Jade Force #8 Civil War in Misera - Cover

Jade Force #8 Civil War in Misera

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Chapter 1: Negotiating A Contract

May 26, 1993

It is easy for improbable things to happen in a fictional narrative. Suspend one’s belief for a bit, and faster than light travel becomes a reality. A high end car becomes a time machine, or a ring endows the wearer with magic powers. With a simple side-step of the constraints of reality, whole new stories are possible.

In terms of dealing with the improbable, fiction wins over fact all too often. Then, one day, it is as if reality is twisted into a shape so awkward that it defies common experience. It becomes so fantastical that it has to be fiction, or a least a good comedy. The history of Misera is one of those stories which most modern people consider a joke of cosmic proportions.

It began with the discovery of the continent of Surprise, so named because it was a real surprise when it was discovered in 1492. No one had realized that it was actually a continent. They had thought it to be just a continuation of the islands that were scattered around the Fractured Lands.

Two expeditions, one from Franka and one from Espa, were sent out to map the islands. They had each been tasked by their individual government to claim as many islands as they could. It was a simple mission, find an island, map its coast line, and stick a flag on it. They hit a few islands, mapped them, and stuck a flag on them.

Then, on the northeast coast of Surprise, the Espa expedition learned that the ‘island’ they discovered wasn’t an island. The coast line went on and on. They sailed south following the coast and kept going until they hit ice. They turned back north and continued following the coast line past where they had initially struck it.

Having started a little later, the Franka expedition hit the continent of Surprise along the northwest coast. They followed the coast line west and south. They stuck a lot closer to the coastline than the Espa expedition, which had been right behind them.

Both expeditions stuck flags all over Surprise, not just making a claim for a bit of it, but wanting the whole continent. Sometimes the flags were within a hundred miles of each other, though each expedition was unaware of the other. It was a big land, there was a lot of coast, and there was a lot of ocean. Ships are small, and it was easy for each to miss seeing the other.

It was when the expeditions returned to Espa and Franka that it became clear what had happened. The two countries had each claimed the same continent over approximately the same period of time, just at different locations. There was only one course of action that made sense. Espa and Franka went to war.

Of course, Itan, Romal, and Engle felt left out, so they mounted expeditions to claim land as well. Itan and Romal concentrated on the southeastern shore of the continent while Engle pushed its claims onto the north getting a small foothold in Llamadda.

The war over Surprise now included the countries of Espa, Franka, Itan, Romal, and Engle. It was a free for all that was being fought in two ways. First, each country tried to establish a naval superiority in the waters around Surprise. Many of ships were sunk in the process. Secondly, each country tried to get as many colonists in place as they could. After all, possession is nine tenths of the law. Of course, that brought into the fray the indigenous people.

Distance and attrition dragged the war out for decades. Surprise wasn’t the land of riches that the Fractured Lands had been. Exploration of the continent had been postponed because of the fighting, so no rich deposits of ore had been discovered. The indigenous people were raiding the colonies so even crops were problematic. Espa, Franka, Itan, Romal, and, to a lesser extent, Engle were spiraling into debt. It was debt, more than international good will or definitive victories, that ended the wars over Surprise.

Countries with well defined borders, more or less, emerged from the fracas. Franka ended up with Friga, San Troph, New Franc, and Del Moray. Espa ended up with Imal and Llamadda (which was later taken over by New Franc and then rebelled to become independent). Romal ended up with Walford, Barmud, and part of Teal. Itan ended up with Tobo, part of Teal, and Niella. After a long bitter fight, Itan ended up with all of Teal.

At the end, there was only one disputed region of Surprise left. It was a small strip of land between Del Moray and Ismal. Espa and Franka each claimed that strip of land and they weren’t about to let the other have it. It was more a matter of its mine and not yours, rather than the land having some great financial or strategic value. There were minor fights over it that lasted until May of 1520.

With both countries exhausted financially, they turned to an outsider to settle the matter once and for all. The person they turned to was none other than the head of the religion that was followed by both countries. The head of the religion was affectionately known as Papa. He was originally from Vatica and each country was convinced that he would be fair in his deliberations. Of course, each country was convinced he would rule in their favor.

Grand parties were held in Vatica with Espa and Franka each trying to outspend each other in currying favor. Lots of money was donated to the church. Lavish balls were held. Nearly every country on the continent of Besland attended, with the exception of Rus, and Nord. The church got richer, a large number of ladies of questionable moral value got richer, and Espa and Franka got even poorer. Someone had to pay for it all.

Papa was not a stupid man. He knew that any decision that he made would not end tensions between Espa and Franka unless it was something exceptionally bold. He puzzled over the problem for weeks, trying to come up with some solution. The longer people waited for his answer, the greater the tension became. After a long night of prayer, he came up with a remarkable solution and called for a great convocation in which he would make his announcement.

In the great Cathedral of Vatica, a crowd of some of the most important people in Besland gathered to hear Papa’s announcement. The tensions were running high. Everyone, including ambassadors from around the world, was in attendance. The expectation on everyone’s part was that Papa would have divided the contended territory equally between the two countries.

Papa entered the Cathedral in the midst of a stately procession. A long service was held in which thanks to God for providing a guiding hand in this entire mess was given. The crowd shifted impatiently to and fro while the suspense built. Finally, at the end of the service, Papa went to the pulpit.

“I have given this matter lots of thought. Two neighbors are at war over a scrap of land that has no real value. I have spent days praying for inspiration. Then last night, I was given a sign from God.”

Everyone rustled wishing he would just get to the point.

“I declare that the contested territory, as a whole, is to be given to the care of one nation.”

Everyone leaned forward in anticipation. The representatives of Espa and Franka glared at each other with hands on swords ready to settle the matter right there and then if the judgment went against them.

“That nation is...”

A frustrated moan echoed through the great Cathedral when he paused.

Dramatically, he said, “Sviss.”

The representative from Franka shouted, “What!”

The representative from Espa shouted, “What!”

The representative from Sviss shouted, “We don’t want it!”

Sviss was a landlocked country that had not participated in any of the land grabs. Not having a port, it wasn’t positioned to have a navy, much less become a naval power. That’s not to say that it hadn’t profited from the great race for land. It had provided loans to countries and collected a significant amount of interest from them over the past century. It was, in fact, one of the richest countries in the world.

No one wanted to make the banker nation mad at them since it had a large army that could, and historically had, forcefully collected debts from nations unwilling to pay them. Other countries had large navies, but that would not protect them from a large land based army. Sviss would march its army directly to the capital, where, at sword point, it would collect the debt. One country that had such an unpleasant experience was Rus, and it had never recovered from it.

Papa had been counting on the reluctance of Franka and Espa to directly confront Sviss. Every one walked away satisfied that the matter had been resolved. Franka and Espa were disappointed, but not exceptionally so. The only one who was unhappy was the ambassador from Sviss. They didn’t want any territories. As far as they were concerned, territories like that were nothing but a waste of money. They didn’t even bother to name it.

It wasn’t until 1607 that anyone of Sviss citizenship stepped foot onto what had been the disputed territory. This particular individual was the great Sviss explorer, Johann Brossart. He had gained a degree of fame by having climbed the great mountain in the center of Dessera. In the midst of the great desert, the mountain rose to a height where it remained snow-capped year round. His journal describing his trip across the desert, and to the top of the mountain, had become required reading in homes of the educated all across Besland. Handsome and debonair, he was an extremely romantic figure.

He set off, amidst great fanfare, to explore uncharted territory. He sent back long descriptive missives to the King of Sviss who published them in newspapers. His letters were works of art that turned a dull night spent in an Itan hotel waiting for his ship into a grand adventure. It was pure entertainment.

The last that was ever heard of Johann Brossart was a battered torn letter that arrived at the palace of the King of Sviss in late 1608. Amongst the various tears and holes, enough of the letter was readable to know that he had faced diseases, poisonous snakes, dangerous wild animals, and angry natives. The land was inhospitable for anyone of any breeding or culture. The last legible line of the letter stated, “I call this land Misera...” the last bit of the word was lost because of a hole torn in the letter.

The disputed territory now had a name – Misera.

Sviss continued its policy of ignoring Misera. This absence of a real presence in Misera had one long lasting consequence. Indigenous people living in Del Moray and Ismal were under continuous pressure from colonists. They were slowly losing ground to the better armed settlers and well practiced armies. The only path of retreat was to Misera where the armies wouldn’t follow them. The few settlers who entered Misera disappeared through misadventure with the locals.

The end of numerous wars among the countries of Besland had another long last consequence on Misera. The 1730s and 1740s saw the rise of a new class of people in Besland. These were middle class educated families, primarily merchants, who chaffed under the harness imposed by a nobility that seemed to do nothing to earn the political power they controlled. In a few cases, a family might even be wealthier than the nobles, but they were politically powerless. It was a situation that was inherently unstable.

Across Besland, minor rebellions arose threatening to wrest power away from the nobles. Of course, from the nobles perspective that was not a good thing, and they reacted in the manner that nobles have always reacted. Secret police invaded meeting places, there were midnight arrests of conspirators, and prisons were filled with dissidents. Still, the movement of rebellion grew. Even Sviss, a country filled with conservative bankers, was not immune.

The source of this story is SciFi-Stories

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