Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
Aurora, Part LXXXVII: Schism

This page Copyright 2021, Karl Leffler

Continued from the previous excerpt
561JR/2360CE
Galactic West - beyond the Frontier

Inagami looked over his new command.
The emperor-ship Korei spun once a minute on its one-kilometer radius, simulating a bit more than one Terran gravity on the inner surface. Like the Jeffersonian Republic's old law requiring Monticellan standards of weight and atmosphere, to condition Citizens for militia service, Tozama-Tenno sought to strengthen his own followers.
Across the twenty-plus square kilometers of Korei's inside could be seen farms growing crops, ranches supporting herds... and slaves tending both. Few were Human; none, laboring in the fields at least, were Nihonjin. Human females were kept separate, for the pleasure of those who had earned rewards. The most desirable were preserved for the highest-ranking.
Elsewhere were practice grounds, training facilities, target ranges. On these could be seen what used to be pirates, and had now become soldiers. For years they had been learning the profession of war, and a rising pride in themselves, inspired by Tozama-Tenno's enlightenment: We deserve to rule.
Inagami was loyal to his emperor, but sympathized with the restless wolves who wished to begin the war at once. Obeying his lord, he gathered those most eager, most outspoken. His hologram rose above the practice field to address his troops:
"Uchuu-no-Okami!" he named them, his voice echoing across the inside-out ship-world: wolves of space.
"I know your hunger. Your impatience. Your need for action.
"I share your feelings! I, too, am eager to advance our great work, to take our rightful places in the galaxy! I look around me at the strength we have gathered and ask why, why must we wait? How much more strength could we possibly need? When shall we strike?" He paused here, as thousands roared in frustration.
"I have asked these very questions of our Emperor. Do you want to know his answer?" The pirates roared again, in anger now.
"His answer..." Inagami's voice dropped- "was a history lesson." The pirates fell silent in confusion.
Inagami repeated that lesson now: "Tozama-Tenno told me of others who shared our dreams - of mastery. Of unity. Others, who set upon the same path we tread now. Others, who set ancient Terra aflame with war.
"Others... who failed."
As Inagami spoke, more holograms appeared beside him, showing ancient symbols and faces of regimes and rulers who had gone before. "The Terran Empire sought domination. They began well, striking hard against the Jeffersonian capitol and centers of industry, even occupying the world of the Jews." The accompanying images shifted to combat video, of the Haganah sniping and bombing Imperial occupation forces. The JRMC's Legio XVII, the Samurai Legion, made largely of nikkei, was not shown.... "But their enemies did not meekly surrender, did not submit to be ruled! Their war dragged on, and on, until that Empire could not withstand retaliation!" At this point the images showed the legendary First Mobile Infantry Regiment of the Fifth Legion dropping - twice - on New Israel.
"They were not ready.
"Hitler, too, failed in his quest to conquer Terra, striking too soon, enraging too many, lacking the strength to withstand a world united against him." Images showed the invasion of Poland, the conquest of France... then the failures on the Eastern Front, the Allied bombing campaigns, invasions of Africa and Italy and Normandy... Dresden in flames... Berlin in ruins.
"He was not ready.
"Tojo-Shusho and Showa-Tenno sought a brief war, to claim the resources they needed, to expand and secure their own Empire." Cheering troops waving the Rising Sun flag tied to the bayonets of their rifles as they swept through China, southeast Asia, Pacific islands... the attack on Pearl Harbor, American ships burning, corpses floating... then Midway, Japan's own fleet aflame, the island-hopping campaign, more bombings. "Even allied with Hitler, they lacked the might to survive. Yamamoto-Gensui had lived and studied among Japan's enemies, knew their powers." American factories, American workers in their millions, oil, steel, rubber, vast stockpiles, trains and trucks and tanks and ships and guns and aircraft in tens of thousands. "His warnings were not heeded." Landing craft approached beaches. Battleships fired broadsides. Carriers launched maximum-effort airstrikes. American planes darkened the skies. Mushroom clouds rose, ragged refugees wandered through fields of rubble and ash that were once cities.
"They were not ready.
"Lenin and Stalin and Kruschev worked for decades to undermine that strength, to break that resolve." Images were shown of the Berlin Wall, the brutal suppression of the Hungarian rebellion, the might of the Soviet armed forces. "They, too, underestimated their foes, and ended on their own ash-heap of history." American supercarriers - the Wall falling - once-mighty Soviet war machines rusting away in scrapyards and abandoned docks.
"They were not ready.
"Many of you come from the civilized states of this galaxy. Like Yamamoto, you have seen their strength, their power, their resolve." Constitution Shipyards above Wilson's Colony; Haifa above New Israel; the Space Patrol Academy, and the Yeager School, on Monticello. "Explain to your brothers, share your wisdom:
"You know that we are not ready.
"You, who have this vital knowledge, cannot deny that years of work still lie ahead of us! Yes, it is subtle, underhanded work, creeping in shadows - not worthy of wolves. But that work is necessary all the same!
"Now that I have shared with you our Emperor's history lesson, do not mistake Tozama-Tenno's caution for fear, or weakness! Know that it is wisdom which stays his hand... and yours... and my own.
"If we strike too soon, we will suffer the same fate as those who walked this path before us! If we do not gather sufficient strength, it will be we who are defeated, subjugated, obliterated!
"But do not lose heart, my brothers! The great work does continue, our time will come! A day will dawn when we do at last strike against all those who would deny our rightful place in the universe!
"Uchuu-no-okami! I hear your growls! I feel your hunger! I share your frustration!
"While you await the promised day, Tozama-Tenno, in his great wisdom and generosity, has ordered me to lead- no, to reward you, for your patience and loyalty. You, who are most hungry; you, who howl the loudest; you shall feast, and I with you!" Beside Inagami's towering hologram appeared a map of the Sherrington system, highlighting the habitable world, VI, and outposts on V, VIII, and in the asteroids and moons. Icons showed what resources could be expected at each: metal, fuel, food, slaves.
"You have trained! You have hardened yourselves! You have become a force unlike any this galaxy has seen before! Wolf-soldiers - an army of wolves!
"Make all preparations for departure! We go to feast together!"

Most preparations had already been made. Herds and crops had been donated from other Emperor-ships, or harvested from enslaved planets in Tozama's empire. Techniques learned from other artificial habitats, including Emerson Hannebuth's Torus Alpha, allowed for rapid establishment in new environments.
Korei would stay safely beyond the hyperspace limit, so he could escape swiftly; the emperor-ships had realspace engines, fusion torches, but they would provide only centimeters of acceleration, to minimize disruption to their internal environments. Korei would not be alone, though: three heavy cruisers, eight destroyers, five frigates, and four heavy landing ships would accompany him, along with thirty-three of the little gunships, docked to Korei's spinning outer hull. A pair of tankers joined the fleet for convenience, rather than having every ship return to Korei for refueling. Inagami issued orders, made plans, to assault the Sherrington system, neutralize their defenses, land, reave. Subordinates were assigned tasks and targets.
Sakami was now a leader of one of many other groups of pirates, gathered from everywhere; it was this Group Twelve, answering to Sakami, who had taken over operations on Ude, contributing yet another stream of supplies to the great logistical river the Blood Rose needed.
Sakami and Inagami would commiserate for hours about Tozama's hesitation to tear down the galactic order and return Known Space to rule by strength. Inagami would acknowledge the necessity; Sakami would question it. Now, Sakami came to Inagami privately, after the final strategy meeting. "Inagami-kun," he began; the familiar term, rather than the formal -san or deferential -sama. "I have a suggestion."
"And what would that be, my friend?"
"I see a way to... force Tozama-Tenno's hand," Sakami said quietly. "To begin the war now."
Inagami was instantly cautious. "What way is this?"
The two men had seen much blood together for many years. Inagami would hear what Sakami had to say. The subordinate explained: "Instead of landing on Sherrington, we use the relativistic weapons to destroy it. Then, Tozama-Tenno must make more strikes, against the other states, before they can react!"
"No!" Inagami hissed. "Have you learned nothing? You of all people, born and bred on Old Terra! You know the strength of our enemies! I have explained why we are not ready!"
"I say we are ready! The Jeffersonians are weak and decadent, they suspect nothing! A swift blow, followed quickly by more, like the blitzkrieg of old! As long as we keep our momentum, destroy their centers of industry before they can be used to overwhelm us-"
"BAKA!" Inagami snarled. "Look at our own forces! We are already spreading away from planets, making more of our operations mobile! Do you think the Jeffersonians, or Russians, or Caledonians, or even the Eyani, could not do the same?"
"But they do not have the will to fight! They have grown too comfortable in their Long Peace! They will fold, they will break!"
"No! They are a sleeping giant! They outnumber us thousands to one, in every way! If awakened too soon they will crush us! Sakami, my friend, you know I share your impatience, but I forbid this absolutely. We will follow the original plan. There will be no use, or even talk, of relativistic weapons. By the gods, Sakami, are you not satisfied enough with this opportunity to feast on an entire star system?"
"Scraps! The Emperor feeds us scraps from his table! You call us wolves, but we are dogs!"
Inagami lost control, and backhanded the face of his close friend of many fights and years. Recovering himself, he spoke, conciliatory: "Sakami...."
Hand to face, Sakami said, "I see the way of things." Reaching to his wrist 'puter, he pressed a key.
Through the hatch to Inagami's personal quarters came a half-dozen men. Two bore plasma rifles, three stunwands, and the last, binders. "I have no wish to harm you, my old friend. But we wolves have waited long enough."
To his own men, Sakami said, "Inagami-sama has taken ill, and I now command this fleet. See that he is not disturbed, and gets the rest he needs."

2 Fifthmonth 561JR
8 June 2360CE
Sherrington system

Sakami told lies which were eagerly believed. His own subordinates, chosen with care, passed on new orders. Sakami himself was projected above Korei's fields:
"Uchuu-no-okami!
"So you have been named. So you truly are!
"Our emperor has offered us this system of worlds to feast upon. I say it is not enough! I say it is time and past time to advance the great work Tozama-Tenno has promised us!
"We will not land on the worlds of Sherrington. We shall use our deadliest weapons to make an example of them! With such powers of destruction in our hands, none will dare oppose us, as we bring down all of civilization and become true lords and masters of space!
"Tozama-Tenno offers us worlds as gifts. I shall offer him a galaxy!"

Inagami's favorite concubine was named Mariko. She was of mixed blood, half Nihonjin, half European. Her long, straight black hair had a faint reddish cast, and her skin was as fair as could be found; her eyes were bright green. Born on Mars, she was taller than most Japanese people for three reasons: her father had been from the Republic of Caledonia, the planet awarded to the Scottish Resistance in payment for their aid to the Republic during the Liberation of Terra; she had been raised in Jeffersonian standards of healthcare and nutrition; and the lesser gravity of the Red Planet had given her bones greater length.
Nanites and dietary supplements, and time spent in centrifuges on Mars' surface and orbiting habitats as she grew, made her bones stronger, her muscles and organs healthy enough to withstand normal Human weight. By the standards of pure Nihonjin she was a freak, or a goddess, or both, depending on prejudices.
Her father, a spacer, had wandered away while her mother was pregnant with her, never to be seen again. His name was not remembered. Her mother, Kameko, had been a yujo - prostitute. Originally it had been just a job to her, not prohibited under Jeffersonian law - Mars was a Member World - but at some point her brothel had been taken over by Tamura Ken's expansion, and Mariko herself had been sold, at the age of thirteen Terran years, into the same work. Eventually the operation had been shut down, slaves freed, by the same sweeps by Investigators and militias that caused Tamura to fake his death again, but by that time Kameko and her daughter had been transferred far outsystem.
Tamura had sent his most trusted follower, Inagami, to inspect his new holdings. Inagami spotted Mariko and, fascinated by her height and color, bought her for himself on the spot.
Mariko, having barely begun life as a yujo and seeing what became of others, including her mother, was grateful to be claimed by one man alone - and a not-ungentle one at that, at least toward her. Inagami pampered and indulged her, provided her with luxuries; even, at her pleading, bought her mother out of the brothel she had been sold to - Jeffersonian standards of medicine, widely available, greatly slowed aging - and placed her in comfortable retirement.
Mariko was loyal to her master. So, when Sakami's announcement of Inagami's "illness" spread through Korei, she rushed to be at Inagami's side. His quarters were hers; she had been away, taking her ease in a flower garden tended by brightly-plumaged Siv slaves. Now, approaching the hatch to his quarters, she saw two of Sakami's men with plasma rifles, bayonets extended. "No visitors," they snarled at her.
"You will admit me," she stated. "In the name of your lord, Inagami!"
"We take orders from Sakami-sama," one sneered in reply. Both swung their rifles her way, bayonets gleaming in the corridor's lights. "Be gone with you, witch!" barked the other.
Mariko paused, glaring, then spun in a whirl of silk and stormed away.
Despite being, technically, a slave of Inagami, no one in her master's command had dared disrespect or disobey her before. I will find the truth, she fumed to herself, turning this way, then that, passing so many hatches, looking up and down the passageway to see she was not observed. Reaching up, she pulled a decorative pin from her high-piled hair; reaching down, she extended a tool from the pin and opened a certain maintenance panel, crawled within, closed it behind her.
It was a thing her master had asked of her, to add spice to their lovemaking; a secret passage within Korei, leading to Inagami's private chamber. Some sixty meters she crawled, through air ducts... kept spotlessly clean, for her, by robots not part of Korei's network, whose one and only program was this unreported path. Reaching the end, Mariko paused, looking and listening through the ventilation grate.
She saw her master, pacing furiously across a rug made by a thousand alien hands on a planet Tozama had conquered years before. She knew he collected weapons, the Mitsuhira katana gifted to him by Tozama the most prized among them. None could be seen; their display racks were empty. Likewise the communications and status displays throughout the room were blank... and two more of Sakami's men guarded her master, weapons ready.
Inagami had saved Mariko, and her mother, from cruel slavery. She owed him two lives. Silently, she slipped her hair ornament through the grate, and waited.

Inagami, as he paced, threw glances at the grate, contemplating escape. Sakami's men were skilled - Inagami himself had helped train them. They kept distance between each other and Inagami, so he could not strike one without being fired on by the other.
Inagami knew he was dealing with wolves, even as he named himself one. He had made plans. Unknown even to his concubine, there was a hidden compartment in the secret passage, containing weapons, emergency supplies, override devices - for just such an occasion. If he could reach them....
Completing another circuit of the alien rug, he glanced again at the grate- and saw his pet's hair ornament, hand-engraved gold from a small Eyani colony, which he had gifted to her after a successful raid. She treasured it and was never without it.
So, Mariko awaited. She could retrieve the hidden weapons... he had taught her their use, as a sign of his trust and affection for her. But she did not know where they were, or how to reach them! Attempting to speak to her, or rush for the grate, would get at least one of them at least stunned-
Of course. She had taught him the ancient American Sign Language, which she had learned from another prostitute as a child, before being sold to the same life herself. Spacers used it when suit radios failed or were otherwise unavailable. Elite military troops used it for stealth operations. The yujo used it to communicate secretly with each other, without insulting customers or, later, alerting their masters. Inagami continued pacing, and each time his back was to the grate, the hands clasped behind him began spelling out words.
When he had given sufficient instruction, he stopped pacing and calmly lay down on the deck. The two guards came alert, fingering their weapons-
Mariko thrust the muzzle of a suppressed needler through the grate and shot both of Sakami's guards with slivers of fast-acting lethal toxin.

The grate burst open, Mariko rushed out, threw her arms around Inagami. "My love-!"
He spared a moment to place a hand on her cheek. "You have done well, my brave, lovely one. But now I must hurry! Stay here, where you will be safe. And keep that weapon ready!" Inagami went quickly to the hatch, threw the old-style mechanical lock which could not be opened from the other side. Then, with a quick kiss for his concubine, he dove into the air duct and was gone.
He crawled through the passage, paused to watch and listen at the other end. Swiftly exiting, he closed the maintenance panel behind him, to not reveal or endanger his pet.
He had armed himself with spare weapons: another quiet needler, a plasma pistol, and a wakizashi made by one of the Mitsuhira family's competitors. He also wore a wrist 'puter, encoded with overrides only he knew.
Rounding a corner he encountered three of his men, speaking quietly and looking unhappy - but were they his men? "Okami!" Wolves, he called them. "Who do you serve?"
The three men gasped and almost smiled in relief, then knelt, bowing. "We serve you, Inagami-sama. And you alone!"
Inagami nodded once. "Come with me. Quickly!"
Down this corridor, left on that, up a level- a backup communications room. Wireless could not be trusted; he physically plugged his 'puter into the console. A holographic keyboard appeared, he hammered intangible keys-
Korei went to total lockdown. Every hatch sealed, every airlock and docking port. The world-ship's engines shut down. Ships of the fleet connected to Korei's network also received shutdown commands, especially the little two-kiloton gunships clamped to the outer hull-
"No." Reading displays, Inagami saw he was too late. All the gunships had flown.

Aboard Gunship 6, Sakami grinned like a wolf.
At one-fifth the speed of light, his wolves howled through the Sherrington system. The specialists aboard had provided targeting information, release times, for the kinetic weapons grappled to the hulls of the gunships. The vessels were too far apart to be seen by the unaided eye - they would Transition back to hyperspace at the end of their runs, and must be spaced widely so the Marsten Fields would not interact. But Sakami could see computer-generated representations of his fleet in action, icons and graphics showing ships approaching the planet, weapons being set on their paths.
There was a slight time-dilation effect at this speed - accounted for in calculations, negligible to Human minds. Sakami watched the holographic traces of the projectiles streaking toward their targets. The displays did not show their terminal effects... but he imagined them. Lightning from the sky, blue-tinted by relativistic wavelength compression. The planet's atmosphere torn asunder, compression-heated in a flash, racing outward with the solidity of armor to smash everything in the shockwave's path. Then, the true impact: tiny objects, comparatively, but with such unholy speed they carried irresistible energies. Sherrington VI's crust cracked to the mantle, the mantle in turn split and shuddered. Tectonic faults activated, the skin of the entire planet shaking with the trauma. Volcanos, dormant for centuries or millennia, exploded back to life. Tsunami raced across the world's oceans, scouring islands and coasts, rebounding, colliding.
The gunships completed their first pass, Transitioned, spent hydrogen fuel to generate energy to Transition again, their realspace course reversed, their speed greatly reduced. They prepared for another run, to complete the destruction-
-The ships refused to respond. "Sakami-sama!" a subordinate cried. "The computers-!"
"Inagami!" Sakami hissed in understanding. "He is using overrides!" Sakami had been one of the pirates tutored, to some extent, in computer sciences, by the man who used to be Kazuo Nakayama. Tearing open an access panel, he ripped fiberoptic cables from their connections. Displays, showing "ACCESS DENIED", now went blank. "Switch to backup controls! Shut down main communications! Get me secure laser comm to the other ships! Hurry!"
Of the thirty-three gunships, fourteen responded to Sakami's hail, their captains smart enough and fast enough to break out of the overrides. The other nineteen coasted, the overrides completing their work, erasing the main computers, burning out control linkages, trapping their crews until Inagami sent other ships to gather them... or let them hurtle into the void to starve or suffocate.
With the gunships' main computers disabled, the simpler, clumsier, less-secure backups were used. Sakami reorganized his fleet- and considered his next move.
Sakami's own subordinates looked to him with fear in their eyes. They had betrayed their rightful lord, Inagami, and their Emperor, Tozama. Obviously their faction had lost control of Korei, or Inagami would not have been able to cripple their ships. They had planned to bring a gruesome fait accompli to Tozama-Tenno. Now they would be marked for death.
But they already were, as pirates, before joining the Blood Rose. "The plan has changed," Sakami told his followers. "We cannot achieve the goal I promised. Now we must eliminate witnesses. Spread through the system, seek and destroy every ship, every Marsten Device. One pass, and then...." Sakami's face fell, in loss. "Then we become wolves once more."

Two tankers had accompanied Korei's fleet; each had carried containers of supplies, to be positioned for convenience. Sakami had stacked both ships' crews with his own men. One had escaped Inagami's shutdown commands. After refueling the surviving gunships, he ordered it to a rendezvous point between stars. Sakami's fourteen little ships met it there, refueled and restocked, then set course for Ude... where Sakami's subordinates knew little of the Blood Rose and less of Tozama.
Rather, thirteen of the ships made rendezvous. Number 6 was delayed.
"Forgive me, my old friend," Sakami whispered, as gunship Number 6 Transitioned to realspace in the outer reaches of the Sherrington system, two light-seconds from Korei, at twenty percent of lightspeed.
By his own hand, Sakami triggered the release of four kinetic slugs, targeted on the emperor-ship. Number 6's torch flared, braking for separation from the weapons, then angling away from their impact points.
The slugs shot through Korei like... any proverb an observer could choose. Atmosphere fountained from suddenly-gaping wounds - the spread of projectiles had been spaced evenly along the vessel's length, for maximum destruction. Striking together, they split Korei open along one entire side. Unbalanced, the mammoth construct, spinning once a minute, tore itself apart.
Sakami did not revel in this destruction. It was necessary, to prevent pursuit, to give those followers who had trusted him with their fates a fighting chance to escape. He did not look back, did not look at screens or simulations of what he had done. He sat in his command chair, silently weeping, eyes closed, until Number 6 had recharged its Marsten Drive and Transitioned back to hyperspace.
Continued in the next excerpt....
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