Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12
Chapter 1: When all other negotiation tactics fail, scare the pants off them
Have you ever tried holding onto melting ice cream? No matter how hard you hold on or try to force it back into shape, it just keeps dripping. That’s what it felt like trying to convince the rulers of the solar system to listen to me.
There were members from all the systems empires: The Mercurial Guild, The Venusian Empire, The Martian Empire, The Free Peoples of Ceres, The Jupiter Protectorate, The Titan Federation, The United Moons of Uranus, the Neptunia Commonwealth, Pluto, the TNO Alliance, The Republic of Kuiper, and last but not least, the nomadic Psionic Clans.
That’s a lot of names, and frankly I wouldn’t remember them all either if I were you. Just picture a room with a lot of people who’ve hated each other for longer than anyone can remember why, and add a very tired Sun Speaker, that’s me, in the centre of the yelling.
Let me recap what’s going on, just in case you haven’t been following. I am Hal, and when I was young I was chosen by the great god Sol, who lives in our sun, to speak for him. I am the Sun Speaker, and in millenia past, that has meant being the head of a massive system-spanning church.
Unfortunately for me, the church didn’t approve of my style of leadership and declared me a heretic. The church then appointed a jerk who would say whatever they wanted and I stole a spaceship and did my best to serve Sol and help people.
Real Sun Speakers are given special powers. We can heal the sick, summon great cleansing fire, and purify water. We also get glimpses into the future and vague orders from Sol themselves. The human body wasn’t made to channel such power and most die by thirty.
I am now almost fifty and still look thirty, thanks to the last known vial of an immortality serum given to me by my friend, doctor, and resident mad scientist.
Things were going pretty well for me until Sol started showing me visions of devastation on a system-wide level. Black ships filled with other Sun Speakers and endless soldiers. And here I thought I was unique… Unfortunately I’m not, and the other Suns are older and able to have more than one Speaker.
I had hoped I would have a few more decades before the attack arrived, but then I checked out a derelict ship and almost died fighting one Sun Speaker, and he said they were coming.
I’ve seen the fleet of ships covering everything inside the Kuiper Belt with death. They aren’t just coming for Sol, they’re coming for everything and everyone they protect.
The Grande Adjudicator of the Jupiter Protectorate screeched in frustration in the face of the Queen of Venus. She followed up with a comment about the faithfulness of his husband.
I should have interceded and stopped them from kicking off a system-wide war that would leave us weaker against the imminent threat. Instead, I left the room.
The air in the hall was cooler by several degrees. The royal palace of Mars wasn’t used to that many people in one room and was struggling to keep the temperature even.
I put my back to the wall and slid down to the stone floor. I curled my legs up and debated crying, laughing, or locking the doors from the outside.
“Aren’t you supposed to be organizing them into a coherent defence plan?” Suzie said gently, kicking my foot. She looked like she was wearing a simple business suit, but I knew it was her light armour that projected a disguise. Her long curly black hair was pulled into a thick braid, which I knew held several spikes to dissuade anyone from pulling on it.
“Yeah. I’m not the right person for this. I’m a meddler, I pull small strings and help people. I don’t think I can do this.” I wouldn’t confide that to anyone else. Suzie and I had been together for four years now, four years of struggling to get to these negotiations.
She kicked me again. “Don’t do this. You’re the only one who can do this. You have allies in there, leverage that. Use some of that charm you keep saying you have. Do what you have to. Or would you rather I deal with them?”
“No!” I exclaimed, standing up. She was the love of my life, but as an ex-assassin, her way of dealing with people was a lot more violent than mine. I kissed her gently and added, “Thank you for believing in me.”
I turned to head toward the door and Sol chose to send me some interesting information. The worst visions can leave me crying on the floor in pain but most aren’t that bad; this was the equivalent of getting slapped behind the head.
I walked into the room and I’m not sure any of them even noticed me.
Into my comms earpiece, I said, “Adric, can you put our guests on the main viewscreen in the conference room.” The large screen had been used as a visual aid for explaining what was coming early in the conference.
“How did you know? A ship just appeared outside Xanthus,” The asteroid past Pluto was populated by people who didn’t want to deal with groups like this. It was also home to the, arguably, best psychic in the system Caro, one of my good friends.
The screen flickered to life and a large saucer shaped ship came into view. The room fell silent for a second before they all started demanding answers at the same time.
They were cut off when Adric played the audio message that was coming from the ship. A loud deep mechanical voice said, “The Myrddin have arrived to protect Sol from the Council of Suns. Please do not resist the Myrddin, we will only harm you in self defence. The fleet shall arrive momentarily.”
Adric cut into the audio. With awe in his voice, he said, “Every trans-Neptunian outpost is reading ships. There’s tens of thousands… no, millions. The system is surrounded.”
Read Chapter 2 (February 2024)
While you wait for the next chapter, you can read some related stories: