Springingtiger's Blog


Chapter 19: Jerusalem
November 19, 2016, 23:57
Filed under: Politics, Religion, Technology, Travel | Tags: ,

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The New Palestinians had named their capital city Jerusalem because they knew it would irritate the Zealots of New Zion who also called their capital Jerusalem. However whereas Jerusalem on New Zion looked like a fortress the New Palestinian capital was a beautiful open city. If someone had ventured a little out of the city they would have realised that it was ringed by missile silos, but the city itself gave the illusion of peace.

Apart from the mosques and the Council building the architecture wasn’t obviously Islamic. It was mostly colonial utilitarian, were it not for the Arabic script on the signs it might have been on any of the more prosperous Outer Planets.

While there was a space port in static orbit for Intergalactic class and other large vessels our Firefly class was cleared to land at the space port on the surface just outside the city. We landed and waited for customs. When they arrived Brian handed them our papers and passports. As she looked through them the Lieutenant in charge of the squad looked up and enquired,

“Cain?”

I stepped forward, “I am Cain.” I could see Jackson Cody grinning over by the steps.

Lieutenant Rehman touched her hand to her earpiece then said, “Everything seems to be in order. I am instructed to escort you to the Council.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant…Have I got something on my face?”

“Oh!” She blushed, “I didn’t mean to stare, I’m sorry,”

“That’s okay, I’m used to it. I put it down to my good looks.”

Jackson laughed and I continued, “He isn’t coming with us. We’ll be leaving some of the crew to perform routine maintenance and re-provisioning.”

When Lieutenant Rehman went on to tell us that refreshments were waiting for us at the Council Jackson stopped grinning. He cheered up when she said that the Council had opened a tab for the crew at the commissary.

Brianna chuckled quietly and whispered, “He’ll stop smiling when he discovers there’s no alcohol!”

While the crew went off to do what they needed four of us went with the Lieutenant to meet the Council. Although as befitted a fuel rich planet there was plenty of motorised transport, we were shown into an open Landau for a slow drive along the Arafat Boulevard to the Council. To my surprise the pavements were filled with people. As we passed they started cheering and waving.

“We didn’t expect a welcome like this!” Exclaimed Brianna.

“It’s for the Father.” Replied the Lieutenant. “According to our legends Cain’s son Enoch is the Father of our people just as Adam’s son Enoch is the father of the Jews.”

“It’s a good legend.” I said.

“Is it true?” She asked.

I felt it expedient to confirm it, besides if my Enoch was their progenitor then it was. I certainly had no knowledge to the contrary. Besides I was enjoying the welcome I was receiving and I was going to make the most of it while it lasted. Suddenly a man stepped out from the crowd and shouted my name. As I looked towards him he pulled a gun and aimed at me. For some reason he delayed in pulling the trigger and was tackled to the ground. I realised the man was likely to be killed and leapt from the carriage and pushed my way into the crowd. As I shouted my name the crowd parted and let me through. The man lay on the ground bloodied, battered, but alive.

“I’ll take him with me.” I said, “put him in the carriage!”

As we continued the man looked at me with an expression of hatred, “I suppose you expect me to beg for mercy or apologise.”

“Not at all, but I would appreciate an explanation, after all you do appear to have tried to murder me in public.”

“But I didn’t.”

“I suspect you found you couldn’t. You are not the first person to hesitate in these circumstances, most don’t survive. I assume you’re not insane so what did you hope to achieve?”

“We intercepted an Imperial communication and knew you were coming to negotiate. I was sent to kill you.”

Quickly my eyes scanned the crowds and the buildings, I pulled my pistol and fired a couple of shots into an open window.

“These people never work alone, perhaps we had better step up the pace.” I said to the Lieutenant who ordered the driver to speed up. Brianna and Brian drew their blasters and took up position on either side of the carriage. As we entered the gates of the Council there was an explosion in the street followed by screaming. We learned later that there had been a suicide bomber who had been spotted and restrained as we went past, but he had managed to set off his explosives. He was too late for us, but managed to kill around twenty people.

The negotiations went comparatively smoothly. However the deal wasn’t closed without promising the Council delivery of modern weaponry. I felt uneasy about the whole affair. An assassination attempt on someone considered almost a god by a squad of Zealots was almost guaranteed to accelerate the negotiations and I felt Ranjit was a little too ready to concede the advanced weapons the Council demanded.

Oh, in case you are wondering, there was a sniper in the room I shot into. The police followed his trail of blood and caught him trying to get out of town. The incident fed my legend, but I was just being logical where people were watching from windows they were leaning out of them, that was the only empty open window, if there was a sniper he’d be firing from the shadow so I fired first. There might have been no one there, I preferred to play on the safe side. That when the army moved in on the assassin’s ship they found Zealot uniforms disturbed me, it seemed too cut and dried. Sadly when the police tried to interrogate the man we had taken prisoner a small bomb implanted in his head prevented us getting any information.

The government of New Zion denied any involvement in the assassination attempt, what else could they do? New Palestine and its Independent allies moved against New Zion. When the New Zionists appealed to the Empire for help. The Empire response was mysteriously bogged down in administrative red tape. The initial bombardment of New Zion from deep space killed millions, The surrender was inevitable. After the bombardment the Independents merely blockaded New Zionist space and advised them that they had a day to surrender before the next bombardment which would include the use of Imperial Planet Smashers.

After a few weeks on New Palestine I took ship back to Imperial Space and joined the expedition to Sigma Seven. Adulation is nice, but I had been left with a bad taste in my mouth.

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