Gems Shine Better Free

[spoiler]Gemica is country to the east of Staynish Justelvard and to west of Lazlowia that is ruled by the dictatorial Diamond Authority. It relies on precious stones and tourism for its income, but suffers from inequality and injustice. This RP will discuss how this nation of Gemites was freed by and incorporated into The Oan Isles. Unless explicitly stated in a later post, this topic is CLOSED! See attached picture.[/spoiler]
04H00 Chrysoberyl District, Malacite City, Gemica.

Opal woke up early in the morning to prepare for another difficult day at the hotel. She was glad to have a job at all even though it was difficult and she was not treated with respect. She was better off than many of the people around her in Chrysoberyl District. She was able to support her family, albeit with difficulty and personal sacrifice.

She took a bath in the shower, cold water pouring unexpectedly from the faucet. She gasped in surprised and stepped out of the shower and put on a towel. She tried to turn on the light, but it remained dark. To her horror, her electricity had been cut off. She gathered her head and tried to clean herself with the cold water.

She lit a candle and got dressed, then prepared food for the kids over the gas stove. She kissed them on the forehead as they slept. She closed the door and went to work. Even though the sun had not risen, people were already awake. They hurried for the old, uncomfortable and unsafe trains, risking their safety and security, to get to work. Opal managed to get the last ticket for the train to the Cabochon District.

She stood in the train contemplating the world through which it passed. Although Chrysoberyl District had been named after a beautiful gem, it was far from beautiful. It was similar to many places in Malacite City, where the poor had been hidden from the eyes of the tourists in the resorts and investors in the financial districts. The water quality was dubious, at best, and the housing conditions were deplorable. The people were forced to make do, to make peace with their lot.

Her train finally reached its destination and she went off. She walked towards the hotel, but chose to take an alternative route to allay any would-be thieves. Unfortunately she succeeded in doing the opposite. Three men, waiting for the  unwary pedestrians going to work, were glad when their first prize would be a simple one to acquire: a woman.

They followed her. One of them crossed the road and walk parallel to her, but on the other side. Another walked some distance in front of her. The third was a comfortable distance behind her. Although she had her misgivings, she quickly forgot them, thinking that the men were not related. She was further reassured when the man before her turned to the left.

Her false sense of security was quickly broken when the man she had thought had gone, grabbed her by the neck and pulled her into an alleyway. The other two quickly arrived at the scene, punching her in the eye and kicking her in the stomach. They groped disrespectfully on her body and in her bag, taking anything valuable. They ran away, disappearing as quickly as they had arrived, while she lay in pain.

A middle aged man heard the commotion and got outside, but he was too late: the thieves had gone. He picked her up and brought her inside. His house was small and busy, full of vials and concoctions. He was an apothecary, healing people with herbs and charms. He gave her a warm fluid to drink, and sat in the chair opposite her, hoping his remedy would do the trick.

She coughed from the bitter taste in the fluid. She sat up and smiled at the man and quietly thanked him for his help. He consigned his act to mere human duty. She introduced herself and he introduced himself. His name was Topaz. He was a widower who lived alone. She tried to stand and leave, but struggled to do so. He told her that she needed rest.

She stubbornly defied him. She would rather get to work beaten than not go at all. Her bruised would not solicit the sympathy and compassin of her superiors. She was a worker, one that could be replaced if it displayed the smallest weakness. She got up and hobbled to the taxi rank, the man being kind enough to give her 3 Oan dollars to make it to work.

Her fears were realised when she arrived to her boss’s angry scowl. She tried to explain, displaying her bruises to convince him that she was indeed injured. The Oan owner of the hotel, Sala Takalua, entered the lobby with a friend, wishing her good travels after a good stay. As she waved her goodbye, she became aware of the situation between the manager and member of her staff. She was rather embarrassed by all the noise that they were making and the way in which Opal grovelled before him.

She stepped next to them, and they kept quiet, embarrassed themselves. Opal picked herself up from the floor, her head bowed in dismay. Her boss proceeded to admonish her in front of his boss. Before he could complete his statement, she interjected and ordered them to come to her office. She asked Opal to wait outside while she spoke to manager.

Opal could hear Miss Takalua yelling. She could not hear what Miss Takalua was saying, but she sounded upset. Miss Takalua opened the door, a grumpy manager walking out with his head bowed and his tail between his legs. She called Opal in. She was a cold and formidable woman and Opal trembled in her presence, bracing for the impact of her reprimand.

“Don’t be so pathetic”, Miss Takalua said much to Opal’s confusion and embarrassment. “Try to save your dignity as well – what’s left of it, that is”.

Opal was afraid to respond, yet ironically she sat more confidently in her chair, waiting for the woman before her to speak. She looked at Opal like a butcher examining an ox: looking for imperfections, for points to disect it into cuts and ways to prepare it into food. Opal was frightened. She was surprised and relieved when the owner of the hotel simply instructed her to get back to work. She went to the first aid and quickly tended to her bruises, after which covering them with makeup. She proceeded to her normal duties with the forced smile she was being paid for.

When the workday was finished around 17H00 in the afternoon, she hurried back home. Her attempts to get out of the rain before it fell were in vain as the cold water fell on her. She tried to find shelter under a narrow roof projection, but it did little to reduce her suffering. Luckily the apothecary, Topaz, was passing by when he saw her. He invited her to her home. She consented, but a kept the carving knife in her handbag which she stole from the kitchen close at hand. One could not be too careful.

She sat down. The man brought some cups, hot water, sugar and teabags. She let the man pour first before she poured for herself, wary of laced drinks. The two engaged in general conversations and observations on life. The man began delving deeper into her political and religious beliefs, topics that were often avoided for fear of the Diamond Authority. It was notorious for using torture and extrajudicial killings to stifle public debate.

She was wary that he might be a spy and decided to let him talk about his beliefs and ideals. She was amazed by the way he spoke. He spoke of a transformed Gemica free from the stifling hand of the Diamond Authority. He treaded dangerously close to calling for its usurpation and for outright revolution. She simply remained silent. The rain had been reduced to a drizzle, she took the opportunity to take her leave of the man. Before she could, he gave her a card from “NLM”.

Rather than entertain what the NLM was, she quickly left, before she could sign her death warrant. She knew that even though there was Oan political pressure on the Diamond Authority, it only lessened its heavyhandedness long enough for the tall dark people with long hair to turn their backs, dealing mercilessly with its opponents.

10H00 Azurite District, Agate City, Gemica

Opal’s husband, Lazuli, was a miner. He worked at the urth, using his incredible strength to bust rocks open and find precious stones to support his family. He worked in Agate City which was on the other side Gemica’s biggest and main island: Gemica Island. He cleaved the hard stone with a pick axe, looking for blue veins, distinct indicators of azurite, the cheaper morphological cousin of their real goal: malachite.

They worked deep beneath the earth, in slippery, dimly lit and dangerous caves to dig out the stone. It was used a pigment, as an ornamental stone or decoration in jewellery. They made abhorrently little money from the work they did. They were unable to see their families for extended periods of time. The Ancients had considered malachite a symbol of peace and freedom. He considered it death. He died everyday. He went into the ground an empty husk and went out an exhausted empty husk.

His family had given him the strength to persevere. But that perseverance was born from guilt and regret. He had had a bitter altercation with Opal that rendered them both emotionally scarred. It was the last time they spoke. That was several weeks ago. He remembered the bitter insinuations that they hurled at each, pounding the rock with more determination and aggression as he played the memory in his mind over and over again.

He was clever. He hid a piece of malachite away with every haul. He sold it an illegal dealer. It was enough to keep him clothed, intoxicated and fed while the rest went to his wife and kids. He would put a little away in his jacket and sell it to the dealer outside the hostel in which he stayed. Although the dealer did not pay much, it was an extra income that his so-called bosses would never give him.

Over the weeks he had been exchanging ideas with miners on the politics of the workplace and the country in general. It started as a mere joke, but one of his fellow miners, a gifted speaker called Moissanite began proliferating the possibility of freedom and revolution. As the discussion got serious the bosses kept a closer eye on the miners and a tougher hand.

Moissanite began selecting a smaller group of people to share his ideas with. Lazuli was one of them. He listened to Moissanite and absorbed his refreshing ideas. He adored Moissanite. He worshipped him. Although Moissanite was younger and smaller than he, Lazuli wanted to be like him: to speak with the same authority and to perceive with the same intelligence.

Moissanite invited him, and him alone to learn of a secret: the NLM. The NLM was fully the National Liberation Movement. It was a clandestine organisation that attempted to precipitate the political emancipation of the Gemite people from the cruel Diamond Authority that ruled Gemica. It organised boycotts and protests, held workshops and dispensed pamphlets. It did not reveal itself. It acted in secret, in fear of the persecution of the Diamond Authority.

Lazuli was trully astounded when Moissanite told him this. He felt honoured that he had been trusted with this secret and even more honoured that he was asked to be a member. Lazuli was exposed to a world of politics he had never known, and knew very little about. He met in secret with his fellow “Movers” (as they called themselves). They discussed political concepts such as a three branch government, the rule of law, the protection of human rights and the sovereignty of a monarch. They looked to the Oan Isles for inspiration. They consumed political (forbidden) literature by giants such as Mauia Uweleye, Marama Hanolua, Rotorua Kataye, Pounamu Sakalua and Ianohanaeni P. Kiamako. The read books such as ‘Slave Mind in the Modern Age’, ‘Polynesians Unite: A Call for the Interdepence and Independence of the Polanosan People’, ‘Freedom from War’ and ‘Memoirs of a Militiaman’

Lazuli absorbed this new vision, but grew impatient with the NLM. They were unwilling to try anything new. They were unwilling to push the boundaries. They were unwilling to come out. He knew why. They were all educated and weak. They could never survive prison or torture, or stand boldly in the face of the bullet. Just as Oaloanu said to Mauia Uweleye (in his book Memoir of a Militiaman) “Men of war cannot be men of peace. Their place is to serve Peace”. Lazuli did not expect (and frankly did not want) Moissanite to go to prison for treason. He would be sword in Moissanite’s hand, fighting in the dark and difficult places for men like Moissanite to rule.

He built his own following among the tough men of the mine, building a small army that would be the seed of revolution and rebellion. His small crew of oxen-sized men were ready to begin the revolution. It was 14H00 and the Oan media had come to witness the celebration of the start of a new mining venture. He wanted the state to be humilitated in the most public way possible.

The cameras came by, the pompous Gemite flaunting his mine to his Oan patrons. The men began chanting. The Gemite looked startled and the Oans looked fascinated. The small pudgy little man tried to silence them like a frustrated child throwing a tantrum. He was drowned out by their deep powerful voices. Lazuli stood on a chair and called out a simple maxim:

20H00 Chrysoberyl District, Malachite City, Gemica

Opal was seated opposite her little daughters, reinforcing the difficult pronunciation of words in the Oan language and teaching them the Pounamu script. They humourously mouthed the letters in long sounds, looking, and sounding, ridiculous. They all laughed together.

The Oan language had been taught as the lingua franca. With the amount of influence the Oan Isles exerted on Gemica, the government wanted to give its kids and businesses the best chance at accessing the opportunities in the Oan Isles. They spoke Codexian at home most of the time, but Oan in public, in order to seem distinguished or educated.

The language you spoke supported the civilisation from whence it arose. Although the state had simply exploited Oan as a means of milking the cow, the language meant much more for the people. For them, it meant to be free. It meant to receive an education and a good job, to have dreams and believe that they would come true, to live in a society governed by just laws and good people. Even though the Gemite people did not have those things, speaking Oan gave them a glimpse into what was possible.

Opal contemplated the idea. She explored having the freedom to speak her mind. She dared not entertain the thought. It was so big that it was terrifying. It was hard to imagine telling the head of the Diamond Authority to shove his decrees up his… where the sun did not illuminate. She quickly dismissed the idea. It lurked in her subconscious.

It lurked in the minds of many people. They were too afraid to speak. They were too afraid to defend their rights or uphold their own freedoms. They vindicated themselves by saying, “We are just Gemites. Who will speak for us?” That night someone had found his voice and was in prison paying for it.

Opal heard the telephone ring. She instructed her little one, too tired to answer the solicitations of a telemarketer. Her little one came back and said that her father was on the line wishing to speak to her.

Opal jumped up. She fixed her dress and pulled her hair behind her ear. She made sure her teeth were clean and that her breath didn’t stink. Then she realised that she was talking to someone over the phone. She picked up the receiver and said, “Hello”.

He answered with a simple breath of relief. He responded with the gentle words ‘my love I need you’, melting her once ice cold heart. Sometimes she wondered how she could forget she loved him. He was the father of her children and her partner in crime, but it was what it was. Adulthood was always full of drama.

She asked him as to what the matter was. He told her the account of what happened. He used the code they had invented over the years that no one understoid, to relay his powerful and worrisome rapport. When she thought back to the card written “NLM”, she trembled. Everything that had seemed unimportant suddenly filled up all the available space in her brain.

She was terrified. If the police came here. If the news heard about this… If they took the children away… Her atria and ventricles strained themselves to keep in rhythm and pump blood out of her heart. Almost sensing what she was going to say, he reassured her.

The Oans had seen it all. There was too much public attention on this. With the Oans watching, the authority did not want to incur their ire anymore. So it handled the prisoners relatively well. He tried to reassure her that they’d be fine. That she’d be fine. She listened to him in shock. What about the children? What about her job? What about their reputation? What happens when it all dies down and the people forget?

He responded to all her questions with instructions rather than answers. The kids were to be taken to their grandmother in Peridot Town. They needed to be hidden and kept safe to protect them from the state. She was to lead the resistance on his behalf. He had already arranged for a widowed apothecary to introduce her to the notion of the National Liberation Movement. Opal was shocked that Topaz had in fact known about her the entire time.

Opal asked, “Did you send those thugs after me too?”

Lazuli responded with shock. He was totally oblivious. But perhaps it was strange work of Oa. Opal was a little annoyed by how Lazuli stopped calling God God and instead he called him Oa. Opal reponded with the natural anger and betrayal. While she was taking care of the kids, he was gallivanting, playing hero. While she worked long hours, he was in prison proliferating “junk!”.

She wanted to drop the receiver. Then she wanted to be angry with him and call him terrible words and hurt his feelings as much a she felt that he hurt hers. Then she remembered the warmth of his chest, the safety of his arms, the gentleness of his eyes and the ternderness of his voice and forgot about it. Her body and mind were an up and down of emotions struggling to define themselves or make a decisions.

It was plainly obvious that they were not safe anymore. Soon enough the authority would come looking for them. With their resources and malevolence, they were impossible to stop. No matter how big Lazuli’s screw up had been, she had to fight the battle head first. At least she got the one thing she cared the most for: assurance that the NLM would guard and provide for her kids.

She called the apothecary. He was startled by her call so late at night, but understood everything when Opal explained. Topaz promised to help her get the kids to safety. Opal responded with appreciation. When she had to bring herself to let them go, she was torn between her duty to keep them safe and her duty to always be with them as a mother. Although a father could just run off and it would be fine, a mother had to be there, standing by her children and eating what they ate. But at the same if she didn’t do what he asked, none of them would eat all unless it was through a straw.

She was filled with so much torment that she went to the bathroom and vomited several times. When she finally gathered her bearings, she told the kids that they were visiting granny for the weekend. They were a bit apprehensive, but excited when she promised food and sweats. The older one knew the truth or at least guessed at it. He embraced his mother with a heavy heart, a part of him denying but aware, that he would never hold her again for a very long long time.

Opal helped them to the bus stop where they were ferried to what was hopefully safety, while she headed for what was visibly hell itself.

22H00 Obsidian Prison, Azurite District, Agate City, Gemica

Obsidian Prison was a lot different from many of the difficult and ruthless prisons in Gemica. Lazuli had seen some of them, but this one was nice. It stank most of the time, there were screams at night, the food was only half edible and the walls were just as thick and cold and lonely. Unlike the other prisons in the correctional system, this one was dedicated to putting away reasonably educated and politically minded people.

They were isolated from other prisons rather than thrown with the rapists and murderers because the state quickly realised that even a rapist or murderer could be moved to hope and action by an eloquent speaker. This isolation, may have hindered them from seeing their families or spreading their beliefs, but it gave them a camaraderie that went beyond the simple gangs that developed in mire savage jails.

There were people in the prison who had committed serious crimes, but they were restrained by the purpose for which they were here. That was also another difference. There was a purpose to being here. Although they were locked up, their voices could not be shut up. Their sacrifice of personal freedom for collective freedom had enormous power and inspired more people to stand up against the state.

When Lazuli arrived, rather than being welcomed by sexually starved men, irritated men who thought he was just another mouth to feed, other men who saw an opportunity to sell drugs or another group of men who were sizing up for a fight, he was welcomed with cheers. ‘News travels fast’, he thought to himself. The warden ordered them to ‘Shut the f*** up!’, but he knew he had no power over them. They continued smiling welcoming the hero who broke the silence.

The Oans did a good job of protecting the political prisoners. They levered incredible political and economic muscle to keep the Diamond Authority at bay. The Authority had been agitated of late. It wanted to find a new body on which to latch and sink its teeth.

The Oans made too many difficult demands and compromised their authority, which, as they came to realise, was faltering. News was spreading and fires were starting that it took more than a baton, whip or even a bullet to put out. There was genuine anger not only in the beerhalls and political meetings, but in households and schools.

Lazuli had started something, the nature and scope of which he was yet to realise. The prisoners moved quickly, discussing politics with a renewed passion. Two political thinkers argued why they included “God save the Emperor”, in their maxim. The one powerfully observed that “God save the Emperor” was not a religious notion. It established the state as the authority, but removed power from it, because its power was not derived by and of itself.

Lazuli was fascinated by these ideals, but was agitated as to when the talk would turn to action. He was far more concerned about striking while the iron was hot. No one seemed to have a plan or an idea to harness what he had started, so naturally it fell upon him to carry out the work that he had begun. He began devising plans to spark protests by touching the state where it hurt most: its pride.

His methods were crude, but effective. Orders were given to members of the NLM who had been lying low, waiting for the leaders at Obsidion Prison to issue a statement. They proceeded with the first phase. Operation Disrespect was a-go!

They went to random points in the country such as schools, power plants, public buildings and so on, spraying the image of human genitalia and equating it with the Diamond Authority. It was funny to the general public, but was met with harshness from the state which was extremely humiliated. People were regularly beaten in spectacular public fanfare to warn anyone who dared ro even think to step out of line.

The NLM had a bigger plan in mind. Approximately a thousand people gathered before the Palace of Diamonds in Diamond Square and set their Identity Booklets on fire. This was a powerful silent act of protests that outweighed any insult: they refused the authority of the state. In its place they raised the Five Stripped Banner. Much to the chagrin of diplomatic officials, the statement was clear: the revolution was a friend of the Oan Isles.

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. No amount of money, political pressure or anything else mattered. The Oans officially became enemies of Gemica. The head of the Diamond authority made that clear on public television: all diplomatic and economic relations with the Oan Isles were to be severed.

The suffering that was to come forth from this single act of courage would test the mettle and shake the beliefs of the revolution itself.

10H00 Tomaoaeni District, La Rochelle, The Oan Isles

The Oan Foreign Service was totally flabbergasted by the events that occured and were struggling to contain the situation. The OFS Headquarters in La Rochelle were abuzz with activity. Paper flew in the most fantastic fashion and people were shouting without knowing why.  They simply did it because it was the appropriate response to a dreadful situation: panic! One woman even threw her baby out of the window! Not exactly, but one could see on her face that deep down she wanted to do it.

Truth be told, there was always chaos and shouting then a tranquil tea break, then more chaos and shouting. It was a hectic environment, although one had the sense that it was manufactured. Diplomacy was surprisingly uninteresting. The staff and senior personel, added fanfare and noise to make it more fun.

Unfortunately today shit had genuinely hit the fan. They were attempting to deal with applications from wealthy Gemites and Oans to move their money and themselves out of Gemica. The department tried to assuage their fears: the situation was fine and everything wad fine. They knew it was a lie, but it would have to do until they figured out a plan.

The higher ups bore an even greatet load. The stunt that the National Liberation Movement had pulled tier them inextricably to them. The Oan Isles naturally had no choice, but to support them. It had to be an example of the high values of which it spoke. It had to defend democracy, and when the people were asking for help, they had no choice, but to intervene.

The question was how and whether they should or whether they should let it go and close their eyes. Those even higher up, knew the truth. Gemica had had a strong link with the Oan Isles. It was a small country that didn’t make much nose or have much presence on the international stage, but it mattered a lot to the Oan Isles. It had minerals AND (emphasis on AND), it was a great tourist destination and it was a great place to discard those who lived at the seems of a massive population and seemed to have little by the way of purpose or taxable income.

This sudden act of courage and stupidity had ended a decade-long passive diplomacy and arms-length relationship. It brought into question the role that the Oans would play in the country and whether or not it was feasible for a democratic monarchy to maintain an authoritarian republic. And in the end it was a relationship that was doomed to crumble.

They had all been fairly aware of that fact, but it was still terrible to deal with when it happened. The Oans had to defend the millions of dollars they had invested in, the years of culture they had established, the families they had planted and their reputation on the world stage.

As his foreign officials panicked, the present Head of the Portfolio for Diplomacy and Immigration simply laughed and let them lose their minds. He called the Head of the Portfolio of Security and Intelligence and they did what Oans do best: meddle.

(I love these! Please continue them.)

Chrysoberyl District, Malachite City, Gemica

Opal sat in an armchair in her small common room of her small townhouse. She was ensconced in her thoughts. Her emotions and feelings proceeded before and within her like a conveyor belt. She felt guilty for abandoning her children. She felt worried about where they were and what they were doing. She felt angry at her husband for turning their lives upside down. She felt regretful for even meeting Topaz at all.

The house was silent. The sound of laughter and bickering were gone. The sound of someone opening the fridge, contemplating what to eat, was gone. The sound of soft singing in the bathroom as the kids prepared for bed, was missing. The house had fallent unnaturally silent. It felt uncomfortable and eery due the context from which it arose.

It arose from a violent usurpation of the order and routine that had governed their lives. Her husband was arrested for leading a liberation movement. There were protests in the streets and disquiet among the people. Soon enough the Diamond Authority would use its incredible military and security apparatus to shut down protests and snuff out the rebellion. As Lazuli’s wife, Opal had a massive target on her back.

Her mind was so fixated on these thoughts that she startled by the sound of a knock at the door. Her heart beat so quickly, she afraid that it was audible. She went to the window and saw Topaz standing behind the door. She decided to open for him and hear him out.

As she opened the door, much to her chagrin, two other men were standing behind Topaz. She had not seen them as they were distorted and hidden by the leaves of the tree. Her face went pale and she she attempted to close the door again. A foot stopped her from closing it completely. Topaz proclaimed: “We have important things to discuss with you. These are two comrades from NLM”.

She eventually acquiesced to their request for entry, but she did so with a frying pan by her side. Seeing her rudimentary weapon held loftily at her side, they were made vividly aware that she did not trust them and would respond violently if threatened. Although her truimphing over three men was unlikely, her tenacious spirit was commendable and they kept their distance to show their respect.

Topaz spoke on behalf of his colleagues, “Thank you for letting us into your home, Madam”. " We are honoured". She lowered her frying pan, taken aback by his perfect manners and stroking of her ego. Regardless it worked. She was disarmed by the comment and proceeded to sit down before them and was prepared to hear them out.

Topaz explained the situation that had befallen her. He defended Lazuli’s actions as responsible for catalysing the transformation of their country. He lauded Lazuli. She held a small smile, clearly having a change in her perception and thoughts. The two men finally introduced themselves. One was a senior member in the National Liberation Movement, whose name was Onyx. The other, a dark skinned man with the seriousness ane ruggedness of a soldier, whose name was Moana. She immediately stood up in shock.

She recognised the language from whence that name was spawned: Oan, the language of the Oan Isles. She immediately inquired if he was trully from that place. He agreed and further explained that the Oans were working with the NLM to bring about democracy and normalise the situation.

She looked outside, hoping that the Diamond Authority would not discover her. Topaz saw that she was absolutely terrified and confused. He apologised for the way that the NLM had handled the situation and on Lazuli’s behalf for how he had communicated with her.

He began by describing its noble goals and objectives: the creation of a democratic, non sexist, equal, free society. He explained that they employed peace and were open to negotiation, that the NLM was careful and protected its own. He defended the revolution by pointing out the ills of the present regime and the pain that it put and would continue to put them all through. He proceeded by describing the important role that Lazuli played in the movement. With that he proceeded to elucidate what the NLM wanted from Opal.

Opal, as Lazuli’s wife, was a major storm and an influence in the process. They needed her to be his voice, to speak on his behalf and to mobilize his support. They further wished to capitalize on her gender: she’s a woman! Only a woman had the talents and skills to really take the testosterone out of the room both within the organisation and in meetings with the state. She was also able to represent the pursuit of the NLM to uplift and empower women, thereby mobilizing other women to join the revolution even if it was in the background.

They lauded and commended her for being a strong woman and how they believed that she had an important role to play and could be a big force in the future. She remained silent and straight-faced, amusing by the shameless stroking of her ego. She then simply replied, “And if we fail?”

Their faces blanched instantly. They tried to defend their actions and portray the staggering chances of successful revolution. She was unconvinced. She stood up asked them to leave. They stood up and walked out solemnly and lugubriously. He lifted his sad and disappointed face and simply said, “Madam, you cannot stay here. It’s not safe and they will come for me. If you will not help us, at least reassure us by allowing us to take you to a safe place”.

She contemplated the idea, but quickly arrived to an answer “NO, thank you”.

17H00 Cabochon District, Malachite City, Gemica

Opal had been distracted the whole day. The events of the past few days made it difficult to give her best and remain fully focused at work. She was constantly looking over her shoulder for policemen or secret police who would violently whisk away to cold dungeons and do unspeakable things to her. She was a woman after all: a “weaker vessel”, something that made men believe that they had the right to do with her as they saw fit. ‘The life of a woman’, she mused.

As she was wiping the tables, an object of interest caught her eye. She looked at it and contemplated indulging in it. Whiskey. It was a beautiful bell shaped bottle. It had beautiful cursive silvery writing on it. It was almost effeminate in beauty, but masculine in potency. The golden liquid that resided within was like a siren, calling her to have a drink.

Her throat instantly parched. She was thirsty. After all the pain of the day and the misery of her life in general, a little sip could not hurt. She walked towards it, looking behind her shoulders and over the counters and around the corners to make sure no one would see her. She pulled out a glass and placed in on the counter. She pulled the bottle out from the cabinet and poured a small bit into the glass and put the cap back on the bottle.

She swirled it around, taking in the great smell. It was bitter and woody, the most peculiar smell she had ever smelt. Yet it was warm and almost comforting. As she placed the glass on her lips, preparing to drink, her own voice popped into her head, “You must never drink liquor kids: it’s bad for you!”

She immediately removed the glass from her lips, nearly taking a drink and smashed it on the floor. She sank to the floor anr started to cry. She hated crying more than anything. She avoided it as much as possible. Snot went down her cheeks, meeting fantastic streams of water from her eyes. She was quiet, straining her mouth to shut up, occasionally letting out a whimpering sound. She heard footsteps and was immediately flung out of the vomit-like sensation of crying. She wiped her face, but she could not hide the fact that she had been crying.

Miss Takalua stood on the other side of the counter. She looked at her unsympathetically. She looked almost amused by Opal’s poor attempts to conceal her crying. She broke the awkward silence and simply said, “There are two men from the Diamond Authority, looking for you”.

Opal’s face blanched. Terror struck her like a sledgehammer. Miss Takalua continued, “Run. Never come back”. Opal immediately jumped over the counter and went to the locker rooms to pick up her things. She hurriedly packed them into her bag. And bolted for the door. As she was about to open, a large masculine hand gently pushed the door ajar, its large fingers and knuckles on the handle. She was petrified.

A voice called out behind them and said, “Gentlemen. Is this who you are looking for?” Opal saw Miss Takalua with one of the female staff members who did not even remotely fit her description. Then she realised that Miss Takalua was buying time. She decided to grab a chair and climb out of the window. She levered herself over the window seat and heaved herself over. Her bag fell to the ground. She abandoned it and jumped down.

The door was thrown open, two men barging in. One of them asked, “Miss Takalua, why is there a bag next to a chair by an open window?”

She creased her brow and incredulously replied, “You insult my intelligence. I run a multimillion dollar five star hotel in the fucking Cabochon District. I think you should leave”.

One of the men walked up to her, attempting to intimidate her with his massive size, “I’ll have this place shut down by morning”.

Miss Takalua spat in his face and replied, “Go to hell!” He walked away and jogged behind his friend, who was already by the car. She saw them leaving and said under her breath, “Stupid girl. They’d better not catch you”.

Opal bolted through the alleys like a bandit. She was essentially a criminal now. She could not go back to her house. That is either the first place they would look or they would be waiting for her there already. Too much of her life had been invested and stored in her house. Credit cards, ID documents, cash… She had no choice. She went to the train station
and waited for hers to arrive. She bought a ticket and waited at platform D for a train to the Chrysoberyl District to arrive. She got on board and stood up, holding on to the railing, as the train jolted into motion.

She looked outside and saw the secret police man. He was visibly frustrated. Then something suddenly caught his glance. A wicked smile formed on his face and he looked at her. She grimaced when she realised that they figured out where she was going. He ran out of the station, presumably toward his car.

She was scared shitless the whole way back. Her creased brow and barred teeth, attested to her incredible fear. Her mind was in full panic mode. Adrenaline coursed her veins and awoke her mind. She was like a dog with a bone: singularly focused on her objective. The trip seemed to almost rush by.

She arrived at the Chrysoberyl Train Station. She bolted into a taxi so quickly it seemed as though she jumped from one to the other in mere seconds. The trip in the taxi seemed even shorter. She got to her house, her trembling hands struggling to open the door. She eventually unlocked and took as many valuables as she could carry in a backpack. She heard the tires of a car screech to a hault before her house. She knew it was them. She used a monkey wrench to pop the top of the gas canister open, the gas hissed out. She turned on the electric heater and left it on, in close proximity to the to the open gas canister. She bolted out of the backdoor and locked it behind her. She jumped over the short wall of the neighbours behind her. She ran to their gate. She unlatched the handled and ran like a mad man.

The security police finally kicked the door down. They heard a hissing noise. The smell of shale gas permeated the house. His instincts bore him straight to the source and he became instantly aware of Opal’s insidious plot. He bolted for the door, knocking his colleague off the front patio. A massive fireball shattered the windows and set the whole house ablaze.

Their clothes were singed. They dropped on the floor and rolled madly until they put the flames on their garments out. This flaming house was a simple and powerful statement: the war has begun.

19H00, Cabochon District, Malachite City, Gemica

The peculiar thing about adrenaline is its power to usurp the normal power of the mind of the body. A great and controversial philosopher divided the human mind into three sections: the id, the ego and the superego. The Id is the portion of the mind that is based on natural instincts. The superego is built on laws and sophisticated ideas. The ego is where the two meet and it represents our common sense. As we evolve, we should move towards the superego, guided by ideas that transcend our immediate circumstances, and internal and external physical and emotional stimuli.

This process of transcendence is sometimes called Enlightenment, Being at one with the Universe or Nirvana. Other cultures have many names for it. Unfortunately the superego has struggled to combat the Id. The Id has ruled all of creation since its founding. Animals including humans are driven by natural instincts and have failed to entirely triumph over them.

When we sense danger, we fight or fly. When we are hungry we eat. Overcoming natural instinct has eluded the majority of sentient creatures. Regardless of the advancement of technology or the sophistication of science or complexity of legalese, the sentient mind is not free of its basic nature and its instincts. No semblance of civilisation could restrain it. It formed the basis of war, of fear, of persecution, of greed and selfishness. It would ironically form the basis of the conflict between the freedom fighters and the state, rather than the ideas both purport to stand for.

But strangely, it is the Id that drove Opal through the streets of the Chrysoberyl District in the dark. It is the Id that directed her through the darkness. It was the Id that gave her legs the strength to bear her. It was the Id that gave her lungs and heart endurance and stamina that they have never had before.

It was her intuition and instincts that led her to the door of an apothecary. She looked up and saw him standing there, starring at her through the darkness. It was Topaz. His beard was illuminated by the potently fragrant candles in the room.

The lactic acid in her arms and leg caught up with her in the most immediate and powerful way. She swayed, collapsing unexpectedly into Topaz’s arms. He lifted her up. Past his chest. They were face to face. Their breathe touched. Their lips drew nearer and nearer to one another.

Before they could make contact, she said, “I’m in”.

He looked at her with a perplexed expression on his face like a deer in the head lights. He seemed to draw back to the earth from the sensual stratosphere he came from. He replied with a perplexed, “What?” She repeated her statement. He realised he had nearly kissed her. He drew back, embarrassed. He invited her inside and asked her to explain.

She sat on the couch, panting and rubbing her arms and legs. She finally caught her breath and explained the situation. He absorbed her rhapsody, quietly assessing the situation. It became clear to them that (a) the Revolution had begun and there was no turning back, (b) they could no longer stay in Malachite City and (c) they were enemies of the state whether they wanted to be or not.

They had no choice, but to prepare for the coming battle. Regardless of how much they’d convinced themselves that they were freedom fighters, their mettle would be tested and sanity brought to the ledge when they were faced with torture, persecution and fighting. There was only one place for them to go: Rose Quartz Farm.

The Republic of Gemica is an authoritarian republic located east of Staynish Justelvard. It is made up of three islands: Gemica (which is the largest), Stonica (which lies directly east of it) and Jewelica (the third island in the chain). The National Liberation Front, while timid and unable to muster support or express its views on the islands of Gemica and Stonica, had more freedom on the island of Jewelica.

The island of Jewelica, while technically part of Gemica, had been governed mostly by the Jewelica Free State, a polity that controlled most of the administration on the island. In 2005, there had been a civil war, with the Jewelites (the people of Jewelica), demanding independence from the Gemites (the majority ethnic group of Gemica as a whole).

With Oan diplomatic, military and economic involvement, both sides were forced to the negotiations table, to act like adults and settle their differences. Although the process was long and hard, the Diamond Authority (that ruled and still rules Gemica), was willing to allow the Jewelites to have some freedom in their own internal affairs.

The National Liberation Movement, that fought for freedom from tyranny for all of Gemica in general, found a refuge here. Although there were ethnic tensions (as many NLM members were Gemites), and the Diamond Authority held some influence over the Jewelica Free State, the NLM was able to operate. It used Rose Quartz Farm, a farm donated by the wealthy Rose Quartz Family, as their base of operations.

When Lazuli sparked the revolution, the battle lines were drawn. The Diamond Authority could no longer tolerate the Jewelican presence. It sent a strongly worded missive to the Jewelica Free State to expunge the NLM. With Oan sanctions and protection of Jewelica, the Diamond Authority could do nothing. In the mean it tackled the protestors in the streets and tried to snuff of proponents of the NLM.

Topaz, Opal, and several NLM leaders were smuggled out of Gemica in a thread bear dingy. They eventually made it to Jewelica at night. They were wet, cold and hungry, but glad to be alive. Their contact in Jewelica, picked them up and took them to Rose Quartz Farm.

Rose Quartz Farm, outside of Peridot City, Jewelica

Opal was by the fire, holding on to a cup of soup and draped with a warm blanket. She looked into the flames, watching the wood crack in half and wither into ash. She felt tired and withered. And broken. Her family was scattered and she could do nothing. She knew nothing. How were they doing? Were they alright? Were they safe? Heaven forbid, did the police find them?

All these questions made her cry until she had no more tears to cry. She felt numb. Her eyes were always half opened and she grunted responses when asked a question or offered something. Although they felt she was a bit rude, they understood the pain she had gone through.

Being a part of the NLM, or any liberation movement for that matter took guts and sacrifice. She had the former and had already done the former. Now all she needed was hope. And in this horrible weather and under these awful circumstances, she did not have much hope to hang on to.

The cyclone was battering the islands. People had run for the hills like bunny rabbits finding cover in a burrow. There really wasn’t anywhere to go. The only option was to stay put and hope for the best. The farm was already taking a hit. The barn made from metal shingles was caving in, the poor animals suffering from cold and rain, and in the coming days many of them would die from infection.

At least the maize silo and farmhouse were sturdy. Even then, they huddled in the basement and hoped for the best. The other parts of the country were faring awfully too. Rains hit so hard and for so long, streets were flooded, trees fell and roads were blocked.

People sat indoors in hunger and misery. At least there was enough preparedness and a quick enough response that only two people died. For all its flaws, at least the Diamond Authority was good at disaster management. But its real skill would be tested when the storm subsided, when the rains moved and the people had to confront what was left: ruin.

For now, all that anyone could do was wait for the storm to pass. The men tried telling stories and singing songs, but it was hard to stay optimistic when you were surrounded by gloom. In the silence, Moissanite, sat beside Opal and looked at the fire. He eventually spoke.

“I’m sorry about your family and everything that’s happened”.

“Thanks. But sorry won’t change how I feel and what I went through. If you could get my kids and free my man, I’d be fine”.

“I’m sorry”, he said. She snorted in reply.

He continued, “Did you know that moissanite is the second hardest thing after diamonds? It’s the stone I was named for. It was discovered from a meteorite that fell to earth. Some people believe that it doesn’t really exist on earth. My mother named me after it because she thought I was out of this world. I am supposed to be their leader. They look to me for strength and ideas. But the truth is I’ll never shine as hard as Lazuli. He’s strong, not just physically, but mentally too. He is a real leader”.

“Why are you telling me this”, Opal asked.

“Because, I don’t want you to blame him for the decisions he makes and the actions he takes. I want you to be proud of him, even if you aren’t happy about the way that things turned out”.

“It doesn’t matter whether or not I’m proud. I want my kids and my husband. I am so angry”, she said, her voice strained by the sorrow and anger in her heart, “I am angry at my husband for leaving. I am angry at you for taking my kids away. I am angry that my life is over and I can never go back to way that things were. I am angry that I’m always afraid of dying in the storm or getting shot”.

“I’m sorry. So what will you do?”

She looked at him in pure exasperation. All she wanted to do was to smack him across that head with an anvil. But it was a question that needed to be asked. She needed to address her feelings, come to terms with what had happened and plan the next move. She looked into the fire and wiped her tears, gathering her thoughts.

She said, “I’m gonna get my kids. You are gonna find them a home in the Oan Isles. I am going to stay here and fight!”

Moissanite smiled. A revolutionary was born.

The storm had done quite the number on Gemica as a whole. There was flooding and landslides. There were only about 3 casualties, but the amount of infrastructural damage that had occured was frightening. They’d lived in this hazardous lane of the world for centuries, but the storms did not get better. They were just oblivious to the extent of the damage and the sordid circumstances in which they found themselves. But routine bred normalcy. One became accustomed to things - good or bad - that happened often enough.

The Diamond Authority was in a pickle. Although it had been very upset by the Revolution, which seemed to receive Oan support, they needed Oan money and manpower to help clear the fallen trees, stop the fires, fix the telephone lines, remount electric cables and repair broken pipes, drain the water, provide food, blankets and support. They were caught between pride and need, anger and circumstances.

With the political upheavals that faced the nation and the damage that the storm has done, turning away help would have been disastrous. They really did not have much choice. The rulers of Gemica did not have many friends beyond the Polynesian circle. So they were forced to buckle, subsequently nailing their coffin and cementing their fate.

10H00 Tomaoaeni District, La Rochelle, The Oan Isles

The National Council formed the executive branch (and collective head of government) of the Oan government. It was at the helm of the Oan political system. It made the decisions that defined the policies the nation would put in force, the number of soldiers who would be hired, the nurses who would be fired, the money that would be spend and what it would spend it on. They were in charge.

They met in one building every day to discuss issues and make decisions. The echoes of their footsteps on the marble floors, the severe faces of the politicians whose liknesses were turned into granite, the solemnity of the venue in which they met and took up their offices and did their work, reminded them that although they wielded considerable power, it was checked and watched carefully. They were forced to put their differences aside and rule together if at least to save face, if not for the good of the nation.

And so they were assembled in this room in which they always met. The large circular table made from heavy teak wood occupied most of the room. It was a simple room with little ornamentation. It was meant to remind them of the loneliness of the job, the weight of the work, and the consequences for straying away from the democratic values that governed the nation.

Many other leaders did not have these concerned. They ruled as the pleased and did what they wanted, how they wanted, when they wanted, to whom they wanted and for whom it pleased them. The leaders of Gemica were such people. They were autocrats. Their word remained very close to law. And that was why the two sides (Oan and Gemican), struggled to understand one another. And that is why the bigger power, the Oans, sought to resolve this strange and unacceptable situation once and for all.

They greeted one another, stood at their chairs and said grace. Although they were at the top of the food chain, there was one power above them all. And they acknowledged His presence and power above and over them. They sat down and began the 2 hours ahead.

The Chief of the National Council was Locklyn Le Roy. He was a shrewd politician who had out last every other politician on this body. He was the last surviving member of the previous National Council. It had resigned en masse after the humiliating defeat of the War for Kostoria-Obertonia. Locklyn was brought back. And he knew why.

The powerful patrons who were in the shadows, lobbying and shaping economics and directing the National Council from the background, wanted to keep him as the talisman of their power and guardian of their interests. The other members while educated and young did not have his gravitas, shrewdness and cunning. And also his power.

Locklyn had been privy to decades of state secrets. He had been intimate with kings, emperors, generals and businessmen. The other members, who were younger and less experienced, naturally recognised this, and coalesced behind him. They looked to him for advice and leadership, even though his job was to call and preside over meetings.

If the table had been rectangular, he would have sat at the head. He sat at his table and began the process that carried the democracy. They spoke. They expressed their views and ideas, presented their proposals and listened to one another speak. Then Locklyn pulled out a file, and presented his proposal.

The annexation of Gemica. The Members’ once chocolate brown skin blanched. The previous had been known, humiliated and punished severely for their imperialism. It was like digging up a dead body to reenact the horrid play in which he had died. When he saw their expressions, he knew the questions that they would ask.

He began explaining, “The National Liberation Movement is a native movement that has pushed for the emancipation of the Gemite people from a dictatorial government.They believe that becoming a part of the Oan Isles will save them. They have even called our Emperor their ruler and king. We have a duty to them, to bring our brothers into our fold, to gather all the scattered sheep and free them from the tyranny that they have endured”.

The Head of Finance and Economics, Liam Palorealua, was in his late thirties, educated and ambitious. But he was not oblivious to the limits of his knowledge and the obstacles to his ambitions. He asked, “We know what happened in Yor and Kostoria Obertonia. How do you expect us to do that?”

Locklyn began explaining the plan. Send soldiers to help clean up the mess in the wake of Typhoon Mable. Encourage the NLM to push the revolution. Exploit the Diamond Authority’s unpopularity and the country’s economic instability to turn the people against them and make them willing to stand and for their freedom. Justify the extended presence and peacekeeping role of the Oan soldiers through this instability, invoking long forgotten treaty obligations. They use economic power, military presence and political leverage to coerce the Diamond Authority to call for open elections (which they would lose abysmally to the NLM). The NLM declares a union of the Oan Isles and Gemica.

As with any plan, it looked good on the surface, but practice would prove a different story. Would things be different from Yor and Kostoria Obertonia? We’ll just have to wait and see…

Oan soldiers and volunteers were sent to Gemica to clean up the mess after the stop. Trucks of food, medicine, blankets and building materials gave the people hope. It also reasserted the strong bond they shared with the Oan people. They were received warmly and treated with admiration, to the chagrin of the Diamond Authority.

The presence of Oan military vessels, presumably escorts for the Oan supply ships was disturbing. What were the Oans planning, the Gemican rulers wondered. The people of Jewelica were even more ecstatic. The intentions of the Oans, to usurp the dictatorship, were a little more apparent, although not publicly spoken.

The Oans were able to meet freely with the leaders and members of the National Liberation Movement. The meetings were an open secret. There was enough accuracy in the rumours for it to resemble truth. Commander Iano, of the Oan contigent of the disaster relief effort deployed to Jewelica, met the leaders of the NLM in Rose Quartz Farm.

Rose Quarts Farm, outside Peridot City, Jewelica

The Oans, Gemites and Jewelites met each other on friendly terms. Although there was a certain degree of withdrawal and caution, they were largely comfortable with one another.

The Oan commander, Iano, led a group of ten Oan officials and soldiers to discuss the liberation of the nation as a whole from the Diamond Authority and assimilation into the Oan Isles.

The matter was a lot more complex than they had anticipated, disagreeing on many seemingly obvious points. Although the freedom of the people and annexation of their nation was the priority, the extent, means available, methods employed were hotly debated.

A surprising figure in this whole process was a stern, pragmatic and sober woman named Opal. She did not exude the same romanticism or hold to the same high ideals that many members, especially her own husband held.

Although the guns and protests were important she posited important questions that forced the men to take a step back and think. What about the single mothers struggling to pay the bills? What about the conditions that labourers were subjected to? What about the right to own property? What about the health and education of the children? What about the cultural differences between the Gemites and Jewelites?

She took the testosterone out of the room and afforded them a luxury most men did not have during a war: long term perspective. Defeating the Diamond Authority was hunky dory, but there were challenges to consider. Although the Oan Isles was a “great” power, its economic and military might had proven many tines that it was insufficient to be accomplish all their goals.

They settled on the following points:
[ul][li]Promote discussion
[li]Proliferate propaganda
[li]Protect Jewelica
[li]Petition the Diamond Authority[/li][/ul]

Other issues remained unresolved (and would probably come back to haunt them), but in the words of a nobody: “We all have to start somewhere”.

Peridot City, Jewelica

Jewelica had a total population of 300,000 people and its largest and sole city, Peridot City, had a population of a third of that. With a per capita GDP of 23,750 dollars, the country had access to advanced services and education. Manufacturing, primarily consumer goods, drove the economy of their small country. Although precious stones formed the foundations on which they had built this place, they no longer fully relied on them to survive.

As one walked the streets and spoke to people, the people of Jewelica were more free than the people of Gemica, but one could tell that they were not trully free. The members of the NLM wore red berets and red shirts and distributed pamplets and hung up posters throughout the city.

They held talks in churches, town halls, pubs and open squares to proliferate their idea of freedom and establish their reputation as freedom fighters. The people of Jewelica walked away more militant and determined than ever to stand up to the oligarchic bullies in Malachite City.

The most masterful orator was Moissanite. Opal had often regarded him as a quiet, intelligent and analytical figure. Although she respected his quiet resolve, she did not see him as the leader of a liberation movement and often agreed with his self deprecation.

Moissanite had organised a meeting in Alabastre Square, a large concreted space in which public gatherings were held. He stood on the podium and began to address the largely inattentive crowd.

“Draw your heads from the comfort of routine and circumstance. Vex your ease. Frustrate the slow pace of your lives. Challenge your minds. Awake people of Jewelica! Awake from your slumber! It is a time to take back the freedom of your people and of your land”.

People began to coalesce around him:

“We are called by the architect of time and space and matter and reason, to mould the world according to the shared conviction in the liberty and equality that is inherent to all men and women regardless of their status. We must stand for these ideals and declare: enough is enough”.

“Our people are forced to weigh hunger against arrest, advancement against corruption. That is NOT a choice we should make. We should all have food. We should all have a chance to succeed if we possess the skill, hard work and courage. We should all express our ideas and speak our minds without worrying about being held at gun point”.

“We rebuke the Authority of Diamonds! We have lived in oppression for a decade and it is enough. It is time to rise up and march for the freedom of Jewelica and Gemica! Viva Gemica Viva!”

“Viva!” replied the 1,000 strong crowd.

“Viva Jewelica Viva!”


“Long live the Emperor!”

“Long live the Emperor!”

People began signing up to join the National Liberation Movement. They were surprised by how Moissanite was able to encourage people to join. There was an Oan military presence at the square. It had originally been consigned to disaster relief.

In the eyes of the Diamond Authority they were not here to relieve a disaster, but to ignite one.

Peridot City, Jewelica

The National Liberation Movement and the Oan army had brought a new sense of excitement and purpose to the people of Jewelica. It was necessary to assert this purpose and excitement in the form of protest.

They needed to convey the popular support that the National Liberation Movement received. Cadres went house to house, inn to inn, pub to pub, church to church, begging people to attend a march on 10 September 2017. The people some times ignored them. They sometimes laughed at them. Some even ordered them to leave. But enough people’s nods of agreement were there to give the NLM confidence that it could peacefully scare the Diamonds.

Opal, Moissanite and Topaz carried signs in Alabastre Square. They hoped that people would join. With the sporadic rain, they were afraid that people wouldn’t pitch. Thank Oa they were wrong. Slowly but surely, NLM cadres, followed by supports came through in drips and drabs. An excited Moissanite stood on a platform and welcomed the arrivals and reasserted the motivations that had brought people here.

With startling speed, 2,800 people gathered in the square. There was an electric atmosphere. The Diamond Authority was hot on their heels. The marchers began walking 4 kilometres to the Blue Diamond Building. The Blue Diamond Building was a symbol of the power that the Diamond Authority held. The route that led to the building was lined with Gemican military.

There was a lot of fear and tension. But enough courage was present to move them in the direction of the Diamonds. They chanted slogans of freedom and revolution. They sang their militant songs. “The dog shall spit his bone!”, they declared. “Power, power to the People!” they proclaimed.

The military at ground level held their guns low, but the snipers above were fully ready to deal with any funny business. They continued on their path. 150 Oan soldiers marched on the flanks, unequivocally asserting their solidarity with the movement.

The palatial Blue Diamond Building loomed ahead. Its Gaunt Polynesian architecture was intimidating. At first glance it was scary and imposing. But the more one looked at it, the more one realised: it’s trying too hard too be scary, working too hard to seem powerful, when really its was just bad building.

The protesters finally reached their mark. They sat outside the building. The Gemican soldiers remained vigilant. The protesters continued to chant, sing and shout. Opal shared her experiences throughout the ordeal, eliciting emotion and conveying authenticity.

The NLM was not just a political ideals driven by lofty ideals. It was alive. It was a way of life. It existed not only in the streets and town hall, but in homes. It represented the beliefs of the people, their aspirations for them selves, their children and their nation.

They occupied the area for hours. The tension had given way to tolerance. A small thing would break that sense of peace…

Peridot City, Jewelica

Dictators were notorious for their lack of patience and over estimation of their own power. They had a tendency to think that they had the power to control events or direct people. Combined with their own insecurities, paranoia and pride, they often made disastrous mistakes. A gathering of a couple thousand protestors shouting for democracy and rights at the top of their lungs was enough to force even the most cold hearted dictator to lose his cool.

The Diamond Authority was getting agitated. They felt humiliated that over 100 Oan troops could scare them into submission. They were tired of being embarrassed by Oans. Although they had money, there was a more primal feeling that was stronger than gold: pride. It was that pride that pushed our ambitions, promoted our greed and protected our fragile consciences.

It was time to ween themselves of the Oan teet. If their people were to fear them, they had to show that they were not afraid of anything, not even the supposedly great Blue Macaw. A call came through to the Commander of the Gemican soldiers. He nodded his head and gave an order.

A large police crowd control truck came charging into the square. It blasted jets of water at the crowd gathered outside of the Blue Diamond Building. The people scattered. The presence of Oan soldiers was clearly not enough to protect the protestors. Through this attack war had been declared and all cordial relations between them were terminated.

Another three trucks came charging through using hundreds of litres pumped at high precious to scatter and disorient the crowd. 800 soldiers came charging through the streets on pick up trucks. They leapt from the carriages and began throwing tears gas. The caustic gas burnt the lungs and disoriented the protestors.

The angry protestors responded in the only way that they knew how. They threw stones and spat profanities at the soldiers. Opal stood on top of a garbage can. She yelled beyond the pain of the teargas, the sting of the water and the fear of the situation. The human voice believed in its power. It believed it could out-roar lions and out-bellow elephants.

A bullet went through her shoulder, just above her clavicle. A horrific splatter of blood fell on the faces of those beneath her. They lifted their hands to catch their brave leaders. The images of the attack on their leader, the usage of actual live ammunition was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Peridot City, Jewelica

The grim images of Opal falling from a bullet that struck her, appalled people and captured their collective imagination. It cemented the idea that the Diamond Authority had struck first. They had turned a fairly peaceful protest movement into a war. They had answered debate with violence. In the words of the wise man, “Power answers power”.

A power would indeed answer the power of the Diamond Authority. The superfluous hurricane clean up unveiled its true intentions. The excessive number of ships and soldiers that had been brought in, revealed that their true purpose was not to clean up a hurricane’s mess, but to defend the people of Gemica (Jewelica not least among them) from the tyranny of the Diamonds.

Oan attack helicopters rose from the lofty platforms of the ships they had been transported with. They flew across the marches of grass and circled around the city, asserting the presence of Oan power. They closed in on the Square in front of the Blue Diamond Building.

They announced a warning that was barely heard above the din: Gemican troops must cease the violence and leave at once. The warning was ignored and the full extent of disobedience was unveiled. The helicopters began firing on snipers and crowd control trucks. Missiles struck chassis and the ensuing explosion tossed the massive vehicle off the ground.

A second helicopter bore its machine guns on snipers on the roof tops and in the apartments stories above ground level. They broke pieces of brick, shattered windows, perforating bodies with bullet holes. Their carcasses fell from roof tops splattering like tomatoes on the ground.

Panic ensued forcing the protestors to run in all sorts of directions. The Gemicans answered with their own power. A formation of three fighter jets buzzed like mosquitoes above the fray. The central fighter, honed in on a helicopter and sent a missile straight for the craft.

It exploded in a spectacular display of terror. Debris fell over the area, the broken pieces of metal and glass cutting flesh and scratching cars. Vendors carts caught fire. The Oans came through with their own answer.

The Oan fighter jets buzzed through. Their superior speed and power made itself quickly apparent when a Gemican plane fell like a popped balloon and crashed into the Blue Diamond Building. A gaping hole was knocked into the facade, a plume of smoke billowing into the sky foreboding the fire that crept up curtains and over the carpets within.

The burning symbol of the political power of the Diamond Authority forebode the end of that power.

Peridot City, Jewelica

Under different circumstances this would have been called an invasion. By simply blanketing this situation with the word “liberation”, there would be little question of why the Oan ships and soldiers were so heavily armed or deployed with such precision one would think it was forethought.

These questions would have to wait while the real work got down. Topaz held Opal in his arms. She wasn’t a timid or fragile damsel whose face was made from porcelain or as white as alabastre. He beheld her handsome features and dirty face. She was a fighter. She fought for her kids. She fought for her husband. She fought to survive. She fought for freedom.

She eschewed the stereotypical (but equally important) role that most women played: work in the background. She took charge and stood in the front. She exposed herself to the same sword that would bear upon her male counterparts. She took up the cause of the martyrs.

Martyrdom. Although they toyed with the possibility of death, they never fully believed with would happen. They never really saw themselves as these great leaders ordained by some Supreme Ultimate. They were driven by a desperation for freedom that had been cultivated within each of them early in life.

Each person had his own experiences of the cruelty and oppression of the Diamond Authority. Topaz had been beaten for selling affordable herbal medicine and thrown inside a garbage can ten years ago, bruised and swollen, ribs broken and in pain. Moissanite had been arrested for stealing a loaf of bread and thrown into jail, where the Warden humiliated him and treated him like a pet. Opal had once told the teacher that the Diamonds were “full of shit”. She was subsequently lashed in public.

Each one brought the anger and desperation for freedom that the Diamond Authority had reinforced rather than destroyed. A greater freedom was desired by Topaz in particular. As he held her in his arms and felt the warmth of her flesh, and her vulnerability, he wanted to protected her, to hold her, to be freed by being bound to her – to experience the freedom of love.

Moissanite came bounding in like a grey hound. For a moment he looked at Topaz in the eyes, admonishing him with the cold and angry stare. The hint was received, “Back off! Not yours!” He covered the hole with a torn piece of his shirt and stopped the bleeding. He carried her in his arms and ran toward the cover of one of the surrounding building. They sat in the deserted cafe, the defeaning sounds of explosions, gun fire and human screams forboding the fragility of their lives and the instantaneousness with which it could be taken away.

Peridot City, Jewelica

“Retreat! Retreat!”, the Gemican squadron leader ordered his colleagues. There was nothing more he could do. With a superior wingspan of 7 metres, a speed of 435km/h, a payload of 8 20 kilogram guided missiles, an advanced radar system, the Oan planes would spread them like jam on the ground. And in any case, “To hell with the Diamond Authority!”

Eight personnel carrying helicopters circled above busy and chaotic square. Twenty soldiers slid down cables as the helicopters hovered 3 metres above the ground. They slid slowly but steadily, resisting the human need to piss your pants.

160 Oan soldiers dropped to the ground. Their formidable physiques, rose 1.7 metres on average above the ground, sturdied by steel hard muscles and sharpened by battle readiness and loyalty. They bore their 17 kilogram marksmen rifles, using superior precision to shoot rather than run after the enemy soldiers. The perks of the marksmanship that was cultivated in Oan soldiers was their ability to drop targets forty metres away. The problem was that they did not change their positions as often as they should.

Luckily most combatants lacked the courage for a direct attack, uselessly hoping that their marksmanship abilities would outmatch their opponents. Today, the Oans were in charge. Gemican snipers dropped from or in apartments (believing the curtains would conceal and protect them). They exchanged fire with the Oan soldiers, ducking for cover, resurfacing to fire, sometimes being met by a bullet to the face.

A bus of a man, stood right in the middle of the square like a giant assessing wading through deep and tempestuous oceans. The frightening Captain Laona has muscles so big, it was a wonder he could run at speeds of 25 kilometres an hour. He was the perfect soldier, the type of man one would cultivate in a lab or fabricate in a smithy.

He whistled to his soldiers, giving them the signal that the area had been cleared of enemy combatants. They regrouped in formations around the square, entering buildings to clear enemy soldiers and evacuate civilians. They brought the weak and injured to be taken by the 5 personnel carrying helicopters. They packed like sardines in the helicopters to be evacuated to safer places.

Able bodied civilians were ordered to flee to designated positions. Cadres of the National Liberation Movement were ordered to tend to the sick clear the debris, search out the buildings, put out the fires. They were almost inclined to oppose this monumental request. Commander Laona’s booming voice and throbbing veins scared them into shutting up and doing as their told. “Rather die in a fire than be broken by that man”, commented one Cadre of the NLM.

Quickly after, four Oan armour carrying helicopters slowly deployed eight 8 tonne armoured cars, with a 4 centimetre metal frame, a diesel V-8 engine, two side mounted machine guns and a roof mounted artilery 80° vertical, and 180° horizontal artillery gun, they were a force to be reckoned with. Light. Fast. Deadly. Precise.

Four armour carrying planes came to deliver an even scarrier piece of equipment into the square. Tanks. The main battle tanks. Four 16 tonne vehicles, with 6 cm high density steel frame, a formidable 270 degree turret that fired 1 metre long, 8 kilogram incendiary missiles. They joined the armoured cars in formation preparing to take the city.

Another 4 armour carrying helicopters delivered eight armoured personel carriers. They had two decks, to carry 14 soldiers on each level, protected by armour plating and two upper level machine guns. Another six personnel carrying helicopters brought in reinforcements that the Captain had requested. A total of 60 men. Another way would come in four thirty minute intervals.

The captain ordered the soldiers to move outward, clearing buildings of enemy combatants and ensuring civilians were safe. They spread out in a 4 kilometre radius of the square. Four soldiers were posted every 100 metres on the ground, with snipers being deployed on buildings rising at least seven stories upwards. The personnel carriers fulfilled a second function: announcing the liberation of the people of Jewelica. They ordered shops to close, people to stay in doors, that the Oans were in charge, mandatory searches of every home would be conducted, that the people were free. They played the old anthem that had been forbidden by the Diamond Authority.

The truimphant song, booming trumpets and trombones, tubas and horns, and powerful voices of the former Malachite City Presbyterian Mass Choir boomed all over the streets. The people waved their hands from apartments and offices singing along to their national song: Gems Shine Better Free

Tomaoaeni District, La Rochelle, The Oan Isles

Locklyn Le Roy was whelmed by the incredible news that he was receiving Jewelica. It was incredible because the action was insane. Whether or not it was good, was an entirely different story. Oaloanu had always told him: war is never good. As did his father, the head of state before him. Yet it was fascinating their ability to declare it so frequently.

As with every week, he had a mandatory meeting with the Emperor of Polynesia. These minutes were an inescapable part of the day. Every other personal or professional commitment had to stand back. Appointments were reshuffled, plans were changed, birthdays were missed, dinners were cancelled because of these meetings.

Locklyn’s TLK C-class SUV coupé V-6 engine double exhaust sleek black car with leather upholstery, an astonishing two cup holders and a touch screen PC computer, cruised through the highway. The Serene Palace’s central dome peaked its head above the trees that characterised the estate in which it sat.

He sat in the back seat, his aid to his left and his driver in front. He did not employ a body guard. Even the security services in the luxury apartment building where he owned a three bedroom condominium, were employed by the company that owned the building. Startled by his blasé attitude, his security adviser tried to convince him of the importance of guards, to which Locklyn replied, “This is La Rochelle. The chances of something happening to me are as likely as Packilvania is to be a Christian democracy!”

The poor security service has had to make peace with his assertion ever since. His car made it through the imposing gates that led to the private backyard of the palace. The guard gave him a slight bow, to which Locklyn responded with a bow. The car drove slowly down to the fountain in front of the building. A four story high ornately decorated building stood to the left while trees and flowers, benches and open spaces lay to the right.

The car stopped. The driver got out to open the door for him. He stepped out and breathed in the earthy smell of the soil and crisp smell of the plants. He enjoyed coming here. It was a respite from the busy and polluted city. His took out his tablet and notepad. His aid carried his laptop back and a file. Rather than enter the massive palace, they walked straight ahead. They went to a pavillion.

It was attached the main building. It was a glass box that projected into the garden with full view of the area as it sat on a raised mound. He walked up the stairs and entered the room. It was simple and immaculate. The floors were made from wood, but a massive Persian carpet sat in the center. A small coffee table sat at the center with a tray of two tea cups, milk, leaves, a jug of hot water and lemon sugar, and an assortment of caeks. Five leather chairs were arranged around it, looking in. Two long couches lined either side of the pavilion facing each other. The ceiling was so ornately decorated, it was almost gaudy.

Oaloanu was seated reading a book. Locklyn cleared his throat and firmly, but quietly said, “Your Majesty?”

Oaloanu looked up, clearly having been deeply immersed in his book. Locklyn and his aid bowed. Oaloanu stood up with a slight bow and invited them to sit. Oaloanu motioned the chamberlady over. She came up and bowed to her master’s guests. She kneeled and offered them them tea. She poured it as they directed and handed it to each of them, still kneeling on the ground.

He asked her to leave, and she stood up and walked away.

“Our friend”, Oaloanu said gleefully, " How are you! "

“I am well, your Majesty. Our lord keeps me well and shews complaint from my door, but keeps my hands or mind from idleness. And yourself, my lord?”

“As you have put it, the Lord keeps us from complaint”.

And so on they went, speaking in overly formal, almost archaic Oan. Locklyn’s aid struggled to stifle a giggle. It was hard to imagine that two people who were so close could be so stoic and serious. But it was the ways of royalty, and nobility at large. It was a world of manners and impressive speech.

They began discussing various topics on the main events. Locklyn tried to rush through stuff like the markets, the healthcare, laws passed in the National Assembly, recent deaths, intelligence reports and so on. He wanted to get to the main topic, one that Oaloanu was anticipating with the same supressed excitement and trepidation: the invasion of Jewelica.

When Locklyn got it, he sat at the edge of his chair and listened to everything that the man said, fully focused on the fantastical nature with which everything seemed to unfold. They engaged on every matter, analysing every detail, reading through reports, watching videos on Locklyn’s tablet and listening to audios. They unpacked the situation with such detail that the aid thought, “Another four hours of my life, gone”.

Peridot City, Jewelica

Captain Laona was in charge of the Oan invasion. He employed a tactic that was used long ago to take islands in the Pacific. The Oan soldiers struck and took a small piece of the island from which they would continue their advance. That part was accomplished. The second part was to secure the “beachhead” from which the Oan attack would project.

Most streets except for two were blocked off with bags of sand and cement that rose 3 metres high. barbed wire was spread our in front of it. eight soldiers were asigned to monitor and guard, exchanging duties with a second team of eight every six hours. They had two machine guns with which to defend against infantry combatants. And a howizter to strike at enemy armour. There were twelve such points.

Only two roads allowed entry into and out of the zone that had been taken over the demarcated by the Captain. There were two armoured cars and one tank at each entrance and two self propelled howitzers.

The Oan command took over one of the hotels in the area. Which (thankfully) was largely vacant. The other armoured assault vehicles were stored in the underground parking. were stored in the underground parking. The troops celebrated their small success in the dining hall of the hotel.

The Captain gave his rough around the edges, but to the point speech: “We have a small victory today! We took the square! This is a war, men! No time for grandmas and sissies! We have work! Let’s eat and be merry, for tomorrow, we war!” A loud “Yeah!” rose from the ecstatic soldiers.

There were eight buildings in the area that had a height of 7 stories. A cargo helicopter dropped an anti air multi rocket launching system on the roof. A surface to surface missile launching system was set up on the roof, alongside it as well. Buildings on the perimetre were cleared.

Soldiers commandeered 30 4×4 pick up trucks. The roamed the streets ans patrolled the streets and kept everything clear. Shops were taken by the troops. Food, and medical supplies were shut up, guarded and distributed in small amounts, in case a siege were to occur.

Slightly more eloquent officials were appointed to explain the situation to the civilians and give out the orders of the Captain. The heavy guns and grim expressions of the towering soldiers magnified the seriousness of the soldier’s instructions and the consequences for disobeying.

The water and lights were eventually cut off. Parafin lamps, battery powered lights and gas heaters were were dropped in to help ease the transition. Luckily, the soldiers had stored thousands of litres of water in bathtubs, pots, bottles, tanks and whatever receptacle they could find, before the Gemicans closed the water. But they would have to be extremely conservative with how they used their resources.

From his lavish Presidential Suite in the hotel, the Captain surveyed the town, taking in the results of the first day. He quickly disbanded any false sense of security or victory. Only 2 days had passed. He made a call to the government of the Jewelica Free State.