Contest entry for Ultimate Trinket Adventure. Write a short story having to do with War.
|Word count = 2656|
A Civilized War
Kimberly double-checked the room to make sure everything was set as required. Normally a high-level meeting between the different land masses of Quantex happened only once a lunar month, but it was only two weeks ago a meeting was called to discuss the productivity of several of the Island nations. According to the few notes she was given this was going to be double secure and have something to do with an argument between two of the islands. The way she figured it, her normal recuperation time of a week, was going to be longer. After sitting in on the high and mighty finagling of the participants her brain needed a quiet rest.
Kimmy knew she was lucky to have this job. Her sire was head of Turman, a northern island. It wasn’t the largest, but it was the most prosperous. His status gave her status and she took advantage of it all the time. She could go to any of the islands and buy anything she wanted at any time she wanted.
Some of the things the committee did and planned did not sit right with her, but there was no fighting them, so she donated to organizations that were opposite of what the committee was doing. It was her way of fighting the system without getting her family into trouble.
The double wooden doors opened and the attendees started to file in. Kim stepped back to the wall behind her father's chair. Unless one of the occupants needed something she would stand quiet and “learn”, how to deal with the world. Her father touched their foreheads together, smiled, and took his seat. The elected Chairman, Sir Wolepull, banged the gavel. Everyone rose and saluted the Quantex World Flag, silently nodded, and sat back down.
“We thank everyone for attending this important conference. As you all know it has been many solar years since there has been a disagreement between any of the major land masses. Prosperity has been prevalent throughout many of them. It seems though that the learned Ambassador of Progta has a disagreement with the learned Ambassador of Turman.”
Kimberly tried to stifle her gasp. By her sire’s facial expression she was only partially successful.
“Ambassador Stert, from Progta, asserts Ambassador Terse of Turman cheated him out of Status and future earnings by not signing a written agreement which was beforehand verbally accepted, to unite the two islands through a joining of their protegee offspring.”
Kim froze. Protegee spring, that was her, since she was the only child in her generation of the family. Her sire never mentioned anything about being joined with another. This whole method they were talking about was antiquated and abolished hundreds of solar years ago. She looked at her father. He was sitting statue straight and his face was blank.
“Attention please, members.” Chairman Wolepull banged the gavel. “Both parties have tried negotiations, which have been stalled. If no agreement can be reached, a war between the two leaders will be declared by this council.” The other members started talking among themselves, but her father remained unmoveable. “Everyone.” There went the knock of the gavel again. “Since it has been several decades since any war has taken place in our world, I have checked with the historians to see the best way to carry it out.
“I have had several of the historians watching the negotiations between the two island nations. They have not given me favorable reports. I initiated my own rules of warfare, as it is my right to do. Over the last two solar years, seven members of each island have been recruited to act as spies. The spies may have been born on either island or come from any other of the nice nations. They have been given permission to transfer established bits of information to the ‘enemy’ island to prove they have not been discovered. Over a period of the next two moon cycles, it will be up to the two islands to find the seven spies hidden in plain site and report their findings to the council.
“The winner at the end of the cycle will have total control over the other island for a period of three solar cycles, and the defeated ruler will be the winner's prisoner, to be held in all comfort on the winner's island. The winner will also decide the outcome of the disagreement. Both rulers have agreed to my rules of combat.”
The council members looked around the table. Kim’s father just nodded not changing his facial expression. “The meeting is dismissed. Each leader will be given one a solar day to return to their island. At the end of the solar day, the war will start. None of the spies are to be harmed. They may be held in comfortable confinement but not harmed, since this conflict is not their doing.” With one last hammer of the gavel, the members started to file out.
Kimberly’s father did not say a word to her. He motioned for her to follow, and led her back to their airship. On board, he fell heavily into a chair on the main deck. A gentle wind floated over the deck as the ship took off and headed for home.
Her sire turned to her. “I know Kimmy my treasure. This is not the greatest tragedy but it is the only one that will give me a chance of making your life proceed as you wish. Stert’s son, Marquin, is common and a brute. He doesn’t care for anything but himself. He is looking forward to a joining with you in order to gain wealth. Your diary alone could keep the two of you living comfortably for a very long time. He knows you will take possession of Trugta, the small island to the south of Turman. Basically, you will be the emissary to the island and rule as you see fit.
“Marquin has already been checking on the income of the island and how it is run. One of my spies, not part of the war, has seen written plans on how he plans on changing your new home. The island will be ravaged within a solar year. The people, under his tutelage, will be turned into slaves.”
“I wouldn’t allow that to happen Father.”
“You could try and prevent it my love but under the old rules of the land he would be in charge and you would be subject to his likes and dislikes. From reports I’ve received, his likes are not good. He thinks of women as pieces of property he can treat as he pleases. He also believes a man needs more than one woman to keep him happy and satisfied.”
“But father, he has to know you would not put up with that.”
“That is why he has declared war. If he wins I will be locked up on Progta for three solar years. He will be able to not only do anything he wishes with Trugta, which will be his, but he will be in charge of Turman. The inhabitants would not dare fight him because they could, and I’m positive would be treated as traitors. Stert would have the final say-so on what would happen to them.”
Kimberly knelt beside her father’s chair and put her head on his lap. Tears trickled from her eyes. She felt her father’s hand rub her hair. The future was set. Now they needed to find the seven spies.
Kimberly sat on the front porch of her ancestral home. One and a half lunar months had gone by. Protga found five of the seven spies on their island. Kim’s father just found the fourth. Apparently, the Council man promised each of the spies a bonus the longer they stayed hidden. The fourth spy on Turman was a farmer, who lived on the island. He told Kim’s father, that he was promised the ability to keep and work his farm no matter who won. He was also told nothing bad would happen to her Sire and to her. He threw himself on her father’s mercy when he found out why the war was happening and what the consequences would be. Her father placed the man under surveillance because he threatened to take his own life for harming the family.
It turned out most of the populous of both islands were not well informed on what the war was about of what would happen no matter which way it was stopped.
Kim watched as a man and a woman approached the dwelling slowly. They were hesitant and hung onto each other tightly. “Excuse us, mistress. We wish to talk to your father.”
Kim stared at them. Signaling two guards to watch them, she hurried into her father’s study. “Father two people are outside and wish to talk with you. I recognize them from the village fair.”
“Coming love.” Her father followed her back outside. He motioned for her to stand behind him, and for two more guards to flank her. “How may I help you?”
Both the people fell to their knees and dropped their foreheads to the cobblestone path. The man was the first to speak. “Sire, we beg you mercy. We didn’t know. My wife is innocent. She has only taken part because they threatened our oldest daughter who lives on Progta, as a school teacher.” His forehead landed hard on the stones.
Both of the people rose but did not stand straight.
“Look me in the eyes.”
Both followed directions. The fear there was radiating off them in waves.
“Tell me your story on why you are here.”
The man looked at the woman who nodded. He gently pushed her behind him, where she clung to his clothes. “Several moons ago we were approached by a man in governmental robes. He explained to us, that there were to be games held between several of the islands. They needed participants for the games to pretend to be spies. Since our daughter is on Progta, he said we would be acting as spies for that island. The rules were easy. Once every week we would send a prewritten message to an address we were given to prove we were not discovered. Sire, we were told it was only a game. The winning island would get prizes and the players would get special gifts.
“If we were found it would be a point against you. If you lost our daughter would have to return to this island, leaving her future on Progta. She loves her job Sire. I think our future son-in-law has also been picked by her, although nothing definite has been decided.”
Kim’s father raised his hand to wipe his face and both of the people fell to the ground shaking.
“Rise, both of you. I am not going to harm you. You have my word. Why have you come here today?”
“Rumors have been floating through the area on the real meaning is of the war games. We have come to turn ourselves in, hoping we have been misinformed and this is the correct thing to do. We have not sent this week's message either.”
“Very well. One of the guards will take you inside where you will be given refreshments. You will not be harmed. I would appreciate it if you would stay overnight, but if you need to return home it can be arranged.”
The couple bowed deeply. “We can stay as long as you require Sire. Relatives are watching our business.”
“Very well. Follow Samston, inside. Eat and rest. If you require anything ask Samston and he will see if we have it. Do not send information to your relatives. We are still looking for one player in the game and we don’t want to tip them off that we are close to finding them.”
“Understood Sire. If I may suggest,” the woman whispered, “you should check near the docks. There are some new sailors and Captains hanging around there.”
Kim watched as the couple was led into the house. Her father turned to Bructus, his Captain of the Guard. “Check out the sailors and Captains. If you find one is a spy, bring him to me. We have six of them and Stert is only reporting five. I will have a carrier pigeon readied.”
“Yes Sire, as you wish.”
Two hours later, Bructus returned with a well-dressed Captain in tow. “Sire, may I introduce, Captain Uqua. He is an Uncle of Leader Stert’s, on his mother’s side.”
The Captain bowed but never took his eyes off Terse.
“I know one of the rules of this war is you have to answer questions truthfully. So, I will ask you, are you a spy set on us by the Council or by any member of the Progta community?”
Uqua, squinted his eyes and looked around.
“I promise you no harm, Captain. You may be held here for a short time until I confirm my news has been received by the Council, but then you will be allowed to leave. I am afraid trade with this island may be halted for a bit, but I am confident future trade will be available.”
Uqua let out a long breath of air. “Yes, Sire. I am a spy for Progta. I was given the job by Sir Stert with the promise of an abundance of future trade when he won the war and your offspring were united.”
“Very good. Please follow the guard to your new quarters. I will check with the port authorities and have permission for your men and ship to be moored until you can return to them.”
Uqua bowed lower this time. “Thank you Sire for your generosity.”
Turgta turned to Bructus. “Take care of anything which needs to be arranged at the Port. Also, send the messenger pigeon caretaker to me.”
Bructus bowed and backed out of the room.
One hour later the pigeon was sent. Three hours later a pigeon returned with a message stating the Isle of Turman, won the conflict. Within the next week, Stert would come to the island and governing emissaries from Turman would be sent to Progta to set up the new government.
“Father?” Kimberly asked. “What happens now?”
Her father patted her hand. “You are free to live your life as you please. You are not to be joined with Marquin. The man-boy is to be sent to the council to live and hopefully learn some humility. Oh, how I would love to see how that goes. Stert will be kept in the East Tower. There is a walled garden there for him to roam and the area can be guarded carefully. He will be allowed visitors but all his correspondence will be read and he will not be allowed to be alone with anyone visiting.
“I will send representatives to Protga and we will see what is happening there. I have a few ideas of some improvement which can be made for the people.” He smiled. “I also have been in touch with a certain school teacher and she has accepted a position of importance alongside her husband. Her parents will be joining her there for as long as they wish.”
“Is the war truly over?”
Trugta hugged his daughter. “War’s never truly end, my dear. When the three solar years are up and Stert returns to his island, I’m sure he will be plotting another war with either us or one of the other islands. The man has always liked conflict. Even when he was very young and we played together, he was always a bully.
“Now come daughter of mine. We have some guests already here and we are execting others soon which must be held in tight high regards.”
“Yes father,” Kim said as she followed her father into the dwelling to prepare for her future.