This Science Fiction short story is a lead-up to the book titled, Onyalum Wars. The book is part of the Science Fiction Onyalum Series written by NB VanYoos.
Seelzra quietly listened to Ambassador Molfe’s arguments against aligning with the Leran, a species he aptly pointed out was not from this galaxy. Seelzra shook his head slowly, as if any species’ origins dictated their intent. Whether they were homegrown or imported, they both posed threats that this world had to avert, the question was how?
He eyed the Council, the wizened elders listening to the arguments dispassionately, waiting until all was laid before them before making their monumental decision. Seelzra had already made his, and the Leran were the lesser of the two evils.
Ever since being assigned this critical mission shortly after their world had been contacted by both species, Seelzra had realized his world was only one more conquest in a larger than life strategy game, the ultimate prize unknown. He wasn’t naive enough to believe everything the Leran told him despite their obvious age and technological superiority. They appeared non-threatening, and the alliance of worlds they had gathered from this galaxy was impressive—worlds that had once been under Issgire oppression.
He had dutifully spelled it out to the Council, trying his best to leave his own prejudice out of the presentation of his fact finding mission. But his colleague was not as professional, and his presentation reeked of promises of personal fortune should his side sway the vote in favor of the Issgire. It was inevitable, especially in politics. Even Seelzra had been offered bribes throughout his career, but he took pride in declining such offers, his own personal financial situation secure thanks to his family.
But the Leran had not bribed him, perhaps another vote in favor of their side. He would have mentioned as much if he had proof of his colleague’s collusion. Alas, it would come down to the merits of the situation at hand, the Council voting it’s conscience as always. If he held any doubts of their objectivity, he would have retired years ago. It was the one positive in a world increasingly moving towards the negative. This new development would not end well regardless of the vote, of that Seelzra was certain.
Inherently, something sinister was at play between the Issgire and the Leran. Seelzra didn’t truly believe the Leran were generous saviors from another galaxy sent here to free the poor souls under the claws of the Issgire reptiles. They wanted more and those that threw in with them might just prosper when all was said and done. Seelzra looked at it as an insurance policy, pick the right side and you might just ensure the future of your species.
He had left these dire predictions out of his analysis and presentation. Though his gut told him he was right, he had no proof to back up his feelings. Any attempt at deception or obfuscation with the Council would be seen straight away, easily defeating your arguments because of your poor choices. He believed Molfe was making that mistake. He smiled as he saw the scales of victory slowly tilting towards his side.
Despite holding back his own personal feelings, he hadn’t held back those of the species now aligned with the Leran. One such species, a particularly ugly one from a distant dirt ball on the other side of the galaxy, had claimed their people were slaves under the rule of the Issgire, forced to create weapons for the lizards using their own precious resources from a resource-poor system. The representative had even claimed the Issgire used the dead to create food for the enslaved, saving the real food only for themselves.
It was a gruesome thought indeed, but Seelzra rather believed the man had been lying about that part. Interspecies hatred would make most say outlandish things about those they were pitted against.
Nonetheless, as world after world presented their experience under Issgire rule, a clear picture of a brutally superior species emerged. Seelzra’s world had been spared the experience of Issgire rule, but word of the lizard empire had spread to their system, though many believed the tales were just that, tales to scare children at bedtime. Beware the monster lizards who will eat your young and have their way with your women! They appeared ridiculous at first glance, but Seelzra now wondered if some of those tales might actually be true.
Ambassador Molfe’s presentation was winding down and Seelzra listened to man’s final words. “…and without such protection, our world will be swept up in this insidious invasion of our galaxy by imposters posing as our saviors. They will take over our bodies, our world, our way of life, and our species will be erased from this Universe forever!”
Seelzra thought that was a nice touch, though overly dramatic for the Council. Still, he obviously was speaking about the supposed Leran’s ability to take over other species through some sort of possession or duplication, eliminating that species while maintaining their appearance. Seelzra scoffed at such a fantastical idea and mentioned as much to the Council. He believed the species that were part of the Leran Alliance were real and not duplicates created by the Leran. A ruse of that magnitude would be impossible to perpetrate.
Though the Leran were technologically advanced, Seelzra didn’t believe they were capable of replicating every single species he’d met, creating the illusion of an alliance that didn’t actually exist. Though he wouldn’t be surprised if they explored genetic research with other species they aligned with, he didn’t believe they were capable of possession or replication at the level the Issgire insinuated. After all, he’d met them, and they were a real species, old and from a distant galaxy for sure, but they were a real peoples.
The Ambassador finally finished his summation. “In closing, we must protect the integrity of our world and our way of life, accepting an alliance with the Issgire Empire to forge a future of mutual respect, protection, and sharing in the wealth this galaxy has bestowed upon us and our peoples. Thank you esteemed Council, as always, your wisdom will prevail.” Molfe bowed deeply before taking his seat.
Lead Councilor Catilosl spoke deliberately. “Ambassadors, you have given the Council much to deliberate, and we will discuss this matter in private before rendering our decision.” She rose from her seat followed by the other Councilors as they walked from the main chambers.
The secretary rose to her feet and made the prescribed announcement. “Please rise as the Council adjourns to private chambers.” The crowded room rose quietly as the Councilors made their way to the inner sanctum and quiet deliberations.
Seelzra felt rather confident he would win this decision. The Issgire, though a local species, simply didn’t offer as much as the Leran. The Leran alliance had already succeeded in recruiting many thousands of systems to their cause, and their momentum would crush the Issgire whose past was riddled with inequities and a reputation of supremacy over all they ruled. Their message may be peace and brotherly love now, but their true intentions were likely far from that reality. The Council would see this.
The Council retook their seats before everyone sat down per protocol. The press took up most of the public seating behind the Ambassadors, but cameras were forbidden in the Council Chamber, so artists scribbled quietly, trying to capture the Council’s mood as the decision was rendered.
Lead Councilor Catilosl read from her notes of their deliberations. “The Council has thought long and hard on these proceedings and we are not without passion for the import of our decision. Many on the Council expressed that passion as we discussed each side’s arguments extensively, no fact or innuendo left un-mentioned. Our world is on the brink of a new era, one in which we will become embroiled in a conflict started long before we even understood our place in this Universe. Now that conflict has caught up to us, or perhaps us to it.” She paused.
“It is more than our survival that we must ensure with this decision, it is the survival of our culture and our freedoms. Once we align ourselves in this conflict, we will be forever bound by that decision, the results unknowable, the future unknown. For that reason, our charge has been difficult at best, impossible at worst. But a decision has been made.”
She paused once more as the hushed crowd leaned forward to hear the results. Only the sounds of the artists sketching furiously disturbed the eerie quiet. “By the power invested in us by the fair people of Wazcatrain, we hereby declare an alliance be formed between our world and the…”
The blinding light that lit the chamber was followed by a rush of sound that crushed the ears and shredded everything in its path. Seelzra barely registered a thought of surprise before he was thrust into a world of utter darkness and silence.
“Are we on? Can they hear us? Okay, this is Jarila outside the destroyed remnants of the Wazcatrain Council in the capital city of Lathrone. Minutes ago, a bomb detonated inside the Council Chambers as the Council prepared to deliver their decision concerning the future alliance of our world with either the Issgire or the Leran! The explosion was enormous and knocked us to the ground as we waited on the steps outside. As you can see behind me, the entire roof of the structure was brought down, the remaining walls looking as though they, too, will fall inward trapping even more victims and thwarting rescuers efforts. Hey, wait! You can’t do that! We have a right to…”
“Apparently we have lost the feed with Jarila but will try to the reestablish that connection momentarily. At this time, we have no idea what caused the explosion and whether any of the Council or others inside the chamber survived the blast. We will attempt…wha…wait, this just in, we have received a video from an organization identifying themselves as the Wazcatrain Freedom Fighters who are claiming responsibility for the attack. We’re…yes, we will now play the video unedited in its entirety.”
“Good people of Wazcatrain, we are the Wazcatrain Freedom Fighters, an organization of concerned citizens who refuse to let our beloved world be sold to the highest bid from galactic trash like the Issgire and Leran! We will not stand by while our world is destroyed by those politicians who would line their pockets with the blood of our brethren, selling their souls along with our world! Today’s attack on the Council serves as warning to all who believe their backdoor deals will be tolerated by Wazcatrain’s peoples. We will fight and we will die for our just cause, and anyone who stands in our way better prepare to die with us! We will not let those dirty, off-world species pollute our culture with their lies and deceptions intended to fool us into aligning with their perverse armies and unknown purposes. We have our own armies and we will use them to fend off these invaders. It is freedom or die in this conflict—no other choice exists!”