The meeting in the Party Up's well-appointed strategic planning room was being attended by a variety of strategists on board the ship as well as a number of holographic facsimiles of commanders in the field. The place at Admiral Regel's right hand that would normally be occupied by Maximillian had just been filled by the quivering translucent form of General Kreez. Admiral Regel realized that everyone who would be attending the meeting had arrived and he stepped away from his telescope and returned to his seat. He nodded to his chief arms man to announce the opening of the meeting.

"Operation in progress strategic planning meeting two is now in session. Supreme commander of operations Lord Admiral Regel has the floor." The arms man used a booming amplifier to reach every corner of the cavernous room and returned to his alcove when he had completed the statement.

"I will make my introduction brief so that we might get to the business at hand." Regel began. "Field operations commander Soak is missing and presumed lost with his assault barge. In his place I have selected General Kreez to lead operations from the ground."

A cheer of relief went up from the gathered commanders. Admiral Regel was forced to hammer the palm of his gauntlet on the table top to restore order.

"The initial phases of the assault have been costly. We have already suffered first wave casualties approaching forty percent, and in some regions of this world units that made it through the unexpectedly harrowing landing process were either scattered, already diminished, or utterly annihilated on the ground. Reinforcements are continuing to arrive, but our reserves are already being exhausted and this operation is less than 48 hours old. Shortages of supply and landing craft are acute and re-supply flights are being delayed up to eight hours."

Admiral Regel stood up from his chair. He hated giving speeches while sitting.

"In a moment I will ask General Kreez to delve into the specific crisis points that I believe require our further attention. Before I get to that I would like to congratulate all of you. Despite the unexpected recalcitrance of the enemy, our initial losses, and damage to the fleet itself, we are undeniably winning this conflict. In almost all regions the enemy has quit the battlefield in disarray, has failed to engage us, or is locked in an inescapable siege. I would like to show you a recent uplink I have received from the human political zone known as China."

Video began to play across the central holograph display of Chimopteran gravitic tanks gliding across a crudely cobbled road in a rural village. Juvenile humans thronged the vehicles with smiling faces. A Chimopteran tanker appeared in the tank hatch with a box of pre-pack ration bars. The children cheered and scrambled for the bars as the Chimopteran began to toss them out.

"As you can see, in some areas the humans greet us as liberators. This has proven to be the case particularly in underdeveloped and rural areas, where the human empire has been unable to provide adequate infrastructure and food for their own citizens. Even when we are not viewed as liberators in these areas our forces are often seen as little more than a curiosity. I believe that if we treat these humans with a softer hand and continue to minimize civilian casualties we can help pave the way for a productive future on earth. Many of these…what was their word…'people'…are simply waiting for an opportunity. An opportunity that we can give them."

Admiral Regel's statement was met with mixed applause. Some agreed enthusiastically, while those of more warlike races clapped politely.

"I will now turn things over to General Kreez." Admiral Regel took his seat and gestured to the Kreez hologram seated next to him.

Kreez was short and exceptionally stout, an image further amplified by the 20-30 pounds the holographic uplink added to his frame. In place of his armor's fully enclosed helmet Kreez wore a segmented respirator mask with reinforced black hoses running to his suit pack. The exposed skin of his face had an odd color to it and Admiral Regel realized that it must be the tint imparted by a long day beneath the human's star.

"Thank you, Admiral." There was a raspy but not entirely unpleasant quality to Kreez's voice. "I would like to begin by quoting the ancient warrior-scribe Bucevus, who wrote about the half remembered past of our Empire."

"In the centuries before Empire our great race was sundered and confused." Kreez read from a dog-eared copy of Bucevus' 'Of Empire'. "We churned constantly in wars both civil and foreign, but this same conflict that seemed always to ruin united us all in the precursor of our modern Imperial Commerce; the trade of war. One nation, lost to the ages, achieved hegemony and spread its culture and strength throughout the weaker. There is the crib of our Empire, there is our child ancestor, nursed and grown strong on the sweet milk of blood and fire. When the outsiders came to conquer our people, they found us hardened and ready for battle."

"A bit melodramatic, perhaps, but this phase in our ancient past is the phase at which we now find our foes. The seed of this human empire seems to have taken root in the geographically disparate political entity known as The United States of America. No matter which nation or locale our forces find themselves doing battle in there is inevitably some sign of The United States of America, be it their products, their advertising, or their military forces. Even as our first wave began to deploy this nation's military was engaged in battle to varying degrees on every continent excluding the polar regions. If we cut out this root, will the rest of the tree wither and die? It is too early to say with certainty, but in the belief that I am correct I have placed priority on the subjugation and pacification of the United States of America."

Kreez tapped at an unseen console and a slowly rotating globe appeared on the central holographic display. The United States of America was highlighted red and Admiral Regel could make out several dozen unit markers deployed there.

"This strategy is working well within the United States of America, but it has produced uneven results elsewhere. As Admiral Regel has mentioned, many regions are docile or even actively welcoming to our forces, but this is not something we can rely on. The human hegemony appears where we often least expect it. This nation…"

The globe rotated and enlarged to show a highlighted political zone denoted as Iraq.

"…is small, insignificant, and in a relatively unpopulated region of the human's planet. I dispatched 206th Chimopteran Airborne Light Infantry Regiment and a company from the 8th Chimopteran Armored Division to secure this political zone. They met sporadic resistance as they made their way to the largest urban area. As they moved into the city they were ambushed and sustained very heavy casualties, particularly to the armored forces. Reconnaissance has revealed a force of more than 30,000 soldiers from the United States of America fortified here and orbital surveillance has shown that many more enemy units are located throughout this country. I have subsequently pulled the armored company into reserve and I am moving a convocation of 100 Jerlemain Bondsmen to the region to help the 206th capture the city."

"This scenario has been repeated over and over. The zone of Japan, which we thought all but pacified during my predecessor's attacks, suddenly became contested as naval units and infantry swarmed out of this island. This we have been able to manage with forces on the scene, but it has been costly."

"What can we do to assist your efforts, General Kreez?" Admiral Regel interjected.

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