Forerunners of Bosk

 

 

 

Chapter Thirty-five 

 

 

Buck sat in the administrator’s conference room at a table that comfortably held about a dozen people.  There were half again that many.  Besides Barney, Ril, Dr. Burrows and himself, there were the prisoners and guards who had been the most helpful in keeping the peace.  They had formed the liaison between the Arator employees and the prisoners.  Of all the people who had been in the mines, there were only a couple dozen who still had to be incarcerated.  Buck attributed it to the work of the people before him.  

“I came across some things with Captain Mentua’s help that might be of great benefit to those who call this hemisphere home.”  Everyone seemed to perk up his ears.  Buck continued.  “It would seem that the eastern hemisphere is becoming more interested in expansion than in the paltry amount of graft money that the Arator Company has been paying them over the years.”  He paused.  “The Bosk Free Government has rescinded Arator’s exclusivity clause to this continent and is giving settlement rights to those who will improve the land on this hemisphere.”   Buck paused again for a moment to let that bit of information sink in.  “It appears from Dr. Beros’ notes and communiqués, the company was planning on building top side resort and horticulture facilities and then laying claim to the continent as a free and self governing country.   I daresay that would allow them to follow the letter of the vague eastern continent ruling and still allow virtually no access to this continent by outsiders.”  

One of the former guards fidgeted.  

“What’s on your mind, Kurtz?” Buck asked.  

“How does that affect us?”

Smiling, Buck replied smugly.  “We beat Arator at their own game.”  

Barney’s eyes lit up in comprehension.  Dr. Burrows sat quietly but Buck knew he had figured it out. 

“We claim this as our own country,” Barney said. 

“Exactly,” Buck concurred.  

“Men are already on the surface farming and hunting and building cabins,” Barney added. 

“And if we allow the eastern continent expansion rights to parts of this continent they should be happy to acknowledge our sovereignty,” Buck said.  

“What do we call this new country then?” Burrows asked.  

“I leave that to you, gentlemen,” Buck replied.  “But we had better come up with some kind of name, charter or by-laws and leader framework soon.  I think the company is suspicious.” 

“Perhaps we should vote on a name,” Barney suggested.  “And at least a temporary leader, then we do the other things.” 

“Go for it,” Buck said.  “As soon as my ship comes I am leaving.” 

“Perhaps a choice of several names that we can vote on?” Ril suggested, suddenly excited.  “Same with the leader.” 

“Don’t make it too complicated,” Buck warned.  “You can vote on an interim leadership quickly and come up with some kind of working constitution and anything that needs to be amended or added can be done later.” 

Everyone nodded.  And that was how, slightly less than one day later, Buck found himself the president, at least temporarily, of the continent/country of New United States.  Barney was his vice president and the instigator of the name.   Buck had protested at first, arguing that it wasn’t a group of states, but Barney had argued that point saying that they were from all over the galaxy and there was an underground state, and an above ground state.    Buck had then shut up, and while still embarrassed, he was pleased that in some small way, his home country lived on.  Still, Buck had won on the point of putting ‘new’ in front of the name.  Nothing could ever be ‘his’ United States, nor would he want it to be.  But now these people had a new chance to make something better.  

Now he had to push this through the Bosk Free Republic on the eastern continent and then through the Galactic Council on Cronis.   All the while keeping the Arator Company off their backs.  

A technician set up the communications with the Bosk Free Government and Buck sat down in front of the communicator.   Until the other party agreed to vid communications, this was audio only.   “President Korellian, this is….” 

He was cut off by a terse, clipped voice.  “I am not sure what tactic Dr. Beros is using now, but our constitutional revision has been ratified and is irrevocable.”   

Buck took a deep breath, willing the man on the other end to listen to him.  “President, if you will allow me.  I am Captain William Buck Rogers, president of the New United States.  I would like to discuss terms of recognition and emigration between our two continents.” 

There was only the sound of electronic background noise for a couple of moments.  The technician and Barney grinned at each other and Buck had to work hard to keep from doing the same thing.  Evidently Beros had made life miserable for the eastern continent politicos while this was going on.  If the former administrator was as ‘in-your-face’ with Korrelian as he was with the prisoners then it was no wonder the president was so testy.  Finally Buck spoke again, “President Korrelian, are you still there?” 

“Yes, I am.  May I ask if you represent the Arator Company?” 

“No, sir.  In fact, we are planning on vacating Arator interests as soon as it is feasibly possible.  Some of our citizens have already build dwellings on the surface and are harvesting local fruits and vegetables.   More are planning to go to the surface even today.  Anything that belongs to the Arator Company will be left for them to pick up, if they so choose.”  Buck paused to take another deep breath.  “In fact, the governing body of New United States is willing to work out a contract with the Arator Company, provided, of course, that they are willing to accept the sovereignty of this continent’s government.” 

“New United States?” Korrelian asked, his voice holding a puzzled note. 

“Yes, sir.  By the provisions stated in the revised planetary charter, this group of individuals has met the conditions of legally forming an independent and self-governing body and claiming the land of this continent.”  Buck paused again.   “We want to work very closely with your government, Mr. President.  We are eager for those on your continent who wish to, to settle this new and verdant land.” 

The vid screen came to life and Buck found himself looking into the dark brown eyes of his eastern continent counterpart.  The man studied him for a moment even as Buck did the same.  “While what you are saying sounds very promising, Captain Rogers, may I assume that you are a prisoner?”  The expression showed a slight amount of reserved doubt.  “And that your rank, like your government, could simply be shallow graspings for a way out of imprisonment?” 

The man in the screen gazed hard at him as though trying to discern his thoughts.  The eyes seemed hard, but Buck could see a glint of something else there—hope?  Otherwise Korrelian’s face was totally impassive. Buck could hear the murmuring of voices behind him, but without taking his eyes off of the man in the screen, he cut the protests off with an off-screen gesture.  It seemed at present the eastern continent leader was neither believing nor disbelieving him.   

“President Korrelian, I don’t blame you for your reticence.  This has been a great change for us as well.”  Understatement, Buck thought before continuing.  “One of our techs is sending out the framework of our constitution and the conditions of recognition.”  He leaned forward.   “I am exactly who I say I am.  My commission is real, granted by the first United States government and honored by Earth Directorate.  I am, or at least was, at my kidnapping, a senior exo on board the Earth exploration ship Searcher.  You can contact Cronis to verify.  In fact, I plan on contacting Cronis after I am finished speaking with you.”  He smiled.  “I believe you put some qualifier in your new planetary charter by-laws about galactic recognition of any continental claims?” 

Korrelian nodded, a half smile on his lips.  “Yes, there is.”  He looked at someone off screen, then turned back to Buck.  “Captain Rogers, or should I say President?” 

Buck winced mentally.  “I am more comfortable with plain Buck, however this is a fairly formal setting so whichever title you prefer.” 

Still smiling, Korrelian leaned back.  “Captain, your claim as to your identity has been verified by voice print as well as vid I.D.  Your initial claim to rights of sovereignty has to be decided by our governing council.”  He paused.  “Your rights of recognition by galactic entities will be tested very soon.  One ship just entered our solar system and another is on its way.  Both have asked for contact with Arator Company representatives.” 

“Can you give us identity, Mr. President?” Buck asked.  “Our sensors aren’t very good at that range.”  He didn’t doubt that one was the Draconian vessel that the Arator Company had sent a communiqué about requesting the release of Tigerman.  

Korrelian’s smile was more open now, almost conspiratorial.  “They will be contacting you, Captain.”  Seeing Buck’s chagrined look, he continued.  “You have succeeded in overthrowing one of the most powerful companies in the galaxy and in setting up a fledgling government, surely you can talk ships from two galactic entities into recognizing your claim.  I will let you know a good time for a meeting.”  And he closed the connection. 

“Not very helpful, was he?” Ril asked.  

“Helpful enough,” Buck said.  “Actually I think he gave more than I could have expected.  He’s covered himself if we should fall on our faces.” 

Ril nodded.  “I wonder what two planets they are from?” 

“One’s undoubtedly from Draconia, since that was who the Arator communiqué said was coming for their man,” Buck replied, glancing at Tigerman.  The felinoid only grunted non-commitally.  “I can’t even venture a guess on the second one, but I have to go and get a cup of coffee or whatever that stuff is that substitutes for it, or I’ll fall asleep talking to them.  You and Barney know the drill, you deal with them until I get back.” 

“Sure thing, Mr. President,” Ril said with a grin.  

Buck grimaced as he left the room.  “And don’t forget to put in the call to Cronis, too,” he called over his shoulder.  Ril’s good-natured laugh followed him out of the room. 

Buck wondered about the second ship as he walked into the mess room.  Who could they represent?  Could Hawk have finally succeeded?  It had been so long that he had worried that something had happened to his friend, but could the second ship be the Searcher or some representative vessel of Cronis?  The thought made him forget to add anything to his drink to temper its bitter taste.  He turned back toward the communications center, suddenly awake and totally hopeful.

 

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Ardala looked smugly at the purplish, blue-green planet swinging below her.  She would soon accomplish her mission, small as it might be to others, independent of Kane or anyone else.  “Call the Arator Company,” she ordered.  

Within a minute the communications tech looked up in puzzlement.  “Your Highness, they claim the Arator Company is no longer in charge.  They say we are dealing with the New United States, a free and sovereign nation.” 

“New United States?” Ardala asked, equally puzzled.  Where had she heard that one?  Buck Rogers!  That was the empire he had come from.  Where in the galaxy had a faraway planet like Bosk come up with that? 

“Yes, Your Highness.” 

“Tell them I demand to speak with their leader,” she said tersely, moving in front of the vid screen.  

Another minute and the communication tech looked up again.  “Your Highness, they are locating their leader.  The second in command is available in the meantime.” 

Ardala sighed.  “Very well.  I will give my greetings.” 

The tech nodded and turned back to his console.  Soon Ardala was gazing at a very large black man.   She wondered how he could have survived in the mines, figuring him to be taller than her former slave, Pantherman.  

“Your Highness, it is an honor,” he said with a slight bow. 

“To whom am I speaking?” she asked, haughtily. 

“Barney Brock, Highness.  I am the vice president of New United States.” 

“It was my understanding that the Arator Company owns the mines,” Ardala pointed out.  She thought it rather ironic that the head of the company had no idea that one of his mines was no longer a part of his organization.  Curiosity tugged at her and demanded that she continue talking to this former slave in order to find out more information.  Besides, Tigerman was down there and he was the reason she had traipsed halfway across the galaxy. 

“The Arator Company does own the mining equipment and some mineral rights, but the uh, workers have formed their own government.”   He paused.  “The eastern continental government allowed for it.” 

Ardala smiled coldly.  “In other words, the slaves revolted.” 

“There are many company employees who are part of our new government.” 

Someone out of view caught the vice president’s eye.  Brock nodded and then turned to Ardala again.  “My apologies, Princess.  Our president is here to speak with you.”

“About time,” Ardala muttered.  Suddenly, in front of her was Buck Rogers.  She gasped in surprise before she could totally compose herself. 

 

 

Chapter Thirty-six
Forerunners of Bosk Prologue
Buck Rogers Contents
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