The ship started to rattle the next day, Jonathan could hear centuries old machinery kicking into action deep in the bowels of the large vessel. The power need to drive something so massive was more than the ship could output while running all interior functions, so for the time the ship was accelerating, the light went out. Jonathan thought of when the Angel of Redemption was pulled into the bay. The lights were off then as well. the Beast must have been in poor shape after a thousand years. No amount of upkeep could have ever kept it looking new after that amount of time, and the ship missed quite a many repair dates.
The acceleration took hours, and Jonathan sat in the dark. He began to get hungry and realised that his meal was late. He wondered if the crew ate during the blackouts. Eventually the lights flickered back on, silently.
About a day passed, and Jonathan thought about what was said to him in his last discussion with Septimus Jones. It was a difficult set of questions to ponder, but Jonathan still felt that he was in the right. He believed that the realists were the right choice to make.
He was surprised again when the guards came by with a request for him to go speak to septimus once again, but even more surprised to see his companions in the hall with the guards as well. Jonathan knew by looking at their faces that they had all been told the same information he had, in one form or another. Perhaps it had been presented to them in a manner more fitting to their position in the realist underground movement, but there was no doubt in Jonathan's mind that they had faced the same difficult questions that he had.
They all moved silently towards the conference lounge. What could they have said to each other?
There were enough chairs for each of them facing septimus. The table appeared to be less rotten than it was, and it held a few peices of equipment.
"Ah yes, the intrepid and steadfastly realist group of guests." Septimus said as they trouped into the room and sat down without any sort of defiance. They felt broken, but in approaching Port Orpheus, perhaps there was hope.
"You might wonder why I brought you all here. Quite simply, I wanted to show you something that I thought would be best presented to you in a group. Miss Oberholtzer, as a sort of impromptu leader of this realist campaign, i understand that you have used violence before. But would you condone planet-wide rioting and reckless killing in teh name of your philosophy?"
"Of course not." Marcelle replied. "I'm not a monster or a planet killer like you."
"Such harsh words. I of course agree with you that that sort of rioting is not a good thing in today's galactic society. unfortunetly, it is a sad reality here on Port Orpheus. We will be in orbit by tomorrow, and, as you understnad, I will have to put a stop to these riots. I asked each and every one of you if you wanted to stand beside your Realist ideals or if you wanted to once again support Idealism. The offer of conversion, you understand, stays open."
Septimus looked across the table at the group, who sat silent. Grinder matched his gaze, but it had none of the fire that it should have. "I'm going to tell you a story." Septimus told the group. "You might think that I am biased, but I assure you, because of Mr. Grinder's familiy on the surface, I am the only person in this conflict who sees both sides of the issue clearly. it all has to do with what happened on Port Orpheus after you started to spread around your little book. a great many people read this book, and it seems that some of those people thought that it had merrit. Other thought that it was rubbish, clearly. Unfortunetly, too many people read the book, and each side really began to foster ill feelings towards the other." Septimus frowned. "Such a shame."
The old man took one of the pieces of equipment on the table - a video screen, and turned it towards the group. It had footage playing silently on it. there was a large group of people fighting in the street. There were no weapons, nothing but bodies throwing themselves at each other. There was blood on more than one face. There were even a few of the local authorities in the crowd, being beaten by those around them.
"These images were taken a few days after you left. It seems that a group of realists were talking loudly about their new system of beliefs when some old school idealists walked up. I cannot tell you who threw the first punch, but I can tell you that this incident ignited a bloody riot. Eventually somebody was shot," at this comment, the video screen angled in on a body bleeding from a neat hole laying on the ground. "That man, as I understand it, was somewhat of an important figure in the realist movement."
Jonathan immedialy recognised him as the man who had printed Andy' book.
"Well, the realists took none too kindly to this death. Mr. Grinder, perhaps you will be pleased to know that your wife tried to stop your son from going to fight. She argued rather eluquently in favour of a peaceful solution, in fact, but it seems that human nature took over in the end. Your son, Mr. grinder, gathered together a posse of men who immediately went hunting for blood."
There were more images in the screen. It showed a group of men and women toting weapons walking down the streets of Port Orpheus. They were serious looking, and evnetually they were met with opposition. The local military force met them in the street. guns began to blaze in the soundless picture and people started to fall.
"This conflict, you understand, was the real issue. The military took losses in this fight. And so did Realist mob. It inticed people all over the city to take to the streets. Many were fighting one another, nobody knew what side the other was on and some people just took to taking advantage of the material gain in a war torn city. Looting was widespread and fighting prolific in the streets. Groups of either ideology would find each other, and pick a fight with a group of the other. The fighting continued to escalate."
There were pictures on the screen of two buildings across teh road from each other trading shots with many sorts of weapons. Eventually a few rockets straked out of one building and slammed into the other, destroying the fascade. A few bodies could be seen falling to the ground along with the rubble. No one could tell what side had take the forceful action.
"Understandably, there were some mistaken cases of friendly fire, but for the most part, it was ideology sgainst ideology in the streets. The battle raged for days, and eventually teh military began to take drastic action in teh intrest of preserving loyal idealist lives. they began to bomb the buildings that were known to be realist strongholds."
The images on the screen showed the millitary ships of the world streaking above the city, bombs dropping at what seemed liek random interval all over the city.
"Of course, the realist were not pleased with this action, so they took to shooting down the aircraft. There were enough weapons in the street by that point that they could easily find what they needed on the bodies of dead soldiers. Ships were brought down, and they crashed through the city, turning blocks into rubble."
The screen once again showed an aircraft zooming thought the clouds above the city, but eventually an orange ball blossomed out of it and the craft tumbled to the ground, striking a building and casing it to collapse.
"the destruction, you can see, is very widespread. Both sides are responsible for the horrors of war. Both sides killed many people. The death toll on this world incalcuable at this time."
The screen switched again, this time to an aerial view. The camera must have been affixed to one of the craft above the city in ruins.
"Mr. Grinder, I regret to inform you that your family has all passed away. Your son was killed in the initial fire-fight. Your daughter was killed when she turned up in the wrong place looking for you son and your wife was killed when the building she was in was bombed by a passing aircraft."
Grinder's head fell. He had to know that this sort of information was coming, but he began to shake in silent sobs.
"As you can all understand from Mr. Grinder's plight, this sort of fighting is merely unacceptable. I have to bring it to an end. There are two ways that I can think of that provide a way out of this dangerous situation. In both cases, you all will be made examples of. The question is, would you rather do this as my enemy, or at my side? It is perfectly reasonable for you to support me now - you have seen yourselves what damage your ideas have done to an otherwise perfectly peacable society that has not seen conflict that I did not engineer myself since its creation a millenium ago. You four are the key to repairing this damage. I ask you now, and this is your last chance, will you join me? Will you stnad by my side, and renounce realism? Will you once again join idealism, show the poeple the error in your ways? Can you help rebuild Utopia? Or must I do it myself?"
Andy slowly lifted his head. He looked more mature to Jonathan than he ever had before. Camly and with great accuracy, he spit on Septimus and said "go to hell, bastard."
With as much grace as he could muster, Septimus wiped the spittle from his face. He did not betray himself and showed no anger towards Andy. "I assume the young one speaks for all of you, then. It makes me sad, but I guess it is inevitable. You will stand by your realism, but I must still stop this war before it speads beyond the borders of this one world. You understand, of course."
Septimus rose from his chair, and the guards came in to take the prisoners back to their cells. before they left, Septimus said one last thing. "You know, Mr. Brooke, if you had joined me, I might have been able to convert Earth. Now, of course, I'm going to have to go back and finish a job I started over a thousand years ago."