Caleb Porter sat at one corner of the long table. Down the sides of it sat the heroes of the Chainbreaker Revolt. Wolves all, bonded in blood and sacrifice, now kept from each other's throats by the presence of only one man. He sat at the head of the table, head still bandaged where it had been burnt, shirt still stuffed with bandages. They knew him only as Alpha, leader of leaders.
But as Caleb looked up and down the table, he knew this moment was a fragile one. The Squids were gone, thrown off world, their fleet in orbit rendered harmless without any crews. But each of the mega-cities that these men represented had its own population, its own problems, its own Wolves itching so fill shortages with the supplies of others. Only Alpha held them in check, only Alpha could prevent civil war, but he sat and said nothing.
Caleb knew he was the least of the Wolves in the room. He had risen in the fighting, survived when others had died, and come out as a leader almost against his will. His people had looked to him, sent him here to represent them. He had been ignored in the debate so far because no one knew him. But as Alpha silenced another exchange of insults with a glare, Caleb saw something. He would never know exactly what it was: a tightness in the shoulders, a weariness in the eyes, but it told him everything he needed to know. Alpha had no desire to rule, and without Alpha to lead the Wolves, they would slip the bonds of civilization and turn on each other.
Calem squared his shoulders, sipped his water, and stood to speak. A Wolf started to tell him to sit, but Alpha raised a hand. "We have all had our say and we have gone nowhere. Speak Caleb."
Caleb inclined his head, "thank you Alpha. Who here remembers the Republic?"
Blank stares answered him.
Caleb cast his arms wide, "who here remembers how we governed ourselves before the Squids came? It has been a hundred years and more, but we did do it. We ruled ourselves fairly and well, with a central government, with rights and freedoms guaranteed for all. It was, perhaps, not a perfect system. But it was not an authoritarian or abusive system either. All of us here have seen the abuses that unrestricted, unchecked power comes to. So why are each of us seeking that same power for ourselves?
The Wolves were looking at each other, confused. What was this Republic that Caleb spoke of? All they knew was the system that the Squids had imposed and enforced, that they had shattered in the past few weeks.
But Alpha nodded. Only once, and only slightly, but it was there. "I remember."
That stilled the Wolves.
"I remember." echoed from the speakers. A hologram appeared, the garishly dressed SinderRose taking a seat at the far end of the table from Alpha.
Caleb took another sip of water, "then perhaps we should learn from that Republic, and from those it was based on. We should not be ruled by a dead document rummaged from the dustbin of history. But neither should we should we forget what those documents codify.
"We dozen men and women in this room are the powerful here on Earth. What legacy do we want to leave our children when we die? Our grandchildren? Our great-grandchildren? Do we want to leave them a legacy of blood and slaughter? Or do we want to recognize our inalienable rights, a constitution that enshrines them, a system of real courts that defends them, and a military that protects them?
"If we want that for ourselves and our children, then we need to begin anew, here and now. We must learn anew from our past, that we do not make again the mistakes we made before."
SinderRose sat just a bit taller. " 'We hold these Truths to be self evident...' I want that. I want that very much. I many not be flesh and blood any more, but I will still stand for the rights of humanity."
Alpha stood slowly, " 'To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.' I am Adam X, and I too would like such lasting peace to be our legacy. It seems we have some learning to do. I do not doubt that there will be debate and arguments aplenty in our path, all the more so as we will hold our deliberations in public and seek the advice of the people as we work. but I also know that we will succeed. We owe our dead, our brothers and sisters still living, and all of humanity yet unborn nothing less."