The Prologue ('Decisions') of my book ('The Irreverence Wars')
|13:30, December 3rd, Post-Earth Year 1099: Gliese 581 Local Solar System in orbit around Gliese 581 g aboard the H.F.S. Gliese 581
The Council had commenced its session, the councilors in concern consisting of Humanity’s Empress Lauren Talonisse (known to most as Her Majesty), her Seneschal the Arch Duke Luciende Talonisse, the Cardinal Alihkour Ourish of Gliese 581 g- who was only present due to being the presiding figure over Gliese 581 g, Humanity’s capital-, and the five leaders of the militaries of Humanity’s Empire. The Seneschal of the Humanity’s Empire was currently discussing the virtues of allowing women to join the various military branches and establishing a draft. Finishing his monologue without interruptions as no one was permitted to speak while one of the Blooded were speaking, the leaders of the militaries shook their heads with anger until he was completely done.
Fuelled by the fact that all four of his fellow military leaders were dissenting, the General of the Corps stood from his seat, addressing the Empress directly. “Lauren,” he said imploringly, “don’t allow this to happen.” He looked at her, his eyes filled with a haunted quality as they gazed into the Empress’s own eyes. She smiled at him sadly, nodding at him with a knowing understanding. The rest of the council merely looked at the General with not a little amount of surprise- he had used the Empress’s first name and all she did was smile at him? Their confusion merely increased as she rasped out quietly.
“Korimeh, my love- you know I must. You helped me to establish this empire- and how did I accomplish that, dear?” She looked at Korimeh and, nodding to him regretfully as she acknowledge his tortured look, she continued, unwilling to make him answer the question or even to answer it herself. “I did what had to be done, Korimeh, as do all of your- and each and every one of your fellow leader’s- men do. All I am doing is allowing volunteers of the fairer gender do the same, hon.” The Empress looked to her Seneschal then, staring him down with intense hatred and a stony gaze as her gravely voice continued by rasping, “And that is what these women will be, my brother- volunteers. That is final- this Empire will never institute a draft: soldiers volunteer to sacrifice everything so that others need not.”
The Seneschal looked to the Empress then, momentarily flashing a frown of the lips and discontentedness in his eyes, but he cleared his face of any emotion quickly, merely nodding deeply and with respect to the Empress. “Very good, your Majesty.”
Korimeh spoke again as a realization hit him and made a bold statement by directly contradicting the Empress, “Your Majesty, I must ask that there is a draft, but only for women. There will be a hesitancy on their part to join, until their effectiveness has been demonstrated.” The Empress laughed a broken, mirthless laugh that was rather soft.
“Korimeh, love- do not attempt to mask your intent with me, and to coat your words with honey through unnecessary additional measures of respect. For you cannot mask your words well- you never were a politician, dear- and the coating of your words with honey merely sets off red flags.” She smiled then, shaking her head slowly. “You are attempting to exclude women from your Corps by making them go through a draft. Yes, I see your logic- all members of the Corps must volunteer for that duty, and by having been drafted, they could not have volunteered. Firstly, your logic is flawed- they could volunteer for a new duty after being involuntarily forced into another, and indeed must volunteer due to the fact that they must have risen through the ranks of each and every other military force. Secondly, as I said, a draft will never be instituted- it defeats the purpose of having a military because your soldiers would not be fighting for the ideal.”
Korimeh sighed and, nodding his head, sat back down in his seat. At his defeat, the rest of the military leaders began to roar as they all stood up defiantly. Korimeh stood up again, slamming his fist upon the top of the rounded table as he did so, quieting all of his fellows in the process- he extremely rarely showed any signs of anger. “You all heard your Empress and you all serve her and Humanity faithfully- so kindly sit down, shut up, and serve!” They all frowned in thought and, out of respect for the man who had worked with and under each and every one of them, nodded and sat down quietly. Korimeh nodded then and in an antiquated gesture, bowed respectfully to the Empress before sitting down.
The Empress nodded her head to Korimeh respectfully herself, and with appreciation. “Very good. Then, if that is it, might we be able to adjourn this session?” The Empress asked of each and every councilor. Waiting for a few moments and looking at each and every one of them, she nods to herself before stating, “Then I declare this council adjourned. Korimeh, meet me in my quarters upon Gliese 581 b at 18:00 hours.” Korimeh saluted, waiting for the Empress to leave before standing. His fellow leaders of the military branches followed him out of the chambers.
00:00, December 25th, Post-Earth Year 1099: 55 Cancri Local Solar System on the Planetary Base in orbit around 55 Cancri e
The base-wide communications system blared a tone in self-acknowledgement of its activation before a human voice came through it, “All Forces Cadets are to report to the docking bays- promotion occurs promptly at 00:15.” Groans could be heard from his fellow cadets in his dormitory as Cadet Alekszi Emiel, CO of Cadet Group 6, sat up in his top bunk. Shaking his head with a small grin upon his lips, he said, “C’mon, boys- just another day in the grind.”
His XO, Cadet Luciel Talnoch frowned at him as he sat up on his bottom bunk opposite Alekszi’s. “Man- this is a sacred day, the day our ancestor’s home world was consumed by its imploding planet. Not even the Forces has the right to make us do this shit today!”
At his XO’s dissension, Cadet Emiel climbed down the ladder from his top bunk down to the floor and, turning around, he faced his XO and frowned at him, staring into his eyes intently. “Luciel- my Forces owns me, owns you, owns each of us and all of our rights. Sacred day or not, if we’re ordered to do something, we do it then and we do it damned well. Do you get me, or do I have to relieve you of your duties?”
The four cadets other than Cadet Emiel and Cadet Talnoch were deathly silent as they looked at their two leaders, tensions climbing with every moment. Cadet Talnoch was returning Cadet Emiel’s gaze, searching him for any signs of bluffing. Finding none, Cadet Talnoch spat on the floor. “You know me, Sir- I got you and your fuckin’ back.” Grinning, Cadet Emiel nodded and clapped Cadet Talnoch’s left shoulder with his right hand, giving the Cadet his left to help him stand up.
“Good man, you ornery big ol’ bastard!” Laughing together, they nodded to each other, both of them looking into each other’s eyes with understanding and care. Then, breaking the gaze, Cadet Talnoch roared to the four other cadets, “Alright, boys- gear up and move out, you know the deal.” Cadet Group 6 left their dormitory together, suited up in their 4 inch thick Grade 38 Titanium power armors with laser rifles of varying sorts- Cadet Emiel carried a battle rifle, whereas Cadet Talnoch carried an assault rifle. Cadet Johnathan Stone had a designated marksman rifle, and Cadet Oriel Wellman carried a sniper rifle. Cadet Mark Thorne held a shotgun. Cadet Gregory Michaels was their dedicated Technomancer, so he had only a pistol strapped to his waist. They arrived to the docking bays by 00:08, and were the first there so they got seats way up front, near to the instructors.
At 00:15 promptly, the lead instructor spoke, to his cadets. “Well, men- you all know the story of ‘the One Sixth’: they were the soldiers who died while fighting for the formation of our empire- of Humanity’s Empire! Today, we honor them. All six groups of six cadets will have their own drop ship, one of which has had a vital system sabotaged, which will make it so that the drop ship in question will reach the surface of 55 Cancri e.” The lead instructor looked at each and every Cadet in the eye, showing his first sign of remorse to the cadets.
“This is it men- this is the time for your cadetship to end, and your service as Forces members to begin. No matter how much I have come to care for each and every one of you, I have to send one sixth of you to your deaths, and I am sorry for that. But you all knew the sacrifices you would have to make, and the risks you would have to take, in order to join the Forces, and you all still signed up for it. So I send you off with my blessing and my sincere hope that you make it out alive.”
And with that, the six cadet groups were dismissed to their assigned drop ships. As they all waited with baited breath for the docking bays to open and let their drop ships out, each and every cadet in Cadet Emiel’s group dealt with the stress in their own ways: Cadet Emiel began to meditate while Cadet Talnoch prayed and Cadet Stone sang. Cadet Wellman looked out the windows silently as cadet Thorne paced, and Cadet Michaels’s eyes were glazed over, a sign that he was messing around with his chip and was deep inside of his own techno-world.
Then, without any warning, the docking bay floor opened up into six circles around the six drop ships, and they all started downwards. Cadet Emiel was the first to notice the simple fact that they were falling, and not being propelled downwards. He sighed and said, “Michaels?” questioningly. Michaels did not answer and Cadet Talnoch began to walk towards the Technomancer threateningly, but Cadet Emiel motioned him to back off. “Michaels” Cadet Emiel said a bit more firmly, but not with any anger- he knew that Michaels was in the techno-world from his eyes, and he thought he knew what Michaels was doing.
Then, a few moments later, Michaels’s eyes snapped wide open.
“All systems are out but life support, sir!” He said in an alarmed manner. Cadet Emiel cursed audibly before standing. Looking to Cadet Talnoch, who merely nodded grimly, he spoke to his men first.
“Alright, boys- take off your combat helmets and secure the enviro-helmets to your power armor’s neck piece. Make sure your boots are sealed tight to the rest of your armor, as are your gloves!” Turning then to Michaels, he continued by saying, “Wait until we are near to the surface, then divert the power from the life support systems to the landing systems and land us as close to the part of the dark side of the planet that is farthest from becoming light as possible.” Then he checked his battle rifle and did what he commanded his men to do. “We’re making it out of this, boys.”
11:45, January 1st, Post-Earth Year 1100: Gliese 667 Triple-Star Local Solar System – At the largest farm on Gliese 667 Cc
Sarah smiled to Bessie as she removed the trays from the synthcows loading bays. “Good haul, Bessie,” she said gratefully to the synthcow as she hugged it around its metallic neck. She heard a clipped off burst of laughter behind her and turned to see Tucker. Tucker merely shook his head and approached Sarah, chuckling still.
“You know, Sarah, them synthcows cain’t tell you love ‘em: they’re just simple programs with quasi-biological elements that allow them to synthesize their meat.” He said this all as if it were a matter of a fact as he stood behind the synthcow. Sarah clenched her fists.
“You know, Tucker, that you don’t know when to shut your damn mouth- you’re just spewing horrid, awful lies about something you don’t know about and could never understand.” Sarah, however, was not speaking in a matter of fact manner- her words were tinged with emotion and the tears she shed infused more emotion into the situation. But Tucker still frowned and reared his right side back, bringing his whole body into a slap to Sarah’s left cheek, and she fell down with a cry.
That was when Bessie bucked, bringing her right back foot straight into Tucker’s jaw. Sarah heard the crack of his jaw breaking as she got up, and cringed. “You got what you deserved, Tucker… Never strike a woman!” Tucker, who had fallen as well, got up and felt at his jawline.
“You bitch, Bessie!” He took out a power-blade, but he put it away as Sarah shrieked and went between him and the synthcow. Spitting on the ground, Tucker shook his head painfully. “You’re the real bitch here, Sarah. You love that stupid cow- you love all the programs on this damned farm so much that you don’t pay any attention to us, your fellow ranchers! We’ve all tried to talk to you, tried to get you to like us, and yet the only ones you like are Rick and the damned programs… We just wanted you to be one of us.”
And with that, Tucker started to stagger off, leaving Sarah surprised, confounded and confused. Eventually, she did all she knew to do, and said, “I’m sorry Tucker…” But it was too late. Tucker was gone, and Sarah was all alone, like always. She started to cry as she finished tending to Bessie. As she finished with the synthcow, the farm’s communications systems went off, and announced lunch time. She brushed away her tears and headed to the mess hall. As the doors opened for her at her approach she was surprised to see the rest of the ranchers- including Tucker- standing there with wrapped presents in their hands and smiles on their faces as they all began to sing, “Happy Birthday” to Sarah. Even Tucker sang, though it was softer, out of tune and pain was injected into every note of his. Sarah smiled widely and shook her head happily. She looked at Rick and instinctually began towards him to give him a hug, but then a thought crossed her mind. She ran towards Tucker and gave him a kiss on his left cheek before hugging him. “Thank you, Tucker. I’ll try to make more time for you and the other ranchers from now on.” Tucker merely smiled and shook his head with understanding, mouthing thank you to Sarah. He grinned then and looked discretely towards Rick, a gesture that Sarah understood. She walked over to him and kissed him upon his lips, telling him she loved him. Rick frowned but nodded, not wanting to ask what just happened in public.
After they all gave their presents to Sarah, she and Rick went to their own little corner table to celebrate her birthday together. Sarah immediately explained what had happened between her, Bessie and Tucker. “He drew a weapon on you!?” Rick asked incredulously, starting to get up angrily. Sarah shook her head and said, “Sit down, it’s fine. He drew it on Bessie, anyway. But I’ve made a decision, Rick…”
Rick nodded slowly to Sarah, as if to ask her in a non-verbal way to continue, which she did. “I’m going to start working with the other ranchers more, and let them work with me, too.” Rick merely smiled widely and nodded to Sarah, telling her he was proud of her and her decision. The two ate their lunches together, then, talking about nothing in particular.