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I Icatus

Part One

“Do not disturb me, can’t you read…”, the old Evon started angrily, before Icatus interrupted him.
“It’s me president, your old friend.”
“Ah”, the old mans face lit up, “I sent for you eons ago, now of all times”. The president turned his face from the holo-screen with the myriads of stars on it and turned to Icatus.
“I’ve been quite busy in the senate, after all you sent me there to learn more.”
After a pause, the president replied more subdued, “I know, I’m very familiar with your activities there.” There was a visible frown on his forehead.
“What, would they be if I might ask?”
“Don’t be coy with me dear friend. Old as I am, I’m not over the hill just yet. You are speaking out against me in the senate, albeit silently. And my enemies know that. Don’t pretend me stupid, because we all know the implications of that since you are my protégé to replace me in another 10 cycles.”
“If you so wish, but…”
“Don’t. There is no defense. And I will not have you lie to me.” Much anger was suppressed and Icatus didn’t dare open his mouth again.
“Now, I still consider you my replacement and I have plenty of friends in the upper house to make this happen. But, that will all depend on you.” He left the last sentence open.
“So”, Icatus tried, “what did you have on your mind?”
“My mind?” the old Evon, “no my friend, it’s what you have on your mind.”

The president, walked over to the fireplace, sat down next to a small table where two cups of Frach’t were brewing and invited Icatus to sit down with a gentle sweep of his hand.
Icatus followed after some hesitation and took the cup the old Evon offered him.
“Indulge me” the president said after two simple sips. Icatus also sipped twice, since in this culture, twice of host were always finished twice by guest, but with one sip, the guest could sip up to four times or not.
“History teaches us, and I’ll go back to the beginning, when our first president set forth the plan to rid the galaxy from the false gods according to our own religion, we had already staked out so much space to grow. We had no idea where the enemy resided, nor where the dreaded Orion’s lived. So, naturally we explored. I’m boring you for sure” and Icatus met his eyes with a slight shake of his head, “but you have to hear me on this to understand”, the president went on.

“When the machines” he spat”, entered our claimed territory and set up camp, we had no other choice but to go to war. They did destroy some of our ships in doing so, but the reason was more one of growth then actual aggression. Remember, if they had been allowed to, our Empire would have had a enemy mobilization point in our center mass and we could only allow three entry points into our claims. It simply would have cost more to keep a presence surrounding the star system, than destroying the colony. For us back then, the debates were shallow compared to now, but not until the enemy ran our blockades and destroyed our ships, did the president see an opportunity to go to war.” He finished the sentence and sipped once more and Icatus, dying of thirst, immediately took two, which made the ruler grin.

Frach’t, incidentally, didn’t quench your thirst; it was more antagonizing it, since Frach’t was initially a test of endurance in times where the different Evon houses could not afford their best nobles and warriors to die in constant duels. He, who first finished his drink, would lose. It was designed so it subdued the initial thirst, but not long after, it aggravated it even more. This was after all, a test of willpower younger Evons lost. There were no ways to build up a natural resistance to Frach’t so torturing yourself with “training” didn’t help.

“It took a while to defeat that colony, not so much because we lacked a fleet; it didn’t take us long to produce more modern ship and blockade their colony, but we didn’t have the weapons to just destroy it, so we also had to send an invading force. After that, prolonged as the conflict seemed, we just blocked of their entry into our space and annihilated any attempts to overrun us again. We learned however that keeping the Meklars happy took quite a lot of resources and from that, we formed a strategy for the future.” He sipped once more and raised his eye slightly as Icatus refused to drink, which wasn’t bad, just a very surprising show of willpower. That meant that he next time had to start the ceremony. The president knew inside that Icatus for sure was the right Evon for the job; he wasn’t sure just if he could stomach it.
“Well, not long after that, we encountered the Klackons, who at first appeared quite friendly. Then we encountered the Nommo’s to the south, where we've been fortunate enough to establish a well protected military presence.
“It wasn’t until I took my seat in the senate we went to war with the Klackons.” He sighed and took four sips after Icatus took one and saw this small smile on his protégés lips.

In drinking Frach’t, there are only 12 sips in a cup. A sip is actually a real measurement that no standard or metric system could understand. But as is, with only 12 sips, Icatus probably felt that such a substantial amount of sips that he had drunk, Icatus could now just drink his ones and then “beat” the president through perseverance. The president could refuse to drink every time Icatus did and then have to take over the ceremony but the younger Evon probably thought the old Evon was too proud not to do that.
“Klackons are or rather, WERE terrible bugs. We fought them for more then 300 cycles and it all started when they killed our former president and threw any attempt to an apology back in our faces. I mantled his role and it weren’t until I read all of his books that I finally understood what this was all about.” The president noticed that Icatus hand had a visible shake as he took two sips and the president followed with his two.
“I don’t want to seem rude, but I have read the history behind the Klackon war quite thoroughly, so what else did those books really contain above and beyond what was the reason for the war and why we slaughtered all their planets rather than conquering them?”
“My friend”, he abstained from drinking as Icatus took another sip that seemed just a little too eager and the eyes of his younger colleague rose to his amusement.
“It wasn’t so much what or why, but more in the end what we HAVE to do.”

I know that our increasingly secular society have little over for our old gods and some have even rejected the idea that we are somehow their direct ascendance. But the old president and the ones before him knew their and our role in all of this. We are here to prepare the way for these beings and I say beings in the sense there is no mistaking for what they are.” Icatus gave him a curious look and licked his lips in frustration over the fact that the old Evon put his cup down in a clear demonstration of will.
“I was quite startled as I read through the pages, that what we have thought to be the works of gods are just the works of more advanced beings and that we are designed to be here, expanding and finally conquering the Antarans so that our masters can take us all over in the end.” Icatus gave him a look of utter surprise and sat the cup down too.
“And no, I’m not sacrilegious in anyway saying this, since this is confirmed from even the text of the first one, but it has been kept from most of us, since as you now display, it would have been devastating to our people and their morale, not to mentioning the grounds for a religious uprising.”
“Wait”, the president interrupted. “Let me finish, please”.

After what seemed an eternity, the old Evon picked up the cup, sipped once and saw Icatus gulp at least half of what was left down. Realizing his mistake, the cup dropped down on its saucer and there was a noticeable frown of defeat. Icatus reached for the bottle of water nearby, poured it into the bowl of remembrance and offered it first to the old Evon, who smiled and let his protégé go first, which quickly took a couple of big gulps from the thirst quenching water, then let his master follow suite.
In the context of Frach’t the bowl of remembrance reminds the engaged that in the end they are all of same race and blood and then even in defeat, and bond still exist till death. Drinking from the water and by drinking in big gulps, they all acknowledge that victory is sometimes bittersweet, much like a pyrrhic one.

“We don’t do this because we dislike these races or for that matter, want to abide by our masters. As genetic “ants” if you so like, we have to. But any decision we made to just annihilate instead of conquer comes from the knowledge that in the end, we will have to fight our master to survive. The amount of resources we have to divide in order to keep unruly races under check and all the internal problems that follows, must be taken into consideration. I decided to attack the Nommo’s when they showed disrespect in their constant skirmishes along the borders and when the Raas colonized the Guardian system of Ursa after we defeated it, spurred me to go to such extremes. The shortest rout to victory over the Antarans goes through the hearts of others. And when we have defeated them, we will have enough power to sustain ourselves against the tide of destruction that will follow.” The President stood up, gave his protégé a sad look and continued.
“I don’t want to do this, but if I don’t, we will be bogged down with the petty struggles from conquered races wanting rights within or special treatment. They will be destroyed anyway when the darkness comes and we are just merely doing them a service. Because trust me old friend, we will suffer too for sure.”
With that he went over to the holographic console again.
“I will not see the end of the Antarans under my rule, but I hope you will. We are close. Notice that I have stopped any aggression towards the Raas and the Nommo’s when I found the entrance to the Orion sector because after all, I have no desire to burn down the universe. I trust that when you take over this, you will to come to the same conclusion that I have, or this will be the end of us, trapped in a crumbling Empire, surrounded by enemies, much younger and more savage than us, waiting for the end of times.”
He said no more and with thirst burning inside him, Icatus walked out of his study, feeling dazed by this new and startling information.


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