Sing, Muse, Of Flaring Wrath…
Sing, muse, of flaring wrath among the stars,
Hot passions in the dark and empty cold
Where vacuum waits with endless appetite
For any scrap that war will toss away.
In Ahynada Vryder’s Iteron died,
Flash-frozen wealth tumbling in stellar winds,
Its alloys scattered, its weapons free
For scavengers who scent the kill
And scan the dust for broken treasure.
Torpedo Ted had won a golden prize,
Had chased it from the Isaziwa belts
To Oiniken in his tiny Kestrel.
Rockets only, ancient rockets, fired
And fired again, as Torpedo Ted
Pursued his giant prey into Ahynada,
Rockets racing through the void, rockets piercing
Into the helpless, silent Iteron,
Which bleeds its oxygen into the night
Until the last triumphant, deadly flare
Seeds the void with blood-stained plunder.
Vryder lived to see the ship explode,
His tumbling pod a tiny hope of life
Against the infinite and empty night,
But he had mocked his enemies too much
And so the rockets came, and all was still.
Why came the Iteron to die
Unsuspecting in Ahynada?
Fleeing war, AC-ME sought to move
Away from Isaziwa, home to battle.
They packed their shining ships with wealth of worlds,
Marvels of design, improved with life after life
Of human genius, microscopic circuits
Wiser than prophets, and alloys stronger
Than ancient steel, and arms Hephaestos
Never saw as he shaped the mirror shield
Of all-conquering Achilles.
Ores too they brought, ready for the shaping
Into yet more marvels, and all they loaded
Into their ships and left for Rairomon,
Leaving Isaziwa a prey for war.
There lurked the patient Iron Fleet,
The shadow ships, that sought unguarded prizes,
Salvaging what others did not think was lost,
Jackal–like, who never challenged lions,
But whom the lions could not chase away.
There was wrathful Chebri, war’s beginner.
Unwitting tyrants are the worst of all,
For they will sacrifice not just themselves
But all around them. In righteous rage,
Believing they defend a universal law
That is nothing more than their own wills,
They bloodily impose their private dreams
Upon the world, and with the best intentions
They crush dissent for the cause of freedom.
The universe may freely give its wealth:
Its ores lie open, free to all who mine
The asteroids, but we are not so free.
Through years of guns and blood we carve out laws
To turn the open ore to private wealth.
But yet the best of human laws are gray.
If labor makes the right of ownership,
Does ore belong to those who carve it free
Or those who ship it home? The Iron Fleet
For years has wrenched a living from the void
Salvaging, and says that space-cold ore is free,
Unbound by mere intent of later claim.
Marlenus knows the letter of the law
And his Iron Fleet brings him wealth
And keeps the space-lanes clear of salvage.
But miners counting cans of wealth-to-be
When their haulers come, until the salvage
Claims their dreams and leaves their labor empty
Curse the Iron Fleet, and Chebri swore
That missiles should mend what law could not,
And AC-ME’s claim to private wealth extracted
From the public space should brook no rival.
There was no place for Iron Fleet in Chebri’s
Dreams, and so she armed for sudden war.
War she wanted, abrupt, bloody and bold,
Crisp combat and quick conquest, but
Space is too deep to force a single battle.
Though AC-ME and INDY besieged the Iron Fleet,
The ships slipped away, cloaked and concealed,
Lurking in the star-lanes silently,
Waiting for the moments the guard went down,
Then striking, turning, vanishing again.
Here Aeternus Kahn killed the Iron Mistress,
There Garrik lost a lonely mining barge,
As patient, silent war lurks in shadows,
Until in Ahynada the rockets rip open
Boastful Vryder’s dying Iteron.
Now come negotiations, and now comes peace,
If peace it is. Anger does not end,
When legal war is allowed to lapse,
The hope of wealth will lure ships back to Isaziwa,
To mine and salvage, to claim what is free.
The ore remains, unbleeding, while all around
The ships will fight and die and come again.
Marlenus and Torpedo Ted have won their names,
Vryder and Aeternus Khan, and while this war
Is spoken of, the Kestrel’s kill is famous.
But in the cold infinity of space, more war
Will come, more names, more kills, more tumbling ruin.