Orion’s Embrace – Part 1
Choices have consequences; that was the lesson I learned the hard way. It did not seem to matter that my choices are the right ones for me. What mattered was that I was supposedly betraying my family and our planet with my choices. Was it that bad? I wish I could answer that question, but I find myself at a loss for words. Even now, as I sit here and wait for them to call my turn; all I can do is think about how I came to be here and where I can go.
The book laid across my lap was one that I had read so often I had most of it memorized. It was a book that I hoped would help me with my current situation. Though I doubt that it could, given, I would not be able to leave with it. The pages are worn and yellowed with age. The leather binding is starting to crack with use and age. This book, A History of the Caesars, held the entire history of my people and our centuries-long war with the planets around us.
Letting my eyes roam over the words, I could hear them in my head, the voice of my mother caressing me as she read to me of our history.
Space travel is now a way of life within the galaxies. There is not a single planet, save perhaps the Earth, that did not have at least one spaceport. Those that did not have one either quickly built one or their world died. Without a spaceport, goods and services cannot arrive, the economy fades away, and a world stagnates and perishes. It is the way of the worlds.
Caesar Seven is no different. What you see in this world is easily described as two conflicting lifestyles forced together in a hodgepodge and called a planet. Old meets new in some of the gaudiest ways. After all, this planet does have a spaceport, but the Kings have chosen to keep it locked away from typical use. The kings of old brainwashed the denizens to live in a mindset beholden to that of the medieval period of the Earth That Was’ history and stagnated the brilliant minds that have risen.
In reality, I hate this place more than most can imagine. I would never say it out loud, at least not right now, not when I’m about to face the court of the king. Most people are happy here in a patriarchal kingdom. Always, doting on the King and Queen, ruling of their lands like Lords and Ladies and others of the old nobility.
You see, for as long as our planet has existed in its current state, it has been a monarchy. One royal family ruling over all the villages. It does not sound bad, in general, but it is stifling. I have to admit that, as a young child, I wanted nothing more. I wanted what other little girls wanted; to be a princess in some fancy royal court. Money and dresses and parties galore. No one understands the true crux of what makes them so hard to stand, save for the lucky few that managed to escape it all.
Many of the planets in our galaxy, including Caesar Seven, were created using terraforming technologies. The earth was dying, and in the year 2016, the choice was made to test out the newest innovations in tech and hope that the project succeeded before Earth became no more. They were successful and barren planets soon bloomed with life. The first settlers tried to figure out what kind of society would work for them. Everyone had varying opinions, of course, which made concluding hard. The strongest and wealthiest of these settlers gave the final say. He chose, and a monarchy rose up. If you are assuming that it is a new, modern monarchy you are more wrong than you know. No, in his infinite wisdom. Caesar Hoolihan, our founder and the man that paid for much of the expedition and terraforming of this planet, decided to create a medieval feudal monarchy. Hoolihan was obsessed with the tales of kings and dragon lore.
For six hundred odd years, Caesar Seven has existed in this way. Some liken it to the tales of Camelot. That is not entirely accurate either. Our planet is unique. We might be a feudal land with very little in the way of weapons and defenses, but our medical technology is far superior to all but one of the planets in our solar system.
As my eyes drifted away from the pages of the book, I found myself wondering why, even now, we were forcing this mindset. It was the year 2650, and much has grown over the years. Not much has changed. However, women are nothing more than slave labor, except those that manage to be born into wealth and money. It is as if the rest no longer existed save to cook, clean and raise the children. Only the widowed women are allowed jobs as no one would step up to help them. Feudal castes prevented access to much of the other advancements that so many people of other planets enjoyed.
When I was born, I was under the same expectations, if not more, given the fact that I was the princess. My parents had hoped that the meaning of the name given to me would be reflected within my personality. Many people believe the name chosen for a child has meaning, and helps define a person as they grow older and wiser. Some disagree.
To understand this view, you must understand who I am. In the year of my birth, my mother and father were our leaders. Kirk Carpathea came from a long line of kings just like his father and grandfather before him. Their family line traces back at least three hundred years on the thrown. My mom was from another planet within our solar system. Theirs was an arranged marriage, and when Kirk and Desdemona wed, it secured a long-sought alliance between the worlds. Both knew from the start that they needed two children to survive. A son would be the heir to the throne and a daughter to use to secure other alliances.
I was not supposed to be the firstborn. It was not part of my father’s plan. I would never become the heir; it was not how things went. Their plans had to change, and change they did. I would be the daughter they would use to form alliances.
For as long as Caesar Seven had been a monarchy, there had been struggles for control. Everyone wanted to run the planet, and there were many thwarted coups. At first, those thirsting for control had been on the planet, but eventually, the struggle for control grew. With each passing month, we lose more and more people in the hopeless battle against the ever-growing and watchful Tir Andrel soldiers. We teach our children in school that the other planets around us only wanted to be stronger and rule our planet because they do not like us. This is the lie they used to feed us to the war machine.
Our tiny planet survived by forming alliances with the other planets around us. That was the original plan until we had discovered our top resource. Deep in the belly of the planet, scores of metal ores were located. Ore that was used to make the ships that would defend us. It was the reason people wanted alliances with our tiny backward planet. Those that wanted access to our mines were nice to us, in hopes that we would agree to an alliance. Seeing as many were also beneficial to us, we had a lot of alliances going. Our mines supplied seventy-five percent of all the planetary space-building ore. Every spaceship that exists is using ore that one of two planet’s mines; Ours or Tir Andrel’s. Only … this was Tir Andrel’s mine first. That tidbit of information I discovered it by accident.
I digress, though. Aside from alliances with ore, daughters were married off to help form protected associations. It was how they were hoping to build a strong enough military alliance to stop our biggest rival, Tir Andrel. For five hundred years, our two planets have been at war. We were fighting over the same thing: rights to the mine. What Caesar forgot to mention, when he helped create the monarchy of this world, was that he made a treaty with those that would form Tir Andrel. In this agreement, they had permission to mine our planet for resources, and we had permission to harvest from their orchards. While our soil was ripe for crops, it just did not seem to grow the farms that we needed. Over the years, this agreement was forgotten, and we started attacking Tir Andrel first, retaliating for them trying to take our ore.
My birth heralded a chance to secure enough strength. My name was carefully chosen in hopes that I would be the demure and submissive young woman that would make a perfect wife for an alliance of power. I was born Adelaide Morrigan Carpathea. When I say carefully chosen, I mean it. Adelaide means ‘noble, kind.’ It would prove to be truer than they could have ever imagined; only not in the way they wanted. Morrigan means ‘great queen..’ Again, something they probably did not understand at the time. I could not be queen if I was not the heir and the only way for me to be a queen was to marry a king. My brother had no desire to abdicate his throne. As it was, anyone my father desired to marry to would not be a king or queen. Probably not even a prince. Most of the other planets had rulers, but they were not nobility or royalty.
My brother, Nathaniel Merlin, was born when I was only one-year-old. I cringe at his name even now. If anything, the name they gave him has, in fact, helped shape the man my brother has become. Nathaniel means ‘God has given,’ and Merlin only because my father fancied King Arthur and it is a well-known fact that he obsessed over the stories. For as long as I could remember, Nathaniel had always thought himself, and acted like; he was God’s gift to the people. He acted as if they all should bow down and kiss the ground upon which we walked. I never wanted to be that kind of royal and was chastised for it. I wanted the people of my planet to like me, but I wanted more was their respect. My father used to tell me that I needed to get over that childish notion. Kirk was always teaching us that it did not matter if anyone liked us as long as they feared us and followed our instructions. Mother always disagreed, in secret. My father always wanted people to know he was in charge.
I should have turned out how my parents wanted. They provided me with tutors and nannies to learn the ways of my family and how to be a proper royal princess. They were always careful, teaching me only enough to appear as a proper lady but not enough that I might want to consider being educated or free-thinking. In the beginning, I accepted this as how things were. When I was eight years old, everything changed. Our isolated planet received the first visitors that I could remember. Their style of clothing was so different from ours that it made me curious. The women wore pants. They were not forced to look a certain way. We wore mandatory dresses. It was eye-opening for me, and the start of what led me down the path where I now find myself.