The Skinnie Gambit
a Roughnecks fanfic by Mr. Hook


Chancellor Kel'Rae watched the Fed-Net and UNN nightly reports as they played simultaneously on separate screens in the privacy of his quarters aboard the Valley Forge. Robert Higgins' UNN report was painting the day's events as a huge publicity stunt gone awry and Fed-Net seemed to be playing along...for now.

Eventually, someone at Intel was going to piece together how Kel'Rae had managed to fund and construct his secret fleet, but none of that mattered to Kel'Rae any more. Let them find out. Let them know. He had been forced to play his trump card without any regard for political prudence. He had violated his own cardinal rule of political survival: "Never withhold information that is within your power to share." But it was too late now. There was no way SICON could ignore the degree of subterfuge implicit in Kel'Rae's actions. His duplicity would not go unnoticed.

Not that SICON seemed to mind. At least not officially. Not yet. For the moment it was quite clear that all life on Terra had probably been spared by Kel'Rae's little "publicity stunt." The alien pods which were recovered from the debris field surrounding the Valley Forge were nasty bits of business indeed. Thanks to the "fair and balanced" reporting of UNN, it was now widely known that each and every pod had been a potential harbinger of extinction.

Each pod had an extremely compact yet powerful grav generator at its core. This explained how the tiny projectiles could be so incredibly massive despite their size, and why they would almost certainly have struck Terra's surface if the new T'Phetti Alliance Fleet hadn't miraculously intervened in the nick of time. The strange mixture of chemical compounds clustered around the grav generator of each pod had been even greater cause for alarm. If the pods had collided with Terra's surface, the resulting explosions could have permanently altered the composition of the air the Humans liked to breathe.

The pods were clearly terraformation devices of some kind, though it was unclear who or what had manufactured them. Or launched them. Some of the metals combed from the the debris field had radiation signatures similar to ores found in archeological artifacts recovered from formerly held Zilla territories. But this was hardly proof of Zilla involvement or intent, pundits for both UNN and Fed-Net news stated as much repeatedly and emphatically. The main focus of both broadcasts was how the hidden Skinnie fleet had stepped in to save the day.

So for now the Skinnies were the unexpected heros of the hour. Kel'Rae was delighted to find that Ambassador T'Phai was getting most of the credit, especially on Fed-Net news. The less name recognition Kel'Rae had, the easier it would be for SICON to eventually rid themselves of his meddling influence. Kel'Rae had always faced the possibility that his position was only a temporary appointment, now his political career was almost certainly doomed. During the next General Election, SICON could decide to let the tenure of the chancellorship quietly expire and force the T'Phetti Council of Elders to fend for itself. Given Kel'Rae's current approval numbers in the polls, dissolving the chancellorship was probably the only course of action SICON could pursue without rasing the ire of the electorate. Well, so be it. And good riddance.

Kel'Rae felt as if a terrible burden had been lifted from his shoulders. It was a burden which had befallen him the day he had been dragged bleeding and unconscious from the wreckage of a turret station aboard a Terran starship. A Human being had spared him from certain death that day. It was the same burden that all T'Phetti shared -- the undeniable truth that the Humans were their saviors, that each and every Skinnie alive owed the Human race an unpayable debt. And yet somehow, on this day, it seemed to Kel'Rae that not only had this unpayable debt been paid, but paid in full. Perhaps years from now Skinnies across the galaxy would look back on this day and recall, "That was the day we became their equals." Which might not be altogether bad thing. Perhaps not a bad thing at all.

Previous Chapter Main Menu Next Chapter