Dan Melson: July 2020 Archives

Upon returning to our apartment, I called for a family meeting, "I'm going to make a decision about whether to do some counter-intelligence work for Grandfather Scimtar, but I want your input before I do." I already knew Asto would support my decision, even if I changed my mind and turned Scimtar down. But I wanted the kids to have a chance to voice their concerns. Working counter-intelligence would require a different sort of time commitment than the four to eight hours per week I was working for Secundus Yeriala as an investigator.

"Do you have to?" Alden asked.

"No, I don't have to, but it's something that would be a big help, and your father's splinter is here to watch over you."

"You heard Uncle Iaren," Esteban replied, "War is almost here. If mom stops something that keeps a planet's defenses intact, she could save a lot of lives."

"You also heard Uncle Amras," Alden replied, "This could go on for years."

"Uncle Amras also said Mom's not under an oath of service. She can quit anytime it gets to be too much." That was Ilras.

Ilora: "Since when does Mom quit at anything?"

"And we're top of that list she'll never quit on," Esteban replied.

"Dear family," I broke in, "I didn't ask for an argument. Nor will there be a vote. I will make this decision. I was only asking for input, particularly informative input."

Ilras, who loved to play Devil's Advocate, "Isn't persuasive input part of that?"

"Yes, it is, but use information which does the persuading for you."

"How are we going to do that?" Alden wanted to know.

"An exercise for the student," Asto's splinter told him, "You learn by doing. You'll know you succeeded or failed by the decision she makes." They'd absorbed their lessons well, so you couldn't hear the groans you knew the kids were making internally.

Admittedly, there was a pretty heavy thumb on the scales. I wanted to do this. But I thought it wise to ask my smart kids - and my amazing husband who'd been living with our position his whole life - for their input. Asto had given his input through our link - he thought it a good hoop to jump through, provided I was careful enough not to get myself killed. To his credit, he trusted me to do that without supervision from him or his family. But kids were different.

What are the essential characteristics of the government in the Empire of Humanity?

1. The people running it are very smart.

2. The people running it have a long term outlook - they expect to be around indefinitely. Not like the rulers of most nations on Earth who expect to be dead in a couple of decades.

3. The people running it are Driven. If they weren't, they'd never have gotten so important and if they'd somehow been picked out of a hat, they wouldn't survive the inter-family rivalries.

4. They are aware of what happens to the rulers of any nation when it is conquered or changes rulers from within. They've even intentionally reinforced this rule for the top ruler as a means of protecting the rest of them.

5. They have bent their intelligence towards solving the problems of both keeping the Empire from being conquered and keeping themselves in control. The solution, in broad, looks libertarian from an Earthly point of view, but the root reasons for this have nothing to do with the non-aggression principle, and everything to do with self-preservation on the part of the Empire and its rulers. There are no rights that the government cannot violate if the reason is strong enough - but there are countervailing reasons why they shouldn't do it. As a result, the government and society have a lot in common with a libertarian society, but it is supported not only by the interests of the people, but by the interests of the rulers as well.

EDIT: To make it clear, these are supporting characters, mostly for color/background. The main viewpoint character is their mother.

1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.

ESTEBAN: From oldest to youngest, I'm Esteban and I'm sixteen Imperial years of age. My younger sister Ilora is fourteen, brother Ilras is thirteen, sister Imtara is twelve, and Alden is eleven. We are the result of our mother deciding to carry children to term instead of using artificial gestation. We have the power of Seventh Order Guardians.

2.Tell us where and when were you born.

ESTEBAN: I was born in the Residence Arcology on Indra while our mother was recovering from a duel. The next three were all born on her pilot module, as she used being one more Vector pilot among several times sixty to the fifth pilots to hide us from our rivals. Alden was also born in the Residence Arcology, right after Dad got his change of service, and a post where he was allowed to live off-base.

3. How would you describe yourself?

ESTEBAN: I'm about an ififth fiftysix, brown skin, black hair, brown eyes. In Earth measure, that's 127 centimeters. For my clueless American cousins, that four feet two inches.

ILORA: I'm the same height as Esteban, but I've been keeping my skin darker, a dark bronze with reddish tinge, like Dad and grandfather Scimtar. My hair is also black.

IlRAS: I'm about about five isixths shorter. It's not like I can't make myself grow, but Mom and Dad say to let it happen naturally for a while. I like being a lighter brown, like Mom, and my hair is the same as hers, a dark brown that's not quite black.

IMTARA: I'm just a little shorter than Ilras, and like Esteban, I see no reason to change what I was born with. Brown skin, black hair, brown eyes.

ESTEBAN: Who told you what I was born like?

IMTARA: Everyone knows. Why are you pretending they don't? But let's let Alden talk.

ALDEN: I'm an ififth thirtyeight.

IMTARA: He's also skinny as a rail!

ALDEN: and lighter skinned, with green eyes, like grandmother.

ESTEBAN: He means Grandmother Anara, not Grandmother Helene, who's really our great grandmother. But he has light brown hair, not red like grandmother!

4. Tell us about where you grew up.

ESTEBAN: Until just before Alden was born, we lived onboard Mom's pilot module. Dad would come visit when he could, but it was fully wired for everything we needed. We'd get out and see the sights and meet people when Mom judged it safe enough, and we had Aunt Tina, too.

ILRAS: And Mischief and Scarecrow!

IMTARA: Dogs don't count, silly!

ILORA: (raising eyebrow)

IMTARA: So maybe they do! But they're still not people!

ALDEN: Since I was born, and especially since the Cor War, we've been living in the family Residence, near the top of Residence Arcology, overlooking the Sumabad Straits on Indra. Sometimes we get to go out and meet people, but security is important. Sometimes, we get to take a break at the Alternate Residence, but we can't have visitors there except a very few.

5. How old are you?

ESTEBAN: We range in age from my sixteen to Alden's eleven. I'll be seventeen soon, and probably decide to start puberty about then.

IMTARA: Remember these people are from Earth!

ESTEBAN: They're on Imperial years same as us. They know an Imperial year is 255 Earth days. They can do the math if they need to.

6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?

ESTEBAN: Happy is what you make of it. We're immensely rich, even with just Mom and Dad's personal money. When you get into the family money, the Earth slogan about 'born with silver spoons in our mouths' doesn't begin to cover it.

ILORA: We can have anything except safety.

ILRAS: We'll be fine! We've got until we're thirty to learn what we need to! And it's not like the Empire is stuck back in the days of the Fifteen Families! There are over Forty Great Houses now!

ILORA: If we get until we're thirty. The fractal demons think they're ready for war.

ILRAS: Nonsense! Grandfather and the other Great Ones are way ahead of the demonic leaders!

ALDEN: Mom and Dad aren't so sure. We need to work hard to be ready in case the demons win.

IMTARA: We know the demons don't respect the Code, but there's nothing we can do but be ready if we need to. If we try to help, we void our protection from the other families!

7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?

ESTEBAN: We're all legal children, none of us even in puberty yet. Our relationships are with our family and family friends.

8. What do you value above all else in life?

ALL FIVE: Family!

9. What are you obsessed with?

ESTEBAN: Improving ourselves!

ILORA: Learning!

ILRAS: They're the same thing!

ALDEN: Not quite...

IMTARA: ...But close enough for most things!

10.How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?

ESTEBAN: Because we're all working to be ready to take care of ourselves and help the family when we take our adulthood tests, our parents and family aren't too worried about us.

IMTARA: Unlike Cousin Urona! Poor Aunt Anana and Uncle Parnit are at their wits' end over her!

ILORA: But there's no getting out of being a member of a Great House! Even if Grandfather threw her out, the others would only see it as a cheap opportunity!

11. Biggest fear?

ESTEBAN: As Ilora said, we can have anything except safety. Not from the other Great Houses, the fractal demons, or the universe in general

12. What line will you never cross?

All Five: The Good of the Human species!

13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?

ILORA: One and the same: Being born to a Great House. I envy the average people of the Empire, who get to live whatever lives they want.

ILRAS: Now that's pessimism, sister! Being a Seventh Order Guardian is great!

ALDEN: But we will be targets when we become legal adults. And there is no resigning the bargain.

ESTEBAN: So work hard at learning to handle your abilities and you'll be fine! Ji da to pront!

ILORA: Yes. But I would like to have been asked whether I wanted to pay that price, brother.

14. What is your current goal?

ESTEBAN: For all of us to be ready to survive and contribute when we've passed our adulthood tests.

IMTARA: Yes, both the family and Mom's family have lost too many people already.


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