The epic space opera, the Legend of Galactic Heroes, is based on a series of novels and short stories written by Tanaka Yoshiki from 1988 to 2000. The novels have been published in Chinese and English, and there is (at present) no indication of an English-language publisher picking up this fantastic series.
The following English translation is entirely unofficial. The text was originally translated from Chinese to English by Peter Tan, and edited by Jeremy Naidus.
Iserlohn Fortress had fallen!
The bad news shook the entire Galactic Empire.
“Isn’t Iserlohn impenetrable?”
Minster of War Grand Admiral Enhrenberg said as he was sitting in front of his desk.
“Unbelievable. Could it be a misreport?”
Imperial Military Commander Grand Admiral Steinhoff said quietly. After the truth was confirmed, he was also speechless.
Even the usually unconcerned Kaiser Friedrich IV also ordered the Palace Minster to summon the State Minister Marquis Lichtenlade to the palace and explain the situation.
“The Imperial territories cannot be taken by outsiders. That’s the implacable truth. But today, such a tragic event had happened and disturbed your Majesty. It was caused by your subjects’ carelessness. We are deeply ashamed.”
The Marquis’ explanation had spread through out the Capital.
“It is a bizarre argument, Kircheis.”
Inside his Grand Admiral office, Count Lohengramm said to his best friend.
“Imperial territories couldn’t lose any lands to ‘outsider’ invasion? Since when did the rebels become an equal positioned outsider? Because they cannot face this truth, therefore such paradox had occurred.”
Rheinhard, after building the Grand Admiral mansion and took half of the Imperial fleets under his command, had to take time to fill his personnel positions everyday.
Basically, he used low royalties or non-royal young officers and had caused the average age of his first line commanders to be drastically reduced. Young officers like Wolfgang Mittermeyer, Oskar von Reuenthal, Karl Gustav Kempf, Fritz Josef Bittenfeld, etc. had become new commanders. The Grand Admiral mansion was filled with vibrant air of youth.
But in these few days, Rheinhard always felt like missing something. He had brave and tactical front line commanders but still couldn’t find anyone for the Staff Council position.
Rheinhard didn’t have any hope for those high-grades, royal blooded, staff councilors from the Military Academy since he knew military ability wasn’t something that could be developed from education. He himself was an example. Without a doubt, natural talented soldiers would become the school’s best but the opposite might not be true.
Kircheis couldn’t be appointed to the Staff Council position. As his best friend, when he temporarily managed Rheinhard’s position, he needed to command the whole fleet. But Rheinhard needed someone to discuss the situation of the big picture and some help to plan general strategies.
A few days ago, during the Kastrop System upheaval, Rheinhard made Kircheis his personal agent to suppress it. That was intended to let Kircheis to create his own legend and a means to let everyone to recognize him as Rheinhard Corps’ sub-commander.
So Rheinhard asked the Prime Minister/State Minister, Marquis Lichtenlade to write a special order for Kircheis.
At first, Marquis Lichtenlade wasn’t comfortable doing this. He feared Rheinhard’s power would grow too big therefore thought to reject this suggestion. But his assistant didn’t see it that way.
“Isn’t this a good thing? Rear Admiral Kircheis is Count Lohengramm’s close confidant. If he succeeds, then we can reward him and get a good favor from the Count. That would be very useful later. If he fails, then that would be Count Lohengramm’s fault for choosing him. We just have to repeat the order for the Count to personally quell this disturbance. And then even if he succeeds, his subordinate had lost before, so the Count couldn’t say that it was his merit.”
“So it is not bad.”
The Marquis consented and gave Kircheis the special order to crusade against Kastrop. The Marquis had no idea that Rheinhard secretly bribed the assistant and told him to suggest that.
So Kircheis took the special order. As for Imperial soldiers, this represented a high honor and position, but that was only on the outside. Kircheis must prove he is fit for this honor and position by achieving true military merits.
Kastrop System upheaval was caused as follows:
This year, Duke of Kastrop accidentally died when using a spaceship in his private residence. He was a royalty and had the power to tax the populace. In the fifteen years of holding important government position, he was the Finance Minister. In that period, he used his position and crazily gathered wealth using whatever means. Although, many times he was involved in other people’s infamous wrongful convictions, but the law against royalties was lax and even when he couldn’t get rid of the guilty sentence, he cunningly used his power and wealth to avoid the intended penalties.
At the time, the Law Minster Marquis Rukeper sarcastically said his tactics as “exquisite magic”. Even the same positioned royalties felt his uncontrollable use of power was too much. As a pillar for the Empire, if he doesn’t follow some of the civil servant guidelines, common people’s resentment toward high positioned officials, could very well be turned to untrusting the whole system.
Duke of Kastrop’s death, to both Imperial Finance and Law departments, was very good news. This was a chance to humiliate him and let the common people known that even high royalties were not above the law. Beside that, it could also serve to restrain those “Little Kastrops” within the royalties. So they must show the Imperial law’s dignity. Even more so, Duke of Kastrop’s hoarding of public funds and bribes must be a huge sum of money. If they could be returned it to the treasury, the hard-pressed finance department would get a break from the military costs.
In all these years, there were people suggesting to tax the royalties, but doing this would change Kaiser Rudolf’s guiding fundamentals and it could cause rebellions or revolutions. But if this only applies to Duke Kastrop then the voices of opposition royalties would be lessened.
When the Finance department’s investigation official went to the Kastrop System, an awkward situation occurred.
Duke of Kastrop had a son named Maximillan. After his father died, he asked the Prime Minster to get the Kaiser’s agreement of inheritance so he can take over his father’s dukeship and his possessions. But because of the investigation, Marquis Lichtenlade deferred the inheritance proceeding so that after the Finance department’s investigation, the Empire can take back the deceased Kastrop’s unlawful possessions, and let the rest be the inheritance.
Maximillian opposed this. He already possessed the greedy nature of a high-positioned royalty, but he didn’t have the political power that his father possessed. During the investigation period, he even let loose his hunting dogs to chase way the Finance Department’s investigation official. And these hunting dogs had been DNA manipulated so that they had a sharp horn growing on top of their heads.
This unimaginative youth seemed not to realize that he just slapped the prestige-valued Imperial government, and the Imperial government would not forgive such insolence.
The second investigator was similarity driven away. The Finance Minister asked the Prime Minister to summon Maximillian to the palace.
When he received the severe worded summon, Maximillian finally knew he had cause a problem with his actions from before. But due to his inability to judge, he became terrified. He thought that if he went to the Imperial Capital, he would never come back again. So he didn’t reply to the summon.
Many of Duke Kastrop’s relatives tried to intervene to help him, but that only worsen Maximillian’s suspicions.
One of his close relatives, a well known highly praised gentleman and a guy who held title of count but held territory a size of a principality , count of Mariendorf, Franz tried to persuade him but was instead jailed. A peaceful solution wasn’t available anymore. The crazed Maximillian used his guards as the center and privately build up armaments. The Imperial government decided to suppress this development.
Maximillian defeated the first suppression fleet under Imperial Commander Huumd in the same time as the Astate System battle.
The socially unqualified Maximillian had some talent in military affairs. The first suppression fleet also had underestimated the enemy and attacked without a battle plan. The suppression fleet was attacked when it tried to force land and Commander Huumd died.
The second suppression fleet also failed. Maximillian used this situation and attempted to take over nearby count Mariendorf’s territory so he could create a half independent regional empire on the corner of the Empire. The leader of Mariendorf, Franz, was still in Maximillian’s jail, but the Count Mariendorf’s experienced guard fleet successfully defended Maximillian’s invasion and asked for assistance from Odin.
So Kircheis was ordered to suppress this rebellion and he pacified this half-year rebellion in only ten days.
First, Kircheis faked his movements as if coming to Mariendorf’s territory. After the enemy believed it, he turned around and went to Kastrop’s territory. Maximillian, feared the safety of his home territory, immediately removed his encirclement and hurriedly tried to go back to Kastrop’s territory. And so, the threat to Mariendorf’s territory was removed. But, Kircheis moved to attack Kastrop’s territory was a feint.
Maximillian, in his fear for his territory’s safety, had left his rear guard down. Kircheis hid his fleet in a small planetoid belt and surprise attacked the rear of Maximillian’s fleet, which inflicted heavy casualties.
Maximillian escaped but was killed by his subordinates who hoped for a lighter sentence. All survivors surrendered.
The rebellion of Kastrop was eliminated easily. Although the whole pacification took ten days, six days were used just for travel from the Imperial Capital. Two days were used to take care of business after the battle. The actual fighting only used two days.
In the battle, Kircheis displayed his extraordinary military talent. Rheinhard felt very satisfied. His commanders in the Grand Admiral mansion also were impressed. The royalties were shocked. Not just Rheinhard, but his subordinates also had brilliant skills were something they felt very unhappy about.
Military merit was military merit none a less. Kircheis was promoted to Vice Admiral and was awarded the golden “Double Eagle Medal”. Prime Minister Marquis Lichtenlade awarded this to Kircheis, praised his achievement, and reminded him to thank his Majesty and continue to serve the Empire with utmost loyalty.
Kircheis knew exactly what happened behind the scenes about this rebellion, so he felt extremely bored with Marquis Lichtenlade’s reminders. Of course he didn’t show that on the outside.
To display utmost loyalty to the Kaiser, in Kircheis’ reasoning, was absolutely irrelevant. The funny thing was, the person who robbed his object of utmost loyalty and forcefully kept her, was the Kaiser Friedrich IV himself. He didn’t fight all of his battles for the Empire, or the Imperial family, or the Kaiser.
In truth, this red haired and tall Ziegfried Kircheis had court admirers from Duke daughters to servant girls, but he didn’t felt any of it. If he felt it, he would probably felt puzzled.
So, as Rheinhard and Kircheis slowly confirmed their positions, a half white, half black haired Captain Oberstein appeared before them.
I need a Staff Councilor – Rheinhard’s desire became even stronger.
The kind of Staff Councilor that he wanted wasn’t a complete military talent. If so, then Rheinhard and Kircheis were enough already. What he needed was a talent with more political strategies. Later when he would face those royalties, all kinds of dark struggles and conflicts would occur, Rheinhard thought. Kircheis wasn’t this type of consultant attitudes and his way of thinking.
Rheinhard looked at the unarmed man who walked into his office and found his name in his head. There weren’t any reasons or events that would make him feel better about this man.
“You are Captain Oberstein? What can I do for you?”
“First, I need to talk to you alone.”
The seemed egotistic and unwanted guest made a request.
“There are only three persons here.”
“You want to say something but don’t want him to hear? But if I told him later, the result will be same, isn’t it?”
“That is your liberty. But sir, if you want to achieve greatness then you will need different talents. To be able to see talented people, I think that is needed …..”
Kircheis looked at Rheinhard with a bit of apprehension: “Grand Admiral Sir, maybe I should wait in the adjoining room …..”
Rheinhard nodded as he considered it. After Kircheis left, Oberstein revealed his true intention.
“Sir, I’m currently in a difficult position. I believe you know that …..”
“Escapee from Iserlohn will naturally get punished. Even Commander Seeckt sacrificed himself dramatically!” Rheinhard answered coldly.
“In a normal commander’s view, I’m only a despicable escapee. But sir, I also have my own reasons. I hope you can listen to what I say.”
As Iserlohn Guardian fleet’s sole survivor, Oberstein, would face punishment just because he was the sole survivor. He didn’t correct his commanding officer’s mistake and escaped alone. The other reason was because Iserlohn was lost and they needed someone to take all the blame.
After hearing Rheinhard’s cold reply, Oberstein suddenly put his finger into his right eye. After a bit, he put down his hand and his eye socket was emptied. He showed his ball shaped artificial eye in front of this young Grand Admiral.
“Please look at this, Sir.”
“I think Vice Admiral Kircheis must have told you. Both of my eyes are artificial. If it was in Kaiser Rudolf’s time, I would be killed as a child under his ‘Inferior DNA Elimination Act’.”
After placing his fake eye back into the eye socket, Oberstein looked at Rheinhard deeply.
“Do you understand? I hate Kaiser Rudolf and his descendents and everything they had created ….. which is the Galactic Empire’s royal Goldenbaum’s family.”
“It is too daring an opinion.”
The young Grand Admiral felt a claustrophobic like feeling. This man’s eyes can oppress others – or did it contain oppression agents? The young Grand Admiral started to feel an illogical uncertainty.
Although Oberstein talked quietly, the details struck the sound proof room like a huge and explosive thunder.
“The Galactic Empire! No, the royal Goldenbaum family must be destroyed. I wanted to do this with my own hands but I don’t have that kind of power. What I can do is to help a new leader to appear and that is you, Imperial Grand Admiral, Count Lohengramm.”
Rheinhard could almost hear the cracklings in this just electrified atmosphere.
As he stood up, he called his best friend’s name. The wall opened and the red haired strong youth appeared. Rheinhard then pointed at Oberstein.
“Kircheis, arrest Captain Oberstein immediately. As an Imperial soldier, he said profane and traitorous words about the Empire. It is unforgivable.”
Oberstein’s artificial eye glowed brightly. The red haired young officer quickly used his right hand and took out his pistol which aimed at the heart. From the time in the academy, his shooting skill was unsurpassed. Even if Captain Oberstein was holding a pistol and attempted to defend, it would be useless.
“So you are also this kind of person …..” Oberstein said disappointedly. Disappointment and self-mockery covered his already pale white face. “Then, you just use Vice Admiral Kircheis as your only confidant and walk that narrow path of yours!”
It was a half acting, half truthful reply. Then he looked at Kircheis after he looked at the silent Rheinhard.
“Vice Admiral Kircheis, can you really shoot me? I am unarmed and can you still shoot?”
Rheinhard didn’t continue his order. Kircheis stilled aimed at him and wondered if he should add a little more pressure on the trigger.
“You couldn’t shoot me? You are this kind of a person. Although that is to be respected, it isn’t enough to do great things. Have light then have shadow ….. But the young Count Lohengramm perhaps still hadn’t understood it?”
Rheinhard looked at Oberstein and at the same time signaled Kircheis to put his pistol down. His emotion also had become subtle.
“You really dare to speak like this.”
“You have the ability to inspire loyalty in your subordinates.”
Oberstein answered calmly. He knew that his gamble had been won.
“All right, I will buy you from the royalties.”
Minister of War, Grand Military Commander, Space Fleet Commander – these three positions were Imperial military top three military positions. An example of one person who took all three positions, in about a century, would be the former Imperial Heir Otfried.
He also was the Imperial Prime Minister. After that, the Prime Minister wasn’t a formal title anymore but was managed by the State Minister.
When Otfried as the Imperial Heir, he had the ability and the fame, but after he became Kaiser Otfried III, his suspicions became increasingly problematic as court plots happened one after another. He changed the Kaiserine four times and his Imperial Heir five times. Then he was so afraid to get poisoned that he didn’t eat much and died due to being too weak in his forties.
“All of you don’t deny responsibility. This honesty is commendable, but if all of your top positions are vacated, I’m afraid that at least one position will be given to Count Lohengramm! You don’t want him to get a promotion for what you did, right? Since all of you have no finance difficulties, how about I just deduct one year of your salary as a punishment?”
Grand Admiral Steinhoff smiled weakly after State Minister’s question and replied: “We did thought about that, but we are soldiers. If because of this, we are labeled as power grabbers who won’t quit, it will break the tradition. Then that will be regrettable …. So please accept these.”
Marquis Lichtenlade had no choice but to go to the palace and gave Kaiser Friedrich IV the three senior officers resignations.
After the weakly looked Kaiser listened to the State Minister’s report, he ordered his attendants to summon Rheinhard from his Grand Admiral manor. Although this can be achieved using TV phone, this ceremonial summon was one of must have formalities for the Galactic Empire’s Kaiser.
After Rheinhard arrived, the Kaiser gave him the three resignation letters to let the young Grand Admiral to look at. Then he asked him in a gift-choosing child tone which position he wanted. Rheinhard looked one time at the State Minister then said: “It is not something I can choose as I didn’t achieve any merit to warrant such a top position. The loss of Iserlohn Fortress was because Commander Seeckt and Stockhausen’s negligence. Commander Seeckt used his death as his apology while the other is in the enemy’s prison. I believe no one else should be made responsible. Do not punish these senior officers. I beg your Majesty to reconsider.”
“Oh, you are not selfish?”
The Kaiser was a little surprised and looked at the equally surprised State Minister.
“Since the Count said so, what is the State’s Minister opinion?”
“….. the young Count can have such a view, I admire deeply. I also feel that due to these three senior officers’ services to the Empire, they should be forgiven.”
“So both of you said so, then I will not give them harsh punishment. But still, there should be some kind of punishment …..”
“Your Majesty, how about this? We can stop giving them salaries for one year and used the money for those relatives of deceased soldiers as a relief fund.”
“All right then. The State Minister will take care of the details. Nothing more to report?”
“Then both of you can go now. I have to go to the greenhouse to take care of my roses.”
Both of them left the palace.
Five minutes later, one of them quietly came back. Since he was slightly running, the seventy-five years old Marquis Lichtenlade needed to control his breathing pattern. As he got close to Kaiser’s rose garden, he had recovered.
Within the multi-colored and fragrant roses, the Kaiser stood like an old tree in the middle. The old royalty walked closer and knelt before him.
“Your Majesty, I’m terrified …..”
“What is it?”
“Before reporting this, I fear it would cause your Majesty’s disfavor.”
“Is it about Count Lohengramm?”
The Kaiser’s voice was emotionless.
“You probably will say again that I had given Annerose’s brother too much power and position?”
“Your Majesty already known?”
The Kaiser’s surprisingly clear and meaningful words astonished the State Minister.
“You think he is bold and reckless, and will not just be satisfied by the power of his current, already high, position. Perhaps, he is even thinking about usurp the throne?”
“Your Majesty is wise! I also have such fear …..”
“Isn’t that a good thing?”
“The Goldenbaum dynasty didn’t begin in the dawn of mankind’s history. Just like there are no people who do not die, there are no countries that will not be destroyed. If I can witness the death of Galactic Empire in my time, it won’t be something that bad now, is it?”
The Kaiser laughed dryly which made the State Minister tremble, like just fell into an endless dark pit. Deep in his soul, the State Minister felt a bone-chilling cold.
“Either way, it will be destroyed …..”
The Kaiser’s voice was like a comet’s unlucky tail.
“So let it be destroyed in a grand fashion.”
Under the unhappy circumstance, the three senior officers had no choice but to accept Rheinhard’s favor. On the second day, Rheinhard ask to forgive Paul von Oberstein’s punishment for the loss of Iserlohn and to transfer him to work in his Grand Admiral manor. They had no reason and was unable to reject this due to the previous favor and they also felt they had received “His Majesty, the Kaiser’s” forgiveness, so it would be inappropriate to give out harsh punishments to others. It was no big deal as Oberstein was only a captain. So Oberstein got a satisfied arrangement.
About how Rheinhard actively chose not to promote to the top positions of the Imperial military, many opinions were passed around the court.
“He is selfless!”
“What? He was just acting!”
The numbers of the two opposite views were half and half.
No matter what they say, Rheinhard didn’t care. The three top positions could be gotten at anytime. Let those old guys temporarily borrow them. Anyway, these positions were only a small step in his destination.
Kircheis felt uneasy these few days.
“What is it Kircheis? You look like you have something to tell me?”
“You already know so why need to ask me?”
“Don’t be angry. It is about Oberstein right? I also thought maybe those royalties sent him, but he is not the type of person to take orders from them. He is intelligent but eccentric.”
“Then will he take orders from Rheinhard?”
Rheinhard tiled his head slightly. His gorgeous hair tiled as well.
“It is like this ….. I don’t hope that I will get friendship or loyalty from him. He is just using me to achieve his own goals.”
As he was saying, he used his fingers and patted his friend’s ruby colored hair. He often did that when there was no one around. In his youth, when he and Kircheis had a slight discord, which won’t last very long, he would say “What! Like bloodied hair”. When they reconciled, he would say, “looks good just like burning fire.” So it all depended on Rheinhard’s emotion.
“….. So I need to use his mind. His motives are not important. If I can’t even control a person like him, then there is no hope in controlling the universe. Isn’t that right?”
Politics is not about course of events or institutions, but results. Rheinhard thought.
The reason that he hated Kaiser Rudolf was not because he claimed Galactic Federation, or became a Kaiser, but the way that he used his enormous power in a stupid, self-glorifying way. If he could use this power appropriately, perhaps he would contribute to the advancement of human civilization limitlessly! Or mankind wouldn’t need to waste effort in conflicting political battles and spread its influence to all corners of this galaxy. In truth, even if combine the Empire and the so-called “Free Planets Alliance” rebels together, it only covered a fifth of this galaxy.
So Rudolf was mostly responsible for hindering human history to advance forward with his intolerance. What kind of living god was he? If he was a god, then he was a sick god!”
To destroy the old system, a new order must have strong political and military power. But he will not take the same road as Rudolf. Even if he becomes the Kaiser, he won’t just pass his throne to his children.
Rudolf blindly followed and trusted his blood and hereditary traits, but the truth was proven that hereditary traits couldn’t be trusted. Rheinhard’s father isn’t talented nor is he great. He didn’t even have any independent living skills or thinking. He sold his beautiful daughter to the Kaiser and lived in a drunken dream and luxurious way. Seven years ago, he died from too much drinking and sex. Rheinhard didn’t even shed a tear for him. When he saw his sister’s face had a crystal-like tear, he felt bad for him, but that was just for his sister’s sake.
The proof of hereditary traits could not be trusted was also the current condition of the royal Goldenbaum family. Who could have thought that within the weak body of Friedrich IV flowed the almighty blood of Kaiser Rudolf? Goldenbaum’s royal blood already was weakened.
Friedrich IV had nine brothers and sisters and they are all dead. Friedrich IV impregnated, beside the Kaiserine, sixteen royal concubines for a total of twenty eight times. There were six miscarriages, nine stillbirths. In the thirteen that were born, four died in the first year, five died in the teen years, and two died after the teen years. There were only two princesses alive today, Duke Braunschweig’s wife, Annamarie, and Marquis Littenheim’s wife Christine. They both married powerful royalties but they all born just one daughter. Also, the child from the former Imperial Heir and the royal family’s only son, Erwin Joseph, is only five years old. So he hasn’t been declared as the Imperial Grandson Heir yet.
Friedrich IV was responsible for all the decadence of the court and in Rheinhard’s eyes, he was only an object of his hatred and disdain. But there were still two points which make him temporarily tolerated his existence. One was that there were a few favorite royal concubines died in childbirth, so the Kaiser, out of this fear, didn’t let Annerose to get pregnant. Of course if she did born a son then the other royalties would fear about a right to inherit the throne conflict. For Rheinhard, if his sister born a child with that awful Kaiser, it would be a kind of insufferable shame!
The other point was that the people with a right to inherit the throne were very few, only a total of three people. If he could eliminate them then it would be fine. Or, marry one of Kaiser’s granddaughter was another way since it would only be a formality.
No matter what, Oberstein will have his uses. That man, with his dark passion and obstinate will can take care of any plots from the royal family or other royalties. He probably won’t hesitate to kill children or women, right? Perhaps Kircheis felt this unknowingly, therefore disliked him. But for me, he is a very necessary and talented person.
To use the talent of a person like Oberstein may make sister Annerose and Kircheis feel unhappy ….. But, it has to be done.
The leader of autonomy of Phezzan, Rubinsky, in his residence was listening to his assistant’s report about economical strategies.
“Space Mining Inc is our autonomy government’s puppet company in the Free Planets Alliance. This time, it has gotten the mining rights for Baalat System’s seventh and eighth planet. We can mine about 48 million cubic kilometers of solid gas and will get our investment back in two years.”
After saw Rubinsky’s nod, he continued to report.
“Also, we own 41.9% of the Alliance’s biggest stellar transport enterprise ‘Santa Clause’ Aviation Company. Since our stockholders had twenty names, the Alliance intelligence agency hadn’t discovered it. Our total stock percentage is greater than the biggest stockholder National Investing Company.”
“Very good. We cannot lax before we own more than 50% of its stock.”
“Of course! On the Imperial side, we had begun to invest on the plan for eleventh border star system’s agriculture. This plan is to transport 20 million tons of Eigenpeiz’s second planet’s water to eight dry planets to increase agriculture production by five billion servings.”
“Our government’s three puppet companies had dominating 84% stake. Also, there is a report on our radium factory on a backward planet …..”
After the report had finished, Rubinsky motioned the assistant to go. Then he looked at the beautiful barren view outside.
So far, so good. Whether it is the Empire or the Alliance, their leaders all think that war is just spaceships shooting subsonic missiles at each other. After these traditionalists destroy so much of each other, Phezzan will control both nations’ economic lifeline. Even now, Phezzan directly and indirectly purchased almost half of both nations’ war debts.
Then wherever humans exist, Phezzan will control its economy. The governments of the Empire and Alliance will just exist for Phezzan’s economical benefits and nothing more than puppets. Spend some more time and the final destination is only half a step away…..
But of course, political or military changes cannot be ignored. If the Empire or Alliance are unified under one strong power, then all of Phezzan’s current advantages will be meaningless. Perhaps then, history, such as an ancient mariner trading city bowing to a new unified empire’s military and political prowess, will repeat again …..
And then, the road to the final destination will be forever blocked. The birth of a new Galactic Empire must be stopped.
New Galactic Empire …..
This thought gave Rubinsky a fresh wave of nervousness.
The Galactic Empire’s Goldenbaum family is totally corrupt. To renew it is almost impossible now. Even if split into many small kingdoms, for a new order to arise will take at least a few centuries.
On the other hand, the Free Planets Alliance also lost their founding belief and mires in sloth. Economic and social developments are all stopped. This already caused widespread discontent among the populace and many quarrels about economical differences between different Alliance’s planets. As long as a strong leader does not emerge to rebuild its central power, these events will continue to go on.
Five centuries ago, that young, energetic, powerful, giant of a man Rudolf von Goldenbaum took over the infrastructures of the Galactic Federation and became an all-powerful Kaiser. He used legal manipulation to become a dictator. Can the same kind of event happen again? If just simply take over all government institutions, it will have an effect within a few short days. Even if using illegal means …..
Coup de’ etat ---- For those who have power or controls military, this is an ancient but effective take over strategy. Its charm is still irresistible.
Rubinsky pressed a button on his work desk and call in his assistant officer.
“Are you asking for any possibility of a coup within those two nations?” The assistant was surprised at his leader’s order. “I will investigate this immediately. Was there any urgent intelligence report that shows some possibilities?
“No really, I just suddenly thought of it. I just want to know if there can be any kind of possibility about this.”
As to those whose mind and spirit had been corrupted while forcefully occupy positions that do not suit their abilities are not a happy thing. But, the current system of the Empire and Alliance is still necessary to exist for the sake of Phezzan, Phezzan’s leader thought. At the least, it must wait until the day when the Empire and Alliance had no idea and Phezzan’s true goal is finally achieved…..
The Free Planets Alliance’s highest council was made from eleven council members. They were formed by the Speaker, Vice-Speaker/State Minister, Secretary, Defense Minister, Finance Minister, Natural Resource Minister, Human Resource Minister, Economic Development Minister, Regional Social Development Minister, and Intelligence Communication Minister. Right now, they were meeting in an office within a pearly walled skyscraper.
This meeting room had no windows and was surrounded by thick walls by other rooms like the Communication Room, File Management Room, Intelligence Room, Mechanical Room, and Guard Room.
Can this be called a democratic, politically transparent public location? The Finance Minister Juan Lebello thought as he said beside an eleven feet diameter round conference table. This kind of thinking didn’t started right now, but started every time as he walked from the corridor, full of infrared sensors, to this meeting room.
In today’s, Universal Calendar 796 August 6th, meeting, one of the topics to vote on was the military request to invade the Empire. It planned to use Iserlohn Fortress as a bridgehead. Young, top officers of the military suggested it directly to the council. To Lebello, this plan was a bit too radical.
When the meeting started, Lebello immediately spoke against this expansion of war. “Perhaps it is strange, to this day, the Galactic Empire and us were fighting barely within its economical limit. But …..”
Just the pension for relatives of the deceased soldiers from the Battle of Astate would cost 10 billion every year. Under this condition and expand the war, the nation’s finance and economy would inevitably go bankrupt. The current finance already was showing red.
Ironically, Yang also contributed to the financial difficulty. He took 500 thousand prisoners at Iserlohn. Just taking care of prisoner’s food was already a headache problem.
“To maintain a healthy finance, we can only choose one of the two old ways: increase the selling of national debts or raise taxes. There is no other way.”
“How about increase the money supply?” vice-speaker asked.
“You want to do this with no financial support? Then in a few more years, we will buy our products, not according to the amount printed on the money, but the weight of the money. I don’t want to leave an infamous name later as a ‘super inflation era’s incapable financer’!”
“If we cannot achieve victory in battle, then we will have no next year or tomorrow.”
“Then shouldn’t we stop this meaningless war?” Lebello spoke fiercely and the room was quieted. “We relied on Commander Yang’s strategy and got Iserlohn Fortress. The Imperials had lost their invasion stronghold. Don’t you think it is a good time, using this advantage, to get some peace?”
“But this is a righteous war against a monarchy. We cannot coexist with them. Just because we started to have financial difficulties, could we give up our glorious goal of liberating all of humanity?”
A few people started to rebuke.
A righteous war? Free Planets Alliance’s Finance Minister, Juan Lebello sadly put his hands together in front of his chest.
Great loss of lives, bankrupting government, improvished people. If to achieve this righteousness and must sacrifice these, then this kind of righteousness is like a greedy god with an insatiable appetite for sacrifices.
“Let us rest a bit first …..”
The speaker’s emotionless voice sounded.
After lunch, the meeting started again.
This time, the first to speak was Human Resource Minister, who was responsible for education, hiring, labor problems, social insurance, etc. Hwan Lewi. He was also against this plan.
“In the view of the Human Resource Minister …..” Hwan’s small body, strong voice, healthy skin, and short and nimble limbs, gave an energetic impression. “Talents that was supposed to used in economic development or social development were all used in military. This is not a good sign. Also, reduced education and professional career development grants are also troubling. Within the past six months, accidents in professional areas had increased three times. This is a result of labors’ decreased skill. I think the recent supply fleet accident that cost four hundred people’s lives and fifty tons of radium ores was indirectly caused by the shortening of civilian astronauts’ training time. Also due to smaller number of available astronauts, they are over burdened.”
“I officially suggest the releasing of at least four million technical, transportation, and communication personnel back into the civilian populace. This is the lowest figure.”
After looking around at every council member, Hwan’s eyes finally stopped at the Defense Minister, Trünicht, who furred his brow and answered.
“Don’t talk like that. If I release that many people from supply duties, the whole military organization would collapse.”
“But if this continues, the whole society and economy will collapse even faster than the military. Do you know what is average age of Capital’s living supplies management center personnel?”
“This age is nothing special …..?”
Hwan uncontrollably struck the desk.
“That is just an illusion! The number of personnel below twenty years of age and above seventy years of age is 80% of the total number. Averages them together, of course is forty-two. But the truth is that we are missing the thirty and forty years old middle ranks. Right now, our social system in software already has signs of deterioration. The truth is very terrible. I think all of the council members are aware of this.”
Hwan closed his mouth and looked at everyone again. Only Lebello looked back at him. Everyone else lowered their head in silence, intentionally avoided his glances, or looked at the ceiling.
Lebello continued right after.
“So you see, now is the time for the people to recover and rest. Iserlohn Fortress is ours. The Alliance should be able to stop Imperial invasions and hold them off for a long time. So we have no further reason to fight into the Empire”
“To sacrifice more of our citizens will be against our democratic principles and is an irresponsible, people burdening act.”
Opposition voice sounded from the council’s only female member, the Intelligence Communication Minister Cornelia Windsor. She had just taken the office a week ago.
“We don’t need to agree to those citizens with no big pictures thinking. In fact, in history, there weren’t any examples of achieving a great cause without sacrifices, right?”
“The citizens already starting to think this sacrifice is too big, Mrs. Windsor.”
Lebello tried to correct her, but to no avail.
“No matter how big the sacrifice, even if all the citizens are dead, we still have to do what we must.”
“This, this is not a political discussion anymore!”
Ignoring the loud voice of Lebello, Mrs. Windsor fluently told everyone of her idea.
“We have a majestic obligation to get rid of the Galactic Empire and liberate all of humanity from its tyrannical and menacing government. Is the attitude of intoxicating in lowly humanitarism and forget this majestic goal the way we march toward enlightenment?”
She was in her forties with a graceful and knowledgeable feature. She voice seemed like music dancing in the air but it made Lebello felt a potential danger is arising. Isn’t her foot also grabbed by the lowly ideal of foolish heroism?
When Lebello wanted to rebuke her, the long time silent Speaker Sanford spoke up for the first time.
“Here is a report. Everyone please look at the computer screen.”
Everyone was surprised, looked at the Speaker and followed his suggestion to look at the computer screen.
“This is our approval rating. It is not very good.”
31.9% which wasn’t too far apart from everyone’s expectation. It had only been a few days before Mrs. Windsor’s predecessor was accused of bribery and resigned. Just like Lebello and Hwan’s accusations, Free Planets Alliance’s social economical development was seriously bogged down.
“Here is the disapproval rating.”
They sighed at the 56.2%. Although it was expected, they still felt uncomfortable.
The Speaker looked at their reactions and continued. “If this goes on, we will not get reelected in next year’s election. We can predict that between the attacks from the dove idealists and the hawk idealists, we will lose over half of the votes. Everyone looked at this …..”
The Speaker’s voice suddenly was lowered. Whether it was intentional or not, it definitely grabbed all of his listeners’ attention.
“According to computer prediction, if we can achieve a decisive victory within 100 days against the Imperial military, the approval rating would raise at least fifteen points.”
The room was in an uproar.
“Let us vote on this plan now.”
A few people agreed with Mrs. Windsor. Everyone was thinking and measuring about issues of continuing to govern and losing an election, therefore maintained a period of silence.
Lebello stood up from his chair. His face looked old, spiritless, and white.
“We have no right. To maintain our power for the current government and send out troops for no real benefits, we have no such rights …..”
His voice shakily said.
“Forget it, don’t speak anymore of this pleasant talk.”
Mrs. Windsor’s cold laughter sounded across the room. Lebello silently took it and looked at these leaders as if they were using their own hands to dirty democracy.
Hwan sympathetically looked at Lebello’s vexed condition and said quietly. “Please everyone, think clearly and don’t be impatient.”
Then he started to press the voting button.
Six votes agreed, three against, and three abstain. The valid agree votes were two thirds, and so the decision of this offensive had been made.
The council members were surprised, not at the voting result, but at the third against vote. The Defense Minister Trünicht had cast it.
The other two against votes was cast by Finance Minister Lebello and Human Resource Minister Hwan which was expected, but wasn’t Trünicht a publicly known hawk?
“I am a patriot, but that doesn’t mean I will forever maintain my war policy. I hope everyone will remember my against vote for this offensive.”
Trünicht replied this to anyone querying his decision.
In the same day, Logistic Operation rejected the official resignation of Rear Admiral Yang Wenli and sent out an official notice of a Vice Admiral promotion.
“You are saying that you want retire?”
When Yang handed in his resignation, Fleet Admiral Sitolet wasn’t terribly surprised. But Yang also guessed that a one hand accepts the resignation, one hand gives out the retirement compensation and pension situation would not happen. Therefore, he didn’t have any high hopes. He could only nod when he heard the Fleet Admiral’s question.
“But you are only thirty years old right?”
Yang intentionally emphasized the word “twenty”.
“You are not even at a third of the medical lifespan of thirty and wants to go down the stage of life? Isn’t it too early?”
“Chief, that is not correct.”
The young commander objected. He wasn’t going down the stage of life. He was returning to the original path of his life. Before he was forced to go down a path that he didn’t intend to go. Now, compare to a history creator, he rather be a history observer.
Fleet admiral Sitolet habitually crossed both hands together and put his strong chin on top of it.
“Our military needs your talent in strategy and tactics, not your knowledge in historic research. That point is very important.”
Didn’t you already instigated me once before? Yang retorted in his heart. He thought that he already paid too much for the military loan that started from his academy years.
Just taking over Iserlohn is already an excessive task.
Yang was thinking about that, but Fleet admiral Sitolet still had one trump card.
“What about the Thirteenth Fleet?”
This lightly phrased sentence packed incredible persuasive effectiveness and caused Yang opened his mouth slightly and begun to feel a headache.
“’YOUR’ fleet was setup recently. If you retire, what about them?”
It was his fault for forgetting this point. He had no choice but to agree that he just lost this “battle”. This entangled and complex tie would not be easy to untie.
Yang left his resignation with the chief but he knew that it wouldn’t get accepted. He looked distracted as he rode the elevator back to the lobby.
Julian Minz, sitting in the sofa in the lobby, was looking at all the uniformed people when he saw Yang from afar. It was Yang who wanted him come directly to Logistic. Sometimes eating out was pretty good too. Also Yang originally wanted to tell him about his decision to retire from the military and would start an easy and happy life of retirement to surprise him.
But the original plan didn’t work. The sweet dream was blow away with a sigh of reality. What should I say later? Yang walked as he thought. A familiar voice sounded right next to him.
Walter von Schonkopf was saluting him. He was promoted to commodore for the recent merit.
“Sir, did you go hand in your resignation?”
“I did! But, it looks it will get rejected.” Yang forced a smile.
“Maybe ….. The military will not let you go this easily.” This former old royal Imperial captain happily looked at Yang. “Truthfully, I also hope that some one like the commander can stay in the military! You have a knack in correct judgment, cool in handling things, and also lucky. Even if following you won’t get any merits, at least the chance of survival is higher than others.”
Schonkopf openly evaluated his superior.
“I decided that my final destination in life is to die old. Perhaps I’ll live 150 years. When I’m too old, then I’ll die to relieve a burden for my grandson or grand grandson’s so that they’ll cry happily for that ….. Brave and honorable death doesn’t fit my character. So please, no matter what, let me live until that time!”
After he finished, he saluted once more and smiled at the previous defensive Yang.
“Sorry, I took too much of your time. Look, the little runt can’t wait any longer!”
Both Caselnes and Schonkopf liked to be sarcastic, but perhaps Julian had some special scent on his body which made them able to express good feelings plainly.
Looking at Julian who is walking side by side with him, Yang felt some puzzlement. Strange, the unmarried him can experience a father-like emotion …..
March Rabbit Gazebo was a restaurant that had a more relaxing atmosphere than its name had suggested. The furnishings were all according to ancient history. Yang especially liked that hand-made table clothed table. It even had a lighted candle. But he forgot to reserve a table, which could be done easily with a TV phone call, therefore the lucky leprechaun wasn’t with him this night.
“I’m sorry, the restaurant is full at the moment.”
The old but courteous waiter said. When looking at the not so big space, it was easy to understand that the waiter wasn’t lying to try to get a tip first. Under the dimmed lights, all the tables had candles lighted. A table without any customers would have no lighted candle.
“Oh well, looks like we have to find another place …..”
Yang cannot help but scratched his head. At this time, a woman stood up from a corner table. Her white colored cloth combined with the illumination of candlelight created a dream-like effect.
After hearing someone had called. Yang slowed down. His smiling Staff Assistant, Frederica Greenhill came into his view.
“I also has time to wear civilian cloth ….. My father said, if you don’t mind, you can join us at our table.”
Didn’t know when, his father suddenly appeared behind her.
“Oh, Vice Admiral Yang.”
Logistic chief Admiral Dwight Greenhill smoothly called him. Although in his heart, Yang didn’t like to dine with his superiors, this invitation couldn’t be resisted.
“I’m a Rear Admiral, Sir!”
As he saluted, Yang corrected, but the other didn’t mind.
“Next week you will be a Vice Admiral. So you should try to get use to get called as a Vice Admiral.”
“It’s Great! Is what you wanted to tell me?”
Julian’s eyes flashed.
“I did guessed about this but to know about it now still makes me feel happy!”
“Ha ha ha …..”
Using simple laughter to cover his complex emotions, Yang recovered his spirit and introduced the Greenhills to the person under his guardianship.
“So you are the whiz kid Julian ….. Wasn’t you the youth flyball competition’s gold medallist? How great!”
Flyball was a sport under 0.15G gravity. Although it was about throwing a ball into a high speed, non regular moving basket, but the air control of the ball, or the slow turnaround to control the ball, looked like a special dance that partnered with the athlete’s character to show its beauty or explosiveness. It was a very popular sport.
This irresponsible guardian looked at the youth surprisingly. A little red faced, Julian nodded.
“Perhaps the only one who didn’t know this is Commander Yang. Julian is famous in this city.”
Frederica’s light sarcastic remark made Yang’s face bright red.
They ordered food and three cups of year 760 red wine and one cocktail to celebrate Julian’s gold medal. Then the food came.
Just as all the food was brought to the table, Admiral Greenhill suddenly raised an unexpected question.
“Oh yes. Yang, do you have any plans to get marry yet?”
Yang and Frederica’s knife made a loud noise on their dinning plates.
“Yes, I want to wait until peace comes!”
Frederica still didn’t say a word and continued to use her fork and knife, but her motion was a bit stiff. Julian was very carefully and interestingly looking at his guardian.
“I have a friend who died leaving a fiancé. Every time I thought about this, it made me think …..”
He was talking about Captain Lapp who died in the Battle of Astate. Admiral Greenhill nodded and changed the subject.
“You know Jessica Edwards right? Last week, she became a council member in an election of the Planet Tecumseh.
Just like Fleet Admiral Sitolet, Admiral Greenhill also seemed to know how to create surprises.
“Looks like she was supported by anti-war groups.”
“Yes, of course she is taking attacks from the pro-war groups …..”
“Like that ‘Patriotic Knights Corps’?”
“Patriotic Knights Corps? They are only a bunch of clowns. Not need to be discussed much, isn’t it? ….. This salad jam tastes not bad.”
“I also feel the same.”
Yang was replying to the taste of salad jam.
Yang was thinking about Jessica Edwards in a computer controlled, unmanned taxi on the way home.
“I often wanted to ask those people who wielded power, where are you now? At the same time when our soldiers were send to certain death, where were they and what were they doing?”
That was a highlight in Jessica’s speech. Yang thought about the time, at the ceremony after the Battle of Astate. Even the sophist Defense Minister Trünicht couldn’t resist her severe accusations. For that, she must have taken all of pro-war groups’ hatred and hostilities on to herself? She chose a path even more difficult than the Iserlohn Corridor …..
Yang couldn’t help but began to fear her safety.
The unmanned taxi suddenly stopped. It shouldn’t be possible. This kind of car wouldn’t give human body unnecessary inertia as long as the management system was functioning correctly. Perhaps something had happened?
After opening the door, Yang walked in the street. A blue uniformed police went by and recognized Yang’s face. He first said some exiting words about meeting a hero, and then he said what had happened.
The reason was the city’s traffic communication management center’s computer had a glitch.
“And this glitch is?”
“The detail isn’t clear. It could be during the data input, a human error had occurred. Recently all kinds of professions lacked skilled workers. This isn’t that uncommon.”
The policeman smiled. Then he winked at Julian and faked a serious pose.
“This isn’t some joke. Just because of that, this area’s entire traffic system will be down for four hours. Moving road and magnetic floating road all cannot work at the moment.”
He dared to behave in such an amazing attitude. Perhaps he felt proud to answer the Hero of Iserlohn! Yang felt strange but didn’t laugh. From this event and the policeman’s words, he understood the truth of the situation and it made him felt a chill. Social management system continued to deteriorate. Although the negative impact of the war was more quite than the march of the demons, it was truly eroding the entire society.
Julian looked at him and asked.
“Commander, what do we do now?”
“No choice. We can only walk now!” Yang swiftly replied. “Sometimes, walking is not bad too. Perhaps we only need one hour to get there. It is a good exercise.”
But the policeman objected to his decision.
“How can I let that the Hero of Iserlohn walk? Let me prepare a car or magnetic floating car so I can drive you!”
“If only treating me special, I will feel embarrassed.”
“Please don’t be so polite.”
“No, sometimes being polite is good.”
Yang tried his best to talk flatly. He needed to use great effort so his unhappiness wouldn’t be detected in his voice or on his expression.
“Let’s go Julian.”
The youth happily replied, but after a few steps. His agile footsteps suddenly stopped. Yang looked back, confused.
“What Julian? You don’t like to walk?”
The words’ ending was mixed with a little unhappiness. Yang’s voice seemed to be a little sharper than normal.
“No, not at all.”
“Then, why aren’t you following me?”
“That’s the opposite direction!”
Yang froze for a second, and then turned around. Self-comforting words like “a Space Fleet Commander like me just have to not get confused about the direction of the fleet’s heading” wasn’t said. In truth, sometimes he really would lose confidence. Therefore, Yang gave high praises to second commander Fischer’s supremely accurate result of fleet movements.
Motionless magnetic floating cars constructed a long car line. Clueless people walked all over the roads. Within them, two people leisurely walked by.
“Commander, the stars are so beautiful!”
Julian looked at the sky and said. Millions of stars mixed with different colors flashed intermittently as if proving that an atmosphere existed on this planet.
Everyone wants to use their hands to capture their own star, but no one knows where is the star that is meant for them. What about me, Yang Wenli? Can I find my star? Will I be lost in them? Or Will I find the wrong one?
“Commander.” Julian said.
“What is it?”
“Right now, the commander and I were just looking at the same star! Look, that big blue star …..”
“Hm. That star is …..”
“What is the name?”
“Yeah, what is the name? …..”
If he could take out the thread of memory one by one, maybe he could find an answer? But Yang was not used to do this. He was thinking at that time, the youth beside him doesn’t need to look at the same star as him.
People should grab the star that is meant for them, even if that is a ill-fated star…..