Hana didn’t want to waste any time now that the 3rd Fleet was assembled. She needed to present her plan to the commanding officers of every ship and army unit that had rallied to her, and see what the consensus was. Despite the encouraging words from Xeliana and Chieria, she was more than half convinced that not a single CO would go along with her plan. It was a terrible plan, but despite its awfulness, she still couldn’t think of an alternative. The 3rd Fleet was one of ten fleets in the Fangalin Navy. Even though it was the strongest single fleet, they couldn’t hope to overthrow Ven Ron without more fleets on their side.
Despite the lack of an alternative, Hana was having second thoughts about her plan, even before presenting it to the Fleet COs. She loved Fangalin. She had devoted her life to serving Fangalin, ever since the Empire had betrayed her and left her for dead. The plan she was about to propose would be tantamount to treason against Fangalin, and she wasn’t sure she could go through with it.
But then again, she had been devoted to the Empire once. She had dedicated her life to serving the Empire, and then the Empire had been revealed to be corrupt and dying. She had fought to change it, fought to reform it, but the Empire had fought back, and she had been left with the choice between death and serving Fangalin instead. She had gone to Fangalin without any hesitation.
And now she was in the same situation again. The state she served had turned against her, wanted her dead. And the reasons weren’t even as good this time. Fangalin had revealed itself to be more corrupt, more vile than the Empire had ever been. She had every reason in the world to turn against Fangalin, even more so than when she’d turned against the Empire. Why was the decision so much more difficult this time?
The answer came to her, as she sat in the VIP quarters onboard Heart of the Galaxy, waiting for the Fleet COs to be assembled. When she had left the Empire, she had been a child. Legally she had been an adult, but emotionally, she had still been a child. She had grown up in Fangalin. She had devoted her adult life to serving Fangalin. She had killed for Fangalin, many times, something she had never done while living in the Empire. She had given so much more of herself to Fangalin than she ever had to the Empire. Fangalin was her life, and it had cast her out.
She didn’t want to abandon Fangalin, but she didn’t have a choice. Fangalin had abandoned her. She had joined Fangalin believing that it was everything she had wanted the Empire to be, but in the end, an organization was no better than the people who were part of it, and people were the same no matter where you went in the galaxy. Twice now, she had devoted herself to a state, and that state had cast her out. So she would move on. Maybe the third time was the charm.
Having worked through these thoughts, she came to the meeting with the Fleet COs feeling remarkably calm. She had made her decision. She didn’t expect anyone to follow her, but she would accept anyone who was willing. And if they tried to stop her, well, she would listen. Maybe somebody else could see a solution that she couldn’t.
The meeting was held in a large auditorium. The Fleet COs sat in several rows of seats in the middle of the room, and Hana sat on a raised platform at the front of the room with Admiral Peltoren, Colonel Latrafai, Xeliana, and General Moreven Zelexas, a woman about the same age as Admiral Peltoren, who was the commanding officer of the 9th Brigade. Admiral Peltoren spoke first, introducing Hana to those who didn’t know her, and reminding the COs why they were there. Then it was Hana’s turn.
“I’m going to be blunt with you,” she said as she came to the podium. “We are in a difficult spot. As grateful as I am that you saved me from Ven Ron’s insane ambition, and have joined me in opposition to him, we don’t have much of a chance of overthrowing him. We are one fleet against a vast armada. Therefore, I’m going to propose we do something that most of you aren’t going to like.” She paused, and mentally gathered herself before she spoke again. “I think we should defect to the Republic of Hadramoris.”
There was a moment of shock that rippled through the room like silent thunder, and then pandemonium broke out. All of the Fleet COs started talking at once, and none of them seemed happy about Hana’s idea. Hana was at peace, though. She had dropped her bombshell, and now all that remained was to assess the damage.
“Silence!” bellowed Chieria, cutting through the angry chattering of the Fleet COs. Hers was a voice used to giving commands on a noisy starship bridge, and, astounded as the Fleet COs were, they were still soldiers, used to listening when a superior officer spoke.
Hana looked around at all the COs as their muttering subsided. She knew exactly how they felt. The inside of her brain had sounded just like the inside of this auditorium as she had debated the pros and cons of defecting. But it was the only option. She reminded herself of that, as she waited for the noise to die down, and silence to fall over the room.
“I know this goes against everything we believe in,” Hana said quietly to the silent COs. “I know that we are soldiers of Fangalin. I know it shocks you to the core to hear me, the so-called Hero of Fangalin, suggest defecting to an enemy. But Fangalin has rejected us. Ven Ron is the rightful Supreme Commander according the highest law of Fangalin. And I cannot accept that. Even if Ven Ron extended an amnesty to me, I would not take it. I will not serve Ven Ron.”
To be continued…