[Age of Mouldwarp]
Segue Your Way
History affords me a unique opportunity at this point. Among the records still in existence pertaining to this era, most of which do not concern my tale in the slightest, is a transcript of Haxed’s speech upon the conclusion of the Five’s talks with the Obdurate. It is not wholly complete, but it is laced with my Vanadi brother’s personality. Rather than attempting to convey Haxed to you myself, I will allow him to do so for himself. You understand that this is likely not in his favor.
"Lords and Delegates, Honored Representatives of the Quadian and the Obdurate, Vanadi and Guests of the Host, you will agree that the rejoinder to peace among the assembled races, from Shibal to Trevigall, Tyconia of the Twin Moons to Delinun Hall, Sniggad to Mollwan, is a providence of circumstance. It is with real satisfaction, however, that I declare today, the Void is not so splintered as it was yesterday. An Accord has been reached and the confidence of the crown is upon it. Even now, Lord Phan of the Tikanni spreads the tidings of peace throughout our holdings, with the blessing of those whom this conference has configured a grateful reward. Let the stars hear today, resounding unity has at last been accomplished.
There have been, as those who have followed this winding road of progress, difficulties along the way, in the conquered yesterday and during this illuminated conference. Those who wished to continue on the road of darkness wished to impose their will on the proceedings and voices of the opposition sounded long and oppressively, yet all this was triumphed over. Our beacons of light were luminous indeed. Trey the Esteemed, who guides the interests of the Quadian with heralded vigor, sat at the conference table with representatives of the Obdurate and the Vanadi Commonwealth, Humble Legislative Karakas Exegesis and Vicar Rubicund, respectively. In twelve days, they had reached their enlightenment."
This is Haxed’s quite verbose opening ramble. His speech records the specifics of the negotiation process in some detail, and as a bonus a sense of the attitudes of those involved is also conveyed. These attitudes are all colored by Haxed’s own singular style, which inserts Vanadi expressions every now and then, to little effect for anyone but a fellow Vanadi. But to be fair, he is ultimately impartial, recording both the shortcomings of civility the Obdurate frequently displayed as well as the arrogance of Trey. What it doesn’t do is necessarily accurately represent the proceedings. A remarkable bias is evident, even from his introduction as related above, one that clearly seeks to vilify the Obdurate, a task too easy and already accomplished by the pundits even of that day. "A more obtrusive lot you’re not likely to find anywhere else in the Void," writes a contemporary Vitell journalist, "a vile and contemptible and conspiratorial and inclined to sabotage entity anomaly that could use a dose of civilization." There’s a tendency to glorify the Quadian in the process, even if petty squabbling are recorded, both by Haxed, and a more impartial source.
It would surprise you, but Karakas is our best source for meaningful insight. Yes, the Obdurate representative. His notes on personal conflict with Vicar Rubicund are invaluable, as they also include an underlying sense of mutual respect. Many have dismissed this as cultural partiality, yet the divide gaping the two philosophies is a thing not easily ignored, and there’s the fact that Karakas also implies a relentless hostility toward Haxed, one his daughter Kauri Duumvir attempted to heal in a dialogue she later published as Reflection: A Quadian’s Requiem. Together, father and offspring offer a broader and more complete image of what happened and how our friend Haxed fit into it.
"You will have no choice but to submit." He was standing in the shadows of the side room, uninvited yet present. Haxed felt it necessary to impose himself on private hearings between Karakas and Rubicund, since he was the herald of the Quadian Five. He was pompous, and history rarely chooses to acknowledge him. He was also insignificant, a disgrace. Or so some say.
"There are other ways of interpreting this conference," Rubicund noted, attempting to circumvent a negative air.
"I may speak for myself, Vicar," Karakas said. "That is hardly the stance your figurehead takes, my dear Haxed. It is my understanding that this is a matter of sovereignty, not of submission. My people do not wish to narrow ourselves so…succinctly."
"You know what I speak of," Haxed replied. "The Obdurate intends to undermine all the Quadian has accomplished. This is unacceptable."
"The Obdurate’s intensions are not so crass," Karakas resented.
"Indeed," Rubicund interjected. "We are here out of cooperation and good will. It would not do to insinuate anything more."
"You are being played a fool," Haxed insisted. "Karakas has no more interest in keeping peace than he does in galactic harmony. For him, there is no single unifier, but rather a chaotic imperative inherent in all things. He‘s being difficult for no other reason than he thinks he has to. It‘s preposterous."
"Preposterous is in not accepting dissenting opinions," Rubicund suggested.
"That’s at the very heart of the conflict," Haxed shouted, his anxiety rising.
"The Obdurate opposes the idea of the Quadian," Karakas observed. "The Quadian does not oppose the right to disagree, yet it does not allow us to live our lives unobstructed. All around us we see disruption. It may not make sense, but even those who believe in fundamental disharmony need some order in their lives. We cannot find it while the Quadian imposes its will upon us. It is almost unacceptable to even entertain the thought, but we…are willing."
"Consensus does not cover all," Rubicund said. "That’s the lesson we learn here. Now we must forge something useful from listening to one another."
"Talk, it’s a stalling tactic," Haxed said.
"Maybe so, but what is one day of talk to one day of military action?" Karakas proposed. "A greater possibility of progress."
"More time to plan your next assault," Haxed fumed. "You don’t have any intention of anything but that."
"Maybe so, but there’s the chance we may yet reach an understanding," Rubicund said, "and that’s worth something."
Perhaps realizing that he was not getting anywhere, Haxed quit attending these private sessions, and instead focused on the central ones. Karakas often noted that Haxed would skulk in the shadows, a sullen look upon his face, and every so often Trey would notice and share the sentiment, no doubt believing that Karakas would be oblivious. A sad miscalculation. Rubicund at times forcefully opposed his Obdurate counterpart, yet never was animosity evident. Haxed characterized the two as almost conspiratorial, so great was his zeal for the Quadian. Were it not for our natural disposition towards acceptance, he would have been even harder on them, but he pressed his limits. That Karakas and his daughter would then so generously portray him as a misguided but generally good man is testament to my people’s charity. That Karakas considered Haxed misguided and Haxed likewise Karakas is a point of some humor, strained as it is by what ultimately took place.
Rubicund is not considered by history to be a man of great importance. He merely served his people in a time of some crisis and great events. Neither Haxed or Karakas has anything considerable to say of him; he is a figure who serves a purpose. Karakas, meanwhile, is treated by Haxed as almost a second Myrmidon, yet he is far from being so contentious, and it is a credit to the Obdurate that it chose such a receptive individual to represent it at so important a conference. It goes a long way to assuage a bad reputation. But he is not perfect and he was probably a simple pawn in the greater consideration, and that is unfortunate.
As Haxed’s speech suggests, twelve days were spent deliberating the needs of the Quadian and the Obdurate. It is a relatively brief span for an critical matter to be breeched and resolved. Clearly, such a time span was inadequate, and as Karakas’ notes suggest, precisely what both sides really wanted.
"It was a charade, and we were all puppets," he writes. "I was a pawn, Rubicund was a pawn, Trey was a pawn, and most of all, Haxed was a pawn, the perfect pawn, for he wasn’t even aware that he was one. He was there for his pliability, and he was bent completely out of shape. Rubicund was aware of this, even ashamed of it, yet he never once talked openly of it. I suspect there might also have been resentment, that Haxed was chosen over him to represent the Vanadi in that monstrosity.
There was a conversation between the two of them, after all was completed, and it startled me to see Haxed gloat about ‘victory.’ I settled with Trey on the restricted region in our corner of Vanadi space, and was promised equal time with each potential member of the alliance, so they would be aware of the possibilities that lay before them. To satisfy their petty frustrations, I suggested that the Obdurate would continue to consider its own position, that perhaps some time in the future we would join them. It was a lie, like any compromise, but Haxed either refused to see that, or he couldn’t. Rubicund understood what had really happened there on Mollwan, and for that he has my respect."
"What were your concerns that last day?" Kauri enquired of Haxed.
"That the Obdurate was being the Obdurate," he replied. "Given recent events, they were valid concerns."
"You were considerably more optimistic in the speech you gave upon the conference’s conclusion," Kauri stated.
"It was a political necessity, which always takes precedence over reality," Haxed noted.
"Of course. Did you never once mention your concerns to Trey, or the other Quadian representatives? To Vicar Rubicund?"
"I didn’t see the point. We were naïve because we had to be," Haxed sighed. "There was no way to know that little less than forty years later revenge would be had. It’s a long time to wait, a long time to forget."
"It was willful, then."
"I knew…It was the only way for things to play out…Yes."
After the conference’s end, Trey had words with Haxed as well. Talk was very much the center of this Vanadi’s world. It was aboard the Ardor, which had barely emerged unscathed from Umecit’s own part in recent events. In the darkened Measures room, the three consulted for a time.
"The night ends," Haxed enthused. "We have reached our dawn here at Mollwan."
"That is one way to view it," Trey mused, distracted.
"There is still much to be accomplished," Umecit noted, "raw patches to be smoothed over. The night looms still. After my experience with the Tauqui raiders, I wouldn’t say that we are quite where we need to be. I taught them a lesson, though."
"Lessons are exactly what is needed," Haxed stated, with his eyes following Trey, who drifted toward the shadows, disturbed even more now than a moment ago. The observer soon found his own distraction. That panel, it wasn’t always shaped so…obtusely, was it?"
Umecit took a moment to scrutinize the suggested anomaly. "Well…You’d think I might have noticed it before…"
"Do not strain yourself over it," Trey bid, morosely from a corner of the room. "Leave us." Taken slightly aback, the Vitell remained for a moment, then made his departure. "You have insight on your people?" It was less a question then a solicitation.
"I do," Haxed replied, still studying the warped wall. "What is it that you would like to know?"
"I know everything you could tell me," Trey dismissed, "except this: Do you hold any sway among the Vanadi?"
Haxed did not know how to respond. He felt vaguely insulted. It was as if Rubicund’s accusing eyes were once more trained on him. This was a discourtesy, one step removed from betrayal. "There hardly seems to be question of this."
"What is the point of this? I have served the Quadian loyally."
"This is not a question of loyalty."
"Then what is it? This seems a personal attack."
Trey hesitated. "Your presence, your demeanor, your presentation. These were all hindrances to our goals for Mollwan."
"My…If you believed this from the start, why did you elect to take me along? This is an outrage."
"This is mere reality. This is the sway you hold with your people: your influence over Rubicund, over Karakas, was to convince them that the Quadian would weaken them. Even your own vicar felt this way. It is not what I would have liked."
"How can you possibly…"
"I could see it in his eyes. And in yours. Fortunately, this very tribulation for Mollwan will ultimately service the Quadian more than hurt it. I have arranged for a counterpart to be brought aboard for the remainder of our mission."
For a moment, Haxed struggled with the news. "Progress will be made. One more Vanadi aboard will demonstrate, once we have attained equilibrium, our ultimate goal, will demonstrate that my failing is not the failing of every Vanadi. A clever ploy."
"That is why I brought you," Trey noted. "There will also be an additional Vitell representative joining us, shortly. Sil Moodawa, however, is already on her way."
"I have heard of her. Do you really see me as such a clown?"
"As long as those who are supposes to do, does it matter? No, I don’t."
Some years in the past, when Haxed was in training for the political life, he came across an Omoxi visiting the Vanadi homeworld. At that time, it was an unusual sight. The Vanadi based their early contact with offworlders with a strong sense of communal pride, allowing few to visit Vanagar. There can be little doubt that such a policy led to the crisis Mollwan was meant to end. This visiting Omoxi was named Amend, and his unusually approachable disposition was most likely the reason he had been allowed passage. Haxed had not yet met an offworlder, and he seized the opportunity in earnest.
"You’re an Omoxi," he said. "I have heard much about you."
"And what I’ve heard of your people has been nothing but a pleasure for me," Amend replied. "I find your diversity comforting."
"We have much to offer, and our services for this…Quadian will be bountiful," Haxed proudly proclaimed.
"You are a confident people," Amend noted, coming as close to a laugh as any Omoxi. "That is useful all by itself. Yes, there will be many benefits."
"When the time comes, I hope to serve among the elders of this union."
"That will be a fine day for all of us."
It was a fond memory for Haxed, one he often dwelled on. When he first took the podium to address the delegates at Mollwan, it was planted firmly in mind. It was the source of all his confidence. Whatever else he was, when Haxed approached that podium on the final day of the conference, he was seen as one of the great figures of his people, of the day. Most of those present didn’t share, couldn’t share Trey’s opinion of him. His reputation stemmed from his loyalty, the very thing he had thought Trey questioned, and loyalty was the other thing he kept in mind. There was a single path ahead of his people, as he saw it, and that path came about the day the Omoxi first came to Vanagar. He was, in the end, a good man.
"On the seventh day," his speech continues, "there was a rest. The talks had reached what appeared to be an impasse. The Vicar refused to talk with the Humble Legislative, Trey refused to speak with the Vicar, and indeed the Humble Legislative had secluded himself away from all concerned, including his own aides. At the behest of Trey, I consulted with the Vicar on the best manner of repairing this breach of cooperation. All night we debated, on the merits of the Commonwealth, so desperate had we become. We questioned our own government, and through this Karakas saw our sincerity. He did not need for us to overthrow our elected officials, for a coup to take place and on those grounds it be said that the only way to reach an understanding would be through total upheaval. It was a small triumph.
Our lesson was this: that victory did not reside within the realm of success but in strides, however short in between they would need to be. The talks were diligent in their determination, even with impediments, for these we could overcome given the right amount of effort. Indeed, what we ultimately learned, here on Mollwan, was that progress can be made, no matter the amount of time required or the pains involved. We declared here that we would put forth the effort required, and not let our petty differences get in our way. That is the spirit of our union.
On this, the twelfth day, we are not prepared to suggest that we have our final victory. Only time may determine that. But we are prepared to suggest that hope was born today, and that it will continue on, as long as we remember what we learned here on Mollwan."
© copyright 2001-2003 by Sean "Waterloo" McKenna