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 throne 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.
“I’ve had my fill of it. I was born in it, the longest war our family’s ever had with the tribes.”
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. All the heavens belonging 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 Lyrna 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 the tenuous peace with the robots continued. 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 soon 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 Kira, the one who held peace with Hasan.
“I’m not sending him with Core.”
If Yung-Gi was surprised, he hid it well, his long silence conveying 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 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.”