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Review by The Scattering: Arrogation Review
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MISCORRECTION: ARROGATION (BOOK 1 - STORY 2)
Copyright © 2010 B.C. Young
Before John left, he was very explicit. None of us knew exactly what was going to happen or what profound affect it would have on our cause. But John made it very clear what was to occur during his absence.
“Do not, under any circumstances, do anything,” he strictly warned me. “There is a method to what we are doing here, and it must be planned out appropriately.” He paced back and forth during his speech, taking in the full width of the room.
He had asked me to join him in his Meeting Room. It was a comfortable and expansive room. Pictures hung on the walls showing scenery from unpopulated areas of the six planets. I was sitting at a table that sat in the middle of the room with plush chairs surrounding it. John continued pacing, and I continued looking up at him as he talked.
I had gathered that John was leaving for a while. At the time, I even wondered if I would ever see him again. And I wanted to listen to him. After all, he and my grandfather were the ones who had begun all of this together. They had seen the need for change among the planets and had the forethought to make a plan that would help bring the needed changes to fruition.
While they both took the lead, my grandfather ultimately was in charge. And John did not seem to mind that. They worked together as a great pair. Like two feet walking, one helped the other to keep moving. And things were going good.
However, the circumstances did change. My grandfather’s death nearly six years earlier caused a shift in power, and John was now in charge.
But I could not understand why we were to just do nothing while he was on leave or sabbatical or whatever you want to call it. All great causes need action. And we sure did give them action. I am still not quite sure how he pulled it off. But to lay dormant after all this time, seemed insane and contrary to positive action.
“Do you understand me?” John asked. He was adamant about this as if any wavering on my part would have catastrophic consequences.
“I understand what you are telling me,” I told him, “but I don’t understand why. How long will you be gone?”
“Just long enough for you to want to deviate from my orders,” he smiled.
“John, you know I trust you and have confidence in your reasoning. But do you think my grandfather would have felt this was the best course of action?” I felt that would wake him up and help him to see that moving at a snail’s pace with decisions and deeds would take forever to accomplish our goal.
John paused. The words hit him. Well, at least I thought they did until he spoke and he sounded more frustrated than anything else. His tall frame indicated he did not appreciate what I said. As he turned to me, I saw the years on his face that had aged him. The gray hair, the smile lines, and wrinkles on his forehead all pointed to a life of determination and that nothing was going to change now.
“Your grandfather and I both had a vision. And we were carrying out his vision. But I’m in control now, and while he and I agreed on many things, there were better ways that I felt we could reach our destination.”
And there it was. He was in control. Hanging that over my head four years ago worked. And after the event took place it continued to work. But now, all this time had gone by and we had seen nothing of John. No word from him. No communication.
“Listen, I know this is hard for you and difficult to completely understand. But I trust you to carry out my wishes. You may be only twenty years old, but you have a smart head on you. You know what we are working towards, and we’ll get there. I promise you.
“It’s very important that you follow my orders. You are the only one I can trust to be in command while I am away.”
Instantly, from that last statement, my whole demeanor changed. John trusted me. He needed me. There were plenty of other options to choose from at the time. But he was choosing me. A twenty year old kid with little experience, and someone over thirty years older than me wanted my help. At the time, I appreciated his trust in me, and I did not want to let him down.
“Remember,” John said, “I will know if you do any differently. And if you do, I’ll be there. Any attempt to go contrary to my orders will result in failure. But I know you will follow them, and there is nothing to worry about.” As he said this he put his arm on my shoulder as a signal to let me know of the confidence he had in me.
So I accepted his offer and told him he could depend on my adhering to his orders. I would maintain order and lay dormant until his return. My only task was to recruit and create a groundswell of support. But being so young and inexperienced, I did not take into account that my feelings would change after just four years. My feelings were the thing that pushed me to do and plan something bigger than before. Now I was in charge.
But John left with his trust in me and that I would carry out his command. He made his way to Cormos, as was planned. And I knew he made it and succeeded in what he set out to do. The attack on Central Market was all everyone on the six planets talked about at the time. And the name of the Karhath would never be forgotten.
The tone sounded signaling that someone was at my door. After some time, I had gotten used to this. Slowly, over the years, others began to feel the same way as me. Was John coming back? They did not know and they did not care. For the most part, I felt that I was the face of leadership to them now.
The door slid open, and my most important advisor walked into the room. Samuel was about twenty five years older than me. His experience showed on his face, which rarely cracked a smile. His hair was cut short and dark. It was apparent that there was a time when he was physically in shape, but over the years that converted over to a less desirable form. Even if physically he wasn’t the man he used to be, there was no doubt that his experience was beyond mine. Though this was the case, he did not let that affect the fact that someone so much younger than himself was his superior.
“Sir, preparations are just about finished, and we expect to be ready within eighteen hours,” he said to me, standing at attention much like a military soldier.
“At ease Sam,” I tended to have to play the part of my position and say things that I felt were mundane and campy. “Why don’t you have a seat? The chef is bringing me something to eat. Do you want anything?”
“I’ll have whatever you are having, sir,” he said.
Samuel sat down opposite me at my desk. The room was far from the Meeting Room John used. For several reasons, we had moved the headquarters of our operation to another location on the planet. The accommodations were cramped. My “Meeting Room” was the same place that I slept, bathed, and lived. Needless to say, the room was cluttered with papers, clothes, and uncomfortable furniture.
Reaching out my hand, I tapped the communications link on my desk. “Gloria, please bring an extra meal for my guest. He’ll have what I am having.”
“No problem, sir,” was Gloria’s reply over the speaker.
“So is there anything else to report on our progress, Sam?” I asked Samuel, getting back to the matter at hand.
“Nothing out of the ordinary. Given that the scope of this operation is considerably smaller and less complicated than before, I don’t see us running into any problems.” Samuel’s expression showed some concern. While the operations and setup for the next day may have been going smoothly, I could tell from the expression on his face that there was something troubling him.
“Good, good. Sometimes things like these can go just as planned. All the technical aspects can be checked and doubled checked. Equipment can be examined for functionality and have no problems. As a matter of fact, everything on paper looks to be just as it should. But –” I paused in an attempt to let Samuel know I was going to open a path for him to discuss what was on his mind. That was if he wanted to discuss it.
“Yes sir,” he said.
“Please, Sam. How many times have I told you, call me Aaron? We are friends here. You are the best person I have to advise me. Without your insight and encouragement, I never could have made it after what occurred on Cormos.”
“Sorry, Aaron. It’s a force of habit. You were saying.”
“But sometimes there are aspects you can’t control. Parts that you cannot be totally sure of. Surely what happened after Cormos told us that.”
Samuel knew exactly what I was talking about. John had succeeded in an attack on Cormos. It was an amazing display. The blue flashes of light. The pinpoint accuracy of the attack. No one expected what came that day. John only told us something would take place that would solidify the Karhath name. We did not know what was coming or what would take place. But John had something up his sleeve that we had never seen before or since that time.
Knowing that he was leaving me in charge, I had attempted a parallel attack on the remaining five planets. John did not know anything about this. Each of these attacks was to happen in succession shortly after the event on Cormos. But they never came to their culmination. Somehow each of the planned bombings never happened. Oddly enough every single bomb had failed to detonate.
However, despite the failed attempts on the other planets, the attack on Cormos reverberated throughout the planets. And even though the bombs on the other planets had failed, news agencies somehow got a hold of that information and let it be known. One successful attempt and five failed ones was enough to make the impact that was needed.
“I don’t want failure this time, Sam. So if there is anything on your mind that concerns you, please tell me.” I said.
Samuel shifted in his seat. Clearly something was troubling him, and he wanted to be sure to word it in a way that would not affect me negatively.
“People have been talking,” he said quietly, as if someone was listening in on our conversation. “They are concerned. Everyone here knows what John said. Nothing was to happen in his absence. We were to lay dormant and gain support while he was gone.”
“So what has our Groundswell been talking about?”
“Some are questioning what we are now doing. John said do nothing, and yet tomorrow we are doing something. This has been going on for a while, but in the end, you are in control, and they are respecting that.”
“Well that sounds like a good thing then to me,” I said with confidence. Some in the Groundswell may have felt we should follow John’s orders. That was to be expected. However, when all was said and done, they were following my orders. They knew who was in charge. They would carry out what was asked of them.
“Yes. It is good. But I fear what may result if for any reason this attack fails.” Samuel said.
“What do you mean?” I asked. After having just told me that everything looked ready to go and that everyone was going to carry out the plan even if they did disagree with it, I was not sure why he was still having doubts.
“You remember what happened with the planned attacks on the other five planets after Cormos? You took control and tried to carry those out behind John’s back. Everyone knew he would be gone for a time and wanted to show you support. But the fact that they failed affected everyone. It brought into question your ability to lead them.”
This was true. For a brief period of time, I thought someone would try to usurp the position that John had given me. If not for Samuel, it would have happened.
“Yes, but many of our Groundswell now were not even a part of our group at the time. They don’t even really know who John is. Those doubts are hidden in only a small percentage of the Karhath.” I said with confidence.
“But people talk Aaron. I’m sure just about everyone knows about what happened. And now, if the plan tomorrow fails and you couple that with disobeying John’s orders while he’s been gone, I fear what it will mean for your position.”
The repercussions of failure no doubt worried Samuel because a letdown could mean the end of my authority. And with the end of my authority comes the end of Samuel’s position as my advisor.
“Listen, Sam, we’ve been through a lot together. You’ve supported me, stood up for me, and defended me. If not for you I would have been gone a long time ago. And I trust that what you have helped me coordinate will succeed.”
The tone signaled at my door. Gloria entered the room. She was a striking woman. Her hair was dark and long with her skin and height being much the same. She smiled at Samuel and me as she placed our meals on my desk. After confirming that everything was as it should be regarding our meals, she turned to walk out of the room. I watched her as she walked towards the door. Just before she left the room, she turned her head and looked at me. I smiled slightly. She winked one of her dark brown eyes and proceeded out of the room.
A moment of silence overtook the room as we began eating. Even the most important conversations needed to take a back seat to the needs of the body.
“I appreciate your words, Aaron,” Samuel said with a slight smile.
“You know every one of them is true,” I reassured him.
“I keep thinking,” he said. “John’s words to you were very clear. Don’t do anything. Gather support. He said it would be a while before he returns but then doesn’t give a timeframe.”
“I play those words over and over in my head too,” I told him.
“All signs point to him not surviving the attack he started. Ever since that day on Cormos, we have heard absolutely nothing from him. I wonder if he is still alive.”
“That is a possibility. And it is one I lean towards. He left me in charge, gave me instructions and nothing else. Now, four years have past and still no word. That’s why I am doing this. If I don’t, the support we are gathering may start to wane because no one will see any action taking place for change amongst the planets.”
Some would argue that a violent attack does not motivate any to force change. They would say that instead of garnering support for your cause, you just create more enemies. To a degree, that may be true. But if enough people have had enough of what their government has given them, they can become a force for change. That support was being found more and more when it came to the Karhath. On all six of the planets the numbers were growing.
Samuel continued with his thought.
“But let’s say he did survive. That he hasn’t gone missing. Then his words still hold weight. They still have meaning.”
I was feeling uneasy about what Samuel wanted to say. Obviously there was something he wanted to communicate, but he was leading up to it. Building it around a logical conclusion would be the best way to convince someone of the accuracy of a statement.
“What are you thinking, Sam?” I asked.
Samuel hesitated. I could tell he did not want to offend or upset me. He just wanted to know if I thought this through in the same manner that he was thinking.
“Well, look back at our history. Our group has only been active for what? fifteen years? Your grandfather and John started the whole thing. They were tired of what they were seeing in government. How each planet, each working its own way of ruling, failed to bring any real benefit to the people. And you know where that lead?” he asked me, trying to help me draw the conclusions he had already made.
“They started the Karhath,” I said.
“Yes, they started the Karhath. But they didn’t just start an organization built on attacks to get their way. Violent acts were not the ultimate goal in bringing change.”
“But, Sam, that’s the only way anyone is going to listen right now,” I said, a little upset. It appeared Samuel did not feel what was happening the next day was wise. The appearance was that these people in the Groundswell, who voiced their concern about the wisdom of this decision, included Samuel himself.
“They made sure the Karhath had two very distinct sides. There was our side. A group that would be painted by the media as radical and to be avoided. This came about through orchestrated acts, most non violent, that gave a perception of power.
“And then there was the political wing of the Karhath they formed. The more composed, professional group. This part of the group was respected, while we are looked at as some who defected from the group because our means were drastic in getting things done. While the two groups are the same, they give the appearance outwardly that they are at odds with one another.”
“So what is your point?”
“Why was the political wing of the Karhath formed by your grandfather and John?” he asked me.
The answer to this question was obvious, and Samuel knew it. But it all played into why he felt John wanted us to sit still and pad the ranks with larger numbers.
“It was formed to put a legitimate face on the Karhath. My grandfather and John, well mostly John, felt that if a political party could be formed that can become a force within the government, then the change could be brought about through non violent means. But if that wing failed to succeed, then our wing of the Karhath would step it up and make it happen.”
“Exactly,” he said excitedly.
“And that is what we are doing. Look at the ranks in the political wing over the past fifteen years, Sam.” I raised my voice slightly to help him understand I did not appreciate his questioning my decision in the eleventh hour. “We have one person in office. The Karhath name is known but not because of that one person. It’s known because of what happened on Cormos.”
“That’s true,” he said. “But maybe we need to give it more time. Maybe that is why John said to do nothing. If we are gathering support and enough time goes by, voting these members of the Karhath political party into office will become easier and easier.
“But if we act, and we carry out another attack that could all be lost. The credibility of the political wing could be badly hurt. The timing of it all could be disastrous.”
“You’re contradicting yourself, Sam. First, you’re concerned that the event tomorrow will fail and what it will mean. And now you are concerned that if it succeeds there could be consequences. What do you want to have happen?”
“Well –” he began, but before he could continue, I interrupted him. The question I had asked him was meant to be rhetorical.
“No. I refuse to believe that John would tell me not to do anything and then carry out the one event that made the Karhath name known everywhere. He saw the importance of an action that would make an immediate impact. It’s very clear to me John would have been back a long time ago, but he is in all likelihood dead. That’s the end of the discussion. We carry out the attack tomorrow, as planned, and nothing changes.”
“Now wait one minute, Aaron. That isn’t the end of the discussion,” Samuel said, visibly angry. “I have been advising you for four years, and I have been a part of the Karhath for twelve. I would not be telling you any of this if I didn’t have concern for you and our group. I am not trying to lead you down a path of harm. I am trying to make sure I steer you clear of it.
“The best thing to do right now is to wait. Call off the attack tomorrow. Postpone it. I fear what tomorrow might mean for you and the Karhath.”
Anger was filling the room. Despite Samuel’s opposition to my decision and his lack of trust in my judgment, I still respected him. He was only speaking what he felt was correct in his heart, and I could not fault him for that. But regardless, I disagreed with him. It certainly was not the first time I made a decision contrary to what he felt was best. He was my advisor. He was not in charge. The ultimate decision came on me, and he knew it. The hope he must have felt in being able to sway me would not happen.
Mildly and quietly, I spoke to him.
“Sam, my decision on this is final. The attack occurs tomorrow.”
After a few seconds of hanging his head low, Samuel said, “Yes, sir” in a subdued voice.
We both looked down at our meals that we had barely touched, except for that brief moment before our argument. The rest of the dinner was eaten in silence. The tension in the air was so thick it could have supported the weight of one hundred men.
“Goodnight, sir,” Samuel said to me after finishing his meal and preparing to leave the room.
“Goodnight, Sam,” I said.
Before he left the room, I needed to make sure he was still with me. That I had his support and that I could trust him.
“Sam,” I called to him as he reached the doorway.
“Yes, sir,” he said.
“I can trust you to put everything you and your team have into tomorrow’s event, correct?”
“Whatever the circumstances sir, you have my full support.” He saluted me then turned to walk out the door.
The door slid closed and I sat there in silence with my thoughts. I debated in my mind what Samuel had said to me and whether I was making the correct decision. But in the end, it didn’t matter. If I were to call it off this late in the operation, many would see that as a sign of weakness. And there was no way I was going to let that happen.
The wound on Shepadon’s largest city, Torsu, could be seen from space. Rotating into view, in a murky haze, was a hexagonal shape that had been burned into the planet’s surface. The sun floated back and forth as the shape could be seen going in and out. No doubt confusion abounded in Torsu. Many were dead and more would be dead soon. A lesson had been taught.
Floating into my line of sight aboard the ship was the smiling face of Samuel. A glow was behind him, and he continually stuck out his hand to shake mine and said, “Well done sir. I had the utmost confidence in you.”
News reports flickered to life on monitors throughout the main bridge of the ship. “An excellent feat,” said one report. “It’s about time!” said another. One report came from a holovision. The news reporter sat directly next to me and said, “If ever the Karhath were going to make their mark, this was the way to do it.”
The feeling of victory overwhelmed all my senses. Samuel’s face continued to smile in front of me. He stuck out his hand to shake mine and said, “Well done sir. I had the utmost confidence in you.”
A haze overcame my vision. “Sir,” came the call from a crew member, “all looks okay.” I turned toward him and smiled. He smiled back. “Sir, you might want to reevaluate the situation!” I was somewhat confused.
“Well done sir. I had the utmost confidence in you,” Samuel said sticking out his hand to shake mine.
More news reports. “A failure,” came one report. “The end of the Karhath as a result of a failed attempt,” came another. The holovision reporter sitting next to me said, “If ever the Karhath were going to fail, this was the way to do it.”
“The monitor!” someone yelled.
I turned my head towards the main display. The hexagonal burn on the surface of Shepadon was changing. In the same manner in which the burn was made into the city it began to dissipate from the outside towards the center. It imploded on itself until eventually no evidence of its destruction could be seen from space.
“I warned you about this sir,” Samuel’s angry face came into view. “It’s done now. You’re nothing.” He withdrew his hand and glided towards the exit of the bridge. Before leaving, he turned to me and said, “Wake up! Wake up!”
My body began shaking and trembling. “Wake up!”
I opened my eyes. In front of me was Connor, the person overseeing operations for the day’s mission. “We have two hours before execution, sir. You overslept. I’ll be waiting for you outside.” He walked out of the room, visibly irritated that on this important day in our brief history I would fail to wake up on time.
It took a few minutes for me to discern what was real and what was a dream. As things became more coherent, I remembered when it was and what was happening. Pulling the sheets off of me, I got out of bed and began getting ready for the day’s events.
The hallway that led to the Observation Room was cold. I moved slowly. Connor was next to me, and I could feel him trying to push me down the hallway to quicken my pace. His height was short, but his passion wasn’t. I glanced at him and saw his perfectly combed back blond hair, and his bright bluish-gray eyes. He had the look of a person determined to accomplish his goal as he tried to hurry me along. But on that day, I needed to soak in everything. Many things were going through my mind as to what the outcome of the day would bring. Planning an event is one thing. Seeing it through to fruition is another. So I kept my pace slow.
As I walked, I could feel the coldness of the walls around me without having to touch them. The silver color of the metal was brightened only by the harsh lighting overhead. Where would I be after that day? There was always the possibility that I was found out and pursued. But that was an outcome I needed to expect.
No matter what was going to happen, there would be no regret. The outcome would be the outcome. I needed to accept any consequences, good or bad, that came from my decisions.
We reached the Observation Room approximately one hour before everything was to take place. I walked inside the room, and as usual, found it to be a dark room lit up only by the array of monitors along the far wall. Blinking lights could be found throughout the room at the consoles that were used to manipulate the screens to show video of different camera angles.
This look of the room was purposeful. The Observation Room also worked as a control center. By keeping the room dark, all of the buttons on the consoles and monitors could be easily seen and accessed with better accuracy. We discovered this after running some tests. We had found that with lighting above, there was a higher tendency to push the wrong button due to a deadening of the color brightness of the buttons.
“Report,” I called out.
“Everyone is in position and ready sir,” a voice responded. In the dim light, I could not make out who was who. Many who were brought on board to monitor the events were people I had never even met. But Samuel knew who was best for each position, and I trusted his instincts.
As I glanced around the room, I tried to locate Samuel. Surprisingly, he had not greeted me when I reached the Observation Room. I began to wonder if our disagreement the night before had caused him to reconsider what he was in charge to do.
“Good morning, sir,” I heard Samuel say from behind me. I turned around to see him making his way through the entrance to the Observation Room. His eyes looked tired, and he carried his weight with an unusual slowness.
“Good morning, Sam. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to make it. Is everything okay?”
“Yes,” he said. “I’m fine. It was somewhat of a late night, that’s all. I had some things on my mind, and I thought some Persean wine would help me relax. I tend to forget that a little bit of it will do just that, but any more will have an undesired affect,” he said with a smile.
Obviously what was happening today was troubling Samuel. But his smile told me he was with me. His humorous mention of the Persean wine told me all was well. He disagreed with me, but it wasn’t going to stop him from backing me up one hundred percent.
“Good to hear,” I said, smiling back at him. “I’m glad you could make it.”
“Mission Check everyone,” Samuel called. “Let’s verify everyone is good to go. I’m sure you’ve done this several times already, but we need to make sure we have no glitches or malfunctions in preparation.”
Everyone in the room began running their test to verify all aspects of the mission were in order. Those working the monitors verified all video feeds were active and holding. Those in control of backup control of the explosives made sure they had access to them in the case that they would need to activate them. Next was the roll call to the six stations in the Shepadon city of Torsu, where the detonations would take place.
“Station One”, Samuel called out after a direct channel had been opened.
“Check,” came the affirmation from One.
“Here sir,” confirmed Two.
“All ready,” was the definitive response from Three.
“Everything’s good here,” said Four without hesitation.
“Ready to go,” said Five with confidence.
“And finally Station Six.”
“All set,” Six said quickly.
To continue reading this story you can purchase on Smashwords, or for Amazon Kindle, and Barnes & Noble Nook for only $0.99. Do you live in the UK? You can purchase this story for your Amazon Kindle for only £0.70.