Throughout the vast and murky channels of the Union’s leadership a silent war was being waged.
For long decades mighty Restraint had ruled their councils, imposed its iron demands upon their efforts.
Restraint so that Prevailer would not be provoked, and the fragile Earth preserved. Restraint so that Zeus would not march, and their borders remain inviolate. Restraint so that their own creations would pose no danger, and remain forever within launch bays and bunkers. Technology after technology, the Union had always been unalterably committed to a policy of Restraint.
They were done with Restraint. They knew they would not survive the march of Zeus, and one after another they found the notion of dying with their hands tied, merely to ensure Prevailer’s temper was not tested, unsatisfying.
Through the systems and meetings which made up their leadership the arguments raged. What to unleash first? Who to strike, and with which weapon? The Intervention Group’s ability to effortlessly cull the Pantheon’s yearly assaults had allowed backup plans to pile up one after the other, and now they would be sent forth.
In a time of heated arguments, one particular debate stood out.
The SOV was the Union’s greatest space ship. It had been developed alongside countless other orbital weapons platforms, but delays in its manufacturing and design had seen it sit idle in its great hanger, even as all the other efforts at deploying Super Orbital Vehicles had failed in the face of the Regime’s furious blockade.
It swiftly became apparent, as First Fist, Subtracter and Prevailer struck again and again, that the Regime’s ability to detect and destroy launch efforts was beyond their ability to counteract. The Union, ever pragmatic, redirected its efforts, and the SOV lingered earthbound, a relic of a time when man dreamed of the stars.
During the chaos of the Fourth Defiance, as the Regime bent all of its efforts towards its war with the Pantheon, the SOV was launched without fanfare, and without detection. It slid into the night sky and immediately went dark, using its array of stealth devices to veil itself from earthly detection.
It’s controllers waited for the day when they would read of its destruction, sure that Answerer, or whatever other augur Prevailer consulted, would allow the tyrant to strike at it. But such a dark day never came, and the SOV remained on standby, ready to direct its entire complement of devastating weaponry the instant it was called upon.
Now, the time had come for it to strike.
One camp, perhaps the majority, spoke strongly of the Army of Sunset as the only possible target for the SOV. Zeus’s vanity parade could not last forever, and they would never be concentrated again. They hoped that SOV’s power would shatter those Ultras who were able to be affected by earthly weapons, cutting down the ‘glass cannons’ of the Pantheon and greatly weakening the Host of Hosts.
Another camp had an entirely different objective in mind. This camp, claiming as its greatest champion the intelligence operative known as Defeater, argued for a strike on the Lair. The tyrant had ceased to venture forth from her den. Perhaps a weakness had somehow manifested? The SOV had already avoided her diviners once before. The partisans of the second school of thought believed it might do so again, and put her Ultra Toughness to the test without giving her the instant’s warning she would need to warp away.
The last camp, by far the smallest, found its adherents in the Union’s scientific leadership. It argued for the SOV to turn away from earth entirely, and bring its resources to bear upon the moon. They believed that a device critical to the operation of the Process could be found there. Analysis of such a thing could open up possibilities that their peers could not even conceive of. Directing the outcome of the Process, or taking its function hostage in order to back down the invaders, might all be in the realm of possibility.
The argument raged throughout committee after committee, board after board. And ultimately the decision which was reached was what an outside observer might have expected. The day had been won by compromise.
The SOV would strike the Army of Sunset, and then the Lair, and finally carry out whatever operation awaited it on the moon.