- So, what did they say? - Nussbaum asked, while all the others listened just as eagerly as he did. Silence fell upon the bridge of the Polaris as Metlesits spoke:
- Frisco, Leningrad and Lor'Vela found a common ground. They're not stopping at the colonies. We'll be guarding the flank of the Entente with Talla's ship.
The officers of the Polaris looked at eachother, realization finally hitting them.
- A Federation joined navy... all the way to the Kzinti homeworld? - Jiménez said, barely audible. It was something that seemed impossible only a few years ago. But not now. Not after Bleeding Cait. Not after the Iron Triangle and with Starfleet finally realizing the worth of the minor navies. Still, Jiménez, and perhaps most of those on the bridge thought Metlesits was exaggerating, or has misunderstood San Francisco's communiqué.
- So... Starfleet's going to war? - Nussbaum said - A real offensive war?
- That's right. - Metlesits nodded, his face dead serious - Komack says it'll be the largest fleet ever assembled since the Romulan War. Starfleet, the First Fleet and the Andorians. The massacre of Cait was just too much. We're going to Kzinhome.
What happened in the wake of his words was something he didn't expect: his crew, his friends erupted in cheering. Then again, they were all Humans, red-blooded Terrans, all of them plagued by the Kzinti in one way or another. And after all the pain and suffering of their generations and those before them, they'll be witnessing Humankind's ultimate answer to the Kzinti's cruelty. Man is bringing the fight to Cat country.
- Frisco says the Klingons are getting restless, so they think this'll be some good sword-rattling to scare them off. - Metlesits said after the cheers subsided - If this operation fails, the Federation will lose face. The Klingons'll definitely use our defeat to gain power. The Romulans might also exploit a Federation loss. So the Federation'll be throwing everything they have at the Cats. The Kzinti know this, so even as we talk here, they're re-deploying all their forces to the homeworld.
- They'll allow us to reach Kzinhome without putting up a fight? - Ainsworth asked in disbelief.
- After what we did at Elizabethtown? The Cats know they can't protect every chunk of rock they cling to. It might lengthen the war, but in the end, it'd leave to most of their resouces already destroyed and Kzinhome basically defenceless.
- One last stand, huh? - Big Chief White Eagle grumbled - The whole Cat fleet versus whatever we and Andor and Frisco can crank out? Boy, that'll be fun...
- One last stand. - Metlesits nodded - And we'll be there from the start. Sitek's leading the first joint task force with the Entente, and, of course, wherever he goes, trouble is brewing.
- And what do the bigheads forecast? - Nussbaum said.
- No numbers are known as of yet. - the Captain said - But Leningrad says it won't be a stroll down the park. It'll be all or nothing. The Cats will put up a big fight, we all know that... but whichever deity they pray to help them... 'cause Doomsday's coming.
Models by me
Background by NASA