Discontent plagued the remnants of the Senate, those that had been able to attend despite the suspended space travel due to the impending war. The only exception to the rule were for the military vessels that prowled the borders of Senate population centres, expecting trouble and not all that ready for it. The Caliterrians, as expected, reacted the worst. Tablets were thrown and twice Senate Security had to break up a scuffle between one particular Senator and his unsuspecting Human neighbour. The Votheen had already scored a crucial victory, the Senate were fighting amongst themselves instead of focusing on the mutual threat. “Silence!” boomed the Selin High Senator which made Alexander’s skull feel like it was going to split in two. He’d been completely honest with the High Senate in the hopes that honesty would redeem them in the eyes of the rest of the galaxy. He wouldn’t stand for the failings of a few condemning them all. He was still unsure as to whether anyone believed he didn’t kill Leon and that made him both angry and nervous. He didn’t understand why the Caliterrian were so quick to blame an entire people, were they just acting out of fear now. Had this been the fate of the Votheen centuries before? Held in the hands of incapable air heads. The Caliterrian High Senator paced the stage in front of his throne. “We have lived in fear for far too long. We had thought them vanquished and banished to history like a bad myth but in truth they have never been far from our thoughts. That is why we must stand together, strongly. We can only do this when each race trusts the other and our goals are as one.” He paused as Alexander nodded in support. “This is why I vote that Humanity be sidelined in this war.” The calls of support from the Caliterrian and the jeers from every Human drowned out the rest of his speech but Alexander assumed he wouldn’t have liked it. He was furious that the Forerunner had double crossed him and not pre-warned anyone of what he planned to do. He bolted from his throne long before any security could stop him. “You are all allowing your fear of the Votheen to cloud your judgement. The xenophobic likes of the rebellion do not speak for humanity. If it wasn’t for Humankind you all would be a lot worse off. You would not have had forewarning about the Votheen and do correct me but wasn’t the Aurora vaccine recovered by a Human Colonel? One, I might add, that sacrificed himself so that the cure could make it off world. You are going to need all the help you can get in this war and if you leave us to fend for ourselves then you may as well have killed us off yourselves,” he said passionately as the forming Senate Security personnel allowed him to speak. Support grew in the stands as Humans and a lot of Sarcurians stood proud and applauded. The Caliterrians considered this and so did the Forerunner, allowing a hint of doubt to cloud his thoughts. “How can we be sure that what Leon Winter stood for doesn’t infect you or the people around you? Where is he to answer to us?” Arkan questioned as a silence swept unnaturally around the triangular hall. “The suspected culprit lays dead, possibly by your hands. Humanity has proven in the past that it is too self-centred and who among your people, High Senator Wilhelm, could say that you would not have sold us out to save your own race?”
“I wouldn’t have. I value what we have accomplished and the bridges we have built here although it would appear to me that the Caliterrian have never warmed to us and are using that as an excuse to exile us. You feel threatened, don’t you? After all the glory of your empire you failed to prevent this war yet Humanity has accomplished more against this threat than you ever have.” Alexander would later regret that last statement, he couldn’t have known what it would lead to but his anger at the Forerunner’s blindness had gotten the better of him.
“Then you are a liar as well as a fraud, High Senator. The Caliterrian people voted for genocide in the last war, we were out voted. If our will had been honoured then we would not find ourselves in this position, now, would we? Once more I see the dangerous need to excel and impress in your species and I fear for what you may do to fulfil that need. You remind me of the Votheen in so many ways, ambitions unbridled.”
The negative row exploded and died down only after another telepathic blast from the Selin. Alexander felt nauseous. Ora stood next to address the unruly crowd. “We all have more pressing matters to concern ourselves with. Let us not turn on one another or we have already lost.”
“Thank you, your majesty, at least one of the High representatives speaks with the voice of reason.” Alexander sighed initially relieved by the support but it was short lived. Ora leaned in to whisper, “Do not thank me yet, Senator.” She returned to address the Senate as a whole, “I am afraid however that the representative from Caliterria has a point and his concern must be heard. We are a diplomatic system however so it will be put to a vote.” Alexander couldn’t believe his ears. Even if the Sarcurian sided with Humanity as a whole, which he highly doubted given their history, the Caliterrian diplomats vastly outnumbered the two species combined. The result was expected. As the holographic screens appeared in front of the seats of every representative Alexander regarded the options and felt dead inside. It was painfully blunt and gave only three choices. The first was a pardon for any supposed involvement which would have ended the matter there and then. The second was postponement of punishment which would have seen the matter concluded after the war with the Votheen had passed. Alexander would have settled for this as he was sure that Humanity could prove itself against the alien threat enough to gain a pardon later down the line. The last made a hard lump form in the Human High Senator’s throat. Exile, it read. It took a while for the results to come in which condemned an entire species, that was little comfort. Alexander was powerless to overturn it and was taken back at how such a thing had unfolded before his eyes. He phased out the rest of the meeting as fights broke out and Senate Security swarmed the hall. Two enforcers grabbed the High Senator by the arms and began to take him toward the exit. “Then it is decided, all Human non-essential personnel are to be relieved of duty and returned to Earth and other Human-controlled colonies. Senator Wilhelm will remain here and answer to the crimes named against him. There will be no military enforcement or regulation of your exile but you will no longer be welcome on Engevaal in matters concerning the Senate,” Arkan instructed, his voice amplified to get above the noise. Alexander wriggled free of his restraints and stood at the very edge of the High Senate platform and he demanded to be heard.
“I employ Humanity to begrudgingly accept the terms of this truce and cause no situation that would show us in a negative light. We can leave Engevaal with our heads held high. Know that we will survive this war without you and I hope you come to realise the mistakes you’ve made here today. Humanity will stand in one voice and we thank everyone from other races that supported us here today. Know that I will continue to fight for justice here.” That was all he could get out before Senate Security forcibly removed him from the hall. Arkan was gracious in victory and regarded the speech as honourable, backstabbing coward was the appropriate reply that never found its way back.
Angular silvery splinters rained down from the shattered mirror as the tablet computer struck it. He slumped into the chair of his now redundant office which matched his redundant job rather nicely. The door slid open as the guard posted to watch over him peeked in to follow up on the commotion not a moment before. The Caliterrian snorted disapprovingly once he’d surveyed the damage, confident in the fact it was just a tantrum he left as promptly as he’d appeared. He may have been the most important Human in the galaxy not an hour before but now Alexander Wilhelm felt about as much of a pariah as a beggar in the street. AI Greaves strolled across the desk and bowed in front of Alexander. “My clearances are slowly being revoked by the Core AI construct. I’ve implemented countermeasures to slow it down as I assumed you’d have use of me before they turned me off completely sir.” Alexander had to admit, after years of loyal service, Greaves had certainly gained a knack in presuming the ex-Senator’s intentions.
“Of course.” He struggled to smile at his companion. “Warn the confederation and tell them to put the Navy on their highest alert level. I fear the Votheen will come for us first now. Let’s hope we have enough supporters within the Sarcurian that they grew a conscience and come to our aid if we get into trouble because I don’t reckon much to our chances if we have to do this alone…obviously leave that bit out.” The AI nodded as it began to flicker.
“Will that be all, sir? We don’t have long.”
“Tell the Pariah to get out of here before its grounded for good. We need all the men and women we can and I’ve got a feeling we’ll need Shayara Ventii and her team now more than ever.”
“Very well. May I say it has been a pleasure serving you these past…” With that the AI faded out for good leaving the Human ex-Senator truly alone, soon not to have a peer or friend in hundreds of thousands of miles. He sat there in silence for the better part of an hour before a ruckus outside his door caused him to hide under the desk with the sidearm that had saved his life in the interrogation room. He feared his sentence had been decided and Senate Security were coming to end his life and his alleged treason. The two very distinct gunshots caused electricity to shoot across the hairs on the back of his neck, his skin bristled as he focussed his sights toward the door. Three humanoid shapes entered dressed in the black armour of the Senate Security Black Operations Division. He thought that his number was up and he found himself thinking of home. A house he’d built in England with his wife. His children playing in the garden with an innocent blindness to the affairs tended by their father. Alexander didn’t shoot, he stood up and met his would-be kill squad with an outstretched hand. The leader took off his helmet to reveal the healing face of Isaac Jericho. Alexander gasped and a tear rolled down his cheek. “I know you said not to do anything rash but Arkan Sha’Ni has just ordered your execution. You’re convicted of treason, for going behind the back of the Senate but personally I think he just wants to make an example of you. I’ve managed to get enough of our sympathisers on side to get you off this rock and back home but we have to move now.” The Commander slid a duffle bag at the feet of Alexander who opened it up to find armour identical to Isaac’s and a T-21 Predator sidearm.
“You think he’d be concerned with making me a martyr.”
“He’s a Caliterrian, they’re too sure-headed to consider us a threat.”
Shayara had already prepped for take-off long before the warning from Alexander Wilhelm had arrived. She had expected Arkan to treat Humanity unfairly, the man was painfully predictable but even she hadn’t expected him to order Alexander’s execution. There was no time to fight it as The Keep began to lock down.” R051E’s updating from the Senate mainframe,” Jarner informed as he powered up the engines manually. Shayara mulled it over for half a second but there was no other option for it.
“Yank her!” she ordered as she dived into the Captain’s chair. The thruster fired with conviction and moved them out of the reach of the docking clamps that tried to prevent their escape.
“I assume the Senate want their ship back,” Jarner yelled above the roar. Shayara grabbed manual control and swerved the Pariah out of the hangar moments before the shield door closed on them. Shayara dabbed her brow and ran upward, punching through the skyline and out of reach. R051E’s avatar shuddered and seemed confused by the unsafe ejection of her systems. “You okay?” Shayara asked dubiously.
“I am free.”
Alexander suited up in seconds. He knew time was of the essence and his life being on the line motivated him more than he knew he had in him. The small team moved through the upper halls to the skycar depot, assumed to have additional security and all Sarcurian due to the fact their faces were hidden. The one Sarcurian of the team, a female he was sure he recognised, cleared them through numerous checkpoints with ease. Alexander was thankful but hoped the restructuring on an entire planet was to blame for the poor security measures. Alexander waited until the skycar had shut and started its decent before he broke vocal silence. “How bad is it out there? Do we have any supporters?”
“Humanity was honouring your plea for a nonviolent removal until Arkan ordered your execution. Now it’s getting a little messy,” Isaac informed solemnly.
“Most of the Sarcurians are on your side, Senator. Queen Ora Acil is only allowing this to play nice with the Caliterrian as they have the most power and influence here. If the time comes when the Votheen are at your door, our fleet is yours,” promised the Sarcurian much to the gratitude of Alexander. He realised it was the Luminary who Shayara had saved on Hope’s Deliverance. Thankfully they had more allies in the galaxy than he had thought.
“I could have done with the Queen’s support during congress. What about the Selin?”
“Indifferent as always, best to not put any of our eggs in that basket. Word is that the High Senator has already fled to Tearsin,” Isaac remarked bitterly. Alexander took heart in the fact they at least had the Sarcurian’s support, even if it wasn’t publicly announced. The skycar touched down with a dim thud that brought no attention in the chaotic hangar. As they crossed toward a robed figure in front of a ship, that would have looked more at home in a scrap yard than in space, an alarm sounded. “Shit.” Isaac sighed as he could hear authoritative shouts from somewhere not all too far behind them.
“Vad Turso at your service, looks like you have company. Please make yourselves at home,” welcomed the Sarcurian with the ghastly scar on his face, gesturing for the men to climb aboard quickly. Isaac, his two comrades and Vad entered first but as Alexander attempted to a familiar figure dropped down in front of him impeding his progress.
The Guardian snarled angrily as he raised his weapon. “I’d had my suspicions when this vehicle’s impound was overturned. I didn’t have you as a man who would face your crimes honourably either,” Keeto grumbled as Alexander raised his sidearm to match. “Your posture is all wrong, Human. I assume you’ve never fired a weapon before let alone killed someone. Would you like to complete your treason by murdering the hand of a Forerunner?”
“Seems like you’re not giving me much choice,” Alexander said as he steadied his shaky hand with the other as it cradled the barrel. Isaac was upon the Caliterrian before he even knew it.
“I suggest you lower your weapon. We are all on the same side here maybe you’d like to remind your master of that fact. We are going to be needing our President intact,” he seethed.
“You are not leaving this planet alive,” promised Keeto.
“If anyone shoots anyone right here and now we’ll have another war on our hands and we could really do without that,” Isaac reasoned, “But don’t think we won’t.” The Guardian bared its teeth and grated them together as Isaac beckoned Wilhelm aboard.
“There will be consequences, Senator.” Alexander watched the Caliterrian with caution as the ramp closed. He had never been regarded with such scorn in all his life and he was a politician.