The Vice President was an interesting sight walking around the White House, of course no one would dare say that out loud. Pregnant as can be, she definitely had a belly, and some would say she was glowing. Many of the White House staff would offer her a seat, despite the fact that she hated to be babied, but Chenosh took it in stride, and some would say that her current condition had taught her to be more tolerant of such things, at least for the time being. Being pregnant didn't slow her down in the least, and anyone who she dealt with found that out quite quickly.
On a Monday morning, she opened up the newspaper, happy as can be, only for everyone around her to see that smile disappear. Standing in the middle of their offices in the walkway, she could be seen by all. Without a word, she headed immediately to the President's secretary, who let her since he had a free moment.
"Good morning, Mrs. Vice President. How are you this morning?" The President said, before he took in her worried face and the newspaper she was carrying, "I take it, the news isn't good?"
"Please read the second page, Mr. President." Chenosh said.
He glanced it over and said, "Well I don't see why this is so important. Why is it even in here?"
"Please read paragraph four in the article out loud, sir." Chenosh asked, taking a seat in one of the chairs, while the President sat down in a chair across from her.
"In this medical report, sources say that the Vice President is not only having four healthy children, but is also an active carrier of the Ki genetic code." The President said, and then shrugged as if he didn't understand.
"Why did the Harreden not attack before, when I started sharing advanced technology with humans?" Chenosh asked.
"Because you were considered a ... oh." The President, said realizing what she was talking about.
"And what does this article say, and what will be going out over our satellites, satellites I might add that our Harreden allies use to contact us?" Chenosh asked, driving the point home.
"But we are allies with some, and this won't matter anymore, let them talk about it." The President said.
There was a knock at the door and the secretary said there was a call from NASA. Looking at Chenosh with a question on his face, the President picked up the phone.
"They said what? Alright, I'll get back to you on that." The President said, hanging up the phone and looking up and Chenosh.
"Let me guess: that was the Harreden, and they sent a message." Chenosh said.
"How did you know that?" The President asked.
"Because that reporter, being the idiot he is, just stirred up a hornet's nest. Allow me to be blunt, Mr. President: the simple truth is, I have now been put into the line of succession." Chenosh said.
"What succession? I remember them mentioning something about a Nafi. What the hell is a Nafi?" The President asked, totally confused.
"The word Nafi means "perfection" and that title is given to the being who is supposed to embody it. My grandfather was that person, but since he has remained on Earth so long, and it has now become his protectorate, he is considered basically retired." Chenosh said.
"And the succession?" The President asked, not liking what he was hearing so far.
"It falls to the next most powerful individual in the family to take up the reins if called, as it is assumed that his perfection is passed on to his descendents. Guess who meets the criteria." Chenosh said, severely annoyed.
"You?" The President ventured.
"Correct sir." Chenosh said.
"I was hoping you were joking." The President said.
"Unfortunately, that can't be the case here. Our Harreden allies expect me to take my place as the new Nafi, and if I don't, then Earth loses its status, and you don't want to even get into that." Chenosh said.
"No, I guess I don't. So how will that effect you being Vice President?" The President asked.
"I will have to resign. Without the council, the Nafi is the highest ranking member of our society." Chenosh said.
"Can't your grandfather take the reins again?" The President asked.
"No he can't, not unless I die and there is no one better than him. This is a very important tradition among the Harreden people, and with war on the horizon it makes sense. I now represent everything they once believed, and they need something to hold onto. Without this news breaking, they might have settled for my grandfather being involved, if just in name, but this breaking news has changed that. If I were them, right now, I wouldn't settle for less, and as we both know from dealing with human politics, appearances are everything." Chenosh tried to explain.
"There is no way out of this?" The President asked, feeling like he was painted into a corner.
"None that won't break up the alliance that we need to survive. I'm sorry, Mr. President. It seems fate has dealt her cards, and we must now deal with them." Chenosh said, offering her hand. The President shook it, and watched her go.
Calling in his Head of Staff, the President said to Lisa Cades, a slim blond woman with a sharp political mind, "Find out whoever leaked that information in the military hospital, and give their name or names to a military prosecutor. We just lost a Vice President because they decided to forget their duty and break the law."
While the reporters and their newspaper were protected under the first amendment, the nurse who did leak it was not. Brought up on federal charges for leaking information that affected national security during a time of war, she was sentenced to life in prison, as Chenosh withdrew from one public office to take on another. As the representative of the Di'San and the Harreden, she spearheaded the idea of building a combined embassy for both in the United States, since she was their leader. The move would take time, but it would also allow her to remain on Earth for the majority of the time. Harreden and Di'San techs came to Earth to build it, and had it up in a few days. Set up with the most advanced equipment available to both sides, it allowed a more detailed view of their information network that had been put in place, and served as a place for Chenosh to keep track of what was going on among the Harreden worlds and the Colonial Fleet, headed up by the Di'San. The President of the United States did his best to keep a close relationship with Chenosh and her new embassy, while he was forced to look for a new Vice President. A press conference from the White House had laid out why the Vice President had to leave. Law enforcement agencies near the location of the newspaper were forced to investigate death threats made against the editor and the reporter. Public outcry was immense against this change.
When the President and Chenosh met in the Oval Office as two equal leaders once again, he said, "Your popularity has had a negative backlash against the newspaper that aired the story."
"I heard. I have tried to do what I can to discourage it." Chenosh said.
"Unfortunately, the American people aren't the only ones complaining. It seems that most of the international community, even those who claim to be our enemies, liked the idea of you being in the White House." The President explained.
"Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. This government was set up to separate powers. If I returned to any public office in the United States government itself, I would be violating that very principle. I must now serve constituents, who for the most part, don't exist on this planet." Chenosh said.
"What about your family?" The President asked.
"They claim U.S citizenship, and I, being the Nafi, grant them that right. No Harreden will dare challenge me. Among them I hold absolute power within the law. Any resistance we had with them cooperating with our other allies is now gone. They have to listen and obey me now." Chenosh answered.
"And how is progress on that end?" The President asked.
"They are asking for something from me and my family, and I am finding it difficult to refuse them." Chenosh said.
"What is it? I fail to see what Earth could offer them, outside of what we have already pledged." The President said.
"You would if you understood their thought process. They are asking for Ki DNA to begin a new breeding program, along with any humans Earth can spare." Chenosh said with a straight face.
Pausing for a moment, the President said, "Let me get this straight: they want your DNA and human subjects?"
"Harreden are quite practical in their thinking. A war is brewing, and they want to do everything they can to increase their numbers. The fact that Liam came from Earth, and two of their Nafi choose to live here, shows that humans are important. When you put yourself in their place the idea makes sense." Chenosh said.
"Even if I could understand that, it would be next to impossible to ask for, besides, why do they need Ki DNA?" The President replied.
"What can Ki do, Doug?" Chenosh asked.
"They can turn into either sex." The President answered, still not getting it.
"Think like a Harreden and it will come to you." Chenosh said, nudging him in the right direction.
The President sat in the chair, considering what she meant, until it came to him on his own, "They don't share our inhibitions, and Ki could breed with either sex if needed."
"It was one of the reasons my grandfather was so worried about my mother and her children. A Ki has no true sex, and it is only on Earth that we feel the need to pick one. Among Harreden, we could be whatever we want, and since I instituted the "Bondservant Law", my people can only keep the slaves that choose to stay with them. I doubt any will leave, but it does make a difference publicly. Now the slaves will have rights, should they choose to exercise them." Chenosh explained.
"I still fail to see how this would even work. I can't force humans, in this country or any other, to join a breeding program. It would be even worse than when the Di'San asked. Even they looked harmless compared to the Harreden." The President pointed out.
"Then don't. Offer it to them instead, and focus you attention on poorer countries, and those with exploding populations. I believe you will find that countries such as India and China, will be more than happy to improve their quality of living by joining this program." Chenosh said.
"Are you saying that you want to fix Earth's overpopulation problem by sending them to alien worlds?" The President asked.
"Worlds inhabited by an advanced race of people that will welcome them with open arms. I'm sure that given the chance, many will find the idea appealing. I will even throw in my support, and also promise that I will defend their rights as transplanted citizens to practice any of their beliefs and pursue an education. That should sweeten the deal, don't you think?" Chenosh said.
"I imagine it could work if it's presented correctly. I'll make some calls." The President said.
"Make them quickly. The Harreden colonies are getting anxious, and I might have to start knocking a few heads." Chenosh said.
"There's something you're not telling me." The President said.
"Since taking over as Nafi, I've been sending scouting forays into the empire. What I have learned has become the object of much concern among our allies: Liam's forces are growing exponentially, at a rate that was previously considered impossible. I have only one answer for it, and Elin'ya agrees. Liam is either cloning, or he is using a similar technology to reproduce faster." Chenosh said.
"He can do that?" The President said.
"Elin has worked on the technology, and he got the idea from his father's genetic memory. It stands to reason that Liam could think up the same idea. Liam's army now numbers in the billions, and from what communication we have been able to intercept, he replaces ten for every warrior he loses." Chenosh answered.
"At that rate, he will soon bring things back to 100 to 1 at the very least." The President said, understanding the problem.
"He's cutting corners, but again there is no council to stop him. We are in a very dangerous time, Mr. President. This civil war may be over sooner than we expected. What might have been a few years may be half that. The loyalists in the empire need help, and I intend to give it to them." Chenosh said.
"You are going to war? What happens if he decides to skip the loyalists after you show up and come here?" The President asked.
"I don't believe he will. First he will have to secure the empire so he has no surprises from that end. After that he will attack us, and by doing it first I hope to buy us precious time. Elin has slapped together a new line of ships, and well be using his new "Artificials", as I choose to call them. With the new ships, I'll make hit and run attacks to see if I can try to make a difference. It's a long shot, but it's what we have. In the event of a defeat, the rest of the Colonial Fleet will be here, and I'll try to save as much of our attacking fleet as possible to be used in our eventual defense." Chenosh said.
"And what if you are killed?" The President said worriedly.
"Then the defense of Earth will be left up to you and our allies. May heaven help us if I fail." Chenosh said.
Standing on the bridge of her new flagship, Chenosh watched Artificials operating controls as the fleet went through its final checks. She had kissed her loved ones goodbye that morning, and was prepared to give her life for them if necessary. Captain Jex approached, her hair a distinct blue, while the rest of her looked quite human. Every Artificial had the same face across the sexes. All the females looked alike, and all the males looked alike. Each body had been streamlined, with a slim build, and the Artificials' pre-generated minds downloaded into them. As far as crews went, Chenosh found them to be incredibly efficient as they carried out their tasks.
Acting as avatars for each key system, they made commands and repairs faster than any biological could, because they could actually sense where the damage or fault in their system was located. Chenosh made sure others could carry those tasks as well, leaving every member of her crew with a backup. She had to admit it was eerie to watch one of them touch any console and quickly execute a command, without even pressing a button. For the Artificials, electronic data was a form of communication, and they handled it naturally.
Within an hour, all stations on each of the ten ships in the fleet had reported in and reported all systems were a go.
"Broadcast to all ships that we are to meet at the scheduled jump coordinates, and take us out, Captain." Chenosh said.
"Yes, commander." Jex said, and relayed the command out loud. Inertial dampers kept those inside from feeling the lurch of the ship as it jumped.
When the ships came back into normal space, contacts appeared on their monitors.
"Ships incoming, Commander! Harreden design." The sensor operator said.