Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
Aurora, Part LXXXV: King

This page Copyright 2021, Karl Leffler

Continued from the previous excerpt
Galactic West - beyond the Frontier

It was not a new idea.
Science fiction authors, and real scientists, often the same people, had imagined it long before the Escape. An asteroid of the appropriate composition was selected, or created by driving rocks of the necessary content together. A hole was drilled, a chamber excavated in the center, and filled with water ice, before being carefully sealed. Engineers in Tozama's employ knew what to do. Others, and in some cases themselves, had done it before, in civilized space.
By robots, hundreds, then thousands of mirrors were built throughout the Rose Garden's system, gathering and focusing sunlight from all directions to melt the collected asteroids. The conglomeration's surface began to glow, then to soften, further sealing the ice inside. Sensors within, while they lasted, and the Marsten Detector from without, tracked progress. As the entire metallic body liquified, the ice became steam, expanding, inflating the molten iron. A slight spin helped make its shape more uniform. Careful calculations of mass and density - and records of previous attempts - prevented failures. Depending on what the makers wanted, the result could be a sphere, or cylinder, or disc.
Hundreds of hours were needed for the mass to solidify and cool. Then, access was made at the poles, capped like an oil well to control whatever pressure was already inside from the vaporized water, and to prevent that acting like a rocket to push the construction away. More ice was added now, of different gasses, for breathable atmosphere. Power plants were installed for heat, light, life support. The spin was adjusted, with external rockets, to simulate gravity on the ever-upward-curving inner surface.
Tozama had ordered the construction of a Balloon World.
This one measured nearly four kilometers in length and two in diameter; the limit of the Field created by a Sixth Generation Marsten Drive. The inner surface had a usable area of more than twenty-two square kilometers. The nickel-iron hull was no less than ten meters thick. As construction continued, it would be fitted with fusion torches, maneuvering jets, airlocks, docking ports, weapons - farmland, ranching fields for livestock, barracks for pirate crews and the Blood Rose's soldiers, nicer homes for the higher-ranking, hospitals, dining facilities, recreation... slave pens. It would be a mobile fortress, a battleship homestead, a traveling harbor that could leap between stars as its master willed, that could not be besieged, that could escape its enemies, appear above new prey without warning.
Then, he began to build another.
The first of his mobile fortresses, he named Jimmu, for the first legendary Emperor of Japan. The second, even now glowing with heat, he named Suizei, for Jimmu's successor. The third, thus far only planned, was to be named Annei. Japan had been ruled by many emperors.
As Jimmu completed his trials, Tozama set him to work, exercising with his fleet, training crews, establishing procedures.

While this progressed, Tozama began reaching out to other potential allies... or vassals. Discreetly, he made offers to the Flike Empire, the Glautak Consolidation, the Nikar aristocracy - he would sell them technology other nations would not, send them advisors both technical and tactical.
Tozama could see the displeasure on Inagami's face, during meetings with these non-Human representatives. He took the other man aside. "My friend," Tozama said, "I see you are unhappy at my dealing with aliens."
"All shall be as my lord wishes," Inagami replied, bowing.
"Do not feel betrayed, my good friend. I have plans - perhaps greater than even you know. These creatures are only tools to me. Only our own kind shall rule this galaxy. When the aliens have fulfilled their purpose, they too shall be discarded. But until then, we must convince them otherwise, allay their suspicions, make them willing contributors to our cause."
Inagami raised his eyes and smiled at his master, his faith restored.

Sakami, in his turn, was not as easily convinced. "Aliens!" he said to Inagami, all but spitting the word - in private. "What is Tozama-sama thinking?"
Inagami repeated Tozama's words, adding, "I believe him, Sakami. We must keep in mind the longer game, the larger picture. One cannot conquer a galaxy overnight, or without allies!"
"But those... things. Lizards! Squids! And I don't even know what to call the Flike!"
Inagami's face grew stern. "You will call them 'Flike', my old friend, and nothing else aloud!"
"But they are so arrogant! It is already we, Humans, who rule most of explored space. The others did not even reach the stars on their own, yet they look down on us!"
"The Glaut did reach the stars," Inagami reminded him, "and before our species even had electricity. Do not underestimate our allies, and do not raise their suspicions! While we use these creatures for our own ends, we must avoid insulting them. So our lord commands!"

So it was, despite misgivings and objections, that "observers" from three alien races began to accompany the operations of Tozama's fleet and empire. Word came down from Tozama-Tenno, enforced by Inagami, that the aliens would be treated with courtesy. In exchange for technology and information, the Glautak Consolidation, and their rapidly-expanding industrial base, began building some of the little gunships for the Blood Rose... and others for the Flike, and Nikar, and themselves.
Raids continued, across a broad arc of the Human Frontier. Most nations this far out were small and independent, and had no treaty with the Republic or other strong states, through which they could call for aid. These little worlds could be reaved with impunity, and often without notice.
Of all the peoples encountered in the galaxy, only the Glaut had reached other stars of their own before Contact with Humans, but the Eyani had three colonies now, under their own flag, and other races were likewise spreading, with or without official recognition. This day's target was Shreegok, an independent colony of Zaggarish, attempting to reform their matriarchal society into something more egalitarian. They were mining and farming and ranching. Tozama's empire would gain metals, food, and labor.
Jimmu Transitioned four light-seconds from the surface - the hyperspace limit was further out for such an enormous craft, and though they were improving, Tozama's Navigators were not the best in the galaxy; their emperor did not punish them for their safety margin. Four cruisers, with more on the way, now escorted Jimmu, each bearing eight Class Ten Marsten Guns and many other weapons. A dozen destroyers and frigates filled out the battle group, along with six landing ships, each carrying four hundred raiders. Some of these now wore power armor. Some drove tanks, and some flew aerospace fighters and bombers. Tozama's secret shipyard, and those above the worlds of the Glautak Consolidation, never slept, but for this fleet, Jimmu served as support, for fuel, munitions, supplies, repair and healing. Eventually Jimmu and his brothers would obviate the need for a planet-bound base. Tozama's empire would become completely mobile, and thus, far less vulnerable.
The Zaggarish had never been a technological people. While they had access to Republic goods, they made little use of them, and the idealists of this world had not spent a lot of time or money on defenses. There were only two starships in orbit when Tozama arrived, only nominally armed. His smaller warships swarmed them, disabling engines, boarding, capturing. Tozama's Gunners were improving faster than his Navigators. The world's one small orbital station, a single spinning wheel, was quickly disarmed and overrun, seized intact. Sakami was left in command of the station - Inagami was well aware of his distaste for uchuujin, and the next phase of the operation would require cooperation with them. "No massacres," Inagami had felt it necessary to say to his old companion. "These creatures are resources to be managed. Do not damage our lord's property." Grimacing, Sakami bowed in obedience.
Tozama and Inagami descended in the first and second landing ships, on opposite sides of Shreegok's largest town. Each leading a battalion, they advanced toward the center, the capitol of the local government. Flike and Glautak and Nikar observers accompanied them. The Flike and Nikar bore arms, reveling in unrestricted warfare, free of the Pax Jeffersonia. The soft, boneless Glautak traveled in a small armored vehicle, but were near the front, firing weapons.
Resistance was weak. Some of the Zaggarish carried adapted copies of Republic plasma rifles, but most were unarmed, fleeing in terror. One brave soul dove his civilian aircar into an advancing Tozama tank, immolating both, but for little gain, as three other tanks swept around the pyre. No heavy weapons were in evidence, and most of the small arms Tozama's invaders faced were chemically-driven projectile types, few of which could defeat their body armor.
Shreegok had devised a ruling council of five, based on the Republic's Pentamvirate: three male, two of the larger, more intimidating females. The Glautak were accompanying Tozama himself, and he directed them to ram their smaller vehicle through the facade of the Council House. He followed them down the Great Corridor, into the very Council Chamber, brick and stone and wood and dust scattering in their path.
The Council Guard all had energy weapons, but had never known combat, and owned little skill-at-arms. Plasma bolts wasted themselves on the Glautak vehicle's glacis, and the powered armor of Tozama's best shock troops. One bolt grazed Tozama's own helmet, crazing the faceplate. His combat medics carried collapsible emergency helmets, fitting his empire's standardized suits - but this was a Common Life world with breathable air. As the firing from the Council Guards died with them, Tozama hurled his helmet aside, and drew the Mitsuhira blade. On the heels of a breaching charge, Inagami, now bearing a fantastically expensive Mitsuhira of his own, entered from the other side of the Chamber. With a glance he took in the scene, then held up his free hand, halting the troops behind him, then stepping clear of the door so they could enter and bear witness with him.
Tozama had instructed that the Council themselves were not to be engaged unless they also took up arms. They hadn't - like most such in the galaxy, they were weaklings and cowards, lying their way into power. But one- yes, that male, deceptively small, perhaps two and a quarter meters in height. His eyes flamed, his hands clenched.
Without a word, Tozama approached the Councillor, locking eyes with him alone. Extending his left hand, a servant placed in it a sheathed katana - another rare Mitsuhira blade, number one hundred ninety, made by the original master's own hands. It was a standing order among his empire that he would pay his own weight in gold for any such weapon.
Tozama wanted this contest to be fair. His arm swung to present the sword to the alien Councillor.
The male stepped out from behind the great desk, while his fellows cowered and at least one soiled itself. He took the weapon in two of his three hands, unsheathing it, carefully setting the scabbard on the great desk of polished meteoric iron. His third hand reached to his throat to activate his translator. Only high-pitched whistles could be heard by Human ears, but the device said, "I am Hrooja, Fourth Councillor of Shreegok. I stand in defense of my world."
Tozama smiled in true happiness, and tears of joy welled at the corners of his eyes. As he began to remove his armored spacesuit, he answered, "I am Tozama Daiki, Emperor of Space. Your courage will earn mercy for your people."

Hrooja lay on the floor, his blood pumping out of him, but he had a few moments of life remaining. For his hearing, as Tozama cleaned and sheathed his blade, he said aloud: "This being has shown that his people have courage. They will serve me, but they shall not be abused as would those ruled by cowards." Tozama turned to the Flike and Nikar observers. "You shall not taste the flesh of the people of this world." Then, with a tilt of his head toward the other four Councillors, still cowering behind their enormous iron desk, Tozama added, "Except those."
The reptilian Nikar advanced, many-toothed mouths wide and drooling, tails lashing, scales sparkling. The Flike were beside them, their middle-limb grasping-claws twitching, eyes glowing red.
Tozama turned and strode from the Council Chamber, Inagami at his side. Behind them they heard whistling screams.

There was, however, such a thing as too much courage.
On the planet Genc, the sentient species called themselves the Vire. They were quadrupeds, with a central vertical torso of roughly Humanoid form, and comparable to Human in many other respects. Tozama's fleet and soldiers had forced a landing, demanded slaves and tribute.
The Vire had achieved technology roughly equal to that of Humans in the mid-20th Century CE. A fission bomb had obliterated Tozama's landing site and enclave.
Orbital bombardment ensued, kinetic strikes, heavy laser pulses, even Marsten Guns, their short-lived Marsten Radiation murdering hundreds of thousands in seconds as they were angled to skim over population centers - like the pre-Escape neutron bomb, killing people while leaving property intact. Still the Vire resisted, sniping, bombing, ambushing, even cobbling together more atomic bombs under suicidal conditions, sacrificing themselves to radiation to strike back at the alien invaders.
Leaving a few small escorts at Shreegok, Jimmu and his fleet arrived in the Genc system. Tight against Jimmu's spinning hull were twenty of the new little two-kiloton gunships, each mounting a spinal Class Nine Marsten Gun and two flanking Class Fours.
The ships had also been fitted with grappling arms. Tozama was going to perform an experiment.

Tozama's scientists and engineers had run simulations, made calculations. As Jimmu first Transitioned in the outer system, spinning for internal weight, the little gunships were released in sequence, timed for useful vectors. As they coasted, Jimmu and his cruiser escorts Transitioned again, to within broadcast range of the planet Genc.
The Vire had radio, and even some primitive television. Jimmu's computers found the frequencies, Jimmu's fabbers built the necessary transmitters. Tozama's voice or face spread across the planet, translated to the necessary regional languages:
"I am Tozama Daiki, Emperor of Space.
"The people of this world have refused my rule, resisted my demands for tribute, waged war against my authority.
"You are to be punished.
"Let this world be an example and a lesson to all who would oppose me."
The broadcast was copied to the gunships by Marsten Device. On the word "punished", they Transitioned. Their flight of little more than a light-hour took only moments, at more than a hundred forty times lightspeed.
The gunships emerged six light-seconds from Genc, on near-miss vectors... at twenty percent of the speed of light in real space. The grappling arms released small projectiles, only a few hundred kilograms each, mined from the system's own asteroids, giving them just the right push to strike their targets.
The gunships arrived in sequence, spread across Genc's day cycle, so the world's entire surface could be engaged as the planet turned... while Tozama's broadcast was repeated. Strikes were aimed at population centers, coastal areas to raise tsunami, suspected tectonic faultlines to trigger earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Millions died. Then tens, then hundreds of millions.
The Vire, their spirit finally broken, broadcast their surrender, on all frequencies, in every language. Jimmu and his brother-ships would rarely cross within the hyperspace limit, to avoid being trapped. Instead his escorting cruisers took a closer orbit, and fired Marsten Guns or laser pulses or kinetic slugs on every source of transmission, on every artificial light to be seen on Genc's night side.
The punishment continued for six local days.
It had been imagined since years before Man first left his birth-world's atmosphere, but this was the first time it had been done. An entire world had been murdered. Any handfuls of survivors would starve, or freeze, or die of thirst, or choke on kinetic dust or volcanic smoke. The planet Genc was no longer capable of supporting Common Life. Perhaps, in a million years, something new would crawl out of the sea to reclaim the land.
On the seventh day, Tozama selected a plain on Genc's surface, and ordered the cruisers' Marsten Guns to carve in its face, three hundred kilometers wide, the symbol of the Blood Rose.
Admiral Copeland swallowed bile... but his path was set and he could not leave it. His life was already forfeit in every civilized nation, since long before he met his Emperor. He carried out his orders.
The alien observers' reactions were mixed, horror, terror, eagerness, hunger.
Inagami gazed on genocide with satisfaction, and faith in his emperor's power and resolve.
Sakami smiled at the destruction, eyes bright.

Tozama Daiki, the man who had been Tamura Ken, who had been born Kazuo Nakayama, reveled in his power.
He was absolute master of more than a dozen worlds and their peoples. He commanded a fleet few national navies could boast, and was building the largest starships in the history of the explored galaxy. His material wealth easily exceeded the Nakayama banking empire he had coveted from his father, with tons of precious metals at his command. His worldly pleasures were unrestrained, choosing playthings from the slave pens for a month, or a day, or an hour, using and discarding them in whatever ways he wished.
Yet... what is power, without being exercised? How can a man enjoy greatness if others are not aware of it?
Tozama needed more.
Continued in the next excerpt....
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