Thursday, October 10, 2013

In This Sign

Captain Sam Robertson entered the control office of the world crisis center, where David Talltree, his night counterpart, sat in the midst of screens that reached round the world.

"What's come in tonight?" Robertson asked.

"Mostly the usual," replied Talltree stoically. "Gang violence in several cites, food riots in Geneva, but the big thing is, the imperial struggle is heating up."

“Yeah," growled Robertson, "the bureaucracy runs things, but some guy's got to be big and important and call himself `Emperor,' and we get to pick up the mess."

"Old one's almost gone, but we have three youngsters contending. And there's a wildcard. Some crackpot called Elijah Krishna. Claims to be a prophet or an avatar or some combination of the two. Clear fanatic holding a mishmash of various beliefs, you know the type."

Robertson put through a special call to Joan Carson and sat back to see what else they had in the active file.

A  group of malcontents who had somehow got hold of military weapons and were cutting a swath across Colorado. Some academic had gotten too dogmatic, claiming to have the "truth" and needed to be re-educated. Some corporation in Moscow had decided to ignore the prostitution regulations and started their own private service, resulting in an STD outbreak. And Fundamentalist Christians were multiplying in the area around Prague and Berlin through proselytizers smuggled in from the Southern African Federation. These Christians were a perpetual nuisance.  

Robertson spend several hours with the three imperial candidates, trying to minimize the coming destruction. He reminded them that when they won, the citizens of the empire would be their people and their opponents’ armies, their army.

Robertson’s train of thought was broken by a tour guide coming through, lecturing as she went along, "The reason all previous attempts at multi-national government failed is because they were based on too narrow a foundation. They were constructed around a specific philosophical opinion or ethnic group. Our rule is centered on tolerance. That is why, though our culture has only existed for a couple of centuries, we can confidently expect it to last perpetually and eventually embrace the whole world."

It was later when Joan Carson called. Joan was a small, short woman who few people would suspect was an agent of the world government, let alone their top assassin. That was probably why she was their top assassin.

"You don't have to worry about Elijah Krishna any more," she remarked. "I made it look like an accident.We don't want to make a martyr, after all."

"Good work," returned Robertson, "Keep an eye on things for me and make sure no replacement arises."

"Excuse me," interjected Lieutenant Yuan Ai-ling turning on the public channel,"but we now have a new emperor. He's Abraham Nkota, the one from North Africa. He's giving some sort of speech."

On the view screen Robertson was surprised to see Reverend Bakutu, a Christian fanatic, on the dais behind Nkota. Nkota was in the middle of his speech, "Last night I had a dream. And I looked up in the sky and saw the sign of a cross. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, `In this sign conquer.'"

The picture panned out, showing that the new emperor was surrounded by soldiers with crosses on their helmets who all took up the chant, "In this sign conquer." As Nkota and Bakutu embraced, Robertson felt the bottom falling out of his well-ordered world.


  1. I liked this Mike. Did you write it?

    I think that the biggest danger of tolerance is not what we tolerate in others but what we tolerate in ourselves. Would that we would have the courage to call out the ways that we hate in the guise of holiness.

    1. I did write it. And I would agree with your observation. The problems on the outside all seem to come from problems on the inside.