Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 18: Cain by Name
November 19, 2016, 00:11
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel, Writing | Tags: ,

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As I sat down for dinner one night – I say ‘night’ because on board the ‘Sword of Dumgoyach” we followed a notional Earth twenty four hour day – Brianna asked me if I had seen the documentary ‘Who Is Cain’. I replied that I had, but that was over a century ago.

“It was released nearer three centuries ago,” said Brian, “but the Imperial Channel has it On Demand at the moment.”

“Oh damn, it caused me all sorts of problems before.”

“It’ll be worse this time,” Brianna smiled, “it’s gone out with the original date stamp. Oh and the links gone viral.”

“Could be very useful.” Brian added, “People fear what they don’t understand, add in a measure of danger and a curse and you’ve got a psychological weapon.”

“Yeah, do the voice!” Demanded Tommy Ireland.

“What voice?” I asked, they all smiled.

“Introduce yourself.” Tommy replied.

“I am Cain!”

“Fucking hell!” Exclaimed Jackson “That could make me shit myself and I know you! What with the hundreds of people the program said you’ve killed you are one scary dude.”

“It’s less than one a year!”

“But over how many years?” Asked Jackson.

“Well yes, there is that.”

Isha Malhotra asked, “Are you really as old as they say you are?”

“What do you think?”

“The program had photos and paintings from Earth.”

I smiled, “Lets just say I go back before photography.”

“Before farming!” Added Brianna.

“So you really are that old!” Exclaimed Isha. “I’d love to run some tests on you!”

“It’s already been done and all they found was that I’m as human as anybody else.
They wanted to dissect me fortunately the New Zion Zealots broke me out of the research station because they considered it blasphemous for humans to prevent God’s curse being fulfilled. It’s about the only time religion’s done me any favours.

The only problem is the amount of time I had to spend with them telling them about the birth of Israel. The problem I was travelling elsewhere and so all I could do was to retell the stories I had heard as if I’d been there. The good thing about fanatics is that they’ll believe anything that confirms their prejudices whatever they may be. I have found that a familiarity with the myths and legends of different cultures can be very useful when people discover my identity.

I think the strangest reactions to my identity have come from the Cybertrons. I would have expected them to be the most eager to dismantle me to see how I worked, but far from it. I only fell into their hands once. They ran the usual tests and reviewed the documentary evidence and concluded I was an anomaly. I expected them to kill me. However the Machine’s position was that because my existence made no sense according to scientific logic they could just dismiss the old tales as myths and me as a charlatan. I have ever since followed the machines advice and not advertised my identity. Of course that was lifetimes ago, the Cybertrons seem to treat me with more caution these days and as long as the Machine’s injunction to leave me alone stands I think I have little to fear from that direction.”

“I’m not sure any of us have much to fear these days,” responded Brian, “the Cybertrons seem to keep to themselves. Sometimes their ships pass through Diaspora space, but as long as they aren’t attacked they just pass through.”

“And if they are attacked?” I asked.

“Serves the attacker right.” Said Brianna grimly. “Cybertron ships are Cybertrons they can live in space without any life support, whereas humans can’t. In practice it means we begin with a disadvantage particularly since they introduced the Nano Torpedo – I don’t know what they call it – but it delivers a payload of nanobots who then just take over a ship’s systems. You can’t fight when your weapons won’t work and all your shields are down. When your life support is in the hands of the Cybertrons there’s little choice but to surrender. The funny thing is that after winning the Cybertrons just leave the human vessel alone. After an hour all its systems come back online apart from comms which means that the only way the contact can be reported is by returning to a space port. Were it not for other humans Space would be awfully peaceful.”

“Anyway,” I asked, “why were you asking if I’d seen the documentary?”

“We’ve been asked to sort out a trading agreement with New Palestine.” Answered Brian.

“I thought you were more into robbery and violence…”

“ It may come to that!” Grinned Brianna.

“Who wants this deal?”

“The Empire.”

“I’d have thought they’d have used their own diplomats or just imposed a deal.”

“The Palestinians won’t do a deal with the Empire since the Empire tried to prevent them establishing their own colony. It’s the fault of New Zion who argued that a Palestinian colony would sponsor terrorism and destabilise the Empire…”

“But they do sponsor terrorism.” I interjected,

“Yes, but that’s only to put up two fingers to the Empire and New Zion. Besides it’s only New Zion they attack, they don’t destabilise the Empire at all. However a deal with the Palestinians would cause problems with New Zion so the Empire needs a deal that can’t be seen as a deal. New Palestine is one of the biggest sources of Zeppenium and Dilithium since the stocks on Beta One were exhausted and the Empire needs access to supplies.”

“They could invade, couldn’t they?”

“Not without starting another war with the Independents.” Said Ranjit, “New Palestine has treaties with most of the Independents and none of them would welcome the Empire trying to corner the supply of Dilithium. The problem for the Imperial fleet is that the Independents have been well supplied by New Palestine, if they attacked and couldn’t secure New Palestine quickly their fuel would be exhausted leaving the Independents dominant in Space. We have to persuade New Palestine to covertly supply the official colonisation program with both Dilitium and Zeppenium without the Empire being seen to be trading with them.”

“What can you offer them?” I asked.

“More or less anything they ask for. The trick is to keep their expectations as low as possible. We have been told to try and keep it medical supplies and technology.” Said Brian

“Weapons?”

“Oh God, no!… not unless there’s no alternative. Give them advanced weapons and they’ll use them on New Zion.”

“And New Zion is part of the Empire. If the Empire protects New Zion against the Palestinians then you’ve got all out war with the Independents.”

“Ranjit smiled, “If the worst comes to the worst, we can afford to sacrifice New Zion. I don’t think anyone will mind, not even the Empire.”

“Talk about the Hatfields and the McCoys!” I said.

“Who?” Asked Jackson.

“It was a famous and stupid feud in the nineteenth century.” I replied. “Do you know when this started?”

“Yes.” Said the McGuinness twins.

“No.” Said Jackson.

“No.” said Isha

“The middle of the of the Twentieth Century. Now millennia and hundreds of light years later and they’re still at each other’s throats! Perhaps the simplest thing would be to let them just destroy each other and then just take the resources.”

“Except,” objected Brianna, “The Empire prefers to avoid unnecessary killing.”

“They must love you !” I laughed.

Brian replied, “We only kill when we have to.

“And we ain’t never killed nobody that didn’t need killin’!” Added Brianna in an exaggerated drawl.

“And you’re better looking than Clay Allison as far as I remember!” Again I laughed, but stopped when Brianna asked,

“Who?”

“Never mind.”

We agreed that the twins, Ranjit and I would approach the New Palestine Governing Council to open talks while the others would remain with the ship and organise replenishing her supplies.

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