Happy Hang Man

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
No matter how much time passes or how different the people you deal with is some things will always stay the same. Self benefiting, service to your people, war, peace, politics. Tis just an endless cycle of people by all definition of the word trying to get the upper hand over each other.

Follow the story of Draven Arlam, an admiral of the Earth's space fleet as he does what he must to make peace with the Tian people, the race of his beloved fiancee. Though peace in the truest form is hard to come by.

Submitted: November 20, 2016

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Submitted: November 20, 2016

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I walked out onto my hotel room’s balcony, embraced by the chilled late night breeze blowing against my bare chest. I looked up at the sky and embraced the inevitability of the feeling of homesickness as I gazed at each distant star. The not too distant sound of the hotel’s fountains added to the nostalgia of my thoughts. I could never properly appreciate this planet’s violet hued midnight skies. It is definitely a breath taking sight for a simple Earth-born man such as myself but when I look up at this sky, I cannot help myself but thing it a pale imitation to the beauty of my true home’s.

“Draven, come back to bed. I’m getting lonely all by myself here.”

I disregarded what Valles said. I needn’t follow her whims anymore. Our night together was done and my side of the contract fulfilled.

And with that I took off my glove to stare into the faint blue glowing ink on my smallest left finger and slipped back on my engagement ring to my ring finger.

In the world of politics, even when it transcends singular worlds, one cannot always hold onto the commitments that comes with betroval, to my own great dismay. But it was a necessity and one I have no regrets committing to fulfilled the task I have at hand.

Valles walked up behind me. Rubbing her own bare skin against my back. Embracing me with the silky soft touch of her two long delicate arms around my neck. I felt her lips pressed against the pinna of my right ear. Softly, slowly. As if rehearsed a dozen times over and then some. Which it has. She is of course, as I am as well, a politician…

“Come back to bed with me a little longer…” She whispered. Seductive enough to out tempt any succubus before her. “Forget about that ring for just a bit more and I may just pull a few more strings in our following years of… acquaintanceship.” Her arms slipped down my own, slowly and gently. Her breasts pressed against my back. She linked her semi-transparent blue tinted fingers in mine. They felt warm, welcoming… tempting.

… And she is also a good politician. She wants her way and she knows how to get it in almost any circumstances.

“I’ve entertained you long enough haven’t I?”

She laughed softly to herself. Amused by what I just said. She adjusted her head. Pressing her cold long hair against my left cheek. Her moist lips against my neck.

“Come now Draven.  Surely you would like to win even more favour with someone of my status in an opposing nation.” She said quietly as her mouth brushed my nape. Adamant in getting her way. “And where’s the harm. Surely your fiancée won’t be any more upset about a us having a little more fun after what we did just a few minutes ago.”

I walked away, slipping out of her embrace. I stepped towards the room’s closet.

“I will brush aside what you just said about Kirin this time Valles but only because of your goodwill in making this arrangement.” I opened the closet door, beckoning in the scent of the selection of expensive fabrics pre-prepared for me. “And I’ll have you know, after all this is over I shall not stain my hands with politics any longer.”

“Oh?” She jumped back onto the bed, assuming a position intended to lure me to her. “And what do you plan to do then Admiral Draven Arlam of the Earth’s 3rd space fleet armada?” She asked as I got dressed in front of her. “What does a famed tactician and supposed pawn of a warmonger, think to do outside of both battles of violent actions and battles of violent intentions?” She rolled onto her back, head tilted upside down to look at me. Legs apart as a persistent but futile invitation. “Does the conqueror’s right hand and sword seek some sort of higher purpose?” She lifted her one hand up. “Or does he want fulfilment and redemption for all the lives he ordered to end?” She lifts the other. “Or… does he simply want to stay at home with his darling newlywed wife,” she lifted her one leg up, catching it in her hand. “and forever embrace each other, concealing themselves away from the problems of people, governments, planets or even the universe?”

I fastened my tie around my neck and fixed my collar as the finishing touch. I wore all white. Just a simple shirt, tie and waistcoat. I’ve never liked suits. Too constricting. A suit was something you wore to improve your own self-image. Something to wear to make yourself look better and to impress those around you, manipulating them in the subtlest of ways to sway them into your favour.

I left the jacket drooping over the coat hanger it lay atop. It may be considered a faux pas to present myself in this manner but by how things will roll along in this day to come, I need not bother.

“You sound as if you disagree with my decision of resigning.” I said while leaning against the now closed closet.

She lowered her raised limbs and turned onto her stomach. Both her hands supporting her head as she laid. “I just think it a pity.”

“Oh? So am I bound to this service by my accomplishments then? Am I stuck serving those that cannot serve themselves just because I serve best? Should a man born with a stronger be forced to support those weaker than him on top of his shoulders forever?!”

Valles stayed where she was, not struck speechless but rather was taking extra care on what she would say next. Contemplating the best response to get me to act in the way she saw fit.

“Don’t bother.” I said as I went for the door. “I’m not too sure I’d be interested in anyone’s response to that anymore. Soon enough it wouldn’t affect me anyway.”

“It’s still too early to go to the negotiations Draven. Where are you going?”

“Nowhere really.” I replied, more eager to get out of her presence than anything else. “I’m just going to wander around for a bit.”

And so I left the room, shutting the door before Valles could make a remark or another sexual advance to try and get me to stay.

I straightened my tie again, fixed my waist coat and made my way away.

 

Even with the absents of its citizens in the early morning dawn the City of Verhal felt alive and magical. The capital city of the planet Verawerd, The Passive Gem, was a thing of beauty. Perhaps the reason why this planet was chosen as the location of negotiation between hostile planets is because even the most bloodthirsty of generals couldn’t think of waging wars while encompassed by this planets natural beauty and tranquillity. However, if that really was the reason than those that decided that have not met those truly thirsty for war as nothing besides their own demise would stop their lust. But still this planet might give them a hard time doing so at least.

Verawerd was a planet with a strong magnetism in its centre. This magnetic force is what caused this planet’s geology to form how it did. Giant collections of rocks and stone float above, below and all around. Some massive enough to hold cities like Verhal, others vast enough to hold their own wondrous ecosystems that flourish undisturbed in the planet’s natural weather cycle.

The sky held various auroras of light as the twin suns of Verawerd orbits ascended while radiating and scattering its spectrums of various lights in contrast to that of the star from the nearby solar system that had been passing by for millennia.

The city’s architecture is able to compete in beauty to the natural environment around it. With a human’s eyes it could be compared to Gothic architecture, every building reminiscent to that of a grand cathedral. But it also had its own uniqueness about it. Tinted glass windows were a more prominent feature than in the typical gothic design and all the buildings had a clean silvery shine to them with the natural lights about, gently reflecting off of the various walls and windows.

Though it was early morning you could still see some of the kids from both rich and poor families of different humanoid and otherwise races playing with each other on the city streets. I saw a group of such kids sitting with each other up on the staircase. They were chatting along to each other. They all used an odd mix of different languages, some even I was not accustomed to. Though because of the odd nature they spoke in I could make out from their tones that they all were trying hard not to get tongue tied. I passed by them on my way up the steps.

Passa veravwide vasenje.” ‘Happy tidings children’ is what I said in Counsel Basic, the universally acknowledged language composed of many others and taught to any sentient child out there. It was a language lacking in depth I find and so do many others. It was something made for everyone and yet pleases no-one, though it did serve its purpose for the most part in many occasions.

Passav-era-wide ancha.” Said one of the children. An attempt on, ‘happy tidings elder.’ It was a good attempt at the pronunciation, he just needs some practise. Though I wish he didn’t refer to as being so old. 

I made my way to the top and found myself in a good mood after reaching the park. One would think that such a state of mind would’ve been impossible with the current circumstances at hand. The park is quite a lovely place to be and from the gazebo I sat in, right in the corner of the park I could see it all. The park was a collection of different non indigenous species of plants and rock formations. It even had its own waterways on the ground, like little rivers to further add onto the rest of the city’s waterways.  The plants were all of many different shapes, sizes and colours. Some even reached quite high above my head. It could become a question whether this could be called a park or a forestry.

I watched the suns follow their courses up from the horizon for a while. Soon enough more people were in the park. There were more children playing, more parents watching over them and even some couples about. I even got to see a marriage proposal in the gazebo next to my own. They were a young couple. Both human from what I could tell. They had been giggling with each other for a while and at some point he got down on his knees and proposed. I admit I missed that moment but I could hear her crying afterwards as she said yes. It reminded me of Kirin and myself.

I remember when Kirin and I first met. She was a diplomat for the Tian people, back in the first bit of conflict between the Tians and the Humans, and I was her escort. That was quite a few years ago. Back when I was just a young officer of eighteen years of age. Lieutenant Draven Arlam of Earth’s third fleet.

I remember heading over to the Tian’s Palace capital with Captain Daral, my superior officer at the time. The palace was large, enormous even. A very big contrast if you remember that the palace was a part of the only city on the Tian home world, and even then if it weren’t for the sky there you wouldn’t have even thought you were still on the same planet. The palace entrance was primarily made of something akin to sandstone. Whether to my blessings or a curse I only saw the entranceway as Kirin had waited for us right outside. She said that she didn’t like the formalities of the palace, ironic for a diplomat I must say. From what I saw of the entrance way it was already enough to impress. The ceiling must’ve been at least twenty metres high and wide enough to fit a few military tanks side by side. Kirin however saw how awestruck I was and pulled me away back down the massive flight of stairs I had just climbed up to get her. Captain Daral had stayed behind to go over some negotiations on that end, however I could hear him snickering to himself as Kirin man handled me down the steps.

Kirin was very different from any other Tian. Yes, she had the same bluish translucent skin but her personality was far from the typical to her people. Tians were quite tranquil people, except for some of the warrior clans, and are normally so focused on appearances and to not offend anyone while getting their way that her head strong attitude had taken me completely by surprise. Kirin back then must’ve been around sixteen years old. Not literally though. Tians age differently to humans even though biologically our species were similar enough to even breed without the offspring having any complications. Though that occurrence was a rare one. Tians generally age slower and live longer than humans so sixteen was just the equivalent. She was about a head’s length shorter than me with her black hair tied up in a knot. She wore a dress then iconic to the wealthier of her people. Similar to an ancient Greek toga but longer and more elegant.

Going by her pace it didn’t take long to go down the stairs and after that hardly any time at all until we reached my ship. She insisted on taking the co-pilot seat next to me and so I had to keep Roger, my usual co-pilot, on standby.

“So what is Earth like?” She asked very abruptly as I gone through the procedures to take off. She was probably bored since it was taking longer than it would to set off usually but that’s what happens when your co-pilot is reading comics in the back room.

“Mostly blue. It was covered in a lot of green once upon a time, but that was a long time ago and now it’s mostly covered in cities to accommodate its billions of inhabitants.

“So many people and cities! That sounds interesting.” Tians were a people that treasured life, which was why they were never in a rush to start a new one nor break down their forests to expand. They were relatively few in numbers on their planets but they were also one of the races that started colonizing planets sooner than others, though those planets share similar perspectives on the matter.

“Fair enough. I however prefer this planet from what I’ve seen.” I said whilst finally getting the ignition primed. “I just love these natural landscapes that cover the planet. All the spectrums of light that encompass it. The bioluminescent of its organic inhabitants…”

“That last bit makes it harder to sleep at night.” She interrupted. Not sure if it was meant as a joke or an actual complaint. I do know that Tians only activated their luminescent when they’re emotional. “And believe me, you’ll get bored of all of that as well if you see it often enough. Even that palace you were gawking at.”

“Is that why you were in such a rush to leave?”

“Have you talked to Tian politicians? They’re a bunch of snooty gas-bags. So formal that it bores me to death.”

“All politicians are like that.”

“Wow, I can tell you’re inexperienced. Haven’t you heard of Yollans?”

“Not much why?”

“Let’s just say the last time we had negotiations done with them we had to turn the volume of their mics down, keep the censurers wide awake and ask their ‘escorts’ to either leave or put on some clothing.”

“Sounds like a lively bunch.”

“They aren’t even the worse! There are these other…”

And so that carried on from when we took off to when we arrived on Earth. Both of us just kept talking, more so her than me though, about all sorts of different interesting events that happened around us. She spoke of diplomats and politicians and I spoke of the many different kinds of people back on earth and weird events that happened in the military. For some reason she really liked the story of Roger’s earlier days back in training when he was still fighting his obesity and managed to, during his period of training, lose all of it, get an odd mix of a six-pack and an extra skin flab and graduate from his class in the top five. Then again even now Roger’s story is told to all recruits as an inspirational story to get their moral and motivation up. Even though now he’s a pilot that loves reading old comics while doing weight training.

The conversations between Kirin and myself really did last the whole trip with only one exception being when I showed her an earth based website on one of the computers with humorous user generated content. Memes I think they’re called. Besides that, we went on and on. The trip really felt much shorter than it should’ve and apparently it actually was. We arrived on Earth quite a bit of time ahead of schedule.

After we did our docking and departure from the port I insisted on escorting her to the governmental building even if we were ahead of schedule so that she could perhaps get to know some of our political leaders and such. She however insisted even more on doing something else instead. Saying, “Hell no. I’d rather have some fun. Escort! Take me to what is known to you humans as an amusement park!” I truly wonder how she got to being a diplomat.

So seeing as she would not budge away from her request we went to an amusement park close by for a few hours until near the time of the meeting. She insisted that she wanted to try every ride and even making me accompany her on each one saying, “What kind of an escort watches his charge from a distance. What if something were to happen to me during one of these rides?”

Eventually she was satisfied and we headed to the meeting. It all went as smoothly as was expected anyway. Humans and Tians don’t see eye to eye in many matters. The main reason why the tension has gotten so serious recently. Kirin however was something to behold in that room. She truly spoke her mind on any matters brought up, and not in some illogical and passionate why, rather it was all well thought out and had everyone’s, especially the citizens of both races, best interests in mind. However, one strong voice wasn’t enough.

And so life gone on. She continued being a diplomat, one of the best I know, and I carried on my career as a space navy officer until I became an Admiral. However, along the way we saw plenty of each other. Whenever she needed an escort to take her to Earth she had always insisted on having me do it saying, “He’s the only human officer I know well enough to trust. This is non-negotiable.” But in one of those trips I had asked her what was the real reason which she replied with, “You’re the only human officer I can have fun with. Even if you are a stick in the mud. But you’re less lodged up there than the rest of them. Though rude as she was sometimes to me I really didn’t mind those jobs nor her company. Neither did Roger since he caught up on all his reading. In fact, I eventually found myself looking forward to those jobs with her.

There’s an old war proverb from someone I can’t quite remember. In times of war we fight for peace. In times of peace we prep for war. She however broke that monotony of the military and taught me that that proverb might not have to be true someday.

 

“Alright then sir, here’s your sword.”

“Thank you my good man. Did you sharpen and temper it properly?”

“Aye, there ain’t no human sword sharper nor tougher than this one sir.”

Funny how society works. Technological advances so immense it would’ve been unimaginable to those people from so long ago that actually did use swords in ernest to ensure their own livelihood. But now, so many centuries later and we’ve gone back to making swords a part of our customs.

I unsheathed the blade from its scabbard. It was a requirement for all ranked officers to have a sword at their side but it was our choice on the design. As for me I favoured the medieval long sword. The one I held in my hands now was a magnificent sample of such. A long handle with a much longer blade that reached to about half my body length. The blade and pommel shone with a pearlescent silver with only the black leather strap on the handle to counteract that theme. I looked at the base of the blade, just above the cross guard. The runic markings on it were still there, though polished over. ‘Vera’ Friend in the Tian language.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to reapply the marking there sir?

I sheathed my sword back into its plain scabbard and slung its strap over my shoulder.

“No its fine.”

“It won’t last too much longer if you keep doing maintenance on it without reapplying. It’s just painted on after all.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

It was mostly because of the Tians that this sword tradition came back, though not solely them. There are some very different species out them, some are rather traditional and warrior based even. Even though every species uses some sort of gun, a lot of them will want to use some traditional melee weapon to settle some personal grudge or so. I found it a pretty interesting tradition and I enjoy the feeling of my sword in my hands.

And so I moved onto the meeting. Daral was waiting by the entrance to the meeting room for me. He wore a full counsel man’s suit. Though to me it looks like some sort of ridiculous sci-fi wizard’s robes. He’s changed a lot as we gone through the ranks. I highly respected him back when he was my commanding officer. We gone through many tough scraps together and had always argued on the best course of action in the battlefield. Both of us though took the other’s opinion into mind. He was admitably one of the main reasons why I was able to climb the ranks so quickly. But everyone says that it was my own accomplishments.

About a year before I became an admiral Daral had become more involved in politics. He would often provide humanity’s government advice based on a military perspective. He was always a calculating man. He always saw Humanity as the highest priority. That is why we both clash all the more now than before. I might be an admiral but I seek the peace and benefit for both sides.

“Remember what you must do soldier.”

"I got it.”

“That’s ‘yes sir’.”

  “Does it even matter what I call you anymore?” He threw a punch to my face. I reacted. Caught his arm in my scabbard’s strap. Twisting it and bringing him closer. My hand ready on my blade that was half out of its sheath. “Do you want to redden both of our clothing… sir?”

“Do it. I bloody dare you Draven. Do it and see for yourself what happens next. I guarantee you it won’t just be our blood spilled afterwards.

I took out my sword and stepped back and lunged forward for the swing. I cut Daral free from the scabbard strap whilst grabbing the scabbard before it fell. Putting my sword back in its place. Resting it against my shoulder.

“Come on then sir. We can’t keep the rest of our esteemed guests waiting.”

He recomposed himself. Fixing his outfit and attempting to undo the strap from his arm.

“I’ll get you back for that.”

“Weren’t you already going to sir?”

We walked into the meeting room. A large rectangular room with ivory and silver decorating it. A room with an open centre surrounded by seatings of varying altitudes with human and Tian politicians on opposite sides with a bridge connecting with the chancellor of the council standing with his body guards and advisors. The room’s walls still kept the gothic architectural theme but the rest of the interior was more comparable to Roman. The Ivory columns supported the ceiling on the perimeter of the centre’s opening and above that was our audience. Above the meeting room and above all of the politicians were their citizens and any other that wished to listen in. The meeting room was more like the centre of the Roman Colosseum, and we politicians and soldiers are the gladiators with our words and actions as our weapons. They sat above us all, watching with only a layer of bullet-proof non-soundproofed glass separating us.

“Are all the representatives of each respective race present?” Called out the chancellor in the centre, his voice echoing across with the rooms specialized acoustic design. No microphones were necessary for this room.

He was an old looking brown hunched back thing, supported up by a large highly decorated clear crystal staff and covered with exaggerated white and gold robbing. “If so, speak.”

 “We are all here and ready to speak your honour.” Called out Charvice, the leading representative of humanity.

“Aye. Though we may all be present but not all are willing to speak!” That was Garrin. The head of all warrior clans of the Tian people, and the general of their main fleet… and Kirin’s brother. “These humans, though physically similar to us, have no honour! Why should we speak with schemers and assassins?!”

Aggressive in his ways as always, and following Daral’s plans right to point.

 

Daral invited me out to his summer house patio. This was back on Earth about one and a half years ago. I was well into my role as Admiral and he as one of our leading representatives. He invited me over to chat with me without the constraints of our positions.

The house was fairly large with a simple early 21st century design with a warmer tertiary colour scheme with large glass panels. His patio faced the sea.  His clean patch of privately owned artificial beach. He sat there just in front of me with his back towards me. He sat in a white painted thatch chair in a casual white shirt and blue shorts with an expensive looking blue jacket over it.

“Like the place Draven?” He said without facing me.

“Sir, you called me for an important matter?”

“Oh come now Draven. You’re at an expensive beach house, surely you could relax at least a little.”

“With all due respect sir, I know better.”

“Fair enough.  Admiral, I order you to take a seat.” I reluctantly sat down in the chair placed next to him, identical in design to his own. He crossed his leg furthest from me over and for the first time that day glanced my way. “Finally settled into your position as admiral?”

“It’s quite a bit of work managing an entire fleet, but nothing I cannot handle.”

“Good.” He said as a self-satisfied smirk grew across his face. “I knew you’d be perfect for the position.”

“Then I suppose I have you to thank for it?”

“Oh pish Draven.” He said swinging his arm in an arc of political enthusiasm with his eyes narrowing in a strained expression to me, giving me the real answer to my question. “You are an accomplished hero to the people of Earth and her colonies! Not to mention how your actions outside the battlefield has further spurred on peace between Humans and Tians!”

“Sir?”

“Oh Come now. Do you really expect me not to know that thee Draven Arlam is engaged? Not to mention to a Tian woman of such high class and calibre.”

“Yes I do sir. It was never announced to the public as of yet. Not even her family knows.”

“Nonsense.”  He looked away again. He readjusted his legs. “I mean if even I were to hear about it just imagine who else would’ve already.”

“Oh. You may have a point there, sir.”

I wanted to gut him where he sat. With our levels of skill, it would’ve been simple for me to kill him. End him with something as lowly as a butter knife if need be. He was threatening me. Not a threat to my person. To Kirin. My wife to be.

“Yes, yes. Then again maybe even one of those micro bots might’ve seen it all. Those things can pretty much be found anywhere you know. Quite helpful things. Though I wonder if they could be dangerous.”

He reached his right hand to his opposite arm where his watch was. It was a chrome design but I could see just pass his thumb a little red dot on the watch. He stroked it in front of me, ensuring that I did see it for what it was.

“Sir, your watch seems to be on time. Perhaps you should cease adjusting it.”

“Then perhaps Admiral Arlam, you should remove your sword’s blade away from my throat.” I pressed my sword even closer, ready to rip through his neck. “After all this watch is so nice I just had to get a few for some of my other colleagues as well. I have gotten you one as well but I don’t think you’d have appreciated it fully enough.”

He reached for his teacup that he had prior laid aside him. Sipping it nonchalantly as I took away my sword from his throat.

“Sir. Are we being surveyed?”

“Why no admiral. This is after all my private summer home. All the security is on the outside.”

“Then let’s cut the bull already Daral. You threaten me and Kirin. I know how you work. You’ve always been like this. Manipulating and tactful to achieve whatever it is you want. So spill it. You wouldn’t go to your subordinate’s bad side unless you needed to.”

“Quite right Draven. That’s the joy of having a good subordinate. They know your intentions and know they are for the best.”

“I said no such thing.”

“Oh.” He said as he got up. “Draven you know better than anyone else all I care for is humanity! I even bought this stupid house for myself just so I can have this conversation with you without any prying eyes.” He gestured for me to follow him and so I did. We walked on onto his beach. “Humanity is a wondrous race don’t you think Draven. We’ve developed cultures, arts, languages, music, dancing, philosophy even. Magnificent achievements!”

“So has all the other sentient species. There’s are just different from our own.”

“Right you are. So tell me, what is it that separates us from them? What makes us better than them?”

“Where I am concerned we are not separate from that. We are all different yes, but all equal in our respective nature.”

“Ah, that’s where our perspectives differ Draven.” We had walked up to the edge of the beach and of Daral’s property. He placed his hand onto the glass wall and looked down hundreds of meters to the cities below. His cubical airborne beachside property up above with the clouds looking down at his people. “I cannot deny that by nearly every respect we humans are identical to other races in this universe in terms of our achievements in our own rights but I still say we are superior.”

“You speak like a slaver trying to find justification for his career. Or even more so you sound like our long past prejudice ancestors on new civilised lands different from their own.”

“Do I now?” He said turning to me, leaning against the completely transparent glass wall. “Well I can’t help that. Me going to see the Tians would seem like an Englishman visiting Japan wouldn’t it. Of course I’d prefer my own surroundings to the ones different from it.” He smiled at me. He’s always enjoyed my company. He’s always thought of me as ahis loyal soldier or maybe as a child for him to shape as his own. “No no. We are all equal as you have said. But we are set apart in one regard and one regard alone.”

“And that would be?”

“I am a human.” I stared at him for a bit. Confused about what point he was trying to make.

“Yes. So am I and everyone below us right now. How does one man stand out amongst the billions also alive, or better yet the hundreds of trillions that have existed before hand?”

“He doesn’t.” he said with a smirk yet again. “You misunderstand me. I am not saying that I am at all superior to anyone. I am not declaring myself supreme dictator or ruler of the universe. I am not saying we are the master race. I am not saying we deserve more than any other race. All I am saying is that I am a human and so Humanity takes preference to me. And so I will screw over anyone else for Humanity to get the upper hand.”

“And what does all this nonsense have to do with me? You threaten me then preach your own pointless philosophy to me but haven’t asked for anything of me. What is it that you want?!”

“Simple. I want you to wage war on the Tians and make peace with the Tians in a way only you, the trusted human ‘friend’, can do.”

 

“Why should I listen to any of you humans?! You schemers! You wretches!”

“Calm down Garrin.”

“No! I will not listen to these cowards! They stabbed my father in with his own sword through his back and tried to poison me as well!”

“That was not our governments who plotted against you Garrin.”

“Oh really now, so how did a human outside of your government get into our palace and plot to murder us?!”

“Whoever they were, they were not instructed by us to act this way.”

“Enough of this! These peace talks are a farce. The humans want nothing but war and I’ll gladly give it to them.”

Charvice could not say anything that would calm down Garrin. Murder is a serious crime anywhere but the way this assassination played out was all the more outrageous as it was done to Tian warrior clan members. They revered their weapons and held no scars on their backs. Stabbing one of them, especially their former leader, in the back with his own weapon was seen as the greatest outrage there was. There could be no worse crime than this.

“I’m sorry for your lose clan’s head Garrin, but wouldn’t you say that this was just merely outside retaliation for the murder of one of our highest pro-peace political heads by a Tian blade?”

“Daral!”

“How dare you human! How dare you accuse me and my clan of such a thing! We wanted nothing else but peace between Tians and humans. We may enjoy fighting but we enjoy living with our families away from the battlegrounds even more. Sadly though, it does not seem that that is an option anymore.”

And that was my cue.

“Clans head!”

“Arlam?! What more do you have to say? I mean no ill will to you. You are respected as a human that has fought for and protected our people and I respect you personally as my future brother-in-law but there is nothing else you can say that can persuade me.”

“I speak no words of peace to you, future kin. I challenge you to a duel.”

“What?!” He laughed. “A courtroom duel?! You realise that you’ll most likely die if you do that? And afterwards I’ll even have couple of aces over your people. A dead admiral and an enforced favour by your government!”

In the counsel of sentient species there is such a thing as a duel in courts to decide disputes. That was the main reason for my carrying around a sword all the time. A representative for both groups would be chosen by their government to fight each other. The winner would gain two favours. One from the opposing government and one from their own as a reward. These favours were supported by the entirety of the counsel and the two groups were obligated to follow through on them if they were accepted by the council. It was for this reason that governments were always cautious as to whom they let represent them in a duel.

“Are you mad Arlam! Surely you know that the warrior clans of the Tian’s are some of the best fighters in the council!” Charvice didn’t like the idea of course. He couldn’t allow anyone to get the upper hand after all.”

“I allow it!” Daral spoke aloud. “There is no way that admiral Arlam will fail Charvice and I hope you’ll remember that.”

The two faced each other. Charvice’s face still should worry but now fear was more prominent as Daral confronted him.

“Very well. I shall allow admiral Arlam to represent Humanity in a duel with the Tians.”

The other representatives of Humanity voted as well. All agreeing with Daral’s decision.

“Are you joking me!” Cried out Garrin. “You all expect me to massacre my future brother?!”

“The rules never stated you had to kill your opponent Garrin. Only beat him. If he resigns from the fight you win.” Daral was egging him on. He knew Garrin was at least tempted by the idea of winning a political advantage over us. It was just him respect for me holding him back now.

“No! I refuse. Against a human I wouldn’t be able to hold back enough to make my blows unable to kill him and with my respect for my future brother I am obliged to fight him at full force if need be! Anything else would hurt his pride as well as mine. I will not do so!”

“And you don’t think you are doing that by denying him the challenge?!” Valles Cried out from one of the Tian representative seats. Following the plan as I had instructed her to last night. “Draven Arlam is a warrior like you Garrin. Surely you wouldn’t deprive him of the fight he seeks.”

Garrin thought this through. He was set in his ways as a warrior but he could not bring himself to do anything that would hurt his or anyone else’s pride.

“Come now Garrin!” I called as I leapt onto the court centre with sword at hand. “A warrior challenges your people to a duel!”

“I allow Garrin to represent us!” Announced Valles. “All those in favour?”

And so all of the Tian representatives raised their hands. Even the audience above started to call out to Garrin to accept the duel. He no longer had a choice in the matter.

“Fine then.” He said as he jumped down to the centre. “I shall have to kill a brother then.”

And as he said that his weapon was flung to him by his second. He grabbed it with ease. It was a long bladed polearm. A traditional Tian ceremonial weapon. Its blade was large, heavy and curved, carrying the names of all its previous owners. Each clan’s head before him. The shaft was from a tree branch. But not just any tree though. It was from their Elder tree. The Via Willow tree.

 

“So Draven, I heard you’re almost definite to become the next Admiral.”

“Where’d did you hear that?”

“Oh come now. My brother Garrin wouldn’t stop about how in the joint strategy missions between humans and Tians you couldn’t help but take the show and about how all your fellow officers kept such admiration for you. Even the other admirals waited with eyes and ears trained on you as you spoke. Garrin even said that if you weren’t the one to fill in the position of new admiral for the 3rd fleet that he would wage a one-man war on the top brass to protect your honour.”

“Perhaps I will be admiral then. The top brass would probably be terrified of your brother even if he were alone in his endeavours.”

Kirin laughed a bit with that one.

“Okay, you’ve humoured me enough. This is probably going to be your only leave time for a while before your inevitable promotion.”

“You make it sound like I’m giving my life away.”

“Well you pretty much are! Just think about it. Admiral Draven Arlam of the 3rd fleet. You will be a hero! An icon for all juvenile humans to look up to like a super hero!”

“I’m just a normal guy with a somewhat special job. Nothing much.”

“Nothing much he says. Normal guy he says. You know Draven no normal human would’ve been allowed outside of the Tian main city centre. Nope. You’re the only human alive that has free reign over the capital planet of the Tians, Kiarra. And do you know why is that?”

“Because I had the patience to deal with you and your insane requests all these years as your escort?”

“Because you’re the only that has the patience. And also because the people here acknowledge you.”

“They might’ve acknowledged someone else if they were constantly called here to escort the same fussy person.”

“I can’t help it. That’s just who I am!”

We walked together down the park way. The leaves of the trees hanging overhead held an array of different cool colours. From white, to blue, to violet and the light of the now setting sun shone through them displaying a spectrum down below. Kirin walked slightly ahead of me. Her hands behind her back as she faced me while walking backwards. Much like a playful kid. She wore a loose white summer dress that I gave to her along with many other bits of Earth styled clothing. I got her all those for her ‘Kira Vaheyella’. A Tian tradition quite similar to what we would know as a person’s 21st birthday. She always pestered me on the job about getting her some Earth clothing as a gift and when an occasion finally arrived I gave her just as she requested.

The summer dress suited her. The lights coloured it an array of colours, which would’ve looked even better if she wasn’t wearing a black hoodie over her dress.

“So where exactly are we going?”

“Shush. Today I am the escort and you are the charge. I am showing you my home and so I am your guide. Guests do not question their guide!”

“Yes ma’am.”

These were one of those rare moments where I had time off from the fleet. These were especially rare for me as I would normally be called during my leave to help sort some sort of matter. Now that a time has finally arisen for me to be on leave for a while without interruptions, I called Kirin for a favour.

“Sorry, but it’s not every day that someone calls me for a favour. Especially a non-work related one.”

“What can I say, I’ve always wanted to see more of this planet.”

“Fair enough. But in exchange you’ll take me to see more of Earth.”

“You’ve seen enough of it already from all of your trips. You always make me take you somewhere before and after your meetings.”

“But I’ve still haven’t seen enough.”

She smiled at me. It was a warm smile. Sincere. A trait I thought went extinct around the company of soldiers and politicians. But no. We were both and I now always found myself genuinely enjoying Kirin’s company now. Well there wasn’t a time where I didn’t, but the first time around was quite strange to me. Then again, she is quite strange herself.

“What are you doing Kirin?”

“Shush. Just let it happen.”

“What the hell?!”

“Quite! You mustn’t make a noise around here.”

“Okay but why are you covering my eyes?”

“Because we’re here and I want you to get the biggest impact possible from this.”

So she covered my eyes with fabric she had taken with her in her pocket and led me to wherever our destination was. She held onto my hand, showing me the way. Her hand only about half the size of mine. Despite her skin’s cool looking appearance her hands were very warm.

“Ouch!”

“Sorry. Forgot to warn you about that rock.”

“Ouch!”

“Sorry!”

“I’m taking this thing off.”

“No! No no no no!”

“Then guide me properly.”

I couldn’t see much with the blinds on but I could hear the sounds around me. Kirin’s and my own steps were the loudest ones here though. The rest was just a faint breeze and slight rustle of leaves as Kirin rested me down on a bench.

“Okay you can take it off now.”

I removed the blinds. It had already gotten dark from the time I had put them on. What I saw though was absolutely breath-taking. I opened my eyes to see below hundreds of giant willow trees illuminating themselves in warm red, orange and yellow colours in unison as the sun had fully set. I also saw some small animals around also starting to illuminate in the more usual cool colours, completely contrasting with the trees.

“Now look behind you.” I looked to what I was sitting in front of. A massive tree much larger than all the others. It must’ve sprouted hundreds of meters above the ground. A gigantic dead willow. “The Via Willow. The first willow by another name. it is said that this was the first tree that grew on this planet. They also say that all these willows around us are actually just sproutlings on the Via Willow’s roots.”

“It’s beautiful…”

“Yep. This is the only place I really like being on in this planet. It really is beautiful.”

“Good.” I stood up from the bench with Kirin looking up at me from the seat. “Then this is the perfect place for this I think.”

I looked to her. She was the only thing her not illuminating. That is because Tians don’t glow unless they’re feeling highly emotional after all. I got down on one knee.

“Draven, what are you doing?”

I held onto her left hand gently and reached for a small box in my pocket.

“It’s an Earth tradition.” I opened the box in front of her. I pulled out a sliver engraved ring from inside it. I slowly slipped it onto her ring finger. “It’s a tradition to say that I want to marry you.”

“Marry? I’m not familiar with the term.”

“It means I want to devout my life to you and ask you to do the same for me.” Her face’s expression changed. Her skin started to glow. “Kirin Aramala I want you to be my wife. My special person in my life that I spend my time thinking about and being with. The person that I want to have my children with. The person that is completely irreplaceable in my life.” She began to tremble. She glowed with a bright violet hue, bright enough for me to see it from the skin under her black hoodie. “For better or for worse I want to be with you. Not as your escort or as your guest. I want to be with you as yours forever. Will you marry me?”

She looked away bashfully. “I… I’m not sure. Maybe if you were more romantic to me I’d be sure of how I feel and… and…”

“I think that fact that you’re glowing so brightly is proof enough for me.”

“That doesn’t mean anything! I’m just really embarrassed and I…”

“And as for being romantic.”

I reached over to her chin with my hand. Pulling her gently to face me. Our eyes met again. Not like other times before. It felt long and intimate. Warmer than the sun. Deeper than the oceans. I crept my face closer to hers.

“What are you…”

“Come now. I know you Tians share this tradition with us.”

She closed her eyes. My thumb brushed against her lips. My hand brushed away her hair moved to the back of her head as I pulled her closer to me.

 

I ripped away my tie and waistcoat as Garrin walked up to face me. He stood high above me. I was only two thirds of his height. Garrin was the epitome of the physical potential of the Tians. He was lean and tall but muscular and powerful.

“I hope you’re ready for this Draven.”

“Of course I am. My sword is in my hands isn’t it.”

We did the customary bow to each other and walked three paces away to our starting points. The chancellor would count to three then we would begin.

“One.”

I held my sword up. Both my hands on its handle and ready. Garrin held his polearm up. Poised and ready.

“Two.”

I shifted my weight forward. Set to leap in.

“Three.”

I looked over to the Tian representatives. Kirin was there, holding back her tears as she knew what would happen next. I smiled at her as best I could.”

“Begin!”

Garrin jumped to me and swung his weapon down. I dodged to the side scratched by the debris flying from the ground where he had struck. I would do well to avoid as many of his attacks as I could. He swept his blade up to me, just barely missing as I jumped back. I rushed again, poising to stab. I dodged to the side again and arced my blade to cut him but his reaction speed was outrageous. It didn’t take him a second to take back his attack to avoid mine. He turned on the spot and swung his blade across. I jumped back against the wall but he came for a second swing. I ducked under it but the wall’s rubble collapsed on me. With the time I had been distracted by that Garrin kicked me on my side, sending me flying across our battlefield. I hate the ground, spinning and rolling on the ground with the momentum of the launch. I regained my posture, positioned myself back onto my feet, stabbing the ground with my sword. Sparks flew in front of me as I dragged me sword across the ground.

Only a few seconds in and I was beaten and battered. My clothes not nearly as white as it had been when I came in.

“Resign now Draven. I do not wish to kill you. You do not stand a chance. You’ll die at this rate!”

“Not a chance Garrin!”

I’ll die at any rate anyway.

He lunged himself towards me. Going at me with a horizontal swing on my left side. I couldn’t move fast enough to avoid it. He swung it with full force, noting how I couldn’t move in time he swung with the blunt shaft hitting me on my side. I felt the force of it as it broke several of my ribs.

He pulled his weapon back. Or should I say he tried.

As he tugged on his weapon I resisted. When his weapon hit me I had grabbed onto it with my off hand. Pulling on it myself. I swung my sword downwards on its shaft with full force, slashing it in two. With the part of the handle with the blade attached I threw it at Garrin’s face. He dodged it effortlessly but I took the chance to rush passed him.

“Hey Garrin.” I whispered as I moved. “Take care of my daughter for me would you.”

I poised behind him and lunged to stab him through his back. But before my sword could reach him he had already turned around and pierced me through with his weapon’s shaft where I had cleanly broke it. He had stabbed downwards at my guts. His face shocked and surprised as his body had done this without him realizing. He looked at me in horror as I smiled.

I grabbed onto the shaft yet again with my off hand. Pulling me closer to him and letting the shaft carry on through me. Garrin stood there, paused in shock of what was happening. I pulled myself face to face of him, resting my sword’s blade on his throat above me as I coughed up blood. I cut his neck just deep enough to draw blood.

“I concede…”

The echoes of the audience’s cheers filled the court room as Garrin admitted his defeat.

“Bravo, bravo!” I heard Daral call out. “Do you see?! Do you all see the great man there in front of you, risking his very life for his people’s favour!”

“Arlam!”

“Arlam!”

“Arlam!”

The crowd cheered to a deafening extent.

“Now let our champion rest! He has been wounded for his victory. He has told me in advance of what his requests are and so I shall represent him as-”

“No!” I cried out. “Daral you stay where you are!”

“Arlam?!”

“I shall speak my own requests!”

I gone to put out he shaft from my gut. Garrin stopped me though. “Leave it in for now. Say what you must.” And then he broke the parts of his ancestral spear’s shaft that protruded from me.

“Thank you Garrin.”

“No, thank you for a good fight… and for everything else you are going to do.”

I walked up to face the entire audience of both the species’ representatives. Limping as my blood started to bleed out. My rib cage still aching.

“Thank you all for upholding this tradition and giving me your favours. I am sorry however that of the Tians I shall be asking of three extra.”

“What are you going on about Draven!” Cried out Daral. Nervous as his plan fell apart in front of him. “You can’t possibly ask that of an opposing nation! Go and get yourself treated already, I shall ask them for your favour and…”

“No! I shall not do that Daral.”

“Well regardless you can’t possibly ask them of three.”

“We shall allow it Daral.” Spoke out Valles. “So long as they are valid we shall permit this as a reward for performing a miracle and defeating our representative.”

“Surely councillor Valles you can’t be…”

“It shall be allowed Daral and you have no say in this! Now speak Arlam, admiral of the 3rd fleet and representative of humanity. What are your requests.

“Thank you councillor Valles. My first request of the Tians is to forgive my rudeness to you all.”

They looked down at me. Everyone was silent.

“Could you explain admiral.”

“Yes councillor, I asked this as I have went behind all of your backs and married your representative’s sister ahead of schedule without any of your knowledge. She bears my ring on her finger and I bare her inking on mine”

All eyes turned to Kirin but not a word was spoken to her.

“And why have you done such a thing admiral?”

“You will all find out in due time.”

“Stop this farce already! I will not have-”

“Silence Daral, or you will be removed from this room!” Daral stood where he is, silenced and unable to oppose any longer. He stared down at me but I was already prepared for what he had planned. “What is your second wish then?”

“My wife is pregnant with our daughter. My second wish is for both of them to be well taken care of by the Tian government.”

“Granted. And your third?”

“My third is for you all to ignore whatever ever else will happen today and to not only seek peace with Humanity but also an alliance.

“That is a hard request admiral. But if your government is willing, we shall. What is your last request?”

“You shall have to wait for that one for a bit.” I turned to face the human representatives. “My request of you all is to cease any hostile actions towards the Tians and agree to never take Tian owned lands.”

“What! You can’t be serious! You can’t-”

“Daral silence.” Called out Charvice. “We shall allow this!”

“You can’t be serious! We can’t follow any of this man’s requests! After all he’s the one who-”

“And my last request to you Tians, is to allow my execution to be held by your Via Willow tree! For I am the one who murdered your former warrior clan’s head and the human representative!”

 

‘Today is the day of my execution’ was the main thought on my mind as I was walked towards the willow tree with Daral walking by my side as my escort and guards surrounding me. The willows around me were still just as beautiful as the last time I was here. It was a rather strange execution. They didn’t even bother restraining me and the guards bore their guns without even bothering to load them.

“I can’t believe you did this.” Said Daral next to me. “Why didn’t you just do as I said. You wouldn’t have had to die then and you’d be able to be with your daughter.”

“Well sir, your plan involved the loss of lives with little gain for one side. My plan involved the loss of one life with much to gain for both sides. It seemed more logical.”

“Screw logic. I did what I thought was best but I didn’t want to hurt you or Kirin.”

Daral’s plan was for what we thought was the inevitability of war with the Tians. With the warrior clan established as strongly as they were with the two leading head, Garrin and his father, as two of the strongest voices in their government there could be no avoiding it. So he too wanted to wage a war, but a short one. Long enough to take a Tian planet abundant with resources that was ill guarded. He had me kill representative Johnson, Garrin and his father. Johnson was to die as he would’ve held back our forces from taking over the planet as to try salvage some sort of peace, as well as being the key to killing Garrin and his father with a justifiable reason. And the two warrior clan heads were to die so as to permanently cripple the Tian military and to allow for peace to be established after taking over the Daral’s targeted planet.

I didn’t want to follow along with his plan of course. Murder was a disgusting action and wars, no matter how short, always lead to loss of lives and families. But I didn’t have a choice. Daral knew that he needed my help. I was the only human that could walk into the palace unescorted if I had wished to do so and only I could take on a warrior clan’s head if the assassinations had failed, which it did. I was no assassin. There were no ways to avoid killing Johnson and Garrin’s father. Daral monitored me as I did so but Garrin could be saved. I snuck a poison into his food as per Daral’s instruction but not a lethal enough dosage for him to die from. And so he was spared.

Daral reformed his plan. He made it so that Garrin’s and my duel took part during negotiations, this time only with faith that I would win. I would’ve won and had taken Garrin’s life in the process as there would be no way to make him forfeit the fight under normal circumstances. With his death My requests would’ve rather been saved for later. War would’ve gone out after the outrage from the rest of the warrior clan for killing Garrin. Of the humans Daral would’ve used my request to egg-on the invasion of the planet. Afterwards the request for peace with the Tians would’ve been asked and in the fighting the warrior clan would’ve been too weak to deny this request.

That was Daral’s plan from the beginning. He would’ve used me to forward Humanity as he had wished.

‘If you do not murder them I will have to kill Kirin. After you murder them, if you disobey me I will have you arrested and executed. I’d rather not kill Kirin as she has proven helpful to humanity, but if you tell me out she dies.’

‘So how do I make sure she stays alive?’

‘Do as you’re told. Or maybe I’ll give you my watch as a present for your execution.’

And so I did as he told for a while, but shaped his plan as I saw fit. Using Valles and Garrin to make peace without bloodshed besides my own. I had to be executed. Someone had to responsible for the crimes and Daral knew well beforehand that if peace were to have been achieved without war that the murders would’ve been investigated as an outside operation which could’ve been traced back to him with all the resources I had to use to fulfil them. If we were at war, the murders might’ve been dismissed as presumptive strikes against the enemy but this was not the case. In any case in Daral’s eyes, although he regrets it, I had to die. If not for anything else, it was simply because I knew too much.

 

“I hope then sir, that you have learnt something from all of this then.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I’m worthy of politics anymore.”

“So what are you going to do then?”

“Maybe I’ll move to Kiarra. Work on Human-Tian relations. Properly now. Maybe also take care of your family.”

“I’d appreciate that.”

“I saw your baby by the way Draven.”

“Oh what’s she like?”

“She looks just like her mother. Has your eyes though.”

“Oh, pity. I just have boring brown eyes.”

“Well brown eyes actually stick out quite a bit on a Tian.”

“Well there’s that.”

We both laughed together then. Strange that my execution made peace between us after all this plotting and blackmail for so long. Perhaps it’s because I know that Daral did all this because he genuinely thought it the right thing to do. Or perhaps it is simply because I wanted to part without any grudges weighing me down.

“Oh hey Draven, I nearly forgot. I got you a nice execution gift as well.”

 

“Say mommy, what was daddy like?”

“Your daddy was a great man Kiarra. So much so that the Tians wanted to name his daughter after their home planet to commemorate him.”

“So why did they kill him?”

“Oh trust me little Kia. You’ll learn all about your father and that story in your history classes.”

“Okay… mommy?”

“Yes Kiarra?”

“Where did uncle Simon go?”

“Never mind that. You’ll be late for your schooling.”

“Okay, bye mommy!”

“Bye dear.”

Kiarra left out the front door. Always eager for her lessons. I could already hear all the neighbours happily greeting her as she went along.

I walked over to the news report on the desk.

Former Earth representative Simon Daral arrested after confession. The Happy Hang Man mystery solved at last.

 

Five years after the execution of admiral Draven Arlam of the 3rd human fleet on account of murder and attempted murder, former Earth representative Simon Daral confused as to having manipulated Arlam into committing these heinous actions. This however explains the mysteries regarding the admiral’s actions prior to his execution and as to why he smiled as he was executed under the Tian people’s revered Via Willow tree, the first event ever where groups of humans were allowed to roam around the Tian’s home planet.

“This really clears up some misunderstanding regarding Draven Arlam’s actions. Yes, even beforehand he was regarded as a hero for singlehandedly establishing the alliance between Humans and Tians, but the nature of how he did it regarding the murders had always been called into question. Perhaps now he can all fully acknowledge him for his actions for peace and his sacrifices while doing so.”’

 


© Copyright 2017 RD Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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