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Author Topic: What Will I Do?  (Read 1395 times)

Void

  • Corporal
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  • Posts: 53
What Will I Do?
« on: 06 July 2012, 17:37:10 »
This started as a response to a question posed in General Discussion. I had some time to kill, and before I knew it, story. Story-ish... thing. Which got unthinkingly posted anyhow. It was rather inappropriately placed, originally, so here we are. ....Hi.

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You might say that this whole business started with the death of my friend. I say it started with corruption. I have always detested corruption; that slithering acquisitiveness of a man convinced that he deserves just a little more than he's getting, no matter how much he has, no matter the means of getting more. When I first found myself in a position to make a difference, I struck out at corruption. My actions struck a nerve; I found myself lauded in the highest circles. It is a strange thing to return home after a long time away and discover that everyone knows your name, recognizes you personally. I dined with the elite. I became a personal friend of the First Lord to be. And I redoubled my efforts to be worthy of this new spotlight, to live my life as a man should.

Armed now with greater rank and powers, I continued my campaign against corruption. I found it everywhere; from the lowest to the highest levels of government, throughout the military I served. Everywhere I went, the serpent seemed to wither. I'm still proud of those years, even now. We trimmed the fat from the SLDF most especially, had the service functioning as it ought. Except...

The first mistake I made lay in becoming too crucial to the service, too central to the fight against corruption. It was not that I had any special gifts or powers that made me irreplaceable, merely that others thought it so. Appearance can become fact in these matters all too easily. I became a very busy man.

And then Simon died. Whatever the cause, whether it was the hand of powerful men or the simple perversity of fate that moved that mining bot to pitch my friend out into hard vacuum to die a horrible death, the Star League took its first body blow there. I found myself appointed guardian of Simon's heir Richard, then only a boy. Seeing my duty to Richard and his realm, I immediately tendered my resignation to focus on my new task.

It was refused. I could not be released from my duties with the SLDF, the Council Lords said. I was too badly needed there. They were not exactly mistaken; everywhere there were incidents, brush fires, minor crises and impending calamities. Richard would be safe enough at court in my absence. Just as soon as I was done with the present issues, I could focus on Richard.

Life does not work that way. A boy's youth is an absolutely precious time; I know that now only in retrospect. I was hellaciously busy now; for the first time in my life I had balked at confronting corruption. I had my hands full doing just one of my jobs, so when the Council Lords voted themselves a meager doubling of their private armies, I could confront corruption at the very highest levels, take on a new crusade when already I could not afford Richard the attention he deserved, or I could, for once, buckle and let myself go along with the flow of events.

When the taxation for the buildup fell on the Periphery, I knew I had made a mistake. But it was now my duty to suppress the rebellions, to hold the Star League intact. So badly did I ignore my duty by doing my duty that in six years of my "guardianship" I saw my charge for less than a month. A stretch of time that passes in the blink of an eye for a man in his fifties is an eternity to a boy, a childhood lost, opportunity discarded, duty failed. When I saw my error and tried to reconnect with Richard, it was an unmitigated disaster. I had failed that boy, failed my realm, failed humanity, but even then I had not the faintest idea what the extent of the consequences would be.

I was 64 when the New Vandenberg rebellion spread like wildfire through the Periphery. I found myself with a real war to fight, and deployed my forces accordingly. When the Usurper murdered the First Lord, I was 66. The details of the campaign will doubtless be in other histories, one may study them there. What matters is that I was at war for eighteen years, sixteen of them with my home held hostage to a brutal occupier.

I fought. I fought the Taurian Concordat, the Magistracy of Canopus, the Outworlds Alliance. I fought the Rim Worlds Republic. I fought the House Lords and their refusal to fight at all. I fought our urge to charge in and destroy ourselves against defenses we ourselves had built. I fought to keep the secret of Nicholas and Andery, trapped at home under the Usurper's heel. Eventually, when all was as ready as humanly possible, I fought the very best in fortifications and automated defense systems a united-but-devious humanity could conjure for its most privileged. I fought to restore the Star League; not just its physical institutions, but its purported ideals as well, ideals that had long failed to manifest themselves in the actual body of the realm.

Now that all is said and done in a military sense, I see that I have fought for nothing at all. It comes back to corruption; the House Lords are only interested in what they can take for themselves. The Star League bores each of them, unless he or she personally can lead it. Already they are taking my troops, dividing them down national lines. A great civil war is brewing amongst the member states of the Star League, and... what am I to do?

I am stripped of my title as Protector of the Realm. As commanding general of the Star League Defense Force, I am ordered to demilitarize Terra and disperse my troops to their peacetime positions--the better to chip away at their unity. I have been put in my place by the so-called nobility. I have asked to address them one last time. We will meet where Richard was murdered all those lifetimes ago. What will I do?

The power of the Hegemony to utterly dominate the other member states is broken, and may never be repaired. Certainly not before the next conflict begins. I could support one of the jackals over the other. Who among them is deserving? I could ride my 'corrected' position to the end, the toy-soldier general doing exactly as told as civilization crashes in ruins around him. I could seize power for myself; the Terran Hegemony itself began that way. There is historical precedent. I could order my troops to execute the House Lords where they stand and, the way public opinion is running, there would perhaps be cheering in the streets. I could do the deed personally; I am even now staring at the bejeweled laser pistol Amaris used to murder my ward all those years ago. Could I do it with this weapon? The devil's own toy, ornamental and functional, disgusting in its opulence, the glee with which it was created for its task? It has one kill to its history of regicide. Perhaps five more? Could I pull that trigger? It is time now to address them. I will carry the pistol with me. I will sit on the throne and I will watch their faces, and only then will I know for certain what I will do.

But, on some level, I think I already know. In a month, I will be eighty years old. Through the wonders of the Star League, the human life expectancy has become greater; in happier times I might be considered middle-aged. I tell you now that I am an old man. Through the evils of other men and my own failings, my world is destroyed. For nearly twenty years I have fought to see it rebuilt, and now I am told that it cannot happen. Can I launch another war, now? Twenty more years? A hundred more? Would it ever end? 

Have I made the same mistakes with Nicholas and Andery as I made with Richard?

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Now, me personally, I don't think my first thought in that situation would be "ROAD TRIP! Everyone into the fleet, let's see where we wind up! It'll be an adventure!" I suppose it speaks to his strength that even while this badly used by life, he could do something with himself, even if the end results were, shall we say, less than ideal.

I think at best I would try to retire and disappear from public view. :D