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Vejhon by Ty Estus Narada
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Renewal -- Chapter 32


1.  "They're so blinded by lust that they'll do anything to gratify their passion," Kor said to Dal El's chief of staff.  He handed Dal his tablet back, "The Exiles want a winner-take-all confrontation."  The war had reached its zenith for both sides and the Constitutional Vejhonians wanted it to end.  "You are driven to pursue us, and we are driven to avoid capture.." the offer read, "...we are prepared to negeotiate a means for reunification."  "I never dreamed I'd live to see this day," Kor said.  "Does that mean they intend to surrender, Sir?" Dal El's chief of staff asked.  "They don't actually use the word 'surrender,'" Dal injected, "but it's an implied possibility." 

2. "Does that mean they're asking for a truce then?" an adjutant asked.  The Vejhonian Revolutionaries, who had evicted their law-abiding kin; forged unwilling alliances and absorbed like-minded cultures into their own, were now being asked to the table.  The entire Universe was entangled, as Kor'an D'seas proclaimed at the academy, "There are no neutrals!  Either you're with us, or against us!"  Indeed, there was no piece of real estate anywhere in the Universe that was unaffected.  There were only so many worlds that could be destroyed, and each destruction reduced the available raw material needed to build more destroyers.       

3.  The equasion called for an end.  "I believe so," Kor answered the adjutant.  This was an entirely new concept for the Elite.  "Do we even have plans for... reunification?" the adjutant pronounced the word with disdain, but not maliciously.  "This will seriously drain Blue Funnel's profits," Dal El noted.  Nobody cared about Blue Funnel's transparent interests. "I find it distasteful that the wealth of the entire Universe drains into the coffers of one family," Kor said.  "Let's round 'em up and kill 'em," a Son of the Morning suggested.  His status entitled him to speak freely.  Kor nodded in agreement, "Indeed, this... reunification... may invite just such a ploy."

4.  "We can do it," Dal El agreed, "but as a separate op."  "That's true," his chief of staff agreed, "they have their agents planted everywhere -- we would have to act just as soon as they start fidgeting from the news."  "Yes," Dal agreed, "Reunification would provide a faultless lure since they were outlawed under the old regime."  He was referring to Blue funnel.  "They'll automatically assume that repatriated Constitutional assets are loot for the taking.  We'll look like champions of morality!"  Everyone in the conference room stared incredulously at each other because this sort of dialogue had never transpired before.  The intended outcome:  The war would end -- winner-take-all.      

5.  Four generations of Elite warriors had rallied behind a single war cry:  Annihilate every Constitutional shellan in existence!  Although they had failed, the war cry had sustained the economy for 70 years.   And now they were discussing reunification, of all things.  "...Beauty and Savagery," the Elite mantra.


6.  Daniel dreamed that the Angels flew down in formation to smite the enemies of God; their wings unfurled like eagles about to strike.  In their hands was an endless supply of lightening bolts that could be hurled at will.  They descended from the sky and glided stealthily across the land; their gallant spirits energized with purpose and their faces reflecting the glory of God.  Within moments, the warrior Angels annihilated the enemies of God; leaving no trace that they had ever existed.  Daniel awoke.  "It's happening.  The time has come." 


7.  "They ident friendly," communications reported, "the sweeps say they're ours."  "Heading?" the commander asked.  "To the rendezvous point," comm replied.  "Stay on course then," the commander ordered, "they're probably Aquarian."  "Do you really think this'll work?" a junior bridge officer asked.  Kor's super kids had strong misgivings about this meet-and-greet-ambush tactic.  "If you'd like to ask Him -- there's the comm," the commander suggested facetiously.  All of Kor's super kids could block their thoughts effortlessly. 

8.  The super kid chose to belay that action.  There could only be one Kor'an D'seas, and he wasn't him.  The commander shared his junior officer's concern, "Kor El," he said in the tone of a retraction, "I really don't know."  The commander was also a second-generation super kid.  Kor El appreciated his commander's candor.  For the most part, the super kids were protective of their own and rigidly obeyed the chain-of-command.  It was not illegal to have a personality.          

9.  Delegations from both sides met for the first time in secret to discuss a winner-take-all solution.  Both sides gleaned as much intelligence as they could during the meeting and both sides carefully concealed an aversion to reunification.  Very few shellans were still alive who actually remembered a unified Vejhon.


10.  "If I understood you correctly," Daniel said, "both sides plan to ambush each other at a mutually-agreed-upon meeting?"  "It's as if they photocopied each others mission plan," B'jhon replied.  "And our people tell us that there's no way that could have happened?" Daniel reiterated.  "No possible way," B'jhon quoted.  Both sides intentionally leaked that large armadas would escort their respective delegations.  Both sides plan to ambush the enemy while the talks are in progress.  Both sides intercepted each others disinformation and both sides reclassified the intercepts as 'internal memos' transmitted in error.  "That is so impossible, that no one will ever believe it," Daniel said.  B'jhon didn't know what else to say.  It is what it is. 


11.  "I swear to Kor that looks like a frackin' Cardship!" tactical reported, "long-range shows standard configuration."  "Calm," the skipper ordered, "we're all friendly -- remember?"   The tactical officer desperately wanted to shoot something and he was breaking into a cold sweat.  "The captain gave his XO a tongue-in-cheek expression which the XO acknowledged."  "I promised him he could shoot first," the XO said psionically to his skipper, "afterward, of course."  "Maybe we should let him beat somebody up?" the skipper suggested, "to vent a little."  "Captain," the XO sighed quietly but intently, "this is the craziest ... strategy... I've..."  The captain raised his arm to silence his XO.  It was a friendly way of agreeing without tolerating insubordination. 

12.  "Sir, listen to this," communications said and patched the audio through, "... yeah, well, we wiped out two Exile shells in 90 days; got a sweeeeeet dinner and decorated by The Master himself."  "No shit?  We wiped out three shells and didn't get a frackin' thing..."  Captain gave the "cut" signal on his neck, "Where the frack's that coming from?"  Communications raised her arms incredulously toward an obvious pixiliated rectangle that measured 1 x 5 x 20 miles.  Then asked, "Do we have those now?"  Her question was sincere but didn't fully mask its apathetic sarcasm.   

13.  At one point, Elite and Exile combatants had cryptic conversations over secured lines, both believing that they were speaking to allies or to covert operatives planted behind enemy lines.  The subject matter was banal, not especially alarming with moments of entertaining intrigue.        

14.  "The targeting computers are on stand-by," tactical reported, "...plotter shows too much congestion for tactical."  The fleet was not in a congested condition yet.  The projection map clearly showed an impending cluster, but did not project alternate routes.  There was still plenty of time.  "Maybe it doesn't recognize the new equipment," the XO suggested, "...it's not recommending anything."  The plotter typically projected alternate paths as ships joined in formation or approached each other.      

15.  "I'm getting all-friendly," tactical reported, "please tell me this is the 'distraction' and 'diversion' part of the plan."  "It's all loaded in," the XO sighed calmly.  "Distraction, Diversion and Division," was on page one of the Academy field manual.  If this event had been pre-meditated, the strategist would have gone into the annals of tactical hell.  "Sir?" the XO said to elicit a response from his captain, "the... ambush?" he reminded him quietly.  

16.  Cardships that had been lost since the evacuation were emerging from nowhere and everywhere.  "I can not wait!" tactical wailed, "PLEASE, KOR let me shoot something!"  The poor kid sounded pathetic and was obscenely oversexed.  "Kor, please help him," his captain quietly sympathized.  "It's like craming every fish in the sea into one barrel," the captain said to his XO.  "How did they get the enemy to go along with this?" the XO asked his captain, "Didn't they get a little bit suspicious?"

17.  "Do you see that... non standard configuration?" the navigation officer pointed out.  "So they're not sitting ducks," the XO observed.  Closer inspection revealed offensive capability that had never been seen in action; the fleeing barges of yesterDan were a thing of the past.  "Harmless as butterflies," tactical whispered, "OK, so it will be a fairer fight!" he rationalized restlessly.  "Kor El!" his XO intoned paternally.  Kor El banged his head on his console dramatically and then raised his arms into the air while leaning far back into his chair, "My dear Master," he prayed, "please... let... me... KILL SOMEBODY!" he practically shouted.  The entire bridge crew started laughing at him.  The XO grabbed a tablet and smacked it upside Kor El's head.   The tablet didn't survive but Kor El was still in mint condition.        

18.  "KOR EL, GET A GRIP!" his XO rebuked over the laughter, then he resumed his former calm, "I promise you will be the first one to get weapons free."  The concept of a 'Cardship attack' was one oxymoron that would never survive Elite etymology.  Kor'an D'seas was commanding a destroyer too, and had personally recommended Kor El to Captain Thoth.  "Did you have a can of adrenaline for breakfast?" his XO asked him.  "A whole Guards-damn case," the Captain mumbled.   

19.  Bri had aged gracefully and refused to walk with a cane, he didn't move as fast as he used to.  "Father Bri," the President's 2nd counselor said, "President La Nasha wishes to consult with you."  Bri had held office for 35 years before turning the reigns over to a younger more energetic Presidential contender... and much prettier too.  Silver La Nasha had been born in flight and was the third President to follow him since the evacuation.   As the reigning patriarch of Constitutional Vejhon, "Father Bri," had become a permanent term of endearment by which he was Universally known.  

20.  Bri had already sensed La Nasha's concerns.  Even though her loyalty to the Constitution was faultless, the Director had asked Bri to organize and deploy his 'mirror tactic' alone:  Only key members of the Psionic Guard knew about Bri's plan.  "Father Bri," La Nasha bowed when he entered her office.  Her love and affection for him was pure.  Behind her was the wall-to-wall panorama that concerned her.  She was hoping that he might comment, since she accepted his voice as the highest corporeal authority, much like Bri esteemed Director Wexli, who had died in exile.  Wexli still visited Bri in his glorified form, from time to time. 

21.  Vicar Miles entered and stood beside Bri where Kyle'yn had once stood during the evacuation.  It did not seem that long ago.  La Nasha followed Bri's movements as a sunflower faces the sun.  The congestion of ships outside was undeniably spectacular.  He also noticed that many of his mementos were exactly as he had left them during his presidency.  Bri motioned that LaNasha stand beside him, which she kindly obliged. 

22.  "There are some things that I have never told anyone," he began, "secrets that I have guarded since before the evacuation."  Bri smiled at La Nasha, "What is the one question that you are asking right now?"  "Why aren't they attacking?" she answered.  Bri nodded his head pleased, "Exactly -- why aren't they attacking?"  Bri returned his gaze to the array of ships outside, "There is a protocol hard-wired into all Vejhonian vessles to avoid port entanglements," he explained, "If necessary, that protocol can override the ships navigation systems to save the ship." 

23.  La Nasha looked pleased but puzzled, "...that was 70 years ago," she thought privately.  "There were only 7 engineers who fully understood from start to finish how the protocol was integrated into all of the ships most vital systems..." Bri turned triumphantly toward La Nasha with a warm smile, "...and all seven of them evacuated."  La Nasha wanted to laugh out loud, even though she was not an engineer.  "I was prepared to use my Presidential override to disable shell assets during the evacuation... but Kor let us flee unscathed... I never needed to expose the protocol."

24.  "All these many, weary years," Bri said, "the Elite built upon our platforms," he pointed at a destroyer in the distance, "they may have built bigger and deadlier ships, but the original architecture is here."  Bri pointed to the vestiage of State.  La Nasha felt greatly enlightened, but still had one remaining question, which Bri proceeded to answer:  "And that leads to what you see now.  In 70 years, a perfectly mirrored
tactic was impossible -- two steps above 'thinking like the enemy.'  Then  I remembered the protocol... it was the only thing they didn't know about."  "So..." La Nasha injected, "...the protocol and the mirror tactic resulted in... that."  She spread her arms toward the window.   Bri nodded gently in agreement.  "They think we're falling into their ploy?" she asked.  Bri nodded his head.  The Elite had no need to re-invent the ship management system; they just expanded the existing model and installed it aboard every vessle.  What could possibly go wrong?


25.  "Helm, veer us to port three degrees, Y minus 1 or 2 -- make it look good," the XO ordered.  The helmsman did not want to alert anyone that he was having an issue.  Helmsmen throughout the Elite fleet were experiencing the same embarrassment and none of them wanted to draw attention to the issue.  The ships were responding slowly to shallow course corrections; nothing too terribly alarming, at times, unnoticeable.  For some, the helm seemed to be piloted by a remote source and nobody wanted to announce, "Sir, it's not responding," because the XO would reply, "Are you saying you don't know how to drive?" and relieve them of duty. 

26.  One exasperated captain scolded his helmsman, "When in history has the wheel ever malfunctioned?  You're confined to quarters, and hope to Kor I don't throw you in the brig!"  That was an extremely serious charge.  The captain took over to prove that the pilot was an idiot, but the helm did not respond... "She's right!" he retracted, "belay that!  It's not responding."  Then the XO gave it a try and everyone else took a turn.  The wheel was not considered rocket science.  This created a new prediciment:  Nobody wanted to report that their ship was out of control.  "Let's regain control and proceed as if nothing had happened..." that was the plan. 

27.  "Get the engineer and carpenter on it," one skipper ordered.  A wave of psyos swept over the fleet as captains psionically asked other captains if they were experiencing inexplicable issues.  The Elite used IFF copies without understanding how deeply embedded the encryption was in shipboard operations.  Since nothing had ever gone wrong, there was no reason to suspect any vulnerabilities.  The IFF virally infected everything.  If one system was taken off-line, the remaining systems could compensate.  When IFF synched with other ships, full saturation occurred within moments.  The entire fleet was being piloted by remote.     

28.  "It's not an engineering issue," one engineer reported, "it's a port safety protocol; built into everything -- there's no way to disable it."  "Well, it would stand to reason," a Sky Spirit defended, "that somebody can, because the ships AREN'T DRIVING THEMSELVES!"  "Then you tell that to Kor and Dal El!" the engineer suggested.  "No Thank-you!" the Sky Spirit withdrew with disdain.  The Elite thought this was going to be an open-and-closed ambush with minimal, if any losses.


29.  "I made this little program to keep track of everything," Bri said.  He entered a code on a keypad on La Nasha's desk and a holographic map appeared superimposed across the full length of her observation window.  When an Elite destroyer drifted within range, a holographic marker tagged it "IFF - Friendly."  La Nasha grinned, "That's a lot of green markers," she said.  In fact, all of them were green.  "I think their helmsmen are starting to go crazy about right now," Bri said.  She laughed. 
His first protégé had felt unworthy to occupy his office, so Bri moved the State Seal to his protégé’s office and continued to serve in less auspicious ways.  La Nasha had never known life without Bri. 


30.  "We're gonna have to tell somebody," the XO lamented.  The captain knew that his career was over, "Open a channel," he sighed.  Over the channel they heard:  "... that's not so crazy -- talk about an outta control shellan, that Jolvian turd parked his vehicle IN the shell, donned his mask and opened the frackin' seal..."   "What the HELL IS THIS?" the captain yelled, "a DIFFERENT channel!"  "... Theos will capitulate -- they got saucers but no balls!..."  "OFF!" the captain yelled, "Are ALL the channels doing that?"  The communications officer meekly nodded her head, "Yes."  "Did it EVER occur to you," the captain asked as cooly as he could, "that those are NOT REAL communications?"  She meekly shook her head, "No."   She thought it was just ship-to-ship chatter.   All of them did. 

31.  The captain sat back down in his chair.  "Recordings?" his XO guessed psionically.  The captain didn't answer, "We fell for this?" he said in disbelief, "Nobody saw this coming?" he was shocked, "... the whole FRACKIN' FLEET!"


32.  "I want you to see this," Bri said excitedly to the President.  "See this word," he pointed to the word "Exile" on the Cardship markers that for 70 years had vexed him sorely.  "Watch this," he said.  He touched a holographic switch on the holographic display and all of the ships, Elite and Exile alike, were re-tagged, "Vejhonian."

33.  President La Nasha never thought she would live to see this day; her dignified tears reflected Bri's joy.   She hugged Bri because she was happy that 'Father Bri,' the patriarch of a long and violent war, had lived to see its end; and had carried the key and the solution to its end.  "I want you here, Wex," Bri prodded.  "I warrant," Miles said, who was standing right beside him, "I'll let you know if he shows up, or you let me know."  Miles understood Bri's preoccupation.  "I meant you, Miles," Bri corrected.  He didn't want Miles to feel less appreciated than Wexli.  "I miss him too," Miles confided.  Neither of them needed to explain.  

34.  Every director developed the iconoclast archetype image over time.  

35.  "Let's watch this from Aqu'Sha's office," Bri suggested; The Hall of Remembrance.  It seemed appropriate that the healing begin there.  The three of them entered the tomb reverently; paying tribute to the triangular flag case sitting on its mantle.  The room seemed colder than other rooms, and was darkly lit for a more reverent ambiance.  "What will it look like when we return?" he wondered.   A floodgate of memories returned with all of the familiar symbolism surrounding them. 

36.  "Can you hear me... Brother?"


37.  "So Bri knows why..." Kor thought.  The psyos indicated that this happy-go-lucky, frivolous engagement was melting down.  Nobody wanted to report their difficulties for understandable reasons. 
Kor did not want to distress his key commanders by making psionic inquiries; they knew the inquest was coming if they didn't regain control of their ships.  Kor's fleet sailed right into a slowly warming pot, thinking that the reverse was true.  In spite of this strategic failure, Dal El  maintained a firm situational grasp with his admirals. 

38.  Kor'An D'seas, a.k.a. Kor II, insisted that Kor and Dal El view the massacre aboard separate ships, "I'm sure it will all go according to plan, but just in case.  Humor me," he admonished them.  He was much more tactful than he used to be in his younger days.  "You mean I can go all by myself on my own ship," Dal El teased him.  Kor II did did not reply; he was more tempered, but still fearless.  The Master patted Kor II on the shoulder, since he had been making policy decisions for the last 20 years.

39.  "You don't have manual control at all?" Kor asked innocently.  "It's automated," came the chorus, "There's a port safety program running everything -- it won't let us escape."  The word "Escape" was not in the Elite vocabulary.  "The technicians say it's embedded into all of the critical systems -- it can't be shut it down without shutting down life support."  "It can't be shut down period," a captain added, "we tried shutting down life support and that didn't work."  Who reads diagnostic reports anyway?  Kor did not ask the logical 'next' question.  Dal El would investigate the matter following the engagement.   

40.  Kor knew that firing solutions were blocked in port and in close formation.  "We walked right into a trap, that we thought was our own," he reiteriated.  "Seventy years of victory... and now this?  Does Bri know?"  Bri was the only one who knew.  

41.  There had never been a reason for Elite Commanders to scan bland ship-to-ship chatter for tactically relevant information.  Dal El said it was healithier to let the crew chat, "Don't muzzle them," he said.    

42.  At a point when the congestion could not get any thicker, swarms of Theite saucers began filling the cracks.  "They did all this just for me," Kor realized, "This whole fiasco... "   Indeed, reality was going to change.     


43.  Daniel invited every available body to watch the 'mother of all battles' directly from the ops center.  He had extra seats and refreshments brought in -- if you were on Sunova -- you were there.  He fussed over it like a bride doting over wedding details.  "The SuperBowl of Battles," I-40 joked, refering to a machine tournament somewhere. 

44.  Finally, Daniel took a seat, drink in hand, and waited for the show to begin.  He waited for a really long time.  "There's B'lines everywhere!" he said with fake forced excitement, "like shooting fish in a barrel!"  He watched the swarms of shimmering metal until he could no longer force his fake excitement.  B'jhon poured something stronger into his cup, "It'll help take the edge off," he said sympathetically.  "Pass that around," an agent suggested.  "We all know you meant well," B'jhon said.  It would be the only party thrown in the ops center with Daniel's blessing.  He took a swig of B'jhon's libation and gave a frowny face of approval.  

45.  "What is that?" Daniel asked.  "Something I found on a Jolvian frigate," B'jhon answered.  "I like it," Daniel confessed.  Some of the other agents were beginning to lighten up in spite of Daniel's disappointment.  "Four generations of mass annihilation," Daniel sighed, "the extinction of whole species... the destruction of planets... and this is how it ends.  With nothing."  Maybe they'll be a parade!" I-40 tried to cheer him up.   B'jhon gave I-40 a curt smile because he knew I-40 meant well.  

46.  "Who's ever heard of a bloodless battle?" Daniel complained.  He finished his drink and suggested that B'jhon pour another.  "Death and savagery for 70 years and this is how it ends!"  "Maybe it was a blessing?" a female agent suggested.  "Yeah, I want my money back," another joked.  The Jolvian Ale was making him feel better, "It is what it is," he accepted, "and we shut down for it."  He laughed at the absurdity.  "Maybe it was better that the killing simply end," he resigned, "beginning with the mother of all bloodless battles."    


47.  As a display of compassion and mercy, Kor planned to dispatch an Elite envoy to return with Bri so that Bri could concede the conflict with dignity.  After 70 years, Kor would finally have his day.  Dal's generals drilled the shock troops mercilessly for weeks, and the media was ordered to promote this story as the greatest Elite achievement of all time.

48.  None of that was going to happen.  The precision tuned killing machine never sprang into action.  The public execution of each enemy commander, one-by-one was cancelled.  

49.  The sight of 1 ½ million  saucers was ungraspable by the shellan mind.  It looked like a glittering sea of shimmering metal, swelling and swaying in a purposeful cosmic rhythm too intricate to navigate.  The B'lines made sure they were visible for this encore performance, and emulated the Breath of God; a polar contrast to the black Elite heart.  B'lines are immune to port safety protocols.  Visit any Theotian port to understand why.       
50.  O'Helno had been reactivated to command the raid.  He stopped his saucer within an inch of Bri's observation window and deenergized his dome so that Bri could see him.  Bri beamed warmly and waved.  One of the Theite seats was occupied by a Cacci Dai technician.  "I validate," Bri said to the machine through the glass, "The Elite did not even stand a chance," he said to La Nasha.  Kor threatened everyone, so the Cacci Dai had a stake in the outcome too.  Conscious evidently approved of Cacci Dai's participation; one asset per B'line. 

51.  There were still some entertaining scenes for Daniel to see:  Theite shock troops approached Dal El's dias, yanked him off his throne, cuffed him and led him away on a leash.  The dreaded Vice Elite was now in custody again, with assurances from the Psionic Guard that nobody could help him to escape, now or ever.  

52.  In the space of 58 minutes, the mother of all battles was declared, "Concluded."  That did not mean that every enemy combatant was accounted for, it only meant that the enemy vessels had been disabled and that specific ships had been occupied.