A circle of generals. That had always been the collective term for a bunch of Rethan Generals, mostly because their leaders had always sat in a circle. One of the first things Elkay had done when he got into power was to bring back that tradition. He’d always enjoyed the Circle, it made Elkay feel less like a king and more like part of a group. The High General was never supposed to rule alone. That was another tradition.
But tradition was also often a hurdle. It had originally stopped the Rethans from having proper elections. It had slowed down equality laws. It had nearly stopped the Rethans from electing a new leader.
Now, Elkay was about to destroy another tradition. One he had always considered a weird one. All these years, Rethan society had been creating super-soldiers. Super-soldiers to be used as body guards for the Rethan elite. The Ksa.
The Ksa though had always been treated poorly. Many considered them to be sub-Rethans. Not quite worthy, despite training since birth to be perfect in every way. This was another thing Elkay never understood. What made a trained super-soldier any less of a Rethan than a normally trained soldier? After all, every single Rethan was raised by the Stratos, the Rethan military. They were all soldiers.
For Elkay, the problem was always a bit more personal. His mother was a Ksa. His younger brothers were all Ksa. If Elkay hadn’t been hyper-intelligent at the age of 6 months old, he most likely would have ended up being a Ksa. But being so close to the bodyguards designed to keep him and the other high-ranking Rethan Generals alive didn’t help explain why so many Rethans seemed to hate the Ksa.
Perhaps it was fear. Maybe normal Rethans were scared that the Ksa were superior. That was always Photeianos’s fear, at least. The former High General though couldn’t help making more and more Ksa, and, until Elkay got into power, had found more and more ways to make their lives miserable. After all, they were powerful beings, why wouldn’t one want to keep them subdued? But at the same time, why would Photeianos constantly make more Ksa? The weirdest thing though was that Photeianos’s last desire as High General was to set the Ksa free.
That was what Elkay was planning to do now. He was going to free the Ksa.
As the High General sat on his little, wooden stool, he repeated that last sentence.
He was going to free the Ksa.
He repeated it again, this time saying it out loud.
“I am going to free the Ksa…”
“Well yes,” another voice replied. “That is why you wanted the members of the Circle to come here today…” Veeksiar, the Keeper of the Great Library and essentially the smartest Rethan alive, seemed vaguely amused by Elkay’s mutterings.
Elkay blinked and remembered where he was and what he was doing. He did that sometimes, just drifting off into a daydream. Really, it was to be expected, since he rarely got a good night’s sleep. Plus, some of his best ideas came from day dreams.
“How much longer? They are all not normally this late…” Elkay sighed, wiping his face.
Veeksiar looked at his wristband, then shrugged. “You did call this rather quickly. They are all probably on their way, changing their schedules. But do you really think any of them want to give up their Ksa?”
Elkay nodded. “Yes.”
“Well, do you not want your Ksa to be free? You love your Θ-Class Ksa, but you always treated them like normal Rethans anyway. We manage to get this new bill through, you will finally be able to legally treat them like normal Rethans. Full salaries, the ability to vote, no longer having to keep tabs on them all the time…”
Veeksiar sighed, then agreed. “You are right, High General. I have always wanted to give my loyal assistants a proper salary. They deserve it. And the right to vote. But I am different from most Rethan Generals. Different from most Rethans actually.”
“I do not think so,” Elkay countered. “There is a reason why you have maintained your position, despite so many other members of the Circle falling away. I do not believe you are here solely because you are smart. Although I admit your intelligence meant I could make this bill seem half decent to the other Generals. The problem we face is tradition, a resistance to change.”
“That bill is not perfect though. Ksa are no longer paid half wages and will be able to vote, but they will not be allowed to run for office, will still be unable to use recreational drugs and will still have to submit to medical tests every six months. And even if this passes today, as is, we will still require a month to truly free them and get others to take their jobs.”
Elkay tutted, then sat up straight. “You know full well that those laws are to protect everyvok, the Ksa included. We are giving them most of the rights we have, but many Ksa are still powerful beings with insane abilities. As for arranging new guards, if any general cannot pick from their own Rethans, then they are bad leaders and deserve being unable to adapt…”
The High General paused, then smiled. The other members of the Circle had arrived. They filed in, one by one, and took their seats at the table, all muttering apologies about being late. Once they were all seated, Elkay stood up and welcomed them all.
“Good day, my fellow Rethans. We have much to discuss…”