The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos, The Journey Homeward, Ambush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda, Changing the Moon, Expanding Horizons, Running the Blockade, Dueling Politicians and Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation Today we get Episode 35.
For the next few mornings they began to deal with the issues brought forward by the different committees. A couple of the delegates were not interested in the process. They skipped meetings, and generally only attended whatever meetings were mandatory. These same delegates were the ones who took the most advantage of the privileges afforded them. They demanded the best of everything and lots of it.
In the afternoons, Jamison led his group to specify their recommendations. Regarding the family, they established parents as responsible for their children until they reach the age of twenty. Children were required to be under their parents authority until this age. The taking of another’s life was made illegal except when commanded to do so in a military action or in the course of defending yourself or another person, For sexual ethics there were some who wanted all sexual activity outside of marriage to be punishable by law. Others felt this was too invasive. Ultimately rape was made illegal, but other sexual activity, although they agreed it was wrong they did not make illegal. Theft of course was made illegal. Lying for reasons of deceiving people in the areas of financial gain, political manipulation and similar cases were made punishable by law, but most forms of lying were not. In the area of social justice they seemed to have an impasse as to whether individuals should be entitled to the same standard of living they saw in their neighbors. But in the long run no way to codify the idea into law was discovered.
Eventually their recommendations for the moral code then was ready, but then they had to decide what to do about the loyalty code. It was determined that a person would be free to choose to align. However it was also determined that once aligned a person could not change their mind, nor would any future alignments other than with these two be allowed. No one could force another person to align with either the Kilkians or the Dibolocos. Opportunities for people of similar alignment to gather were discussed at length. Eventually the fourth loyalty code was determined to prohibit any regulation of such gatherings.
Jamison felt a great deal of hesitation about the loyalty code. It seemed to fit with everything he had learned about alignment from Colopher, but it also didn’t quite set right. It was as if something in the back of his mind was nagging him. But since his committee as a whole felt settled, he had to take the next step which was presenting the report to the congress. They organized their idea into a list of ten, putting the four loyalty laws first, and then the six moral laws following. Then presented them to the group for the greater discussion.
As he expected the report was met with a large amount of resistance from those who had gained their power through immoral dealings and businesses. Jamison took note that these individuals were also the ones who were taking the welfare of the nation lightly and as secondary to their own privileges.
He was however surprised that even those who agreed with the code in the general sense often did not agree as to where best to draw the line between what was legally allowable and what was not. During the course of the first days discussion almost nothing was agreed upon and it seemed to him the congress was getting divided into three different groups. First were those aligned with the Kilkians who favored the proposal. Then there were the unaligned who favored the morality but were confused as to why a loyalty code was included. Then there were those aligned with the Dibolocos, who favored the loyalty code but argued with the moral code.
They argued the first day without making any headway. Then they argued the points for an entire second day. Jamison became aware that the last group had began calling everyone else terrorists. They accused them of wanting to use force to coerce everyone else into accepting their viewpoint. This title got turned back on them though when shortly into the third day of deliberation a group of them drew their weapons in what appeared to be an orchestrated plan to murder certain opposing delegates. When the leader of the group called out what appeared to be a command they spread out and drew their weapons. The leader pointed his weapon at Commodore and Vice-Chancellor Galvez and pulled the trigger. In his haste, he had forgotten to turn off the safety. Cursing he fumbled for the button and the instant the weapon was activated a bolt of laser light shot out of the large chandelier on the ceiling and instantly killed him. It had been so strong a shot that it practically cremated him in the one shot.
His co-conspirators, saw him fall but most were confused aiming their weapons at different delegates, including all of Jamison’s committee. But like their leader as soon as the weapon was armed the laser struck them dead. The room rang out with shrieks of terror. The room had gotten many degrees hotter through the short battle, and the smell of burning flesh was overwhelming the room. A few of the aggressors realized what was happening and quickly surrendered to soldiers who were rushing in.
Chancellor Johnston was pounding his gavel on the podium, but appeared shell shocked. Commodore Galvez, who didn’t seem shocked at all, eventually reached over stilled his hand and began addressing the group.
“Gentlemen, those of you who are still alive, please be still. These men who have attempted to take control of the government through violence are largely dead. The ones who are alive are being arrested and will be executed as soon as the judiciary completes processing them.
“The events you weapon that killed them was put into place in order to protect you delegates from any outside attack. Many of you wondered why we never required you to check your weapons before entering, the reason is the sensors and weaponry over your head will kill anyone holding an armed weapon making the restriction unnecessary. This weapon, and these defenses were not intended to protect you from each other. We designed this arena as a place of law and order, never did we think the delegates of these colonies would try to solve their differences by violence wrought against one another.”
He went on for over an hour. It was the kind of lecture only a military man knew how to bring and when he was done most everyone in the room felt they had been dragged into actions which were below their dignity. At first Jamison thought the whole situation had pretty much ruined their intentions and progress. But as the lecture dragged on, he realized the Vice-Chancellor was priming the remaining delegates to think of their positions as one for honorable people, who behaved with decorum and who respect the law, each other and their colonies.
They were eventually dismissed, and since Jamison’s committee had no immediate work to do he took a leisurely lunch and spent his time in the library and other common areas. While it might appear to the outside that this would have been relaxing, Jamison found it to be anything but comfortable. The unaligned opponents to his committee’s recommendations approached him in a steady stream. They would ask for clarification, discuss disagreements and either begin to change their minds or agree to disagree. Then another would show up to take his place and it would start all over again.
Jamison was often tempted to dismiss the politicians or worse to upbraid them for their failure to understand. But he didn’t. In fact, as the process continued he began to see value in it. He suspected that by the time the next morning session began he might have a majority in favor of the 10 laws his committee had proposed. He continued this schmoozing with the other delegates up to dinner, and then through dinner he continued to be approached by others. During this time he saw Commodore Galvez watching him from across the dining hall.
His motions were very similar to those he had seen all day long. It was the action taken by a man waiting for the previous man to finish so that he could be next to start a spontaneous conversation. But Galvez didn’t hang around and wait. He disappeared and Jamison assumed he had been mistaken.
Three different delegates bought him a different dessert, not realizing perhaps how full he had become, before he headed back to his quarters. He let himself into the apartment and immediately knew he was not alone. He didn’t feel threatened so he walked into the main room without taking any guard for his safety. Galvez was seated there.
“I was beginning to think you were planning on staying out all night.”
“Nah, just had a lot of people who wanted to talk to me today.”
“I suppose they wanted to discuss the army having weapons of mass destruction hidden in the walls around them.”
Jamison thought about it, and said, “Actually not a single person brought that up. Although now that you mention it, I want to thank you for having them there. If you didn’t I would likely be dead.”
“As would I.”
A moment of silence settled on them and Jamison settled into the other chair in his sitting room.
“Your comments after the event were well spoken. It was exactly the kind of words we all needed to hear.”
“Thank you. Speeches are the prerogative of rank in this man’s fighting force.”
Again the silence settled around them. Not the silence of two friends totally comfortable and well acquainted with each other’s company. This was the pregnant silence of a man who knows he needs to say something, but dreads beginning the conversation.
“Would you like something to drink, I have sweet plankton tea?”
“No. But thank you. I actually wanted to talk with you about your alignment. Why do you want to include this silly loyalty code? Other than that you will have almost a unanimous approval for the moral code.”
Jamison knew he would have to answer carefully. He knew he wanted the loyalty code because it complemented the will of the Kilkian king. At least, it did to the best of his understanding. The king wanted people to be free to choose to align with him, rather than being coerced by the circumstances of culture and law.
“In short I am trying to work with the new realities we have now that we are interacting with Kilkians and Dibolocos on a regular basis. We need a way to form one society despite the fact that our citizens have chosen to very different paths of who to serve.”
“Are the two really all that different?” The question was ludicrous knowing everything Jamison knew, but for people like Galvez it was the key question. They saw all forms of alignment as an unnecessary subservience of the citizens. They saw remaining unaligned as the way to preserve their freedom.
“The two are very different, but even more importantly, the one who stays unaligned is actually serving the Dibolocos, whether they admit it or not. Can I tell you about my story? Would you mind hearing what has happened to me in the last year?”
Galvez ascented and the two talked all night long. They drank all the sweet plankton tea and then switched to strong coffee. Finally as the sun peaked over the hills. Galvez was making the choice to align with the Kilkians. They celebrated over breakfast and as they entered the chambers together laughing and talking as if they were the oldest of friends, everyone else in the room took note of the new alliance.
Jamison was given the floor again in order to further discussion of the laws he had proposed. This time he saw only two groups come out of the discussion. These two groups would form the first two political parties for the colonies. Those who were whole heartedly in agreement came to be called Advocates because they advocated working with the aliens. The other group which was actually a little larger and stronger were called Isolationists because they wanted to live without any connection to the aliens.
It took another two days, but the ten law standard eventually passed. The isolationists allowing its passage not because they agree with the loyalty code but because they began to realize it also protected them from being forced to align against their wills.