Failed Tyranny

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding HorizonsRunning 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.

 

Political Parties

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.

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Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding HorizonsRunning the Blockade and Dueling Politicians.  Today we get Episode 34.

 

Legislation, Delegation and Deliberation

The next day when Jamison entered the governing chamber he noticed that most of the delegates treated him differently. They hushed as he approached. They side stepped to let him pass. Others made sure to approach him and greet him prior to the day’s work. The change made Jamison nervous. He didn’t know exactly how to respond to the insincere brown nosing from a few of them. But he also didn’t trust the new respect being given by the others. His days as a pirate had taught him that if people feared you they are more likely to stick a knife in your back.

That morning Commodore Galvez announced their first step toward self-government would be to determine what style of leadership to use. For the next couple of hours different styles were discussed. Then each delegate’s console allowed them to vote from among several of the possibilities. The two possibilities which got the most votes were similar to each other. The first allowed for a president who presided over a legislative house, a small judicial committee and a military wing. The other possibility was a Chancellor who presided over a legislative house, with two Vice-Chancellors representing the military and the judiciary.

These two options were then considered in depth, and eventually the second was chosen. The next day they would select their Chancellor, and Vice Chancellors. But they also would have to select a basic set of sub-committees to take on various tasks. They would decide those groups once they had their own Chancellor in charge of the congress.

The next morning they were allowed to make nominations, via their consoles. They started with the position of Chancellor. After the first round of nominations there were 37 candidates. But after most declined the position there were 13. Jamison was glad to see he was on the list and he made the assumption he would be the first Chancellor. He remembered that his calling from the king had been to be the law giver. It was his role to bring law and order to the colonies.

He was greatly perplexed when in the next round of voting he only got two votes. There were three candidates whose vote totals stood well above all the others, so these three were put forward and allowed to each speak for a half hour about what they would do if selected as chancellor. A final round of voting then was held in which the first Chancellor was selected to be the man Jamison had saved from Richards and his gang of thugs. His name was Robert Johnston.

Then Jamison began to consider that perhaps being the Vice-Chancellor in charge of the judiciary would best allow him to fulfill his calling. This position was the next one to be taken up and the same process was used. After the first round of nominations there were seven candidates, and Jamison was not one of them. He was now certain that something had gone terribly wrong.

Shortly one of the representatives from the capital was placed in charge of the Judiciary. He would have authority over all of the courts, including those which manage law enforcement and those handling civil matters. It was noted that this second category would include any grievances against the government brought be citizens.

Jamison briefly wondered if he might be the Vice Chancellor in charge of the military, but this did not seem to fit with his calling at all. And when Commodore Galvez, asked for an exception, that this position would be held by a ranking officer, he was quickly appointed to that role.

The group adjourned for the day with these three key positions in place. The next day they sought to divide up the most urgent tasks they needed to do next. A committee was formed to establish districts and election protocols. Another was shaped to form law enforcement for every colony. Another was formed to place courts in each. Another was formed to consider how to fund the government. Chancellor Johnston was given quite a bit of leeway for appointing the Chairmen and members of these committees. The only time voting took place was when someone objected or asked for a formal count.

Jamison was almost to the point of despair and beginning to lose focus on the progress of the group. He had expected because of the promises of the Kilkian king and Colopher that he would be one of the key leaders. However all the key positions seemed to have already been passed and now he was stuck with nothing left to do but grunt-work. While distracted in this way he startled to realize Chancellor Johnston was addressing him.

After a moment or two of embarrassment he realized he was being appointed as chairman of a committee on Laws. In order for the colonies to be united they would need to share their most basic legal code. So the formation of laws regarding the most elemental aspects of right and wrong would fall to this committee. Suddenly it was obvious that he had not been chosen for any of those other positions because this committee fit his calling very specifically.

By noon that day they had their committees selected, and it was determined that each morning they would meet in congress, but each afternoon they would adjourn to committees. The committee recommendations had to pass a vote of the whole congress, but by allowing committees to do the bulk of the work simultaneously they would be able to cover more ground each day.

So after lunch Jamison headed into his first meeting of the Committee on Basic Law. He immediately noticed the other four men in the room had all also aligned with the Kilkians. This brought him a deep sense of relief. He would not have to fight for common decency within the committee, but he knew when the recommendations went before the congress they would meet resistance.

The five began to brainstorm a list and from this list began to prioritize what they felt was important enough to codify. Jamison was surprised to notice that even though they were all aligned, and seemingly should be unified, the men did not have agreement in everything that should be illegal. There easily agreed as to what was right and wrong, but differed often as to what was wrong enough to be punished by law.

At the end of the first day a little progress had been made, but they were not ready to report. They had two short lists. One list was moral in nature: it included protecting the family, murder, sexual behavior, stealing, lying and social justice. While this list was generally agreed upon the details of how to flesh it out were far from settled. A second list was about alignment: Kilkian alignment, no aligning with new aliens, not speaking against the Kilkian king, and celebrations of alignment. They all wanted these items because of their own loyalty to the Kilkian king. However they were not at all certain it would be the right thing to do to legislate these issues rather than to leave them in the realm of personal conscience.

This summarized much of the problem. The King wanted people to know right from wrong, but also wanted them to have the freedom to choose right. Those areas where doing wrong caused harm to others must carry a penalty. This serves to protect the public from the anarchy, piracy and their own moral weaknesses.

Dueling Politicians

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda,  Changing the Moon, Expanding Horizons, and Running the Blockade.  Today we get Episode 32.

 

Dueling Politicians

They arrived at the capital city, and the delegates were shuttled to the planet’s surface. They were assigned luxury housing in the downtown area. The compound had been built just for them. It had elaborate security systems and a contingent of troops assigned to protect them. They settled in and planned to meet together the next morning to begin the process of designing what system of government they would choose.

To everyone’s surprise the CDF commanders informed them they would be giving them an orientation for the next couple of days that would acquaint them with the history of the colonies, the past styles of government, the resources and economy of the different planets and the basics of political theory. It made sense when you realized that most of the representatives were completely new to politics. But on the other side of the coin, it also made sense that the military leaders wanted to have as much input into the new government as possible.

Jamison felt a certain amount of suspicion about the arrangement. He saw the distinct possibility that the CDF would ultimately not turn control back to their elected government. But no matter what fears he had, there was no real choice, except to go along with the program.

The first day they were escorted into a meeting room. It was arranged with lots of small desks, all facing a stage. Up on the stage were larger desks for three leaders to sit, between these leaders and the delegates desks, was a podium for whichever delegate had the floor. They were all assigned desks, and for now at least, a CDF officer named Commodore Galvez moderated the delegation.

Jamison was seated on the third row and a little to the right of center. He looked around the room and realized every single desk had a delegate at it. He settled in for the first day of instruction, presented by the CDF. He found it to be a lot more helpful than he had expected. He took extensive notes, on a console provided for the purpose. It was set up with some impressive tools he found genuinely useful.

When it came time to return the second day he was surprised to discover he was looking forward to further education. He noticed one of the desks was empty. He asked several others about the politician who had been there and he either got someone who didn’t know or else someone who seemed to know, but still answered vaguely. He then sent a message to Chambers and asked her if she knew anything about it. She didn’t, but promised to look into it.

By the time the first break came around a message was waiting, explaining what had happened. During the previous evening delegates were gathered informally and discussing what they hoped would be the policy and shape of the new government. Two of them had a heated disagreement about the best direction, and it ended with the two of them stepping out back, with their weapons. A little while later the CDF was quietly disposing of a body and only one delegate returned.

After lunch another delegate was missing. A few questions later and Jamison realized there had been another duel. By the third day they had eight fewer delegates than they started with. Those who were unaligned or aligned with the Dibolocos were fighting for who would be in control. This was a cruel way to sort out a new government. Jamison took note of how little the Dibolocos cared if their minions killed each other off. He also noted that the winner of the duels was gaining greater respect among the representatives. His name was Richards, and Jamison figured he would cross paths with him sooner or later.

That evening he saw Richards looking for his next victim. He challenged one of the unaligned men to a duel. The man refused to step out back for the fight, he said he would settle his battles through debate. Jamison thought he was being wise.

Then Richards smiled broadly and said, “Have it your way, but no one will listen to a coward.”

Jamison thought about that statement. The group was working out a pecking order. With the CDF not allowing them to begin active debate, they were finding other ways to wrestle for control. When Richards walked away from the first victim he started straight towards Jamison.

“How about you, sniper, or are you chicken too?”

“Gunplay won’t determine who’s right, only who is left.” Jamison responded.

Richards cackled out a laugh. “How do they expect us to rule the colonies with a bunch of cowards? We’ll see you in the slaughterhouse yet, boy.” And with that he walked away.

The other man Richards had challenged was visibly shaken, so Jamison walked back with him to his suite. But along the way they found themselves surrounded by hostile delegates who pushed and prodded the two of them out to the back alley where the duels were taking place. Jamison immediately felt the danger of people trying to kill him. He felt the presence of a Dibolocos nearby. Colopher spoke to his mind telling him to focus on the men and Kilkians would remove the Dibolocos. A moment later he no longer felt the Dibolocos presence.

Richards stepped out to the middle of the alley on the far end, and asked which of the two victims would go first. Jamison knew the other man stood no chance, so he stepped up. As he surveyed the situation he sensed there was a shooter on the roof too. The second shooter nearly guaranteed Richards the win.

“So how do you go about this?” Jamison asked.

Richards laughed, “We will use a timer, one of the spectators will set it for 1 minute, and when it beeps we both draw our weapons and shoot. Should be easy for a big shot sniper like you.”

“Okay. Mind if I take a practice shot first, to range in my weapon?”

“Knock yourself out. It won’t help.”

Jamison drew his weapon, set it on small explosion and blew a hole in the wall just below where the man was hiding on the roof, the blast killed the man who was thrown up into the air. When the body landed the eaves of the building were shattered, allowing the body to fall into the street beside Richards.

Jamison watched as Richards began trembling and sweating. Jamison asked, “Maybe you changed your mind about dueling?”

Jamison thought for a minute he was going to back down, but after a second he called out. “Start the timer.”

The men on the side did as he asked and after a long minute the timer beeped. Jamison ignored it and watched for Richards to reach for his gun. But he didn’t. The men on the side started yelling at Richards. They called him names and commanded him to finish what he had started.

Then he tried. Jamison shot him before his gun was clear of the holster. He had forgotten to reset it to the appropriate setting. So the man was blown to bits with most of the audience being splattered by the bloodsport they had been encouraging.

Jamison spoke to the group. “Are you satisfied now? Or does anyone else want to try their luck?”

The men found their way to their suites. Jamison walked his friend back to his suite, before returning to his own and vomiting.

Expanding Horizons

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda and Changing the Moon.  Today we get Episode 31

 

Expanding Horizons

Jamison was quietly freaking out, trying to come up with a plan to call his team back together without tipping off the enemy that he knew they were there. Colofer indicated it was under control, but Jamison still felt uneasy. It was one thing when he placed his own life in peril, but it was another to have the lives of these other people in danger because of him.

Colofer said, “So that you may understand and learn to trust your king, your eyes will be opened.”

At that moment Jamison suddenly felt the presence of another Kilkian. Then he became aware of more. Finally he realized there were many more. He looked across the greenbelt and saw what might have been hundreds of Kilkians, shrouded from everyone else’s view. Some were guiding the men back to the transport, others were guiding the animals he had ordered to be collected to move in the same direction. There were some others moving in the lake, causing fish to respond so that exactly one of each of the five species were caught in a matter of seconds. Other Kilkian’s he could see were obscuring the view of the enemy.

He saw all this activity around him and was suddenly aware that the King was constantly more actively caring for his people than Jamison had previously understood. He silently asked the king’s forgiveness for his own lack of trust. And within a few minutes the entire mission was successfully finished. All the men who had come along realized that it had been a miraculous event, but only Jamison was aware of the Kilkians working together to produce the miracle.

Then just as quickly as they had been revealed to him, the many Kilkians around the island became cloaked once again. Jamison vowed to himself to remember this lesson and to not distrust the capability of his king ever again.

When they returned to the mining colony, Jamison assigned the animals to a research team. With the advanced scanners it was quickly dicovered that many of the animals were excellent for food. Others were good as pets. Among the fruit gathered in the greenbelt there was a variety of healthy and tasty options.

Over the next couple of weeks Jamison continued sending out teams, and found additional greenbelts all over the moon they lived on. He even proposed that one be built up as a vacation spot for future visitors. Platinum 9 now had several things to build a healthy economy upon. First they had the food source Platinum Sweet Moss, or rodent weed as they called it locally. Second, they still had the platinum mines. They also had several other types of food from the green belts that could be marketed in limited amounts as delicacies. Finally they had tourism, or they would have once they successfully developed the resort.

Jamison was excited about all of these possibilities, and looked forward to bringing them forward. But he constantly kept the others on his leadership team involved, both so that the work would develop faster, as well as to allow the possiblity that he would not be there to finish the tasks. This possibility seemed likely since his calling for the king had been to bring law to all the people, not just this small colony.

While these developments were taking place on Platinum 9, Chambers was continuing her job of driving back the pirates and as an agent of propaganda. She was instructed to highlight successes and Platinum 9 was the most successful story she was able to share. Every colony she visited was treated to the report of how this moon went from complete despair to great success. People were excited to hear about a return to normalacy. This included a return of a healthy economy, and the possibility of a successful government of the people. But for many they also sought to align themselves with the king because her videos highlighted his role in the achievements.

The end result was that many colonies experienced a revival as people aligned with the king and began living the lifestyle that went with it. Their were places though, where the message was totally rejected. The capital, the colonists center of operations landed in between the two extremes. But the capital did take extreme notice of one thing, they wanted a return of government. The people wanted a society of law and order, again.

People began to call on the CDF to establish a representative government. A few weeks later a notice was sent out for colonies to elect a candidate to gather and begin the process of establishing a central government. The military planned to help them get established and arrange a transfer of power once they were ready.

Naturally, Jamison was the candidate appointed to represent Platinum 9 at the capital. He worked with his alternate to become chancellor after he was gone. She was an older, well respected and very capable woman. He found her to be trustworthy, not just in her leadership and care for the colony, but also in her loyalty to the king.

Chambers was sent out to gather the candidates. The CDF still considered her their best bet at a successful run. Despite the success of her missions they did not yet trust other battle groups would come back again if sent out. Part of the problem with their mentality was they still had a disproportionate amount of leadership aligned with Dibolocos. The rest though was realism. Prior to the return of Chambers, they had a pattern of losing ships.

Chambers arranged to pick up Jamison early on. This gave him the advantage of being on ship and meeting the majority of the other candidates as they were picked up. A few were aligned with the king. Not as many as he had hoped for. More were aligned with Dibolocos. The few that were not aligned either way were purposefully shown the video footage of Platinum 9. To the surprise of both Jamison and Chambers, not a one of them made the personal choice to align with the king, even after seeing this evidence.

Since they were picking up elected officials, these guests were treated very well on the gathering cruise. They were fed the best of foods. Jamison noted with pride that Platinum Sweet Moss was among the foods being offered. They were given luxurious suites and were provided with staff who were charged to meet their every request with a smile.

Jamison took note that many of the candidates were taking full advantage of the opportunity. He looked on this behavior as more befitting spoiled brats than individuals who were responsible for the welfare of the colonies. In spending time with these people he realized that more than a few of them were self-appointed. They came from places where there was no structure yet, therefore they were not selected by their peers, but whoever could muscle themselves into the position filled it. This included a couple of thugs, at least one loan shark, and a couple of local crime bosses heading up large criminal organizations. One individual even described a race, whereby the candidates left the center of town and whoever made it to the pick up zone first, or alive, became the candidate.

Given the collection of representatives, he suspected it was going to be a difficult time forming one united government out of them.

Changing the Moon

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed and Convoys and Propaganda.  Today we get Episode 30

 

Changing the Moon

Back on Platinum 9, Jamison had made great headway.  The people were organized into a temporary government and when it came time to elect regular representatives, the people had asked for Jamison to consider running for Chancellor, the post they had determined would be the highest office.

Jamison had originally declined, but Colofer suggested he change his mind. When he announced his candidacy, he also was obligated to discuss what his operating principles would be. He used that chance to tell the people about the nature of the warfare going on around them between the Kilkians and the Dibolocos. He told them his own history and how he had been led to the rodent weed by the Kilkians. Finally he explained what it really meant to be aligned with the Kilkian king and invited any others who wished to make this choice to join him.

In the days that followed, Platinum 9 began changing very quickly as large numbers of people also aligned themselves with the Kilkian king. Those who had aligned with the Dibolocos were hostile to the whole transition, but the majority of the people understood this hostility and were not dissuaded by it. Jamison made sure he began carrying a side arm again, because he knew the battle of ideas often spilled over into a more physical battle.

When the election came he was elected Chancellor, and to his surprise every single member of his governing board was aligned with the Kilkians. He took this as a mandate to set up a society operating on the principles of the Kilkian king so he immediately set about making laws affecting moral behavior. Severe penalties were put in place for causing injury or death, theft, sexual crimes, and many other activities which harm others. In addition to this, sexual entertainment was outlawed, as was most forms of chemical recreation. The proprietors of these businesses were uniformly under the control of Dibolocos and Jamison knew outlawing them would invite trouble. But he also knew removing their influence would help even more people accept the Kilkian king.

Regarding trade, they determined they needed a way to market their rodent weed. So a signal was sent to the capital city seeking a partner in marketing the product. It only took a short time before a businessman contact them back offering to trade water and cash for the product which he would then package and sell. Jamison believed this negotiation was critical to the future of the colony so he took on the task of finalizing the negotiations and signing the agreements personally. When he did, he found out the businessmen was his friend, Compagno.

Compagno insisted on giving him better terms than previously negotiated, and the deal was finalized. One aspect of the deal which was normally in place during this time was agreements over who took the losses due to pirating.  Compagno and Jamison both felt there would be no pirating, having been so led by their Kilkian advisors. The product would be marketed under the name Platinum Sweet Moss.

In the meantime, the colonists had harvested enough extra rodent weed to fill the first order. They discovered that it would keep very well as long as it was kept cold and moist. Jamison sent out a general request for traders to work the short route between his moon and the capital, but got no immediate response. After a couple of days the message reached Chambers. She would be able to bring her convoy by on their return trip. They could expect her to be there in two weeks.

For Chambers on the convoy, the two weeks went very smoothly.  She was surprised that there had not been another pirate attack on her trip. She decided this meant a few things, first no one with her was communicating their plans to the pirates any longer. Second the pirates themselves were having to find a new tactic. If any of the pirates were truly just human and not guided by Dibolocos then they would not be anxious to attack an entire battle group.  But she doubted there were any in this category. She believed all of the pirates were guided by Dibolocos and this explained their great success. Now that four CDF ships were controlled by Kilkians, the Dibolocos no longer held the advantage in battle.

When she pulled up to Platinum 9 she was amazed at the transformation of the colony since their last visit. She made sure this fact was recorded and added to the video documentaries they were preparing. She also spent some time with Jamison. She attended a Chancellor’s dinner and met the governing board. More interviews were done and additional footage was available to show the other colonies what success was possible when governed with a moral standard and under the leadership of the Kilkian king.

The visit of the trading convoy also meant the resumption of business on platinum 9. Store owners could stock their shelves, the colony government had cash to restore public services, and most importantly they had fresh water. This allowed Jamison to do several things he had been pondering since he took control of the local government. He wanted to know what else was on this moon. Were there other resources and supplies that could be useful to the colony?

Since the records held by the previous mining interest had been erased, the quickest way of knowing was going out and exploring. So he immediately sent out parties with this purpose in mind. They had very few vehicles for this kind of operation, but they did have some of the best scanning and survey equipment in production.

The early trips found that this moon truly did have a remarkable amount of platinum. There were trace amounts of other minerals, but in order to make mining them profitable they needed more concentrated finds. After a few days of these explorations a group came back with a very surprising report. Their scanners had shown ground water. This led them to a small lake and an area of only a few square kilometers with a lush life belt. Jamison figured something like this had to exist because there was no other explanation for the source of the rodent weed, and rodents.

The team that found it encouraged him to come and see it for himself. He found the idea to his liking and loaded up with them for the trip.  But when he set foot on the land-barge he immediately felt a sense of danger.  Looking around he realized it all settled on one of the men in the expedition. Colofer confirmed this to him, and noted the man planned to kill him if he got the chance. Jamison simply handled the situation by having the man assigned to a task which required him to stay behind.

Upon arriving at the life belt Jamison was surprised at how lush it was, given its small size. There was a a variety of game, fish in the lake and fresh fruit. He decided a sampling could be taken back without depleting the resource and assigned men to gather these products. But he also sensed they were not alone. A Dibolocos was a couple kilometers across the life belt. He was aware of the presence of Dibolocos from time to time even back in the mining colony. They would come in and manipulate the unaligned or directly control the individuals who were aligned with them. But finding a Dibolocos out here was surprising.

It took him a few minutes to realize that with the Dibolocos was a man with a sniper’s rifle. Jamison knew that his side arm did not have the range that this weapon did and likely if he came into view he would be killed. Other members of his party were probably also in danger, but he had already sent them out. Even worse, if they heard the firing of a weapon, they would likely just attribute it to the hunters gathering game.

Saved by Rodent Weed

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey HomewardAmbush on Platinum 9 and Refit, Retrain and Rethink.  Today we get Episode 28

 

Jamison was holed up in a den under a water tank waiting for his eyes to adjust to find out what was moving around him in the dark. He knew by his senses that he was in no immediate danger, but his imagination was still having a field day. It could be spiders, reptiles, or almost anything else. He stayed calm but was still glad when a few minutes later he could begin to see.

Over the next few minutes he found that the bottom of the tank was leaking slightly. This allowed the soil beneath to be viable and a moss like substance was growing. A family group of some small rodent was living in there, and as he watched the animals both ate the moss and fed it to their young. Jamison thought to himself the whole family would be short lived. Unless it had some unusual qualities anything grown in such contaminated water would also be contaminated.

He spent the rest of the day listening as the men outside milled around and considered their options. Late in the day he heard a couple of them talking about the water. Apparently the colony was dreadfully low on water, would run out soon, and expected no more deliveries since they had no means of payment. They had few choices. Let their families die of hunger and thirst, or filter this water and let them be poisoned by what could not be filtered out.

Jamison’s heart broke at the choice. Soon he came to understand the king wanted him to intervene, but he didn’t know how or what to do yet. He also expected that he would be seen as a traitor if he showed himself. Everyone off world was seen as the enemy that had abandoned them there to die. He was from off world and worse, could only have been left behind by the ship that had rescued the administrators.

Jamison understood how they felt, he himself was hungry and thirsty. But he was especially thirsty. He had not had a drink in almost 24 hours. It would not be much longer before his mind began to cloud and become less trustworthy. In order to prevent focusing on these thoughts and on his thirst, he spent a lot of time focusing on the family of rodents. They were cute, and very friendly. The babies were curious and crawled all over him. The adults were equally friendly and soon were nuzzling up under his hand whenever he was not petting one of them.

The whole family was wiggling around like nothing was wrong. Jamison was getting curious. He waited till it was quiet outside, and risked turning on the sensor he had taken from the control room. When it beeped it seemed so loud he was sure someone would come. But when no sounds could be heard he scanned the water in the ground. Again it was full of heavy metals. But this seemed in opposition to the fact the creatures were healthy. He scanned one of the creatures and found it uncontaminated. This was puzzling. Next he scanned the moss. It was a great deal like the sweet moss dessert, and it was not contaminated either.

Further investigations proved the ground there was super saturated by heavy metals, Jamison came to the conclusion that the plant somehow filtered that stuff out. He scanned it again and when it registered as safe to eat he tried some. It was delicious and a bit like eating watermelon it was so saturated with cleaned water. He had his fill and began to feel his energy and strength return. Being full and warm, he napped and when he awoke it was still daylight. But he noticed the moss had already grown back. Then the makings of a plan took shape in his mind.

He stayed in that den all day long and didn’t come out until evening when he was sure he could move around undetected. He then used rubber hoses to release the water into the dirt landing field between the mine and the settlement. Then he made repeated trips into the den to bring out some of the moss. Each time he spread little bits of moss into the ever expanding puddle created by the water coming out of the tank. By morning the large flat area which had been dirt, looked like it was covered with grass. He tested the fast growing edible moss several times. He found it contained enough fresh water to keep the colonists alive and was totally safe.

When they approached to see what it was, they were anxious to hear from him, and elated to hear they had, not just a means of survival, but a product that would entice traders back to their colony. That is if any could get around the pirates.

Jamison helped the men harvest enough food for their families’ immediate needs and in the process came to know and be known by almost everyone in the colony. As he interacted with them about the new product, the people developed a degree of trust in him. He used this fact to garner shelter, and over the next few weeks considered with the miners what their next steps should be.

First was the question of legalities. After all, they had obtained their situation by rioting, but on the other side of the coin the company had abandoned them there to die, so under common law they had also forsaken any claim to the resources there. So the individuals who had remained would likely be considered the rightful owners of all land and resources.

But who would be in charge of the colony and what type of government would they use. Jamison saw the problems coming and decided to deal with them as straight on by asking for a general assembly. There was no place large enough so he organized it in the cool of the evening on the dry portion of the landing field.

He suggested that the colony form a coop. This allowed for everyone to be a partial owner of the enterprise. In regards to governing the colony, setting its laws and administrating the details of trade, he suggested they elect a temporary council to handle the most pressing details. During this period candidates could campaign by putting forth their plans and ideas. Then after an appropriate period of time they would hold elections for members of a permanent government.

The people approved of this idea, and many asked him if he would head up the council. He called for them to vote on it and after winning by a landslide he accepted. Then they worked out twelve others to work with him. They were men and women who were known and respected among the miners. These individuals would meet together nightly for the next several weeks to work out the basic details which would allow them to move forward.

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

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 BusinessJewel’s Place, ShanghaiedFirst MarkThe Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash DownThe Lake HouseDancing 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 SeeMaintaining Common SenseMeeting CompagnoUnseating DibolocosThe Journey Homeward, and Ambush on Platinum 9.  Today we get Episode 27

 

Refit, Retrain, and Rethink

Chambers took the ship back to home port outside the capital. After checking orders and finding nothing pressing she dismissed the crew for two weeks shore leave. But she herself stayed on in order to both oversee the repairs and to go through the crew. She planned to have a crew she could trust when she was done, and it was the privilege of a captain to take such an action.

The CDF engineers put a new main drive into the ship and also upgraded most of the weapons. They were hoping that these new weapons would allow them to have more success against pirates. Chambers knew their main problem was not weaponry, but that the nature of the Dibolocos gave them advantages which could only be counteracted by the assistance of the Kilkians.

But she kept this knowledge to herself, at least for now, because the people here looked at the two alien races as much the same. Even the very few who were genuinely aligned with the Kilkian king were not as aware of the true nature of their warfare as she and Jamison. Although every person aligned with the king had a helper assigned to them, most were totally unaware of them.

In fact, the official status of the CDF was that they were not at war. They simply had a large number of pirates to deal with which had successfully disrupted trade at a critical time in the history of the colonies. Because of the inability to trade, society had further dilapidated and the military had taken full control of the government. Furthermore the CDF believed the pirates were random groups which could be Dibolocos led, human led or even led by Kilkians. Chambers understood that the piracy was actually an organized continuation of a secret war by the Dibolocos, but Colofen had advised her against voicing this truth. The people were not ready to believe it.

When the two weeks was nearing completion, Chambers was summoned by the CDF Strategic Command. When she prepared to meet with them Colofen warned her she should expect the meeting to be difficult.

Upon arrival, she discovered that she was the guest of honor at a banquet. She was aware that her victories had been the only success achieved by the CDF. This banquet which was being recorded, would be used as propaganda to help quell the fears of the populace. The CDF was in danger of being overthrown by the anarchy which had overtaken the general population. They hoped to be able to use her story as a success story, which would buy them time in restoring order.

But at the event she was alarmed to discover that a full third of the Central Strategic Commanders, the CSC, were actively aligned with Dibolocos. None were actively aligned with the Kilkians, only her. She was relieved that they did not seem to have any idea what was really going one. But she didn’t understand how she could bring about a unified defense or central government when so much of it was controlled by the enemy.

During the ceremony, she was made aware of several things. One was that she was being given a promotion in rank in addition to being commissioned as captain. The other was that they were moving her from her current command to a heavy cruiser. The CSC had handpicked a crew for her. She would be obligated to use the new crew, a fact which immediately worried her. Her efforts in getting her current crew and ship squared away had been a total waste.

One last fact that surprised her was, that her ship would be equipped with a full communication center. Not for military communications but with equipment used for civilian communication and entertainment. She was made to understand that they expected to continue using her as the primary source for their propaganda. In order to be prepared for this role, they had a couple of days of specific training for her to go through before departure.

During this training time, Chambers began to notice the problems of working in a world that was predominantly controlled by Dibolocos. While the training materials did mention that Dibolocos or humans could be the captain of a pirate vessel, the majority of their energy was in convincing her the Kilkians were the primary culprits. They even put in some suggestions that the Kilkian king might be orchestrating all of the piracy. The training reminded Chamber’s of brainwashing as much as a training event, but she kept quiet and didn’t correct any of the lies at the request of Colofen. Once she and her ship had departed then she would be freer to speak about the truth.

She also learned that her orders would be convoy escort. Along with her heavy cruiser, four light cruisers including the one she had brought home would be in the group. She would have command of all of all of them. On the last day of the training she met the other captains. Captain Bittlesworth was a man actively aligned with the Dibolocos. She was dismayed to make this discovery. Captain Avery was actively aligned with the Kilkian king. She was glad for this and hoped for a chance to speak with him privately in the near future. Captain Dremmer was passively aligned with the Dibolocos, but not particularly loyal to them. In a similar mindset was Captain Corel. He was the first officer who had unselfishly given her the credit for the victories over the pirates they had experienced.

Captain Bittlesworth had expected to be made the group commander and to have the helm of the heavy cruiser. He was a tough looking, handsome and self-composed man. He also gave every indication of wanting to get to know her better. She supposed he planned to charm her based upon his demonstrative attention and overly gentlemanly behavior. She also supposed this meant she would have to watch him the closest.