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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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The War Begins -- Chapter 17

1. Kor had won the hearts of Theotian Outlanders like a long awaited savior.  He had hoped that his effort in the Badlands would outshine any negative publicity that he received from the Theotian homeworld.  Kor and Theos proper had a mutual misunderstanding.  To them, he was a "rebel rouser," admired by young debutantes and rebellious aristocratic young bucks with something to prove.  Kor's image had also become a best selling Indy holo label, and icon for their underground youth movement.   

2. Theos released an official statement that it would not recognize the revolutionary government 'on' Vejhon.  The Senate had debated all day whether to use the word 'occupied' or not.  "How is Vejhon 'occupied'?" one Senator asked, "We're from here -- does that mean we're occupying the Senate?  How does an indigenous occupy their own world?"  "The legitimate government is at large, so Kor's regime is 'on' Vejhon," the speaker resolved.  A brigand was sent to Vejhon with a holo showing the Theotian Senate laughing Kor to scorn.  "Declare war with what?" the Senators laughed.  "You're a vegetarian!"  On Theos, that was the lowest possible insult.   Vegetarians were not allowed to serve in the military and could not be trusted near a produce stand.  

3. The Vejhonian etymology of "vegitarian" was "stupid," so it was a unilateral insult.  "What Kor pulled off on Vejhon could never happen here," the Senate chimed unanimously.  "Psionics is an absolute nuisance," others said, "See what it does for law and order?  The law abiding citizens had to flee from their own world!"  "How fracking awkward is that?"  The insulting sequence played on endless loop.  "I suggest you take sanctuary in the commerce quarter," Kor admonished the messenger.  "They're not courageous enough to appear in person," he said to Dal El.     

4.  Throughout his training with Mantra, money had never been an issue because everything Kor needed was in the rainforest; he barely wore clothes and required no maintenance.  There was plenty to eat.  Contrary to Theos' insult; Kor was without question the greatest hunter known to anyone, so the insult was ludicrous and unsportsmanlike.  Nevertheless, he understood the mean-spirited intention. 

5.  Theos was in an awkward predicament too:

6.  Blue Funnel had set up shop on Vejhon and Blue Funnel was a Theotian corporation whose interests were protected by shadowy entities.  Their goal, like any financial parasite, is to control whole systems through perpetual debt.  Their bureaucracy is a menagerie of unaccountability by design.  Blue Funnel owned the Theotian Federal Reserve.  They were an autonomous political entity with vast holdings throughout scores of systems.  The Blue Funnel district on Theos was an independent political State:  It did not have to abide by anything the Senate legislated, and more often than not, told the Senate what to legislate.    

7.  The first by-law in Blue Funnel's charter read: "It is illegal to disincorporate the corporation, and the corporation shall be eternal, ad infinitum."        

8. Kor had a 'kill switch' option:  "I'll let them invest Trillions," he said to Dal, "and as soon as they forget their place -- I'll kick them off the shell and keep their assets and investments."  If more shells had done the same, Blue Funnel might not have fared so well.  "It's all fiction anyway," Dal mumbled.  Kor smirked.        

9. "Invent a way to covertly manage them," Kor ordered, "We're psionic -- they're not."  "True," Dal agreed, "considering what they are:  Financial alchemists."  "Their symbol?" Kor pointed at the upside down whirlwind.  "Oh yes," Dal huffed anecdotally, "it's an inverted tornado -- wealth being created from nothing."  "Or perhaps draining everyone's wealth into one pocket," Kor suggested.  Dal cocked his head and examined the tornado, "I think that's accurate," he agreed, "They registered that trademark centuries ago because everyone sees them as a money drain."  "Nobody objected?" Kor cocked his head incredulously.  "They're unaccountable," Dal shrugged, "but not vain.  They don't give a damn what you call them, as long as they get every damn thing you own." 

10.  "Unbelievable!"  Kor thought of how shamelessly transparent their MO truly was.  A small part of him actually admired the purity in purpose of the machine, but the power brokers themselves, left something to be desired.  For a brief second, he wondered if there were any SGK holdovers and Dal was thinking the same thing.  SGKs were owned by Seven Gates -- they had no choice but to leave, and they all left willingly.     

11.  "Did you pick up what the Minister of Enlightenment said?" Kor asked.  Dal drew a breath to dramatize the minister's remark, "Everyone with a reality-based mind evacuated, my Lord.  The 'so-called' Intelligencia; academia, engineers, scientists, doctors, specialists and experts... went to wherever they went."  Kor laughed at Dal's exaggerated intonation and let him finish, "We are a shell full of dreamers, artists and two-Billion unmotivated workers."  "Guards!" Kor exclaimed.  Dal raised his eyebrows and suggested, "A'zoth," in a hushed voice, as a repacement word.         

12 "I don't think 'all' of them evacuated," Kor tonelessly reproved, "They're here -- we just need to find them.  I want you to locate where they are and bring me a detailed report.  Every skilled shellan can train a thousand more.  I'll bestow privilege and prestige upon all who heed my call.  They'll come because I have what they want."  Thus spake Kor, so the minister set out to comply.   "If there were any SGK holdovers," Kor whispered, "I want them brought to me personally." 
13.  Dal helped organized the talent drive.  Those 'diamonds in the rough' who gambled that Kor would pay any price to rebuild his new kingdom, were right.   The least desirable social dredges were hypothecated to pay the most preferable talent with premium estates and prestige, as promised.  Millionaires who were not in step with Elite ideology were defrocked and sold into slavery or turned into factory workers.  Anyone who couldn't endure the humiliation was destroyed or in a best case scenario, outcast.

14. Kor gave his 'citizens of higher mind' unlimited support and political Carte Blanche, elevating them to the highest social circles within their respective fiefdoms.  One in a thousand medics stayed behind:  Fewer engineers and fewer physicists.  There were specialties with no remaining practitioner at all, so interrelated specialists located the proper training materials and trained new specialists.   There were technical instructions on how to do everything in detail.  Slowly, but surely, able bodied shellans fell out of the woodwork.   

15.  The industrial resurgence provided the propaganda ministry with uplifting and authentic material with which to boost morale. The media covered this period as Vejhon's 'reconstruction era' and it lasted for another two years.

16.  Most of Vejhon's defense aparatus was in serviceable condition, although certain tactical components had been minimally disabled to facilitate the evacuation.  Those discrepancies had long since been corrected.     

17.  When the recovery began to show steady positive results, Kor decided to re-inaugurate interstellar diplomacy.  There were systems that had promised their support during the campaign, that distanced themselves afterward, and wanted economic ties now.  Kor wanted revenge against those who had abandoned him.  Blue Funnel persuaded Kor to let them take economic revenge instead, "It'll keep you from getting painted negatively in the intergalactic arena," they said, "We have ways..."  Kor debated their offer from the opulence of their consulate hall in the Quarter, "Perhaps you would be useful for that," he agreed, "so, do your thing."  There were systems that banked on Kor's rise to power that would be handsomely rewarded.  Anyone who lent assistance, even if they refused at first, would be added to the 'good' list.  "Actions! Actions!," Kor reminded everyone, "Talk all you want -- it's what you DO that matters, when it matters."       

18.  It was sheer dumb luck that a talent scout discovered nine astronautical engineers who missed the evacuation.  They were throwing a retirement bash for a colleague in an orbiting hanger.  The hanger was down for maintenance, so they thought it would be safe to have their party there.         

19.  A operating BAC sensor revoked their duty status and remanded them to the shell, pending review.  They took a taxi to a rainforest to sleep it off, and when they awoke, the celebre' who had fallen asleep on his mock throne outside the cave entrance was gone.  Those who had slept inside the cave's entrance were left behind.  The unpardonable act of entering a cave in a spacer uniform bordered sacrilege.     

20.  Dal didn't really care about their excuses.  He offered them a blank check to get the shell's orbiting transit apparatus back in operation.  In effect, they received a huge promotion for throwing a wild and irresponsible party.  

21.  The 'Sky Spirits' were born.  Kor appointed all of them to be his personal in-flight attache's and gave them stewardship over everything that was not tied down.  They quickly became the envy of every kid, with their images imprinted on all kinds of toys, clothes and novelties.  Everyone wanted to be a Sky Spirit.          

22.  With shellans-of-mind working fastidiously in synch with Dal El's plan, it took five months, working around-the-clock, to roll the first Elite destroyer off the orbiting assembly line. 

23.  Biocyberneticists reactivated dormant robotic helpers for the task.  They were recruited after they returned from vacation abroad, and seeing no other option, made the best of what was offered.  It was their fault that they deviated from their itinerary or a Cardship could have picked them up.  Dal offered an attractive employment package, leaving them worry-free for the rest of their lives.    

24.  And it came to pass that Vejhon resumed its role as an industrialized shell, which meant that they were capable of interstellar diplomacy. 

25.  Existentially and metaphysically, however, the shell had entered an alternate reality and time, which was of particular interest to a non-existent, off-shell time-police agency. 
26.  Within two more years, Dal's armada began to look formidable.  As Vejhonian machinery built more efficient, hybrid machines, the ship-building process began to absorb and exceed Vejhon's capacity to supply raw materials.  The nearest source of minerals was the Theotian Outlands and Theos had severed economic ties with rogue Vejhon... "Vejhon Improper," was one nickname.  Blue Funnel had to invent a unique scheme to untangle foreign trade because their puppet entities abroad had been ripped apart by the SJ's.  Very few knew that Blue Funnel routinely financed both sides of the same war; even the SJ's believed that Blue Funnel possessed a degree of sanctity.  Plan EZ:  "Recapitalize On Credit and call it whatever you like," the Vejhonian CFO said.  The infusion of limitless fiction made it possible for Vejhon to compete with the exorbitant tariffs imposed off shell.  All major clearinghouses were controlled by Blue Funnel.  Cooking the books was easy.      

27.  "Made on Vejhon" was a virtually nonexistent label, and a very rare collectable now.  "How about... steal it," a Blue Funnel executive suggested.  "Steal it?" Kor didn't know if he had heard him right.  "You have a resident expert: Your #2," the executive said proudly.  Kor looked away in thought, but not in disgust.  "They were up to something," he knew.  The question was, "What?"  Blue Funnel's agenda was as crazy as the Cacci Dai hive mind.  One exec didn't know what the other exec was doing.  "Whatever it is," Kor knew, "has to do with money."  "Steal it?" he repeated matter of factly.  The executive nodded with open arms to suggest, 'Why not?'   

28.  Dal El knew Outland mining operations like the back of his hand.  He also knew where the administrative cracks and loopholes were.  He created The Department of Deception to mine Outland resources disguised as a legitimate mining operation.  He used to issue the permits himself, and knew that the Outland frontier was largely unguarded.  Many of Kor's campaign sympathizers were only too happy to forward SJ patrol schedules and report any deviations per se, since Theos didn't care about the Badlands anyway.

29.  "Free... is very cost effective," Dal quipped in one classified report.  He handed Kor a tablet that presented the cost of an illegal mining operation.  "With all the fraud, lies and fiction being traded like it has real value," Kor said, "I don't see a big fracking difference."  He liked the aquisition fee of zero.  "Would you believe," he said, handing Dal his tablet back, "that Blue Funnel suggested that I task you with this?"  "Yes Master," Dal answered with a grin, "he saw me right after he saw you."      


30. During Kor's Badlands campaign, Queen Estuses asked her favorite SJ to "Go spy on that terribly handsome rebel rouser..."  The SJ dispatched immediately.  Kor's retinue was unable to take evasive action before several B'lines set down outside the rally stadium.  To oblige his adoring fans, he chose to proceed, "I accept all walks," he said, "as long as they accept me."  After all, he had two SGK's in his fold, at the time, and a retired Psionic Guard to some extent.  "I accept SJ's too!" 

31. It is a B'lines ability to respond at faster-than-light speeds that enables minimal, seemingly non-existent supervision of the Outlands.  SJ's are as venerated on Theos as the Psionic Guard is on Vejhon, only SJ's are alot cockier.  Their balls are very, very big and every kid wants to be one.  "The ultimate challenge," Kor thought, "Can I convert an SJ?  If I can convert an SJ, I can convert anyone!"    

32. Before the affair went south, the squadron commander, as a vested federal agent, fired the curator for misconstruing the right to assemble as the right to conduct insurrection.  The curator could be reinstated by providing proof that his activities did not violate the State's interests.     

33. The junior officers approached Kor's podium and heckled his rhetoric, "Is that the shit you're spreading all around?" they mocked.  SJ's were never known to get personally involved during peaceful assemblies so their conduct made the crowd paranoid.  The pilots scolded the crowd, "You're trading in your government for this?"  The baseless interruption made the crowd angry, so they started rebuking the pilots because the State never concerned itself with outland affairs, "Since when do you care?" one shouted:  The murmuring escalated into a full blown riot.  It didn't matter that the Queen had only asked them to spy -- their 'duty to the State' came first.         

34. Kor's advisors recommended that he vacate, so he faded from view and evacuated before he could be implicated for inciting a rebellion on foreign soil.  Some of his Guards stayed behind to delete any evidence that he had been there.     

35. Once the psionic shield was fully removed, testosterone took over and medics were needed.  One spectator commented, "This whole fiasco could have been avoided if Kor had shown up."  Another added, "but he never did."  "I'm really disappointed," said a third.  "I really wanted to see him," said a fourth.  Kor watched a media clip of the skirmish, "Good work!" he praised his clean up team, "We were never there."  The adage:  "Whatever the mind believes is real... is real."


36.  Dal asked the Sky Spirits to revive the traditional salute when a Head-of-State embarked or returned to port.  For this particular mission, he instructed the media, "Don't report anything accurate:  Make something up."   A Universal oxymoron.  He knew he could count on them.

37.  Two invisible saucers were at a dead standstill observing the departure, "Isn't that their old salute?" the weapons officer asked, "Like the Aqu'Sha days?"  "It looks like it," navigation answered.  "That's the whole fanfare," the pilot observed, "are you seeing this?"  "Yep, we see it," the sister ship's pilot answered.  "That's one and two leaving," his navigator said.  "A brand new battle wagon," the WO admired as the new destroyer glided by in all of its deadly sheik splendor and glory.  "Theos should have stopped this," the first pilot commented.  "Yeah, well, we're not the politicians," the other pilot said.        

38.  "Look at this," Dal handed Kor a magazine devoted to Kor-worship.  "Kor is the State religion," it says, "I know we didn't print this.  This is real.  This is how they feel about you."  Kor's iconoclast image had become the spiritual symbol of Vejhon.  He knew it was true among the Elite, but a majority of the shell's population were not members.  He studied the magazine cover with mixed emotions and then handed it back to Dal with a blank expression.

39.  As a sign of good faith, and to improve his image with the Theotian homeworld, he promised that he would never attack Theos proper if Theos relinquished all claims to debris that drifted into Vejhonian space.  The Senate maintained it's official sanction against Kor, but secretly authorized Blue Funnel to facilitate the accidental drifting of unwanted liabilities into Vejhonian space for their salvage.  One back-room deal did the trick. "Push those pieces of crap they're already mining over there," the minority leader suggested.
40. In a manner of speaking, Dal El's rank within the Elite created an interstellar marriage.  Theos believed, sarcasm intended, that "Kor would never attack Theotia with a Theotian princess at his side."  They carefully avoided referring to Dal as a 'Queen' because Queen Estuses had a crush on Kor herself.  Dal was still within Theotian grace, but only for today.    

41. As the destroyer approached the Jolvian prison outpost, Kor wanted to absorb as much of the death experience as possible.  This would help him to create a template for future occasions; to design a ritualistic protocol.  This crime would reach far beyond the gridboards into the deeper Universe at large, and become an irreversible travesty.  This is the realm in which Angels dare not tread.  "This piece of debris keeps bouncing back and fourth," Dal explained, "The Theites had it when we were here last -- now the Jolvians are using it.  I guess nobody wants it."    

42.  The Jolvians maintained prison outposts in border regions to make their borders less attractive.  In case of a jailbreak -- the prisoners could escape to someplace other than Vril or Thule.  Since Jolvian prisoners do not have rights, they were sometimes consumed with a fine winter ale.  To keep them tender, physical conditioning was avoided and gravity was kept at a minimum in the inmate areas.  In the event of a riot, prisoners can be incapacitated by normalizing the gravity.  The guard areas, of course, are unaffected. 

43. "We're approaching the target now, Sir," a yeoman said to Dal El, handing him a tablet to review.  That would become a catch phrase for the next 70 years, and this was the moment when the catch phrase began.  It was a moon-sized meteor, perfect for optimizing the destroyer's main weapon.  "How many times did this thing drift back and fourth?" Kor asked.  "Eight," Dal answered, "Theos kept pushing it back -- they don't like fluctuating logistics."  "Yeah, and I bet somebody 'wrote it off' all eight times," Kor injected.  Dal was amazed that Kor would know anything about Theotian business practices.  He returned their focus to the subject at hand, "It's possible the Jolvians will get blamed for this," he offered.  Kor laughed out loud, "You ARE psionic, aren't you!"  

44.  Dal adjusted the tevatron beam to an intensity of 4.024 x 1032cm-2s-1 and inserted encapsulated antimatter pellets in vacuum pockets within the beam.  A smaller yard test had annihilated an asteroid and left no evidence -- the perfect crime, "Imagine what we can to to an alien threat now?" Dal commented.  "I think we're done with convention," Kor agreed.  Anti-matter pellets had been used for clearing heavily trafficked matter-dense trade routes for years.  "There's always a use for peaceful technology," Kor said at a recent Elite gala.
45.  As the targeting computers scanned and located the asteroid's weakest point, a negatively-charged, dark-matter calm quieted the crew.  Dark Matter is the consciousness of tetragammaton directly observing 'Life through Light and Death; Beauty and Savagery' at moments of decision.  Others might interpret the sensation as a voice of warning from beyond.  Whatever one believed, that 'sensation' would unify and perpetuate the next 70 years of conflict, because the sensation was addictive and amplified by conquest.  It blanked out everything except the clarity of death.   "The Black Mass," we'll call it," Kor said. 

46. A weapons officer offered a remote fire switch to Dal, who graciously returned the honor to the weapons officer.  Dal nodded and the officer pressed the switch.  A single beam of concentrated energy sped toward the asteroid while everyone watched.  There was a delay while the anti-matter pellets bore down to their prescribed release depth.  The explosion cascaded  inward and the cavitation wave canceled just as configured.   In a momentary flash, the episode ended as if watching a holo.   There were no impacts because everything dissolved as calculated.     

47. The asteroid fissured into a billion brilliant fragments and dissolved into nothing.  The observers were astonished.  "We just 'spoke' that asteroid out of existence," Dal whispered.  The perfect crime:  Nothing happened.  "Is there some quantum variable that we simply can't see?" one crew member asked.  Kor replied to all concerned, "Don't let the 'unquantifiable' mar your achievement.  We made history today!"  Thus spoke The Master, so all hearts were set at joy.        

48. Dal turned to the weapon's officer, "My compliments for calibrating a perfect strike."  The weapons officer smirked at Dal's altruism because everybody knew that Dal had programmed the targeting computers himself.  "Thank-you, Sir," the officer acquiesced, "We are of one mind," he reasoned.  Kor concurred.                             

49. One of the observing saucers began to transmit a video feed to SpaceCom.  "You're aren't transmitting that?" the saucer pilot asked his navigator.

50. "Guards!  We got a B'line on our ass!" communications shouted to the captain.  "Shoot it!" the captain replied.  Weapons targeted the signal source and obliterated what became an obvious saucer silhouette before it disintegrated into nothing.  "Are there more?" the captain demanded.  "Searching, Sir," Tactical replied.  "I think we've got our war now," Dal articulated carefully to Kor.  "Will SpaceCom get that signal?" Kor asked.  "The data packets won't make sense unless the translation buffers are received intact," Dal El answered succinctly, "They might get some of it, but definitely not all of it.  They need the buffers and the end code to get the whole picture."

51. SpaceCom did not know what to make of the garbled mess that came through, so the closest available B'lines were scrambled to the Jolvian border.  The Jolvian High Command was notified of a possible breech.   Jol and Theos had reciprocating agreements to protect each others border communities. 

52. "Evasive Plan B, full speed," Dal El instructed the helm.  He had been a saucer jock in his younger years and knew precisely how to stay off the grid.  "Call for reinforcements, just in case," Kor suggested.  "Aye, Sir," Communications replied.  Outland clutter was famous for losing transmissions, so it was possible that there would be no record of anything, which was not the case:  SpaceCom pieced together a general idea of where the transmission originated.  They would have been caught fleeing the scene if Dal didn't have an intimate knowledge of SJ response procotols.  "They followed us from port," Dal explained, "B'lines are invisible."    

53. When the saucers arrived, there was no forensic evidence to study.  Although saucers can fly faster than time, Dal had already crossed back into Vejhonian space through an uncharted wormhole.  Time is inconsistent at different point in space anyway. 

54.  SpaceCom Commander O'Helno did not like unsolved mysteries, and this particular mystery was one he was determined to solve.  His analysis postulated that an annihilation weapon destroyed the outpost.  Theite saucers are powered by an annihilation reactor, but a quantum residue remains when matter dissolves into an anti-matter vacuum.  The space surrounding the cancelled area is not flawlessly unmolested.  O'Helno had been experimenting with annihilation detection for years, but could never convince SpaceCom to support his 'half-baked' ideas.  "You're the finest commander in SpaceCom," fleet headquarters assured him, "but leave the science to the scientists.  Thank-you!  Dismissed."            

55. O'Helno lined his PDA into the B'line's computer, "Boys -- let me have control for a moment."  "We're hands off," they replied.  O'Helno positioned 10 saucers into an iris and pushed their collective sensor array to spin a reverse wave in the center.  He attentuated the diameter and massaged the dimensions until at last he said, "I have it."  He could now prove that a Jolvian outpost was attacked, but it was impossible to transport the antimatter pocket in the center.  "Record, film and sample," he ordered, "we can't take it with us, but the evidence will be hard to ignore."  "Not the way your luck has gone with that," his XO said impulsively.  He knew the whole story so O'Helno didn't reply.  

56.  "You made that look easy," a 1st Lieutenant commented, "How come SpaceCom isn't doing it more often?"  "How the hell did you do that?" another interrupted.  "Because they think I'm crazy," O'Helno answered the first, "and they rejected my treatise on the subject, for lack of evidence," he answered the second.  "Well, Duhhhhh!" a female pilot chimed in.  "Exactly," O'Helno agreed.  "We have the evidence of the evidence but we can't move the source," a WO commented.  "Yes, Sir," O'Helno answered.   "Then lets just re-create this disaster and show them how it's done!" someone suggested.  "Yeah -- let's bring a black hole home for show-and-tell," someone mocked.  The mocker knew the previous comment was not meant seriously either.  "I don't think so," O'Helno sighed. 


57.  "That was Thandal's disk!" the saucer pilot at the Vejhonian port exclaimed when he received the scrambled feed of a Vejhonian destroyer annihilating a Jolvian outpost.  The feed was from Thandal's saucer before it went blank.  "Thandal?" Nav questioned.  "Gingah and Ember," the captain added.  "They just left," Tac said in disbelief.  If was a captain's worst fear:  The transmission itself had drawn fire.  "They should have waited," he knew.  He expected to discuss their losses over drinks at the Nosedive after their shift.      

58.  "Send the feed of Kor's departure," the captain ordered.  "Captain," Tac realized, "Do you think Thandal's transmission was intercepted..." "they saw it and shot 'em!" Nav interrupted.  The Captain's hesitation was an answer.  "Yep," he replied soberly.  It would be his job to contact the next-of-kin, which subordinates forget.  Their saucer was not currently imperiled, "Sending now," Tac confirmed.    

59.  "A'zoth!" Tac alerted, "Look!"  All three stations picked up Kor's inbound destroyer, still from a far.  The port switched on the embarkation beacons.  Nav zoomed in on the destroyer's hull, where a victory emblem was proudly illuminated.  "Send BOTH feeds," Captain amended angrily, "if the frackin' vegetable wants a war -- he's got his Guardsdamn war!"  "Dal El's aboard" Nav invoked, "We can legally fire on it now!"  "Yeah... we could," Captain agreed cooly, "but we're not stupid."  They were crazily outgunned.  Camera crews were setting up to film the destroyer receiving a hero's fanfare.  "Both feeds sent," Tac confirmed.  "I think we would be wise to not stick around," Captain decided, "SpaceCom knows what happened, and the Senate has to declare war, so let's get outta Theos!"  


60.  A Theotian envoy made a formal inquiry regarding the whereabouts of Outpost 491.  "I will certainly look into the matter," Kor's foreign minister replied, who knew nothing of the test firing, "In the meantime, what can I do to help?" he offered.  Theotian tracking systems were based on Dal El's formulas; he knew that Theos could not definitively prove what happened to the outpost.  The envoy returned home empty handed.  "As long as we continue to deny it -- they'll never attack us," Dal shrugged, "That's just how they are.... and I... well," he sighed, "used to be one."  "No need to be ashamed of your heritage," Kor consoled him, "You're with me now... and, my greatest asset."  Dal nodded with a blush. 

61. SpaceCom was furious; both feeds left nothing to doubt.  "We'll show that vegetable what a serious mistake he made," the watch officer said to his Jolvian counterpart in a holoconference.  "A victory emblem!" the Jolvian officer sneered, "We'll have his fracking heart for lunch!"  The Jolvian wasn't kidding.  "The Senate is real sticky on these matters," the watch officer replied, "Blue Funnel thrives on war and, well... some of our Senators have been bought and paid for."  "I understand," the Jolvian sympathized, "They own some of ours too." 

62.  The Jolvian general replayed the victory emblem scene just to aggravate the injury, "That toothless vegetable declared war on you long ago!" he emphasized, "if this doesn't make your Senate respond -- I know our High Council will!"  Jolvian property was attacked in Theotian space.   The semantics were unilaterally unnavigable although the military sentiments were mutual. 

63.  The Senate was enraged at Kor's arrogance to display a 'victory' badge for attacking a prison outpost.  "The Psionic Guard should have kicked his ass when they had the chance," one Senator snapped.  It did not take long to produce an official response:  "The Theotian Senate continues to censor the rogue government of occupied Vejhon,' and orders all Theotian citizens to evacuate the Vejhonian system.  Theos is not at war against the legitimate government of Vejhon; we do however, support Jol II's effort to apprehend the terrorists who attacked their prison colony; who we believe may be responsible for the disappearance of Outpost 491."

64.  "Additionally, outland expatriate, Dal El' A'concioux, serving as Kor's Vice Elite, is wanted for questioning for his involvement in the aforementioned terrorist acts.  First-class citizenship and a palatial retirement will be bestowed upon whoever brings him in."  Palatial retirement was an ungraspable sum:  They were offering a small kingdom in exchange for one person. 

65.  Kor and Dal El listened to the broadcast from a D'Luthian balcony on Vejhon.  "Too bad my ex wasn't on that outpost," Dal quipped.  "That doesn't stop us from finding her and killing her," Kor suggested.  Dal laughed quietly.  "Palatial retirement," Kor joked, "You realize I could trade you in for a whole fleet of destroyers?"  Dal appreciated the irony, "I wonder what they would give me for you?" he parried.  That thought made Kor laugh too, "At least there is one place in this Universe, where you have even less grace than I do."  It was an awkward juxtaposition.       

66. Theos had no intention of waging a real war against Kor.  Instead, they authorized SpaceCom to taunt Kor's assets in any fashion they pleased, "Keep your reporting to a minimum."   That meant, "We don't want to hear about it."  A battle beneath the watershell was considered logistically unwinnable and collapsing the watershell was out of the question.  The real purpose for censoring Kor was to keep his military occupied while the Cardships were in flight.  It was pure posturing, like political theatre everywhere.

67.  The shadow government on Theos advised the Senate to, "Let the kids play while the folks are away: Don't launch a full-scale war against a tribe of spiritualists over one outpost."  The likelihood of another '491' was next to none, now that the SJ's are on alert.  Vejhonian headlines read, "WAR!" ...but Theos did not counterattack, another testament to Kor's military genius, as one reporter wrote:  "He ran our enemies off-shell, and now the Universe bows down before him."  "Is there anything Our Father can't do?"  Public confidence was high as the shell and the fervor was unstoppable. 

68.  The exciting war-time premises compelled Dal El to militarize the youth; accelerate production of war materiels and open hundreds of new military venues.  A whole new generation was born with fierce loyalty to Kor, so Dal directed a new social focus on tight, public order.  School curriculums were streamlined to pipeline students of Secret Society wizardry into even darker arts, and ultimately into State service.  Anyone who cited Kor as their avatar was qualified for admission.  

69.  This new generation of shellans would become the future leaders of Vejhon and inheritors of Kor's kingdom.  Seizing the opportunity to get it right, Kor appointed Mantra to engineer Dal El's curriculum into reality.  And thus, the perfect Elite shellan was created.  "Imagine what several thousand Kors could do?" Dal asked persuasively.  Kor imprinted on the youth and the youth imprinted on him.  They magnified his legacy and he magnified their future like a symbiotic social organism.  These new youth created a fraternity even more exclusive than their Elite predecessors:  They were as beautiful as they were deadly, in a dimension occupied only by them.  There were no Kids to speak of, so Kor Youth took the concept to whole new level.         

70. The gridboards gave way to friendlier, more enlightened policies.  The disenfranchised could be coaxed back into the fold without the constant fear of death.  Some returned because of the new civility, while others were inspired by their over-zealous Kor prodigies who wanted their parents and guardians to be at peace with the shell.   It was the kids who ultimately prevailed in bringing shell-wide order, as it had been in the old days, and that new reality gave the youth Kor's permanent blessing.

71.  "Giving shellans ownership of their inner-Kor," as one motivational speaker put it, "helps them to attain the peace and unity that the Elite enjoy."  The more peace there was, the less stress everyone had to deal with collectively.  By no means did Vejhon's problems simply vanish:  It simply meant that they found a way to make the best with what they had.  "Who better to teach them," Dal said to Mantra, "than The Master himself?"  Mantra patted Dal on the shoulder, "I can certainly understand why he selected you."