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, Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation, and Failed Tyranny. Today we get Episode 36.
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 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 even more. 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. Unlike the others, 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 and your ten law system. Why do you want to include this silly loyalty code? Without it, you would have nearly unanimous approval for the moral code.”
Jamison knew he would have to answer carefully. He knew he wanted the loyalty code because, to the best of his understanding, it complemented the will of the Kilkian king. The king wanted people to be free to choose to align with him, rather than being coerced by the circumstances of culture and law. He answered carefully, speaking slowly.
“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 two 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 know it or not. Can I tell you 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 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 system 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.