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, Failed Tyranny, Political Parties, Visiting the City, Passing the Constitution, Tried for Treason and Necessary Failure.
The third battlefield is The Battle for the Heart, The first episode was Living Under Curse.
Today we get the second episode.
Into the Shadows
He returned to his quarters confused by their response. He discussed it with Chambers and together they reasoned that this denial was spreading. They could see it not just on the station but also on the news coming in from the outside. That night he spoke with the king asking how he should respond to the situation.
At first he had no inclination of a response, but a couple of days later they received a visit from Colopher and Colophen. They were somber and spoke of a new tactic being used by the Dibolocos. They were now employing a strategy of hiding themselves from humanity. This did not prevent them from interfering with individual choices, and thereby human history. The open recruitment of humans to align with Dibolocos was not really necessary since unaligned individuals were as useful to their malevolent purposes as aligned.
This strategy allowed them to persuade humanity that all speaking about either Dibolocos or Kilkians was foolishness. Soon it would be dismissed as the rantings of religious fanatics, and modern, educated people would reject all such ideas.
“What does the king want us to do then?” Chambers asked.
“Continue to tell the truth,” Colophen answered, “Even though people will not accept it. Continue speaking of the king and the benefits of knowing him. Fewer and fewer people will respond at this time, but this too is a part of the king’s plan.”
“Our assignment is to press ahead, even knowing it will do no good?” Jamison asked.
“Yes, your faithfulness will honor the king. But there is more we have to tell you. The king has ordered us to also blend into the background. We will always be with you, and may still speak to you on the king’s behalf, but we will increasingly limit appearing to you.”
“We are on our own?”
“You will never be on your own. We will always be the king’s messengers, specifically assigned to watch over you. But it has always been the king’s plan to create a relationship with his people that allows for a more direct interaction. You are not on your own, most importantly, because you will have the king himself as your guide.”
They reviewed the point several times until it sunk in. They would see Colopher and Colophen less often, but that this would be replaced by a better communication and understanding with the king. When they were done, it was with a truly heavy heart that Jamison and Chambers said goodbye to their friends.
After they were gone, Jamison and Chambers began asking questions of the king. They asked for assurance that this new plan was survivable, and specifically what they should do next. When they were done with speaking to the king, Chambers suggested they make a presentation for the entertainment system speaking the truth of the king. Maybe some of the people who experienced the turmoil of the past few years would remember and give credit to the king.
Both of them felt convinced it was the right action and that the king had sent the idea as a response to their questions. They slept well that night and started on the task the next morning. First they had to acquire some basic equipment, cameras and similar materials were purchased from a shop on the main deck. Chambers did the editing and used her experience with the CDF in order to produce the show. They used their friend the steward as a narrator and was careful to avoid revealing their identities. The process took several weeks and when it was done they aired it on the station.
The response was immediate and harsh. Their neighbors who had recently hailed him as a hero now became indignant. Whenever they tried to talk about the king, people would get upset and shout them down in the manner of someone who was unreasonably upset and didn’t know why.
Only a couple of days later, Jamison startled awake in the middle of the night. He looked around wondering what had gotten him up. He checked all the monitors giving information from the communication array, and found nothing out of the ordinary. Still, he had a strong impression of danger.
He woke up Chambers who immediately had the same dark feeling. She asked him what he thought they should do. After another time of talking to the king they decided they should leave the station. In order to accomplish this, they packed the most essential possessions and loaded it on their ship. But before leaving Jamison went to the station control center and spoke with the gunner. It happened to be the one given the credit for destroying the pirates a few weeks earlier.
He explained to the man about the portions of the system which he had previously kept secret. The man was astonished but also somewhat relieved. He knew he had not fired the weapon and had begun to doubt his own sanity under the pressure of public opinion and evidence to the contrary. He also let the man know how to handle the communication array for every other purpose. The man was grateful and promised to play the program about the Kilkian king regularly.
Jamison headed out of the command center toward his ship, but as he was leaving he passed Judasson on his way in. The man looked startled and it left Jamison with an uncomfortable feeling. He felt compelled to get to Chambers and his ship as quickly as possible. Running through the corridors he turned toward the ship, which was away from his quarters. Behind him he heard a crowd of people.
“There he is, catch him!”
Jamison was already running, and he became aware of running steps behind him.
“Don’t let him reach his ship. Have Judasson lock the bay doors.”
He ran into the bay with the crowd seconds behind, securing his ship’s door, locking out the mob. Chambers had seen enough of the situation to know they were in trouble. She raised the ship up to launch, but realized a normal thrust pattern would injure or kill a number of the group. She gently turned the ship, but when facing the exit she discovered the bay doors were closing.
It was now or never so she gunned the throttle and dropped down to inches off the floor. They made it out of the door. And Jamison yelled at her to stop. He jumped to the side seat and took control. Instead of zipping away, he pulled back and held steady just underneath the bay and he hoped out of sight. He knew the sensors would mistake the ship as part of the station this close. The closing door hopefully had blocked the view of the mob to his maneuver.
Chambers began to understand. The communication array would allow the station to target their ship. If they dashed straight away. Instead they would hide here, and form some other plan. A few feet above them there were scores of injured and dying men. Decks above that they were likely looking for revenge. If Jamison and Chambers wanted to survive, they needed a better plan than just, run away.
Jamison blamed himself for giving the targeting information to the gunner. At the time it had seemed like a responsible thing to do. But Judasson’s surprise at seeing him, and the pursuit by the mob convinced him that he had planned on either killing them or turning them over to bounty hunters.