Authors: T. S. Paul
Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Colonization, #Military, #Space Fleet, #Space Opera, #Teen & Young Adult
The sound of running feet made Senator Colman glance up in the direction of his office door. The Senator was lead Government official in Naval appropriations. He could, with the stroke of a pen, change the entire Empire Military structure and budget. This gave him power and influence over a lot of people. Power was seductive, it called to you and made you want more and more control over how things were done. Senator Colman wanted it all.
His immersion in the heart of Empire politics gave him some of what he wanted. People came to him to fix things or to ask for favors. Like the ancient Mafia or the Yakuza organizations of old his position gave him many things. But still he wanted more. The number of favors and debt to which he was owed would boggle the mind. Ever reaching, ever searching he ‘made his bones’ in the political system and was indoctrinated into the super-secret organization called
The Cabal for Change
. Unbeknownst to the Senator until after his induction, his own father had been a founding member. Secrecy was paramount. The price of revealing the inner secrets of the Cabal was death. Not just yours, but the death of your whole family was the price for talking. Members of the Cabal did the bidding of the inner core with almost religious fervor. The allure of a secret society with occult overtones and Omerta strictures was very attractive to some of the elite of society. The Cabal’s membership counted high ranking military officers, political leaders both big and small, law enforcement, members of the legal system on both sides of the bench, and members of the industrial elite in its ranks. A scattered few entertainers and celebrities were also allowed ‘in’, but they were watched very closely. Their every words recorded. The Old Earth phrase ‘Loose lips sink ships’ was very appropriate after a few accidental deaths or air car crashes.
The running feet sounds got closer and ended at his door. A sharp couple of knocks and his door opened. His aide Julius rushed into the office. “Sir, we have a serious problem!”
“Julius what is it now? I am very busy here. The Navy is really pushing hard to get those new heavy cruisers allocated. We need tell our contacts to stall as much as possible. The new military budget should but the kibosh on that.”
“Sir, I just got word through our contact in the Colonial office. The Hong Kong system rebelled against Governor Norton and declared independence, per clause 35 in the Imperial Charter! They arrested Norton and his aide on charges of mass murder and corruption!”
“WHAT! What did that idiot Norton do this time! How bad is this ?”
“It’s really bad Senator. Norton ordered the ESS to put down a farmer protest. About 20,000 farmers and supporters marched to the Sector Government offices to protest. The ESS opened fire and killed about half of them. The local Militia shot down the ESS troopships then captured the Station and arrested Norton.”
The Senator sank into his chair. He buried his face in his hands for a moment. “By the Gods, what a cock-up! Tell me he followed orders and locked the sector communication grid down before his arrest.”
His aide pursed his lips and gave a slight shake of his head. “Not exactly sir. Norton locked the system down, but somehow a local news broadcast made it out along with a message from the ‘local’ government to spread the word. We only know about it because one of the ‘groups’ freighter’s intercepted the message and sent a courier to us.” He glanced at his boss. Bracing himself he finished, “It is a pretty good bet that it made it out, Sir. I have heard from my contacts that about half the other systems surrounding Hong Kong have recalled their Senators and are protesting Norton’s actions.”
The Senator grew pale. “What a freaking nightmare! Wait….You said that he was arrested? Him and his aide?”
“Yes, Sir. The report I was given was that they were both alive and being held for trial.”
“Damn it! Check in with the ‘Wardens’ they need to know anyway. How much did Norton know?”
“Sir, must I talk to those,..people. Can’t I just send a message?”
“I know that they can be a little frightening but You have done nothing wrong. Everything with them must be done face-to-face.” The Senator paused. “You didn’t answer my question, what did Norton know?”
The aide shivered at the thought of even talking to the ‘Wardens of the Gate’, the protectors of the Cabal. “Sir, Norton was part of the pirate initiate. I think he received the latest updates so he may know everything but the inner files. His aide, Cole Whittier, he knows all the small details. He was the Governor’s financial aide. He can link the Cabal, to Norton.”
The Senator really hated incompetence. “Get our people on it, target the both of them before it is too late. Be sure to issue the other collateral damage orders too. We need to stay on top of this. Involving the Wardens would be…messy. Get to work!”
Senator Colman watched his aide leave his office. Checking the monitors built into his desk he scanned the camera feeds making sure that he was completely alone. He saw Julius exit the building and get into a armored air car. He turned away from his desk and rose to his feet. He walked to the bookcase on the West wall. For a moment he studied the spines of the very valuable book collection. Many of these volumes had come from Old Earth with his father’s family. Most of these works were priceless artifacts worth millions of credits on the open market. His collection was the reason given for the security measures on his office and the entire building.
These ancient works were just a front for the real secret of this office. The Senator scanned the many titles until he stopped at an unremarkable faded green book with barely visible letters, Greed. He tipped the book back and the bookcase turned to the side revealing a secret passageway. Ducking his head he entered the dark portal. Once inside the Senator pressed a small button on the wall, closing the door. The tunnel was lined with fine marble and had built in wall sconces. It still boggled his mind that his father was able to build all of this without anyone being the wiser. The floor slanted downward to a dimly lit room. Three doors were set into the wall. Over each door was an engraved plaque with a symbol. The left-hand door had an inverted Pentagram on it. This door held everything needed for ritual: robes, tools, offerings and torture implements. Above the right-hand door was a Caduceus inside a triangle. This room held things to help heal the mind and body. Psychoactive drugs and other mind enhancing items were stored here. Above the center door was the ‘Eye of Providence’ also known as the all seeing eye. This door led to the true reason for all the security measures.
The Empire Capital planet was one of the first colonized after the Cyber wars on Old Earth. His father’s family had been political refugees and venture capitalists that fled what they saw as the coming desolation of the world. With the fall of the American Republic many entrepreneurs invested heavily in the stars, launching ships and leaving Old Earth behind. His ancestors, former leaders from the Cyber wars, had brought this with them as more of a trophy of remembrance and victory, than as a political ideal. The room widened out to an oblong room with an magnificent altar erected at one end. Gold plated Eagles framed both sides of the triple tiered structure. The lower levels held icons of the Senate and of the Empire. The middle levels were decorated with pictures of lost family members and Cabal symbolism. The pinnacle of the altar was the symbol behind the idea of the Cabal in the first place. The large round disk was made of gold. In the center of the disk was the Eye of Providence atop a pyramid. The word ‘
were written above the pyramid. The ancient dead language of Latin was barely spoken in the Empire its use relegated to the medical and legal professions. Below the pyramid were more words
‘Novus Ordo Seclorum
‘: The New World Order. This disk, the official seal of the former United States, symbolized everything that the Cabal wanted in the galaxy. His father’s most valuable possession, the seal both birthed the idea of the Cabal and became a symbol of worship and reverence.Their goal was a New Order, one where the powerful ruled and the rest bowed.
As Chief Engineer for Legation Station, to say that I had a lot on my plate was an understatement. With most of the regular Imperial Navy interned down of the planet, we had a shortage of manpower to run things up here. The Militia WAS helping, a lot. After the Farmers Union Day massacre, and the death of my brother David, there had been a general call up for the planetary Militia. Both new recruits and grizzled veterans lined up to join. Many were veterans of some of the PPL border skirmishes 30 years ago and the last war 17 years ago. Eugenic treatments and Gene therapy were universal on the planet, but old is still old. With an unknown response from the Empire possible en route, my father, the head of the Militia, was rushing to retrain as many troops as humanly possible. Small boot camps had sprung up to join the normal ones. Hong Kong was special in that basic Military training was required of all residents from age 17. Local teens were trained for 6 weeks every year for 4 years. At age 21 they could chose to opt out of future training. All however were considered to be the strategic reserve, in case of disaster or invasion. I myself had gotten my basic training with the Militia. That training had provided the building blocks for my subsequent Imperial training.
Here on the station we were desperate for help. Almost all of the regular Navy had chosen internment over helping ‘mutineers or traitors to the Empire.” Over 90% of my own crew off the James Cook had chosen to join the others on the planet. My former Captain and I had chosen to stay and help. My family was here. I had missed much in my long absence. As the last, true officer of the PPL Navy, I made the decision to ignore my new allegiances and return to the fold. A few of my friends had elected to stay with me. Commander Wang, my former XO, was promoted to Captain Wang assigned to the training ship Paney. If anyone could turn out spacers in a few weeks it was him. The two ‘twins’ Di and DJ had also decided to stick around. “The Imperial Navy is boring” is what they told me. To each his own, I guess. Wilson my resident AI and all around pest has been hanging out with them recently. I keep forgetting to check up on that.
All of the officers except three from the Paney, had elected to be interned. Dr. Zack Smith and Chief Engineer Tadeusz Kościuszko had joined our merry band. Chief Tad was a welcome sight and was sent to oversee our shipyards. We had two Navy vessels to repair and several older ones to rebuild and refit. Ensign Enyo Tisiphone, also from the Paney, was a local. When she was given the choice, she chose to support her home and family. She was currently on the planet with the Special Forces, Sergeant Yannos had requested her for extra training. My girlfriend Marine Lieutenant Dar Zakaszewski was all in with our rebellion. She had just kissed me and said “where you go, I go.” Of her Marine force, about half joined us as well. Lieutenant Kinno Mutai and his four men chose to join her as well. It was nice to have a few professionals around.
Not to dismiss my fellow Hong Konger’s but most of the local engineer’s were of the agriculture kind. Fixing a tractor was easy when compared to a starship. Most of the space trained engineers were needed for the ships we had in orbit or over at the Shipyard. There were a few FLEA scientists still around, but most had joined the navy interns. Before leaving they had approved my ‘droid’ designs for use on Navy ships. Wilson had lent his aid and had made a few clones of himself for their operating systems. The little trashcan shaped ‘bots were autonomous and could make repairs at will. All that I had to make repairs on the station with right now, was a few maintenance chiefs, some techs, my new ‘droids’
Inspired by Wilson, I put the twins in charge of the flight bays. My sister Minerva, as station head, had assigned a few maintenance chiefs and some of the older war veteran crew members to give them a hand. The two look-alike young women had a new appreciation for the high speed of a fighter pilot. I guess I should thank Wilson for that. He did give them a ride they would not soon forget. It was either that or the swath the two were cutting through the pilots. They both had a hard time saying no to the cocky space jockey’s. They were a couple of little heart breakers.