Journey To Orion, part 2
Contents/Warnings: Long story, boring diplomatic sessions, 'Human' POV
Disclaimer: <checks document map> Nope, Master of Orion is still the property of Infogrames, not me... <sigh>
Scribbler: kebzero, March 2001
Ambassador Harlan adjusted the breathing apparatus and the translator while stepping up on the podium. She bowed before the President, and the two sides. Then she began.
"Salutations to our old friends. We have now been separated for over a thousand cycles. It is by far time for us to reconvene here, and stake out our common destiny. We are happy the Antarans have given us the opportunity to have this assembly. We hope their wisdom in such matters will only continue to grow."
Hobbes detected a slight irony in her tone of voice. He doubted anyone other than Erdran and himself noticed it, though. Even the Antarans were unlikely to have bothered to learn the subtleties of Human language.
"This room and the structure around it, has been the focal point of sentient life and their ways of government in this sector since before most of us became sentient races."
She was obviously overdoing it here, but it was better to praise the situation rather than condemn it.
"The Humans have had many successes here in the past, as the first speaker mentioned. We hope to have even further in the future, and we hope you will have too. The inhabitants of Sol has always longed for peace and prosperity throughout this sector. With the aid of the Antarans, and your goodwill towards one another, we might achieve even such a lofty goal. We are more than willing to forget all past events, if it will secure a bright future. We hope you feel the same way."
Ambassador Harlan stepped down. Hobbes looked around in the room to see what impact her speech had made. The Antarans were unmoved, acting like statues. The other delegates appeared unbothered, with the exceptions of the Alkari representative who formed a hard gaze, probably remembering her insult, and the Mrrshan ambassador, whose angry stare did not focus on Harlan, but the President.
The next speech was given to the Silicoids. Their envoy gave a positive speech as well, agreeing with Harlan it was time to move forward. The following speeches of the Trilarians, Klackon and Sakkra was equally enthusiastic. All gave the Antaran credit for their reconvening of the Senate. The mood in the room was a positive one. Gestures indicating happiness or contentment was dominating the room. The Antarans, however, were still in 'statue' mode, and the Mrrshan ambassador appeared more angry with each speech. She was arguing briefly with her aides, but was cut short when the Antaran appointed as her clerk gave her notice to prepare her speech. The Sakkra representative was finishing his address.
The Mrrshan ambassador was one of the few Hobbes remembered the name of from the mingling earlier. Ambassador Rrlenn of the Mrrshan had made quite an impression in her perfectly arranged fleet uniform. Hobbes doubted there was much of a Mrrshan navy as of yet, though. Rrlenn moved quickly down into the well, her steps filled with a powerful anger, signified by the sharp sound her boots made when hitting the floor. As she stepped up to the podium, her fiery gaze fell upon the President once again. She broke the stare only to quickly let her eyes sweep across the room. She was furious, claws fully extended and ears backwards. Then she began her thunderous speech with an impressive display of fangs.
"For many generations, the Antaran Dominion has held our races in brute captivity. Our peoples have been tortured, brought into slavery, manipulated in unspeakable ways, and harmed in countless others. Now the Antaran slavers bring us here, to what end? They have loosened their grip for the first time in a thousand cycles - now they force us here, to give up our recently won independence, and swear an oath of loyalty to this... relic of a place, and to their representative, so proudly and undeservingly sitting in the president's seat? No, I tell you! We of the Mrrshan will never again surrender to their vile ways of manipulation! We will rather perish fighting, than go on in this hopeless situation!"
While her strong words, which sounded like fierce roars to Hobbes, reached the delegations, her strict and nearly spiteful glare sweeped over the room, leaving no one daring enough to make direct eye contact with her, unchallenged. The Senate was filled with the low mumbling and intense gesturing once more.
"Survival has always been paramount, but the cost of survival has been staggeringly high. We will not bow down for Antaran authority again. This Senate is a sham!"
This provoked sudden outbreaks among the delegates, both supportive and opposing. Harlan remained calm, however.
"We must form our own assembly, free from the appendages of the Antaran Dominion. For so long have we begged for mercy from our captors - they never wavered. Now, we will be as single-minded as they ever were. Fieras will not obey this forum, and we will not participate, as long as that hideous representative of such a murderous race leads this assembly. The massive bloodshed and carnage caused by the Antarans, must never be forgotten! Let us not give them a single chance to regain their power over us!"
Ambassador Rrlenn's dedication, rage and anger had empowered her speech substantially. She had clearly made an impact on the delegates, who were debating both within their own groups, and arguing to one another. Again, the Antarans sat there, acting as statues. Can no words, harsh or gentle, usher them into action? Hobbes wondered. Down in the well, Rrlenn let her words sink in. Her assignment completed, she calmed down. Her outbursts had been nothing more than what the spirit of her words demanded.
"This was the message the Mrrshan people wanted to - and had to - bring to the Senate. Now, we will have nothing more to do with this charade."
She turned quickly, and leaped down from the podium.
While she walked up to her delegation, a Bulrathi was arguing very vocally with a clerk. So loud was his tantrum, that Hobbes' translator picked it up from across the room.
"I demand to be heard next!", the Bulrathi thundered, between a myriad of curses and oaths the translator could barely make out. He got his demand fulfilled. The Antarans probably wanted to maintain order, and the Bulrathi, who wore an officer uniform, could probably have done a great deal to upset order, if he so had chosen.
The officer stormed down to the well, went up to the podium, and hammered his massive paws in the white stone plate with a crushing sound, in an effort to call the Senate back into order. Though he did not have the same fire in the eyes as Rrlenn, the brutish figure made a strong impression, both at the audience and the podium. As the chatter died down, he began.
"The Mrrshan ambassador speaks the truth - the Antarans have been the rapists and reapers of this sector for far too long. Our independence have been given to us, like a gift from the universe itself. The Bulrathi will not tolerate the return of an Antaran to power - we support the Mrrshan in their contempt of the current president - we demand an election as soon as possible, so that a more worthy candidate can hold this important seat. Ursa is in ruins, and our people has been hard pressed to survive. In earlier times we were always selected as shock troops, defending lost causes and fighting futile battles for nearly all of you at one time or another, usually fighting against the Antarans. When we withdrew our support as a response to your lack of aiding our defence fleets, both you and we were conquered."
Hobbes' limited knowledge of history indicated this to be somewhat true - the Bulrathi had aided the defence of the sector greatly, and the lack of their support was devastating to the defence. Harlan was quietly absorbing the officer's words. Many of the other ambassadors was doing the same. They knew what great services the Bulrathi had given to their cause in earlier times. They were probably worried they could not trick them back into the role as expendable soldiers who might even be willing to sacrifice themselves.
"Under Antaran control, our race, being naturally adapted to high-gravity environments, was more often taken away as slave workers. A far greater percentage of the Bulrathi were abducted than on any other worlds. Well, the Bulrathi are not slaves anymore! Never again will we crawl before the tyranny of the evil Antarans. We will make our own way, and rebuild Ursa to past glory - alone if we have to. It is good to know not all of you have turned into such quivering cowards during the past thousand cycles."
The officer turned briefly towards Rrlenn, and nodded in acknowledgement. Rrlenn returned the nod. The rest of the delegations were quietly absorbing the insult.
"The Bulrathi cannot, and will not, approve of the current president. Thus, we too choose to abandon this futile Antaran attempt at deceit until a new President is elected, and will instead devote our efforts and resources to reorganise our own shattered society."
With this, the officer turned, and stepped down from the dented podium.
"This gathering seems to be losing its potential." Erdran whispered. Hobbes quietly agreed. With two delegations so openly in defiance with the President, more might dare to join the chorus of hateful objections to their domination. Partly, he was sad the Humans did not have such an opportunity, but he was also glad. The Antarans were still powerful. Their sizeable fleet in orbit signified this. Did the Mrrshan or Bulrathi know something they did not? The next speaker was the representative from the world of Draconis. Hobbes felt slightly mesmerised by this ambassador. Of all the aliens, her kind were the most Human-looking. They had blue skin and pointy ears, but other than that, they looked remarkably similar to Humans. The female at the podium was, in Hobbes' eyes, very beautiful. Ancient Human stereotyping would not say much good of her cognital capacities, though, as she had long, blond hair. Her tight-fitting uniform went further to strengthen the stereotyping, but Hobbes felt deterred of continuing tha
t train of thought when he noticed the sword she wore on her left. It might be decorative, but Hobbes was not convinced.
The Elerian ambassador walked up to the podium with graceful moves. She made the standard gestures towards the delegations, and began her speech.
"The representatives from Fieras and Ursa use harsh words against the Antarans. We do not object, we condone. The Antaran deployment of the MindBlind virus into our society during the last great war, has forever etched itself into our memories."
Probably in more ways than one, Hobbes thought.
"Their blatant disregard for sentient life has been made apparent throughout the time all our races have been in contact with them. Many of your worlds were bombed to the core, leaving no survivors. Countless other worlds were damaged during the Antaran campaigns of terror. As tremendous as the horrors of the last great war was; the incineration and destruction of heavily populated worlds, the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry, the enslavement, destruction and despair - none of them can match the 'research' programs the Antarans have conducted on our peoples since that time. Few, if any of the people represented here, have the unaltered genetic legacy of their ancestors."
This fact was not in dispute. Few of the aliens they had met here, looked similar to their ancestors. The Humans appeared to be lucky that way. Perhaps the Antarans didn't need to alter Human appearance for whatever goals their experiments had with them.
"The Elerian people will never agree to be led by Antarans again. They might conquer us, but our hearts and minds will remain forever independent. The MindBlind virus caused untold damage to our society - we are still suffering from its effects, though we have been able to regain some of our great powers during the last few generations."
That statement gave a brief chill throughout the audience. The stories of worlds simply surrendering without any resistance if a large Elerian ship was in orbit, were legendary. The thought that such things could occur again during any potential hostilities with the Elerians, troubled the delegations.
"Our efforts to reverse and cure this awful plague are now finally unhampered by the Antaran yoke. To give in to their political plots now, would be unwise. Our people will not be stopped from finding a solution to one of our most critical problems. We hope to get aid from you all, in our quest to find a cure. Brilliant minds come in many physical forms and mental mindsets."
As the ambassador finished, Hobbes calmed down again. If the Elerians still needed help, they did at least not represent an immediate danger to humanity. With three of the eight first speeches in opposition, this effort would not be easy for the Antarans if they truly intended to use the old ways to control the Senate. Then again, the Antarans were not known to stagnate and regress easily nor without notice.
The Senate was in full disorder. The delegations were discussing loudly both internally, and with the neighbouring booths. The mere presence of Antaran soldiers appeared to lose its deterrence over the representatives. In the middle of the dispute, the Meklar ambassador signalled he wished to address the assembly next. Hobbes remembered from the old stories and the in-flight briefing that the Meklar never participated in the defence against the Antarans over a thousand cycles ago. A dramatic change in their society had absorbed all their attention. Hobbes was uncertain whether they had surrendered without objections to the Antarans, or if they too had been beaten or threatened into submission. However, the Meklar were no longer a biological creature by normal terminology. Their personalities had been uploaded into computers controlling robotic bodies. It was strange. The Silicoids had traditionally been the most distant race from Human biology and mindset. The Meklar now clearly challenged that position, as d
id many of the other aliens present.
The Meklar ambassador was brief in his speech, quickly calming the Senate to order, and proclaiming what a great event this was. Unlike the three previous speakers, he was dispassionate. There was no heavy emotions working in his speech, but the audience reacted sharply to his comments, especially when he suggested they follow the 'glorious example set by the Meklar, and abandon the prison of flesh.' The Meklar race, once confined to mechanical assistance to survive, much like the Psilons now appeared to be, seemed to forget most sentients were quite fond of their biological bodies, regardless of the possibilities offered by the Meklar way of change. The ambassador's speech ended as quickly as it began. The robot housing the Meklar 'mind' moved down from the podium, and stumbled up from the well.
The next speaker was the ambassador Harlan had unintentionally insulted. The birdlike Alkari was one of the few aliens that seemed able to fly unaided, though Hobbes could not remember any record indicating they could. The Alkari representatives began his speech.
"Honored assembly, I bring greetings from the Alkari of Altair. For so long, we have been kept apart by unfortunate circumstances. Now we again stand at the beginning of a new chapter in our common history. Let us not fall back in to the habits of old, let us work together for a new future, a common future, where we can all coexist in harmony. Warfare and struggle should be a thing of the past, as should the horrors that come with them. Let this day be the beginning of a new spirit of co-operation between our peoples. Let us not leave this place without forming permanent ties, so that peace, research, trade and development may prosper throughout the sector. Let us forget the grudges we have had through our history. Our common records of the past are sketchy at best anyway, so let the quarrels of the past remain in the past, and let us start over. We should not hold the grudges and pledges of our ancestors committed to each other's pain and suffering. Peace and co-operation is the only way to
ensure that none of us are ever hurt in such ways again."
With this, the sharp cry-sounds of the ambassador ended. Hobbes was glad. The pitch in the Alkari's voice was very high, and painful to Human hearing.
As the Alkari stepped down, a short, stuffy and angry-looking individual made his way down to the well. This was the Gnolam ambassador. The Gnolams had always been obsessed with wealth and possessions. This had been a cornerstone in their society. Hobbes wondered if they had changed during the years of separation, but doubted it. After all, Human society, though far less advanced technologically, had remained virtually unchanged. The angry-faced Gnolam stepped up to the white, battered podium.
"The Alkari ambassador speaks of peace. We of Gnol approves of such a plan. Though warfare has its benefits for the economy, it is usually harmful in the long run. Values from new conquests and loot have to outweigh the resources needed for construction and maintenance of ships and troops, and much of the contested lands lay in ruins afterwards, requiring even more funds to repair and rebuild. The Gnolams do not want this. We seek to make the trade throughout this sector as profitable as can be for all sides involved."
Hobbes doubted this. Many an old saying said Gnolams could not be trusted when it came to money and valuables. Their greed and economical adeptness was unquestioned. It was unlikely they would share this wealth voluntarily.
"Galactic commerce have been very limited over the past thousand cycles, due to the strict Antaran 'commercial policies'. Now is the time to make our sector prosper - trade is the best means to achieve such prosperity. In orbit around Gnol, we are preparing to construct a massive trade fleet, in order to boost development in the entire sector. Naturally, our resources are limited at this time, so the work will proceed slowly - but it will be done. Once we have remade Gnol the profitable world it once was, we will spread this wealth to every corner of the sector, giving our aid to all those wise enough to accept. Let us not fight on this worthy day, but form treaties, ensuring free trade between our various empires. Only by joining our assets may we rise to our former levels of wealth, and beyond."
The words of the Gnolam representative was well received by the Senate members. The prospect of 'gifts' was always a good one.
As the dwarf-like creature walked back up, an Etherian in a bulky environmental suit stumbled its way down to the well. Although there were at least two known races of Etherians, they had sent only one joint delegation. Once the ambassador had gotten up to the podium, it gestured greetings to the President, but never turned to the others. Hissing sounds emerged from the environment suit. The ambassador had begun.
"My words represent all Etherians; the peoples of the Imsaeis and Eoladi both support this statement. We honor our makers by coming here today. We were created by the Antarans, and later so graciously given our freedom. Unlike some of you, we have no ill-will towards our creators in any way. We do, however, harbour ill-will to most of you! Our beautiful gas-worlds were destroyed by your relentless planet construction and terraforming endeavours. Countless Etherians were lost during this period, numbers tallying in the billions. We will not have anything to do with you! If we come here again, it is to again honor our creators, or to get an excuse and compensation for your vile crimes against us! More, there is not to say."
The whistling sounds stopped, and the ambassador made his way out of the well. Hobbes wondered why Humans had remade gas giants, knowing there were sentient life in the clouds below. If they had been there, why had they not made an effort to contact them, alerting them of their presence? This mystery would have to be unravelled upon their return to Earth by an extensive search through the records in the Hub.
Following the gasbag creature, was a shady individual wearing a big, blue cloak. Though only a few scales of its skin was visible, it was obvious this was a Darlok. Their ambassador moved swiftly and silently down to the well. Standard nods were given, and the speech began.
"Today, we all stand out of the shadows for one another, visualising the tales our elders have told for generations. Few of our species have encountered one another during the past thousand cycles - the ones who have, probably never got a chance to tell it to anyone. Let us remember with honour those of our peoples who were given the opportunity to travel between the stars. Surely, the Antarans took good care of them..... We now stand at the beginning of a new age, and with this new age comes new possibilities, new hopes and dreams, new wonders..... but let us not forget there will also be hardship and strife. Great things do not come from nowhere, we must design and build our future well - the future of the future depends on it! In this dark room, we will have great debates, shaping the universe we live in. No doubt, there will be major battles fought with words here - the ambassadors of Fieras, Ursa and Draconis have made that point already. I am pleased that this forum of open discourse has been
opened, and it is refreshing to see our former keepers now let us loose, and no longer desire to hold us in shackles and restraints."
While nearly whispering these words with a slightly acidic tone, the Darlok representative finished his speech.
The next speaker was the Psilon ambassador. Again, a speech of gratefulness and hope sounded through the room. The remaining addresses followed that same pattern. Then, finally, it was time for the Antarans to give their speech to the audience. This was by far the most anticipated speech, and the room fell into silence as the tall Antaran that had sat in the President's seat, made his way down to the well. His voice was strong, though it still sounded like stuttering screams to Hobbes, as all Antaran speech sounded to Humans.
"Welcome to you all. You have been brought here by our goodwill and wisdom, both which knows no bounds. We have one major announcement to make; the Antarans in this sector has broken all ties with the remainder of Antaran society. We have decided to make our own way, graciously helping you as we go along."
Here, the President was forced to pause. The entire Senate was bathed in the voices of tens of languages, and the benches appeared to move as wild gesturing became widespread. Harlan was startled at the President's revelation, and was now in a loud discussion with the Psilon ambassador in the booth behind them. This initial surprise turned into a cacophony of sounds and movement, all signifying happiness and joy. The Antarans, however, were still acting as statues, not giving any signs of their view on the matter. Only after several minutes had passed, did the disturbance calm down, so that the President could continue.
"We wish to leave the ways of old behind. We will not follow the politics previously given to us by Antaran Central Command. To signify our break with our former leaders, we wish to take on a new title. We will from this point on be known as 'the New Orions'."
This caused some more disturbance, the Alkari ambassador, with his notion of Alkari descent from the Orions, was probably the most vocal of the interrupters. Unaffected, the President continued.
"This title has been chosen as Orion will now be our base of operations. We will guide the Senate along, and let wise and just laws be passed to help you work out your differences and problems. No treaties or laws will be passed here today. In our next session, we will take the time to do so. This brief meeting has been a reunion more than anything, and for now, that is all it shall be. The next meeting of the Senate should not be held until at least five cycles from this day. During this time, we will take into account the various speeches and remarks given here by the ambassadors, and work out a formal answer to each of them. In particular, we wish to send an official reply to the Mrrshans, Bulrathi and Elerians, which have all uttered a desire to abandon this assembly. We do not think this is wise, and will send an envoy with valid and convincing reasons as to why they should hold on to their seat in the Senate."
Whatever arguments the Ant... New Orions had in mind, it had to be convincing ones, thought Hobbes. Perhaps the New Orions would give away some of their technological advances, to aid the recovery, or as compensation of their race's former crimes against the members of the Senate. Only time would tell. The President concluded his speech.
"This is all we have to say on these matters. We call this assembly to an end."
As he walked back to his seat, the ambassadors were being urged to return to their quarters. It was apparent their moment of reunion was over. The New Orions was not willing to let them work out any deals today, but there was always tomorrow....
On the voyage home, the three Humans had loud debates over what they had experienced. No doubt, the meeting of the Orion Senate had been a momentous occasion, marking a new age in the sector. They disagreed wildly on what impact their tale would have upon their return. Erdran was convinced there would be significant concern, as they were now on their own. Defences had to be established quickly, he pointed out. The possible break-out by the Mrrshan, Bulrathi and Elerian empires was definitely something to worry about, he argued. Harlan disagreed. The other empires were in shambles, just as Earth. It would take great time for anyone to grow back to the levels of old times. Hobbes had a divided opinion. Indeed, the prospect of fighting three of the most feared warrior peoples in the galaxy, was frightening to him. He was convinced Human diplomacy and ingenuity would help them prevail, though. The single thing they all agree on, was that a Pandora's Box had been opened. They had no way of knowing what might now h
appen. History had taken an unexpected turn, somewhere. What had made the New Orions break with the rest of their race? Why did they wish to help the peoples in the Orion sector, which they and their ancestors had dominated for generations? Hobbes was not sure he wanted to know the answer. Perhaps there was an even greater threat than the Antarans out there.
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