Iteriú Rangatira’s Finest Hour

Captain Haddock was standing in front of his seat. He was watching what was happening on the main monitor of the bridge very closely. The outboard cameras had already captured them: spaceships, a total of 24. They had broken out of the ring of siege that had encircled the solar system for some time and were heading for Uranus.
“The ship is on alert!” Reported Commander Pellton. “We can strike at your command.”
“Very nice,” said Haddock. “Unfortunately I don’t have an exact strategy. A squadron of combat ships heading for Lokubami. Who is the squadron leader of our ships?”
“The boss himself, de la Valliere.”
Haddock nodded approvingly. “I should have guessed. He’d rather fly such a mission himself. Open a channel to Valliere for me.”
An officer in the background of the bridge activated the communication. “Valliere is on the line!” He finally said.
“Here is the bridge,” said Haddock. “Valliere, can you hear me?”
“Clearly and clearly,” was Valliere’s voice over the radio. “We’re ready to go. Any important last words?”
“No. You have full freedom of action for this mission,” replied Haddock. “The goal is clear: The squadron must not reach Lokubami! Should individual fighters get through, the BOURGOGNE is ready as a second line. It would be nice, but that is not a must if you would just damage one of the fighters so we can bring it in and take a look at it. “
“We do what we can, sir. I can’t guarantee anything.”
“All right. Then you have approval. If the going gets tough, the HOOD would still be nearby and would support us.”
“Understood, sir. We’re starting now.”

The BOURGOGNE space fighters met their opponents at a safe distance from the planet and a wild battle ensued. Haddock and Pellton watched the whole thing on the monitor from the bridge.
“Do you notice how strangely these alien space fighters move?” Asked Pellton.
“Indeed,” said Haddock. “The movements are extremely jagged and very difficult to follow, especially with a cannon. But sometimes the response time is very long. What can that mean?”
“I don’t know if it’s important for now, but I think these space fighters are unmanned.”
Haddock turned his head and looked at Pellton. “Remote controlled or flown by computers?”
“I think more of the latter,” Pellton mused. “The fast movements speak for it. And then, when too many impressions come at once, the computer no longer responds and reacts too late. There is a reason why we even use people to remotely control the unmanned space fighters and not computers. “
“The human brain under stress is superior to any computer,” said Haddock. Then he turned to the communications officer. “Open a channel to Valliere for me.”
A few seconds later the radio connection was established. “Valliere here! It’s difficult, but we should be able to do it!” Reported Valliere.
“I believe you, but we noticed something that might make your work a little easier,” said Haddock. “It looks like the space fighters are unmanned and controlled by computers. If we create enough distraction, the computers will be overwhelmed and the space fighters will slow down.”
“Sounds logical. What do you suggest, Captain?”
“We’re going to fire a few shots from the ship’s cannon,” said Haddock. “Light energy that just sizzles a bit. But the space fighters have to react to it first.”
“All right! We are prepared!”
The captain gave the order: “Con, fire the on-board cannon with minimal energy in a ring around the alien space fighters. Try not to hit our space ships!”

The strategy seemed to be working. The shots of the BOURGOGNE caused a distraction and more and more of the foreign space fighters fell victim to the fire of Valliere’s squadron. Victory seemed near. And whenever victory seems to be near, a law of nature wants it, something happens again.
One of the bridge’s navigators answered. “Sir, I’ve got an echo on my radar! It’s huge …”
Pellton checked the radar. “There’s something coming from the back of the planet,” he said. “Is that … Can that be a moon?”
“No sir,” said the officer. “It’s not a moon. It seems like a space station!”
“Too big for a space … station …”
At that moment it was also visible on the screen. A huge sphere with a brown surface emerging from the shadow of Uranus.
“Is that supposed to be a space station?” Asked the communications officer. “Looks like a goddamn coconut!”
“And on which palm tree is it supposed to have grown?” Asked Haddock sarcastically. “Con, realign cannon, full power. I don’t know what that is, but it doesn’t look friendly!”
A message was heard over the radio: “BOURGOGNE Warning! We are now taking action. Keep distracting the space fighters!”
Pellton looked at Haddock in confusion. “Who was that?”
One could see a laser beam that shot past the BOURGOGNE towards the foreign space station. The beam struck the surface of the sphere and caused a couple of explosions.
“Sir! You won’t believe it,” the navigational officer exclaimed enthusiastically. “This is the FREEDOM BALLOON! It shot at the station!”
In fact, the FREEDOM BALLOON went unnoticed alongside the BOURGOGNE. Now she fired a second time. The second shot also hit. The alien space station changed course, away from the planet, and increased speed.
The face of a Lokubam woman appeared on the main screen of the BOURGOGNE. Haddock and Pellton looked amazed.
“But …” Haddock stuttered. “How can that be? You are still on board the FREEDOM BALLOON?”
The woman was Iteriú Rangatira, the representative of Adjungit Inkibus. That Inkibus who, after winning the confrontation, was to take over the office of Praetor of Lokubami.
“Yes,” answered Rangatira. “Tell me, Captain, how can I just wait on the planet while I know there is danger? The uprising a few days ago was just a foretaste. What happened today should be the main thing. And we know still not whether a few militias will strike on the planet after all. “
“But … the ceremony is supposed to take place today!” Said Pellton. “And you’re still on the spaceship.”
“I still have eight hours,” said Rangatira. “That’s enough to take me on a shuttle, fly to the planet and be there in time for the ceremony.”
“Sir,” interrupted the communications officer, “a message from Valliere. The enemy space fighters were destroyed. But the radar reports a second squadron approaching.”
“With all due respect, madam,” said Haddock, “but you should get to the planet as soon as possible. We’re going to do a bit of cleaning up here. See that you fix this with the militias so that they can Ceremony can be done, okay? “
“I’m afraid you are right,” admitted Rangatira. “I will leave the FREEDOM BALLOON in the hands of its capable captain.”
“I can provide escort to your shuttle,” said Haddock. “So that you arrive safely on the planet’s surface.”
“I gladly accept that.”
Haddock turned to Pellton. “Let our second squadron take off as escort for the FREEDOM BALLOON shuttle. In the meantime, we’ll stir up the space fighters a bit.”
“Yes, sir!”

Survival Game

Lieutenant Connie Allaire had drawn her gun. The little switch on the side of the barrel was set to “strong stun”. But she feared that she would have to correct that again. The door in front of her was locked and barricaded with a half-raised cupboard. From outside you could hear someone banging on the door. In the beginning the beating was soft. Presumably the attackers had used their bare fists. But the beats got louder. The attackers had probably got their hands on some kind of object that they were now trying to use as a battering ram.

The room she tried to defend against the intruders was the great plenary hall of the Lokubami seat of government. Her captain had told her to get to safety, but the building was safe only for the praetor. He was able to withdraw into a protective bunker. The members of the government, the Senate and the Chamber of the People’s Representatives should actually be guarded by the protection forces, which should prevent intruders from entering the building. Allaire grimaced. There were clearly too many “shoulds” for her taste. How did this marauding band of demi-monkeys get so far into the building? Where was the security, the hell?

She looked around the room. The barricaded door was the main entrance. There were other doors, but they were also locked. You had to assume that the intruders were everywhere in the building. And if they would use the emergency exit, they would land in front of the building, in the middle of the mob. A woman, a Lokubami, came running.
“We have to get the documents to a safe place!” She said.
“What?” Asked Allaire, horrified. “Now is not the time to worry about any paper!”
“It’s not about any paper!” Protested the woman. “The documents are signed and if we want to depose Scurra according to the rules, they have to remain intact. Otherwise we have to get everything new. That takes a long time! And that is how long Scurra would stay in office!”
Allaire stared at her. That was exactly what the intruders wanted! The process of getting Scurra out of office shouldn’t just be disrupted, it should be stopped!
“But,” she asked, “where can we take these documents?”
“Via the second door we come into a corridor, and from there into the cellar. There is a safe there. We could take them there.”
“What if the insurgents try to break into the vault?”
“You will need days. But I hope that we will get support until then.”
Allaire sighed. She wasn’t sure about that. The words her captain had given her didn’t sound very positive. The coup was considered an “internal matter” unless someone from the Lokubami community made a request for help to ASTROCOHORS. And Praetor Scurra certainly wouldn’t.

“I have no idea how much longer we’ll have to hold out here,” Allaire admitted. “Can you arrange for the documents to go into the safe?”
“A colleague and I will do it,” said the woman. Allaire noticed that she hadn’t asked the woman for her name. There wasn’t time for politeness.
There was a crunch. The door! It started to splinter.
“Okay, do that!” Said Allaire. “We’re doing our best here.”
The woman went to another woman. Both of them gathered up the papers from a central lectern and put them in a metal case. Then the two of them took the metal case and disappeared through one of the side entrances.
At that moment a security man came running.
“It’s about time!” Allaird scolded. “Where have you been all this time!”
“I got the senators to safety. They’re in a separate room back there.”
“Without an exit, of course.”
“Of course. Such a situation hadn’t existed for a long time.”
“I think that’s an understatement. I’ll bet there has never been an armed uprising that the praetor personally instigated.”
Another crunch could be heard. The door moved but still held.
“So what do we do now?” Asked Allaire.
“If the door gives way, we’ll shoot anything that moves into the room and pull back to the senators. Then we’ll lock this room and … hope.”
“Hope? Do you still believe in Santa Claus?”
“Santa Claus?” The security guard looked confused. “I’m sorry, but I’m not that familiar with Terran culture.”
“It doesn’t matter that much,” Allaire growled. “I just wanted to say that we don’t have much to hope for. Your stupid praetor caused all of this. And he’s the only one who can help us. So what hope do we have?”
“His deputy could turn against him and ask for help. Or the house spokeswoman in an extreme emergency.”
“The deputy is a spineless worm who only cares about his own career. If he turns against Scurra, his career is over. And the house spokeswoman won’t get a chance, because sooner than she can call for help, Scurra will revoke the order . So again, what hope do we have? “
The door creaked again.
“Look here!” Said the security man. “I was a great fan of Scurra.”
“What? Sorry, but don’t you have a brain?”
“But it’s not me anymore! I … had to realize that he’s not the great man I thought he was.”
Allaire looked at the barricaded door. “A little late to have a conscience now, isn’t it? Where were your scruples when Scurra fueled this mob out there and made the situation we are in possible?”
“I … I don’t know … I’m not a bad person.”
“You still have to prove that to me! And I’ll tell you one thing: If we’re in there with the senators and this room is stormed too, I’ll throw you to this mob to eat!”
“It’s only fair,” muttered the security guard.
Both brought their weapons to the ready. At that moment the door broke open. The two shot. People fell. Allaire and the security guard slowly withdrew. The mob seemed unsure what to do next. That gave both of them a small advantage and they were able to retreat to the room where the senators had taken refuge.

Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Once in the room they pushed a larger cupboard in front of the door. Allaire shook her head. What a situation. The room was big enough to hold all the people who were there. They were understandably scared.
“I think,” said the security guard, “I got four of them. And you?”
Connie wiped the sweat from her forehead. She was about to answer when her eyes fell on the security guard’s gun.
“Your gun is set to ‘kill’!” She shouted.
“Of course!” Replied the security guard. “It’s nice to stun people, but we won’t get any further. We need some deterrence.”
“Some deterrence?”
“Madame,” he said, “listen up. My colleagues out there failed. I saw it on the monitor. A couple of them just let this gang in. They pulled back. And now the mob thinks … can you hear that? “
She heard it. The people who had broken into the chamber were shouting slogans. “Emperor Scurra! The Eternal Emperor! Scurra, Redeemer!”
“Fanatics. Now what? They’ll come here. And you’ve given them four more reasons to be really angry! Great! Besides, we have no idea whether your colleagues have failed, or if someone in the leadership has failed. The situation has definitely not gotten any easier! “
A low beep could be heard. That was Allaire’s communicator. She pulled the device from her belt and turned it on.
“Allaire here, BOURGOGNE, is that you? Please tell me something nice!”
“Here’s the captain,” came the radio. “I can even say something very nice: We’re coming! Hold on a little longer. Lieutenant Commander Villers and his team are on their way.”
“That is good news indeed,” replied Allaire. “I am in a separate room with the senators and a trigger-happy security guard behind the plenary chamber. The intruders have entered the chamber. There are at least four injured among the intruders, as far as we can estimate. And if you don’t hurry, we will there are a few more. “
“Villers will pacify the area. He will contact you as soon as he is in the building. BOURGOGNE over and out!”

Crawling from the ashes
 The Fenix rise again!
 Fighting for life, for good
 For all that we believe in
- "True Survivor" by Jorgen Kjell Elofsson / Johan Bengtsson

The Memory Bank of Scurra

It should be over at last. Votes, meetings, elections. Everything was done, the senators had discussed things and always came to a conclusion. And the result was that the days of Dumno Dvala Scurra as Praetor of the Lokubami people were numbered. The last time the mood had turned against him was when the armada of unknown warships had emerged that had sealed off the Sol system from the outside world. For a long time it had been assumed that these ships had been sent at the behest of the prepositus of the Usovai’i and that the prepositus and Scurra made common cause to bring both areas under control. There were still people protecting Scurra and saying it had nothing to do with it, but that seemed too incredible. Indeed, most of Scurra’s supporters were adamant that these warships would bring salvation. Heracle S. Nevikobros, a failed actor, had taken the lead in a quasi-religious movement and fueled such conspiracy myths. He spat poison and bile at everyone who disagreed with him, adding to the negative mood on Lokubami.

But now a delegation of MPs was on their way to Scurra’s office. They should tell him the result. But they had a fear, for Iteriú Rangitara had returned from her mission and had confirmed that the foreign warships were in contact with militias loyal to Scurra. Still, none of the senators wanted to believe that Scurra would really attempt a coup. If they brought him the news of his disempowerment, they believed, he would be furious and say nasty things, but that’s about it. They thought he was a whisk. He would make a lot of fuss and then pull away like he always did. They had no idea how wrong they were.

They entered the office. Dumno Dvala Scurra sat at his desk, surrounded by computer screens. He looked up.
“Master Speaker of the House,” said Scurra, almost delighted. “Then I assume that we will finally have a result.”
“Prepositus Scurra,” said Sylvanya, the appointed Speaker of the House of Senators, “I must inform you that, according to the will of the House and the people, you no longer hold this office. It is the will that Adjungit Inkibus will replace you . “
“I see,” said Scurra. “So it’s treason.”
“The procedure followed the rules,” said Sylvanya. “Contrary to your constant allegations of manipulation and corruption, not a single piece of evidence has been found. The government will …”
“I AM THE GOVERNMENT!” Scurra yelled.
Then something happened, the extent of which none of those present could initially grasp. Scurra picked up a data stick, a memory bank that was used every day. He slipped it into a slot on his desk. A question mark appeared on one of the screens. Scurra’s gaze darkened.
“Execute Order 88.”

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash
Dominos falling
 Riot in the streets
 Baby this time
 There's no retreat
 There's no surrender
 A devil is rising
 A shadow from the past
 Feeding the flames with fire
 On the edge of fury
- "True Survivor" by Jorgen Kjell Elofsson / Johan Bengtsson

The USS BOURGOGNE was in orbit around Uranus. Captain Haddock was sitting in his chair on the bridge, looking through various messages on a data pad. It finally seemed to be over. The reports that came from Lokubami were cautiously positive. The process of forming a government and how the area’s head of state was appointed were also too complicated. On the other hand, of course, he knew it was on purpose. It was about the fact that in Lokubami a power-hungry elite had secured their benefices for decades and centuries. This worked best with a system that was as complicated as possible. In fact, democratic factions had always managed to outmaneuver the system and create a moment of truthfulness. Just like at this moment, or so it seemed. So now the MPs would go to Scurra and …
Commander Pellton came running to the bridge.
“Captain!” He exclaimed excitedly. “Scurra – he speaks to the people!”
“About time,” said Haddock. “Time to end this unworthy spectacle and finally turn to the right problems …”
“No, Captain, he’s calling for an uprising!”
Pellton turned to the communications officer. “Put on the channel of the Lokubami government! Quick!”

The communications officer turned to his desk and hit a few buttons. The large main umbrella of the bridge came on and the portrait of Dumno Dvala Scurra appeared.
“I’ll say it again,” they heard him speak, “Go to the seat of government! Don’t let yourself be stopped! I’m always with you, I’m your supporter! Now you have to support me so that this country can be transformed … to FIRST SOLAR EMPIRE! My new empire will be the greatest empire we have ever seen here and it will be a great empire. The worlds will look up again to the Lokubami, as it should be. Because we are the regents of the solar system! “
“That … he didn’t say,” Haddock stuttered.
“Yes, sir, he did,” Pellton contradicted.
“HIS new empire? Who does he think he is? The space emperor?”
“Sir!”, The communications officer interrupted, “I get reports that a mob is making its way to the seat of government in Lokubami. The barriers and protection forces are being overrun.”
The officer pressed a few buttons again. The picture on the screen changed. You saw an outside view of the government building and people approaching it. People started breaking windows and kicking doors.
“Sir, I’m hearing a speech from Kalgon of Arcadis on another channel,” said the communications officer. “He calls for a revolution and demands unconditional submission to Scurra’s new empire.”
“Sir, Lieutenant Allaire is down there!” Said Commder Pellton.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Captain, as you remember, after what had happened over the past few days, there should be observers down there. Neutral observers. Lieutenant Connie Allaire was chosen by us.”
“Wait a minute – and where is she exactly?”
“She is with the delegation that was tasked with informing Scurra of the outcome of the discussions.”
Haddock jumped up from his seat. “You’re telling me that Lieutenant Allaire is down there at the center of the riot?”
“That’s what it looks like.”
“What can we do?”
“Not much, sir. We can only intervene if there is an official request. From the Lokubami government. And that government, whether we like it or not, is still headed by Scurra at the moment.”
“He’s never going to call on anyone!” Said Haddock. “He wanted exactly what was happening!”
The captain turned to the communications officer. “See if you can contact Lieutenant Allaire!”
The officer turned to his desk. He made a few adjustments, then spoke into a microphone: “Lieutenant Allaire, this is BOURGOGNE. Do you hear me?”
It took a few seconds, then the officer’s face brightened. “I have her!”
“On the speakers!” Ordered Captain Haddock. Then he said into the room: “Here is the captain! How are you, Lieutenant?”
“I’m fine. What’s wrong?” Allaire said over the radio.
“Haven’t you noticed anything yet?”
“Praetor Scurra activated a memory bank and played a recorded speech. Then he retired to the private chambers and has since refused any contact. Why? What is happening now?”
“Planned!” Scolded Haddock. “That hellhound planned it all!”
“Of course he did,” Pellton agreed. “Since the moment he realized that he would no longer hold his office.”

“Captain,” said Allaire suddenly, “strange noises can be heard here. What is happening?”
“Now listen carefully to me!” Said Haddock urgently. “You have to get yourself and the others to safety! The speech that Scurra played there had its full effect. Right now an armed mob is invading the seat of government. We cannot say what else will happen.”
“I see,” said Allaire. “Is there anything you can do to help us?”
“I would love to. But according to the regulations, it is still an ‘internal matter’ at the moment. We must not intervene if we are not requested.”
“Scurra will never make a requirement,” Allaire said. “I’ll ask the spokeswoman for the house if she can achieve anything. One more question, Captain, you say the mob is invading here? What about the security service?”
“It was overrun or, as far as I’ve seen it, hardly offered any resistance.”
“I see. I will now go to safety. If there is something like safety here in the building.”
“Take care of yourself, Lieutenant!”
“Yes sir! Allair out!”

The Warrior

Female Warrior

The confrontation had stopped. The courts found that the procedure had been disrupted. The reason was unusual radar signals that appeared near Uranus and then disappeared again. Was it alien spaceships? You couldn’t say that.
Adjungit Inkibus and his vice Iteriú Rangatira had met in the main animal of the Darctomes to discuss the situation.
“We can’t let him get away with that, Senator!” Said Rangatira. Her pulse was racing. She was angry. “Of course this is a diversionary maneuver on the part of Praetor Scurra! He wants the confrontation to end. He’s like a wounded animal that bites.”
“My dear friend,” Inkibus said calmly, “of course it is. But what should we do? We have no evidence! If we make accusations that we cannot substantiate, the Senate and the Chamber of Government will stand against us . Then the confrontation is over! “
Rangatira looked at him angrily. “How often has the praetor lied? Blank spread the untruth? While his compliant followers had nothing to do but follow him blindly. Why don’t we do it exactly like that?”

Female Warrior
Photo by yoo soosang on Unsplash

“Because we are not like that!” Contradicted Inkibus. “Right now! Scurra’s actions have shattered enough dishes. We have to think about the future. I think about the future a lot because I think of living in it.”
Rangatira nodded. “Right. But then I have the perfect solution.”
Inikbus frowned. “What you up to?”
Rangatira went to a cupboard that stood in a corner of the room. There she pulled out an ornate sword that was sheathed. “My parents gave this to me when I decided to get into politics,” she said. “I come from a long line of fighters. We don’t give up so easily. But we are also able to adapt to the situation. So if you say we need evidence, I’ll get it. With the will of the ancestors!”
Inkibus did not seem happy. “That will be dangerous. Scurra’s friends are capable of anything. They won’t shy away from shooting down your ship, especially if they find out you’re inside.”
Rangatira grinned. “I even hope so. Let them come and blow their cover. I’ll be prepared!”
With that she stormed out of the room. Inkibus knew he would not be able to change her mind anymore. Asserting herself, that was the story of her life. A fighter. No, thought Inkibus, a warrior.

Flash Back

Kalgon of Arkad

Commander James Pellton was very tired. He sat in an armchair in his cabin on board the BOURGOGNE and stared into space. It was that moment of tiredness when the mind hovered between reality and a surreal dream world and images that one saw were dragged and distorted into another world. There were people who would hallucinate or hear sounds that didn’t exist. All Pellton felt was an unbearable weight like cotton candy descending on him. He couldn’t and didn’t want to.
He had a pad in his hand. But the grip of Pellton’s finger around the pad was no longer so tight. The pad could fall to the ground at any time. But what did that matter?
There was a report on the pad that Pellton had received. A disaster. It looked like Praetor Scurra of the Lokubami had deployed a spy on Earth. That one had been infected with a virus that was rampant there. The spy took a particularly aggressive variant of the virus with him. Scurra would have had a chance to stop it all. All he should have done was quarantine the ships that had carried the spy. But a counselor stopped him. He thought that if these ships were to be quarantined, their names would be revealed. This would allow the crews of the ships to know that they had transported a spy and may even be able to identify him. Since he was a very good spy, you shouldn’t take any chances. Scurra did this.
The spy died of the infection. And the virus had spread by now. It had come to Uranus through the servants of the Praetorial Fleet. It had spread through dealers. There have now been outbreaks on every planet in the solar system and the number of patients has increased.
It was all a man’s fault.

Kalgon of Arkad
Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash

Praetor Scurra had carried out the whole thing, of course. But the adviser who advised him to do so was named Kalgon of Arcadis. Its origins were long in the dark, because that didn’t seem to be its real name. Arcadis hinted at a region of Mars but wasn’t really helpful. Kalgon always hid behind a mask when he appeared in public. But it soon became clear that the man came from Jupiter’s moon Europa. He felt safe behind his mask and acted like a backward-looking reactionary who wished for the good old days that had never really existed. Those who knew him said he had a sense of purist thinking that ignores the complexity of topics.

Yes, he was like that. Everything was easy. Either black or white. No grays. Either you were for or against. Category 1 or Category 2.
The advice Kalgon had given to the Praetor could also be explained by this false dichotomous way of thinking. There was interest in the Lokubami government in covering up a spy against the innumerable individuals in the solar system who may have become infected. Kalgon was not interested in these individuals. He was an ardent admirer of Praetor Scurra and would have done anything for him. And when it came to keeping Scurra’s filthy businesses below the surface, that was what you had to do.
A question buried itself in Pellton’s mind. The spy! What about that? Why had Scurra put him on Terra, right now? Terra was already isolated from the community of planets of the Sol system.

And since the virus broke out there, quarantine has been tightened for the entire planet. Is it exactly this time that Scurra chooses to send a spy to Terra? What was so important that …
“Commander Pellton, here is the bridge!” The radio conversation interrupted his thoughts.
“Pellton here, I hear you, Bridge.”
“I’ll send you a message on your pad. I think you’ll find it interesting.”
Pellton gripped the pad tighter again and picked it up. A message appeared. Pellton’s eyes widened.
“Pellton to bridge!” He called excitedly into the radio.
“Here is the bridge, continue, Commander.”
“The message you just sent … is that certain?”
“It just came over the orbital radio from Uranus. Several agencies have confirmed it.”
“Thank you! End!”
Pellton sank back in the chair. They did it! The Lokubami senators and parliamentarians had rebelled against Scurra and called for his resignation. The time when the inflated self-promoter tormented the Sol system with his terrible tirades seemed to be over. But that had been thought before, when trying to drag Scurra to court for his myriad offenses. Scurra had hidden behind his position of Praetor and got out of it well. He could try that again.
That could be a great day. But Pellton also thought of people like Scurras Vice Denarios. Or Kalgon of Aracdis. They wouldn’t go away. The fight had only just begun.
But then the melody of a song came to Pellton’s mind.
Always forward, step by step, there is no going back …

Micro Menace

Execute Order 1776...

It had been tiring until now. Hardly any confrontation had lasted that long. That morning the Lokubami people saw the fourth day approaching. And something changed. The senators felt that too. Because in the last few days the praetor had shown his really ugly face again. The ugly face that revealed his ugly character. In fact, it had been seen every day since Scurra took office as praetor, but the past few days had been the melting pot, so to speak.

Execute Order 1776...
Photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash

Deosimilis Denarios, the deputy of Scurra, was concerned. During one of the many pauses the discussion allowed him, the praetor had gone into the ready room to confer with Denarios.
“My lord!” Said Denarios. “The senators are starting to turn against us! We might lose the confrontation!”
“We won’t lose,” said Scurra. He activated one of the screens in the ready room. The screen showed the Senate. At the moment, it was Scurra’s son, whom he had named after himself with a touch of vanity, speaking at the lectern. It was a fiery speech.
“Do you want total war?” He called. “Do you want it – if necessary – more total and radical than we can even imagine today?”
The Balcerpinus side seemed to agree. What came in response to the question, however, was not an orderly answer, more a loud murmur.
“The Darctomes claim the people have lost their trust in the leader. Do you trust the leader? “
That strange loud murmur again. If you listened carefully, you could hear something like “yes” and “yeah”. The rest was drowned out in a kind of background noise.
“Do you vow with a holy oath to the front that the homeland stands behind the front with strong, unshakable morality and will give it everything it needs to win?”
The murmur turned into wild screams. Balcerpinus senators bleated like a flock of sheep. Scurra’s son passed it and continued.
“Do you want women to step in wherever possible to free men for battle?”
The answer was no more. Words, if spoken at all, were drowned out in a crescendo of tones.
“Do you approve of the most radical measures against a small group of slackers and pushers? Do you agree that whoever refuses to accept the leader will lose his head? “
The screaming and bawling died away in a split second. What was that just now? Had the praetor’s son demanded the death penalty for political enemies, and did so in the hallowed halls of the Senate?
As strange as that sounds, it was a line he’d better not have crossed. Lokubani policies were corrupt and depraved, but they still had a few tiny, whimsical principles. One of them was never to wish the enemy death in the hallowed halls of the Senate. There was an ancient superstition attached to it that it would bring bad luck or end the world or something.
Denarios clasped his hands over his head. What just happened? Scurra’s son had become so furious that he had completely forgotten himself. The demand to kill political opponents was not new to the Balcerpinus camp. But that had a new quality.
“He’s got bite!” Said Scurra. “He really shows them.”
“But most splendid!” Exclaimed Denarios. “That could finally cost us victory in the confrontation! That is an affront! No one has ever dared to do that! At least he could have waited until the confrontation was over!”
“Do you think so?” Asked Scurra.
“I don’t think so. Wait a minute … oh, here it comes! The grand finale!”
On the screen, Scurra’s son started talking again. He ignored the embarrassing silence in the Senate and said: “The leader has ordered we will follow him. If we have ever faithfully and inviolably believed in victory, it is in this hour of national reflection and inner alignment. We see victory tangible lie close in front of us. We just have to take hold. We just have to find the strength to subordinate everything to his service. That is the order of the day. And that’s why from now on the slogan is: Well, people, get up, and storm, break loose!”

“Most splendid! Is that a call to revolt?” Asked Denarios.
“Is that it?” Replied Scurra. “Of course it is, and the Darctomes will say so, but I can deny anything. As always. And those parts of the stupid people who made the mistake of trusting me will be my compliant henchmen.”
“Most splendid, that’s … brilliant!”
“Of course. He’s awesome.”
Denarios winced. “He”? Who did Scurra mean by “he”?
“He will prevail and continue to rule Lokubami as is his right.”
The praetor spoke of himself in the third person!
“Now it is time,” said the praetor, “that he contacted his allies. His son has declared war, it is the father’s job to implement it. The new kingdom of Lokubami is baptized with fire. The Lokubami will be the new masters of the solar system. “
He activated another screen. A line of soldiers dressed in strange light armor became visible.
“All attention!”, Scurra spoke into the radio. “Start Operation 1776!”
The soldiers began to move.

Witch Woman

Witch Woman

It seems silly and stupid, but Praetor Scurra had a spiritual adviser who was even more caught up in religious madness than he was. She loved ceremonies and quoting from the Chronicles of Nab’gen. After the confrontation continued, she felt called to invoke the Great Spirit of Quonzar and …

Witch Woman
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

By evolving, we reflect.

The universe is full of chaos-driven reactions. Consciousness consists of pulses of quantum energy. “Quantum” means a flowering of the dynamic.

The goal of bio-feedback is to plant the seeds of curiosity rather than discontinuity.

We are at a crossroads of nature and illusion. Who are we? Where on the great story will we be recreated? We are in the midst of a sublime maturing of intention that will align us with the stratosphere itself.

Humankind has nothing to lose. Our conversations with other beings have led to a deepening of ultra-conscious consciousness. Reality has always been radiating travellers whose chakras are opened by self-actualization.

Throughout history, humans have been interacting with the quantum cycle via supercharged electrons. We are being called to explore the cosmos itself as an interface between presence and ecstasy. Shakti will amplify our connection to non-dual power.

Pain is born in the gap where grace has been excluded.
It is time to take empathy to the next level. We must strengthen ourselves and ground others. The future will be a spiritual awakening of self-actualization.

The Seed

Just an angry man

The Lokubami were – like all peoples of the solar system – humanoids. Descendants of a tribe that the ACELS had settled in the solar system a long time ago. They had a head (which didn’t have to mean anything), two arms and two legs. The actual body sat in the middle of the extremities. Most of them had fair hair and strange orange skin. Strange because it looked unnatural. The pigment that gave the Lokubami’s skin this unnatural orange was created after the first settlers from Jupiter’s moons arrived on Uranus. And with that the disaster had taken its course.
These settlers did not come in peace. They were radical religious humanoids who belonged to the pure church of the great prophet Quonzar. Quonzar had interpreted the books of Nobilius very literally. No word could be changed. Quonzar declared whoever did that as an enemy and fought them, and that’s just funny, because the religious founder Nobilius was known for his extreme pacifism.
The people who came from the Jupiter moons brought death and ruin to Uranus and its inhabitants, in the name of a humanoid who kept saying how nice it would be if everyone were nice to each other for a change. The settlers had left Jupiter’s moons because science and research were valued there, something that was rejected on Quonzar’s behalf. Didn’t these scientists say the solar system was somewhere on the edge of a galaxy? One galaxy among many galaxies? No, Quonzar had clearly stated that the humanoids of the solar system were the special chosen, above all others. The solar system was flat and in the center of the galaxy, as befitted the elect!
In the name of the pacifist Nobilius, the settlers first slaughtered the inhabitants of Uranus until only a few were left. Then they started a war with the moons of Jupiter and declared themselves the Grand Empire of Lokubami. At some point the “Empire” was lost and they only called themselves the Lokubami people. Another funny story, because Lokuba was the name of the guy who ran the arks that brought the settlers to Uranus. Rumor has it that he spent a lot of time in the bathtub because he wasn’t taking anything very seriously. He wasn’t a very good leader either, but he had a good historian. “Lokuba’mi”, translated “Praise of Lokuba”, was the name of his work about the leader. And that’s what the country was called after all.

Just an angry man
Photo by Elias Arias on Unsplash

But as it is, religion is not a matter of reason and two faiths soon emerged. There were the Darctomes, who realized that blind clinging to a script that had origins more than a thousand years ago wasn’t good in the present. On the other side were the Balcerpinus, who did not want to deviate from the radical line. When it suddenly occurred to the Darctomes after a few decades that it might be a barbaric idea to keep other humanoids as slaves, there was war between the two sides. In the end, a law was enacted that was intentionally complicated to make it difficult for the people to see through. In addition, representatives of the Balcerpinus had managed to accommodate a few privileges of the former slave owners.

Whenever Praetor Scurra spoke of the “good old days”, he meant exactly that. The times were good when there was still oppression and inequality. Not that Lokubami was no longer oppressed or inequality. On the contrary.
But that was exactly the crux. That is why representatives of the Darctomes and the Balcerpinus had been implacably opposed to each other in the Senate of the Lokubami for days. Scurra blew speeches outside and the mob gathered outside. The Balcerpinus were known for their high potential for violence. Scurra had sown the seeds. And the seed was ready to grow. Should Scurra’s challenger Inkibus win the Senate, they were ready to strike.
Something was brewing …

The Game

A Game of Chess

It is said that one of the most elegant games that the people of planet earth has ever produced is chess. Those who say this emphasize the strategic part of the game, how to play and place the pieces. How to plan moves ahead. How to calculate what your opponent is up to. And how you always have to react flexibly to the opponent’s move. But just as there are white and black pieces in chess, the game also has a dark side. After all, it was about two irreconcilable parties facing each other. Two parties fighting each other. And the name and certain phrases also indicated the dark side. “Chess” was derived relatively neutrally from the Persian word “Shah”, meaning “King”, but the phrase “Checkmate”, which was pronounced when the opponent was defeated, translated meant: “The king is dead.” In this way, you had a war situation before you: two kingdoms that were at war. The names of the playing pieces also had a dark side: the “pawns” who stood in large numbers on the playing field and could be defeated quickly and easily, while the higher playing pieces could sometimes make very complicated moves.

A Game of Chess
Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

In utter despair over the situation in which Earth politics found itself, a new variant of chess had been invented. It was called “pigeon chess”. It was said that discussing with some people was like trying to play chess with a pigeon. The pigeon does not obey any rules, knocks over all the pieces, shits on the board and struts off as if it had won.
The situation on Lokubami was the same as in pigeon chess. The “confrontation” had already started over 24 hours ago and the praetor Scurra kept telling nonsense. The Lokubami Senate was often referred to as the “Holy of Holies” because it was where the senators sat who decided on laws. Scurra had no trace of respect for this “holy of holies”. In one of the language of the planet Terra there is a saying that someone lies, that the beams bend. If that were literally the case, the Senate ceiling would have turned into a barrel vault that day. It was impossible to trace all of Scurra’s lies. His reign so far had been a nightmare. Now that he was confronted, he had lost all inhibitions.
His challenger Inkibus tried to counter it. He had no idea about the Praetor’s “Plan B”. Because while the Senate was still hotly debated, the praetor’s militia was formed. The dark side shroud fell over Lokubami.
But some hope arose when a murmur arose among the senators and some of them pointed out that the people no longer fully agreed with the praetor’s antics. Then there were voices from those senators who support Scurra, who tried to create a good mood with honey. You have to come together and be nice to each other.
At that moment a senator named Arat Atrandom rose. “Oh yeah?” She exclaimed indignantly. “Now all of a sudden I hear Scurra’s supporters saying we should ‘get together’, ‘allow other opinions’ and be ‘nice’ to each other! Then listen carefully!”
She took a deep breath and called it out, so loud that you could hear it throughout the Senate building: “TE FUTUO!”

The chronicler cannot translate this phrase at this point; children could read along. But be assured to the reader that it was nothing nice.
“If you have agreed with fascism up to now,” continued the senator, “with racism, bigotry and violence, then you now have no right to demand civilization!”
Denarios, Scurra’s deputy, took a deep breath. Of course he knew what his boss was up to. He wondered if this was still a good idea. But he quickly wiped the thought aside. That was mainly due to the fact that he had no conscience.
Something started to boil. And not all of the characters were played yet.

Deadly Double

Betrayal, treason and plot

Remember, remember the third of November,
betrayal, treason and plot…

From the works of Salgoud Smada, one of the great poetrists of the Solar System

The Senate was a building built to impress. And that was a real shame, because the Senate was supposed to be the seat of the Lokumbani government. So it looked more like a kind of government simulation. Anyway, the real center of power was in the Praetorial Palace. As the name suggests, the praetor stayed there, provided he was nowhere else.
Like that day.
Whoever entered the Senate building had to do so through the front, where there were huge pillars. One then came through a portico into a large room, behind which – finally – the Senate Hall was. The Senate used to meet here. Sometimes also to spend the night, that depended on how much there was to do and seriously the senators took their job.
Quite apart from the fact that all the senators were never present anyway.
Except that day.
It was an important date. Senator Adjungit Inkibus had called an urgent meeting. The weeks leading up to this session had been preceded by real arguments between him and the praetor. And the closer the day drew, the more unscrupulous the praetor became. It seemed impossible, but yes, even with Scurra there was an increase in the loss of scruples. It was feared that sooner or later the man would have “zero scruples”. Most of them knew what would follow: he would be proclaimed unrestricted ruler. And then good night.
The Lokubami procedures were lengthy and complicated. When the Lokubami rose up against their colonial rulers and founded an independent country, there was a consortium that worked out these rules. The idea behind it was to make the rules so complicated that future regents and senators had to grapple with them in order to do their government work. This was to ensure that only serious regents and senators take up these posts.
The shot backfired. Instead of getting serious politicians who seriously dealt with the regulations, those who took advantage of the complicated set of rules in their favor soon came to power, along with the fact that hardly anyone understood all the rules. The richest families of the Lokubami had quickly divided the rule among themselves. Then they started to fight. Each side tried to fill the post of praetor. In fact, for a while it had looked like there was moderate current. An influence that would break the rigid system. But that was thwarted when the side of the so-called Balcerpinus appointed a number of praetors who disliked the common people and encouraged their exploitation. Not obvious, of course, but behind the scenes. The former praetor Tormento had probably exploited the thicket of laws and added a few new provisions. That was decades ago, but his decisions still had an impact.
At the same time, the side of the Darctomes, the opponents of the Balcerpinus, had tried to counteract this. It hadn’t always worked because, unfortunately, praetors of the Dactomes also allowed themselves to be seduced into wicked deeds.
Today was something special in the Lokubani proceedings. Scurra’s challenger had scheduled “Confrontation Day”. On this day, a long and complicated process was supposed to find out how loyal the senators were to which candidate. The senators, in turn, each of whom were responsible for a specific area of ​​Lokubani, should inquire beforehand with the people what is desired. And at the end of the day it would be decided whether Scurra should remain Preter or whether Inkibus took over from him.
Adjungit Inkibus believed that he was well prepared. He had done what he could. Although he had heard rumors that the Balcerpinus were setting up militias to keep Scurra in power by force if necessary, along with the institutions of the state that Scurra had already corrupted.

Betrayal, treason and plot
Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

There had never been such a case in the history of the Lokubani. However, one has to admit that the history of this people slowly drifted towards such an event. The warning signs had been there for a long time. They had been ignored. Senators leaning towards the Darctomes had been optimistic enough to believe that anything could be resolved politically. The fact that the system with which the praetor himself came into office had to be reformed did not seem to matter to them. When they finally hired a praetor again, they seemed happy and didn’t touch the complicated laws.
On that day the Senate Chamber was full to the last seat. Now it was a matter of convincing the senators what is best for the people. Yes, of course they had checked with their constituents beforehand, but that did not mean that this will penetrated. Ultimately, the senators were free to choose what they considered best. Of course, if their constituents disagreed with the decision, they could vote out the appropriate senator. But until he was voted out he had the great life. However, as was customary on a “day of confrontation,” senatorial elections actually took place in some areas of the country. These elections could actually affect the bottom line of the confrontation.
The Senate Chamber was round in shape. On one side was the chairperson’s desk, in front of it was the lectern. The chairman of the Senate was an elderly man named Valijum.
“The floor has the praetor, the candidate of the Balcerpinus,” he said.
Praetor Scurra stepped forward and went to the lectern. He put it unusually clearly: “Dear Senators, we have gathered here today because a tragedy has occurred. A tragedy that began in these halls with the taxation of trade routes. As a result, the Senate Chamber is now in the stranglehold of the Darctomes … “
“That’s an allegation!” Shouted a senator.
The challenger Inkibus sat quietly in his seat. He took a deep breath. It was going to be a long day. He had only just started and Scurra had already launched the first lie. Just like he always did. None of this had anything to do with taxing trade routes. It was just a diversion to remind the senators how well they were making a profit from the decisions of the Senate. Yes, the day should be long.
As every day.

Remember, remember…


Brother Jonathan

Brother Jonathan lurking in the shadows.

“And who is this … brother Jonathan?”
LeCreux pulled his glass towards him and took a sip. He tried to act randomly. As if the answer to the question didn’t really interest him. As if he really didn’t know anything about this “brother Jonathan”. The opposite was the case.
“Brother Jonathan, you don’t know him? Everyone here is talking about him!” The Lokubami sitting across from LeCreux looked excited. “Brother Jonathan is the secret counselor of the most splendid chosen one! He lets infinite wisdom flow into the chosen one, coming directly from the spirit of the universe!”
LeCreux tried not to look negative. Over and over again there were rumors of a mysterious advisor who was issuing coded messages. This news spread like wildfire to Uranus and its moons. Many said that was total nonsense. LeCreux said that too. He was a scientist. Much of what “Brother Jonathan” said was sheer nonsense and easy to refute. But he had developed into some kind of religious figure. The problem was, it fitted into the “most splendid elect” narrative spread by the fanatical followers of Praetor Scurra. In a legend, which was nothing more than a bedtime story for children, a wise counselor is told who shows the chosen one the way.
Now it looked like a real person was hiding behind this “brother”. But who?
“And what makes you so sure that this brother Jonathan is really the praetor’s advisor?” LeCreux wanted to provoke his counterpart.
“Ha!” Said the person addressed. “Brother Jonathan knows things that only the Praetor knows. And besides, the Praetor has already confirmed it!”
LeCreux was surprised. He hadn’t heard that before. The praetor had confirmed that he was getting advice from this brother Jonathan? When and how?
LeCreux looked around. The BOURGOGNE had been in standard orbit around Uranus for a good 48 hours. The captain had to be present at the praetor’s wedding, but during the ceremony Captain Haddock and his first officer James Pellton had been contacted because there was a problem. A fleet of Usovai’i had been floating around the solar system for some time. They had attacked at Oberon and now they were about to disrupt ASTROCOHORS CLUB communications. They had brought the ift into position.
While the captain and his first officer on board the BOURGOGNE were trying to re-establish communication, teams from the science and security departments had gone to the planet. Officially, it was said that they were going on shore leave because the BOURGOGNE could not leave orbit due to an “inexplicable defect”. But that was just a story that was supposed to cover up the fact that the teams were supposed to interview the Lokubami people. The news that came from Lokubami had gotten stranger and stranger lately. It almost seemed as if the praetor had brought the planet’s press and media into his power, so that they only published what he wanted. They often spread propaganda about Sucrra’s opponents, Inkibus. And again and again Brother Jonathan.

Brother Jonathan lurking in the shadows.
Photo by Florian Gagnepain on Unsplash

The Lokubami, who sat across from LeCreux, pulled a small pad out of his pocket and switched it on. The two were in a bar of the worst kind. At least that was LeCreux’s verdict. It seemed logical to him to investigate here of all places. The worst and most repulsive nationalists who were ardent supporters of Praetor Scurra met here. The room was decorated with a banner. It was strange, but the words on it were written in Latin, an ancient, extinct language from planet earth. Lokubami had a soft spot for that. Presumably, using this language made them feel on an intellectually higher level.
“Ubi nostrum pergit omnes abire” was written there in large, unfriendly letters. LeCreux had been studying a while ago, he was having trouble translating the words, but somehow it was about keeping the followers of Scurra together. LeCreux’s interlocutor was just such a supporter of the praetor.
In the meantime the Lokubami had found what he was looking for: a video file. He showed LeCreux the small screen of the pad and ran the video. It was from Vulpnov, a broadcaster loyal to Scurra. And it was a recording of Scurra, an interview.
“I have the greatest supporters imaginable,” he said.
“What about Brother Jonathan? Your followers seem to be very fond of him. Does he advise you every day?” Asked the reporter.
“Great advisor. He’s a great advisor. And he reports great things.”
That was all. LeCreux nodded carefully so as not to attract attention. What the Lokubami saw as a major revelation was not really one. It was a flat phrase. Scurra had only said that the ominous brother Jonathan was a great advisor. He hadn’t confirmed with a single syllable that Jonathan was advising him. Scurra did that often, he remained vague so that his followers could pick out what he had meant. And once he got concrete, he had no problem lying. It was a common joke in the solar system that politicians always lie. Scurra had perfected that.

LeCreux was disappointed. On the other hand, should he have expected anything else? Scurra has built a web of lies since he became praetor. Why should it be any different now?
In a few days, Scurra’s Senate opponent, Inkibus, would attempt to take the praetor’s seat. Nobody knew how the confrontation would end. But never in the history of the planet has it been so important that a praetor be removed from office.

Royal Wedding

A newly married couple.
A newly married couple.
Photo by Olivia Bauso on Unsplash

“We’re in orbit!”
Captain Haddock nodded in the direction of the navigational officer. Then he turned to his first officer.
“Pellton, explain it to me again.”
Pellton rolled his eyes. “Are you wasting time, Captain?” He wanted to know. “You will not be able to avoid it. With all the strange occurrences, especially around Uranus, we have to make a little good wind with the praetor.”
“By going to his son’s wedding?”
“It’s an event! And we are the BOURGOGNE! We have made a name for ourselves. Even with the Praetor of the Lokubami.”
“Lokubami … I always thought that sounds like Wobani.”
“Wobani? What is that supposed to be?”
“I have no idea. I dreamed it as a child.”
Pellton nodded. “I’ll have the shuttle prepared now. Then we’ll fly down to the planet.”
“There is no other way.” Haddock sounded desperate. “People and their rituals. Why can’t you just marry quietly and in a small circle and leave innocent people like us outside?”

“This wedding is a wedding, a great wedding. Possibly the greatest wedding in the history of great weddings.”
Now it was Captain Haddock’s turn to roll his eyes. He couldn’t understand. The man was just babbling. He made up words and let them fall unchecked out of his mouth. That was all. How the flying spaghetti monster had it happened that this man of all people was promoted to the post of praetor? Oh yes, in the same way that many praetors had been appointed: because they knew powerful men behind them. Lokubami’s electoral system was tainted and corrupt. That had been known for years. But none of those in power had dared to do anything about it. Not even the moderate praetors. That was kind of disappointing.
“And of course,” continued the praetor, “a great wedding also includes a great son. Of course, he could only bear this great name that my parents gave me: Dvalo! As it should be, he has chosen the greatest bride. “
Praetor Scurro grinned. Haddock looked at Pellton in horror. Pellton looked just as horrified at Haddock. The grin didn’t bode well. The two fleet officers suspected what was coming. They hoped it wouldn’t happen.
“Just watch out, my son,” said Scurro. “You have chosen a great bride that I might want to hit on myself.”
Laughter broke out among the guests at the wedding. It was the kind of laughter a group would throw up when trying to flatter whoever had just made a bad joke. How could this comedian with residual hair, who called himself praetor, make a joke in the presence of his own wife about poking the bride of his own son – and that at the son’s wedding? That was disgusting in so many dimensions that well-known physicists would have to make completely new calculations. But that was what the praetor was known for. Haddock tried to put a smile on his face, but he couldn’t. He looked like a horror clown whose makeup had been stolen.
“Are you not feeling good about the food, either?” Pellton asked softly. “You look like you’ve got a stomach ache.”
Now Haddock really had to laugh. The Lokubam cuisine was not known for particularly delicious specialties. On the contrary, everything was somehow chopped into small pieces, added fat and sugar, and baked in too much fat before being served with drinks that contained so much sugar that they were barely liquid. And of course there had been steamed hoosheln for dinner. Hoosheln was a piece of massacred meat between the slices of what appeared to be an old, ragged bun. There was an indefinable mush on the meat, which ran out of the edges with every bite into the bun. Indeed, Haddock could already feel his stomach rumbling. In one article he had recently read a warning about steamed hoosheln. If you eat too much of it, it would destroy your taste buds.

“As a father, I can’t be more proud. And I was certainly a great father, as my son always said.”
“Self-praise stinks,” Haddock whispered so only Pellton could hear. Scurro was a master of self-praise.
“It couldn’t be nicer at this point. It’s a great time.” Scurro paused dramatically. Haddock, who had actually only listened with one ear and otherwise thought about it, got straight to the point. His instinct for danger spoke. He had heard many speeches from Scurro – too many, in his opinion. Scurro was a simpleton. He could not play sonatas on the keyboard of politics. It was only enough for something roughly equivalent to “All my ducklings”. He always did the same. And such a dramatic pause in speech, together with the arrogant look he had put on, meant nothing good.
“I am particularly pleased,” he began, “that we have representatives from ASTROCOHORS with us today. There are great people who fought great battles, outside, by the shit hole in Azeria. The moon that the Terrans ‘Oberon’ after a legendary prince, although that gives the Azerians too much honor. “
In a legend of the planet Terra, Oberon was an elven king, and the Uranus moon was named after this figure. Azeria was called by its residents. Azeria was independent, as were most of Uranus’ moons. That had long been a thorn in the side of the Lokubami.
“I’ve also heard the news that the aggressors are said to be a secret fleet of the Usovai’i. But my secret service … and it is a great secret service, maybe even the greatest secret service in the entire solar system … my secret service tells me otherwise. “
“What?” Whispered Pellton. “Does he know something we don’t know?”
“Wait and see,” Haddock replied. “I bet it’s just a lie again.”
“My secret service tells me the other moons have teamed up to take over Azeria because of the raw materials. So sad. The other shit holes are fighting another shit hole.”
“Did the Praetor of Lokubami just accuse the governments of the Uranus moons of attacking one of their own?” Pellton asked in disbelief.
“I told you so,” replied Haddock. “Let’s see how much he’s beating the nationalist drum again.”
“We know it’s wrong!” Insisted Pellton. “The evidence…”
“What evidence?” Asked Haddock. “We have the report from one of our agents. A Praetor Scurra will not recognize it. And that’s it.”
“I’ve said it for a long time and I keep repeating it,” Scurra continued, “we of the Lokubami are chosen to restore and maintain law and order in the solar system. Perhaps we should start with this in front of our own door Great job. These are times of crisis and my political opponents have nothing better to do than hold me on in endless procedural questions. But they will not succeed. Senator Inkibus challenged me. Well, he should. But you will see, me will emerge stronger from the confrontation! Stronger and greater than ever. “
“When is the confrontation?” Asked Pellton.
“In a few days,” replied Haddock. “He has to face the Senate and the representatives of the provinces. If his challenger Inkibus succeeds in convincing the senators and other politicians, there will be a change of government.”
“Who is this Inkibus?”
“Adjunkit Inkibus, Senator himself. Not necessarily the best choice, but better than what is currently in the position of Praetor. The procedure is quite complicated. It is on purpose, it was introduced so that the common people would not understand what going off. “
“We are a great people on a great planet. Today Lokubami belongs to us, tomorrow all the provinces …”
What was that? Haddock couldn’t believe it. Was Scurra really talking about ruling the whole planet? Uranus itself was divided into two realms, Lokubami and Lokubami Aquilon. One tends to forget that in view of the Lokubami’s megalomania. So did Scurra want to conquer Lokubami Aquilon?
“We will pacify the moons,” Scurra continued. “We will bring our great spirit over the planets of the solar system! And then we will have it, peace.”

The way Scurra pronounced the word “peace” sounded like a curse. Worse, all he said was a promise. He was determined to make that happen.
“Pellton, remind me we’re going to be in touch with the Aquamarinon agent,” said Haddock. “I need to know a few things again.”
“Why is that, Captain?”
“It’s interesting, don’t you think? Scurra says stiffly that the attack on Oberon is an internal conflict between the Uranus moons. I want to know how he came up with it. And how do we know he’s wrong.”
Pellton nodded. Then he noticed a light blinking on his bracelet. A visual signal that BOURGOGNE tried to contact him. He had muted the signal.
“Captain, the BOURGOGNE is calling us. I’ll just ask what’s going on.”
“Make it that way.”
While Praetor Scurra continued to rant about his greatness, Pellton broke away from the crowd and walked a little way from the event. The wedding of Scurra’s son took place in a large building on a rock, from which one could see far into the country. Pellton went out on the balcony, making sure no one was around. Then he activated the communicator.
“Pellton here. Speak, BOURGOGNE!”
“Villers here, Commander. It is imperative that you and the captain return to the ship.”
“Why what’s going on?”
“The Ift is fully charged again. The field is interfering with ASTROCOHORS CLUB’s communication. We have to do something.”
“And another interruption in communication. How could that happen?”
“According to our scans, the Ift is being charged from Uranus.”
“Uranus? Wait a minute, isn’t one of Scurra’s followers a director of a company that makes such technology?”
“An arms manufacturer, sir. Yes, that’s right.”
“Do we know that for sure?”
“Then we have to bring this forward! We have to inform the Solar Federation.”
“I hate to disappoint you,” said Villers, “but that won’t do anything. I remind you that Uranus is also a member of the Solar Federation and has a seat on the Grand Council? If we report this, the Federation can do nothing without it Do the Lokubani consent. Scurra will claim everything is misinformation and will refuse to investigate. “
“But what does he get by having a war on the doorstep?” Asked Pellton. “Oberon is a moon of Uranus!”
“He can present himself to the senators and the people as a strong man.”
Pellton nodded. “Yes. And turn the confrontation with Senator Inkibus in his favor. That’s his plan.”
“What I still don’t understand,” said Villers, “what do the Usovai’i get out of it? Praepositus Pupepa is wasting energy and time on these skirmishes in the solar system. What does he want?”
“Pupepa and Scurra are like twins. They could have the same parents. Both are power-obsessed and, to a certain extent, megalomaniac. Villers, you can assume that Pupepa is taking some advantage out of this. Otherwise, as you say, he wouldn’t waste energy and time.”

Pellton looked into the distance. He sighed. “I’ll let the captain know,” he said then. “Get ready to pick us up here. It was a boring event anyway.”
“Nothing exciting happened?”
“Scurra played the March of Nationalism and showed how great it is. And we ate extremely bad. The Lokubani just can’t cook. If you can even call the munching up of shredded ingredients cooking.”
“A true royal wedding then?”

Dragon’s Lair

Dragon Breathing Fire
Dragon Breathing Fire
Photo by Carlos Cram on Unsplash

The building had a large tower with a dome. It looked just like you would imagine a house where a couple of conspirators meet. That, the praetor found, made it all the more inconspicuous.
The preter was a strange figure. He was humanoid in shape, but extremely round. It looked more like someone had put a ball on a ball. The round head had some residual hair. The lips were thick and looked like a stark contrast to the otherwise pale face. When the praetor spoke, it sounded like drawing chalk over a piece of glass.
“I am glad that you are all here,” he said in greeting.
The people who had gathered in the large room of the building belonged to what, under normal circumstances, would have been called a “circle of friends”. In that case it was wrong. Because Dumno Dvalo Scurra, the praetor of the planet Uranus, had no friends. Only people who wanted to be close to him because they wanted to come to power, prestige and wealth themselves. The most precious thing in the universe, real life, meant nothing to them.

“The joy is entirely on our side, O most splendid chosen one!” Said the Second Praetor submissively. To do this, he leaned particularly far forward. That was difficult, because everyone present had already taken their seats at the long table. But the second praetor bowed his head until it almost touched the table top. Praetor Scurra was eaten away by vanity, he loved it when people behaved like that towards him. He especially loved the address “most splendid chosen one”. A strange religious cult was spread on Uranus, which actually only waited for the end of all worlds. And someone chosen by the gods should come to … Well, what exactly he should do was not entirely clear. The Shima scriptures said there would be a chosen one, but things got confused afterwards. Serious religious scholars of the solar system suspected that the Shima scriptures were created under the influence of mind-expanding drugs. That would explain the mess of words that made up most of them. Everything that existed in the entire solar system as religious scriptures was processed in it. And it was declared that only on Uranus – whom its inhabitants called “Lokubami” – would the “pure people” live. The chosen one, no, the most splendid chosen one, should emerge from the “pure people” in order to exalt the “pure people”. And then would … blah blah blah. Or so it read.
No one in their right mind took the Shima scriptures seriously. The problem was that Lokubami had a caste of rich and powerful who took them seriously. And even literally. That Scurra could have become a praetor was a result of this belief in the Scriptures.

“Good,” said the Praetor. “We’re having a meeting. It’s going to be a great meeting. Perhaps the greatest meeting we’ve ever had.” Then he turned to the Second Praetor. “Second Praetor Denarios, Deosimilis, old friend, how has our action progressed?”

“Oh most splendid chosen one,” replied Denarios, “everything is going according to plan.”
Deosimil’s Denarios was about the same age as the praetor himself. He was an old man in his seventies who wore a head of white hair like a helmet, because it gave his otherwise expressionless face a little more shine. You couldn’t have guessed it, but there was sheer calculation behind his submission. Because of course he wanted to be praetor if Scurra ever abdicated. But first he had to prevent Scurra from leaving his post. The steps for this had already been taken.
“Major General Rabunge!” Denarios barked. “Your report!”
One of the men at the table rose. He was wearing a pretorial armed forces uniform.
“Everything is in position. Should your adversary, O most splendid chosen one, introduce the motion to the Senate, our troops will go on alert to bring the people under control. Then the Praetorial Court will rule in favor of the Praetor and dissolve the Senate . And with that we have unlimited power. “
“UNLIMITED POWER!” Repeated Scurra loudly. “I like that. Everything seems to be going according to plan.”
“Well, uh …” stuttered Rabunge. “Not … uh … not quite.”
Now it was Denarios who raised his voice. “What?” He called out loud. He turned his head and looked madly at Rabunge.
“Well … uh … it’s about the spy.”
“WHAT SPY?” Denarios got louder.
“The one who came from Terra. The spy was apparently infected with an illness on Terra. Our people only noticed too late. He infected other people on the spaceship that brought him to Lokubami. Workers at the spaceport also did signs of the disease. That could spread. “
“Humbug!” Contradicted the praetor. “Terran diseases are far too weak for the great immune system of a Lokubami. This disease will be quickly under control and the planet will be ours.”
“You heard the praetor!” Denrios snapped. “A cold like that won’t interrupt our plans! Better tell the praetor why the praetorial tribunal will decide in our favor!”

“Uh yeah.” Rabunge tried to pull himself together. “It’s pretty simple in principle. We have removed judges from the Praetorial Court and replaced them with people who are loyal to the Praetor.”
“Great!” Said the Praetor. “This is the greatest court of justice there has ever been. Was it difficult to replace the disloyal judges?”
“Actually, it was super easy, barely an inconvenience. We recently declared a judge to be insane. She is currently in an institution for the mentally ill. And if she stays there for a while, she will certainly be.”
The praetor laughed. The Second Praetor laughed. Everyone laughed. They laughed like a band of bush thieves who were very sure of their cause.

“Great. Great,” confirmed the praetor again. “I have also received a message from Brother Jonathan. Our friends from outside are happy that we want to support them in their endeavor. Of course, the Usovai’i plan only helps us to keep them in control. That is why we are participating . And we have to support them, because unfortunately they have a few problems. “
“The problems will soon be over!” Declared the Second Praetor. “Our number three and number six might have something to say about that.”
A man got up. He was an important man in the economy of the planet Uranus. But here, in the cave of the conspirators, his name was simply “Number Three”.
“Our problem is organizations like ASTROCOHORS, or more precisely, ASTROCOHORS CLUB,” he began. “They uncover our plans where they can and try to let people know. If too much becomes known, that could really cause us trouble. But my company, which controls a large part of the solar web, has already taken countermeasures: We are blocking theirs Broadcast channels, so that not all information comes out. “

“My company is doing its part too,” confirmed Number Six. “We have placed spaceships with energy generators in orbit the planet. The generators will recharge the Ift field so that it can disrupt communication again.”
“When will that be?” Asked the Vice Praetor.
“It’s already started,” replied Number Six. “The energy will reach its maximum in four hours at the latest. And then it will be difficult for ASTROCOHORS CLUB, no matter what they do.”
“Great, great,” said Scurra happily, clapping his little hands. “We’re going to build a great government. The greatest government this planet has ever seen. We are going to remove everything that stands in our way.”
“Then why stop?” Asked the Second Praetor. “We are the greatest people in the solar system, we have the most glorious chosen one on our side, so why not take control of the whole system?”
“Ruler of the Solar System … um … Space Emperor …. I like it.”
And again he laughed. But apart from him and his subordinates, nobody really had anything to laugh about.