Chapter 8: The Drumbeat of war…..
15th August 2241
The Krynn Consulate Holy Star Federation Council, Qui-Kryseth City, Kryseth
‘WE DEMAND JIHAD MISALA! NOTHING ELSE WILL DO! You have had nigh on 4 years for your policy of peaceful conversion to bring us adherents to The Way and nothing! All we have to show for your way is a Fleet full of Constructors!’ This last was spat out with disgust by the Representative from Maestro I: a firebrand Drengin politician who had formerly been a firebrand preacher.
At the head of the vast semi circular obsidian table that was the centrepiece of the huge hall the Teacher sat impassive: if he was stung by the scornful tone of Representative Zircon Model he did not show it-gone were the days when a disdainful look would summon forth one of Director Lor’s Maharabat to whisk dissenters away. The Krynn Consulate was now a Star Federation and each Planetary Representative now had total autonomy to take their system in whatever direction they and their people wanted. As yet all chose to remain a part of the Krynn as the twin ties of the monetary advantage the Federation bestowed and the powerful faith imparted by The Way bound them close.
‘Does anyone else share the views of Representative Zircon?’ Misala asked passively.
The large hovering globe above Kryseth’s representative illuminated with a chime and all eyes swivelled towards Chancellor Staa’l, the Capitol Planet’s Representative and the Federation’s Head of the Exchequer.
‘Misala, there are many here who question the direction that The Way has taken us in these last few years since the Great Amalgamation with our Altarian brethren’ Staa’l adjusted her robes and shifted uncomfortably under their weight.
‘I am not, however, one of them.’ There were murmurings of dissent at this show of support for the Leader-this had been a fractious meeting where a sizeable faction of over half the Reps led by Zircon had made it quite clear that the policy that they had been following had been an unmitigated flop. The dissenters were adamant that all it had succeeded in achieving was irritating their allies, the Terrans and the Thalans, whose planetary systems were the recipients of a massive programme of Influence Starbase construction. By the turn of this current year the Krynn had no fewer than 12 of these space behemoths issuing forth Krynniac disciples on evangelical missions back to their homeworlds with the messianic fire of conversion in their hearts. They were, naturally, aided by the special Krynniac Disciple Chamber modules installed on the huge off-world structures that allowed them direct concourse with the mysteries of The Way.
‘You believe that the peaceful path that we are set on is the right path my daughter?’ The Teacher asked sadly-he glanced across the hall towards the rows of Prentice’s silently stood at the sides and at the Religious Guards stationed at the rear in their ceremonial garb.
The hover globe glided swiftly to Staa’l but before she could speak it darted away and settled over the hulking Arcean presence of the Representative from Kora, a close political ally of Zircon’s and just as belligerent:
‘My fellow Representatives-when are we going to realise that we are no longer in hock to Misala and his outmoded ways?’ the warlike Arcean surveyed the chamber with thinly disguised contempt ‘No Misala we do not acknowledge the paths of peace you have espoused these last 9 years and there are now enough of us to challenge your guidance or break from it for good!’
There was a hushed silence at this direct challenge to the authority of their leader: it had been agreed by all when the Star Federation was formed, that Misala would remain the spiritual guide and would continue to steer the overall course of their burgeoning race. That was the one condition: now it seemed that there were those of a more militant bent who wished to overturn this agreement.
Misala was serene ‘And you wish to challenge my authority as spiritual leader and guide to the Krynn Representative Tasha San?’ He asked smoothly.
‘Myself and many more 1st Consul!’ the Arcean bellowed ‘The ways of peace are over-it is now time for Jihad!’ At this the chamber erupted as many of the Reps took up the refrain shouting ‘JIHAD! JIHAD! JIHAD!’
The Teacher rose and spread his hands in a calming gesture: even now so many years later this movement carried all the authority of one who had total communion with The Way,
‘My friends. You are so disparaging of the road that I have set out for our race-it is one that involves no needless slaughter, one that has seen us advance beyond our wildest dreams and triple in size as a star race in 6 short years. It is a way that has seen off the menace of the Yor and one that has seen our treasury withstand the ravages of not one but three Interstellar recessions. And how much do we now have in our treasury? I wonder if the Planetary Representative from Kryseth would enlighten us all on that front?’
For once San was silent-he was embarrassed as he didn’t have the figures to hand. Misala turned to Staa’l:
‘Chancellor Staa’l I wonder if you could?’
The globe returned to the Altarian who declared the astonishing figure of Bc63,400 in the coffers-it should have been an arresting moment and in normal circumstances it would have been. These were anything but normal circumstances, though, as was proved a moment later when no fewer than 10 of the 17 Representatives, San and Zircon included, stood to leave
Misala’s calm demeanour slipped at this affront to the protocols of their body politic
‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’ He suddenly roared. At his cry the Religious Guards moved to block the entrances as if by some unspoken command. This had the desired effect of stopping the secessionists in their tracks. Bewildered, Zircon turned to face the Leader.
‘What is this? Misala you will explain this affront to our dignity!’
‘YOU WILL SIT DOWN!’ There was a stunned silence as the rebels sat chastened. All except Zircon and San of course. Misala fixed them with a withering stare ‘ALL OF YOU!’
The two ringleaders reluctantly returned to their seats as Misala paused to allow the emotions that were running very high in the Chamber to calm.
It was a long pause.
Finally the Great Leader started to speak ‘There are those of you who believe war is the only answer. There are those of you who feel that we should break our Alliances with the great races the Thalans, who have a pre-eminence in the Galaxy right now or our friends the Terrans. I know who counsels thus’
Misala’s piercing gaze swept the room. Some of the Dignitaries looked down sheepishly.
‘You feel that I am soft and that I am not prepared to take the hard decisions that need to be taken don’t you?’ This last was addressed directly at Zircon.
‘And yet a mere four years ago we were a pygmy Star Race in a galaxy of Giants. How you all quailed like children when the war with the Robots was threatening to overwhelm us. And did I not comfort you? And what are we now-one of only four star races that remain sovereign and inviolate? You were joyous when the blessed Altarians joined with us but then did you not wail with despair when their worlds, over-reliant as they were on their production, sent our economy once more into freefall?’
At her station Chancellor Staa’l allowed herself a small smile-she better than anyone here knew what the Teacher was capable of when backed into a corner.
Misala’s voice grew in volume and strength as he warmed to his theme: by now the politicians, previously rebellious and confrontational, were rapt
‘And did I not counsel patience? Was it not I who appointed our current Chancellor and is it not she and her team of brilliant financiers who have led to us to becoming the Galaxy’s economic powerhouse? Even the Thalans for all their worlds and their military might cannot match the treasury that we possess.’
There were nods and murmurings of assent now-it seemed the speech was working.
‘We have a massive fleet of scouts who have been engaged in a wholly peacetime pursuit of scouting the many anomalies that are so abundant in our systems-they have managed to amass more than Bc20, 000 between them-and yet still you call for war.’ Misala looked sad at this last, looking around at the assembled politicians much as a doting father might survey a wayward child.
‘I counsel you that war is not the way and yet you defy me.’ The Leader paused unexpectedly, ‘and yet…..I have communed with The Way and the signs that I received were troubling and not a little confusing’
The hush was deafening. This was a new twist: even Zircon and San were gripped. Suddenly the room darkened and in walked a man well-known to all of them: none other than Professor Matsui Nakamoto, the brilliant human starship-builder. He had been somewhat under-utilised ever since his award-winning design of the Frigate Class ‘Fast Attack Sloop’ had fallen into obsolescence at the turn of the decade and it had been widely rumoured that he had gone into something of a self-imposed exile on the Garden World of Kryseth II.
A 3-D holograph illuminated the space in the centre of the chamber and all gasped as a magnificent warship was displayed: sleek and at the same time angular her multiple Harpoon Missile arrays were a clear statement of its intent. The ship was massive-quite dwarfing the largest ships currently operating in the Star Navy at that time-it also seemed to be sporting not one but two of the brand new Warp Engines that had recently been traded with the Vegans before their demise at the hands of the rapacious Thalans. Shining Titanium Armour and hardened hull points throughout completed the picture of invulnerability.
The bespectacled professor cleared his throat: ‘Esteemed Representatives-allow me to introduce the vanguard of our new Divine Navy: the KCS Resurrection of the Way, a Jihad-Class Battlecruiser. It will lead our race in the war against the Torian unbelievers’
Pandemonium! Above the hubbub Zircon Model struggled to make himself heard as he directed his question at the Teacher, standing impassive at the head of the Table:
‘What is this Misala-you-you agree with us?’
The Leader turned a face as devoid of expression or emotion as a Mansi night: ‘I agree with what I have learnt Zircon-I agree with The Way whatever paths it may lead us on’
It was all the Council needed to hear-it was a call to Arms: the Krynn Consulate was going to war……….