Joined: 24 Aug 2006
Location: Rangstadt, Allied Europe, Earth, NEC
|Posted: Thu Aug 23, 2007 5:48 am Post subject: Interregnum Winter 1945 - Part Two
|His words died as his haphazard speech ended, and there was brief silence as they passed. That state didn’t last very long, however. Wick hadn’t actually said anything concrete, only encouragement. He was waiting for the Jund to speak its’ mind. Kellerton bit her lower lip and watched with eyes as big as saucers while a tall So Doura man – Derrik clan? – rose from his seat and seemed to be addressing Wick directly.
“It’s time to stop playing nice-nice with the Trenchers! They’ve been making pounds off of the Earthers since they showed up – they’re practically the same thing now!” He was angry, very angry. The Derrik clan had often been on the wrong end of CEF law, just as the Van Saar had not. The Van Saar were more subtle. He continued on, “We’re never going to beat the Earthers this way, you all know it. We’re just pests sucking on the drippings tray. We need to be taking bites! There are a dozen faults in the mesas around Paladin Lots, and a dozen more in Ming mesa.” He didn’t finish the thought, because everyone else could do so themselves. Paladin Lots was the CEF stronghold, a massive stretch of land that housed their soldiers, equipment, and a good many factories and companies loyal to them. Ming mesa was a massive Corpserf installation, and from its heights the security teams could be anywhere across Gomorrah within minutes. Neutralizing both of these sites, simultaneously…
There was an outroar almost immediately. Many stood up to support the Derrik clanner – Kellerton noted that they all had woven a twining red and black braid in their ribbons, and had a symbol pinned on the end of them – three quarters of a circle in gold, one in black. So they were a movement within the movement, then.
Of course, many didn’t like this idea. Millions of people would be killed and despite the great effect it would have if successful, the Liberati always tried to avoid casualties within the innocents. Gennady Maribold – Frismaribold, she corrected herself – stood up and replied loudly, “You condemn my clan to death – they’re hostages! Don’t you think they’d be the first to be executed? And you know that they wouldn’t be the last! No, we have to start Operation Porcupine, there’s no other way. Go to ground, put the Jund into hiding, no operations. They can’t capture us all, break us all up – they need us to mine the metal for their tanks, and run their trucks and fleets! If they try that then we strike as we always have. It’ll work! Not this madness you propose.”
The Derrik clanner spat back at him, “Coward! They’ll kill us all in our sleep and replace us with their purple freaks!” They glared at each other across the tent, two warring parties with their leaders jutted forward like figureheads. More stood up – Kellerton had to stand as well, just to see. A man in a blue and white robe said loudly, “Killing so many won’t help us. The Helles have great bioengineers, and we’ve been working on a virus that targets the GREL and those from Earth specifically. We don’t have to fire a shot, if we can just get more time to finish the design. So calm down.” The voice of reason did indeed calm the mass argument down a touch, but Kellerton shuddered. Genocide of the worst sort, it was really no better than the Mesa idea.
“Hideous.” Kellerton was surprised as Dorchester spoke up beside her. He was tall, cool, composed, a greying dreadlocked man who still spoke with the conviction of youth. “you’re talking about genocide, and besides, there’s not that much difference in the genome between us and them. A freak mutation and we’re all dead. No, we need to go to ground. We’ve been preparing for this for years now. We knew it could come.”
The Derrik clanner retorted, “So what, we go into our holes and get starved out? They’re hunting for us, you know it! Porcupine is naieve.”
Dorchester shrugged. “Then we need another sacrifice like in 259. Let them think they’ve won for good this time.” He was looking directly at Wick, who nodded sullenly. Kellerton could see something pass between the two men as this happened, but she didn’t know what it was.
“Bah! They wont’ fall for that again.” The Derrik clanner said.
“They have a number of times. Talk to the Atabegs. It still works. They don’t expect us to sacrifice our tails like komodos.” They were speaking of the Occupation, when the CEF first landed. The Liberati staged a massive feint, waging entire battles for the sake of making the CEF think that they were expending all of their strength to fight off the invaders. It was all a ruse to make the CEF complacent, and it had worked spectacularly. While it involved the sacrifice of thousands of brave Liberati and Gomorrans, the Jund was born and the real work began.
The argument continued in Liberati fashion. As usual the debate was heated, but strangely civil. People rarely interrupted one another, and anyone so uncouth would be glared at by the tent as they ranted, their point sullied by their manners. Equally, anyone who spoke too long would be castigated by the growing silence about them. These cultural habits were the only debate moderators that the Liberati needed.
In all of this one corner of the tent was silent and still. The El-Hayar watched in their dark red embroidered robes and their characteristic hardsuit skullcaps, the microphones and earpieces sewn in and half hidden beneath light scarves draped about their necks and shoulders and faces. They occasionally leaned over to murmur to one another, but beyond that only talked amongst themselves. Kellerton found herself ill at ease with their strange mood.
Then, one of them met her eyes. He was a tall man, tall enough that he may have gotten the Hack, but was no spacer; his skin was tanned and bloodshot from a furnace’s heat, though mostly hidden from sight by the scarf. Only his blue-grey eyes were visible. The man’s soft and strangely pale eyes fixed on her, and the argument drained away. It was as if they were face to face, and he was saying come, join us. We have a secret. She shivered and looked away, her discomfort redoubling like a tightening ball in her stomach.
When she looked up again, the man had stood, and spoken; the room grew quiet in respect for the silent Clan’s sudden interest, though the Derrik clan and his allies seemed disdainful.
“The Clans of the El-Hayar; the Bergomen, the al Masim, the al Yorik, the El-Arafai, the Issei, the Gomin-hap-satai, the Hattenai, have sent us to this Council to speak for them. I am Almen Hattenai El-Hayar. We come to bring the Jund great joy under the eyes of God.”
Kellerton watched – the El-Hayar were a collection of Muslim, Revisionist, Christian, and other Abrahamic followers – those Clans varied the specifics of their beliefs but all agreed in the basic nature of the hereafter, and in that they presented a unified front. Of course, not everyone believed in the Abrahamic God. Some made scornful comments, asking what joy could be found in this nightmare, and where was their God when the Maribolds needed them, and so on. The Hattenai clanner and his allies ignored the commentary.
“We call for the sacrifice, as in 259. We call for it because we will not suffer during the months of sleeping and waiting. We call for it because that time will only see us grow in strength and ability and number. When we erupt we shall be as Mt. Gauri, spilling fury across the Capra wastes, and none will oppose us. But now is not that time. We need six months, at least.”
The Derrik man didn’t seem to be able to restrain himself any longer, and spat out his reply, “Six months! The clans will be gone, scattered in six months! How can we trust that the Keffs will believe a sacrifice again?”
“It’s the best gamble we’ve got!” someone in the crowd replied. Another joined him, “It’s stupid to think they’d fall for it again!”
Kellerton herself spoke up, the only one to see the obvious amidst the politics. “What do you need six months for, anyways?” Eyes fell on her, and she shrank back from the attention. Unlike most here she was only a Ghazi, and young – she was here only due to her relations with the Terranovans and not any actual experience. Still, apparently she made a sensible point, for the enigmatic El-Hayar answered her.
“ We have completed an autofac in the Coral range, with three production lines.” The crowd burst in shock again; Kellerton couldn’t hear his reply until Wick raised his hands and got everyone to quiet down. The Hattenai man was still talking.
“- we plan to begin constructing parts for a second factory, to be built at the site of Bastille Omega, or in another place of the Amir al-Juyush’s choosing. Once this is done, we will have one line devoted to building parts for more autofacs, and two lines to building supplies for the Jund. Six months for the second autofac to be constructed. Once this is done we will be more secure. But for now we must not draw them to the Coral range! God willing, they will not see it coming.”
Everyone was silent now, this man with his hard and throaty accent had captured them. Not in the immediately charismatic manner that Wick had, but in the clipped tones of a man accustomed to discipline and war. “We will need resources that do not come from the slag-piles of our mines, and we will need templates and design tools from the Trench – perhaps even Keff designs can be put to use. Then we will build Reubeni that none but the eye of God can see, and we will have weapons that will shame even the Terranovans. Then – THEN we will arm the Muttawah, break the innocent from Bastille Alpha, knock down the Lots and send the Earthers running from this Promised Land. But for now, we must stall them.” He turned to Wick. “Make the Sacrifice, Amir al-Juyush. Call for it. The Jund needs time. The Keffs dare not kill the workers of their mines and miners of their water.”
There was silence once more, and all eyes were on Wick, the man with no real name. Kellerton watched him closely, just as everyone else was. He was toying with a pin on his jacket, a corpserf badge he once wore when he was simply Daniel Arrie. He was studying the gold and magnesium button, rubbing his thumb across the embossed letters. He was frowning, and his eyebrows were pressed tightly downwards. But before long, he spoke.
“Atabegs. Take your Amirs and their representatives, talk in separate groups. Then come together. We won’t get anywhere with this open arguing. We’ll come together again after lunch and decide it then.”