Group Reading: Freedom Flight

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Starting next week I should be able to jump into this great project full steam ahead.

I wish we had some more discussion, but we take what we can get right?

I'm going to plan on reading the first 3 chapters on Sunday and have something to post that night.

Now I should be able to stick my plan now that my whole living situation has finally resolved.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Alright I've done a bit of catching up...

Something not sure if anyone else brought up but on page 7, Ralgha has an internal monologue about Thrakhath mentioning his hrai's death five years ago. He presumes Thrakhath not to know, however, could this actually have been one of the motivating reasons for choosing Ralgha as the sleeper? He has no ties to the Empire except his loyalty to the Emperor. He only gains joy through conflict with Terrans.


Our first encounter with Kirha is an interesting introduction to his character. His first line is noting that the ship does not have enough HS missiles, something perhaps another officer would have missed, but not Kirha, no sir. He's been studying under the "finest officer in the fleet."

Kirha has an undying respect and admiration for Ralgha. His confusion when Ralgha orders updated charts on Firekka is almost comical. It's not hard to imagine Kirha going into a small panic at the unexpected orders (I'm sure all of us know a person who gets a bit thrown off when the unexpected happens) then just having to know. I've always really like Kirha as a character. This exchange on the lift is a great introduction to him and I know I certainly felt a bit of attachment to his character after the exchange. We also learn quite a bit about the Kilrathi mindset during the exchange. When Kirha learns of Ralgha's plans his first thoughts of are obeying his liege lord over everything else.
 

Bob McDob

Better Health Through Less Flavor
For me, the thing that stuck out most in this first chapter was the similarity between Ralgha's lecture to Kirha near the end and Vakka's* ... I guess rant would be the better word to describe it, in Chapter Seven of Action Stations (also near the end). Compare:

Freedom Flight said:
He paced the short width of the lift. "Only a few among our people have seen the truth, that this war is a pointless exchange of territories. There is no honor in it, or victory, because both sides will lose more than they can gain. If we could truly conquer the humans . . . then, perhaps, there would be glory for us. But without any hope of victory, what is the purpose of this war? There is only death. Meaningless death, with no honor or glory in it. And for what? The glory of the Emperor? That useless fool whose backside warms the Throne of Kilrah, who has not fought for decades, who does not realize the price of this war?"

"My lord, you speak . . . you speak treason," Kirha said slowly, the shock of his master's words reverberating through him. "Treason against the Emperor . . . ."

Ralgha glanced at him. "Yes, cubling. Now you know the truth. For two years now, I have been working with the rebels on Ghorah Khar, attempting to overthrow the Empire. That is why I was arrested, though they could not prove my connection to the rebels, and that is why we now must go to the Firekka System. Where I will contact the humans and . . . and surrender this ship to them."

The void had opened beneath Kirha's feet, and he fell into it. Shock held him rigid. "S-surrender the ship! My lord, you cannot! What of yourself, and the crew?"

"We will become prisoners of war." Ralgha's mouth tightened so that the tips of his fangs showed against the taut skin. "If they do not kill us outright. So, Kirha? Do you still obey me, cubling?"

Action Stations said:
"I know you are ashamed of me. But remember this as well. This war is a clever plot of the Emperor's as well. Notice how the First Fleet will not engage, and that nearly all the personnel in this fight are from other clans, except for the landing assault troop. It will be Imperial blood which shall place our banners upon other worlds, but only after the fleets have shed their blood. It will be our blood that is drained while the Emperor's clan takes the final victory."

"But the Crown Prince and his own son lead the attack."

"Do you think the Emperor truly cares if they live or die? There are other grandsons of other concubines. If there is victory he will embrace them, if they die he will immortalize them, if they lose he will denounce them and blame those who fought under them as well. This war will burn off our strength and yet leave his clan even stronger."

"I cannot believe this," Jukaga gasped. You speak of the Emperor."

"It is time to grow up!" Vakka snarled. "It is time to put aside your childish dreams of how the universe should be, and accept the truth behind it all. Everything is power, that is the goal. Glory is but a tool to trick others to give power to those who rule.

"Once there was the glory of the hunt and those who returned with red talons were acknowledged and glorified for feeding the clans. But now? If you should fight in this attack and destroy a Confederation fleet, what does it bring you?"

Jukaga looked up at him, unable to reply.

"What is glory then? You destroy a ship, but it will be the Emperor's power which grows, not yours. Oh, you will be praised, you will wear new baubles, concubines will come to you willingly. But as for power? We, the head of the clans, will receive new worlds and new bribes and new wealth as payment. But when one owns entire worlds already, what is one more? Only the Emperor will grow stronger and chances are you will die for nothing in this fight."

Vakka sighed and settled back on his pillow.

"Judge later, my son. Not now, go to your fight, and if it should actually come to pass that there is a great victory, then see who has actually won."

Phew. Didn't mean to quote that much. It only caught my attention because Kirha's "My lord . . . my lord, you speak treason" reminded me of Jukaga's indignantly shocked "You speak of the Emperor!", though it took me a while and some digging through the books to place it exactly.

Besides that, the two excerpts follow the same general outline, so that I wonder whether Mr. Forstchen read Freedom Flight immediately before and was directly influenced, or indirectly so, through either some memo or his own writings about the younger Jukaga.

Either way, Ms. Guon set up the basic template for the Kilrathi dissident, though the motivations here are different: Ralgha has (conveniently) lost his entire family, which gives him room to pursue a rebellion against the Emperor without fear of familial retribution. Vakka is not a rebel, but an ardent patriot, both towards his clan and race at large; the bit immediately before the quote where he muses about the Kilrathi propensity for falling on each other seems to imply that he accepts the existance of the Empire as necessary, and if he has no love for the Emperor himself, he's not inclined to overthrow him either.

Bakh nar Ragitagha (from Academy episode 12, The Price of Victory) is explicitly Clan-over-Empire: "The oath will mean that the hrai must fight with Thrakkath even against their own clans! I will deal even with the Terrans to stop that . . . to save my clan."** Jukaga is a mix of his father and Bakh: loyalty towards the Empire, but not towards the Emperor; pride in his own hrai over the Emperor's, and active rebellion in the vein of Ralgha's conspirators rather than Vakka's grumbling. He seems to have been modeled more on Claus von Stauffenberg and the Prussian conspirators against Hitler than Ralgha, though (he obviously couldn't have been based on the other two).

I do wonder what other directions Ralgha's character, and the rebellion against the Emperor, could have taken had the story continued in the direction suggested by the first chapter. We know that by the time of Secret Operations at least three other planets have seceded from the Empire. The constant struggle between hrai-and-Empire implies that the Kilrathi Empire is traditionally closer to a medieval-style feudal setup than the modern English sense of a centralized, dictatorial kingdom. If Ralgha and his conspirators had succeeded in overthrowing the Emperor, what then? Who would they have installed as Emperor? A weak figurehead unable to infringe on the clans - or control them? Would that have ended the war, or simply fragmented it, with the clans seeking battle against the Confederation to their own advantage, a bit like the False Colors postwar era? What would the role of the Church of Sivar have been in any potential arrangement? The most frustrating, unexplained part of this chapter for me is the question of the ultimate goals and motives of the rebel Council.



Mekt-Hakkikt said:
The description of Ghorah Khar (and indirectly of Hhallas) and Kilrah are very interesting. I imagined Ghorah Khar always as something of a medieval town, stone buildings, market place and so on

My thoughts exactly! I invariably think of Ralgha's detention cell as a medieval dungeon, too, down to stone walls with a tiny crack of light coming through a barred window-hole. But back to Ghorah Khar proper: I always loved that part of the book; it really is my favorite part, from when I first read it in the back of the Wing2 Deluxe manual. It's not just the unexpected tenderness of the scene, but that it's the only time we witness Kilrathi civil society directly. Everything else we get is second-hand: the Kilrathi historical dramas picked up by Tarawa in Fleet Action, the dry intelligence briefing in Victory Streak. Also one of only three times we see Kilrathi women to my recollection, the others being in the aforemention Academy episode (Thrakkath's sister) and the concubine on board Melek's refugee fleet in the Wing4 novelization. Both of those very proper. Very noble. I really do wish we'd seen Hassa again.




* Is Jukaga's son named just Vakka nar Jukaga or Vakka nar Jukaga nar Ki'ra? I remember being very very confused, years ago, when I first read Action Stations and hadn't found Fleet Action, whether or not the Jukaga mentioned in the prologue was meant to be Jukaga's son or Jukaga himself, what with Jukaga's father being named Vakka himself.

** And Kirha is Ragitagha, so how's that?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yeah, there didn't seem to be much interest. I'm happy to continue it--I still have a copy of Freedom Flight that I stuck in my office at work for this.
 

Madman

Vice Admiral
i didn't join in with the fan reading - was mid way through a trilogy when you started - but it inspired me to read through my wc novel pile (for the first time i'm ashamed to say), i'm now at false colours but loving it. (yet to read action stations and tpof as well as the movie novels).
 

Bigt028

Rear Admiral
i just thought it was great to re-read, i really enjoyed them, especially now with the groups discussions.
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Well then let's say we start this back up right from where we left off. Everybody take the next few days to catch up and then after the 4th let's keep it moving!
 
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