There are few things that sophisticated, cultured, civilized societies hate more than a group that doesn’t play the game by the rules. This is particularly true when the game being played, involves violence.
Boxing is violent. As a sport, it is only acceptable because there are rules that dictate how the two opponents physically pummel each other. The rules are quite comprehensive in that they govern who can fight each other, where the fighters can hit, how long they fight, the conditions under which the fight ends, and how a victor is determined. There are referees and judges to make sure that all of the forms are followed. Both fighters are there because they volunteered to be there.
It is also important to recognize that boxing matches are scheduled, tickets are sold, and large crowds watch them. There is money to be made in boxing. Being able to make money on the sport gives it a legitimacy beyond just having rules.
Bar fights, on the other hand, are crimes because there aren’t any rules governing how a bar fight is to be fought. One can’t engage in pummeling another unless there are rules, referees, and judges present to make sure that the fight occurs in a fair and civilized manner. For example, a boxer will lose if he kicks his opponent in the crotch, while that kind of behavior occurs frequently in bar fights. While both boxers volunteer to fight, it’s possible that some participants in a bar fight may not even want to be there.
Since there are no rules dictating civilized behavior in a bar fight, there remains only one rule regarding bar fights: engaging in bar fights is illegal. When a bar fight erupts, a civilized society will send peace officers into the bar with the express purpose of ending the fight and arresting all those who participated. After all, one can’t have crimes taking place and one can’t let criminal walk free.
As representatives of a civilized society, the peace officers operate under rules that are even more restrictive than those which apply to boxers. They are to engage the combatants without throwing punches, kicks, or weapons that can injure. The only real protection the peace officers has is a rule that states that hitting a peace officer is a worse crime than engaging in a bar fight.
What happens if the peace officers charge into the bar fight swinging clubs, cracking heads, and generally beating the hell out of the combatants? Well, the peace officers are guilty of breaking the rules and have to be punished.
To the sophisticated and cultured society, war is barbaric activity that should be avoided. However, it is also thought that war is inevitable. In order to be a civilized activity, war must have rules. This turns war into a boxing match in which the opponents are armies rather than individuals.
Thus, a civilized war is one which is fought according to rules and there are a lot of rules. There are rules dictating who can fight, when they can fight, and how they fight. War must be declared in a formal fashion so that everyone knows that the fighting is about to begin. Only bullets which are more likely to wound than kill are allowed. The participants have to be identified by uniform and killing someone not in uniform is against the rules.
With rules governing war so that it can be considered a civilized activity, one would think that all would be right. Yet there are times when armies engage in combat without following the rules. In much the same way as a bar fight is a crime, armies that do not operate under the appropriate rules are considered criminals.
Approaching war like a bar fight is a crime, while approaching it like a boxing match is acceptable despite its barbaric roots. Civilized behavior, regardless of the death toll, demands that rules be followed; and it doesn’t matter how stupid those rules are!
One would think that the reaction to a war that is being fought without following the rules would cause civilized nations to call out some kind of peace keeping force to bring the fighting to an end. After all, this is done when individuals engage in bar fights. For the most part, though, nations tend to stand on the side-lines trying to talk the combatants out of fighting. It is only when things get really out of control that non-combatant nations choose to intervene.
When the nations do intervene in ‘illegal’ wars, or at least wars that are being fought illegally, the rules are extremely restrictive. It isn’t a war, but a “police action.” The goal isn’t to kill the enemy, but to arrest them. Since the illegal combatants aren’t wearing uniforms, then the police force must take extreme care that no ‘innocent civilians’ are killed. Individual soldiers who might have killed a civilian (even in the heat of battle) are charged and, if found guilty, sent to prison.
When the Committee on War Crimes of the International Federation of Nations examined what had happened in Palarma, it was obvious to them that Jade Force did not act according to the rules that dictate proper behavior for an Army involved in a policing action. In fact, they could not find any rules that Jade Force had followed.
Innocent civilians in a war zone? Dead meat. That was obvious from the very first day that Jade Force had been brought into the conflict. Hadn’t Pen Sada, upon signing the contract with Amra, said, “In the next forty eight hours, you have a simple choice to make. You are to take a side in this conflict. You must join us or join the Enforcers of God. There is no alternative. There is no one who is innocent in the battlefield. You can’t hide from this war. The Enforcers of God will shoot from behind you and we will shoot them, through you.” Clearly, killing innocent civilians was an official policy of Jade Force.
Then there were the deaths of all of the ‘tourists’ who chose that period of time to visit Palarma. They had blown up the cars on their way to the capital. Jade Force didn’t even set up check points to separate the tourists from suspected terrorists. Sure the tourists were all young men of fighting age, but that didn’t make them terrorists. So what if the explosions were caused by bombs carried in the trunks of their cars? That didn’t make them terrorists. After all, the poor driver could have been tricked into transporting them. It had happened before, so it could have happened in this case.
Let’s not forget the reporters who had died in that strafing incident along the highway. Reporters are exempt from anything dealing with war. According to the rules, a reporter should be able to stand in the middle of a battlefield and report on what is happening without having to be worried about getting killed. That’s the theory, anyway.
Jade Force killed a whole town by blowing it up. A town, by definition, must contain innocent bystanders, otherwise it would be a fort. Even if it was full of terrorists, they didn’t even try to capture them. With a little work, they could have taken thousands of prisoners. Instead, all of those young men were dead. Such a tragic loss of life.
Then there was their treatment of prisoners. They actually killed prisoners and hung them up on stakes, naked, for the whole world to see. They were prisoners! Those poor men should have been remanded over to a prisoner of war camp for repatriation at the end of the police action. The rules specifically said they were to do that, but Jade Force didn’t abide by that rule, either.
Finally, they incited the citizens of Palarma to riot. Involving citizens, who were supposed to just live their happy little lives in the midst of a war zone, was outrageous. They let loose a mob that killed without restraint. There was no leadership or organized military to ensure that the rules were followed. That was an act that was unimaginable and it was all the fault of Jade Force.
Palarma wasn’t the only place where Jade Force didn’t follow the rules. There was that episode with the pirates where they killed almost an entire town. Even after the pirates were defeated, they fired artillery into the homes of upstanding citizens who might have been involved in the piracy. There hadn’t even been a trial to establish the guilt or innocence of the individuals killed.
The worst crime, and the one that the Committee on War Crimes of the International Federation of Nations couldn’t forgive, was that they didn’t attack the government of sovereign nations by first fighting the military of those countries. No, they went directly after the leadership of the country. In the Sumar/Desera war, they took over both governments without even engaging in a single battle with their armies. That was against everything that civilized nations held dear.
The Committee on War Crimes of the International Federation of Nations reviewed all of the evidence to determine who was guilty of war crimes. After months of deliberation, they issued a writ declaring Pen Sada to be a War Criminal. She was to be captured and tried in the world court.
When asked to turn Pen Sada over to the proper authorities, Jade Force answered that Pen Sada was not at home. Complaints to the government of Misera were answered with the statement that she was not in country. Of course, no one believed Jade Force or the government of Misera.
After several years of trying to get Pen Sada into custody, the Secretary General of the IFN chose to involve the military forces of the member nations in her capture. The idea was that they would invade Misera, storm the Jade Force stronghold, and capture Sada. It would all be done in a legal manner with a proper declaration of war as stated in a resolution passed by the General Assembly.
The vote that morning had been unanimous although there were some irregularities. Just enough countries had showed up for the vote for it to be legal. While the vote was unanimous, it was well known that the countries who hadn’t shown up would have voted against it. Although no one remarked upon it, it was recognized that none of the countries that had any experience with Jade Force had shown up for the vote.
Mr. Jacques Descroix, the Secretary General of the IFN, now stood proudly in front of a horde of reporters ready to announce the result of the vote. They were gathered in a little park across the street from the main building. This park had been the site of many press conferences in the past. It made a nice little stage complete with the IFN headquarters building in the background. Not only that, there was plenty of room for the press without interfering in the day to day operations of the IFN.
Mr. Descroix started to read his official statement, “By unanimous vote...”
Sandy Darling shouted an interruption, “Almost half of the General Assembly was absent. How does that constitute a unanimous vote?”
Feeling his blood pressure rise, Mr. Descroix glared at Sandy Dancing. Although he prided himself on being a civilized man, there wasn’t any person in the world who he hated more than her and if given a chance would have killed her outright. At any press conference, she was the one who asked all of the awkward questions and wouldn’t stop asking her questions until they were answered.
He wasn’t even sure what she looked like. As always, she stood there totally covered by the traditional garb of a woman follower of Jarjan. The only part of her body that was visible was her eyes. He had once made the mistake of asking her to remove her head gear so that he could see who he was talking with. That had unleashed a storm of protests that he had asked a woman to undress in public.
He growled and said, “Ms. Dancing, allow me to finish my prepared statement.”
Undeterred, Sandy Dancing asked, “How does it constitute a unanimous vote if almost half of the members are absent?”
“It was a unanimous vote of all those in attendance,” he replied, knowing that she wouldn’t stop asking her questions until he answered.
“Just wanted to be clear about that,” Sandy Dancing said. “Please continue with your prepared statement. We’re all anxiously waiting to hear what you have to say.”
The other reporters snickered. There was a regular betting pool on how many questions Sandy Dancing would ask before Mr. Descroix stormed off. Letting her ask all of the awkward questions made their jobs much easier.
Mr. Descroix said, “By unanimous vote of the General Assembly...”
“Those that were in attendance,” Sandy Dancing interjected. “Let’s be accurate here.”
“ ... a resolution was passed declaring war on Misera.”
Sandy Dancing shouted, “Excuse me ... But ... What did Misera do that was so wrong that the IFN felt it necessary to declare war on it?”
“They refused entry of IFN personnel attempting to arrest the War Criminal Pen Sada.”
“That’s suspected War Criminal Pen Sada. She hasn’t had a trial yet.”
Turning bright red, Mr. Descroix said, “Let me finish my statement.”
“Actually, I have another question,” Sandy Dancing said.
“Let me finish my statement.”
“Does the absence of so many members of the General Assembly have anything to do with the email sent by Jade Force earlier this morning?”
Furious, Mr. Descroix said, “That email was an attempt to intimidate countries from voting on the resolution.”
“It sounds more like good advice than a statement of intimidation. All the email said was, ‘War is a serious endeavor. It is a matter of life and death for the state. Think well before entering into war.’ That’s a really good piece of advice. I mean, war is a serious matter and shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
“It was intimidation.”
Sandy Dancing said, “So you passed a resolution declaring war against Misera and stating that Jade Force is an outlaw organization. How do you think they will respond?”
“I expect Misera to act like a respected member of the international community. They will abide by the decision of the member nations of IFN and allow our forces to arrest members of Jade Force.”
“Good luck with that. They’ve already said they’ll resist.”
“That was before the resolution was passed. It is now a reality and I expect them to abide by it.”
“What about Jade Force?”
“What can Jade Force do? Do you really expect them to fight the whole world?”
There was a low rumbling noise that originated from behind him. All eyes turned to the source of the noise. As if the whole world was moving in slow motion, the IFN building collapsed. Dust and debris spread out.
Everyone there, with one exception, got down to provide as little of a target for the debris blowing their way. Sandy Dancing looked over at the building and then said, “Mr. Secretary General, it looks like Jade Force has just answered your question. Do you have any comments?”
“I’m going to kill that bitch!”
“Are you talking about me or Pen Sada?”
“It looks to me like Jade Force just killed everyone who declared war on them with one exception – you. If you’d like some advice, you just might want to run and hide.”
The office belonging to the Amra ambassador was luxurious in keeping with the prestige which Amra felt was its due. The walls were covered with wood paneling. A large antique desk occupied a central position in the room. The carpet on the floor was handmade and at least 600 years old. Off to the side was a couch and chairs for use in less formal discussions. The chairs were covered with a rich red leather.
Jacques Descroix sat in one of the chairs off to the side facing Ambassador Jensen of Amra. He took a sip of the expensive liquor and settled into his chair with a sigh. It had been a horrific morning and he was still trying to come to terms with what had happened.
Ambassador Jensen took a sip of his tonic water. He said, “I warned you what would happen if you passed that resolution.”
“They blew up the whole fucking building.”
“They didn’t blow up a building. They took out the government organization which had just declared war on them. I told you that they would do that.”
“It’s just not done!”
“I hate to argue, but they did it. Everyone who didn’t show up for the vote knew they were going to do it.”
“Will you give us the ships we need?”
“No. The official stance of the Amra government, is that it will be a neutral party in this conflict.”
“Neutral! How can Amra stay neutral after what Jade Force just did? Your government helped set up the International Federation of Nations.”
“Members of our intelligence services and our military advisers in the Rock say that the Amra government will fall if we take any action against Misera or Jade Force.”
The incredulity on Jacques’ face advertised his disbelief. He stuttered for a moment trying to come up with a reply. Finally, he asked, “How can they say that? You’ve got the biggest military on the planet.”
“Our military advisers tell us that they probably wouldn’t have a chance to engage Jade Force in a battle before our government falls. They tell us that Jade Force will take out the President, the Prime Minister, and Parliament the moment that we make a move against them.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“I am. Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but they’ve taken down three governments without engaging a single army. They did it with Misera, Sumar, and Desera. I’d like to remind you that Sumar and Desera were at war which should have made them extremely difficult targets, but Jade Force simultaneously took over both governments in less than an hour.
“Furthermore, our analysts tell us that Jade Force has been training the Misera Army, Air Force, and Navy. They’ve purchased thoroughly modern warships and air craft. They are producing their own submarines. Misera isn’t a little tin pot country waving wooden swords any more. They are a real military power today.
“The only way to stop them is to drop nuclear bombs on the Jade Force citadel in Misera, their training facility in Inra, and to take out the Misera capital. Even that might not stop them. Who knows where all of them are at the moment.”
Jacques drained his glass in one long gulp. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Are you sure you want my advice?”
“What?! Are you kidding?”
“I don’t even know if it is possible for IFN to surrender. We represent the whole world.”
“That is a good point. It’s one you should have considered before declaring war on them.”
There was a knock on the door. An aide entered without asking permission and handed a note to the Amra Ambassador. The ambassador studied the note with a frown. He asked, “Has the individual from Inra arrived yet?”
“No, he hasn’t.”
Mr. Descroix frowned wondering about the individual from Inra. There had been no mention of including anyone from Inra in the discussions.
“Send him in when he arrives.”
“I will,” the aide said with a curt nod of his head.
The aide left the room. Ambassador Jenson carefully folded the note and put it in his pocket.
Jacques asked, “What is it?”
“Misera now controls more than a third of the Surprise Continent. The governments of Del Moray and Ismal just fell. The military forces of both countries surrendered without firing a shot.”
“I don’t know for a fact, but I suspect that they captured the leadership of the government, put a gun to their heads and told them to surrender or die. They probably chose to surrender. I would. To tell the truth, they’re moving faster than I thought they would.”
“I didn’t expect either country to fall before midnight,” Ambassador Jenson said while stroking his chin thoughtfully.
“I don’t believe it.”
“We have a lot more experience dealing with Jade Force than you do. We watched them flatten the entire Togo Drug Cartel after we had chased them for decades. We had over two hundred thousand troops trying to contain the Enforcers of God. We failed. Jade Force crushed the Enforcers of God. The only ones who survived were prisoners in our prisons. They took out over 80,000 men in just weeks.”
“I know what they did. The problem is that they killed civilians while doing it.”
Ambassador Jenson shook his head. “Are you aware that I’m a veteran of the Vam war?”
“I was aware of that.”
“Amra was involved in the Vam for more than a decade. That whole time was spent doing very little other than maintaining a border between East and West Vam. We may have won every fight, but the war was a draw. We didn’t take any territory and we didn’t lose any. Our whole time there was spent maintaining the status quo. When we pulled out, the government of East Vam fell.
“General Nguyen, at that time he was only a colonel, pulled together a rag-tag army that was miniscule compared to the army of West Vam. General Nguyen took the war to West Vam. He nearly won the war with soldiers who were so poorly provisioned that they had to eat off the land and use weapons dropped by the dead. We had futzed around for more than a decade playing at war. He fought a war and nearly won it. He took it far more seriously than we did.
“Now, Jade Force takes war very seriously. They fight to win. They don’t fight for country. They don’t fight for glory. They fight because they are warriors.
“You may want to treat them like criminals and that’s your right. Not everyone shares your opinion.”
“You sound like you like them.”
“I have a lot of respect for them. They are perhaps the best fighting force ever created. If you want to fight them, then you can’t play around.”
There was a knock on the door. Ambassador Jenson turned and said, “What is it?”
“Your guest from Inra has arrived.”
“Send him in.”
A moment later a rather nondescript looking man of clear Inra background entered the room. Jacque Descroix looked at the man without recognizing him. The visitor gave a short nod to the Ambassador and the Secretary General.
“Come in, Mr. Nayar. I’m sure that you recognize Secretary General Descroix.”
“I do indeed recognize Mr. Descroix, although we’ve never met.”
“Jacques, this is Mr. Nayar of the Inra Intelligence Service.”
“It’s nice to meet you.”
Mr. Nayar said, “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I wish that we had met yesterday. You might have been able to avoid a major mistake.”
“The vote this morning,” Mr. Nayar said.
“That was not a mistake.”
“Actually, I was kind of surprised that they waited as long as they did before leveling the IFN building. I had predicted that it would go down as soon as you hit the gavel declaring the final vote tally.”
“I don’t believe this,” Jacques said. “Aren’t you dismayed by what happened?”
“I am quite saddened by what happened. It was a most tragic loss of life and one that was completely avoidable. I know our Ambassador warned you,” Mr. Nayar said. “He told you that the IFN wouldn’t survive the vote.”
Jacques Descroix had been warned by a number of people not to declare war on Misera and Jade Force. He was convinced that it had been a joke. Misera was a backwater country and Jade Force was a small militia. What chance did they have against the rest of the world? None.
“Aren’t you the least bit upset about all of the Inrans who died today when the building was destroyed?”
“There were no Inra citizens in the building. We ordered all of our people not to go to the IFN building today.”
“Why would you have done that?”
“We know Jade Force and what they are capable of doing,” Mr. Nayar said.
“What do you know about Jade Force?”
Ambassador Jenson said, “Let’s make ourselves comfortable. Why don’t you take a seat?”
“Would you care for a drink Mr. Nayar?”
“Yes. I think a tea would be nice if you have it available.”
“Would you like a refill on your whiskey?”
The Ambassador stuck his head through the door to the outer office and forwarded the drink requests to his aide. He returned to the room and said, “It’ll be just a moment.”
Ambassador Jenson took a seat and asked, “Mr. Nayar, how are you enjoying your stay in Burad?”
Mr. Nayar said, “This is my first visit to Burad. From what I’ve seen of it, it’s a very lovely country. I hope to spend a little time sight seeing.”
“You might want to check out the cave system in the northern part of the country. They are truly remarkable.”
Jacques Descroix was ready to explode. His IFN building had been destroyed that morning and these two guys were talking about tourist sites. If he didn’t need ships from Amra so badly, he would have walked out of there.
“I know quite a bit about the cave system. A friend of mine was on the team that explored them. I will definitely visit it,” Mr. Nayar said.
“Your friend must have some interesting tales to tell.”
“That he does. Some of them are rather funny and not very flattering about the people who led the expedition.”
“That’s odd ... now that I think about it ... I don’t recall reading about any people from Inra on that expedition.”
“That’s easily explained. He was not one of the explorers. He was one of the unnamed laborers. He helped carry the supplies,” Mr. Nayar said.
“Ah! Every expedition like that has a number of people whose names are never associated with the discovery. My brother was a cook on an archeological dig. There’s a picture of him and the rest of the team. He’s stuck in the back, and only the top half of his head is visible. They found some interesting artifacts, but his name was never mentioned.”
Jacques said, “That’s all very interesting, but I’d much rather talk about Jade Force.”
“Tsk, tsk, Jacques. We’re waiting for our drinks,” Ambassador Jenson said.
The aide entered the room pushing a cart. He spent a few minutes taking care of the drinks. He backed out of the room leaving the cart.
After taking a sip of his tea, Mr. Nayar said, “When Pen Sada was a cadet at the Jade Academy, she killed twelve of our soldiers when they attempted to rape her. She killed them with her bare hands. I believe that she was around fourteen or fifteen at the time.
“Of course our military reacted in much the same way as you have. They sent more troops to deal with the situation. They were killed by a bunch of fifteen-year-olds in a matter of seconds. We sent a brigade after them. Those fifteen-year-olds took out every officer, including a general, above the rank of lieutenant. I should correct myself, three officers were lucky enough to escape. The cadets walked off with five tanks, four trucks, and three of our helicopters.
“We surrendered. I was part of the negotiating committee. Let me tell you ... it is scary sitting across the table from a fifteen year old who tells you that if you don’t accept their terms of surrender that your government will be destroyed.
“If Jade Force offers you a chance to surrender, you should take it. You should tell every country that voted to declare war on Misera and Jade Force to agree to a surrender, whatever the terms are.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not surrendering. They are war criminals,” Jacques said, “Will you support the IFN with troops and ships?”
“Not only no, but hell no! In fact, we will use our military to resist any group that enters our country with the intent of attacking Jade Academy. Our government stands a better chance of surviving everything you can throw at us, than surviving a single attack by those cadets.”
“I thought better of Indra,” the Secretary General said.
“Governments will fall.”
“They already have,” Ambassador Jenson said.
“Del Moray and Ismal?”
“I really thought they would wait until midnight.”
Edited By TeNderLoin