Excerpts from the Jeffersonian Republic project:
This page Copyright (c) 2017, Karl Leffler
Aurora, Part LXXV: A Crook and a Captain
Continued from the previous excerpt
6 Fifthmonth 565JR
11 December 2362CE
The Gardener system was further out on the Second Wave, less populated and developed, a Republic Territory striving, if leisurely, toward Membership. The habitable world was fourth from its G5 star, but the inner system was crowded, and the planet was well within the habitable zone.
Aurora, and in another hundred-odd hours, Haldred, wouldn't be visiting the planet. With much time lost already by their abandonment at Layden, the Danforth Expedition was stopping only when necessary. They might have skipped this star altogether, but Haldred did not have Aurora's range, and would need to refuel more often.
The other reason to stop was to check the mail.
The Family lawyer was named Hrecl, and was a Siv neuter. In the trisexual Siv race, these brown-plumaged, sexless ones had evolved to gestate eggs, fertilized by the white males and laid by the yellow females. Historically and evolutionarily, they then did most of the work of raising the young, though that had changed over recent centuries. Unlike Flike, whose females were subsentient, all three Siv genders were people, and they'd achieved an adequate degree of legal equality before their race had been Contacted by the Republic.
Hrecl had served nis time in the Space Patrol, which was mostly interchangeable with the Navy Reserve; personnel were listed under one or another name depending on the requirements of the service and legal convenience. During nis years there, Hrecl had reached the rank of Lieutenant. Ne could handle a ship's gun and fly a ship's boat, but since childhood the law had fascinated nim, and ne had specialized to the Judge Advocate General's Corps. After a particularly difficult case - an Eyani Marine accused of rape; falsely, Hrecl had eventually proved - ne had resigned nis commission and shifted nis focus from trials to merchant contracts. Ne had been struggling financially when Prrg had remembered encountering nim in his travels, and recommended nis services to his captain when they visited Terra after the Battles of Mark's World and Adda. Now Hrecl was doing all right, performing interesting yet unstrenuous work for decent pay. When Gormann's contract and Danner's queries arrived by h-mail, Hrecl dug right in.
"This guy, Bunn," Hrecl said in nis video message, "appears to be a bit of a loon, and maybe more than a bit of a crook. Sounds like he's got a touch of ADS." That was Authority Derangement Syndrome.
Not always officially recognized by Republic psychologists, ADS was referred to more often by historians. Type I were followers, those who needed to be told what to do and couldn't function without it - the kind who panicked when seeing anyone doing anything without a government permit - the kind who called police on little girls with lemonade stands. Type II were enforcers, the police who answered calls about little girls with lemonade stands, the kind "governor" Thaddeus Webb had brought to New Texas, and which Holly Cates' ancestors had executed - the kind who didn't care what "laws" they were enforcing or who they were enforcing them against, as long as it was their hands on the truncheons. Type III were the masters, the leaders, the Directors and Secretary-Generals and His Excellency the Presidents. Rarely getting their own hands bloody, these were Webb himself, the Stalins and Maos and Hitlers, the Clintons and Kims and Cardinos, Stefan of Illyria and Jagrash of Kmar, the Gnoppan aristocracy and whoever was on top of the Glautak Consolidation - the kind who really believed they were "helping" or "protecting" people, the kind whose delusional thirst for control led to the starvation or execution of millions.
Hrecl went on: "Apparently Bunn was born in the American provinces, bounced around New England in his youth. His parents were Citizens, non-military - career bureaucrats." Those still existed, even in the Jeffersonian Republic, but with as little government as possible, there were few opportunities for them to feed at the tax-paid trough. In the worst cases the Code Duello Nuevo was used to apply corrective measures.
To which point, Hrecl continued: "Bunn's parents - jumping from one Department or Agency to another - were charged with malfeasance, waste of funds; not outright misappropriation, but only because that couldn't be proved. They weaseled out of the charges but both of them got Challenged on the courthouse steps. They literally ran, leaving little Victor, age eleven, behind.
"A couple days later they scooped him up and hopped a ship. Under fake names, they offered their services to a new colony, as 'people familiar with the necessary mechanisms of government.' That was the 'Republic' of Yosemite. I'm sure you've heard of it." Solomon had. The same pattern again - fraud, waste, theft, starvation, bloody revolution. Some of the hinges had come far enough off that someone dropped a nine-kiloton freighter on the planetary capitol. There was a mostly-circular lake where the Presidential Mansion had been. Asgardian mercenaries had been hired to clean the place up, then were never paid. They took the planet instead, and still held it. The people were better off under Thor's Hammer than they had been under the Mountain Flag, and could leave if they wished.
"The parents disappeared at that time - imagine what you like. Victor eventually resurfaced at Bridgeford, as a 'special assistant' to their 'governor'. Then he started following in the family footsteps - departments, bureaus, staff positions, then elections of his own. When a plebiscite brought Bridgeford under the Star and Bars, he stayed - and made a special petition for Citizenship for all the years of 'service' he'd already 'given'.
"Then he started running in Republic politics, local Representative, provincial Senator, then the planetary versions. He was working on a run for Bridgeford's Triumvirate when he suddenly dropped out, then started trying to launch independent colonies of his own.
"Danforth is his fifth try at founding a 'republic'." The derisive quote marks could be heard in nis speech. "His first, on Halloway, about thirty T-years ago, took a Mayflower and folded quick. Rumors say he got out just ahead of a lynching." The term, "taking a Mayflower", in a colonization context, was a reference to the first Mayflower expedition in 1620CE. Their original plan had been socialist, everyone sharing their goods and labors in common, regardless of who had contributed how much. They had nearly starved, before getting bailed out by the natives on one hand, and returning to reality-based market forces on the other. Despite the lesson of history, enough colonies kept remaking the same mistake that the term had entered popular speech. Halloway had reorganized and was putting itself back together, attracting new colonists.
"His second try was Gravesend, a couple Transits from Anvil. The funds raised to buy the ship 'mysteriously' disappeared and the project crashed before more than a hundred people had signed on. Bunn claimed his accounts had been hacked." Siv didn't have facial expressions Humans could read, but the rippling of nis plumage showed what ne thought of Bunn's story. "Next was Golden Promise. That one got off the ground, but ground to a halt at Nealing, when the ship's food processors got contaminated and how does that even happen for the last hundred years? Bunn wandered off and the colonists ended up settling there, most of them. The ship was abandoned, claimed as salvage, and scrapped.
"After that he switched to cryocolonists, so he wouldn't have to feed them during the trip - or listen to them, I bet. The Delavane Expedition actually succeeded... after he was tossed out of his own presidential mansion by referendum. Looking at the 'constitution' he proposes for Danforth, Sol, your crack about gulags and crematoriums is right on target. He's setting himself up as 'president' for life - and a right to bear arms is conspicuous by its absence. One mistake he's made so far is, none of his colonists have renounced Jeffersonian Subjectry yet - and about two percent are Citizens. Technically Bunn is still a Subject himself, the Citizenship he petitioned for lapsed. That puts the whole thing under the jurisdiction of a Reserve Privateer, under the right conditions - or I should say, the wrong ones.
"Now, as for your contracts. As you and Daisuke believed, there's nothing in them preventing the lease or sale of the properties and resources you've been promised, but looking at Bunn's record I'll bet he'd say different, then tie the whole thing up in court, then probably disappear - leaving you and the colonists holding all the bags. Sol, I'm having the Gang dig deeper, I'm inclined to build a preemptive case against Bunn." Hrecl had put together a crew of freelance investigators, who called themselves the "Free Terran Irregulars" - which was also the name of a militia in the northwestern United States during the Second American Civil War, shortly after the Escape. Like the fictional Baker Street gang from the Sherlock Holmes books, they used their unique skills to find clues across the explored galaxy. Hrecl sometimes sublet them as informational mercenaries. Daisuke Taniyama had begun exchanging information on the Blood Rose with them as well.
"Another thing - Bunn used a standard cryocolonist template contract. There's a clause he didn't take out, allowing the captain of the colony ship to awaken representatives for a referendum or vote of no confidence. That might prove useful.
"I'll send updates as soon as I have more info. Good luck, Sol. You might need it on this one."
When Haldred arrived, in the comets, they set about refueling. Once that was underway, at the hands of Aurora's robots, Johann joined Sol and his Family for dinner. Bunn, though invited pro forma, did not attend, remaining in his quarters and being served by a pair of robots he'd brought with him. Johann, having glimpsed the man's compartment, said that Bunn seemed to occupy himself with reading and writing - probably constantly adjusting his "republic"'s constitution and body of "law". Gormann's crew were keeping an eye on him.
Solomon shared Hrecl's message with Johann. The latter showed some alarm at the unscrupulous history of his client, and carefully noted the referendum clause in the contract - Gormann had never dealt with cryocolonists before and was not as familiar with the terms as he would have liked. "Thank you again, Solomon," he said over their meal, "for agreeing to help." Aurora's contract with Gormann included return passage for him and his crew, since Haldred would become a permanent fixture on Danforth after landing.
"You're quite welcome, Johann." The two captains had become friends easily, as Danner had done with Stanislaw Lipinski of the Illyrian Navy. Commanding ships, in battle or not, gave men more in common than how or where they were born and raised.
To which the conversation turned in time. "My mother was from Laos, on Old Terra," Gormann explained, "and my father from Neues Deutschland, but he was half Chinese, genetically. He met her during shore leave on a commercial run - my family, both sides, have always been sailors, since centuries before the Escape. Thus I appear three-quarter Asian, but I was raised on my father's world, and in their traditions." His speech was the American English which was nearly universal among Humans away from Terra, with a faint German accent, not unlike Sarah Heusner's. Sarah's and Johann's families did not know each other, and Gisela Heusner, Sarah's adoptive mother, had rarely visited Neues Deutschland during her time as head of a shipfolk family before retiring there, but the two still shared anecdotes about the neo-Germanic world.
"My weapons?" Gormann continued. "Reproductions, of course, but with meaning. My mother was descended from an American Navy sailor during the Vietnam War, and his family had a long tradition of naval service, all the way back to the Revolution. Thus, an American Navy cutlass.
"My American maternal ancestor brought his war bride home, and the daughter of their union was in the Founder's Fleet." She would have earned her place there, through merit. Those seats could not be bought with money - and there were no quotas, of race or gender, in the Jeffersonian system. "The next few generations made their home on New Texas. Eventually, they did their parts in the War. My third-great maternal grandfather was elected Governor of Laos Province shortly after Terra became a Member World.
"My father's line traces back to Europe, and the German Empire. U-Boat commanders in both World Wars, father and son. Remarkably, both survived. After Terra was Liberated, that generation took to the Diaspora, leapfrogging along with the Frontier. Some cousins and such still are, out there. Along the way my grandfather, as a young man, met a lovely Chinese girl, and their son in his turn met a lovely Laotian girl, and here I am.
"Perhaps it's vanity to carry such weapons, but they are functional, their appearance pleases me, and their style pays tribute to my ancestors.
"Neues Deutschland is a constitutional monarchy, as I'm sure you know. It was founded by survivors, keeping Germany's culture alive, often in secret, through the Second Holocaust and the time of the Empire." The Second Holocaust was the wave of Islamic "refugees" who flooded Europe in the first third of the 21st Century CE. The few nations who resisted - Poland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland - found themselves under political and economic pressure from the European Union and the United Nations. What few survived that, found themselves under orbital bombardment from the UN's "Peacekeeping" Fleet, as it transformed into the Terran Empire. Neues Deutschland was founded by German patriots, much as Albion had been founded by comparable survivors and refugees from England. Albion's monarchy had failed and the English world had become a Member of the Republic, but the Germans had threaded the ideological needle and developed a functioning government.
Gormann went on: "My mother had earned Jeffersonian Citizenship and never renounced it; she even renewed every five Monticellan years, and never swore fealty to our Kaiser as my father did. Fortunately the two nations are allied, and there is precedent in law and treaty, so it never became a point of concern. Thus, I was born a Jeffersonian Subject.
"As I approached my age of majority, I chose the Jeffersonian path, in the Space Patrol, to become a sailor like my ancestors. I rose through the ranks, was selected for officer, rose again." A lot of Jeffersonian military officers were "mustangs", raised from enlisted and non-commissioned ranks, instead of straight out of academies. "You've said you read my file, so you know I commanded supply ships. Which I was quite good at, if I say so myself." Solomon nodded agreement with a smile, the record on that point was clear.
"After my forty Monticellan years, I took my pension and then took some merchant work - as you did earlier, Solomon." Both men never passed the rank of Lieutenant Commander while in regular service. Promotions were slow in the Long Peace. Solomon, in frustration, had left long before he could have earned a pension. "I must say, though, your success after leaving the Patrol is far greater than mine."
"Yours was greater than mine while in it," Danner answered. He had never commanded a ship of the Jeffersonian Republic while on active duty, and only by technicality, and the generosity of Admiral Maet of New Israel, did so now, as a Reserve Privateer.
Continued in the next excerpt....