The First Meeting of the Orion Senate
It was a very fragile moment in history for the Orion Senate when the invited representatives of all the ancient races assembled once again in the cycle 19098. The Antaran presence was unmistakable - amongst the guards, amid the delegates, and most noticeably as the President of the Orion Senate. The Antarans' self-important attitude provided sharp contrast to the overall optimism radiated from all the other members. The other races of the sector, while cautious of the Antarans' apparent change of heart, brought to the Well of the Senate their own hopes for the future.
After centuries of Antaran-imposed isolation, each race met the Ambassadors and Senators from the other worlds with wide-eyed amazement and hopeful enthusiasm. The boundless stories their elders had told about the cosmopolitan nature of the Orion Section were all true! While this remarkable reunion played out before them, the arrogant Antaran representatives remained aloof and only interacted when they felt it was absolutely required.
Once the obligatory introductions and mingling were complete, the Orion delegates had their chance to address the assembly. The Antarans had reserved the right to speak last. The speeches were salutatory in nature until the leader of the Mrrshan delegation stood before the podium.
Ambassador Rrlenn looked resplendent in her meticulously pressed Mrrshan fleet officer's uniform. (A fleet only recently commissioned by the Mrrshan to patrol against pirates under the new Antaran policy of replacing dwindling Antaran manpower with skilled local inhabitants.) Her scarred face, partially hidden behind an eye patch, was upheld in an aura of nobility. When she spoke, she bared fangs of utter contempt. Passionately, forcefully, and with a patrician's rhetorical skill, she denounced the Antarans and their past deeds. Here was a warrior who had chosen the Senate to be today's battleground, and her devastating verbal surprise attack on the Antarans had its impact.
Sitting stony-faced, the Antaran delegation listened to the entirety of her haranguing. A Bulrathi officer demanded to be heard next. His blunt soldier's berating of the Antarans emphasized the fact that the Bulrathi stood united with the Mrrshans in contempt of their treatment by the Antarans. The Elerian Senator, when she finally spoke, was clearly moved by the Mrrshans, and added her thoughts on the matter of Antaran atrocities committed against the ancient races of Orion. She dated these back to the causes of the Elerian Gender War and the biological warfare atrocity of "mind blinding" the Elerians that they suffered in the third Orion-Antaran War.
While in no way inflammatory, discordant notes against the Antarans were also included in the speeches of the Gnolam, Alkari, and Darlok representatives. Obviously unsympathetic, the callous Antaran delegation sat steadfast throughout it all.
Introducing the "New Orions"
The President of the Senate rose and gave the final speech of the Senate's opening session. He declared that they had broken off with the Antarans. (Notably, the huge ovation that announcement received saw the Antaran delegation still sitting unfazed, exactly as they had during the worst of the berating they received earlier.) To underscore his point, he declared that they had adopted a new title, and that they were now "the New Orions."
The speech went downhill from there. It ended with an ominous affirmation that the New Orions would remember the words spoken by the Mrrshan, Bulrathi, Elerian, and other representatives. A formal reply, he added, would be forthcoming...
Assault on the Monitors
The now independent New Orions ceased to obey the dictates from Antares and continued to control the ethnic Orion races. Among the many disregarded edicts was a mandate to destroy all "prison monitors" which consisted of spy satellites as well as ships that were used to repress the lesser civilizations under Antaran rule. The Antarans' concern that this technology would fall into the wrong hands proved to be justified for the New Orions were already making deals with their "locals" to share the manpower burdens required to combat piracy in the Orion Sector. The New Orions felt that it was necessary to keep this equipment in place for their own use to monitor the locals.
Shortly after the first session of the Orion Senate closed, revolts started against the New Orions' "New Order" from the Mrrshan, Alkari, Darloks and Elerians. New Orion forces were quickly dispatched to these agitators' home worlds to deal with their resistance, but to little avail as these races had discovered the ease with which the prison monitors could be captured. Unable to prevent further theft, the New Orions quickly visited their remaining monitors in order to disable key systems and render them functionally useless. Then, in a show of their customary cynicism, they gifted the remaining monitors to the Orion races "as a gesture of goodwill."
Much of the remainder of the cycle was spent with the New Orions reorganizing their Great White and Great Crimson (their new colors of leadership and strength) Fleets while the indigenous Orion races that were in open revolt hastily prepared their defensives.
The New Orions' strategy was to make examples of the instigators and thus coerce the rest of the Senate members into submitting to their 'benevolent' New Orion leadership. In preparation for fighting on two fronts, the Great Crimson Fleet was assembled from a small number of the finest ships and crews under the command of the New Orions and held in reserve. This fleet was used to oversee the construction of a new Guardian ship, protect against the possible return of the Antarans, and make raids by means of the Orion's Dimensional Portal to steal supplies and equipment from throughout the Antaran Hegemony to replenish the New Orions' power base. This last duty was considered particularly hazardous due to the extensive disrepair of the Dimensional Portal at Orion.
Historical Note: Rather than destroying the last vestiges of Antaran civilization during the time of their population implosion, these New Orions stored some of Antares' most valuable secrets into a hurriedly constructed Guardian ship. This Guardian ship, along with The Great Crimson Fleet, was designed to protect their positions of power in the Orion Sector and insure their rule for Galactic Cycles to come. The Crimson Fleet played an important role in securing the required components and technologies used in the Guardian's construction.
Naturally, when the Antaran Home world received news of this direct disobedience of an Official Antaran Edict, there was tremendous outrage on Antares but very little that could be done. By this act of defiance, the independent-minded New Orions had turned their back on The Antaran Hegemony and begun to chart their own destiny in the galaxy.
For its part, the Great White Fleet was comprised of a handful of true Antaran warships, police cutters, past relics, old transports, and the dregs of the New Orion Navy. Any ship that could make an interstellar jump was fitted with whatever weapons were available. These misfit ships were hastily assembled, assigned motley crews under jumped-up, unproven officers, and placed under the command of Grand Admiral Karsh, a fanatically loyal (if sadistic) New Orion. Karsh, whose specialties were training, discipline and assault, had by the end of 19098 transformed a rag-tag group of scowls, derelicts, and quasi-loyal crewmembers into eight highly efficient task forces with high morale.
The New Orions Unleash the Great White Fleet
In early 19099, the Great White Fleet forcefully delivered the New Orion's reply promised in the Orion Senate. Karsh had orders to destroy several of the minor civilizations of Orion, beginning with Gnolams, whose pathetic show of resistance served as little more than a training exercise for the well honed White Fleet. Each cycle brought another campaign to a close as the White Fleet hacked through the Bulrathi next, and then the Elerians, and finally the Mrrshans. After the devastation, all that remained of these once proud races were a smattering of refugees and whatever lost tribes and outposts that they had managed to keep hidden during the Dark Age.
By 19103 the Great White Fleet was showing signs of deterioration from the prolonged combat with the Orion races. The Elerians and the Mrrshan had proved to be much stronger adversaries than Karsh had originally anticipated, and each race in turn had inflicted a significant amount of damage before finally falling in battle. Karsh had to restructure what remained of his forces before he could press on against his last two ordered targets. With a lack of spare parts, ships were systematically cannibalized, but what remained of the Great White Fleet would rise again.
While Karsh was immobile, the Alkari and the Darloks used this respite to evacuate large portions of their population and salvage some important symbolic treasures of their civilizations before their home worlds were destroyed between 19104 and 19105. Uncertain of where Karsh would strike next, the remaining races of the Orion Sector kept a constant vigil while continuing to prepare for a swift evacuation.
In 19106, the remnants of the Great White Fleet returned to Orion having successfully executed their mission. A tense atmosphere permeated the Orion sector despite the fact that the New Orions had ended their campaign. This feeling of nervous anticipation for fear of retribution was most evident in the reconvened Orion Senate.
Historical Note: Everyone knew the New Orions had suffered some attrition during these campaigns, but the full extent of these losses was unknown. Naturally, the New Orions kept that information to themselves. They purposefully projected an aura of absolute military supremacy.
Even if the White Fleet had crushed everyone without sustaining major damage, they still expended resources to do so (i.e., missiles and other supplies), and that put stress on their weapons' readiness for further use. Military supplies were expended without available replacements due to a major reduction in their industrial base. As a result, the indigenous Orion races are secretly questioning the New Orions' readiness as Master of Orion III begins.
The New Orions continued to let spoken and unspoken threats of xenocidal retribution permeate the Senate even as they strove to reacquire sufficient military strength to effectively carry out such threats. The questionable state of the readiness of the New Orion Navy was another unknown element of the dangerous game the New Orions were playing.
The Orion Senate Continues
During the long campaign, the New Orions had quite effectively made their point, and it was not likely that any of the remaining civilizations in the Orion Sector would ever forget it. As a result, propositions for sector-wide matters of importance were rarely passed through the Senate unless it was the wish of the New Orions. The first legislation made law in 19110 was a ban on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons - known as the "NBC Ban." This Bill passed by a majority mainly because of the concerns of the New Orions over the real possibility of another Orion Civil War, which fortunately also benefited the rather wary Orions.
The New Orions remained firmly in control over the portion of the Orion Sector within the Senate's military range, known as the Senatus Imperium Ultimum. Within this area, they frequently maneuvered the ethnic races against each other, both politically and militarily, through their many contacts as well as their protected positions of power in the Orion Senate.
Historical Note: The New Orions, in an effort to consolidate their position throughout the Orion Sector, tried to change the monetary unit early in their administration. The common currency had long been the Antaran Unit (or 'AU'). When the New Orions tried to introduce the Interstellar Orion Unit (or 'IOU'), they were widely ridiculed and, ultimately, never accepted.
The saying around the Orion Sector was: No one wants to be handed an IOU, while an AU is 'as good as gold.'
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The Hegemony's Last Gasp"
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