The Last Battle.
Galactographic! remembers the anniversary of the end of the Holy Wars.
However you reckon it, as far as the inhabitants of Wishart are concerned next month sees the Millennium of the last battle of the Holy Wars, the destruction of the city of Brethrens Host and the loss of the Blessed Flagship Jerweh.
The events are connected, as all schoolchildren know, indeed watching the video of the final moments is required at all schools and watching it happen is believed by some to be the main reason why that was the last battle in Federation history. After all, seeing twenty thousand tonnes of spacecraft, its hull red from uncontrolled re-entry slam into a city of seventeen million souls is a sight most would not wish to see anywhere but from the safety of a thousand years away. The planet shook and indeed its orbit was changed, it became a place of perpetual rain, “a world of grey skies, weeping for the dead,” as one poet put it.
Even weather control, suggested after the event to restore the climate to what it was before never really caught on, it was as if the survivors felt that they were in need of a constant reminder. A new city was built, on the plains in sight of the old; which was left to be reclaimed by nature. People adapted to the new climate, crops still grew but the planet lost its place as the centre of the Blessed, the Holy rulers of the Third Federation. And incidentally, a lot of the history of mankind’s exploration of the Galaxy was lost with it.
So beyond the basic facts, which are known to all; what else can we draw from the Holy Wars as a chapter in history. How do they explain the way the Federation is today?
Before the Holy Wars, the whole of humanity was part of the Blessed’s domain, the religious order had taken over the running of the planets in a rigid fashion, all from the planet of Wishart, which according to their beliefs was the centre of the mysteries of creation. Why they should think that is unknown but it is believed that they thought that Wishart was the planet of humanities origin. The problem is that all information on that subject was censored long ago and was not shared with the rank and file inhabitants. Wishart simply was and no argument was allowed.
For whatever reason Wishart was the Holy planet and it had no export except for one thing. All that came from it was the numbing, controlling bureaucracy of the state, as time passed this became such an insufferable yoke that even the trusted of the Blessed could see that the end was in sight.
Priest overlords were trained on Wishart, in the vast seminary cloisters of the university, to administer a galaxy, all doing whatever the book told them and all answerable only to the council on Wishart. In the end, corruption was rife; the book was used as a justification for everything, even when it contradicted itself.
It should not be forgotten, though, that initially the Blessed were a force for good, the galaxy was unified and all competing religion was absorbed over a long period of time into a single belief. This removed the need to fight to prove that any God was ‘better’ or more justified than any other, as now there was only one. The consequence was that the lack of debate stifled the human emotions that had led to the taming of the cosmos. And the distortion of history and transfer of the repository of all human knowledge to Brethrens Host meant that traditions died and the past became a secret. There was no need for adventure, no need for individuality in the world of the Blessed, indeed any signs of such were ruthlessly suppressed, lest they grow to challenge the order of things.
The Galaxy stagnated, planetary exploration decreased, science and technology, on the face of it racing as fast as ever in fact merely consisted of the refinement of existing ideas.
A group of Naval Captains, Dror and Douglas and others, met secretly to plot and complain, in the end, faced with exposure as a rebel a Captain called Wakes killed his priest navigator, on the warship Adoration.
He took his ship and joined with several others, the Blessed sent a force of loyal ships to bring him to trial. The rebel Captains resisted and the Galaxy was plunged into the Holy Wars. Planets took sides, admirals rebelled and chaos ensued.
And of course, the culmination of that chaos took place seven years later. By then, both sides were tired of all the fighting, nothing had really been gained and there were few ships left. The war was a now a series of skirmishes and terrorism. Planets were isolated and divided.
Then, the Blessed flagship Jerweh was attacked in the space above Wishart by some of the last remaining ships of the rebels. Without its escort, which had defected and joined in the attack, it was doomed, but instead of exploding in orbit, somehow the ship was caught in the upper reaches of the atmosphere while trying to escape. Its engines damaged and control gone; gravity sucked it down, it flashed across the skies and the remnants of the devout saw it as a great sign of displeasure.
With a grim inevitability, it crashed into the city of Brethrens Host, detonating all the ordinance onboard and razing the city. Between twelve and fifteen million died and the shock waves made ripples in the planet’s crust, jerking it like a shaken carpet. The effects were felt everywhere, tidal waves, volcanoes and earthquakes resulted, completing the destruction.
So that’s where we came in, so to speak.
In the aftermath, a peace was negotiated, the Blessed may have lost their capital and many of their hierarchy but they would not go quietly. Under the control of Pro-Cardinal Chen, who had survived in the underground vaults of the university, they argued for separation, the splitting of the Galaxy into two, those who wanted religious government and those who did not.
To a war-weary population, the vote was a chance to start again, and when all the votes were counted the Federation was divided. On one side were the majority, who had had enough of religion and became what we are today, the Fourth Federation, on the other the planets who wished to remain under the spell of the Blessed formed themselves into a thing they called the Independent Worlds.
To avoid a repeat of the events of the wars, people were given a chance to relocate if they decided they had made the wrong choice, this was a masterstroke as it energised the industry of both factions to produce new ships, explore and settle new worlds and give people freedom.
The other result was to give the planets of the Federation considerably more autonomy; there was still a capital, on Callo, and a Federation-wide legal and trade system but administration was left very much at a local level.
Over the years, the two entities have grown apart, we in the Federation know little of the conditions in the Independent Worlds, official links are maintained, trade exists but contact between the masses is reserved for the pleasure planets of Qister Alu and Iaprion. What news there is suggests that the Blessed keep rigid control, just as they always did.
But recently, a trader, whose name we cannot reveal, had told us that there is a place in the Independent Worlds that holds a copy of all the history of the galaxy, thought lost since the destruction a thousand years ago.
We at Galactographic! are naturally excited at the thought of all that information to sift through and have sent requests to our government, encouraging them to explore the possibility of an official visit, as yet no reply has been received.
If and when we do, and if we are allowed to go, we will take you with us as we uncover the things that the Blessed kept from us, our rightful heritage, who knows what else might be waiting to be discovered.
Note from Richard Dee
What we have here is a bit of the back story I wrote when trying to make Myra authentic. It also touches on events in Freefall, linking the universes together. Things may not always agree, however, but then as memory fades stories change and even on one planet the past is sometimes uncertain. Imagine how it would be over several hundred planets and thousands of years!
My theory is that even when we move into the Galaxy we will take all our vices and enmities with us, things may often play out in the same way as they do now, only on a larger stage.
And I’m sure you can see the story potential for a quest to recover the history of mankind, kept from us by an overbearing religious group who wish to keep the truth for themselves.
Next, a short story exploring how the greatest discovery ever was made.