Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2019, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part CXI: Enemies
Continued from the previous excerpt
Renok went first, on one of Solomon's last points, military protection. "If the Flike or Glaut attack Oskran," Renok asked, "what will be the Republic's response?"
"Republic policy at this time," Danner answered, "is to view any such attack from a planetary-strategic point of view. The only practical way to defend our Member State of Lii from an extrastellar threat would be to defend the entire planet of Oskran. Plainly: any attack upon, or threat toward, the Lii Confederation, would be such an act against the entire Jeffersonian Republic."
Renok turned her yellow eyes on Yenkel. "And if some other state on this planet were to invite ships or troops from the Empire or the Consolidation?" It became clearer to Danner that Renok and Yenkel had previous dealings, and that she knew important things about the Kingdom of Garch.
"That," Danner said, "would be most unwise. Such an act could potentially forestall a Republic response; we try to not interfere in other nations' affairs. On the other hand, such an act might be interpreted as an act of war against the Republic, leading to a full military response against any nation foolish enough to make such an invitation.
"Consider now," Danner continued, "the nature of the people who would make up such an alliance, against Lii and the Republic. One member of my crew is a refugee from the Consolidation. On a previous visit to your world, he explained in great detail how that government treats its own people; a recording of his presentation to the Lii Congress is available on the Oskran planetary Net. Imagine how they would treat aliens with whom they have far less in common.
"As for the Flike, Emperor Jagrash the Fourth has openly declared his intentions to expand, to conquer other worlds. Perhaps-" he turned his own gaze to Yenkel- "certain parties on this planet believe they can make themselves useful to such conquerors, even achieve partnership with them, to share in the plunder of others. I say such a state and people would be used, used up, and discarded by Glaut or Flike; their traditions, cultures, their very national identity, destroyed and lost forever. Seeking alliance with the Empire, the Consolidation, or any other such power-" he did not name the Blood Rose, or mention the Nikar aristocracy- "would be a fatal mistake.
"I mean that precisely. I've seen how the Flike treat the other races of the galaxy. I advise you to research this on your own, specifically the attack on Mark's World, about seven of your years ago. They view us as food. Don't make the mistake of believing you'd be eaten last."
Duke Spak of Narloof was next: "I see there are no monarchies among the Member States or Member Worlds of your Republic, yet you count some as allies."
"True," Danner replied. "The Republic's Constitution rejects any system of nobility or monarchy, for our own people. Yet, there are monarchies among the galaxy with whom we have friendly relations, even treaties of military alliance. Though we do recognize contracts of indenture," he pointed out, "slavery, or any sort of involuntary servitude aside from punishment for crime, is abhorrent to us. Individual merchants might have the stomach to do business with such states, but the government of the Republic will not.
"That being said, even staunch republicans can be friends with loyal monarchists. I know that your kingdom of Narloof has been seeking reforms since Oskran was discovered by the Republic decades ago."
"Yes," Spak answered. "We had a bit of... your Human word is 'serfdom', I believe? It's quite gone now." Spak turned to look at Renok, who wasn't bad looking to Human eyes either, with her striking gold eyes and red skin. "Hewnak sits between my own kingdom and that of Garch. We've had friendly relations for quite some time. Even a military alliance once, about a century ago." With a four-fingered hand, Alran had developed base-eight mathematics, but Human-style base-ten had been spreading since Contact; children were simply taught to count the palm as the fifth finger. Human mathematics and counting units had been adopted over the last generation; and Aurora translated when they hadn't.
"I wouldn't exactly call that an alliance," Alvom retorted. Turning toward Danner and the Triumvirate, she explained, "Hewnak has been a battleground between Narloof and Garch several times."
"Yes," Spak answered, "but the last was before either of us was born, and we did withdraw, once our business with Garch was concluded."
"Those lands have historically belonged to the Kingdom of Garch-" Yenkel began.
"No need to refight old battles at this table," Danner interrupted. "All here are supposed to be seeking peace along with prosperity."
"You say you would not interfere in the affairs of other nations," Yenkel replied. "If my kingdom chooses to enforce its ancient claims against the so-called Federation of Hewnak, would you keep to that principle, or descend to interventionist hypocrisy?"
"As things stand now," Danner said, "there is no treaty of alliance, defense, or membership between my Republic and the state of Hewnak. Garch might get away with a land-grab. But my government sure wouldn't like it, and that dislike would extend to your government. We don't often impose trade sanctions, but it's still technically illegal for Jeffersonians to do business with the Consolidation, as punishment for their brutality on Rollbottle."
"And if Hewnak applied for membership in the Jeffersonian Republic?" Renok quickly asked, before Yenkel could continue. The Count glared.
"The moment such an application is made, military protection would be extended. We have warships in orbit, and will in the foreseeable future. However:" Danner gestured to Nalat Yonn.
Yonn explained, "Of course I am somewhat familiar with Hewnak's body of law, you being the only other state on this planet to approach republicanism." As Yonn spoke in the Lii language, Aurora translated the political concept into appropriate terms for each listener. "-Well, perhaps Nuce will join that list now," he added, with a nod to Jarnil. "Jeffersonians are absolutists on the right to keep and bear arms. Conversely, they-" Yonn broke off, grinned, and resumed: "we believe the vote should only be given to those who have earned it through government service. Our standing military forces are small and decentralized, we have no conscription, but vast numbers of reservists and militia exist throughout our population, ready to serve when called. There are no government-run welfare or healthcare systems, and no government pensions except for long-service military. These concepts are the opposite of what currently stands in your Federation."
"Yes," Alvom answered. "Which is why, after learning what I was sent to learn, I am now authorized to follow Lii's example, with a promise to change our laws as you have, in exchange for military protection - for which we would provide whatever share of our own resources we can! - and eventual Membership in the Jeffersonian Republic." She produced a document and extended it toward Danner and the Lii Triumvirate. "On behalf of my government and in the name of Premier Kalot, I officially request such Membership, and accept such terms, at this time."
Yenkel's face was furious. Alvom turned to him and said, "Your brother the general might as well pack up and go home, Count. The buildup of your troops on our northern border is now just a big target."
"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Acting Ambassador Danner responded. As Renok's face showed concern, he went on, "Oh, with this document in hand-" Danner accepted it from Renok- "the Republic will provide the protection you seek... the moment any force crosses Hewnak's border uninvited. But we won't arbitrarily bombard things on the other side of the line. I remind you even the Great Moat was created within Lii's recognized borders, to such a distance that no other state would be affected by the radiation of our weapons." He handed the document to Aurora, whose artificial eyes scanned it in high resolution. She then uploaded it to her ship-form and immediately transmitted it by Marsten Device to Monticello.
"A facsimile of your request will be in the hands of the Pentamvirate of the Jeffersonian Republic," she announced, "and before our Congress, by this time tomorrow." She returned the item to Danner, who in turn handed it to Nalat Yonn.
Yonn in his turn said, "As senior Councilor of a Member State of the Republic, I move to my colleagues that Republic military protection against external threats be immediately extended to all territories and possessions of the Federation of Hewnak." The other two Councilors agreed immediately. "Then by the authority of the unanimous Triumvirate, it is so ordered that any attack on any territory claimed by Hewnak is to be responded to as an attack on Lii or the Republic." Yonn's wrist 'puter had already recorded the order and now transmitted it to all Space Patrol and Reserve Privateer ships in the Oskran system.
Count Yenkel abruptly rose from his chair and stormed from the conference room, his servants hurrying to follow. The one Aurora had identified as carrying an energy weapon was expressionless, professional, but the other looked worried... and doubtful.
Senator Jarnil spoke now for the first time. "Captain Danner. You seem somewhat familiar with recent events in Nuce."
Danner nodded. "I've been briefed. There are parallels in the history of my own race's birthworld. A nation called France. They called it 'The Terror.' Denunciations, show trials, mass executions in front of cheering mobs."
"...Yes." Jarnil's eyes were haunted. "We still have some... cleaning up, to do, before I believe we might be worthy of consideration for Membership in your Republic. However, on behalf of our First Citizen, I am empowered to express the Republic of Nuce's desire to explore such membership."
"Your republic is bordered by Ganhol and Lanos, as I recall." Danner had studied maps of Oskran during Transits.
"Yes. We don't have many resources, but from what I've heard of our neighbors, they may have even less." He paused, then continued: "We've exhausted ourselves, murdering each other for years. We are... not defensible. If our neighbors- or some other party-" with a tilt of his head Jarnil indicated the recently-departed Count Yenkel- "decided to take what little we have left, there would be near nothing we could do to stop them."
"There is a case with similarities in Republic history. New Israel. Things didn't go as wrong there as for Nuce, but they were facing starvation. One of several changes of governments petitioned for Membership. The Republic bailed them out - food, fuel, energy, resources, medical aid. The world was in debt to our federal government for generations, but they paid that debt in full. Now they're one of our Central Worlds. Two members of my crew were born there, and my ship often returns there for business or refit."
"...Could such an arrangement be extended to Nuce?"
"Likely." Exchanging looks with Aurora and the Triumvirate, Danner asked Jarnil, "Are you empowered to officially request aid in exchange for Membership? Submitting to the laws of the Jeffersonian Republic?"
"I... might be, if I could contact our Capitol. Time may be of the essence."
Danner turned to Yonn. "Nalat, I'm sure Aurora can make contact presently, if Nuce has any technology at all." Turning back to Jarnil, he asked, "Do you?"
The Senator nodded. "Yes, the... 'fabbers' we acquired have also been used to make computers and communications gear. Doun-" Jarnil's aide- "has the necessary frequencies."
Danner turned again to Yonn, who said, "I propose we use Captain Danner's and Aurora's resources to make immediate contact with the leadership of the Republic of Nuce, for the purpose of negotiating that state's Membership in the Republic." Again the other two Councilors agreed immediately. Meeting Danner's and Aurora's eyes, Yonn said, "For generations, Lii was alone on Oskran, in having any desire for peace and liberty. We constantly feared invasion from one or another kingdom or alliance, hungry for our wealth. The day I met Captain Nishikawa of the Meriwether Lewis was one of the happiest of my life. Now I am happy again, as I see we will have new friends in Hewnak, and perhaps more in Nuce. Solomon, Aurora, please do contact their First Citizen, or whoever is available."
At Aurora's direction, her hovering sphere projected a holographic interface before Jarnil and Doun Jord. The intangible keys were labeled in Nuce's language, their purpose obvious. Doun typed in the frequency, then sent a numeric code. The connection was audio only, all the Nucians could manage with their limited resources and unfamiliarity with fabbers, but through the Jeffersonian satellite network, contact was made. "Senator," a male Alran voice came from the sphere's speaker, "we weren't expecting you to make contact for another six nak." The voice sounded... unenthusiastic.
"Limar, get the First Citizen, right away. I am at this moment in conference with the Triumvirate of Lii, an Ambassador of the Jeffersonian Republic, and representatives from Narloof and Hewnak. Quickly now!"
In about three minutes a new voice was heard. "Calor, my friend. What do you have to report?" The First Citizen also sounded listless, uncaring.
"Mikan, please listen carefully. I am in a room with the Lii Triumvirate, a Jeffersonian Ambassador, Duke Spak of Narloof, and Ambassador Renok of Hewnak. Renok has just delivered a document requesting membership in the Jeffersonian Republic. Just moments after that document was received, military protection, from the Jeffersonian starships in orbit, was extended to all Hewnak territory. All this happened only a few kaj ago. All the people I mentioned are here and listening. Do you understand, First Citizen?"
After some moments of presumably-stunned silence, the First Citizen's voice answered, "Yes, Calor. I understand."
"Mikan, I have the solution to our problem with Lanos and Ganhol. We would be in debt to the Republic, we would no longer be independent, but we would be protected. The Republic has done this before, it has worked out well for others. I advise you immediately request Membership in the Jeffersonian Republic and express your willingness to submit to Jeffersonian law."
There was a longer pause. "Calor, I'm sorry. It's too late. Eleven nak ago, Lanos invaded. The Assembly voted to surrender. I've been deposed, Nilrag is now First Citizen. He's a puppet of course, but I no longer have power here." Background commotion could be heard, even through the radio more than a quarter of the planet away. "It's too late, Jarnil," he repeated. "They're coming for us now." More background noise, screams, shots. The transmit key was left on. "Take some with you," Mikan shouted, his voice suddenly energetic, "and save the last bullet for yourselves!"
The conference could only listen in horror as the last stand played out. "Calor! Can you still hear me? We're done for, Nuce is gone! Save yourself! Save Doun! They're coming- I see the Selectors! They won't eat us! Limar, light the fuse!"
There was a burst of static, and the radio fell silent.
Aurora had accessed satellite imagery. Her face and voice somber, she announced, "A large chemical explosion has occurred at the source of transmission." Her sphere projected another hologram, of a rising cloud of smoke and dust, fire raging where the Nuce Assmbly Building once stood. "I speculate the First Citizen and his followers have blown themselves up rather than be... Selected." She turned her large, beautiful violet-blue eyes to Jarnil's aide, Doun Jord. "Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. He undoubtedly took many of the enemy with him. It was an honorable death, in many Human religions."
"Yes," Doun choked out, between sobs. "In... some of ours, as well."
"Aurora," Solomon asked, "is there any evidence of alien involvement? Flike or Glaut or- anyone else not from here?"
"No, my Captain, not directly. There are some reports that the leaders of Garch may have been in contact with the Empire, the Consolidation, or both, but these are unsubstantiated." She turned to look at Ambassador Renok.
Her blood-red face had paled. "We've only suspicions, no proof." She shuddered. "Please reiterate: the Jeffersonian Republic will, from this point forward, defend all Hewnak territory against any such invasion. Is that correct?" The Lii Triumvirate nodded; Alran similarities to Human even extended to body language. Renok slumped in her seat, in relief and sorrow. "The loss of our independence is a small price to pay for such security. I will make that plain to our Premier and our people." Tears rolled from her eyes. "Doun, Calor... a place will be made for you in Hewnak, if you wish."
"Or here," Nalat Yonn said. "In either case - to be cold-blooded about it - your testimony will be of use, to clarify the dangers we face, and the advantages of Jeffersonian Membership." Renok nodded.
That evening in their hotel room in Arriod, Aurora expressed remorse. "I should have been aware," she said to her husband. "I could have watched the borders of Nuce, given warning-"
"We would not have been justified to intervene," Solomon told her. "The Republic has as few laws as possible, but what few we do have must be observed. We can't go adventuring without cause. That's one of the things that led to the Fall of America."
"If Senator Jarnil had known, he might have convinced the First Citizen to make the request earlier-" her angelic face was sorrowful. Even now, accessing satellites, she was watching horrors unfold in the place where the Republic of Nuce used to be.
"He did know, that's why he came. The invasion struck as the caterers were cooking the food. The Nuce Assembly voted to surrender, and to replace Jord, almost the same kaj the border was crossed. It was all planned, traitors and Quislings. They left no time or chance to intervene." He held her gynoid close, stroking her silken hair as she clung to him. "There was nothing we could have legitimately done. Not and still call ourselves Jeffersonians."
Continued in the next excerpt....