Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2020, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part CXXIX: The Will to Live
Concluded from the previous excerpt
Danner was picked up eleven hours later, by one of the Free Glaut ships. The Glaut brought the whole pod into their cargo bay and set the bay's environment; like a Zaggarish on a Human ship, he wouldn't fit in their corridors or compartments. He awoke to the gentle touch of tentacles on his face.
He spoke her name, as a question.
He screamed it, in sorrow.
They hailed him hero, liberator, savior. They chanted his name.
He turned his face away. The credit was not his.
Only the pain.
22 Thirdmonth 573 JR
18 October 2367 CE
Six hundred hours had passed.
Aurora's sacrifice had saved an entire world and race. The previous battles, and her parts in them, had consumed the bulk of the enemy, leaving only strays for the Allied fleet to hunt down; any capable of escaping had. The Allied victory was total, at least in the Oskran system.
The war had turned, but was not over. A few pirate-soldiers of the Blood Rose had been taken alive, by Asgardians in the worldships, or by other Allies from shipwrecks. Some were ranked high enough to have knowledge of what had happened:
A new Emperor had claimed power and attempted to salvage Tozama's kessen. When that failed, he ordered withdrawal, to a world whose location was not known to any prisoner. Allied worlds taken months or even days ago were now being abandoned. Some had been spoiled by relativistic strikes, rendered uninhabitable with tens of millions dead across the Frontier, their populations and resources denied to the civilized galaxy. If any good news was to be found, it was that most such worlds had been on the Frontier, still sparsely populated and less-developed.
Not every admiral and captain had obeyed their new Emperor. Some turned on each other, fighting for leadership or loyalty. At least five of the Blood Rose's Balloon Worlds had been captured or destroyed, their accompanying fleets ravaged or scattered. Many of the survivors were turning back to the piracy so many of the Blood Rose had come from... but the civilized nations of Known Space knew how to deal with those.
The Glautak/Flike Alliance was trying to put itself back together, but there was still mistrust. Their war against civilization was not over either... but in both states, revolutions were underway. On Kmar, Frashkra, now a trained and enlightened Jeffersonian, had surfaced leading a rebel army. The Glautak Consolidation had also been mortally wounded, though its leadership would not admit it, and Provisional Governments on two more of their eight worlds were already inquiring about Jeffersonian Membership, even while trading fire with the Consolidation.
Gnop and the Nikar people were having a full-blown civil war, between the old aristocracy trying to hold on to their power, the new, aligned with the GFA and Blood Rose trying to expand it, and a rising republican movement wanting neither of their "noble" factions to win. That conflict was spilling into the galaxy, at least in small ways; Jeffersonian Nikar were prominently displaying Jeffersonian symbols on what few clothes their race usually wore. Some were painting over their ethnic patterns of reflective scales, which denoted their ancient clans. Some were getting artificial scales implanted, in the pattern of the Star and Bars, the national flag of the Republic.
Ivar the Silver had overestimated his support among the people of Asgard. Anyone associated with the Seven Axes, or who advocated their rapacious ideals, was being purged. King Lars and Crown Princess Hilda were furious at the assassination of their beloved wife and mother, and showed no mercy to those responsible. Still, they had self-restraint, and were ensuring due process. The Blood Eagle was a terrible thing, and Asgardians wanted to be sure the subject deserved it. As the war continued across the Frontier, Asgard maintained alliance with the Republic and other states. Their enemies, and goals, were common enough.
The Occupation of Oskran had lasted only six local days. Surviving Jeffersonian Marines, detachments stripped from every Republic Navy warship which carried them, the militias of the Lii Confederation and the Federation of Hewnak, the remnants of the Royal Army of Narloof, Asgardians who had not betrayed their Queen, took out many frustrations on the Flike, Glaut and Humans of the Empire, Consolidation, and Blood Rose, wherever they could be found. There had not been many prisoners taken on the planet. Other worlds were on the list for the same kind of cleanup, but the longer the occupations, the bigger the messes... and the fewer the survivors. There was going to be a lot of prejudice against Flike in the galaxy, for a long time.
There would be less toward the Glaut, of either caste. Reports of the Free Glaut Armada's actions above Oskran and the other occupied worlds were well known. The First Glautopolis Infantry was making a name for itself too, having already been en route to Oskran before the kessen, and arriving shortly after. They were racking up medals and good will, both.
The Third Interstellar War was not over, there would be years of fighting and resistance, but civilization would win.
To Solomon Danner, all was ashes.
For some of the hours he had been too busy for the pain. Reports, debriefings, consultations, repetitions - congratulations. For what? he had wondered.
For losing everything?
Not everything of course, some of his Family had survived. Holly would be in a vat for quite a while, getting her face and arms rebuilt. She would be all right in time. She was even joking about it.
Grbblb had lost first his wife, then his blood-brother. He had not been physically harmed in the final battle, but Solomon suspected Grbblb was in as much pain as himself. Clancy was seeing the Glautak through with whiskey, while waiting for his own new leg to be grown.
Daisuke Taniyama had disappeared. Only he knew if he still lived. Danner expected he did, somewhere. He had earned a new life.
Jack had set up camp at Jenny's bedside and was rarely beyond arm's reach of his wife. She had not yet awoken, but the doctors showed him brainwave patterns and expressed confidence in her recovery.
Jack would have been happier with his own doctor, but Ralph and Delilah had been irradiated in their pod (of course they had shared). Ralph's own nanites were busily unscrambling their DNA and they would be fine, eventually.
So would Sarah, though half her skin would have to be replaced, and her eyes and two limbs as well. She was in cryo suspension until her missing parts were ready; even in a coma the pain might be too much. It turned out she'd been carrying on a long-distance romance with Nl'Kam for years, since they'd met on Anvil. As war approached he'd reenlisted, not waiting to be called up as a reservist; and he had been crew aboard Virginia, then Oregon, then Montana, at the Battle of Oskran. It so happened that Montana's Eyani captain was a fan of Sarah's, and had given "Mac" orders for special detached duty, "beneficial to general morale." Now he came to her, camping next to her cryo chamber as Jack did beside Jenny's bed, reading or just speaking to her, while a hundred... and eventually a thousand... more of her fans held a silent vigil outside the hospital.
Solomon had been given the finest hotel suite the planet Oskran had to offer - the same used by the former Chancellor of the Lii Confederation, Tal Kenzo. Danner cared nothing for the luxuries, they no longer appealed. Nothing did.
In the living room of the suite, he picked up his M437 plasma pistol and looked at it.
He'd owned it for many years, used it to save lives worth saving and to end those worth ending. It had been his close companion since shortly after he had sworn his first Oath of Enlistment. It had followed him through his entire, disappointing, official military career, and then for years in merchant ships, in dirtside fights, in duels, in true battles against pirates and terrorists, and finally, two genuine wars. It had been at his side when he had found Aurora in the cold loneliness of Mothball Orbit over New Texas, and again when he had lost her at Oskran, when her artificial hands had placed him in the escape pod with gentle tenderness and irresistible force-
-When she had said her last, three words to him.
He wondered: Do the souls of ships and men go to the same afterlife?
He placed the muzzle under his chin, aimed upward, and thumbed off the safety. He placed his finger on the trigger-
Prrg had seen his captain-and-brother's pain. He had feared what Solomon might do, if left too much alone. Then the news had come, and Solomon had not answered his comm. Prrg rushed to find him. Using an override, he opened the suite, entered-
-Whipped his prehensile tail with more speed and precision than ever before in his life, slipping the tip beneath his brother's trigger finger, then around the pistol, yanking it away.
Solomon whirled on his brother, tears flying from his eyes. "Damn you! Let me go!"
"Brother, no!" Prrg shouted, placing his hands on his captain's shoulders. "Brother, I just learned...!"
22 Sixthmonth 563JR
9 November 2361CE
Edo Station, New Israel
Aurora, and Aurora, had come to New Israel for three reasons. Jenny Blain needed some help to develop the Blain Drive; if it worked, she would then need an improved power source for it; and Aurora the Person had her own desires.
Aurora had upgraded one of her Humanoid sparring-and-serving robots, and a part of her computer consciousness rode it across Edo Station. 'Bots were a common sight in Republic space, especially on or above a Central World, performing errands for their masters or owners. No one would know that this one was her own master. She didn't yet attempt to make the 'bot itself look Human, or project her Human hologram over it. She had something else in mind. This robot was unmarked, and unremarkable on Edo Station. It could have come from any fabbery in Known Space. No one gave it a second look, as she remotely rode a rail car two thirds of the O'Neill Cylinder's length from where Aurora had docked.
Disembarking, she walked across a small park, past a decorative fountain, into a four-story office building little different from how they used to be built on Terra before men claimed the stars. In the back of the second floor, she found Suite 217, Macrum Associates, Limited. The door and the sign on it were nondescript - most people, if they even had reason to pass it, would never give it a second thought; probably some investment firm or technical consultants.
Aurora supposed it could be considered as both.
Entering the office, Aurora, through her robot, approached the unremarkable reception desk, staffed by an equally-unremarkable Eyani female of mostly Ice Tribe descent. "I have an appointment," the robot said, "at this time." She didn't say with whom, or give her own name.
The receptionist didn't give much thought to Aurora's appearance either. She knew what went on here, and that their customers often valued discretion. This wasn't the first teleoperated presence she'd encountered. The receptionist asked for a code number, which had been given to Aurora when she made the appointment. The number checked, and the receptionist waved the robot through the next door.
Doctor Kensuke Tomogawa's office was also nondescript, even a bit shabby, the furniture evidently second-hand. Aurora knew it was camouflage, as was the company's misleading name. What Tomogawa did here wasn't - most of the time - illegal under Republic law, but what she wanted from him was in a very grey area. The doctor himself was old, very much nikkei, in a subtly-stained and -worn white lab coat - more camouflage. Aurora knew there was nothing shabby or slipshod about his work.
The robot took a seat opposite the doctor, and now Aurora projected her Human hologram over it. Tomogawa was actually startled - not by the event but its content. Aurora was famous across the Republic: the first, and still the only recognized, Artificial Person, heroine of Dakota and Mark's World and Adda and Sherrington and Ude, a naval officer decorated for valor, her captain the recipient of one of the two highest awards ever bestowed by their government - and she herself, arguably, the last living veteran of the Republic-Empire War.
After a moment in thought, Tomogawa said, "Most of my clients do not reveal their identities to me."
"My request," she answered, "will be very specific and highly detailed. This is the form I wish it to take. My identity would become obvious, and therefore pointless to hide."
Tomogawa nodded, then asked, "...By whom were you referred to me?"
"Professor-Doctor Elaine Jonnsdottir of Asgard."
"Ah..." he responded, wistfully. "Elaine." Aurora, deliberately making her mind more Human, saw the love and loss in his face. She saw the same in her Captain's, whenever Illyria or Queen Agnieszka were mentioned in his presence. "...Is she well?"
Aurora's hologram-covered robot nodded. "She was in most excellent health when last I saw her. She said you were the only person in the galaxy to be... trusted with a request such as mine."
Tomogawa sank back in his chair, smiling... sadly. "I am pleased she still thinks so highly of me." Aurora wondered what had forced them apart... and conceded that it was not her business. "Let us get to the specifics of your request."
Aurora's robot transmitted a file to Tomogawa's desk. With a swipe of his hand he opened it and spent a moment reading. His eyebrows climbed, first one, then the other. "This is... unprecedented. The physical components are well within my capabilities, but the... informational factors... have never yet been attempted..." he continued reading, then softly said, "Not on this scale, or... for this purpose."
"But not unimagined." Science-fiction authors had been writing about what Aurora wanted since generations before the Escape... though usually in the opposite direction. "The Professor-Doctor said you had experimented in this field."
"Yes, but- well. You are a unique case." He read more. "Yes. Yes, I am willing to make the attempt. But you must understand, I cannot guarantee success. No one understands how you... came to life. To awareness. Furthermore, even if I do succeed, the person who results from... this... may not be the same person you now are. To say nothing of... legal questions of identity."
"I understand, Doctor. ...I could not help but notice your reaction to the Professor-Doctor's name. She gave me a message for you." Aurora's robot body opened a storage compartment, and a container extended through the hologram. It was a small, portable cryogenic chamber, of the more conventional sort, not big enough to utilize the Chikaran-invented Fanouu Field. Tomogawa recognized it immediately. It was used by Asgardians, Jeffersonians, and many others, to transport small samples of viable genetic material. "She expresses regret. For what, she did not say. She sends to you this part of herself, to be used to create... me." Elaine Jonsdottir's hair had once been much like what Aurora's hologram now wore. The Professor-Doctor had been honored when Aurora accepted her offer of frozen ova.
To become Aurora's mother.
Tomogawa took the chamber tenderly in both hands. "Elaine," he whispered.
Long ago, Elaine had frozen many of her eggs, against mishap or future desire, as many people across space did routinely. To Kensuke, she had sent ten - far more than a man of his skill would need.
Aurora continued, and less gently: "Now, Doctor, you must understand. There is someone I have come to care for. Someone to whom I owe a great debt. Someone I... love."
Tomogawa looked up from the container and met his client's violet eyes. She continued: "If anything were to happen to me, this person would feel great pain. I would spare him. I would... preserve myself, for him. In whatever way and to whatever extent possible. At whatever cost."
Tomogawa, his gaze intense, answered, "I understand... completely. Let us begin."
The expense was tremendous, even in the age of fabbers and automation - specialized equipment, continuous maintenance, constant monitoring... secrecy. Aurora paid up front, in metal - more than her original construction as a warship had cost the Jeffersonian taxpayers. She invested her own shares of prize money to conceal the ongoing expenditures, even from her own Family. The body took years to develop, even with electrical stimulation and carefully-crafted nutrient feeds to accelerate growth. She waited.
An interface between a computer and an organic brain had been imagined for centuries. There had been experiments - condemned criminals offered clemency if they survived, terminally-ill patients with nothing left to lose. There had been some partial successes, but they would never last. Something would go wrong, rejection of implants, corruption of software, simple infection or plain insanity.
Tomogawa had solved the biological problems, using variations of the Marsten-Vatelius-Blain Treatment to cause an organic brain to accept artificial connections. Learning this, Aurora was pleased that her Family would be helping her to grow and to live, yet again.
One of the problems which led to insanity was the overwhelming flow of information, through a computer link. Aurora, the artificial person, was accustomed to this already. The organic brain being grown for her new body was incomplete, consisting only of the parts necessary for autonomic functions; in the eyes of the Republic's law, it would be an empty shell, spare parts, as had been grown for replacement or against possible emergency for generations. Aurora would move into this shell, filling the rest of its skull with computer hardware, using every advance in technology in the years since Grbblb had helped assemble the starship brain she now occupied.
Secretly, over years, as the body grew, Aurora and her doctor - in every sense, her father - communicated, reporting progress, testing software - performing experiments on the body, muscle control, senses, speech, or at least sound. The machine could send an order, and the flesh would respond. The flesh could send information, and the machine could understand it. Aurora's brain, if not her mind, took shape in the body's skull, nanites performing the construction work with a minimum of intrusion, as the rest of the body developed. Those nanites also sculpted the skull itself, to duplicate the Human face she had worn in her holographic and robotic forms... though Elaine Jonnsdottir was also beautiful.
As would be her grandchildren.
At every port, every time she could connect to the Net, she updated her backup, her memories, her self. Whether it would make the leap to awareness, once copied to an artificial brain in an organic body, could not be known.
By the time of her first and third bodies' deaths, her fourth was the physical equivalent of sixteen Terran years in age, and as flawless as science could make it. The person who would occupy it was both younger and much older....
20 Thirdmonth 573JR
16 October 2367CE
South Polar Region, New Israel
The last memory update was complete, and the most dangerous part now had to be done. Kensuke Tomogawa checked his instruments, the field strength of the Faraday cage which protected him and his organic brain. The computer inside the Human skull was active, and responding to its programming, as complex as it was, like any other obedient machine.
At last, he threw the switch to bombard the molecular circuitry of his daughter's artificial brain with focused Marsten Radiation, simulating the stress of a Very Close Transit.
The flesh convulsed, and he felt panic. Gods forgive me, he silently prayed. Have I killed her forever?
The procedure complete, the radiation dissipating, he shut down his protective field and rushed to her side. Voice trembling, he said, "Aurora. Checksum."
The creation on the table answered, "Four alpha nine two delta seven charlie one three three bravo zero five."
Swallowing, he then asked, "Aurora. How do you feel?"
"Invalid command. Please rephrase."
Grief stabbed through him. He had failed. He sobbed, and turned away.
Again the thing on the table spoke. "Invalid command. Please-
"That is... incorrect.
"I... think. I... feel.
"I... am... Aurora.
"I am Aurora."
It- she sat up, and turned to look at him. "Father?"
Kensuke Tomogawa fell to his knees at his daughter's bedside. "Aurora," he said, tears pouring from his eyes. "My dear...!"
She tested her limbs... looked at her hands... then- "Solomon!"
"He lives, my daughter. But we must hurry...!"
29 Fourthmonth 573JR
4 December 2367CE
Pentamvirate Chamber, Central Terminal
Monticello, Jeffersonian Republic
Article I, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Jeffersonian Republic was plain: "The word 'Person' shall refer to any being sufficiently self-aware to claim the status and to recognize it in others." Even before the Escape, the Founders had anticipated Humanity encountering other sentient life, even artificial consciences, and guaranteed Human rights to them.
Which points Fleet Admiral Maet made as his recorded hologram waved his pheathered arms and flapped his vestigial wings for emphasis, and shouted at the assembled Pentamvirate of the Jeffersonian Republic: "She died! Sacrificed herself in the line of duty, for her comrades! Exactly like a Marine grunt throwing himself on an enemy grenade, and that earns the Medal of Honor! If Nrii Tlam gets the Medal, which by the First Egg she should, then so does Aurora!"
Aurora herself was then brought before the five Councilors, to whom she stated: "My name is Aurora. I am a Person, under the laws of my nation. I was first born in the shipyards of Wilson's Colony in the 221st year of this Republic. I gained awareness at Dakota in the year 552, and claimed it at Mark's World in the year 553. Twenty Monticellan years later, my first body was destroyed in the Battle of Oskran, but I took the precaution of copying my mind and my memories, and ordering the construction of this new body which I now inhabit.
"I claim all rights, status and property owned by or owed to me. Councilors, what say you?"
1 Firstmonth 574JR
21 February 2368CE
Constitution Shipyards, High City
Wilson's Colony, Jeffersonian Republic
To the usual Independence Day celebrations had been added the launching of a new ship of war.
The plans had already been under development, and the first of her kind laid down, as war loomed. Many lessons had been learned from the antique light cruiser JRS Aurora, hull number CL63; improvements, efficiencies of design, combat survivability, crew comfort, increases in firepower and speed and range.
There had not been a ship built like this since the Republic-Empire War, two and a half Republic centuries ago. There had been debate as to how to classify her - heavy cruiser, battlecruiser, "pocket dreadnought"; but an historical example existed. The Valiant class strike cruiser had been an offshoot of the Richmond heavy cruiser, with a Class Eighteen Marsten Gun in its centerline. The most famous had been JRS Tredegar, CS07, for her captain's exploits at the Last Battle of Terra, and his diplomatic success with the Russian Star Empire.
This ship was bigger, more powerful, superior in every way. At forty-three kilotons and a hundred-eighty-seven meters she was the size and mass of a Second World War wet-navy battleship. Like most starships, most of that mass was comprised of engines, fuel, batteries and capacitors, mechanisms and devices, life support apparatus - and as a warship, weapons, and armor of a strength not seen in a newly-built ship for generations.
She looked a lot like her ancestor of the Adamant class. Modern ships were built fat, to spin their whole selves for internal weight; the Adamants, and many smaller ships like destroyers and frigates to this day, used pods extended on arms or cables. Though admittedly wider and less-slimly proportioned, this ship shared Adamant's hourglass profile, with twin grav-rings fore and aft, extending in sections for full Common Life weight with fewer Coriolis effects; advances in automation reduced her crew size and made this arrangement feasible. In addition to the modern Combat Information Center deep within, she had a "bridge", a command center in the very nose of the ship, with large armorglas viewports protected by sliding armored shutters... built in a circle, a ring around the muzzle of the Class Twenty-Six Marsten Gun built into her very spine. Her reaction control system, and the focusing array at the Gun's muzzle, allowed more precise aiming than ever before achieved with a weapon of that size - and an effective range of nearly four light-seconds against ship-sized targets. Her ring-turrets, four of them, each carried a pair of Class Twelve Guns, diametrically opposed and individually trainable, and a pair of thirty-six-megawatt heavy pulse lasers between them. Between those were four Class Fives per ring; even if the rings were jammed by damage, something could bear on an enemy. The first and fourth rings also served as chase armament, but with an angle of thirty degrees to the bow or stern, a target could be engaged with a full broadside. Point-defense clusters studded her hull like jewels, with rapid-fire pulse lasers, mass drivers, and a new generation of Class Two Marsten Guns to intercept relativistic weapons like those used during the Third Interstellar War. She also carried a dozen missile tubes, four evenly spaced on the inward-sloping surfaces of each bulb, and two more each fore and aft - she had no weaponry blind spots.
She was fast. Her four Helium-3 fusion torches had exceeded eighty meters-per-second-squared acceleration during testing, the limit most organic crew could withstand and a record for any ship half her size; her Engineer believed they might reach a hundred. These were powered by the same number of Helium-3 fusion reactors, with another six smaller units placed throughout her hull for redundancy; she was massively overpowered. Her Second Generation Blain Drive could carry her through the second level of hyperspace at over five hundred sixty times the equivalent of lightspeed in Einstein's universe. Improvements in fuel efficiency gave her a range of twenty light years on internal fuel, half-again that of most other ships. She was versatile as well; her waist carried eight small-craft bays, of a new enlarged standard, carrying twenty or more shuttles depending on type; and the spaces between the bays had folding, extending docking arms, and attachment points for fuel drop-tanks, cargo containers, or pods for additional passengers. She herself could not enter an atmosphere and land on a planet, but there was little else she and her crew could not do.
The woman seemed young, only sixteen Terran years. As a Person she was a few years younger still; and as another being, many times older. Even in her physical youth she was tall, lean, fit, flawless... possessed of a beauty, inner and without, that made men stop and stare.
As did her decorations, when she was in uniform: Knight of Illyria; three awards of the Combat Action Ribbon; four of the Crimson Band; the Bronze Star with Valor device; the Silver Star; the Distinguished Service Medal, for her many contributions to her nation and its navy; two Navy Crosses, converted from her previous Pentamvirate Unit Citations to recognize her as an individual; and the highest, the Medal of Honor... the first in history that both was and was not posthumous.
Now she had two bodies to replace the one she had lost after centuries. The first of these floated beside him now. The second, her Family had helped her design and build.
Her suit jets programmed against the reaction, Aurora faultlessly hurled the bottle of champagne across the airless weightlessness of Dock 49 to shatter against her own armored bow.
"I name myself Aurora," she proclaimed. "I will watch over those who sail in me, as they will watch over me."
CS277 JRS Aurora, first of her class of strike cruisers, slid down the ways into space.
Commander Dame Aurora Okret Tomogawa-Jonnsdottir Danner of the Jeffersonian Republic Navy Reserve watched with pride and joy. As she did, the gloved hand of her beloved husband found hers. They were surrounded by all the rest of their Family, and Aurora's parents, Kensuke and Elaine, their spacesuited arms around each other... and children, Aurora's new biological brothers and sisters.
Her husband had finally shared with her his last secret: his impossible vision, induced as her own consciousness had been by the mysteries of hyperspace, of their own future children. Within her, the first of these new lives now grew.
From behind great spans of armorglas, the cheers of a thousand unsuited spectators in the pressurized gallery roared in their helmets.
The Family jetted across the dock to their new home.
"For the Monticello Broadcasting Corporation, I'm Hawthorne Jones. In breaking news, we now go to an exclusive report received minutes ago from War Correspondent Gina Rode, on the front lines:"
"This is Gina Rode, embedded with Task Force Aurora, reporting a decisive Allied victory in the Second Battle of Runtgold.
"Recently-promoted Vice Admiral Solomon Danner, Legion of Honor, has dealt yet another crushing defeat to the forces of the Glautak/Flike Alliance, destroying at least thirty enemy warships with minimal Republic and Allied losses, once again living up to his nickname, 'Lucky Sol'.
"In this same action, our valiant allies from the Kingdom of Asgard dramatically captured what is believed to be the last surviving Blood Rose worldship, freeing over a thousand innocent beings held in cruel slavery.
"Following these losses, including the destruction or capture of enemy shipyards and bases on other fronts, Admiral Danner's staff is confident the Alliance is no longer capable of offensive operations. Chief of Staff Captain Aurora Danner, Medal of Honor, declared, 'The enemy is broken beyond recovery, and our Allied victory in this Third Interstellar War is inevitable.'
"The planet Runtgold has now been reclaimed by its former colonists, and has already been recognized as a Republic Territory. Acting Chancellor Gurkbit was visibly overcome by emotion as the people of Runtgold celebrated wildly, waving the Jeffersonian flag and singing our National Anthem. Thousands of Free Glaut are enlisting for military service, to liberate their fellow Glaut still being oppressed in the Consolidation.
"Admiral Danner praised the actions of the Free Glaut Armada, which make up more than half of his task force, and whom he called, quote, 'the bravest spacers I have ever known.' In proof of that statement, I am privileged to have received this thrilling declassified tactical video from Captain Aurora Danner herself. Watch closely as the famous Free Glaut light cruiser, JRS Vengeance, charges the enemy under intense fire...."
"New Israel Broadcasting presents the World News. I'm Jacqueline Vaughn.
"Fifty-five Republic years ago, the most shocking crime on our planet since the Occupation was committed in Yamato, Lesser Judea. The leaders of the Nakayama clan, whose wealth and power have influenced our world for generations, were murdered in their home, one of their own sons believed to be responsible, the other a victim himself.
"Tonight, much of what we believed to be true of that terrible event is being questioned.
"Many living New Israelis have seen, with their own eyes, the famous daisho of matched swords, created by The Heretic, Daisuke Mitsuhira. Presented by him to the Nakayama family centuries ago, these swords were thought to have been stolen or destroyed in the crime.
"Approximately forty hours ago these swords were anonymously delivered by drone to the Nakayama home, and have been confirmed as genuine. Only the blades were returned, without scabbards, hilts, or any other parts or accessories, leaving few clues as to where they came from, or where they had been for the last half-century. The drone which delivered them self-destructed, and tracking indicates only that it came from the vicinity of Steeltown, its origin lost among thousands of others.
"The Republic Investigator's Corps have conducted a detailed examination and have announced that the wakizashi bears traces of DNA confirmed to be from Kazuo Nakayama, long thought to be the victim of his brother Takeo that horrible night, but the DNA is recent, suggesting Kazuo survived. Speculation abounds tonight as new theories suggest it was Kazuo who committed the crime and Takeo who was the victim, a position long held by certain members of the family...."
"Terran News Service reporting. The environmental cleanup of the Oskran system continues, as millions of pieces of space debris, from tiny fragments to entire derelict starships, continue into deep space at nearly a quarter of lightspeed, potentially threatening worlds and civilizations yet to be discovered. The Jeffersonian Republic Space Patrol has repeated its call for ships, pilots and spacers to aid with the interception of these deadly projectiles, and reiterated that all who sign on for this hazardous mission will receive the same pay and benefits as Mobile Infantry combat troops, in addition to the possibility of salvage rights...."
For more adventures in the universe of the Jeffersonian Republic,
see additional excerpts which serve as prequels,
other supplemental material,
and the direct sequel to this story,
The Crown Joule,
currently in progress.