the hands from one women make my skin tingle; the only woman that can't stay on this planet. Oh, Danfi, why do you do this to me?'
Alenador was suddenly interrupted in her musing by a sound that was out of place in the hangar.
Jane was glad to see that her gamble had paid off. 'Their energy plasma smells almost the same as ours,' Jane thought while carefully moving further into the hanger. 'You can try to mask the smell, but you can never fully get rid of it. If you smell it you know that within a hundred meter radius someone is working with raw energy plasma; and that's only done in the vicinity of Fighters.'
Jane saw her Fighter standing a little to the side of the hanger. 'Seems like they didn't do anything with it. The marks of the fight are still clearly visible. But then again, it wasn't really damaged in the fight. The energy was drained from the energy plasma, but that's long recharged by now. I just hope they didn't deactivate it.'
When Alenador realized what the sound was, it was too late to get away unseen. There was a circle of free space around the Fighter and Jane would see her as soon as she moved from behind the front landing gear. 'She's early, some Danfi will lose ranks for this. Now what? Improvise and hope she buys it.'
Jane was so busy trying to make sure that nobody saw her, that the only place she wasn't looking was in front of her. When she finally did, she saw a gun a mere ten centimeters in front of her face.
"Congratulations, you're the first Human ever that managed to escape out of one of our cells," Alenador said, lowering the hand laser a fraction. "How did you do that?"
Jane decided to answer, stalling for time. "I was guarded by Danfi without body armor. They're so complacent to the fact that they're stronger than Humans that they seemed to forget that even weaker Humans can win a fight, if they know how to fight."
"Your training," Alenador agreed. "They were warned about that. But since you escaped, I now have to kill you. I was going to let you live, maybe eventually, as far as this planet is concerned, even give you your freedom. But I can't let you live now that you know how to escape one of our cells."
Alenador put the gun against Jane's head and acted as if she wanted to activate it.
Jane was about to act and try to take the gun away, when she saw Alenador hesitate. 'I don't even know how their guns work, best keep still for now, see where her hesitation will lead to.'
Alenador folded her second hand over her first one and once again lifted the gun to Jane's head, and once again Jane prepared herself to act.
Then Alenador lowered the gun with a curse. "Why can't you be just another pilot? Why do you have to be such a damn legend? You don't deserve to die like this, you should die in a Fighter, out there."
Jane could clearly see Alenador debating with herself. As far as Alenador's acting abilities were concerned, Jane had still not learned her lesson. Especially Alenador's blue eyes told Jane that the doubting was real. She still hadn't fully understood that the eyes only showed the emotion. Alenador might have respected Jane, but that didn't stop her from playing her.
Then Alenador lowered her weapon completely, apparently with great reluctance. "Suenador told me that when you both were young, your word meant a lot to you; more than any Human she knew. Is that still the case?"
"Yes." When Alenador didn't react Jane explained further. "That didn't change. If I give my word on something, I keep it. Why do you ask?"
Once again Alenador hesitated, and once again she cursed. 'I have to do it like this,' She thought. 'If I just let her go she'll never trust it. I just have to hope that she thinks the information she has is important enough to break her word. When I get my hands on the people who got me into this mess.'
Alenador's acting was so convincing that Jane could clearly see that she was debating about letting her go.
"Alright. I'll let you go," Alenador finally said. "I'll let you go if you give me your word that you'll head for Union territory in a straight line without even arming your weapons, let alone use them. And also that you'll let nobody know, in any way what so ever, what you found out here. Do you give me your word on that?"
Jane didn't need long to think about it. 'If I have to choose between silence and death, I'll choose silence.' Jane nodded her agreement while saying it at the same time, "I give you my word."
"Alright, then go. But remember, you owe me. Keep your word," Without saying anything else, Alenador stepped aside to let Jane pass.
Jane made a hesitant first step and then walked the few steps to the Fighter. While she was climbing onboard using the steps built into the Fighter for that purpose, she couldn't help but think, 'He was right, the landing gear did hold.'
Just as the Fighter was disappearing from view, Alenador heard someone running into the hangar.
"What is it, Latennador?" Alenador asked without turning around, having recognized him from the way he ran. It was a little skill she had, being able to recognize people by the way they walked or ran. It had started as a little game for her; guessing who the person was that made the walking sound she heard. Now, years later she didn't even think about it anymore; she just knew.
Latennador looked at the place where Jane's Fighter had stood. "I came to report something you apparently already know."
"Did this happen on your watch?" Alenador asked, still not turning around to him but still looking into the sky.
Latennador could clearly hear the cold tone in his sister's voice and was happy that he could answer the question negatively. "No. I'm assigned to the west wing at the moment, not the east wing. I was heading home when I heard the commotion in the central guard station. I had a look to see what was going on and as soon as I found out I came looking for you right away to tell you. Apparently I was too late."
Alenador turned around and started walking in the direction of the exit. Latennador quickly followed. He realized that at that moment he wasn't in the presence of his sister, but in the presence of the General Supreme. He had also noticed that this General Supreme was pissed, really pissed.
"I let her go. I put a plan into motion that has several possible outcomes. Definitely not the way I wanted this to happen. I need the right Danfi around me now. Inform them at the guard station that you won't be back for the foreseeable future. As of now you're on active duty as five star general. I'll be in my office. Within one hour I want the people responsible for this travesty in front of my desk, understood?"
"Yes, General Supreme."
When Latennador addressed her with her rank and not her name, Alenador stopped dead in her tracks and narrowed her eyes at him.
It was almost a shock to Latennador to see the light yellow eye color. Her voice had not indicated that she was pissed to such a degree. Alenador gave him a genuine smile.
"I'm sorry. It wasn't my intention to let my anger out on you. As I said, you're as of now on active duty, and you've already gotten your orders for now. Can you ask Suenador to come and see me? I have some things to discuss with her."
"Of course, you know you can rely on me."
"I know," Alenador agreed. "That's why I put you on active duty. One more thing, you know I hate it when you do that, please don't address me with my rank."
"It seemed affective," Latennador said while they moved on again. After a few minutes he asked, "Should I warn them before sending them to you?"
Alenador was quiet for a moment. "No. This shouldn't have happened. Forget about who they let escape and concentrate on the how. They let someone escape because they were so sure that they could handle her, that they guarded her without wearing their armor. They'll remember this day for the rest of their lives, and for the first couple of years they'll be truly sorry for being overconfident morons. And after I'm done with them I'll concentrate on the person that put such guards on her guard duty to begin with."
"Surely you don't mean... degradation?"
"That's exactly what I mean."
"That's a damn hard sentence. That's almost worse than being sentenced to death. Can't you just transfer them somewhere?"
Alenador looked at Latennador with narrowed eyes and when she spoke there was a clear commanding officer tone in her voice. "That I don't want to let my anger out on you, doesn't mean that anger isn't there anymore. So before we continue this conversation, answer me this. Are you now my brother who's profession is guard and who wants to stick up for some of his colleagues, or are you my most trusted five star general who's giving me some advice?"
"You just reinstated me, from that moment on I was your five star general. But that doesn't take away from the fact that I probably know the people this is about and it might be that I speak in their favor because of this."
"Alright then," Alenador said with her voice back on a normal tone. "If that had been my brother talking I would have warned you to not interfere with my decisions. But as general I tell you this, this isn't about the fact that they bungled my original plan. The fact that I was going to let her escape is actually lucky for us. Imagine that I hadn't planned to let her escape and her Fighter was still deactivated like it was a few hours ago. The people you know let her escape and she comes looking for her Fighter, but it's out of commission. Now what?"
"Plan B." Latennador knew what Alenador meant. "If she can't escape she sees what she can do to cause us as much damage as possible."
"If we're lucky. But let's assume the worst. She starts exploring this complex. You know what she could find. Things that would be of great importance to the Union. The information she now has means nothing, but if she did some exploring in this building..."
"... She would also find the ways to let the Union know the interesting thing she found here," Latennador agreed. "If she had investigated this complex it's very possible that the whole planned offensive could be put in jeopardy."
"Well, now that we played this nice 'what if' game I'll let you as general decide what their punishment should be."
Latennador sighed. "You're right. They deserve a harsh punishment. Degradation to private is what they deserve."
"That's what I was thinking about. As I said, I want to see them in one hour."
"That I agree about their punishment doesn't take away from the fact that I know them. If you don't mind I'll tell them. But how far do you want this to go?"
"You know that I think that the individual should be held responsible for their actions, and not their families."
"Silent degradation it is. They'll be transferred and don't have to tell anyone that at one point they were actually more than privates."
"Right," Alenador agreed. "And they can start rebuilding their career, but I don't want them back to the rank they had in one year."
"Is a limitation of two ranks each year enough?"
"Alright, that's as far as their reserve rank is concerned. But what about their profession as guard?"
"Good question. I think they'll have learned a good lesson today. It would be a shame to waste that. They can continue being guard, but only at the place they're transferred to. And after having it made very clear that if they ever mess up again, this incident will count as well."
"Can the family join them at their new location, if they want?"
"That's civilian matters, I don't have anything to do with that."
Latennador didn't answer, but decided to wait for a usable answer.
When they stood in front of the door to Alenador's office a few minutes later, Latennador finally got the answer he needed.
"That's civilian matters, I don't 'want' to have anything to do with that."
"So it's, 'don't mention it'."
Alenador stepped into her office and before the door closed, she quoted a well known part of the ancient texts. "And he didn't speak about it so that his people would not lose the power of making decisions for themselves."
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