The Inner Wild: Family Feud

[Instead of approaching this linearly, I’m writing bits and pieces of it in different time periods. The commentary that book-ends this story takes place well before what I consider the “present” of the universe, some time before the Lunar Massacre but obviously after the Solarians, whereas the hearing itself took place before the Solarians, and consequently before the Inner Wild became the lawless hell that required the intervention of the Solarians in the first place.

I have two more existing pieces after this that connect to the Inner Wild universe, and possibly one that I can convert. I’m trying to decide whether to continue writing Inner Wild stories, or complete my Verse stories. I will decide by January 1.]

You will find it difficult to fault the Earth-born for creating the perpetual struggle of the opposites – the universe, in its entirety, is a study in opposition. The Earth disaster is a demonstration of how opposition must find a way to evolve or risk cataclysmic cancellation. Schools of thought must branch, philosophies must bear the fruits of new growth, dogmas must shift. If there’s one thing the Cole-Fitzgerald feud has taught us, it is, simply: old habits can be immortal.

Earth: The Final Thirty Years, Milton Gregory, Outer Imperial historian

Excerpt from the Cole-Fitzgerald Hearings, 5th Sector High Imperial court, Ganymede

Imperial Executor Thomas’s questioning of Albert Cole, only survivor of the Cole Dynasty:

Imperial Executor Thomas (hereafter identified as I.E.T.): Let me start by reiterating that it is this court’s opinion that the events that transpired exactly three Earth-years ago do fall within the jurisdiction of the Outer Empire and that all decisions reached by this body are binding to any parties involved, regardless of affiliation with the Independent Systems Accord or any other agreement not recognized expressly by the Imperial Charter.

Ambassador Gremaine (Former Ambassador to Imperial Interests, West Earth Democracy, hereafter identified as A.G.): As the remaining governmental representative of Earth, I must object to this hearing and counsel Mr. Cole not to answer any questions put forth to him as part of these proceedings.

I.E.T.: Objection noted and overruled. Mr. Cole, you will answer the questions to the best of your ability, is that understood?

Albert Cole (hereafter identified as A.C.): Understood, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, please tell the court where you were during the disaster on Earth.

A.C.: I was stationed on Luna with my unit, the 133rd Lunar Guard, on Lunar Base Gamma Three.

I.E.T: You are the commander for that unit. Is that correct?

A.C.: That is correct.

I.E.T: Mr. Cole, would you please explain the mission the 133rd Lunar guard was engaged in during the A4403 Collision?

A.C.: I am not authorized to divulge that information, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Your government is no longer extant. Your rank is no longer valid, and any classified data you hold is to be divulged at this hearing if we so order you to divulge it.

A.G.: Objection. The West Earth Democracy is still an operating governmental body, in accord with the Independent Systems –

I.E.T.: The Independent Systems Accord is dissolved, and you, Mr. Gremaine are hereby stripped of any title afforded to you as part of its statutes. Your presence here is by the generosity of this court alone, and may be revoked as I see fit. Do you have any further objections?

A.G.: No, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, please answer the question.

A.C.: My unit’s mission was to direct A4403 on its collision course with Earth.

I.E.T.: How many asteroids and sub-planetoids were being directly controlled by your unit?

A.C. My unit was only assigned to track and direct A4403.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, I find this very interesting. It has come to this court’s attention that during the last days of Earth’s habitability, the Cole and Fitzgerald Dynasties had over three hundred and fifty asteroids on trajectories that would impact the planet’s surface. Is that a correct assessment?

A.C.: That is correct.

I.E.T.: It has also come to this court’s attention that these hostilities were part of a premeditated and carefully orchestrated campaign designed and agreed upon by both dynasties. Is that also correct?

A.C.: Yes, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, this court has extensively analyzed the documentation outlining this campaign. Of the full list of asteroids and sub-planetoids used in this orchestration by your dynasty, all but one are listed in detail and trajectory. Can you tell us why A4403 was omitted from the list your dynasty submitted to the Fitzgeralds?

A.C.: I did not realize it was omitted from that list, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Cole, I have a mission dossier in my possession that includes documents you were given prior to the execution of your mission. These documents clearly describe the trajectories of all inbound asteroids and sub-planetoids in the joint operation, and also goes onto provide specific instructions for your unit to avoid all possible interference by intersection of all, and I quote “predescribed objects that might jeopardize the impact of the undisclosed A4403 with the planet’s surface.”

A.C.: Your Honor, I was unaware that –

A.G.: This court does not have jurisdiction to reveal the military secrets of –

I.E.T.: Mr. Gremaine, you were warned. Guards, please remove Mr. Gremaine from these proceedings and any further statements by Mr. Gremaine are to be stricken from record.

Damon Fitzgerald (hereafter identified as D.F.): Your Honor, I would like to personally question Mr. Cole on this subject, if I may.

I.E.T.: Mr. Fitzgerald, while the court recognizes your position as last surviving member of your dynasty, this hearing is not an arena for the resolution of personal grudges.

[public address system mute for court official conference]

I.E.T.: It is the opinion of this court that you are to be recognized and given the floor for questioning.

D.F.: Mr. Cole, was it or was it not your dynasty’s intent to purposefully destroy the planet’s surface?

A.C.: I refuse to answer questions from an animal in a court of human law, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Keep your commentary to yourself and answer his question.

D.F.: Thank you, your Honor.

I.E.T.: Mr. Fitzgerald, you are not in a position to be granted any more latitude than you have already been given. If your line of questioning does not follow that already preliminarily deposed, it will be stricken from the record regardless of any revelations it brings to light. Mr. Cole, answer his question.

A.C.: I’m not privy to the reasons behind the decisions my dynasty makes in regards to military missions I’m assigned.

I.E.T.: Did you or did you not purposefully direct A4403 on its collision course with Earth, knowing full well that the Fitzgerald Dynasty would not have the resources to destroy it outside of the atmosphere?

A.C.: I did, your Honor. However, I would urge the court to examine the Fitzgerald Dynasty military intelligence for evidence of a similar tactic.

I.E.T.: This hearing is directed towards testimony by you alone, Mr. Cole.

A.C.: Ambassador Gremaine has evidence of –

[Damon Fitzgerald, at this time during the hearing, fired an improvised plasma weapon at Albert Cole, then turned the weapon on himself, taking his own life. Records of this hearing cease after lockdown of the Imperial Court was ordered shortly following the murder-suicide perpetrated by Damon Fitzgerald. No further hearings were conducted and the Cole-Fitzgerald case was closed after no surviving parties were available for testimony or pursuance of legal action]

***

It is interesting to note that the events that transpired during this hearing marked the end of the Cole and Fitzgerald Dynasties. Neither dynasty, both of whose lineage goes back to pre-nuclear Earth, had suspected the other of treachery after so many years of rehearsed and choreographed military campaigns.In the end, it was determined that both dynasties had undocumented asteroids set on collision courses with Earth, both set to impact the Home Sectors of each others families. While one impact would not have been enough to make Earth uninhabitable, both impacts together created an extinction-level event. It was this final conflict, taking place in Imperial Court and not on the battlefields of the Inner Wild, that sparked the degradation of the Inner Wild to the hell it would become before the coming of [ENTRY DELETED BY IMPERIAL DECREE S7-12366]

Earth: The Final Thirty Years, Milton Gregory, Outer Imperial historian

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