Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright © 2017, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part XL: Terra
Continued from the previous excerpt
2 Fifthmonth 554JR
21 January 2356CE
Terra didn't change much in the Long Peace. Many times a battlefield, she was now a garden... with her own Home Fleet to keep her so. These ships bore names from throughout Terran military history, but the proudest were American: Hornet. Oregon. Yorktown. Lexington. Missouri. Washington. Virginia. The Republic's Founders had been American, and it was their descendants who had broken Terra's chains.
Aurora had taken the scenic tour of Sol System. Saturn's magnificent rings, rarely equalled in centuries of exploration. Jupiter and his moons, many now inhabited; low-level Marsten Fields shielded the habitats from the gas giant's deadly radiation. The Balloon Worlds, asteroids melted and inflated with sunlight focused by thousands of mirrors millions of kilometers apart. The ongoing Terraforming of Mars, much as had been done on a lesser scale with New Israel - they were in time to witness another water-comet impact.
Grbblb had wanted to see Tranquility Base and they'd done that on the way in, also visiting the memorial for MS Botany Bay, the Republic's first “safety valve” ship. Those dissidents hadn't been ready to think and provide for themselves and chose to return to the Terran slavery the Founders had Escaped from. The ship's Marsten Drive had ejected and self-destructed after the Transit so it couldn't be reverse-engineered by Terran regimes. The passengers had been imprisoned and tortured for any information on the Drive, which none possessed. Months later all but three had been killed in an “accidental” blowout at Fort Luna.
On this visit, Aurora's Family, as always, made pilgrimage to Founder's Park in Oregon. They had not the right to participate but witnessed Rachel's Kiss - the Explorer Elaine Bowditch had returned, pausing at Terra before continuing to Alexandria as usual. The newest crop of Deeps were waiting in line to climb the granite shoulder of Rachel Marsten's statue and kiss her granite lips. As each did, other spectators applauded.
The Family toured the rest of the park, taking group photos at the Constitution Monument and other landmarks. Solomon, now the most recent recipient of the Legion of Honor, was particularly moved by the memorial to the first: Tanya Ann Sidney, a member of the Vetter Aerospace security force killed in action during the federal attack on the very day of Escape. She knowingly gave her life to buy time for the Founders to launch in the secret starship Aldrin.
Next they toured the Pacific Coast of what had been the United States of America. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge had fallen during the War of Unification, and the Terran Empire had never bothered rebuilding it; why make it easier for the subjects to travel? The remains had stood derelict for a century, until the Republic-Empire War and the Liberation. After the Empire's multiple genocides, population pressure had dropped a great deal on Terra; real-estate prices had fallen accordingly. After Liberation, Jeffersonian air-transport technology had replaced ground traffic, making a bridge replacement doubly pointless - the Federal Aviation Administration had been destroyed along with more obvious tyrannies. The remains of the two towers had been refurbished into high-rise apartments, the bay between filled with colorful sport boats in the warmer months.
Following this they visited Old Texas and the thrice-seiged ruins of the Alamo, where Holly Cates took many an image for transmission to her family on New Texas. Like many Terran national monuments, the San Jacinto column had been destroyed in the Unification, but carefully rebuilt after Liberation. The new monument incorporated some pieces of BB35 USS Texas, which had been moored as a museum ship within sight of it, naturally scrapped by the rising Terran Empire. Michaelangelo Cates, a direct ancestor of Holly's, was famous in his own right for landing with Rennert's Regiment of Mobile Infantry in the first wave of the Last Battle of Terra. After the War, he had retired to Old Texas and had laid some of the new monument's stones with his own hands. There was a large branch of the Cates clan in Old Texas. On a previous visit Holly had introduced them to her ship-family, who were promptly adopted as honorary Cateses; now Anna, Delilah and Trllbl joined the clan. The branches of the family from different worlds and nations kept in touch by h-mail regularly.
They hit the high points of the rest of Old America. Danner treated them all to pizza at Gilson's Grog 'n' Grill in Miami Spaceport, and allowed his photo to be taken with the owner and some of the staff. Washington City, the Pentagon Ruins again, the Old Capitol; not even the Empire had dared defile Arlington Cemetery, they needed American troops and resources. The twenty-kilometer-wide archaeological dig that New York City had become. The sacred ground of Lexington, Massachusetts, where the first truly free men had stood and many had fallen.
Then they had hopped the Atlantic for a Grand Tour of Europe. Sarah, raised by a Human from Neues Deutchland, took a lot of images in Germany. Many an old monument had been erased by the Terran Empire. France had kept some of hers, but not in Paris. Islamic terrorists had detonated a one-megaton fusion bomb in the heart of the city in the summer of 2033 - the Eiffel Tower and Arc d' Triumph had been reduced to rubble and scrap. A decade, and several more such atrocities, later, most of the world's Muslims had been exterminated and Mecca had been made a crater by an orbital kinetic strike from the UN Peacekeeping Fleet. By the time of the Unification, Paris' radiation had fallen enough for the Empire to wipe the ruins clean, rebuilding the entire city to a new plan. Even the Seine's course had been altered.
Anna was overjoyed to attend mass in St. Peter's Square, seeing Pope Urban XIX with her own eyes. It was explained that he was from the Jeffersonian branch of the Church; the Terran version had gone extinct between the Wars. Illyria had a Cardinal, officially recognized, but very distant, and Illyria was not as wealthy as she pretended to be; visits were few. Clancy attended as well, with some of his family from Ireland. Some of the ancient cathedrals had survived the Wars too and the crew visited many, marveling at the architecture of an age before what they considered industry and science.
They continued east, visiting the Holy Land, where Epstein, rarely displaying religious conviction, visited many sites in Jerusalem, then the fortress ruins of Masada. The great Russian plains, Lt. Col. Whipple's statue in the Gobi Desert, India's Taj Mahal, China's Great Wall. Eventually they reached Old Nippon.
The Founders' Fleet included people from all over the world but most had been American. Of other national identities, the only significant ones in comparison were the Israeli separatists who claimed New Israel as payment for helping the Founders Escape; and one entire ship, Fuki Maru, built, crewed and filled by Japanese.
A few years after the Escape, diplomatic relations had, if shakily, been established between the United Nations and the Jeffersonian Republic. The Republic used humanitarian aid (mostly lost in corruption and graft, rarely reaching those in need) and technology transfers (mostly suppressed, available only to the ruling classes) as cover for inserting operatives and extracting more would-be Jeffersonians. Again, after Americans, Israel and Japan were among the largest emigrant populations; the former because everyone was trying to exterminate them again, the latter with the promise of opportunities and breathing-room which hadn't been available on their islands for centuries. They often ended up on the same ships, going to different parts of the same world, New Israel.
This First Wave of emigration continued until the Republic's Bicentennial, 2134 on the Gregorian calendar, and the Europa Incident. The cruise ship Virginia Heinlein had been destroyed over the Jovian moon, by terrorists demanding the release of Marsten Drive technology, which only demonstrated why the Republic was not revealing the secret of starflight. Some corpses were eventually delivered as “perpetrators” but no one believed they had acted on their own; the UN wanted what others had built and had committed mass murder trying to steal it. The result was the Isolation of Sol: The Republic withdrew her embassies, people and investments and ended all overt contact or interaction with the entire system. A pattern of overflights continued, and covert contact as well, smuggling a handful of people out from the UN's ever-heavier boot while keeping an eye on the enemy.
Some twenty Terran years after the Isolation, the United Nations had launched the War of Unification, crushing all national sovereignty, usually brutally. Formerly-independent countries became Districts, Provinces, Territories, Administrative Regions. Some, particularly Israel and Switzerland, had very nearly been bombed off the map. The Islamic regions had been ravaged a century before, in retaliation for the Second European Holocaust. Densely-populated regions, India, China, Japan, had been targeted for decades with fertility-suppression chemicals in their water and food supplies - some nations simply died out.
Japan had been hard hit at the outbreak of the War of Unification, the Great Famine of Nippon claiming nearly half their population at the time. It may not have started on purpose, but like Stalin's Holodomor, not a thing was done to stop it. There was a Second European Holodomor too, and another in what had been the United States, their first occurring during their Second Civil War shortly after the Escape. Over a hundred million had died in Africa, probably twice that in China.
Terra had borne about seven billion people when the Founders Escaped. They eventually peaked at nearly eleven billion about a century later, when the UN's population-control measures began in earnest. Those measures quickly had an effect, halting growth and slowly reducing numbers as fewer children were born to replace those who died. By the time of the Unification, Terra's population had sunk to eight billion; the Unification War killed at least three-quarter billion outright, possibly twice that, and birthrates continued to decline in following decades. Even now some regions were not safely inhabitable by people who wanted healthy children.
By the time Lt. Col. William Whipple touched down in the Gobi Desert, there were barely two billion people alive on Terra. The Empire had slaughtered some billions, while causing other billions never to be conceived. The Republic-Empire War actually didn't kill as many. The Republic could have used high-energy, even relativistic weapons, but except for a single precisely-limited raid in the middle of the war, refrained. Their goal was to reclaim their ancient homeworld, not to destroy it.
Japan was part of that homeworld, but the Japanese people had split, dramatically, in the centuries between Escape and Liberation. On the surface they seemed compatible with Republic governance of Terra - they didn't make trouble or agitate for independence; the Irish did more of that and barely took themselves seriously. But for natives of Republic worlds, Monticello, New Texas, the Second Wave, and particularly the Frontier, there was just something... off about Terran Japanese. There seemed to be something deep inside the Japanese psyche that needed to be told what to do.
Jeffersonian nikkei were very different. They had assimilated, a lot, to the national culture which had taken them in as refugees from Terran oppression. They retained the best flavors of their birth-culture and those had rubbed off on the Republic as a whole: Politeness, formality as social lubricant, cleanliness and orderliness, a sense of honor and duty... but they didn't grovel anymore. Bowing was saved for only the most formal ceremonies now. Their names were given-first instead of family-first, emphasizing their rights and value as individual Persons rather than subservience to organization or clan. Many Jeffersonians went openly armed in their daily lives, and nikkei had a measurably higher rate than other Jeffersonian demographics.
Nihonjin, by comparison, had never been free individuals. They had never enjoyed the guarantees of the American Bill of Rights, or the later Jeffersonian Declaration. They had suffered one emperor or another, not for centuries but for millenia. They had no freedom of speech, no protection against search and seizure, coerced confessions were admissable in court even at the time of the Escape. Their homes were not their castles, their property was not sacred, and the bearing of arms was an alien concept to effectively all.
The two cultures... not so much clashed as collided in Old Nippon, during the Liberation of Terra. Naturally the Seventeenth Legion demanded, and received, the honor of liberating their ancient homeland, just as the Third had reclaimed Jerusalem (and the Second had freed Old Texas, the Fourth, Old Chicago, the Ninth, Quebec, and so on). When Nihonjin and nikkeijin met, they shared a language and an ethnic appearance, but little else.
The rift still hadn't quite healed. Jeffoujin were Jeffersonian nikkei, or their descendants, who had returned from the stars. They were now the de facto ruling class of Old Nippon, deferred to, obeyed, even though few wanted such status. In a different time there would have been mass student rallies, protesters waving banners and shouting slogans about “social justice” and “equality”, but there was no cause; anyone, of any social station, of any species, could earn Citizenship and the vote under the same rules as anyone else. The standard of living was the highest in all recorded history - anyone could earn a living wage, could afford health care without government bureaucrats robbing people to pay for it, could save up for a personal vehicle capable of transsonic transcontinental travel. Not even the most rabid social-justice-warrior could legitimately pretend otherwise. Nor was anyone trapped on Terra; colonization efforts were endless as new worlds were discovered. Many such offered berth, board and official status on the new world to anyone who would sign the contract and get on the ship. The constant trickle of emigration also served to keep Terra's population at around two billion.
Agitators for Irish independence were little more than a drinking club; the Québécois movement had faded away a single generation after the War. Old Texas was still technically independent, as were Alaska, Switzerland, and Old Israel; Old Scotland was now part of the Republic of Caledonia, with their own planet granted as payment for the 21st Legion's service in the War. But Japanese nationalism had been hammered flat at a near-genetic level, by the American victory in Terra's Second World War, then generations of grinding oppression by the UN and the Terran Empire. Jeffoujin, being far closer in mindset to a Monticellan or New Texan than to Nihonjin, often couldn't conceal their distaste for a people that still debased themselves to each other as though it were the right thing to do.
Daisuke Taniyama was Jeffoujin, or would be when he stepped off Two Boat at Hiroshima Spaceport. He'd been with Aurora since her rebirth and had visited Terra with her each time, but had only set foot on the world twice before, and never in Old Nippon.
He was nervous, and knew it was not rational. For months he'd been acting as Aurora's public-relations officer without difficulty; he'd spent months more on New Israel, where he was still wanted for the capital crimes his brother had committed, and no one had recognized him. Here in Old Nippon no one should know him, or care.
Besides, his Family was with him. No one would take him from them... or them from him.
He still wore his father's wakizashi. The day his world had burned, he had chiseled out most of the silver-inlaid Nakayama family mon, leaving only a silver ring on the red-lacquered scabbard, similar to many other clan symbols. His brother, the murderer, had taken the katana, and its scabbard had burned in the Nakayama home. Daisuke had constructed another katana, similar in form, but with a more conventional blade found in a shop during Aurora's travels. It and its scabbard were a featureless gray, completely undecorated. The hilt was textured synthetic, the tsuba was a plain steel disc.
He wore this mismatched daisho in the traditional edge-up fashion on his left side. On his right, he had, since the Battle of RAS1441, when he took part in some of the boarding actions, begun wearing a pistol. It was a New Texas Arms Model Forty-One, of the same type as Anna's - he liked the look of it, and its archaic slug-thrower design suited him. The staggered-column magazine carried 13 rounds of 10.4x22mm NTA Caseless, and he carried two spares. Aurora's fabbers easily produced all the cartridges anyone aboard would need.
Naturally, he practiced regularly. Sarah Heusner was the leading pistoleer in the Family and gladly swapped lessons for what he could teach her about the Republic Midsword. Since Anna's attempted kidnapping on Illyria, and the battles after, Sarah had been worrying about her lack of personal combat skills. Still, when confronted, the first weapon Daisuke would reach for would always be a sword.
Hiroshima's Peace Dome had been leveled after Unification, as an unacceptable remnant of nationalism, but a stylized replacement had been built under Jeffersonian governance. The smaller city of Kure was just around the bay. Kure was an old port city rich in its own history. After Liberation, the Yamato Museum had been rebuilt - it too had been leveled after Unification, for even greater reason. But now, there was again a 1:10 scale model of the Imperial Japanese battleship Yamato inside, while the wharf outside now outlined her entire deck plan.
Yamato had been an enemy ship, responsible for American deaths in the Second World War, but her honor was clean enough, as a warship of her nation. Three Republic battleships had been named after her, built by nikkei companies for the New Israel Home Fleet and rotated normally through Regular Navy duties. The latest had saluted Aurora's arrival there. Just as one of the huge Explorers would always be named Enterprise, and one of the most powerful JRN capital ships would be named Constitution, the NIHF would always have a large warship named Yamato. Aurora had asked to see the birthplace of a famous fellow warship and the Family was glad to oblige. Aurora, again, kept her own orbital watch, and the crew's confidence in her abilities had only grown since her awakening. With the ship in her own 500km orbit, the whole Family had come to the surface, including Aurora's little white sensor-sphere.
Finishing with the museum, the Family were indeed put off when local Nihonjin bowed to them, recognizing them as starfolk by their dress, manner, weapons... and the non-Human members of the Family. “How do we get them to stop bowing?” Solomon discreetly asked Daisuke. English, the international language of transport and trade, had been taught to Japanese schoolchildren since before the Escape. The Republic's official language was American, which was close enough.
“I do not know, Captain,” he answered with discomfort. “The old response is to bow in return, not quite as deeply. It is a habit the nikkei of New Israel quickly discarded.”
“Will they be offended if we don't respond?”
“I hope not,” Daisuke said. “It's been centuries since the War, they should be used to it by now. I would have hoped they would catch up with modern customs. Perhaps they have in Tokyo or other large cities, but Kure has always been a smaller place. Surely they've had contact with offworlders before us?”
Several Nihonjin, at a polite distance, followed the Family through Kure's old, pre-Escape streets. Most had cameras - who didn't, in an age when you could get whole computers from vending machines and strap them to your wrist? Ground vehicles were long gone but many of the roads they used remained. Ralph noted the lack of personal air vehicles. “I would expect Flitters and Hoppers and ScootAirs all over the place,” he observed. “I don't even see parking areas, unless they're all rooftop or underground. Do they have some local law banning them?”
Holly Cates cocked an eyebrow at this. “Republic law would override that - Article VIII, Section 4, travel-without-hindrance. Old Nippon never regained independence like the other mini-states.” Only in astrographic terms could Alaska or Old Texas be called 'mini'. “They're a Province of Terra, and Terra's a Member World. And why are we the only people in sight bearing arms? That's just wrong.”
“I don't see any arms shops either,” Danner noted.
“Prease, excuse,” a young Nihonjin woman said. She had appeared in front of the Family group, bowed deeply but briefly, and immediately straightened. She was dressed casually in jeans and a light jacket, and was the first local person they had seen armed, wearing a small pistol on her right hip and a traditionally-styled wakizashi on her left. “I am Motoyama Omiko,” she stated. “You seek weapon shop? My grandfather have, this way.” She gestured down a side street. “You come, prease, yes? We wercome customers from stars!”
The Family looked at one another. It was unlikely to be a trap, for a full fourteen armed sentients - fifteen counting Aurora's needler-armed remote - several of which had recently boarded and cleared pirate ships together. “Yes,” Solomon answered, “thank you. Lead the way.”
Continued in the next excerpt....