Prime Minister Hegaton, elected to the job by the people mostly because no-one had been willing to stand for it, strode into the Eidolon’s throne room with confidence. Despite his age he had now been Prime Minister for nearly thirteen years. The next election was due this year, in about four months time, and he was worrying constantly if he should step down, having reached a Fibonacci number of years in power, or if he should stand again and pray he could get another eight out to reach the next Fibonacci number. Assuming, that was, that the Eidolon didn’t kill him in the meantime – or worse.
“Your Majesty,” he said, stopping half-way across the stone-flagged floor of the throne room and kneeling. He knew that the Eidolon had been aware of him by various senses, several non-human, since he entered the room, but she was affecting certain odd traits from reading about medieval history, and announcing his presence in a suitably respectful manner was one of them, as was walking backwards when leaving her presence so that she was never out of his sight. She turned her head – another affectation, as her head consisted of two rings of eyes, eight in the upper ring and seven in the lower – and pretended to have only just noticed him.
“Hegaton,” she clicked. Her mouth was embedded in her long, graceful neck, and was hard to see unless you were looking directly at it. When she spoke though, a dark red split opened up and stringy things, glistening wetly, moved inside there. She had difficulty with most human languages as her voice seemed designed to make clicks, whistles and susurrations, but over the decades she had learned how to overlay susurrations as harmonies and punctuate them with clicks that humans could understand as words in their own languages. Hegaton had made some progress in the other direction, constructing a small aural dictionary of Eidolonic sounds and what they meant, but it was a very secret project as he was sure the Eidolon would not be pleased. “Report.”
“Your Majesty,” he said, adding the throat-click at the end that the Eidolon insisted on. “Current trade projections suggest that there may be an issue between us and France.” He spoke for nearly half-an-hour, running through the most pressing matters of governance. He brought to her everything that he could reasonably expect input for, and a couple of things he knew she’d be disinterested in so that she could believe she’d heard everything. He continually found it ridiculous that she would believe that a daily half-hour report could possibly keep her current on everything, but it allowed him more freedom to run the country on human terms.
“France’s Eidolon is dying,” clicked the Eidolon, her voice like the sighing of the wind in the trees. “There are reasons for its erratic behaviour at this time.”
Hegaton looked at her, thinking hard. That this Eidolon might die was always topmost in his thoughts, but he’d not actually considered what might happen if the Eidolon of another country died. “What would that entail?” he asked.
“A period of transition,” said the Eidolon. “And then a new Eidolon.” She said something else, clicking and whistling in her own tongue, but didn’t translate it. Hegaton pretended he’d not heard it. “However,” she said abruptly. “There is another option it would seem.”
Hegaton, who had been considering applying trade sanctions and other options open to governments bickering amongst themselves, widened his eyes slightly, wondering what she meant.
“What is that, please, Your Majesty?” he asked.
“We invade France while their Eidolon is weak, and conquer,” said the Eidolon. “This is normally what you would do, isn’t it?”
The history books, thought Hegaton miserably. She’s still reading the damn history books. How can we fight a war now when we’ve no idea what weapons to use? If our weapons were any good against the Eidolon you’d not be in power now!
“Historically, that is something we’ve done,” said Hegaton, hoping his diplomatic words might buy him some time. “We haven’t had a war in decades though, in fact, I’m not at all sure we still have anything we could call a standing army.”
There was no army. It had never been rebuilt after the Eidolon invasion, and the remnants of it had been all too glad to slip away back home and find other things to do.
“Then we will conscript!” The Eidolon’s voice seemed to almost hiss the words at him. “Go away and ready us for war. The Eidolon of France will be dead in a month, and we must be ready in half that time.”
Hegaton started backing away, his pace slow and measured, his feet shuffling to avoid hitting anything he couldn’t see and falling over. Two weeks to raise an army was ridiculously short, and then there were the logistics of equipping it, shipping it overseas, and the still insoluable problem of what weapons to use against an insectile overlord that had shrugged off all their previous technologies.
“Hurry!” hissed the Eidolon.