Fiction: The Labour Princes Prelude

This very short little piece was originally written while I was on a coach traveling from Austria to Prague during my adventures in Europe.

So the main conflict in my science fiction story The Terraverse is known as the Void War. This war is set off by a general strike in The Gliding Isles, a mining community aspiring to socialism in the faux-feudalism that the universe is dictated by.

These island states are nominally represented by union bosses forced into aristocratic pretenses, as “the Labour Princes”. The history of how this situation came to be is what follows, which will serve as the prelude to the novella I’m trying to write about the General Strike.

A Terraverse Story

The Labour Princes

A short History of the Union of Princely States and the tale of the General Strike.

Preface

Pioneering the Union State

The Isles were discovered in the Golden Age of the Dominion1, during the expedition of the intrepid Jebediah Blake, captain of the ship Curiosity2. Jebediah was drawn to the Isles for their beauty, and atop these floating mountains amid the Void3, one could perceive the walls of this gaping world, both the great metropolis of Gran Voia4 towards the Core5, and the wild, rolling ridges of the unexplored Paravoid6.

After many adventures and discoveries in the Paravoid, Jebediah and many of his comrades on these pioneering missions, returned core-ward, but settled on the Gliding Isles rather than returning to the Dominion. And so these pioneers were the first inhabitants of these previously unreachable peaks of the Void. 

A generation later, it was found that the Gliding Isles were rich in both downdust7 and shinestone8, the life giving elements so rare beyond the Core. As the transportation of excavation equipment to lands at the Dominion’s frontier was so expensive, the mercantile family Mansions of Ifrit offered to buy the Isles wholesale from the settlers. Naturally, these pioneers weren’t going to throw away their families’ life’s work and refused, offering instead a compromise: The Ifriti would set up and own the mines, providing jobs and equipping the settlers with purpose. 

For a time this arrangement was satisfactory, but after sixty years of employment, new employees of the Mansion Mining Companies noticed a change in their contracts that implied upon the expiry of the employees, their residential land (which till then was still owned by the settlers) would revert to the mining company, rather than their own dependents. This was an attempt, in traditional mercantile Ifriti fashion, to force their ownership of the Isles. 

Upon discovery of the Mansions’ plan, the colonists formed the Union of Working Islanders. They demanded negotiated group contracts that would apply to them all. After the inevitable rejection of this arrangement by the MMC, a strike seemed imminent. This would have severely affected the Dominion overall, as the expansion of it’s colonies depended on a steady supply of downdust and shinestone. Fortunately the Dominator himself offered to intervene as an intermediary and negotiate terms that was satisfactory to both sides9. 

The Dominator agreed with the Union that it’s citizens should be allowed to negotiate their rights as employees of the MMC as a group, but regarding the ownership of land, he reminded both parties that all land in the Universe was his to dominate, and they were rightly squabbling over right to tenancy under his domination. Under his rule, no land could be landed to group tenancy, and a fiefdom over the land had to be put in place. To placate his law, the Union leaders were renamed the Labour Princes. Going forward, each Island was run as an equalist society as before. The Princes and their families were given no special treatment and traditionally worked in the mines until the perennial contract negotiation came up, when they were expected to sign them in representation of their “principality”. But beyond the isles, in the wider Dominate, they were each regarded as Feudal states under his Dominant Lordship.

1

 The Jovian Dominion, the greatest state in history, or the most tyrannic blight in the Terraverse. wielding total control in the Core and throughout the Coreside universe, with meaningful powers throughout the Void and into the Paravoid.

2

 Obviously, the Curiosity was a gravity ship, or gravship, designed to traverse the Void.

3

 The laergest single space in the Terraverse, it was long thought that the universe ended when the Aether met the Void, and that it was an endless gape. Eventually the gravships designed to traverse the Aether began to traverse the Void, and it was found that there was another wall to the Void, and the lands on and beneath that wall were named the Paravoid.

4

 Gran Voia, a cosmopolitan city built in the Duchy of Voia Major, where the Aether meets the Void, and the largest known settlement outside the Core.

5

 The Core is the spherical “old world” of the Dominion, made up of five original states, boisterous Jovia, altercative Assypia, piratical Normosa, shrewd Ifrit, and Cerberus the fallen, which all were conquered by Jovia in the Core War and became the foundation of the Dominion, whose capital was atop the floating central moon of Cerberus, renamed “Dominant”.

6

 The Paravoid were the wild lands on the far side of the Void.

7

 Gravitronic stone that allows the peoples of the universe to align themselves to the walls of the spaces, creating areas habitat-able to humanity.

8

 Actually a living organism, shinestone is a moss that has bioluminescent properties, and infuses itself into the stone. Used as a light source throughout the Terraverse.

9

 This also incidentally served as the Dominator’s method of laying his claim de facto over the Isles, as per his de jure claim over them as “Dominator of the Known Universe”, and to reassert his lordship over the Mansions, as established in the Core War, PD 50.

The cover image was created by TomPrante on Deviant Art, and is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.