Hello again, dear readers, and what a post I have for you today. It’s a section of my first novel, Ghost Among Thieves, which is the first of the Fulcrum War trilogy (the latter two being The Passage of Daemons and The Wings of the Dawn). It’s the story of how a single man, Paul Ray, manages to provoke a war on a scale no one in all human history has ever seen before. The speech I offer you now comes from the President of the New Confederacy of Free Planets (the good guys) after an enormous battle on the planet of Kaandas. The battle, between the Confederates and Terrestrial Forces (who are the bad guys) concluded with the use of thermonuclear weapons, and President Geoffrey Fox must now refute claims made by the Terrestrials that these were Confederate warheads.
The speech serves as a good introduction to the whole scenario presented by the books, I think, because while the first half explains the course of the war thus far, the second explains why war is neccessary at all. Fox moves from the informative into the emotive, quoting Thomas Hardy, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Jesus Christ and…err…Tom Clancy in order to get his point across, and he explains the new, stark reality that faces the galaxy as a result of the events described in the book.
Enjoy… and grab a rifle.
“My fellow citizens,
“There are things I must confirm, and there are implications we must acknowledge, and discuss, but here are the facts, recorded by all and deniable by none.
“The state of Risor, the planets of her system and those of her allies, are at war. We are at war with Earth – a war we did not choose, but that has been thrust upon us. The first battles have already been fought, but they did not begin yesterday. Yesterday was merely the most recent, the biggest, the most bloody. The planet Kaandas, reinforced by our volunteers, was attacked by units of the Terrestrial Navy, the Terrestrial Assault Army, and the Colonial Marines.
“These Terrestrial forces, led by Admirals Rate, Sagitta and Burton in the air, and Field Marshal Hansig and General Wallis on the ground, began a systematic campaign of destruction that culminated in the use of thermonuclear weapons.
“There were eight nuclear detonations. All were in the region of sixty megatons. All were detonated over the capital city, Begynnelse; all were cobalt-type fusion weapons whose lethality is compounded by their radioactive after-effects. These are cancer bombs. The Terrestrial military puts them in missiles, W-435C Fireflies. Neither Risor, nor Rahn, nor Kaandas, has anything comparable in their inventories. The capabilities of the Firefly, on the other hand, have been publicised for many years.
“These are all facts. These can all be independently confirmed. Here are some more: this was not the first battle of the war. This was not the first time Terrestrial military units have attacked Risorian forces. This was not the first time Terrestrial military units have killed civilians. Our embassy in Caliz, on Alegaron, was destroyed by Terrestrial fighter-bombers. They did this in order to murder a woman they believed to have killed three Terrestrial pilots. The woman was cleared of these allegations within hours, yet forces from the carrier Gladiator eventually killed more than 500 people and reduced our embassy to rubble in an attempt to seize her.
“A few brief weeks later, Terrestrial forces tried to prevent Tjaru from joining the still-forming New Confederacy of Free Planets. The Tjaran Navy engaged with the Terrestrial Navy’s Sixth Battle Fleet and, assisted by twenty-five vessels of the Risorian Navy, destroyed nearly half of Sixth Fleet. Terrestrial casualties, incidentally, included the carrier Gladiator, which seems…apposite.
“We then learned that the Terrestrial Navy was preparing to seize the planet Kaandas. We, the Confederacy, undertook to reinforce the planet’s indigenous defences and protect it against imperial aggression. Unfortunately, one of our materiel convoys was ambushed off Ibutar by a specialised terrestrial Navy interdiction unit called a ‘Panther Group’, and this prevented our effective consolidation of the units we already had in place.
“Nevertheless, our forces managed to hinder the Terrestrial landings to the point where they were facing defeat. Unable to accept that possibility, Terrestrial commanders took the decision to use thermonuclear weapons, and in so doing, they committed mass murder. This was a war crime. Thousands of troops were killed. And millions of civilians.”
Fox surveyed the room. Until now he had delivered the briefing severely. He had presented the facts as though he were a surgeon explaining a procedure. Now, however, his demeanour changed. He had talked the press through the sequence of events leading up to war: now that they were there, they needed to see who would be taking them further. He took off his glasses and stepped to the side of the podium, abandoning his notes there, and stood in front of them not as a politician addressing journalists but as a general briefing his troops. Fox looked like a warrior.
“This ends now.” Fox glared around the room. No one moved. Even the incessant whirr of motor-driven cameras ceased. There was silence, shared not only by those in the room but by those watching across the galaxy. Fox’s words echoed across the lightyears, a declaration as final as a gunshot.
“The New Confederacy is at war, and we issue a call to arms to every freedom-loving person in this galaxy. We will not countenance a government, fifty thousand ‘years away, that reaches into the lives of those closest to us and, if it so chooses, extinguishes them. This ends now.
“There is no place in this galaxy, any more, for tyranny. There is no place in this galaxy, any more, for inequality, for Imperial hegemony… or for slavery. All this ends now.
“Hundreds of years ago a Terrestrial poet wrote ‘Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ We did not listen to him, and now, on hundreds of worlds, we who grew complacent in the sunset saw the light fail as Terrestrial warships blotted out the sun. The shadows of the Empire have left this galaxy cold and bleak and hard, in the grip of a new Dark Age. We have seen diversity die. We have watched corruption flourish. We have allowed ourselves to be subjugated – and why? Because it was easy.
“It was easier to accept the will of those whose desires were backed by force than to oppose it. It was easier to surrender liberties than to fight for them. We allowed ourselves to be controlled because we feared the effort and the cost of regaining our self-control, our self-sufficiency, our self-determination… our self-hood.
“All this ends now, because now it is time to rage against the dying of the light.
“The New Confederacy will fight. It will fight with all the power and all the fury and all the might it can muster, and it will fight even unto the last full measure of devotion, because without victory there can be no survival in the face of tyranny. In opposition to oppression, in defiance of domination, in rebellion to all injustice, the Confederacy makes its stand. It stands against all that Earth’s dominion represents. But equally, it must stand for something.
“We stand for justice. We stand for equality. We stand, ultimately, for the peace that is worth fighting for. Too long we lay broken and craven and meek before the Terrestrial military. But the time has come for the meek to inherit the Earth.
“To all those who would fight against us, I say this: you do not know the wrath you have awoken. You do not know the anger that is about to fall on your houses. Our ships will hunt you from stronghold to stronghold, and there will be no world too far away, no cave too deep or too dark, no fastness too fortified to escape the rage that will bring all you have built down about your ears. You face your end. Your slavery will finish.
“To those enslaved, I say this: your chains shall be broken; your manacles sundered; your yoke shattered by the spear. As rises the Confederacy so too rises the sun, and in the light of the red dawn of war we offer you hope and a refuge. To you who are poor, to you who are tired, to you who are shaken by the storm and beaten by the journey, we offer you sanctuary.
“To those whose worlds are not their own, to those whose worlds are claimed by Earth, finally, I say this: today, I present a choice. Today the Universe changed, because today open war came upon us all. The war is real. The Confederacy is real. The stakes are real, and high, and this is where your choice lies: for what are you going to fight?
“Make no mistake. Whatever you choose, you fight. Should you choose inaction, you fight to maintain the status quo. You fight to permit the rape of your world and its society by those who simply do not care about it.
“I am here to offer you another way. I am here to offer you an escape plan. Fight with us. Fight with the Confederacy. Fight for freedom. Fight for everything that is good and noble and just.
“Your worlds have been taken away from you.” Fox turned and looked directly into the ECNN camera lens. He offered it, and everyone watching, a hard smile. “Now it’s time to take them back.”
Your moment of appropriate Zen: