The Mankind War: Chapter 2

Part One: Generations
Chapter Two: Honor Your Creators

             Kilgo remembered when he first met Galina.  He’d left Deneb, left the farms and fields and family, left the view of three moons and his mother tongue, and replaced it to study on Troas.  He was the first of his family to leave, the first whose intellect and studies made him noticed, in this case by the University of Troas. 

            He spoke the only common language he had with Troas, mathematics.  And he spoke it like few others, wielded it in ways many could not.  He studied it at the University, but his professors soon found there was no problem so challenging he could not uncover the mathematical solution. 

            Despite being the outsider, Kilgo was gracious.  He saw a girl struggling with a problem, a mathematical mystery that clearly eluded her.  He approached her after class, used broken Troas Standard, and introduced himself.

            “I know who you are,” the mystery girl said.  “Kilgo from Deneb.  And I’m Galina Moonshadow.  From Carthage.”

            He shook her hand, and the equation of his life was finished.  He knew it was finished the moment he held that hand, the instant he saw into her eyes.  She had the measure of him, and he knew it.  He taught her math, and she taught him himself.  He loved her, knew his path had taken him here for her. 

            They married six months after meeting, during summer solstice.  The ceremony was yesterday and it was beautiful, his family holo’ed in, hers surrounding them.  She was beautiful, more than when he met her, more than believed he deserved or believed possible. 

            He stared at her now, sipping her chai at the small café in Gallab City, the perfect view from a city perched impossibly on coastal hills overlooking Troas’s setting sun.  It was the ultimate end to their first full day together as husband and wife.  Tomorrow they would bubble off-world, spend a week away before they returned to continue their studies together. 

            Kilgo looked around, noticing for the first time how crowded the café had become.  The town was coming out, gaining their view of the setting sun, beginning their evenings of errands and dinners and entertainment.  Robot waiters gathered up plates and dishes, wiped tables, served desserts and drinks.

            The sun on the horizon disappeared, a figure blocking the view.  A tall Century robot stood just outside the café square looking in, its features in silhouette, edged with the light of the golden sun behind it.  The image didn’t fit, an anomaly that didn’t add up.  The robot looked dispassionately, as dispassionately as any robot without formware. 

            Kilgo realized he was staring, which made Galina look over.  It spoke, hollow and at no one in particular.  “Honor your creators.”

            The sun exploded.  The robot silhouette replaced with bursting light that was once the Century.  A wave of light rushed forward, engulfing them, replacing Galina with searing yellow tendrils, a blast wave shoving Kilgo up, back, away from the table.  Walls crumbled, tables, shoes, bodies, papers, blew everywhere, away from the center. 

            Kilgo lay crumpled, twisted, his mathematical mind lifting one last time to stare at what remained of his new wife.  Her there, and her over there, and over there – it didn’t add up.He struggled to make it up add up, closed his eyes to blink out soot and smoke.  Darkness invaded as he tried desperately to make this add up.He kept the image in his head, as long as he could, trying to solve it as darkness encroached.  The tunnel closed.  The solution never came.

The Mankind War: Chapter 1

Part One: Generations
Chapter One: I Don’t Want War

“I don’t want war,” Ares said. “I don’t want it.”

            “I know,” Yung-Gi replied. “But I’m not sure it’s avoidable. The past may catch up with you.”

            Ares sat taller on the throne in his small private audience room. No one could enter without express permission. To enter unapproved risked death. Only Yung-Gi held a lifetime approval, which spoke to his years of advising, the complete trust of Ares.

            Ares stood up, moved to a panel, waved his hand over it, typed a few keystrokes. A haze gathered over the finely decorated ceiling, and images of the heavens shimmered into existence.

“I’ve had my fill of it. I was born in it, the longest war our family’s ever had with the tribes.”

All the heavens before him belonged to Ares. He’d studied them for decades and could name each system. Each came with a tale, a storied past, a problematic present, an uncertain future.

            “It took me 45 hard years to end it. 45 years of blood. Another five until I had Pax.”

            His son born in peace, a difficult birth in an atypical time in history, he knew at that moment it was only appropriate to name him Pax. When Malika had arrived three weeks after the birth and presented his firstborn, the only male who would come from his name, he saw before him a quiet boy, a harbinger of things to come. He saw peace before him and solidified it in the Naming. That same day when he’d finally unified the Tribes, he extended the Cestus Treaty, ensuring a tenuous peace with both humans and robots. He’d even added Pax’s infant thumbprint next to his own signature, to show he was committed to a peace through the generations.

            “It’s time to send him out, Your Majesty.”

            “I know.”

Ares stopped, zoomed in on the Isselia System. The center of the biggest Tribe, the Hasan family, which spanned close to a hundred systems. They had to be first. To keep the peace. He had to send him to meet with his oldest daughter Yamina, the one who held peace with Hasan.

            “I’m not sending him with Core.”

            Ares looked for surprise from Yung-Gi and saw none.  Rather, the monk’s long silence conveyed as much surprise as anything. Finally, “You know the consequences. This breaks the Treaty of Cestus. Not having your chief robot advisor with the Crown Prince on the Pilgrimage risks escalating things with them.”

            “Not all robots. Only the Inverters.”

            “That could be enough for the Isolationists to turn. And your hold on the Tribes is weak as it is. If a human rebellion breaks out and the robots rebel…it’s too much.”

            “I still have the Prolatorians. They’d never turn on the family.”

            “I agree, they’d never turn on the Draydens,” Yung-Gi conceded. “But even they couldn’t stand a war on multiple fronts. Your Majesty,” the Shingai advisor continued, “You can’t send him out alone.”

Ares sat down on his throne, paused. He looked intently at his longest advisor. “I never said I was sending him out alone. You’ll be joining him on the Pilgrimage.”