Fools Seldom Differ

2000 short story by Jonathan Hicks

Thirty-five years after Episode IV – A New Hope

 

 

Revenge was sweet. It tasted so good I didn’t want it to stop but now I have to swallow my joy and stare at the holomap once again in anger.

Chinngard has been wiped clean of us Janites and that angers me. My advisors tell me that, fours years after the last of our forces were wiped out by Arkin and Andrus’s armies, I should forget my need for conquest and concentrate on the matter at hand.

But I cannot forget what has been done to us. I cannot forget that we had hold of Chinngard, we had our hands on the defilers of our belief and the heretics of our faith. Chinngard cast us out with disgust. We will destroy them with prejudice.

But that is not the problem. The Ki-Ki Sector has taken Leogard, sister system of Chinngard and the third closest system after Chinngard and Nogard to the Janos System. Ki-Ki legions are being diverted from the wastes of Chinngard to be used in the war. There will never be a better time to strike again.

Why the interest in Chinngard? That is what many of my advisors ask. Why the need to invade and destroy? Why is there a driving hatred between both our worlds?

It stems back generations, that much is true. Chinngard, the closest system to us, has always thrown threats and accusations at the Janites no matter whether they were justified or not. They hated us. Hated our ways, our beliefs. They hate us because they were the first planet we went to when we decided to spread the Word of the Janos Faith. But they rejected us, showed us how the rest of the Setnin Sector would regard us.

In many ways, they were the first world to destroy and reject our kind. It seemed the whole of the Setnin Sector was on that small planet, gnashing their teeth and casting their eyes to our world with disdain. They were, to us, the embodiment of the Sector as a whole.

It was just before the Setnin Sector became autonomous from the Old Republic that Chinngard committed the ultimate sacrilege. The son of the Emperor Priest of Janos, trying a new way of communicating with neighbouring star systems - something the Old Republic ambassadors called ‘consideration’ - and was killed for his efforts. Killed! Murdered by Chinngard heretics who ignored the peaceful faith of the Janites! It is no wonder that the Setnin Sector was purged by the Holy Crusade of Janos, wiped clean by the purifying flame of the True Faith! Hundreds of thousands would die for the murder of our peaceful Janite son.

But they fought us. They continue to fight us as we try to make them see the True Faith, make them understand why their faith was flawed, why ours was right. But they fight and fight and fight...

They will understand. They will know what it is to defy the Janite Faith. We will make them understand and we need no help from anyone to accomplish this.

Why, then, am I entertaining this man in my chambers?

 

 

Akallon IV, Emperor Priest of Janos, appeared to be looking out at the dry, arid landscape of his world but was actually watching the reflection of Lordmind Estoor in the glass. The Lordmind sat proudly in his many-coloured robes. Akallon thought it amusing how the Lordmind maintained the illusion that his Order of Minds still actually meant something - it had been nearly five years since the Moonmind had been destroyed, since three quarters of Estoor’s forces had been wiped out by the legions of Fedarn. The Minds had been scattered about the Ki-Ki Sector.

They had met before, just after the successful Janos invasion of Chinngard, and the meeting had been less than productive for Akallon. After veiled threats and bargains that the Emperor Priest was virtually forced to take part in they had parted.

Akallon had surmised that one day the Lordmind would return to take advantage of the fact that he knew that the Emperor Priest had been involved with the murder of the Prime Lord's daughter. Now that Prime Lord Paol was dead Akallon was no longer concerned about the truth coming out - it was just that right now would be very bad timing. War was about to break out between the Ki-Ki Sector and the Setnin Sector. He had plans to make.

   "So, how are the barons of the Ki-Ki Sector handling the fact they have no interplanetary communication? I understand the Minds handled all system comms with those 'enhancer' toys." Akallon asked the question almost politely. He turned and faced Estoor.

The Lordmind's voice was low and grainy. The Emperor Priest had demanded that he not use his Mind powers to project his thoughts into his head for he did not wish it. Estoor grimaced internally, finding he use of words almost distasteful now. He had spent the last few years in total silence as the only people he mixed with were Minds. Now he had to break that silence to service the whims of the arrogant ruler of Janos.

   "By courier ship," he answered, clearing his throat at regular intervals. "It is why the invasion has taken so long to get going."

   "Border raids and sporadic fighting on the sector borders," Akallon frowned. "Not the war that Paol Kreaiden envisioned, was it?"

   "Ki-Ki is organised now under the new Prime Lord Atheus," Estoor said with a deep sigh. "They are poised to attack soon."

   "They already have," Akallon said with a small smile. Estoor started to talk but the Emperor Priest continued over his startled words. "They took Leogard two weeks ago."

Estoor appeared utterly lost.

   "Strange that the masters of communication are out of the loop, eh, Estoor?" Akallon teased. He walked slowly over to where Estoor was sitting, his long blue cloak dragging along the polished marble floor behind him.

The Lordmind said nothing.

   "What is it you want, Estoor?" Akallon demanded suddenly, his visage dropping from one of sarcasm to one of apparent annoyance.

Lordmind Estoor glanced at the Emperor Priest and was momentarily tempted to reach out with his skills and break the Janite's neck. He quickly calmed himself, having to concentrate to make sure his words came out correctly.

   "The Order of the Minds have been all but destroyed by the Prime Lord's wrath," he explained, coughing the words out and then reaching for a glass of water. After several gulps he began again under the impatient eye of Akallon.

   "I want to strike back at the Ki-Ki Sector for taking away my power. I cannot do it like this, as a fugitive, but if I attack now whilst the war rages I may have a chance at taking that power back."

Akallon grinned, thinking of his own desire to strike whilst Setnin was distracted by the upcoming battle. "You read my mind," he said and then suddenly thought, oh, dear, perhaps he did.

   "And?" Akallon prompted.

   "Eminence," Estoor said, not really knowing how to address the Emperor Priest, "we have the same goal, you and I. We are both small factions with the desire to hit back at our enemies. Alone we are nothing, small, which any marauding war fleet could destroy or push back. But together we could hit hard, a force to be reckoned with."

Akallon mused over the Lordmind's words.

   "An alliance? Between Minds and Janites?" he asked.

There was no answer. He had said it almost condescendingly and Estoor looked at him darkly.

   "How many ships do you have?" Akallon asked in a more serious tone.

   "Twenty-two, with another twenty travelling to join us."

   "And men? Fighting men, I mean?"

   "All the Minds will fight if I so wish it. We number eight thousand. How many men do you have?"

Akallon smiled and waved a hand to the window.

   "A whole planet's worth. And fifty ships, twenty of them warships."

There was silence again as both of them thought of the totals. They both looked at each other with grim intent.

   "Ninety-two vessels," Estoor whispered.

   "A lot of them are transports," Akallon frowned again.

   "We can fit them with weapons, and those that can't fight can transport troops."

   "The Setnin and Ki-Ki forces will be strong and every ship they commit will be a warship of some kind." The Emperor Priest was looking at the negative side and this angered Estoor, who had always seen a way out of any situation.

Hence his visit on the Emperor Priest.

   "But they will be fighting each other as well as us," Estoor said. "That will divide their forces straight away."

   "Planetary invasion will be difficult..."

   "With Janite prowess and Mind capability they would make an awesome force," Estoor cut in. He knew the Emperor Priest was considering the situation and tried to take advantage.

   "Imagine it," he said. "Two orders fighting for the same cause. We need our place in the Ki-Ki Sector restored and you wish your position of respect in the Setnin Sector re-established. We are different, our people - but we fight for the same reasons."

   "We both know that the lesser beings require lessons," Akallon mused. Estoor saw that the Emperor Priest was seriously considering the path he wished him to take and he pressed the issue.

   "The glorious standard of Janos fluttering over the dead of our enemies..."

   "Lordmind, you're turning a viable plan into poetry," Akallon said with derision, waving a hand to dismiss the words of Estoor.

The Lordmind fumed inwardly but kept his silence.

   "Who will control this holy force?" Akallon asked quickly, his eyes flickering over Estoor but not holding his gaze.

   Ah, Estoor thought. Now we really start to bargain.

 

 


Fools Seldom Differ

2000 short story by Jonathan Hicks

Thirty-five years after Episode IV – A New Hope

 

Histories – The machinations continue in this Jonathan Hicks tale.  Both low in ships and men, the rulers of the Janites and the Minds orchestrate a plan to return their societies to their former states of power.

 

Cast of Characters

 

Emperor Priest Akallon IV

Lordmind Estoor