Hendrik looked over the documents in front of him. They were all made of pristine paper with blue and green decorations. The words that they contained were written more to look good than to be practical. This was usually something he despised but the tradition of nice-looking constitutions did have its value.
This was no mere set of documents of stipulations or meeting minutes. This was the result of over 10 years of work. Endless planning, work and dedication had given him the results he now possessed. Countless enemies defeated, numberless threats eliminated. There were still many left but right now he allowed himself to feel satisfaction.
At the mere age of 27 Hendrik was the governor of one of the most prosperous sectors of the Terran accord. In a few moments he would be so much more.
The Planet of Centhia and the Centhian sector had always been further removed from Terra than the ancient home planet had preferred. Centhia was far away from Terra, a core sector away from the core worlds. It was still part of the accord and Terra fought to keep its hand over the sector.
For the last 4 years Hendrik had worked to remove that clammy grasp, not for some misguided belief in Centhian independence, but for himself. Then the affini came and Terra fell. Centhia would not share the fate of the climate-ravaged cradle of humanity, he refused to allow it.
The documents were finally done, a last signature cemented Canthina’s withdrawal from the accord as well as the birth of the Centhian republic. He stood up and stretched, his office was quiet and empty. The soft light from the rainy world outside came through the window that formed the wall behind his desk.
He looked out the triple-layered-ballistic window and surveyed his realm.
The city that stretched beyond the horizon looked gray and dark. The now Presidential residences truly had a phenomenal view.
He allowed his eyes to follow the falling rain and looked down; just outside the residences was quite a beautiful park. Beneath it was a massive prison complex where the Terran loyalists stayed and waited to rot. The Affini had been foolish to think he would surrender like Terra; soon they would pay for their mistakes.
Beyond the park was a sprawling network of roads and fine buildings; this was where the upper crust of the bureaucracy lived. Years ago, he had started to work in the central administrative bureaucracy. When he had reached the top he had forged it into an efficient tool with which to wield his power.
In the distance was the rising smoke from the factories. The corps, commonly referred to as the big 5 were his strongest opponents. They owned the medicine that kept Centhia alive, the mining stations that fed its industry, and the fuel that allowed for all activity. They were only after profit, a weakness he would have to exploit.
The majority of the city was huge urban complexes that housed hundreds of thousands of people. This was the lifeblood of the sector: labor, consumption, and expertise. Below the upper parts of the city, deep in its underbelly resided his most evasive enemy. The families controlled much of the city in their soft corruptive hands. As long as he left them be, they would fight each other more than him, if he stepped in the bee’s nest he would find it painful to be sure.
Then there were the shipyards, both in orbit and on ground. They were choked with the numerous vessels of the Terran refugees, others that had decided not to surrender. These people were proud and brutish enough to think that they could defeat the affini in open combat. Giving them sanctuary had been and still remained risky.
Unfortunately, he had little choice in the matter as the purge of the Terran loyalists had left him in a precarious position; he could not fight off 150 warships before he had stabilized the balance of power. Their actions would naturally be as difficult to predict as all fanatics; caution and espionage would be great allies.
There was a knock on the door, and he turned around. Hendrik’s voice was clear and hard, “come in.” A great mountain of ballistic plating, weapons and muscle walked in, underneath which was a woman. Her combat experience was lifelong, her machinal enhancements top of the line, and her loyalty as close to unquestionable as Henrik could come. Nora was also the only person that he could call a confidant and perhaps even a friend.
The woman’s voice was softer than one would expect from someone her size “It will soon be time for the proclamation. Are you ready?” Hendrik looked over the signed constitution one last time; it was ready.
Final check “Do I look ready?” Vanity and mirrors were something he avoided and Nora was better suited to gouge his presentability than him either way.
Nora looked him up and down “I still think that your long hair suited you, but you do look quite presidential.”Nora was perhaps the only person on the planet that could get away with reminding him of his youth’s indiscretions.
He picked the documents carefully up “then its time we made history.” With a confident gait, he made his way out of the pristine office and walked down one of the many corridors springing from his office.
The walk to the the planetary administrative center was long, at least 15 minutes. It gave him some time to think. This would be a bold move, although such things were required if he was to come out on top. Still, a lot had to go right for this to work, meaning that he would have to work more. After brief consideration, he decided to cut his daily sleep amount down to four hours.
The polished marble corridors were decorated with sofas, plant life, and artwork from both Terra and Centhia. It was a show of wealth and power, but he would have preferred something to help him move quicker. Once again the obsession with symbolism that his peers and predecessors possessed irked him. That was one of the many reasons why he was here while they were either dead or irrelevant.
They finally came to an elevator that led them down to the central nerve center of the sector. The massive complex that formed the planetary administration held over 10,000 bureaucrats. This building was only the top; countless offices on the planet and outlying colonies answered to here, while ‘here’ answered to him.
As he stepped out of the office with Nora behind him, he was met with the crawling floor filled with busy workers. All of them obediently carried out their tasks. When he moved forward and they saw who he was, they scattered like frightened birds. His walk would not be interrupted by any of them.
He made his way past the cubicles, the meeting rooms, and cafeteria where four garrison guards saluted him. He then made his way up the stairs that led to the Grand Permanent Secretary’s office. It had been his office not too many years ago. The office was situated on a plateau that allowed it overview over the rest of the building. Since all of the other rooms had glass ceilings, the Grand Secretary could see it all.
The guards at the entrance to the office saluted and let him pass. When he entered the office the old man behind the desk snapped to attention. He was in his 60s, the little hair he had was white and combed over his mostly bald head; his eyes were a gray dim, betraying intellect but also comfort.
The Grand Secretary had been chosen not for competence or power but because he would make a good pawn for him. The old man would not risk his position for greater power.
Hendrik walked up and put the constitution on to the desk “it is time for the proclamation. From this day forth the Centhian sector withdraws from the Terran accord and forms the Centhian republic.” The old man had been ready for this and prepared to give his predetermined response.
The pawn’s voice was careful “The announcement is ready to be played in all controlled territory.”
Henrik smiled “I want it to be transmitted across all interstellar frequencies from here to Terra. All will know of this historic moment.”The pawn’s face became a few shades lighter.
“wo.. won’t that attract...the attention of the affini?” Perhaps the pawn had a bit more courage that he estimated.
He had a response “You will find a secondary announcement in this file, it’s encrypted but they will no doubt crack it.”He dropped a small memory pin on the desk.
The pawn tried to control his voice “Can...Can I ask what it contains?” the pawn was overstepping his boundaries; still, an answer would not hurt.
Henrik was ready to reveal the first step in his plan “It is an invitation for negotiations between us and the Affini Compact. They will come here, and we will negotiate mutually beneficial terms for our two nations. Of course, it must be kept secret for now. Only personnel of rank 4 or above and classification B7 are to know.”A cautionary glance was enough to stop the older man from asking for clarification.
As he left, the message was beginning to seep out of the office and soon the whole of human space would know that a new nation was born.
On the way back to the office he could feel Nora burning with questions. “What is it?” he asked briskly. Nora was curious but seldom nervous.
With his permission she provided her questions “What makes you sure that the affini will even agree to negotiations? Assuming they do, what can we offer them aside from surrender as they demanded of the accord? They took Terra like it was a walk in the park. If they decide-“ his raised hand silenced her rambling.
He was also nervous, but it was only an emotion “The affini are just another opponent. They have their goals, their weaknesses, and their misconceptions. I would never have sent them an invitation if I did not have good enough intel to make the call. The days ahead of us will be challenging, so stay on guard.” He continued to walk, signaling that the time for talk was over.
Once they reached the presidential office, “I have much to prepare. At 01:30, escort me to my chambers.” Nora nodded and took her position beside the door. With his safety secured he began to work once more. He had a lot to do.
Nora stood alone in front of the Large wooden doors. Her helmet servos and augmentation would inform her if someone as much as stepped onto the floor, so she allowed herself to slip into thought.
The affini had arrived from the depths of space with little warning or concern for human ego,easily brushing aside the great Terran cosmic navy like they were toys. They started capturing worlds before humanity had even realized what was going on.
Once humanity did notice, it was far too late; over the next 3 years the conflict escalated from the human side while the affini just moved forward like an endless tide. 2 weeks ago, Terra had fallen.
Affini ships were large enough to make even the most impressive Terran vessel look like a shuttle craft. And, according to the rumors, they were undefeatable in direct combat.
Her thoughts drifted to Hendrik for a bit. She owed him a lot, but being the bodyguard of one of the, if not the most, powerful humans in the galaxy carried its share of risk.
Now that she could no longer send her credits to her sister on Terra, it might make sense to sell her gear and get on a shuttle. She chuckled; while protecting Hendrik for the last 8 years had certainly affected her thinking, she was not fully corrupted. She still owed him and would serve him as best as she could.
His confidence in the face of the affini was impressive, but what could they offer huge plant people that were several millennia ahead of humanity in technology? It seemed like an impossible task, but Hendrik had done those before.
If the refugee rebels were anything to go by, the affini were bloodthirsty monster that ate humans, used them as fertilizers, or made humans mindless slaves that worked in their mines. The contradictory nature of the wild claims was enough for her to doubt them.
The affini propaganda was little better; they seemed to think that anyone would be convinced by the ancient trope “we come in peace” that was so popular in the optimistic age-old sci fi of the past. The very optimism that had been ground to dust as humanity spread across the stars with nothing changing for the better for the majority of people.
Henrik certainly had a plan, as he always did, but she hoped that it would be good enough to best the affini. Nora was confident in a fight with any human, but those plant-people made her doubt her chances.
Many lightyears away on a huge affini ship a signal was intercepted and promptly decoded.
Mertha Verina, second bloom looked down on her data pad. She was currently working on translating and analyzing some Terran texts about history.
[techmonger]: I just received a quite interesting message from some humans, they seem to be transmitting it everywhere. I think you might be interested in taking a look.
Attached there was a file of the decoded Terran message. Mertha felt a surge of excitement. Finally, something for her to do! She promptly formed her vines into something more presentable.
She would have to show this to the Capitan immediately. She hoped that they would agree that this invitation was too adorable to ignore.