44th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E
Solstice Dominance — City of Solstice, SDS Memorial Park
Putting a body count on the Ayvartan Revolution and Civil War was difficult. When did the Revolution start? Was it truly in 2007 when Daksha had taken over the radio station and declared war on the Imperial Authority? That was a stunt to get attention. She never thought that a year after that she would be in Solstice, shooting guards and police, arming workers.
When did it all end? Did it end with the creation of the SDS? Given the current circumstances it certainly didn’t feel like the revolution was complete. It had merely been postponed.
There were so many who had fallen for one reason or another. Even when she couldn’t see their faces in her mind anymore, if she had seen their blood even once she could still see it. Cracks of gunfire, slicing of knives, and the blood, dribbling down the inside of her closed eyelids.
Not everyone had graves and the graves that existed did not always have the right plaques.
There were too many people who did too many things. Daksha barely remembered them all. She barely remembered those she killed and robbed; she barely remembered all of those the police and the guards took from the movement and never gave back. There were fragments of memory that flashed most brightly, like lightning, and then vanished, perhaps for good.
Not everyone deserved to be remembered. But she still felt cowardly for forgetting.
It had been her idea to make an ostentatious memorial park. It helped her to remember.
But there was only so much that could be recalled and stricken on a metal plaque.
There was at least one person, however, whom she could remember perfectly well.
In the memorial park, one grave stood sentinel above the rest. It had the largest plaque.
Lena Ulyanova, born 1968 in Narodnaya, Svechtha. Died, 2022 in Solstice City.
She had lived to see the SDS formed and died before she saw it squabbling and falling.
Her death had been peaceful, happy, among friends and admirers. Her accomplishments were many. Too many to list, and there were many listed. Mother of revolutions; giver of weapons rhetorical and material; fierce fighter in papers and backstreets both. Daksha knew everything about Lena. When she closed her eyes she could still walk hand in hand with her as if seeing it in a film from her own perspective. She could never forget any moment with Lena.
She touched the plaque, first with her hand, and then touching her forehead to it.
“I’m sorry.” She said simply. She couldn’t offer her mentor anything but her apologies.
She had left her ambitions lying by the wayside; she had forgotten the future.
At no point had the revolution stopped. They had all merely decided to put it aside.
“Daksha, it’s me! I’m approaching from behind you! It’s Kremina!”
She turned around; Kremina was walking in from the other end of the park. There was no one else around — it was getting late in the day. Kremina knew Daksha was very jittery and so she never surprised her, she always announced her presence. It was thoughtful. It made Daksha smile. She stood up from the grave and spread her arms, embracing her lover.
“What’s the word from the Council?” Daksha asked.
They separated for a moment. Kremina shook her head.
“Are they passing anything?” Daksha pressed.
“They’re passing some parts piecemeal. Debating the others.”
Daksha grunted. “I didn’t give them an action plan for them to pass bits and pieces they liked. They have to do everything or nothing is going to work. What is Yuba doing?”
“Trying to keep it together. Councilors are resigning over this. It’s gotten messy.”
“Tell him I’m exasperated. I’m going to set them all ablaze soon!”
“Yuba is exasperated too. Is your speech ready for tomorrow?” She asked. “It’s important. He agrees that the speech will help give everything momentum, if you pull it off right.”
“I wrote all of it this morning.” Daksha replied. “Did you make the arrangements?”
“Yes. It will be televised; people in canteens and tenements and villages that have a communal television, and the few people with private televisions, will be able to see it on the national channel. You will also be live on the radio. We expect the audience to be significant.”
“Good. I want them to hear and consider me over the foolishness of their councilors.”
“Council has never addressed the public on television or radio. We’ll catch them off-guard.”
Daksha nodded. She glanced sidelong at Lena’s grave. She did not want to return to this place in a year and feel the need to apologize again — or worse, have no place here to return to.
With one hand on the grave for strength, she promised to commit to the future.
Her other hand procured an item from her pocket. She knelt down before Kremina.
“Is something the matter?” Kremina asked.
“Will you marry me?”
Daksha raised her hands, presenting a small box with a ring in it.
Kremina’s eyes drew wide.
She was overcome with emotion. She took the box. She couldn’t speak.
She raised a hand over her mouth, and started weeping.
Daksha didn’t think she heard it right. “Yes?”
“Yes. Yes! I want to marry you!” Kremina said.
“Twenty years late, I think. I’m sorry.” Daksha said.
Kremina knelt and threw her arms around Daksha. She kissed her.
“We’ve been married all this time in my eyes. We’re just going public.”
Daksha nodded. They bowed their heads, foreheads touching, and wept together.
45th of the Aster’s Gloom, 2030 D.C.E
Solstice Dominance — City of Solstice, Memorial Park
KVW Warden Daksha Kansal’s Emergency Community Address
Televised and radio-aired at noon on 45-AG across national channels.
Comrades of the Socialist Dominances of Solstice!
We must collectively open our eyes and awaken to the facts!
The Nocht Federation is nothing but a paper tiger!
Their technology is no better than ours!
Their strength of arms is no greater than our own!
Their vaunted morality, their claim to civilization, no more valid!
There is no area in which Nocht has an advantage over us!
To think ourselves inferior to them is to condemn ourselves to slavery!
Nocht is a false democracy that intends to rule the world with violence!
Nocht accrues cowardly victories by launching surprise attacks on peaceful nations!
Nocht’s industry, Nocht’s politics, Nocht’s beliefs, in no way grant them superiority!
That they have come this far is no testament to their strength!
It is a warning to us that we must further our own strength and resist!
Elements in our government and military have swallowed up the false words of despots like Achim Lehner and Mary Trueday and now believe that our struggle is hopeless. I cannot express to you with words the magnitude of the error that we commit in believing these lies.
For over 15 years the Nocht Federation has claimed a moral superiority over us, and over the nations of the world around us. They speak of their international trade and how it enriches nations; they speak of their democracy and free speech and private enterprise; they speak of their advances in science and medicine; they speak of their religion and ethical character. Nocht would have you believe they live in a golden age while the world wallows in the gloom.
But unclouded eyes should be able to see that Nocht and its virtues are an illusory edifice!
You can pick apart the fantasies one by one and discover that the Emperor has no clothes!
Every Republiksmark earned in their network of so-called international trade has been strong-armed out of nations that have been cheated out of their freedom and resources at the point of a gun. I remember a time not so long ago when Nocht condemned Bakor and the Higwe as nests of “pirates” and “barbarians,” chastising them for “blocking sea routes” and “terrorizing merchant shipping.” That rhetoric turned to gunfire not soon after that!
Nocht wants to wipe this history from the record! Nocht praises Bakor and the Higwe for their democratic governments, free markets, and for their newly relaxed international trade agreements. They treat the puppet democracies of Bakor and Higwe as if these nations had risen out of the ground one day, fully formed. But did the Bakoreans and the Higweans choose this state of affairs? Tell me, what language is spoken today in the Bazaars of Pampala?
So-called democracy has served only to submit unwilling people’s to Nocht’s will!
So-called democracy fell on Bakor and Higwe and displaced people in the name of profit!
So-called democracy crushed popular movements in Cissea for the benefit of capital!
Is this barbaric so-called democracy what they mean to bring to our shores as well?
I scoff at the insinuation that Nocht is a leader in Democracy. Nocht and its succession of eight-year dynasties have not earned the right to preach to anyone about Democracy. They have no right to speak to other nations about Freedom; it is evident Freedom is their least concern!
As I speak, Northern Aviation, General Oil, The Signature Motor Company, and many more corporations stand to profit immensely from the trampling of foreign peoples.
Violence is exported from the Nocht Federation across the sea, most recently to us, to Ayvarta. At the beck and call of massive arms-makers and resource-hoarders that reap massive profits, Nocht has dragged us into chaos. Can the liberated and enfranchised democratic peoples of the world cast their vote to stop this? Can those in opposition to this expansion and aggression, exercise their free speech and expression and representative democracy to stop this?
Is there a field in the ballot that asks the Nochtish people whether they want this brutality or not? What use is the Nochtish democracy if it cannot stop the Nochtish greed!
Achim Lehner was a name on one of those ballots once. What did he represent on that ballot? Did his competitor represent something different? Was there a man whom the Nochtish people could vote for that did not represent aggression and subjugation and misery the world over?
No! Their so-called democracy exists only to legitimize their adventurism and nothing more.
And yet, they have the gall, these Northern men, to claim they are superior to us!
Achim Lehner will tell you that he is a man of science, that Nochtish science has cured disease and revitalized industry and enriched its people; yet Achim Lehner must have never heard of the revolutionary sciences founded in Svechtha and brought to us by the Zaidis in the new millennium. Because his miracle cures for disease are all locked away in the chests of doctors who demand loot in exchange for health; his revitalized industry has come at a cost of workers laboring in awful conditions for interminable hours, under constant threat of replacement; and despite the rising of abstract numbers of jobs created, stocks and bonds and other monies traded, people still starve, still wander the streets homeless in Rhinea, right under the eyes of his administration! Is this the shape of a civilized, golden age? It is obvious: No!
Meanwhile Mary Trueday claims that she has been enlightened, and that she has access to a font of knowledge that supports Nocht as a moral leader in the world. Mary Trueday, in the face of all the heinous acts committed by her hosts, will without shame parade herself as a spiritual woman who is guided by a higher faith. Has Mary Trueday lost her mind? She has gone from a sniveling aristocrat to a deluded buffoon! Wherever Nocht goes you see the blind believers of the Messanic church wandering in their wake to explicate their atrocities. Mary Trueday is a coward and a zealot who has taken up this wicked mantle for a new generation of demagogues.
By adopting Messianism so strongly Mary Trueday has fully turned her back on our people! Because if you read their scripture then you will know that Hers is a religion whose texts outright condemn our culture’s expressions of identity and even sexuality; that believes in an eternal hell where we burn if we do not follow her strict dogmas; that condemns women like herself as the devil that brought ruin to mankind; that posits a ridiculous mountaintop battle where demons and angels will decide our final fate for us, because we are sinners and weak flesh and ignorant and eternally consigned to hell since the birth of our species.
What do these fairy tales prove to us? Do they justify the deaths and carnage that they have wrought in our country in a mere 27 days? Again, I say No! We must strongly resist these ideas! Nocht cannot write the world’s history any longer! Nocht is a paper tiger, comrades! Hands have folded and painted it and made it fearsome, but there is no flesh there!
Today, comrades, I beseech you to gather your strength and resist Nocht!
We are a socialist nation, comrades; we put, ahead of all consideration, the provision of food, shelter and health for all our people. Life is our value. I am asking you, comrades, to put ahead of everything the preservation of the communities that you hold most dear.
Right now, Nocht threatens to obliterate everything you have gained. Your food gathered by their bureaucrats, priced and sold outside the reach of your wages; your homes taken and valued above your means to live; your services, such as healthcare, the trains, the union cars that drive you to work, the civil servants who help you when a natural disaster strikes, all of those people and those resources will be taken from you to be sold at a profit to those who can afford to pay the better price. Nocht seeks to unmake everything that you believe in!
Nocht has come to put you to the sword, to cast you out on the street, and to make you beg for its scraps! They will rewrite your history to fit the narrative of their superiority.
We did not fight for close to a decade for our freedom to give it up to another Empire. So-called Empress Mary Trueday prattles about her birthright as though you, her people, are a trade good that she can buy and sell — those who talk of entire countries as their birthrights are nothing but despots! There is only one birthright here that matters. Your birthright as a human being to lead a life of dignity, free of preventable starvation, disease, homelessness.
That is what we fought for. And that is what we must keep fighting for.
Because of the cruelty and immediacy and totality of this attack upon us all, there is confusion in our government. There are many Councilors undecided as to what course of action to take. Over the years they have given themselves more and more responsibilities and yet now they forsake them! There are among them people who believe that we can appease Nocht. To appease Nocht, however, is to declare Ayvarta extinct. That is what they want most of all.
Nocht wants to destroy our way of life, because our strength calls into question their own.
It would be the darkest tragedy of our history if the craven indecision of a few doomed us all.
I am calling on all of you comrades, all of you who are truly free and still live in a free nation, to beseech your councilors, to beseech like the Nochtish people cannot, and through the true democracy of the proletariat, to prepare this nation to defend itself at all costs. We must awaken and make our voices heard; it must be shown to all that we will not rest until all our refugees and wounded are evacuated, rehoused and fed, until our army is rebuilt to defend us, until our most powerful weapons are being built and brought regularly to bear against the hated enemy, and ultimately, until Nocht is driven entirely from our lands.
Soon, it may come to pass that half of our beautiful lands are all that remains to house and feed a population meant to live on all of our beautiful lands. But we have a duty to each other that supersedes any hardship. Today, I am calling on you, because this country needs your support! We must secure the future of this nation, which has been so hard-fought for!
Comrades! Today you must awaken! You must shout! You must shout loud enough to awaken this country!
You must shout so loud that your comrades will hear, alive or dead! Your words cannot be misinterpreted!
You must shout so loud that the undecided councilors in the People’s Peak hear your voice unequivocally!
You must shout so loud that the factories, the fields, the streets, are filled with the sound of your resistance!
Let your voices be heard today! Speak before the imperialists take your voice away as they have already taken so many! Shout in the name of that great provider who has cradled you selflessly! For the Motherland, comrades! Lift your right fist, and shout, for Ayvarta!
Awaken, my proud and powerful country! Crush the paper tiger under your boots!
* * *
Night fell on Solstice after another busy, lively day in the capital. Everyone welcomed it.
Hours had passed since the speech, but the cheers were still with her; the wall of fists raised into the air in near perfect synchronicity to her own was still in her mind. Such a powerful response from the crowd boded well. She left the Memorial Park with her head up high.
When she returned to her office in Central she received reports that recruitment centers in Solstice City were being swamped with prospective trainees, and that they had run out of informed consent literature to hand out to laborers and students considering joining the armed forces. Reports from other locations in the nation were still forthcoming, but the response seemed promising. Daksha didn’t necessarily just want soldiers however. She needed people to pressure their councilors. She wouldn’t know whether that was happening right away though.
Still, she believed that this could be an entirely new beginning to the fight. Everything up to this point, the invasion, the loss of Shaila, Madiha’s rampage in Bada Aso, was only a prelude to their resistance against Nocht. She believed it; she had to believe it. The future rested on it.
She took her place behind her desk, committed to returning to the war work of the KVW.
But her head was still in the clouds. She toyed with her pen and stared at the black and white picture of Kremina she had on her desk. They were standing in arm in arm in the photo, during the naming ceremony for the SPV Kansal, their most modern naval Battleship to date.
They planned the wedding for 24-HF-2030. Daksha wanted it to be small and discrete.
Perhaps by then Madiha would be back in the city. Daksha wanted her as her best lady.
Madiha was the only person she had something of an amicable connection to who remained from those old, bitter days of revolution. Kimani was invited, but not “best lady” material.
She let out a long, fond sigh, thinking about it. A married woman; married to Kremina.
Her mind was strangely peaceful. The flashes of violence had subsided momentarily.
Someone let themselves into the office; Daksha looked up. But she didn’t snap like usual.
“Whenever Kremina comes in she gives me a warning, Yuba. For my anxiety.” She said.
At the other end of the room Councilor Yuba crossed his arms. “Sorry, Warden.”
“Have you come to deliver good news, or with more baffling legislative arcana?”
Councilor Yuba smiled at her. “How arcane does ‘Premier Kansal’ sound to you?”