A CALL TO SERVICE
By Rachel Yevin
JALAN, ELYSIUM: These days, the city of Gemma is known for many things: the city’s cultural scene has exploded in recent years after the rise of the vibrant NeoGeometric art movement in the Calleus District, Hartsford’s recently won its third Silver Leaf for culinary excellence, and the technological sector has been recognized by the Engineering Society of Rhetor as a ‘Place to Watch’ in their annual newsletter. With all these exciting developments toward a bright future, many seem to have forgotten the city’s past, forgotten that it originally wasn’t a Human city at all.
In fact all of it – the entire landscape sprawling as far as the eye can see from the mountainside vista of Gemma – was once the capital city of the Tevarin homeworld, Kaleeth. The First Tevarin War ended with Humanity capturing, colonizing and renaming the planet to Elysium IV. The displaced Tevarin were assimilated, willingly or not, into the culture of their conquerors. Initially forbidden from living on the planet they evolved on, many cite that frustration as being one of the main factors in Corath’Thal’s call to arms that led to the Second Tevarin War.
After the fall of the Messers, Imperator Toi allowed the Tevarin populace to move back to their homeworld if they wished. Few took her up on her offer.
Over the years, the Tevarin have sunk deeper and deeper into a mire of violence and crime. Generations upon generations have been raised to actively reject their old ways, but that doesn’t mean that they embrace the UEE, leaving the culture in limbo, drifting through life without an identity of their own.
One Tevarin hopes to change that.
Suj Kossi comes from a large family in the remote hills outside of Gemma. He will be the first to tell you that his earliest memories involved crime.
“One of my first memories was a gun-battle erupting in our [kitchen]. But yes, it was everywhere. We always had somebody passing through on a job or organizing some kind of scheme or robbery.”
Kossi couldn’t resist the easy money and began to join his family on “low-risk robberies and raids,” but his descent into crime would receive a jagged wake-up call that few of his brethren would heed.
“We were trying to rob a water-farm outside of Nedila when the workers fought back. My [sister] was gunned down in front of me before my family slaughtered them. When the dust settled, we found out that their machinery had been broken for months. There was nothing to steal. All the bodies around me and for nothing. It was such a ridiculous waste. I didn’t know what it was specifically, but I wanted something better.”
Realizing that he would be unable to affect this change in his current environment, Kossi enlisted in the UEE Army.
“I was pretty confident I wouldn’t run into any relatives there.”
The structure and discipline of military life turned out to be a natural fit to the Tevarin. He served with distinction and was even selected for a transfer to the Navy for flight training. As a pilot, he spent three years running sensor repair missions in Vanduul systems, but even this, one of the more dangerous assignments in the Navy, was nothing compared to his biggest fear: getting out.
After a particularly devastating repair mission that claimed most of his flight, Kossi spent sixteen months in an intensive care unit. Though he would recover, his military career was over. Kossi received a Medal of Valor for his role in that mission, Citizenship and an honorable discharge.
His greatest fear, it seemed, was coming to bear.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. Part of me was terrified that without the structure of the military, I would just drift back to the way things were. Thankfully, I found something to keep me focused.”
That ‘something’ was the Ustiel Housing Development, a small corporation that owned and managed a handful of low to middle-income housing developments around Gemma. and where Kossi got an apartment. He quickly noticed that Ustiel’s business practices were questionable at best. Kossi organized the Human and Tevarin tenants for a class-action lawsuit against the housing company which resulted in a criminal inquiry.
The Ustiel case ignited a newfound passion in the Tevarin veteran: social change.
It was this pursuit that has brought Kossi to the Temple of Rijora this past week. There, in the shadow of the few remaining Tevarin structures, he announced his candidacy for the UEE Senate.
“Many of my people have wallowed in anger and shame for so long that I believe it’s the only thing they know anymore. I believe it’s time for our culture to rise again – not how we used to be, but how we are now. We are members of the UEE, it’s time to act like it.”
If elected, he would be the first Tevarin senator, but it’s still early. With the elections so far away, it’s tough to tell what the road will look like for Suj Kossi and his dream of political service, but one thing is for certain: he has certainly gotten the attention of the people, both Human and Tevarin.